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The Crabb Massacre

The Crabb Massacre

by Bob Atkinson

Part 1
Some say it was a hundred
some say it was forty-two
some believe it was fate
some never understood

for those of us who can't believe
that this story's true
I say right now, here in this land
it's something we shouldn't do

Oury saw, from the ravine
the church and its large door
that hid the men who had come
for land and other stores

he saw the people of the town
he saw them shake their fists
he saw the anger in their eyes
he saw them loading Fusiles (rifles)

they were the remnants of the miners
they were the merchant men
they were the farmers of the east
they were sailors of the land

they had their rifles
they had their pistols
they were adventure bound
they had been promised many things
but were at this moment confounded

they had come, not in peace
they had come for war
there in the church they did wait
behind the wooden door

for cooler heads to prevail
and the anger to dissipate
that they might return to Cali
that death not be their fate

their anger was at themselves
for being sold a bill of goods
how they would be welcome
as liberators
not with the edge of sword

Part 2

they traveled through the desert
gathering men, equipment and arms
for a journey into the dark lands
to the town of Caborca, Sonora

there were to be hundreds more
horses shod, men bent on war
yet no men came to help them live
past twenty-seven from Tucson's digs

in that time of new beginnings
south of the border there were feelings
that from the north they should not come
as many, many up there had done

for men seeking battles
not of their light
with intentions unknown
and elbows large as had been shown

in Texas, New Mexico and California
no friends did they have south of the border

that Crabb was a leader there is no doubt
in things he did and ideas espoused
men followed him without expression
his eyes would tame the wildest passion

politics and adventure
was to him the game
the plan, the moves, the situation
brought smiles to his face

he would think long
he would think hard
when action was proposed
his mind was but a machine
when reaching for a goal supreme

his love had him persuaded
that a cause was his for taking
south of the border there was a man
who could give his followers land

in exchange for service true
in overtaking someone who
had governed bad the people there
not giving to them proper care

five hundred or a thousand
were needed for this war
some across the land
some across the shore

they marched east
through the wastelands
past camps of miners
rocks and dust bins

came upon river sands
banks of rubble
that held within
sweet flowing fluid
from high rocky lands

the ferryman took them straight across
counting souls as he pulled the rope
a good haul for a tired man
he wondered the purpose
of these well armed men

they told him they had come to fight
for free men whose lives were held tight
by a tyrant of another culture
whose ways were similar to the vulture

when the good struggle's won
land would be their reward, whereupon
they'd toil and grow crops to prosper
and have wives, sons and daughters

he wiped the sweat up off his brow
looked into their eyes with sorrow
thinking of the land he knew from youth
how he'd broken his Teutonic roots
and missed his chance to sing and dance
in Germanic tones of ages past

the ferryman waved to those who went
north to the Gila before turning east
and stopping at the river bend
to gather more arms and men

on the Camino Real
between Tubac and Tumacacori
the group marched south
an impressive party

they passed an entourage
of pompous men who did not speak
to those below their place in life
the party carried much fine trappings
wagons full of a rich man's things

ladies pretty in the coaches
emerald eyes, dark veils and broaches
horses large, and trained to pull
ornate wagons full of gold

had they been able to understand
that this was the Governor of Sonora land
the man they had come to depose
they would not have gone farther
into the unknown

Part 3
they said that Crabb
had done them wrong
the Americans would come
to do all harm

they did not travel
out of pure love
theirs was a culture
that pushed and shoved

the men marched closer
could see the eyes
of those around them
they were not well liked

from the south, from the east
from all corners of their country
with rifles tall and feathered hats
they came to stop them
at the edge of their lands

the one who had invited them in
became the champion of killing them
he said it wasn't right to bring
arms with ammo to kill his kin

he said they should be put to death
right here, right now, no last requests
no mercy upon these heathen souls
no quarter, or sympathy shown

the brothers who had helped arrange
their sister's husband to come this way
were slammed into a prison cell
not welcomed warmly with respect
but with harsh cruelty subjected

having marched into the town
and hearing loudly the church bells' clang
Crabb looked around for friendly faces
and saw only the anger and fists of rage

seeing far, each way he looked
soldiers marching toward his group
Crabb thought the church
which tolled the bells
would save them from a leaden hell

in they dashed, it took a while
for there were many
none with smiles

fears did show upon all faces
eyes were wide in this disgrace
wasn't warmth they had found
but one who now pounded
his chest in royal indignation
at barbarians coming to their places

when service had been sought of them
by this former ally and friend
the story was they would be treated
not with stones but celebration
as protectors, defenders, future husbands
farmers, merchants and dry goods traders

now they were chased into hiding
surrounded by eleven-hundred pounding
on the sides of a large church
with doors of pine, willow and birch

Part 4

Talk was cheap, each said his lot
about what to do today
should they give up their arms
surrender guns, then walk away?

if they did would they be fools?
would it be the proper thing?
to give up without a fight
leaving fate to those who raged

should they trust what was said
by such a devious person?
as had invited them to come far south
then wanted openly to kill them

some paced the floor, some lay upon
the pews where they had slept
and given future happenings
their thoughts and hopes for the best

yet it seemed, as days had past
there wouldn't be respite
from those who wished to kill them
wanting openly to take their lives

they heard the shots as they were fired
at what they didn't know
why would there be a skirmish
out where the winds did blow?

were the soldiers trying to
fray their nerves somehow?
and give them reason to believe
they couldn't win, no how

no rabbits up their sleeves
this wasn't their homeland ground
they didn't know what to think
should they fight or disband now?

if they should try to shoot their way
back to Tucson town
and get away from this land
where duplicity abounded

would any of them live
through the fire
that would certainly ensue
and rage until one side was dead
or thoroughly shot through?

Part 5

came they did to assist
those foolish in the game
of politics outside the bounds
where puzzles fit their brains

wasn't that Crabb was not astute
not the major problem at all
his was the mind-set of logic
which set him up for a fall

his life had been given to
the honor code he took
to be the better part of life
without which he couldn't live

and here in the southern lands
where culture had been shaken
to its foundations by men who spoke
that strange “English Language”

he stood and paced inside the church
looking for a proper answer
of how to save those who had gone
with him to the edge of their graves

yes, there was in the church
and again in the ravine
men who didn't fit the local mold
in language, clothes or dreams

the culture here was different
had to be raised in it to understand
how every action was interconnected
every move laid before a plan

all these things Crabb didn't know
yet Oury was more astute
neither knew what would become
of their respective soldier crews

these shadows in the dark
moved from here to there
looking for a man to target
as if he were a hare

those who held the southern lands with guns
had lived through the days of shame
when soldiers took from them their pride
by marching to Mexico City

and putting land they wanted
on the block of spoils of war
and giving nothing in return
but peace until they wanted more

when Oury came to assist the men
with more and better guns
caution caused him to proceed
not farther than that ravine

they watched the soldiers march around
they saw the strange talking men
who ran around as if a skunk
had with them moved in

they heard the men shout with joy
when cannons were unleashed
to puff their smoke and make the noise
that robbed invaders of their sleep

was not a good situation
did seem a bit surreal
a church, an army and powered guns
with shots of lead to kill

a rider had to them explained
this frightful situation
and carried vague warnings
how surrender was their only option

fair treatment for the bunch
give up their guns and be escorted
to Tucson with the morning sun
or die and be quickly slaughtered

conquered and destroyed
without any quarter
if that was to be their choice
was the devilish bargain

the same proposal had been given
to Crabb's hundred brave men
had yet no word of agreement
been given back to the Mexicans

would they put their trust in statements
made by some very angry men
who saw them as barbaric invaders
from the northern conquered lands

or, would they fight for life itself
a fight they knew they couldn't win
would be like trading pride for breath
as cannons shot off their heads

Oury sat and pondered this
on the slope of the damp ravine
that kept the Tucson twenty-seven
safe from the bullet screams

safe were the men as they lay prone
upon Sonora's rich fertile soil
thinking each minute could be their last
if heads were raised above the slope

but, the ravine was not too deep
horses it didn't hide well
or give protection from long guns
throwing lead missiles through the air

did not take long for mounts behind
to capture bullets with their eyes
and die with convoluted groans
in front of scared prone former riders

so, a decision must be made soon
no easy mental task to do
give up their freedom in exchange
for promises easily broken

which meant the lives of these men
would hang by a silver thread
of truth or lies of men they knew
would prefer them to be dead
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Submitted on February 02, 2020

9:48 min read

Bob Atkinson

#1 listed online poetry critic. 1450+ poems posted online, 3,000 pages of poetry. more…

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