Stars & Stripes: SCENES 9-14

Scene 9 : Washington

Andrew Jackson’s office / enter Cherokee elders with the Spirit of America

I’ll tell you the tale of the Trail of Tears
& the guile of action-minded Jackson,
The Cherokee proclaim him Big White Chief,
Who calls them ‘Children’ with paternal words,
‘As the Cherokee tribe of Indian,’
Are living east of great Mississippi,
In the midst of a white population,
Your dwelling places & your people poor, Hungry, your game dissappeared, your young men
All turn’d to drink, to go… not if but when’

Chief Junaluska
Your seven thousand troops of cruel blue
Came in a friendless, condescending raid,
It was the end of all they ever knew,
Limitless horizons block’d by stockade;
By emigration depots like Fort Cass
& Ross’s landing at Chattanooga;
I weep, I weep, I weep at how things pass,
I had fought at Horse Shoe like a cougar,
From tomahawks I sav’d your life that day,

Andrew Jackson
Your fate is seal’d is all that I can say.

Exit the elders

As Andrew Jackson skims the morning news
In stately home, overlooking water,
His conscience takes good care to not confuse
These vital relocations for slaughter;
Lament the Delaware, the Ottowa,
The Creek, the Chickasaw, the Cherokee,
The Potawatomi, the Iowa,
The Shawnee, the Fox & the Miami –
Persuaded by men of high distinction
Reservations better than extinction!

Such was the birth-lay of America,
Eugenics knocks mercy from its garments
& kicks it beyond the tectonica,
Like toothless hobos shooting at varmints,
Vultures hover over ancient nations
The spirits of the shaman flee the fate
Brutal cultural obliterations
Six hundred wagons, roofless, rude, await
A thousand miles of misery, a trail
Of tyranny if pregnant, ageing, frail.

SCENE 10: Little Rock Arkansas

Upon the Trail of Tears, the Cherokee elders are deep in conversation

Chief Junaluska
Dear John, Mysterious Little White Bird,
Your wife is with the Spirit of the Sky,
Creator Unetlanuhi has heard
Good woman was she, tears divine he’ll cry,
To hear how Old Man Winter’s rearing head,
Outblew the freezing sneeze like sleet & snow,
The paths of pain were raining with the dead,
A sick child lacking blanket from the blow
Your wife did witness, passing on her cloak,
She froze to death & on the ice did choke.

John Ross
My love I buried in an unmark’d grave
Beside the bitter road, I curse him named
Bad Jackson, tho’ his better men did save
Our soveriegnity, that reptile shamed
His race, his word, his country & his law;
Whose false treaty’s sacred appellations
Us overwhelms, however we implore,
Re-iterated with protestations
That Worcester versus Georgia, ‘Thirty-Two,’
Annuls the Lo Va Sa, what can we do?

The dark of night nears midpoint of the sky,
By dawn we’ll all be stars lost in fabric,
I’ve asked the Thunderboys the reason why
Life bedevils us torrid & tragic,
Diminish’d by Europe’s greedy vices,
Whose spirits only dance to drunken jigs,
When camst the Sioux we painted our faces,
But now the Judge of Battle’s wearing wigs,
Reducing us into this sorry state,
Too tired, too hungry am I them to hate.

John Ross
They came to us like locusts on the breeze,
Despoiling fields ancestors never spoil’d,
So many more shall cross the many seas
With all their hunger & their hates uncoil’d;
Alone, beside the moon, my spirit cries,
The graves of all our fathers leave behind,
But let us not regret this, lets devise
A better future fit to keep our kind,
If west of Mississippi must we be
Let us lead there, at least, our dignity.

The spiritwind our guide has always been,
From Galunlati blowing thro’ our hearts,
Just yesterday an Eaglesflight I’d seen –
A memory of when we lived apart,
But then I’d heard gunshots slay an eagle
& watch’d the possums gnaw it to the bone –
This dream replicated an illegal
& crude theft – posterity must atone
When an elected president shall be
Like me, at least, a portion Cherokee.

Scene 11: A ship – the crew are on deck singing


A bully ship and a bully crew,
Doo-da! Doo-da!
A bully mate and a captain, too,
Doo-da! Doo-da-day!

Then blow, ye winds, hi-oh,
For Californ-i-o,
There’s plenty of gold, so I’ve been told,
On the banks of Sacramento!

Oh, heave, my lads, oh heave and sing,
Doo-da! Doo-da!
Oh, heave and make those oak sticks sing
Doo-da! Doo-da-day!

Then blow, ye winds, hi-oh,
For Californ-i-o,
There’s plenty of gold, so I’ve been told,
On the banks of Sacramento!

Oh, around the Horn we shipped to go,
Doo-da! Doo-da!
Around Cape Horn, through ice and snow
Doo-da! Doo-da-day!

Then blow, ye winds, hi-oh,
For Californ-i-o,
There’s plenty of gold, so I’ve been told,
On the banks of Sacramento!

Oh, around the Horn the mainsail set
Doo-da! Doo-da!
Around Cape Horn, we’re wringing wet
Doo-da! Doo-da-day!

Then blow, ye winds, hi-oh,
For Californ-i-o,
There’s plenty of gold, so I’ve been told,
On the banks of Sacramento!

SCENE 12: Busty’s Saloon Bar, Independence, Missouri

Bart Boone
Hey Boys! My Boys! They’ve found Eldorado,
Coloma soils be sparkling & aglow,
There’s so much gold the mules can hardly move,
The mines seem inexhaustable, they’ll prove
Enough there is for everyone’s desire,
One morning’s work & then we might retire,
A place call’d Sutter’s Mill I heard them say,
Across the West in Californ-I-A
I go tomorrow, boys, who’d like to share
The road by me, two’s better to beware.

Logan Morgan
America, land of our teeming dreams,
Her treasures lying open in the streams,
I read a letter only yesterday
That said as much, my old friend Thomas Grey,
Describin’ gold glitterin’ in sandbars,
As if the sky was wonderwick with stars,
There’s gold-dust drifting like the desert dunes,
He scoop’d up with his jack-knife & his spoons,
Tho’ dangerous & distant one might dare
A monetary miracle out there.

Wesley Wyatt
I’d love to go but, damn, how could I go?
I lost a leg with Lee down Mexico,
Your mining’s but a dog’s life, not for me
That hard, unrewarded monotony;
No letters comin’ in or goin’ out,
After a week yer mind’s w just spins with doubt
Of ever seeing womankind again,
Then one’s come sixty miles away, by train –
& so you’ll hike all day like mountain goats
To see her pretty-sitting petticoats.

Busty Adams
In that case boys I’m comin’ down as well,
A clever woman is the feather’d belle
That keeps such things together day-by-day,
Those men will need to eat, & they’ll right pay
Good money for a proper meal, & hot,
& other things I know that might be got;
& boys, ye’d better hurry to the feast,
For Chinamen & Hindoos from the East
Are sailin’ the Pacific as we speak,
Great fortune comes for those whom fortunes seek!

Preacher Virgil
The madness of our nation dost begin,
I urge ye not to join that ship of sin,
Such chaos offers caflugality
Via greed’s insatiable insanity,
As fathers & fiances leave the flock
Unguarded, evil here must run amok,
While far away tour menfolk retrograde
Thro’ gambling, drinking, swearing: a parade
Thro’ all the circles Dante did descend,
T’where Satan calls the sinner ‘only friend.’

SCENE 13: Philadelphia

Enter the Spirit of America

As eighty thousand find a fresh abode
Out in the West, they’ll need a civil code;
Extending, there, Missouri’s compromise;
South of the Thirty-Six & Thirty lies
A lunacy of evil men in rows,
Perpetuating slavery, oppose
All poison to the life-blood of the South,
Who’d rip the tongue out of baby’s mouth
To stop it crying freedom; while they hold
The Senate, slaves in southern states are sold.

Enter Southern senators

“This is the long-postpon’d attack on rights
& property, with all its scurvy sleights,”
Drawl big mouths of the south, in unison,
America’s entangl’d opinion,
Says reckoning’s a-coming, high ideals
Clash with a stubborn business, which reveals
Hypocrits preaching in Jesus’s name
While keeping human cattle, whom to tame
Would beat to death, despite the sacred page
That urges universal love each age !

Presiding Officer of the Senate
The American Anti-Slavery Society will hear Mr William Lloyd Garrison

William Lloyd Garrison
Senators of America – you take your seats in this house under the flag of our great nation – but wherever our jurisdiction extends, wherever our flag floats, it is the flag of slavery. The stars are the chains & the stripes are the scourge. In truth, our flag should have the light of the stars & the streaks of the morning red erased from it; it should be dyed black, & upon it paint the whip & the fetter

More than fifty-seven years have elapsed since a band of patriots convened in this place, to devise measures for the deliverance of this country from a foreign yoke. The corner-stone upon which is founded the Temple of Freedom was broadly this—that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights; that among these are life, LIBERTY, and the pursuit of happiness. At the sound of that trumpet-call, three millions of people rose up as from the sleep of death, and rushed to the strife of blood; deeming it more glorious to die instantly as freemen, than desirable to live one hour as slaves.—They were few in number—poor in resources; but the honest conviction that Truth, Justice, and Right were on their side, made them invincible.

But those, for whose emancipation we are striving,—constituting at the present time at least one-sixth part of our countrymen,—are recognised by the laws, and treated by their fellow beings, as marketable commodities—as goods and chattels—as brute beasts;—are plundered daily of the fruits of their toil without redress;—really enjoy no constitutional nor legal protection from licentious and murderous outrages upon their persons;—are ruthlessly torn asunder—the tender babe from the arms of its frantic mother—the heart-broken wife from her weeping husband—at the caprice or pleasure of irresponsible tyrants;—and, for the crime of having a dark complexion, suffer the pangs of hunger, the infliction of stripes, and the ignominy of brutal servitude. They are kept in heathenish darkness by laws expressly enacted to make their instruction a criminal offence.

The right to enjoy liberty is inalienable. We ust strive with every sinew of body & mind to overthrow the most execrable system of slavery that has ever been witnessed upon earth—to deliver our land from its deadliest curse—to wipe out the foulest stain which rests upon our national escutcheon—and to secure to the colored population of the United States all the rights and privileges which belong to them as men and as Americans—come what may to our persons, our interests, or our reputations—whether we live to witness the triumph of Justice, Liberty, and Humanity, or perish untimely as martyrs in this great, benevolent and holy cause.

SCENE 14: A Virginia Plantation

While slaves purify cotton in the kitchen, their overseers are playing a song


Heading down south to the land of the pines
I’m walking the coast into North Caroline
Staring at the road in the shadow of faeire farmlights
As I made it all the way thro’ wind, sun & showers
I pick me a bouquet of dogwood flowers
I’m a-hoping for Raleigh, I can see my baby tonight

So rock me mama like a wagon wheel
Rock me mama any way you feel
Hey mama rock me
Rock me mama like the wind and the rain
Rock me mama like a south bound train
Hey mama rock me

Running from the cold up in New England
I was born to be a fiddler in an old time string band
My baby plays guitar, I pick a banjo now
Oh, north country winters keep a-getting me down
Lost my money playing poker so I had to leave a-town
But I ain’t turning back to living that old life no more

So rock me mama like a wagon wheel
Rock me mama any way you feel
Hey mama rock me
Rock me mama like the wind and the rain
Rock me mama like a south bound train
Hey mama rock me

Moonshine running on Virginian sand
Stars lie dotted on the promised land
Now she’s been heading East since the Cumberland gap
From Johnson City, Tennessee
I got to get a move on ‘at the fall of the sun
My baby call my name an’know she’s the only one
And if I die in Raleigh I will die free

So rock me mama like a wagon wheel
Rock me mama any way you feel
Hey mama rock me
Oh rock me mama like the wind and the rain
Rock me mama like a south bound train
Hey hey mama rock me…

Enter the Spirit of America

Where backwoodsmen croon songs in bad Saxon
A good gooselocker plucks tight fibres full,
Else face abundant lashings, score-on-score;
Rogue pickaninnie days bore long & dull,
Spread thirteen in a circle on a floor
‘Til corn-mush setting sun,
When owners’ damnable proclivity
For perfum’d, so velvety, soft-black skin –
Down Virginia way Negro rape’s no sin –
Conducted with strange sensitivity.

A baby, Evelina, is born to the cotton farmer & a female slave

The necessity of our biracial
Instinct for vital cross-pollination
Brings whites & blacks together, from them born
Beauties of Our future Human Nation,
Them call’d Mulatto! Hid from social scorn
‘Til dies her palatial
Father, she’ll soon discover she’s a slave,
Given to bottle-quaffing overseers
Unholiness, unhappiness for years,
‘Gan cutting sugar-cane until the grave.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s