Violence in Old Sainte Geneviève

by David R. Cravens

when Kickapoo mercenaries captured an Osage
and burned him at the stake
the Osage would often sing to his captors
telling them as he died
that the fire was not hot enough for his liking

in seventeen seventy-three these same Osage
rode on Ste Gen
(in their black and orange bluff-paint)
and as they cut one villager from the running crowd
a warrior of the Bear gens unsheathed his knife
and pretended to scalp the man

but when the man screamed in terror
the warrior slit his throat
and he was left to lie where he fell—
for no honorable warrior wished such a man’s scalp
to adorn his spear

the following century
Auguste De Mun insulted William McCarthur
(both candidates for the House of Representatives)
they met at the Ste Gen courthouse
one going up the steps, the other coming down
both fired their pistols

no police reports filed, no charges pressed

the century after that and just down Merchant Street
I fought two men in front of The Orris

but that was still the old days
before pent-up anger burst forth
in mass school-shootings
like the mighty river that ruptured the levee
(that very same year)
and nearly destroyed the entire village

I stumbled to my truck with a broken bloody nose
cracked ribs and mild concussion
but I made it home and slept it off

I like to think the Osage would have taken my scalp

David Cravens's picture

David R. Cravens was born in Saint Louis and raised in Farmington, Missouri. He received his undergraduate degree in philosophy at the University of Missouri, Columbia in 2001 during which he spent a semester in West Africa studying eastern philosophy. Afterward, he attended Hall’s Dive School in the Florida Keys and worked as a Scuba-diving instructor in the Bahamas, the Turneffe Islands of Belize, and the Channel Islands of Southern California. He is a member of Saint Louis Area Mensa; the National Eagle Scout Association; The Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi; The National Scholars Honor Society of Magna Cum Laude; and the International English Honors Society of Sigma Tau Delta. He was the winner of the 2008 Saint Petersburg Review Prize in Poetry, and in 2009 he graduated with his master’s degree in English literature from Southeast Missouri State University, and was a finalist for Ohio State University’s The Journal William Allen Creative Nonfiction Contest. He is currently an adjunct Professor of English Studies for Central Methodist University as well as an English Instructor at Mineral Area College where he teaches literature and composition. He is presently working on a novel about guerrilla warfare in Southeast Missouri during the American Civil War, and plans to pursue his PhD in English literature and creative writing.

Last updated December 07, 2012