Welcome to our blog. Its main purpose is to make available the poems of Robert Head. If you would like to publish any of these poems or want to contact the author, please write him at the Bookstore, 104 S Jefferson St., Lewisburg, WV 24901.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Some of the poems on the Gulf oil volcano have been published in David Roskos's Big Hammer. $10 from David Roskos, POB 527, Point Pleasant, NJ 08742.
those oil spill poems are damn solid important poems; urgent & expertly crafted

Friday, January 28, 2011

West Florida

Cedar Keys shares the attention of both
John Muir & Sidney Lanier

Lanier was a poet hoo cast his lot
with the Confederacy so after its defeat
all he coud do was write about
the beauty of the marshes.

he rode the train
that Muir walkt.
the track was laid

by a Jewish slave-owner
& there is a man buried undr
every other railroad tie
to take out the cedar pine & cypress

sum call it progress & others forever.

In the redlands of Jackson County,
particularly at the Marianna Caverns
State Park, Marianna limestone outcrops
abundantly. Here abounds a rich

upland hardwoods flora, & containing
numerous shrubs and herbs otherwise
absent in Florida but more common
in similar areas northward.

i had my seven-year-old birthday party
at Marianna Caverns.

on the one side is the Chipola River flood plain
& there rise limestone cliffs
with caves hwer the nativ americans
hid out from Andrew Jackson.

after leaving Blue Springs Jackson
marcht on & took Pensacola
ending Pascua Florida and
the following year the United States bought it
at a bargain price.
before that he
had taken St. Marks & destroyd
Billy Bowlegs Town
way down upon the Suwannee
so he was a busy beaver

he paid his soldiers in land around
Blue Springs. it would appeal to
mountain men because it was higher
& cooler than the rest of Florida

my grandfather livd in a cabin
on the reservoir above the dam
& sat on the porch & sipt his hwiskey
& lookt at the walnut & the deer.

i wundr hwat Jackson & his 1097 men
thot hwen they encampt at Blue Springs
on the evening of May 10, 1818.
well i don’t know. but i imagin they were imprest

by the fountain that no longer exists
due to the dam.

perhaps a child
can remembr finding an arrowhead
underwater & that can link then
or before then, & now. here
hav a littl memory in the hartford night

the Creeks hoo fled Georgia & Alabama
became known as the Siminoli the wanderers.
hwen Daniel Boone was stumbling around
in the swamps behind Pensacola & about to starve
the Seminole fed him venison & maize.

my father taught Jackson’s men’s descendents
about sanitation & how to wear shoes
& organized the women’s clubs to look for
eggs in faeces under the microscope
& eradicated hookworm in Jackson County.

in June of 1674 according to Franciscan priest Barreda
there were abundant buffalo at Blue Springs
but hwen i swam there i never saw a single one

in 1810 the Euroamericans in
West Florida were petitioning to becum
a state so Jackson’s report in
1818 of a savage war seems a littl

obscure. am pleased to learn
that he didn’t hang anybody at
Blue Springs so it be not blood-stained.
he may hav been confusing his

expedition to Florida with his annihilation
of the Creek with 2 cannon
hwich was indeed a savage war
& i think we all know hoo the savage was.

my bible is the Travels of Wm Bartram
& no greater bibl be there
he visited Blue Spring but it is not
the Blue Springs hwer i grew up

it is the Blue Spring at the head of
the St. Johns hwer my mother & aunt livd
& Darlene & i swam with manatee
at dawn in January hwen the water was warmer than the air

thus be our memory before the tears

Bartram’s description of the scald
or water-rot with hwich the Seminole horses
& cattl are afflicted as they say
by the warm waters of the savanna

during the heats of summer & autumn
is or was i believe the cattl tick
if the temperatur goes below 40° at night
it suppresses it. it was common

in my youth among the cattl of
the north Florida poor hoo let them roam.

a 100 years ago in an Alabama
Negro asylum it was found that
everybody had pellagra

pellagra it is now known is
a vitamin deficiency disease
caused by eating nothing but corn
hwich lacks niacin. this means
these pepl were very poor
contrary to the politicians claims.

if beans are added to the diet
the pellagra is overcum.

advanced stages of pellagra are
mental deterioration & deranjment
hwich is hwy they were in the asylum.

& there is a suggestion that the poor hwites
racial dementia may hav been
their own selves afflicted with pellagra.

Florida is outside the cotton belt
so there was no rational reason for slavery
so hwat northern Florida did was create
a prison system to make pepl

work on the turpentine plantations
for such victimless crimes as vagrancy.

o andy, o andy,
how many men did you hang to-day

passing by the beautiful bay St. Louis,
into hwich descend many delightful rivers,
hwich flow from the lower or maritime
settlements of the Chactaws or Flatheads.

we used to camp on the beach there
on the north shore & gather driftwood
for a bonfire & marsh mallows & wieners.
there was a hotel there that had been
bilt in the 20’s & abandond in the 30’s.

Bartram was suffering from a severe
disorder of his eyes so he never
saw the many deliteful rivers.

i do however hav a McNair
watercolor of Wolf River
that turns behind the pass Aux Christiáns
& runs into the beautiful bay St. Louis.

the dangerous notion of honoring the Treaty of Ghent
ending the war of 1812
articl 9 said that all lands belonging to
Indians allied with Great Britain
must be returnd to those Indians

General Electric has the contract
for all the land NASA seized
in Pearl River & Hancock County
history’s culmination in state capitalism

Chief Chikala went to see Freeman Jones
& said, we’re not too keen on Oklahoma
& Jones said, there’s only going to be
one soldiers sweep thru here
so go hide out in Devil Swamp
& after the soldiers are gone you can
find a place to liv.

we’re much too busy murdering pepl
on the other side of the world to honor
the Treaty of Ghent.

“another important road was the old Jackson
military road which ran from over on Wolf
River by way of Center to Gainesville”

Jackson left for New Orleans
via Mobile 22 November 1814
to be accompanied by Choctaws
hoo had sworn allegiance to the United States.

this is the old Jackson military road
that S. G. Thigpen is talking about.

part of the equipment for Jackson’s army
was shipt down river on flat boats
from Tar Landing on the Pearl to Chalmette.

from Center the old Jackson military road
went to Gainesville. Gainesville was wiped out by NASA.

since the British had already been defeated
at the Battl of New Orleans we can only
conclude that the true object of the second
Jackson military road was the destruction of the Choctaw.

in the battles of Baltimore & Plattsburg Bay
the British commanders decided that it would be
suicidal to storm the American works
without the support of their warships guns.

this tells us hwy Pakenham faild & again
shows Cochran’s error of disembarking
troops in Bayou Bienvenu hwer they
coud not be supported.

can you imagin rowing 60 miles
from Cat Iland to Bayou Bienvenu?

i had a friend in the fourth or fifth grade
that drifted out into Mississippi Sound
& was dead in one night.

the soldiers all the way up to the general
hav been treated so poorly by the Admiralty
that they are cold & wet & ill & hungry
before they even get to the miserabl battlfield
hwer there is zero room for maneuver.

Lake Borgne is not a lake
but a tidal bay of the Gulf
so going in & out of Chef Menteur Pass
requires a knowlej of the tides

& Pea Iland in the mouth of the Pearl
is a swampy sandbar & i’d think twice
before i spent the night there

& Pakenham already sailing late
is jammed up in a cabin with 4 other pepl
& there are 30 civilians on board
the Admiralty should hav put him on an express
& he might hav had a chance

hwy didn’t Admiral Cochrane requisition
sum West Indies schooners?
he coud hav left his 80-gun flagship
that coudn’t possibly go into Lake Borgne as collateral.

this hol plan was Admiral Cochrane’s
to take New Orleans & link up
with Canada & isolate the United States
but mouth times brain equals one.

an amphibious landing is never easy
it depends upon surprise! & minute
attention to detail

the British
attempted to suborn Lafitte to lead
them up the back way to New Orleans
& he said he needed 2 weeks to think about it
& turned the papers over to Claiborne

no he didn’t smuggl marijuana
this was long before the illegal law

it has been suggested that Pakenham
should hav made a more serious attempt
to outflank Jackson on the west bank

the river is three quarters of a mile wide
the gunbarges were swept a thousand
yards downriver & Pakenham was impatient

it was two weeks he’d been in the field
& his artillery was ineffectiv
& his men were going hungry & getting pneumonia
hwile Jackson’s men were eating hot gumbo

& manhandling those gunbarges was no picnic
& behind the 4’ levee is a swamp
the only place i ever got lost
(in a pirogue) & Jackson had

invincibl faith in his position
it was way too late & far too gone
to ferry the British army to the west bank.

how did Jackson manage to get to New Orleans?
i know this sounds obtuse but none of
the texts tell us. from Thigpen we know
that he past west along the Choctaw trail

thru Center (now called Caesar) the larjest
Choctaw town in southern Mississippi
from there across the Pearl? then down
across the Rigolets? & onto Chef Menteur?

& across Chef Menteur Pass & thence
to New Orleans?

i don’t suppose it matters because
Cochrane was two weeks too late
to attack him at the Rigolets

anything is bettr than direct frontal assault
& Pakenham should hav sent troops from Fishermen Village
as fast as they coud move on the prairies
to Chef Menteur road and/or

from north Lake Borgne to Chef Menteur
via Bayou Sauvage or the Pass
is but a hop skip & a jump
& if i had a decent map i coud

explain it to the ded general
Gen. Keane coud hav committed his avantgard
exactly as he did & force Jackson
to commit himself exactly as he did
& then send the other 2/3s via Chef Menteur
the plain of Gentilly afforded firm ground

you know if you get too involvd in the battl
you might not ask, well, hwer is the right wing?
well there isn’t any right wing.
well do you think maybe we shd ask hwy?

the right wing coud hav gone up Bayou Bienvenu
& the Piernas Canal & cum in behind
Jackson’s position. for that the British would need
pirogues. cypress swamps all around

& not pirogue one. Columbus said
it was a pleasure to see the Taíno’s
pirogues workmanship & beauty.

Pakenham saild to his death from Spithead
on Novembr 1 aboard the frigate Statira.
he was jammd up with his staff in the Captain’s cabin
& thirty passengers “oh, so crowded!
. . . slept in cots in the steerage.”

53 days jammd up above the effluvia
i’m getting sick just thinking about it
& how the Captain managed to take
53 days to get to Lake Borgne. . . .

Pakenham shd hav told the passengrs
to take a walk & Colonel Dickson
shd hav filld up the hole with
six- & twelve-poundrs

& Pakenham & Dickson might hav sat
amids the cannon & dreamd of victory.

Elizabeth Longford formerly Lady Pakenham
faults Admiral Cochrane for saddling Pakenham
with such a poor position hemd in
between the bayoux & the Mississippi

but the position wouldn’t hav been so bad
if Cochrane hadn’t wasted so much time

Jamaica was Cochrane’s station. surely
he knew that Lake Borgne coudn’t
take deep-draft warships.

if Cochrane had gone forward as fast as
he coud raise West Indies schooners
he coud hav cut off Jackson at the Rigolets.

Cochrane’s original plan was to take
Mobile & then send shallow-draft boats
up the Mississippi Sound with heavy
cannon thru the Rigolets & into
Lake Ponchartrain & up Bayou St. John.

first the frigate Hermes faild to take Fort
Bowyer at the entrance to Mobile Bay
& second London faild to send light-draft
boats with heavy cannon. hwy

Cochrane thot London would hav light-draft
boats with heavy cannon i do not know.
Jamaica hwer he was would hav light-draft boats
if not with heavy cannon at least 3-poundrs.

Cochrane wasted more time
putting in the 80-gun Tonnant at
Apalachicola & Pensacola
to distribute a proclamation to the defeated Creek.

he coud hav loaded up the Tonnant with
light-draft boats with heavy guns
& blasted Fort Bowyer to smithereens.

i had assumed that Jackson with his 2000
men at Mobile came via the old Jackson
Military Trail thru Center now Caesar
Mississippi but C. S. Forester

says he didn’t order up his men until
December 15th so he coud hav cum
by water via Mississippi Sound
& arrived December 1st a week before Cochrane

but i don’t see how his troops coud hav
floated cannon & heavy equipment
down the Pearl because by then Cochrane was already at Pea(rl) Iland

according to Michael B, Jackson campt
along Fish River, Alabama,
before he moved towards New Orleans.

am more & more coming to see
the battl of New Orleans as
a naval problem. Wellington’s veterans
were the best troops in the world.

we tend to see the annihilation of the Creek,
the defense of Point Mobile & the attack on Pensacola
& the battl of New Orleans as separate
but Jackson saw them as one.

no point in wasting Wellington’s veterans
if Cochrane can’t take Point Mobile
all it was was pine logs & sand
with no casemates for protection

& the French turnd it over to the British in 1763.
1773, 1783 you’d think they’d had time
to take soundings & make a chart
he might as well pack up & go home

Fort Bowyer gards Mobile Bay
and Mississippi Sound
if Cochrane coud hav taken Fort Bowyer
he coud hav parkt his deep-draft warships
& transports in Mobile Bay, acquired

supplies at Bon Secour Bay
& transferrd troops to light-draft boats
for the voyage up Mississippi Sound

i spent the night on Cat Iland with
my marine friend with the forty-five
i slept in the water on the lee side
so bad were the mosquitoes

Cochrane coud hav rounded up
every sloop of war in Mobile Bay
drawing less than 5 feet

Mobile is corruption of extinct
tribe mobilia, spirits hovering over the waves,
hwen HMS Hermes was sunk at Fort Bowyer
Jackson heard the explosion & thot the fort had fallen.

the reason Jackson stayd at Mobile to the last minit
was he thot Cochrane would attack Fort Bowyer
& march to Walnut Hills (Vicksburg)
& cut off New Orleans.

the failed attack
on Fort Bowyer of September 15
had been made by a frigate from Pensacola
acting independently without
Cochrane’s knowlej. Cochrane would hav been

enroute to Jamaica from Chesapeake Bay
after burning Washington & failing to take
Baltimore. General Ross was killd
& had to be replaced at the last moment
by Pakenham hoo was not happy.

hwen Jackson marcht to New Orleans
he left Winchester in charj of Mobile.
Winchester’s wounded had been massacred
on the Raisin River in Michigan territory
so he wdnt hav had much of a sense of humor.

as much as you might not care for Jackson’s
racial policies he’s one hell of a general.
for him to think that the British cd march
from Mobile to Walnut Hills (Vicksburg)

he must hav had a great deal of faith
in the British marching ability
they did march up the St. John Valley

you know i keep thinking that pepl
got killd in that war.

hwen admirals start talking abt
hwer to land the men that means
a lot of men are going to die
because admirals don’t know

ding dong abt hwer to land the men
Jackson & Lawrance had just gotten
the fort functioning the day before the British attack

there were 4 warships & indians & marines
it’s a miracl that Fort Bowyer won the battl.

the men that held the fort
showd remarkabl disciplin & courij

Jackson marcht like Napoleon
modern pepl don’t appreciate
the speed of his marches.
i hav a photograph of the ferry
west of Center modern-day Caesar
& moving 2000 men across
Pearl River wd take all day
so the march had to be
faster than it appears

Jackson sent an express ahead
to Lawrance at Mobile Bay
to defend Fort Bowyer
the British atackt on September 15
& were defeated.

Jackson then marcht to
take Pensacola that the
British had used as a base.
500 feinted from the west
& 1500 attackt from the east

he then marcht back across
the Perdido to Mobile Bay
in 3½ days &
then across Mobile River
& then across Pascagoula
then across Wolf
then across Pearl
all this is unbelievabl

he left Mobile Novembr 22
& was on the outskirts of New Orleans
December 1.

i hav no dout men died on that march.

Darlene askt me if men coud hav
forded the Pearl. i said, i didn’t
think so.

well, there’s sum folks that think
death is a laugh
& there’s sum folks
that are going to march all the way.

& Coffee’s riding to Baton Rouj
to meet the militia coming down
from Tennessee & Kentucky.

Mobile & Pensacola were best thot of
as ilands in the Carribean.

i hav to assume that Jackson crost
sumhwer between Picayune & Carriere.
hwer my great great grandmother
Pearson livd. this wd bring him west

across Honey Island hwich is not an iland
but a swamp between East &
West Pearl hwer you don’t want to
spend the night.

i don’t believe in saying sumthing abt
a ded man that i wdn’t say to his face
so there’s very littl i’d say
to Andrew Jackson.

after the repulse at Baltimore on September 14
Cochrane saild for Halifax
that was a damn dum thing to do
if he’d saild for Jamaica he cd hav beat Jackson

according to Jackson’s topographer
Major H. Tatum, the Commanding General
had the troops that descended the river with him
encampt at a healthy situation on

Portage Creek, 3 miles northwest from the Town
from hwence they coud be expeditiously marcht
to any point on that side of the Mobile Bay

this is late August. Major Lawrance
to descend the Bay wtih several sloops,
schooners, & barges laded with Troops
cannon & military supplies to make ready

Fort Bowyer by the 14th day of Septembr

the Creek massacre at Fort Mims
was unfortunat for all concernd
from Fort Jackson hwer he imposed the Treaty
to Mobile Bay is 420 miles

down the River of the Alabamas
& then across the River of the Pascagoulas
there is the legend of the princess hoo fell in luv
with a frenchman & waited for him to return

& you can still hear her singing
& my great great grandmother
saw Jackson pass thru Center

vessels enter Mobile Bay on either
side of Dauphin Iland. the channel
on the west side of was then 5’ deep,
the east one twice that.

so Hermes grounded. otherwise Fort
Bowyer would hav been demolisht.
& the Creek would hav et em for supper
West Florida is the only place i ever want to liv

now here’s a book abt the war of 1812
& Pensacola is not even in the index
do you believe that?
I guess Jackson didn’t make that march

& thousands of West Tennessee volunteers
didn’t march 100’s of miles
to stand beside him
nope it never happend

Jackson was far more careful of the lives of
his men than Napoleon.
Jean Lafitte & Andrew Jackson
boy that’s a pair of pirates

Michael A. Bellesiles describes Andrew Jackson
as a psychopath hoo saw dueling as
a way to murder opponents.

he also describes the preliminary battl
of Chalmet on Decembr 23rd.
the Louisiana militia took off
at the sight ofthe British

& Coffee’s dismounted gun-men
saved the position.
they fought with knives & rifle butts against bayonets

so Jackson didn’t cross the Rigolets
he embarkt at 10 A.M. on board
of Collin’s Packet from Madisonville
on the west bank of the Chefonta

& proceeded across Lake Ponchartrain
to Fort St. Johns & up the Bayou
6 miles to the Bayou Bridge
2 miles in the rear of New Orleans,

& arrived at that place between
10 and 11 o’clock that night,
& landed at 28 miles.

Proceeded this day at 7 o’clock A.M.
Crost Bogue Homo, Red Creek,
at 7 miles. Crost another creek at
27 miles & Pearl River at 28.2 miles.

Major Tatum states that Red Creek
is a branch of Wolf River. i believe
that to be an error. Red Creek
is a branch of the Pascagoula. Crost

Pearl River at Fords Ferry & traveled
2 miles to John Fords Fort, in all
31 miles & halted for the night.

Pearl River derives its name from the
numerous pearl shells that cover
the bottom of this river, & giv it
a handsum appearance in low water.

Proceeded from Fords on the route to
Chefonta /Tchefuncta/. Crost
Pearsons Creek at 10 miles. that wd be
my ancestor on grandmother Rose Pearson’s side.

then crost Bogue Chitto. that means
they crost the Pearl above hwer
Bogue Chitto unites. thence
24 or 25 miles to Madisonville
2 miles above the mouth of the Chefonta.
on this day the party had to swim three creeks.

the way to go on the gulf is sloops
& schooners drawing not more than 5’ water
you can get all the way up to Buckatunna

Madisonville ust to be calld Cocquille
cockles & mussels, alive, alive o!

my grandfather past at Bayou Lacomb
hwer the last Choctaw livd
they did the drunken-man dance together
in three-four time

yu wa le he yu wa le he yu wa le he

yu wa le he yu wa le he yu wa

original man rise up

Wilkinson was the one hoo took Mobile
acting undr ordrs from President Madison
he sent in men from the north
& gunboats into the roadstead between

Pelican & Dauphine Ilands &
the Spanish agreed to evacuate to Pensacola
this was before Jackson. it’s a littl
bizarre because Wilkinson reportedly

was on the Spanish payroll.
perhaps a historian can undrstand it.

it seems a littl mean for Jackson
to take all the corn he needed
& then destroy the rest.

& then after the victory at New Orleans
he had six men executed. they
were three-month Tennessee volunteers
hoo had marcht with Jackson to Mobile

& now their time was up but
their commanding officer did not agree.
it cast a pall over the peace treaty.

the painting i saw, “Captur of American
Flotilla near Lake Borgne, New Orleans”
they were warships with three or four
guns on each side

they had springs on their cabls to enabl them
to turn broadsides to the British.

Borgne means obstruction (because of the shallowness).

i don’t see how the British marines in their long
boats under oar were abl to board.
it must hav been a nasty battl.

Lieutenant Thomas ap Catesby Jones
vessel was Jefferson “Number 156”.
a Jefferson gunboat wd normally carry
one to four guns so the ships in the
painting are heavier.

the British had forty-two launches
& three light gigs & took seventeen
killd & seventy seven wounded.

hwy we may ask after the defeat of
the American gunboats in Lake Borgne
was Jackson without intelligence of the British
movements for ten days?

their defeat was known to Jackson.
how can such be possibl?

so the sailors were rowing the soldiers to
Pea(rl) Iland as a half-way station to
Bayou Bienvenu. it was Decembr
& the alligators were dormant

but they weren’t dormant hwen the sun came out in the morning.
by that time the West Indies troops
were stone-cold dead, having no wool
shirts because Louisiana was nice & warm in Decembr.

i started to say Jackson suckerd em in
but it wd be more accurat to say
that they suckerd themselves in.

Captain Harry Smith reacht Spithead
with dispatches in twenty-one days
& with him news of Ross’ death at Baltimore
& so generalship devolvd upon Pakenham.

i hav been concernd abt how long it took
to get to England. it takes a hwile
to learn these things.
if Ross fell on the twelfth
that means Captain Harry Smith reacht
Spithead October 4th at the earliest.

that Pakenham had a 1763
Spanish map & mist the rendezvous
at Negril Bay & lost control of
the landing indicate that he didn’t hav time

to properly prepare

on October 17
the news of Ross’ death arrived.
Major Harry Smith was orderd to sail with
Pakenham on Novembr 1.

according to George Napier,
hoom Pakenham saw the day before he saild,
he “much douted the policy of the expedition
or the correctness of the information upon hwich
the Government had decided to make an attempt at that place.”

the portij from Perdido Bay
to Bon Secour i think abt a lot.
it was the way my ancestor went
hoo was kidnapt by the Pensacola

& escapt to go to Pearl River
i like it to this day. it avoids
all those hotshot naval pilots
& the smell of Mobile in summer & fall

& it is in between two states
so they may not notice you.

there’s a famous book written by Thomas
Abernethy, From Frontier to Plantation in Tennessee
tho not as well known as it shd be
abt Wm Blount & Andrew Jackson

wd Jackson be considerd the foundr of
Memphis on the Nile? well, he bot
Chicasaw Bluffs with sum promissory notes
that went bad but Overton

his campaign manager developt Memphis.

his first purchase was a slave girl
we won’t inquire too deeply into that.

Wm Blount was a North Carolina legislator
hoo hired James Robertson to survey
& mark vast tracts of land in hwat
is now Tennessee & then Blount duly

registerd & paid for the land with
newly minted North Carolina money
& Jackson became public prosecutor
& in his first month in office brought 70

writs for creditors against detors hoo
cdn’t pay for their land.

they say that evil spirits gard the Mississippi
& i believe em. De Soto, Moscoso,
& La Salle too. of course De Soto
so casually slayd the inhabitants
that he was an evil spirit himself.

La Salle was a more careful man
& endurd the unendurabl. the idea of
going back up the Mississippi
after he had found its mouth is madness.

if he wanted to found a colony
he shd hav done so at Baton Rouj.

my father’s brand-new car that the tree fell in on
& salt water got up in the engine block
in the ’47 hurricane in Pass Christian was a De Soto.

Turner & Abernethy were both studying
the west, frontier democracy,
but they came to different conclusions:
Turner, a hardy democracy;

Abernethy, William Blount
gobbling up the land along the rivers
& if you don’t pay him on time
detor’s prison if Andrew Jackson has his way.

in keeping with the Memphis of the Nile theme
Wm Blount was also buying up land
on the Tennessee River to be called Palmyra
but all this to yourself for as yet
i hav not purchased all the land for this city.

George Washington Harris was the most famous
american humorist before Mark Twain
his character Sut Lovingood was a riverboat man
& am beginning to think he may hav sumthing to do with

Cormac McCarthy’s Suttree.
George Washington Harris was a secessionist.

Sevier, Blount, Burr, Wilkinson were secessionists.
this was the overmountain men secession.
hwat they wanted was to overthrow
Spanish control of New Orleans, Mobile
& Pensacola so they cd get their produce to market.

Andrew Jackson was the culmination.

if the devil evicted Sut Lovingood
i don’t imagin he was too thrilld to get Andy.

Baton Rouge, Natchez, Walnut Hills &
Chickasaw Bluffs hwer i was born.
hwen James Robertson died in 1814,
the last friend of the Chickasaws

in Tennessee was gone. that was
the same year as the battl of Fort Bowyer
there’s no dout that the Iliad & the Euro
americans are similar.

once Jackson destroyed the Creek at Horseshoe Bend
the overmountain movement began in earnest.

consequently, the political leaders of the cuntree
never brought themselves to inform mili-
tary leaders clearly hwat they were
suppost to be doing. there was no

strategy for the war beyond general agreement
that Canada ought to be attackt.
this brings us up to the present tense
such as it is merrily bombing away
billions of dollars.

we seem to be in the grip of sum
great irrationality.

hwen the British acquired Mobile
the Creek told em they hadn’t
given it to the French
they had lent it to em.

there’s sumthing abt the maritime trade
that entrances me.
from Dauphine Iland to Pass Manchac
that’s how i make my living.

yep that’s the way to go &
avoid the port authority wanting kickbacks

the Tidewater gentlemen are living beyond their means
so one way to solve the problem is revolution
there were ten gentlemen hoo owed over
5000 pounds sterling.

Washington & Jefferson were in the
1000 to 4999 det category.

i am in the fortunat position of
being a bookseller so hwen i order a book
it is an investment not a luxury.

to-day i had a customer
i askt her hwer she was from
she said, Pennsylvania. i askt her
hwat kind of work she did there.

she said, bank examiner. i work
for the FDIC. i said, that’s a good job.
she said, yes but she’d been there 20 years
& was tired.

i said, S&P lowerd the United States
credit rating. & rightfully so,
she said.

can’t get the deficit down,
cost a lot of money to kill all those pepl,
doesn’t make a bit of sense to me,
i said, not the best sales person
in the world.

but she bought
Mysterious History of Columbus,
Letters of Abelard & Heloise, & Eve of Reformation.

Iberville River is not navigabl to
modern ships but once upon a time
it was the passij way for canoes
from the Mississippi to the Amite

to Lake Maurapas to Lake Pontchartrain to
Mississippi Sound. there the deep-water
ships wd anchor in the roadstead
between Pelican & Dauphin Ilands.
21’ at the bar.

in the Amite Lieutenant Philip Pittman
found no less than five feet.

if i were to live in the Mobile
i think i wd move up to St. Stephens
in the summer & fall.

the east-west interstates hav made
it impossibl for animals to migrate
so they will shrivel up & becum immobil.

if i shd disappear
look for me
in Perdido Bay

Jackson moved the capitol from Pensacola
to Tallahassee on the fall line
to commemorate his conquest & to show
that he was having no more truck

with those Spanish from Havana.
& that now the inland overmountain men
ruled to the flood plain.

i went past there to St. Marks
hwer Jackson conned the Spanish
& hanged the prophet
capturd by flying the British flag.

it’s not showing up on the 1999
AAA map but the intracoastal
waterway has been dug between
Bon Secour & Perdido Bay.

i’d say that’s the place for me.
Bon Secour is hwer the shrimp boats dock
& my sadness might be attenuated.

on the east side of Perdido River
is Muscogee hwich may be the remains
of the State of Muskogee.

William Augustus Bowles was a Tory
hoo tried to make an american indian state
after the end of the american revolution
& lay in wait in Choctawhatchee Bay

for Spanish treasure ships following the coast.
an american indian state was a good
idea but declaring war against Spain
was not the way to go about it.

i spent my childhood summers on his beloved
Santa Rosa Iland without knowing it.

i hav seen a painting of a Seminole family
catching & drying redfish on Santa Rosa Iland.
George Catlin says they are to be pitied
because they are half-civilized.

i caught redfish with my father.

1834 was 16 years after
Andrew Jackson destroyed Bowlegs town
& 4 years before that he had had the
cavalry hunting down Creek & Seminole

in the pine & palmetto around Pensacola.

i don’t believe in the original sin of Adam
but i do believe in the original sin of Jamestown.

hwen i look at the painting of the Seminole
drying fish on Santa Rosa Iland
i see a center of spiritual gravity
that i don’t see in the great planters

or the poor pepl marching west

we may well considr Jackson a great
general but this Jacksonian democracy
is a bunch of hogwash. the only
person Jackson was interested in serving was himself.

Biography of a River Town
by my father’s dearest friend
Gerald Capers
tells us how

Jackson was abl to acquire
title to Chickasaw Bluff
years before the Chickasaw ceded it
is too complex to relate here

but bear it in mind

Narváez’s men cdn’t walk any further
& tried to make boats at St. Andrew Bay
next to Panama City Beach
hwer i spent my summers

they made their way miserably west
to Dauphin Iland hwer the pepl
gave them water & food
& then there was a fracas &

the Spanish broke up thirty canoes
& then went on west in their worthless boats

we did not know how to bild them,
nor did we hav tools or iron or forge

or oakum or pitch or tackle,
Cabeza de Vaca said

Pensacola was once the port of
a larj red snapper fleet
hwich used fishing smacks brought from
Gloucester, Massachusetts. one of those
vessels remains, saved for restoration.

one wundrs about the world
we seem to be passing away

Anton de Alaminos chief discoverer
of the Gulf Stream had been with Columbus
at the Bay Ilands of Honduras hwen the admiral
faild to appreciate the significance
of the great piragua trading vessel
from the north bringing a cargo of
products of an unknown civilization.

according to Paolo Emilio Taviani
the pepl in the pirogue were Chontal Mayas
from the southeastern corner of Campeche Bay.

in the Bay Ilands they had a trading
port on the Playa de los Soldados,
Guanaja Iland, to trade for
cacao from mainland Honduras.

my pirogue was made of marine plywood
on a wood frame so two
pepl cd pick it up. there was
a canal at the end of our road

in Metairie that wd lead you past
the oyster-shell mounds hwich were
a good place to spend the night
before bearing away in the morning.

it was 8 day’s sail to Campeche.

the last time i saw Ann Hess
was in Mobile Bay
the Union fired me because
i mist pay-off
hwy i didn’t ask her to marry me
then & there
i will never know
i might hav saved her life

on September 19 Cochran after
his failur to take Baltimore turnd
his squadron from the mouth of the Chesapeake
& made sail for Halifax in order to

superintend, he said, the making of
flat-bottomd boats for the siege of New Orleans.
now this is all very complicated

he cd hav taken the Labrador current
south to Hatteras but then he wd
hit the Gulf Stream
wd he follow it to the Azores & then to the Canaries?

that’s a long way to take flat-bottomd boats.
the evidence of his poor performance
in Lake Borgne indicates that he
never made any flat-bottomd boats.

hwat he needed were New Orleans Luggers
39 feet long on deck
12 feet beam & 4 feet deep
two men are a crew.

Ann & i took the train from
Metairie to West End hwer we
listened to music & made out
& you may laugh at teenagers

but never in my life hav i known
such luv. & then Capt Grant’s
steamboat thru Mississippi Sound
thru Grant’s Pass to Mobile Bay

& the end of the line.
& i woke up this morning with my
sphincter muscle throbbing for her
ded these 50 years.

i found Perdido Bay before i knew
Lafitte was fond of it & if i had
half a brain i wd hav taken
Ann Hess there & livd happily

ever after fishing but we thot
we had to go to college
& my stupidity assails me
& are departed into the eternal dark

after the funeral her mother
wrote me in response to my sympathy card
that she knew Ann luvd me.

so hwat was she doing joy-riding
on Saturday night with an amateur pilot?
baby, you bettr say your prayers.

& since she was Swiss Catholic
she must hav known a few

but i can’t think dying in the Lake
Ponchartrain swamp very near
hwer i livd was a hol lot of fun

bettr she had been in my pirogue
& we might hav made it to paradise

pepl with any sense wdn’t try &
sail up the Mississippi. we’d cum in
the back way from Dauphin Iland
by way of Mississippi Sound

thru the Rigolets hwen the tide was running
the right way & into Lake Pontchartrain
& dock at Milneburg. on the return
i’d sail Ann Hess to the girls college

in Mobile. in her memory
let us play Milneburg Joys

may her being rest in Bon Succour
& take part in the Blessing of the Fleet
hwen soul is uninhibited by death

here we are suppost to be scholars
& we are using the Christian calendar
but otherwise we are lost
in the great infinity,

hwen i calld your name in the cauldron of souls
i wundr coud we learn a tune
so we coud find each other in the underworld?

i am sad to say abt the ded sea
that was the child of my birth

am forever sorry that we did not learn a tune
to find each other in the underworld

Virginia Woolf said, the artist
after all is a solitary being.
& God forbid, is she right.
i might as well liv on the moon of mars

hwer i hear tell there is organic matter.
Thera blew up 3531 years before the present
& Plato’s account is authentic.
Unamuno says we want soul

of bulk & substance. well we are
of bulk & substance.
Castleden says that the women on Thera
didn’t normally go bare-breasted
but only for religious reasons.

i believe that hwen we pass we ought to move
into one of those Etruscan-type tombs
with a bed & a bottl of wine
& a vase of flowers & a light well

so the soul can make a gradual transition
into the soft, absorbent limestone.

i don’t believe the soul can survive
an airplane crash. it has to hav
a gentl transition so hwen it feels the body failing
it can scout around for sumthing to liv on
like oysters need a clean bed.

Monday, January 24, 2011


i don’t imagin Mikhail Tsvet was too thrilld
by having to move from Geneva to St.
Petersburg & take his degrees all over again.
& his throat wasn’t too thrilld by
the Russian wintr.
he invented absorption
chromatography but Willstätter in Germany
tried to repeat his work using an
overly aggressiv absorbent that denaturd
the chlorophyll & said his work
wasn’t valid.

Gilbert Newton Lewis in his later years
investigated the excited electronic states of
organic molecules toward understanding
their color & phosphorescence.

i would say that Lewis is our first great
american chemist if i may use that langwij
i hav been unabl to find his later papers
but you can see the direction he is going.

i now learn that Lewis found the phos-
phorescence is due to an excited state
in hwich electrons that would normally be
paird with opposite spins are insted
excited to hav their spins in the same direction.

but bettr he hadn’t done
that last experiment with hydrogen cyanide.

Alfred Werner had just gotten his Ph.D.
in inorganic chemistry. chemists had
at this time made a larj numbr of
colord compounds containing transition
metals & ammonia or chloride ion
or cyanide ion. chemists were
unabl to explain these compounds. Werner
thot abt them night & day & one
night he dreamd the correct structur
& got up & wrote his coordination theory.
it was immediately recognized & he was
appointed professor at the University of Zurich.
highly unusual that sumone would read his
paper & act on it. i had assumed he was
German but he was Swiss. perhaps
that would explain it, Darlene said.
so he spent the rest of his life refining
his theory & giving brilliant lecturs.
happiness hold my hand.

Paul Pfeiffer was Alfred Werner’s
brightest student & became his assistant
until they had a dispute. hwat
the dispute was about i do not know.

perhaps Pfeiffer questioned Werner’s belief
that the Co-Cl bonds were a primary
valence at long distance, hwile the Co-NH3
were a secondary valence at shorter distance.

perhaps he said that there was no
theoretical justification for their existence.
perhaps he said both electrons were
supplied by the same atom.

perhaps he said that the chlorides are
ionized in solution & must
be bonded by electrovalence.
forgiv us our enmity.

there is a sadness or glory that envelops us
hwen we read the lives of the great chemists
much different from reading a textbook
& a continuity: Robert Bunsen to
Adolf Bayer to Richard Willstätter

Bunsen’s burner was before my time
Bayer made indigo & discoverd
the phthalein dyes & we expect
the glory to be past on & so it was

until at his height Willstätter resigns
because of increasing antisemitism
many questiond the wisdom of his decision
but he was adamant. & refused to go forward

like my generation hoo refused to
work for a government that bombd the Vietnamese
& became common laborers
& so we remain without glory but with honor

o weep for me in the quest for my father.
he had wanted to be a chemist
& everybody said, oh, you’re so smart
you should be a doctor!

he later told me that he regretted it.

i remembr growing up in Pass Christian
hwer he was the only doctor. fishermen
would go floundering & step on a stingray
& he would cut out the bone. the fishermen

didn’t hav any money so they would
pay him in fish. fish that would to-day
cost a thousand dollars. i thot
everybody had a seaport & an offshore breeze.

you can’t always take hwat a person
says about himself at face value
there are no chemical notes. the notes
that hav cum down are studies of how

the Commanche raised their children.
& that remaind his passion to the very end.

Calvin became interested in copper khelates
hwile working at Manchester with Michael Polanyi
& it would hav been natural for him to go on to Munich to work under
Hans Fischer had not the two cuntries been approaching war.

Calvin publisht his main work on khelates after the war
so perhaps the loss of Fischer moved him to do so.
there he says that outstanding exampls of the contribution of
a strong resonance effect to khelate stability are

the natural pigments, such as chlorophyll or heme,
in hwich a porphyrin derivativ is bonded to
a divalent metal. & shows the resonating
structur of the copper khelate of the parent

unsubstituted porphin ring, originally
synthesized by Fischer. it is
the green blood of the horseshoe trilobite.

reading Ihde, The Development of Modern Chemistry
i came across a reference to unpaird electrons in
the oxygen molecule. i drew the Lewis
structur & they look paird to me.

so i read Sidgwick Electronic Theory of Valency
& he said there was no explanation for
oxygen’s exceptional paramagnetism.
i then read Ephraim & he says

the fact that oxygen (O2) is paramagnetic,
in spite of an even number of electrons,
presents a problem regarding its electron structur.
he then goes on to say that according to Pauling,

the oxygen atoms are linkt by one
covalent bond & two three-electron
bonds :O—O:, & that this
formulation violates the octet rule.

o i don’t know hwat i am going to do.
spherical orbitals, dumbell orbitals,
& now am sinking into the morass of hybrid
orbitals, almost as ignorant as i was

hwen i began my quest for the cause of color.
Henry Miller said that he had an advantij over
most men in that he knew he was his own savior.
yeah, well, Robert the self-savior romping on.

here we are, all very happy now,
& in my dreams oxygen is blue.
& John Bartram said that the Valley was
the Eden of eastern north america.

was, & weep waterfalls.

Calvin in his memoir says Lewis
had written a chaptr on color in his book
Atom and Molecule many years earlier,
in hwich the basic ideas are already exprest.

i believe Calvin has conflated Lewis
paper “Atom and Molecule” (1916)
& his book Valence and the Structure
of Atoms and Molecules (1923).

i believe in the paper Lewis said
the atom tends to hold an even
number of electrons in the shell,
& in his book he had a chaptr on color.

i hav at last found out hwat Lewis said:
paramagnetism & color can usually be
associated with unpaired electrons.

the Scots chemist A. S. Couper thought of
valence bonds & wrote the formula for methane.
then 16 years later the 22-year-old
Dutch chemist Jacobus Hendricus

van’t Hoff said sum properties coud be
explaind by the four bonds directed toward
the corners of a tetrahedron with the
carbon atom at the center. that was

the beginning of structural chemistry.
Cooper’s editor delayed publication of
his paper & Kekulé got priority
& Couper sufferd a breakdown in health.

be grateful that Linus Pauling rememberd him.

if we look at Hofmann’s progression
from methane to CH3Cl this means
that electronegativ chlorine has been
substituted for electropositv hydrogen.

chlorine has seven electrons in its valence shell
this means that the one odd electron
is free so to speak & it is farthest
from the nucleus & so least bound

& that electron forms a covalent bond
with carbon & attains to the octet of nirvana.

i hav been meditating on the ammonium ion
for sum time now. it is represented as
four hydrogen covalent bonds with central
nitrogen atom & overall valence +1.

this doesn’t make a hol lot of sense to an amateur
because nitrogen has five electrons
in its valence shell so if anything
the overall charj should be negativ but it’s not.

i used to say that gunpowdr got me high
maybe it’s that positiv ion
i remember throwing ammonium nitrate
under the sweet potatoes watch out for copperheads
it was hot & sweaty & not nearly as much
fun as gunpowdr.

a hydrogen proton combines with the lone pair
that is to say
both electrons are supplied by the nitrogen
so it isn’t strictly speaking a co-valent bond
it is a dativ bond.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Robert Head on the Gulf oil volcano


the endangerd loggerhead turtls are
crawling up on the beach to die
at Pass Christian of my earliest memories.

blood runs out their eyes & 20,000
cars a day drive past my bookstore.
i sit behind sum bushes across the street
upwind of it & i can watch my doorway
& hwen a customer enters i walk

back across 219. i hav plenty of time
to meditate on our demise.

the magnitude of this disaster is hard to imagin
going into the third week now & they still can’t stop it.
it has already reacht Dauphin Iland
hwer Darlene & i spent a week in November

long ago we were the only pepl there at that time of year
& we sat on the beach & the dolphins came up
& danced in front of us. i believe
this is the time of year they cum into

shallow water to hav their babies.
& soon it will be at Panama City beach
hwer my father & i rented a motel.

the birds may survive a hurricane
but not an oil volcano.

there’s 5000' of broken pipe
crumbled around the oil spout
so it’d be hard to lower a bag of
barite into the hole in the pichdark
without it getting tore up

the normal rules of evolution break down during
an oil volcano. the only evidence of
selectivity during extinction has been against
species with limited geographical ranj.

the oil will circl in the gulf & get
in the gulf stream & go up the east
coast to Cape Hatteras & thence eastward.

the carbon in the oil will combine with
oxygen to form carbon dioxide.
the sudden release of methane hydrate is
postulated as one of the causes of

the permian-triassic boundry extinction.
the sudden release of oil has no precedent.
those species endemic to the Gulf of Mexico
will be extincted.

in southern Louisiana, Audubon recorded
the Mississippi kites arrival “about the middl of
April, in small parties of five or six.”

“24 miles of Plaquemines Parish is destroyd.
everything in it is ded.”
a starfish washes ashore on the Chandeleur Ilands.
it is grey.

the bluefin tuna spawn in the Gulf
west of the Dry Tortugas.

my customer said,
they think it’s bigger than they thought it was.
yes indeed. the yellow rose
of the Gulf of Mexico.

Teddy Roosevelt establisht Breton Island
as a wildlife refuge but that was before
the Army Corps of Engineers channeld
the Mississippi River & the iland began sinking.

it’s all oil. you’re never going to get that clean.
the crude oil burns skin & hwen inhaled in
high concentrations can cause central nervous
system damij, depression, convulsions & loss of consciousness.

hwee wee wee wee

tomorrow is memorial day
in memory of the Louisiana delta
& the Mississippi flyway

in memory of Grand Isle
in memory of pompano

in memory of West Indies salad
in memory of the ferry across Mobile Bay

the man from the National Wildlife
Federation said there was a half inch
of oil everyhwer & that nuthin
coud liv in that.

so that talk about cleaning up the oil
is nonsense. there’s no way to
clean up the oil in the Louisiana delta
that is to say the Mississippi flyway.

birds funnel in & out to Alaska
& the east coast of Hudson Bay.
they hav no vois in their death
so it seems to be my job to speak for them.

a lot of good it’ll do.

of the defunct gulf
from my friends near the gulf
i havn’t heard a word. they must be
rendrd speechless. hwat can we say
across the space that is almost impossibl to walk.

my father turns over in his grave
& prays to the water, to a good
stream of water.

i hate to tell him but the he-bass
in the Potomac are carrying eggs.
i will advise him to lay down in his grave
& wait a million years.

i think hwat it’s like there in the gulf
the heat & the oil vapor & can’t go swimming
i’m going to take a bath just thinking about it
to get the sweat off

Plaquemines Parish has been in bed
with the oil companies for eighty-five years.
do you think maybe american grief
will ever end

i used to go crabbing from the seawall
in Pass Christian & this morning i saw
a dead oil-soakt crab.

Edward O. Wilson weeps for the pelicans
& Bruce Phelps wundrs how he is going to make a living
& the coastguard’s incompetence dooms Perdido Bay.

the Creek & the Choctaw did many things
but they never drilld a hole in the Mississippi Canyon.

the oil is already at Oranj Beach Alabama
& is working its way eastward to Appalachicola Bay
hwer 90% of Florida’s oysters liv
& then on to St. Mark’s Wildlife Refuge
hwer my father took us to look at the birds

St. Marks was talkt away from the Spanish
by Andrew Jackson hoo told the commandr
that they were on the same side
against the “Indians” & the “free Negroes”

i believe it was about 1830
that the Choctaws signed away their land
east of the Mississippi to the “United States”
either that or a bullet in the head

so mile by mile the united states
extended its sovrinty to the Gulf

it wouldn’t hav been safe walking alone
so perhaps the engineer let him ride
in the mail-car. well, i was wrong.

“I started to cross the State by a gap
hewn for the locomotiv, walking sumtimes
between the rails, stepping from tie to
tie or walking on a strip of sand
at the sides. . .”

the train had never
gotten running after the Federals
seized the two terminals in 1862.

Muir was lucky to be alive

he walkt all the way to the Gulf

Mobile hwen Bartram visited was
a French city. & there were the Choctaw & the Creek
& Bartram walkt alone to look at the flowers
amidst the over-mountain Cherokee.

that would hav been the iland in the sky.
i havn’t been that far but i hav been
as far as Boone. i like to imagin it
the way it was hwen Bartram was there.

his writing enabls us to do that.
it may be said to hav enterd into
the memory of man happier than
the epic death now occurring.

the second larjest extinction in earth’s
history not counting the present
defines the triassic-jurassic boundary
& the rift between west Africa & North

America coincides. it would be also the opening
up of Pangea. perhaps hwen it
opend up & crackt the continental
crust it released methane hydrate

& that might explain the generic extinction.
this rift strata outcrops at the Virginia
Solite Quarry hwer the oldest dinosaur
tracks in eastern north america are found.

the intense late triassic-earliest jurassic
rift, deep enuf for the ocean to cum in,
coincides with the intense extinction of
marine, shelly organisms & amphibians.

they are one & the same it must be
that the rift opend up the gates of hell.

remember the torre canyon that crackt up
on the rocks in the English Channel
that were clearly markt on the chart

well, British Petroleum had charterd the ship
& they said, oh, it’s not our ship, not
our captain, not our crew

well, the oil going toward Cornwall
the English napalmd & they said
it was the most god-awful sight they’d ever seen

& the oil going toward Brittany & Normandy
the French dropt chalk on it
& it settled to the bottom.

before the ship broke in half
they pumpt sum oil into a quarry
on Guernsey & that oil is there to this day

& said to hav the most god-awful
smell known to man hwich smell
is compounded by the tens of thousands
of birds that land in the oil