National Novel Writing Month – Day II: Some Good Progress

In yesterday’s post, I spoke of the research I often must do, research that generates my writing. Last night, I was able to research and write. After looking to Jayhawkers and their raids on Confederate sympathizers, after discovering one of the raids was aimed at the James family and young Jesse was lashed, I took up my pen and wrote. I took what i knew happened and constructed a scene where my words plugged in the gaps that history left. I like those gaps.

What I present here is raw and unrevised. Revisions will occur, but I wanted to present my original impulse, as imperfect as it might be.

(And honestly, I need to check if Jesse’s mother was present at the raid this poem presents. Based on what I know, I assume she was. We’ll see)

Lots of It

There was this time when a swarm of Jayhawkers,
damn Union lovers, done descend on Jesse and Frank’s home
like plagues done on that Egypt town cause we was propin’

up the Confederacy best we could. They stormed
in like a strong wind laced with a foul smell breakin’
and windows and anything they could manage to break.

We was sleepin’. Had no time to grab our guns,
fill them bastards with a few trigger pulls.
I took a swing at a big one, knocked a tooth

clean out his mouth, but they tied me up quick,
slapped a few teeth out of me and broke my nose.
They hung Jesse’s step-daddy from his neck,

let him hang enough to choke him real good,
but not enough to kill him. Then they tied up Jesse
for puttin’ up a fuss like I did, but beat him worse,

took a whip to his back like he was nothin’ more
than an ornery slave. One of them even slapped
Mrs. James cause she spit on him. They had a gun

on Frank the whole time. His bones almost leapt
through his skin, he was so mad. Once they all
skedaddled, Mrs. James got herself up and I

untied Jesse. That old woman, got her boys together,
talked to them quiet like, all hushed and secret.
When they was done whisperin’, Jesse told me

to get a good horse and a better gun.
There was revenge to get, lots of it.


10 thoughts on “National Novel Writing Month – Day II: Some Good Progress

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