Geronimo-ohhh! the big boys yelled as they launched off the long branch
of an old, old oak tree clutching umbrellas and sheet ends as they hurtled
down onto a stack of mattresses on a devastated box springs, Geronimo-ohhh
we would scream as we tore off the lip of the dune to somersault and tumble in sand wave
Geronimo-ohhh! we would yell as we jumped into the Au Sable River from C.C.C. bridge
Geronimo-ohhh! was what the airborne troopers cried as they shuffled out the door
of the plane with nothing but a static line and unconscious prayer. When the special forces
rangers, the ultimate anti-insurgent forces of the greatest military power in the history
of the world, rappel down out of their Black(hawk) helicopters on their lips is the name
of the greatest guerilla warrior of all time, this small man named Geronimo-ohhh …
He fought the armies of 2 countries over more than thirty years, dodging back and forth
over their border. It took 5,000 troops of the U.S. Army over two years to finally force
the surrender of his tiny band of 38 women, children and men.
They say an Apache Warrior cold lose a man on a horse, running across the desert.
He knew every rock, cactus and hole in that desert. In my illustrated shaman book
I find this quote from his autobiography: “As I sing I go through the air to a holy place
where Yusun, (the supreme) being will give me power to do wonderful things. I am
surrounded by little clouds and as I go through the air I change becoming spirit only.”
In the picture above he kneels on one knee with Sharps rifle gripped fiercely in talons
of his steely hands. His hair parted in the middle falls down to his shoulders around
his mouth in a downturned line across his face that looks at us with inimitable intensity
from under the harsh line of his eyebrows. Underneath it says, “The Apache shaman-chief.”
This is not a man to mess with, but then I find in the Monday Boston Globe an article which
tells the story of Geronimo’s great grandson Harlyn who has heard the Yalie legend that
after Geronimo died in 1909 and was buried at Ft. Sill, where he was eventually held after
his capture by Gen. Miles, Prescott Bush and two other Yale undergrads brought to the fort
by WW I dug up his skull and some long bones and they are used to this day in the rituals
of a secret Skull and Bones Society at the university. Harlyn is demanding the return of his
great grandfather’s remains so they can be buried at his birth spot along the Gila River, Arizona.
No one (except members of the secret Skull and Bones Society) knows if there really are bones stored
in a fraternity vault at Yale U. Only a D.N.A. test could prove they are Geronimo’s skull and long bones.
Anyway both presidential candidates in 2004, George Bush and John Kerry were members of the secret
society. George Bush, “the great decider,” was said to have been the one who heated up a wand in the
fireplace to brand new members in initiation ceremonies. Every time I see him now on T.V. the supreme
select president, Geronimo’s skull burns my brain and Geronimo’s bones are buried deep in my body.
And then they went and named the raid to kill Osama bin Laden you know ……. Geronimo-ohhhhhh.
So here we are still at war with the natives only now the natives are all over the world where the violent
frontiers know no boundaries except the black and white chess board of the New World Order of the
Neo-Great Game of the 21st Century and Geronimo-ohhhh! we all yell as we bail out of our crashing craft
we call civilization over the super-heated pulse of El Nino here’s hoping our personal parachutes will open
and somehow we will all land between the tropical storms and the typhoons swirling in unprecedented
numbers as we try to gather together to retake what is left of our planet, Earth, as we yell Geronimo-ohh,
Geronimo-ohhhh as we fall.
James Van Looy has been a fixture in Boston’s poetry venues since the 1970s. He is a member of Cosmic Spelunker Theater and has run poetry workshops for Boston area homeless people at Pine Street Inn and St. Francis House since 1992. His work appears weekly in Oddball Magazine.