Cowammaunsch. Moshassuck. Cowammaunsch.

This next section of Stubborn Grew is extensive, a lot going on.  It's divided into sections which open with a kind of incantation from the Narragansett language (which Roger Williams studied & spoke). The poem is a sketchy, partial microcosm of the history of this microcosmic little state, as seen through the eyes of Bluejay - the first European settlers, treaties with the Narragansetts, the Dorr War... pivotal points in the story of a separate, particular colony & state, established on certain Rogerian principles of fairness, openness, and tolerance, but not always living up to them.


Cowammaunsch.  Moshassuck.  Cowammaunsch
Bluejay sat in the cut-stone corner by the memorial 
marker of the original spring, muttering.  Are you ill? 
asked Henry.  He looked phosphorescent, hunched

over the dry well.  North Main, spectral
in the glare of streetlights.  What cheer, Netop? 
The specter gave a little chuckle.  Nope.
Juss settlin down.  We gotto getta work, that all.

You lookin for that shadow cat a yours, whatever she is;
 I gotta find my Yoi, my other half.  Your sister?
Like a pigeon to a Bluejay, mister.
Thought she was parked up Angell Street – then whiz,

gone again.  Spacetime, man, is totally vicious, 
least sometimes.  All them cauchy surfaces!
But we gonna lay down a lil non-ukelele curvaceous 
on them strings, baby – I mean them springs

sorta Viconious harmonics – either theory or the other! 
You'll see.  Henry thought, I'm sposed to get more blind. . . 
– gonna take that wormhole from behind, if "behind"
is the righteous word fo "it" – blind as a nightcrawler,

thought Henry. This catamaran's just floatin around, 
the jokester. . . Bluejay meanwhile was doubled over, 
quiet.  Over here, Henry.  His tone was sober.
Henry moved closer.  Bluejay held out his left hand

and the eye began to glow.  His five fingers spread, 
his palm directly over the iron disk marker.
The eye grew bright – all around it, darker.
Hen was getting hypnotized.  Felt the reddish

roots of his hair grow feathers, so it seemed –
and a floppy comb or crown bulged from his brow –
and he flapped – and began to float now
still staring into the other bird's calm hand.

What the hell is going on? he heard him yell.
Relax, Red – forget about yo'self – juss look.
He stared – and slowly, slowly. . . the spell took. 
Stared into a moss-green tunnel – like a wishing well. . .

– and entered it.  He was in a greenhouse. . .
had been here before!  Six-sided, like a transparent 
drydocked hull, creviced with young plant
growth, vines, the smell of compost, peatmoss;

clean, fresh, sparkling springlight, floating dustmotes 
down through the slanted ribs of southern exposure; 
and seated beside him, leaning closer, closer. . .
it was. . .  P-n! No rusty memory, but warm... the roots

stirred through his body, and hers – it could happen, 
he thought – even to us!  Hard to believe.
Like twins, or – twinned now – how to behave?
He didn't know.  He kissed her once, then.

She smiled. . . and sighed. . . and then the bright-
ribbed greenhouse blurred away again. 
The eye in Bluejay's hand was a dull copper pan, 
creased with axlegrease – streaks of dirt.


Cowammaunsch.  Moshassuck.  Cowammaunsch.
In the early March air, sparkling, if you're lucky and 
down in the valley with the youngsters go – Roger and 
Tom Angell, sunlit, where the moose range for lunch;

Roger (the upstart crow, no ponderous militant 
antique, careworn with his righteous cares like the 
mass in Massachusetts, but thinking it through –
a key within a box with a bunch of keys) went

off often into the Indian den, canonical and friendly,
listening, learning; and driven out, marched down 
boldly into early air, with trumpet-vine for pen. 
Deed from Cannannicus and Miantonomi:

. . . ye lands and meadows upon the two fresh rivers 
Mooshausick and Wanasquetucket, doe now
by these presents. . . in witness thereof, we
have hereunto set our hands.  [Canoe; doubled arrows]

Meadows and open spaces for the refugees,
forever and ever – this was their pledge. 
Land for none unless for all – no hedge
of laws against outsiders.  Guarantees,

handshook and signed in primitive consensus
of these – hardy, penniless and young.
God not in a Boston magistracy, but among 
them all, invisible – O Democracy! – and so it was.

A Charter – for a separate Colony – and Roger 
sails for London – (Williams, Clarke)
sailed home again, triumphantly – regal oak-
tree Charles sealed – snakeskin imprimature 

charged into Boston – waved it in their faces, 
laughed – and homeward by canoe – Rhode
Island's little hills rejoicing – 29 oaksplitting grandstand 
hip hip. . . – these echoes. . . echoes. . . fade.  Echoes, traces

of truces. . . broken, later.  The years crowd.
The crowd cheers.  Crow charts around the eyes. 
The crows, the crowing.  Grows dark.  No surprise –
land grows dear.  Voices mutter – angry, rude.


Cowammaunsch.  Moshassuck.  Cowammaunsch.
 – Musta took the wrong timebranch, he frowned. 
Redman Adam's apple gone all rusty brown. 
Henry squinted hard at that heavy, metallic palm.

It was a whole brown universe in motion,
sort of – all smelly and smooched – particles 
in parchmentsize punypapers, tackle
of doublejammin figurefissures, commotions

everyman one angry hungrycocky, hotspurred 
for landedmoney, so they could franchise.
The vices coming fast and furious –
eighteenforty at a time – but the gentry preferred

the old Charter of sixteenforty or so – big differences!
The whaleboat hillside (covered with secretunnels,
caves, wormholes for exlaves) smells like Swisscheese –
the propertied gents circle the wagons – everybody waffles. . .

until that little, meek and modest lawyer, Tommy Dorr 
stands up and says – we gotta pierce the Charlie II charter! 
Hafta open up a freemen's democratic franchise, here! 
We got these Irish workingmen (lot ovum black, or

near so) crowding into tiny roadside Rhody shacks, while 
everybody's great granddad is lording it – a legal error! 
This is a miracle, America – a Dorr War! And so
it was. Libraritarian abandons genteel Yankee style

takes up the rude sword – po man's Napoleon –
a nappy lion on the (verbal) field! Against the will
of fathers, brothers, preachers, senators – he will
go civil war! Gravitous vices croak – we already had one

evil one!  A Revolution!  And we won, that one! 
Dorr will have none.  Unless we all can vote –
all one and all – democracy's a bankrupt note. 
And so the little state divides. Gentlemen

against mechanics.  Us and them.  You and me. 
The shadow from the greenery sun – the Irishmen 
won't let the freeborn Negroes join the fun –
so they support the silverspoonfed aristocracy.

Two capitals, two constitutions – island 
occluded in Bermuda triangle – Napoleon 
puffeduped and farcical – a rebellious cannon
 – spouting a cone of wet ammunition, blackened
aimed at his own father in the fogbound Armory
– won't light – Dorr makes a scrambuled run for it –
 the fraidomflighters scatter too – and fatally hit,
a Newport Gould goes down – the only casualty?

– the documents gone missing. . .


Henry blinked – felt glare press behind eyes. 
Bluejay – what the hell's the point here?
Irony of all this revolutionary mirror war 
within the state? Device, divide, devise. . .

is that all there is, right down to zero hour? 
Bluejay looked back, closed his fingers gently. 
It juss another rotten apple, man. Eventually –
like about 50 year later – they put up a Dorr statue.

Meanwhiles he pines away in gaol, down there 
behind the former Cove, seven, eight year. 
Writes a lotta letters – to his mother.
(Dorr never mucha ladies' man – that f’sure).

Gets pretty po an sick aftwhile they let him go. 
Can't do no harm – the moneyed gents in charge. 
All peace an quiet f’long time – like surge
an ebb, ebb an surge – that history, y'now.

Til the next big war – the real one – come along. 
All f’one, one f’all – kinda phony, y'know – until 
fall come – winter – ev'body feel that chill.
Done matter who you are.  Juss done come out wrong.

Why, that's kinda sad, Bluejay.  That's terrible.
Henry looked up – the dark hillside above – then
suddenly saw – barely, in the dark – the dun
colored outline – RW, statuesque, in lostgrained marble.

Hey!  C'mon, Bluejay!  Live ain't over yet!  Let's go –
up to the Terrace!  There's old Roger himself, up there! 
Bluejay turned SE to see.  Yeah, I see the ol’ bear.
He got up and shook himself – blood to flow

into his phosphoric, porous feet and hands –
and said:  you know what you doin, Henry m'man? 
You know you zigshaggin?  Raven an zigshaggin
a sweetblack rizebury W, man – donch U?  Unnerstan?

A what?  Sho.

Henry's very own eye-in-hand (no cash value)

Roger's spring

Prospect Terrace

Grave of Gov. Thomas Dorr (Swan Point Cemetery)

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