On my way to Ribello

Left my heart there long ago

Somewhere off the beaten road

Passed the white man’s honor code

Rebel snakes with bright red eyes

Wave me in with homespun lies

Fill my coonskin cap with grapes

Wrap my knife in bloodied crepes

Then send me back on my way:

“Best you not prolong your stay

For them Yankees haunt the night

Hessians aching for a fight

And they’ll sniff you in the air

Your desert soul much too fair”

So on I walk passed the bend

Where the white sun knows no end

And find myself a dead squaw

Injun girl I name McGraw

Share my blanket with her there

Tell her tales beneath the glare

She never talks all that much

And is too cold to my touch

Could use a bath truth be told

Like a slave that’s just been sold

So on I go with no fear

My hard steps to yesteryear

Find a man hung from a tree

Old Tippecanoe, I see

Thought he had died from the cold

Or hard cider I was told

Seems he died from crooked neck

As “Tyler Too” held the check

His corpse riddled with arrows

His wounds nests for old sparrows

So on I go toward the start

Meet a Puritan named Hart

And his Goody two shoes wife

Her hymen cut with a knife

They are a most blessed pair

On God alone do they stare

So holy they will not mix

But point me toward River Styx:

“Cross that stream and you will see

What’s left of Eden for free

No Christ is needed out there

Your sins balanced by your care”

On I go with quickened gait

Lest I get there much too late

But no River do I find

Just more sand dunes in my mind

The quest a foolish man’s fate

Demons wrested from my hate

Hell’s next stop is Ribello

A town crafted from my woe

If only I could get there

Sleep awhile with my despair

But Hell’s white sun never sets

When the Devil makes his bets

And so on and on I go

Searching for my Ribello

With my knife blade in my hand

My mad howls a marching band

All times captured in my pain

There is nothing left to gain

But at least I am a god

To myself I sing my laud

My song likened to a crow

While I press to Ribello

Published by Michael Sean Erickson

I write, act, and produce films in Los Angeles. Everything else is conjecture.

One thought on “Ribello

  1. I received a comment on social media from a person who enjoyed this poem overall, but found it a little difficult to follow on account of her lack of familiarity with American history. I wrote back to her as follows:

    Admittedly, the poem plays on events in American history. The most important theme, though, I think is universal: The man wants to find “Ribello,” a place where salvation may be had without purgation from sin (“No Christ is needed out there. Your sins balanced by your care.”). It is a kind of false Pelagian fantasy.

    No matter how far he walks he cannot get passed the death that is intrinsic to him and to his land (the Rebel Snakes and the Yankees referring to the American Civil War, the dead squaw and the hung “Tippecanoe,” General (and later President) William Henry Harrison, referring to the American Indian Wars, and the Puritan man and wife referring to the colonization period before the American Revolution). No matter how much he romanticizes his warlike nature (his knife wrapped in “bloodied crepes,” in other words softened by a dainty French pancake) he will be driven mad by it (the knife once wrapped by French crepes is later wrapped by his own hands).

    Without purgation he cannot find any rest out there in that endless desert. “Ribello” is a false hope, like the lost city of gold the conquistadores hoped to find in the North American continent. The only real hope for our hero is Christ, but he rejects that out of hand.


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