October 15, 2013

Instructions Given for the Discovery and Eradication of Apostasy

Instructions Given for the Discovery and Eradication of Apostasy
by Justin Evans

1. Justification(i)

Some jobs scream for committee―
Say, the delegation of authority in the education
of our children, labor according to ability,
building an irrigation ditch to the Union Bench, or
a mud wall for practicality and protection.

But there comes a time when God comes first,
when the consensus of one community should be
to fall behind one man, submit to a greater voice, where
the formation of lots, the division of the land
among the families according to need must be heeded.

When the requirement of obedience cannot be met
there is no room for a split amongst the saints,
no place for the voice of dissent to reside.  Either
one must go, or the other, and there can be no accord.

2.  Procedure(ii)  

Because there can be no trust between the faithful
and those who will not heed the call, secret meetings
will be held. Confederates will be appointed
to infiltrate their numbers for the purposes of discovery.

These men will report from time to time upon
the disposition of the unfaithful, guiding them
to their destruction at the appointed hour.  They will
be certain to give signs and tokens to verify their true faith.

We must always prepare for the taking up of the sword
when called by God or his appointed prophet.  There can be
no wavering, no departure without correction.

This done to preserve the order in accordance with
the Living Prophet's direction, as these times call out
for obedience and preservation amongst the saints.

3.  The Tragic End of Wm. & Beason Parish

 "Old arguments die hard and they can travel 
   the length of a continent if they are nurtured."
  - James Albee Cox, 1855

Staring up at the night
desert skies

the final moments 
of a man's life entangle
with the dark 

silhouette of clouds
shape shifting

take up the soul into its wisped  
ethereal composite
of humidity and vapor

carried eastward again
across the plains

4.  The Testimony of Abraham Durfee (Found Poem)(iii)  

Bird was lying in the corner of the fence 
as Parrish and Potter walked along the fence. 
Bird said he shot Potter, whom he supposed 
to be Parrish; that after, he wanted 

to know if it was him that had shot; he said 
Parrish had his gun in his hand, laid it down, 
and they (Parrish and Bird) clinched together. 
As they clinched Bird drew his knife, worked 

the best he could in stabbing Parrish. Bird said 
after Parrish was down, he gave him a lick 
which cut his throat. He never said anything about 
any other persons being there helping him. 

Bird said, after he got through with the old man 
he took Potter's gun and his own, got in the corner 
of the fence again to be ready for us. He said he laid 
there till we came up—the Parrish boys and myself. 

Bird fired and he saw one fall. He was afraid 
the person he had shot would run off, fired again. 
When Orrin and I started, said he came out 
from the fence and shot at Orrin. Said he saw me 

or he supposed it was me. When I ran into the hollow 
he asked me if I heard him call; I told him I did. 
He wanted to know why I did not come to him; 
I told him I did not like to, that I did not know 

what it meant. The next-morning after the murder 
I heard Bishop Johnson and Bird talking together. 
He blamed Potter and Bird for not going 
further away with them. The Bishop said he wanted 

I should be satisfied about the affair, not tell 
who was in it― that if I did, they would serve me 
in the same way. I did not know the Parrishes 
were to be killed. I sup-posed from what 

Potter told me they were to be brought back. 
In the second meeting I attended there were some 
what wanted to see blood run. It was 
Wilson Bird that called me. Bishop Johnson

some two or three days before the murder told me 
take a gun out with me. The Parrishes had no gun. 
The morning of the hearing, myself and Orrin Parrish
before John M. Stewart, I knew Bird was the man 

but I was afraid to state it. Bishop Johnson told me 
what evidence I should give, and he said if I told 
what I knew, they would send me the same way. 
I spoke what the Bishop told me to say.

* * *

(i) "On 'the 14th of March. 1857, occurred the first tragedy to blot our fair history. We would fain pass over this dark spot, and let the foul crime be blotted from the minds of men. but like Banquo's ghost—'it will not down.' The elder had been a Mormon, and in the early history' of the church, his name had figured prominently. The son had also belonged to the church, but for some cause, had. like his father, withdrawn from the faith. They intended going to California and had started on their journey, it is said, that fateful night." Don Johnson, A Brief History of Sprinville (Springville: William F. Gibson, 1900), 40-41.

(ii) "They nominated persons to learn when the Parrishes were going to leave. My name (Abraham Durfee) was mentioned, and I objected to it. Then they mentioned Potter's name; then the Bishop decided that both Potter and myself should try to learn when the Parrishes were going to leave the Territory. The Bishop said he did not wish any one to decline when he was called upon. I then told the Bishop that I would do as well as I knew how; and Potter assented to the same; I can't recollect that Potter made any reply." Abraham Durfee, "The Mormon Murders," New York Tribune, October 17, 1871.

(iii) Durfee, "The Mormon Murders," New York Tribune, October 17, 1871.

* * *

Justin Evans lives in rural Nevada with his wife and sons, where he teaches at the local high school. His books include four chapbooks and a full length collection of poetry. His most recent is the chapbook Friday in the Republic of Me (Foothills Press, 2012). His book Hobble Creek Almanac is forthcoming from Aldrich Press. Recent poetry has been published in Weber: The Contemporary West and diode.

What do you think is the most important part of a historical fiction poem?

The poem needs to serve the aspects of poetry and good writing first and foremost. After, a historically themed poem should make the reader question how much of the work is art and how much is reality. The reader should not come away with any absolute answer for that question.