Over DeSoto’s Bones
“An adept mixture of fact, history, surrealism, and mysticism,” says Hugh Fox in his introduction to Over DeSoto’s Bones, published in 1979. The entire collection is an intelligent, ironic, and engaging look at history and its consequences in the desert west. Beasley draws together both arid landscape and cultural tradition, finding union between disparate forces on the page. “Anza Conquers the Desert” is a witty, wry seventeen-poem sequence mixing magic and history, and detailing the 1774 expedition of Captain Juan Bautista de Anza and his men traveling from San Xavier del Bac near Tucson into the Colorado desert. “Zoot Suit War” is a precise and questioning account of racial confrontation that took place in Los Angeles during the Second World War.
The full text of Conger Beasley’s Over DeSoto’s Bones is stored at Albertson Library at Boise State University, and can be downloaded here. You may also purchase a copy of the book.
from “Anza Conquers the Desert” #12
I can swim in sand, said Lieutenant Mimbres.
Sand is really a liquid
coarser, less refined
but navigable by a strong man with desire.
He stripped to his tunic & plunged in.
For about a mile the lieutenant swam
with an easy overarm crawl
till he bumped against a rock
& called for help.
The others pulled him out.
& administered first aid:
thorns & whiptails with a vengeance
to cure him of his foolishness.
Copyright © 1979 by Conger Beasley, Jr.
Conger Beasley's website contains a biographical statement in his own words.