Crucifix in a Deathhand title


Over 100 posts
Hi everyone,

does anyone know if that poem title refers to something in particular? I remember reading something about it many, many years ago, and I seem to recall it had some kind of geographical meaning, but then again, I have a very bad memory.

As always, thanks for your help!

Purple Stickpin

Billions served
I think the "geographical meaning" you suggest has to do with the context in which the line is used:

...we are in a basin. that is the
idea. down in the sand and the alleys,
this land punched-in, cuffed-out, divided,
held like a crucifix in a deathhand,
this land bought, resold, bought again and
sold again, the wars long over,
the Spaniards all the way back in Spain
down in the thimble again, and now
real estaters, subdividers, landlords, freeway
engineers arguing...

Buk is using "crucifix in a deathhand" as imagery for how people possess land and guard it fiercely, argue over it, etc. Crucifix in a deathhand could be viewed two ways:

1. Holding something dear in a death grip; or
2. Holding something that was god's will the white man shall have dominion over in a rigor-mortis-induced state of immobility. In other words, the concept of god giving the white man dominion over the land actually leads to an unsatisfied death rather than the success that so many associate with the accumulation of commodities, such as land.

That's my take, but I don't like to analyze this stuff. :aerb:


And in the end...
Over 500 posts
I think the same, that it's a reference to the punch drunk, battle weary place looking for redemption. Interesting that in the Sounes book "Locked in the arms..." he claims that the title (of the book) was chosen by Webb and that Bukowski had reservations about it.It iifferent from the first one with the Jeffers sentence "... Catches my heart in it's hand".