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Blue-Tail Fly

Vievee Francis

Publication Year: 2006

The title of Blue-Tail Fly comes from an antebellum song commonly known as “Jimmy Crack Corn.” The blue-tail fly is a supposedly insignificant creature that bites the horse that bucks and kills the master. In this collection, poet Vievee Francis gives voice to “outsiders”-from soldiers and common folk to leading political figures-who play the role of the blue-tail fly in the period of American history between the Mexican American War and the Civil War. Through a diverse range of styles, characters, and emotions, Francis's poems consider the demands of war, protest and resistance to it, and the cross-cultural exchanges of wartime. More than a narrowly themed text, Blue-Tail Fly is a book of balances, weighing the give-and-take of people and cultures in the arena of war. For lovers of poetry and those interested in American history, Blue-Tail Fly will illustrate the complexities of the American past and future.

Published by: Wayne State University Press

The Scale of Empire

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pp. 1-2

AFTERMATH

1880, The Binding Tie

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pp. 5-11

The Finishing Thoughts of Festus Spencer as He Looks into the Camera

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pp. 12

I

Frederick Douglass Speaks before the Anti–Mexican War Abolitionists

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pp. 15

Ample Cause of War

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pp. 16

General Taylor Convinces Himself That He Is for War

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pp. 17

Doubt

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pp. 18

Letter to the Governor of Texas

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pp. 19

Notes from Officer Hitchcock’s Lost Leather Journal

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pp. 20

Liberation

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pp. 21-22

By the end

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pp. 23

Three Hundred and Seventy-Two Miles from Home

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pp. 24-25

Pokagon Accepts Colonel Taylor’s Invitation

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pp. 26

Colonel Zachary Taylor Has Pokagon for Tea

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pp. 27

The Escarpment

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pp. 28-29

In Private Conversation: Buchanan to Like Minds

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pp. 30

The Book Speaks of Pretenders

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pp. 31

South of Houston

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pp. 32

II

Civil Beginnings

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pp. 35

Darling Wife

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pp. 36

Grey Jebediah

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pp. 37

The Bone Boiler

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pp. 38-39

Shadows

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pp. 40

1864, Fragments of a Camp near Yorktown

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pp. 41

1864, A Pocket Full of Rye

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pp. 42

Snake Swamp

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pp. 43

1863, Walt Whitman Reads to the Limbless, Dying

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pp. 44

Linsey-Woolsey

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pp. 45

1864, Dear Mother

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pp. 46

Gettysburg: Blue and Grey

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pp. 47-48

A Singular Dispersion over Franklin, Tennessee

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pp. 49-50

Lincoln Dreams of Sarah, the Servant

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pp. 51

“If Not for You”

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pp. 52

1863, Detroit Riots, Again

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pp. 53-54

1864, Dear Son

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pp. 55

III

Private Athens Descries

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pp. 59

Hannibal of Athens, Georgia

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pp. 60

White Glove Test

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pp. 61

Private Smith’s Primer

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pp. 62

Br’er Rabbit in Chickamauga

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pp. 63

Drummer Boy

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pp. 64

Interview: Survivor, Fort Pillow

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pp. 65

A Second Dream of Sarah

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pp. 66

Nigger Pine

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pp. 67

Lincoln Speaks after the Bones Are Thrown

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pp. 68

The White Immensities

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pp. 69-74

Notes on the Poems

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pp. 75

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Credits and Acknowledgments

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pp. 77

My husband, poet Matthew S. Olzmann, ever my rock without whom I could not have started or finished the book; my wonderful mother, Elaine Francis, whose generosity is boundless; first reader, poet Robert Fanning, whose knowledge inspires all who work with him; poet Paula Roper for her advice and help; the Advanced Writing Class (Springfed Arts), especially my instructor Mary Jo Firth...


E-ISBN-13: 9780814335215
Print-ISBN-13: 9780814333235

Page Count: 88
Publication Year: 2006