I am a long-time resident of Austin, Texas, where I received my education at the University of Texas. Favorite quote: "I must create a system or be enslaved by another man's" by William Blake, my mentor.
Authors Note: During the siege of the Alamo in 1836, the Texan defenders were hopelessly outnumbered by the Mexican army and Mexican dictator General Santa Anna had proclaimed he would take no prisoners. The Alamo's commander, William Barret Travis, sent out repeated pleas for assistance. The only reinforcements to arrive were a group of 32 volunteers from the town of Gonzales.
The Thirty-two Men from Gonzales
There is, in each of us, a greatness in our lives.
Some pursue it all their days and never find it;
Others happen on it by chance:
A thoughtless act of courage,
A careless feat of self-sacrifice,
A sudden stumbling on the sublime.
Slipping through a sundown shining,
The thirty-two men from Gonzales
Went riding down the Bexar Road.
Now was the time of greatest danger,
Beyond bullets and bayonets.
The countryside had come alive:
Rustling leaves were singing tinkling bells,
Flowing creeks were splashing harmonies;
Here blue jays fluttering in cottonwoods,
There nesting mockingbirds calling their kind,
A frightened foal following a mare,
And determined men riding the road.
Now life was much more beautiful
And now a greater love for wife and child…
But to not answer the call for help!
Would it all be still as splendid?
Could they find a beauty in themselves?
They left the road to press unseen through brush.
On either side the sound of enemy soldiers,
Directly ahead the hushed mission walls.
A rifle shot a wound a glimmering light
Commotion on dark fortress ramparts.
They galloped toward the gate.
The postern swung open
A surging dash inside
Safely into the Alamo.
-first published in the Poetry Society of Texas Book of the Year 2015
©2015 Benjamin Pehr