Squanto's Wind (Revised)

Boston's John Hancock Tower, constructed in the 1970s, was one of the world's worst architectural disasters. The foundation undermined adjacent buildings, and ten thousand window panes began popping out and falling onto pedestrians below; and the whole building swayed sickeningly in the wind. In this poem I recount some of the building's disastrous details, and speculate about whether some angry Native American spirit might be getting even with Boston. I invoke Squanto, the first Native American to greet the arriving Puritans. By one of the most bizarre coincidences in all history, Squanto had previously been captured, enslaved, and gone to Europe and back, so that he was able to greet the arriving colonists with the words, "Welcome, Englishmen!"
I did a little digital art piece for this too, combining Squanto's portrait with the cursed tower.

Squanto’s Wind

A ruffian wind
content till now to move
through barricades of steel
to tug of sea,
forgetful of forest and creek,
rears up at last,
howls No emphatically
at the Hancock tower,
a block as gray as greed,
lunging from bedrock to sky.
The primal No acquires more force,
plucks glass like seeds
from a ruptured grape.
The window panes explode a million shards
of architectural sneeze
scattered by gravity
to punctuate the streets
with gleaming arrowheads,
obsidian spears,
black tomahawks
of dispossession. 
What Manitou is this
who shakes his fist
at the barons of finance?
Whatever happened to
“Welcome, Englishmen!”
(the first words spoken
by Native to Puritan)?
The engineers move in,
revise their blueprints
while covered walkways
protect pedestrians
from Hancock’s continued
Months pass, and yet
a lingering wind remains,
circling the sheltered walks,
lapping at plywood sheets,
a sourceless gale
that ruffles Bostonians
with its reiterated cry,
not on this land you don’t.
On really windy days
the whole tower sways
and workers turn green
from motion sickness.
Millions are spent
on a countersliding bed
of lubricated lead
to gyro the floor to apparent
stillness; millions more
from the slap-suited builders
on fifteen hundred tons
of diagonal braces,
all to to stop
the whole ziggurat
rom an inevitable topple,
just one wind,
at just one angle

bring everything down
in a snarl of pretzeled girders.
Finally all ten thousand panes
are one by one, removed
and one by one replaced. 
Is Squanto satisfied
that the tower was sold,
that the new owners slid
to bankruptcy (at least
on paper), though bankers slide
from one debacle to another
and earn baronial bonuses? 
No! His feathered face frowns
on clouded-over golf days.
His never-tiring gusts divert
the errant baseball, ensuring
decades of home-game dejection. 

It will take more than
double-dug foundations,
new window panes,
to still these vectors of rage.
Token pow-wows at shopping malls
and suburban parks
do not fool old Squanto:
sharp-dealing and inhospitable,
Boston must pay!
Revised 5/12/2012


  1. squanto loved the english he was raised froma boy to a man amongst them and embraced their religion. his last words were to ed winslow ... "i pray your god will let me into his heaven i know my peoples god will not let me into mine"

    however paxuet who was stabbed in the heart with his own knife by miles standish hated english deeply he lived in what is now quincy

    hartman deetz
    mashpee wampanoag


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