Toward a poetry and poetics of the Americas (20)

Joanna Kitchel, El Niño Fidencio, and Essie Parrish

[In putting together a transnational and historical anthology of the Americas North and South (now in progress), Javier Taboada and I are looking also at founders and representatives of new or revived American-based religions, who speak and write in forms of prophetic and visionary language that resembles what we otherwise would think of as open-verse poetry. In the present instance the outsider poets on display are Joanna Kitchel, a follower of Mother Anne Lee and the Society of Believers in Christ’s Second Coming (a.k.a. Shakers); El Niño Fidencio (Fidencio Constantino Síntora), a mid–twentieth-century healer and cult figure from Mexico; and Essie Parrish, cofounder of the Pomo Indian “dreamer religion” of California. The images above are of Fidencio and Parrish. (J.R.)]


Joanna Kitchel


Song of the East [1844]


Behold a plant springeth up in the east which shall heal

      many nations; this plant saith Wisdom was by my own

      hand planted.

And a lamp goeth out of the wilderness which shall kindle

      a great burning.

France is my lamp, and England my plant, saith the Lord;

Spain is my defence, and Ireland my strength,

Germany my word, and Italy my sword.

I will make war with the nations of the earth,

I will scatter them in my fury and divide them in the four


      and I will build me a house, a high house;

      no man can tell how I shall frame my house;

      but I will bring my timbers from afar a strange land

      and many people shall flow into it.

And my household shall be in ev’ry land;

      and they shall subdue all nations.

Then my name shall be glorified by Priests and Kings

      and all the earth shall tremble before,

      for I alone will be exalted in that day saith God,

      and here my word doth end.

Now arise and prepare the way for my people,

O daughter of the East that when I come again,

I may visit thee in mercy.



El Niño Fidencio (Fidencio Constantino Síntora)

from SACRED SCRIPTURES: “March 12, 1935”

(translation in progress)


1                In the name of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, Amen

2               In this date, through the Divine Providence of the Eternal Father, the Reviewer of the phone lines of the Divine Science, by the Grace of the Lord, reports:

3               That between twelve and one a.m. he realized he reached space number three.

4               There he — The Reviewer — had the joy of seeing Moses’ Tablets.

5               The Lord granted it because of his great and growing faith,

6               When he got to know his true God in Spirit and felt it in his heart. He also attired himself with Light and Divine Grace.

7               This is what the hearts that love their eternal and true God reach.

8              Without knowing it, the Reviewer keeps reporting to the Holy Ghost’s disciples,

9               That on the same date Holy Days were approaching: passion and death of our Lord Jesus Christ.

10           The Reviewer reported that the Jews were pursuing

11            Our Father Jesus of Nazareth through valleys and a mount of thorns and thickets.

12           The Reviewer keeps reporting the same picture: that they were pursuing our Father Jesus of Nazareth

13           To sacrifice him on the days he gave them knowledge.

14           I connected myself with the heart of The Reviewer and I placed myself in the middle of a palmetto.

15            And it covered my Most Holy Body.

16           And when they passed by, they didn’t see me.

17            We kept moving towards the East, connected with the heart of the Reviewer.

18           And I did this to teach my children the sufferings of this Holy Way.

19           My Reviewer had a coin in his pocket.

20          And I threw it onwards at the same direction, the East,

21           Since the Jews were almost reaching us.

22          Then God, with his might on that coin, molded a huge pond.

23          And the Jews stood there.

24          And they were shocked to see that huge pond.

25           We kept moving and after a short walk, a voice was heard.

26          The Reviewer heard: “Now we are reaching them.”

27           Then I pulled a hair out of my headdress and threw it onwards and a mountain was molded,

28          Too dense so the Jews could not pass through, nor us.

29          We kept moving in the same direction.

30          After a walk, at some point, the Reviewer heard:

31           “Now we are reaching them.”

32          Then I put my Blessed Hands on my chest,

33          And I opened my arms, embodying a Guardian Angel.

34          And I upraised my thoughts to God asking him to favor me in that moment.

35           When I opened my arms, a colossal mountain range of vast boulders was molded.

36          As we kept moving towards East, The Reviewer kept reporting us:

37           That if the Jews wanted to reach us again,

38          The twelve Apostles of the Lord were already walking with us.

39          Someway they reached to a jungle and The Reviewer saw the password I made for him.

40          The password was: tell the ones that belong to me,

41           That, in order to be saved, they should stay beneath the shadow of that tree.

42          The Creator of Heavens and Earth and his son were with him.

43          The Reviewer reports that, when they were walking towards East,

44          None of the apostles raised their eyes.

45          Not everyone walked meekly and some of their hearts had slackened.

46          Divine Testimony and Spiritual Knowledge by the Author of Peace, Fidencio S. Constantino,

47           In the same date the Reviewer was authorized to release these data to the Soldiers of Cristo Rey,

48          Victor Zapata, F.S.C.

Translated by Javier Taboada



Essie Pinola Parrish, per George Quasha

essie parrish in new york


It is a test you have to pass.

Then you can learn to heal

with the finger, said Essie

pointing over our heads:

I went thru every test on the way,

that’s how come I’m a shaman.

Be careful on the journey, they said,

the journey to heaven. They warned me.

And so I went.

Thru the rolling hills

I walked and walked,

mountains and valleys, and rolling hills,

I walked and walked and walked —

you hear many things there

in those rolling hills and valleys,

and I walked and walked and walked

and walked and walked until

I came to a footbridge,

and on the right side were a whole lot of people

and they were naked and crying out,

how’d you get over there,

we want to get over there too

but we’re stuck here,

please come over here and help us cross,

the water’s too deep for us —

I didn’t pay no attention,

I just walked and walked and walked,

and then I heard an animal, sounded like a huge dog,

and there was a huge dog and next to him a huge lady

wearing blue clothes,

and I decided I had to walk right thru —

I did

and the dog only snarled at me.

Never go back.

I walked and walked and walked

and I came to one only tree

and I walked over to it and looked up at it

and read the message:

Go on, you’re half way.

From there I felt better, a little better.

And I walked and walked and walked and walked

and I saw water, huge water

how to get thru?

I fear it’s deep. Very blue water.

But I have to go.

Put out the first foot, then the left,

never use the left hand,

and I passed thru.

Went on and on and on, and I had to enter a place

and there I had to look down:

it was hot and there were people there

and they looked tiny down there in that furnace

running around crying.

I had to enter.

You see, these tests are to teach my people

how to live.

Fire didn't burn me.

And I walked and walked and walked.

On the way you're going to suffer.

And I came to a four-way road

like a cross. Which is the right way?

I already knew.

East is the right way to go to heaven.

North, South, and West are dangerous.

And at this crossroad there was a place in the center.

North you could see beautiful things of the Earth,

hills and fields and flowers and everything beautiful

and I felt like grabbing it

but I turned away.

West was nothing but fog and damp

and I turned away.

South was dark, but there were sounds,

monsters and huge animals. And I turned away and

Eastward I walked and walked and walked

and there were flowers, on both sides of the road,

flowers and flowers and flowers

out of this world.

And there is white light, at the center,

while you are walking.

This is the complicated thing:

my mind changes.

We are the people on the Earth.

We know sorrow and knowledge and faith and talent

and everything.

Now as I was walking there

some places I feel like crying

and some places I feel like talking

and some places I feel like dancing

but I am leaving these behind for the next world.

Then when I entered into that place

I knew:

if you enter heaven

you might have to work.

This is what I saw in my vision.

I don’t have to go nowhere to see.

Visions are everywhere.