Into The Wilderness

Union Pickets – into the Wilderness (1990). Watercolor on paper. Artwork and text copyright Danny Grosso.

Just outside Spotsylvania, in the first week of May, 1864, the Union Army crossed the Rapidan River and entered what would come to be called the Battle of the Wilderness, the first of a series of horrific battles that, over the next year and through attrition, would vanquish the Confederacy. The casualties on both sides from this point on would be so high that even those in support of the war, those leading troops to the grinder, began to question their own will to continue hostilities. The shadow of this doubt was darkest over the long Virginia nights that May, when the forest floor kindling, set alight by the the aftermath of exploding shells, grew into firestorms that consumed the screaming wounded strewn about the battleground, unable to move.

One might think this horror would have satisfied the human hunger for war, but the Union campaign proved to be only a rehearsal for World War I and much of the killing to come in the following century. The Union Pickets that first arrived on the scene, as above, were likely hardened by more than three years of war, but still could not have understood the template they were about to establish for conflicts to come. The bloodbath waiting for these pickets suggests that their ignorance might have been a blessing to them.

Danny Grosso

The Slip Kid

The Slip Kid Up There (2018). Acrylic on Paper. Artwork and Text Copyright Danny Grosso

The Slip Kid wore his grandfather’s cap

as he wandered under the sun.

Slipping in and out of shadows and under the shade of trees

the Slip Kid imagined himself light as the breeze.

If as light as the breeze – I should fly he would say,

like a bird I could spend the rest of my day.

Then he slipped for a moment into a dream.

The Slip kid was in a place unforeseen.

Slipping into the clouds and out of the realm

of the ground dwellers he knew so well,

he glided about after awhile with ease

though he felt at first like a boat on uneasy seas.

After a while he thought he’d need something to do

so the Slip Kid slipped behind the moon.

What a great expanse he saw from there.

The planets and stars dazzled his eyes

and he took off his cap for a moment in reverence

until he felt suddenly lonesome and less adventurous.

He slipped back away and out of his dream

and the Slip Kid opened his eyes to a scene

as wild and beautiful and any he’d seen

while on his excursion to the upper extremes.

Green meadows and forests, lit cities at night,

and loved ones who danced about with delight.

Shadows moving along with the day,

sidewalks and pathways to direct the way.

All the things he needed to play,

so long as his imagination was allowed to stay.

So the Slip kid pulled down the brim of his cap

and slipped into the day and never looked back.

-Danny Grosso