Page 3 of William "Wild Bill" Taylor Poems

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Buddy's Independent Hand  

Off the Higgins boat,
I am hit, twenty feet on this Omaha shore,
 
down in the gut,
the pain blinds me to delirium,
 
I want to live,
where is a medic?
 
Hush, I hear a voice, saying,
 
you will have to deal with me,
the medics are busy right now,
and your destiny lies between faith
and the miraculous,
 
but what is my retriever, Buddy, doing next to me,
you crazy voice,
he should be back in Bedford County hunting
the birds, are running this time of year,
get my dog off this beach, Mr. Sandman sound,
It isn't safe,
don't you know that by now,
 
Fate is a broken down easy chair,
 
put your hand on my belly wound,
and get me out of here,
no, no, I will not go without my dog,
you'll just have to leave me here,
 
of all the strange luck,
 
yes, medic, it sure took you long enough,
yes, that morphine feels good,
 
no, I have no idea where the dog prints came from,
or whose hand it is that lays
 
onto of my belly wound,
 
why don't you go out and try and find
the rest of him,
 
Omaha Beach is hot with bullets,
zip, zip, zip, go the angels,
today, ain't it Buddy?
you go on home now,
 
I'll be at home directly.
 
Good dog, now.
 
Copyright,
William "Wild Bill" Taylor
March, 2000

Between dream and awake  

I went to sleep in a fitful state,
uneasy about the day's battle ahead,
 
I crossed that thin line between dream
and awake,
where many a brave man has often gotten stuck.
 
There was a tap on my shoulder, I was told by
a fellow grunt that my CO needed to see me in
a double quick hurry,
 
Quickly gathering my things, I hustled to
my Commander's tent, confused and anxious about the
matters pertaining to this
 
special court martial, sometime after midnight
and before awake,
a judge and jury of men who said nothing
however starring intently at my answers,
 
no, I had not fallen asleep the previous night on
picket duty, dear Captain,
I am quite sure of that sir,
no I don't have any witnesses,
may I see my accusers?
 
My judgment was swift and final,
no room for appeal,
 
you are to be shoot at sunup,
go back to your tent,
and make peace with your Creator,
 
if you try and escape, you will be killed,
no questions asked, you picture will not be
sent to your hometown paper for publication.
 
Yes Sir, I reply, walking in double quick time back to my
billet,
there is no one guarding me on either side
of my flank and horizon,
 
I slowly drift off to my left and high tail it across
the creek bed that separates me from our enemy.
 
I am running as fast as I can,
there is a campfire in front of me,
that is my liberty beacon,
 
Please, please, please help me,
I cry,
 
Halt who goes there,
comes the cry from my enemy's door.
 
As they carry me back across the stream,
under a flag of truce,
 
one can hear their sad explanation,
this fella just woke up in the middle of the night,
and started running as fast as he could
 
to no where in sight,
he was such a fine lad, the Captain said,
although young and green,
 
tonight would have been his duty
along the picket trench,
guarding this camp
 
from all who would harm us
in those hours between dream
and awake.
 
Copyright,
William "Wild Bill" Taylor
June, 2004

Judgment day cometh in the morning, fair.  

Just my rotten look Padre,
I have been chosen to shoot the deserter
at first daylight tomorrow,
 
I don't know the charges,
could care less,
 
I want to shoot to miss, but my betting buddies
tell me that to hit and wound only,
I will be a double son of a bitch,
 
for winging him instead of a clean shot at his heart,
is like making a wounded animal suffer,
 
but tell me Father, will God forgive me for this,
for is this coward any different than the rest of us,
 
I know several buddies who shot themselves in the foot,
rather than go out on another night patrol with a green
LT who compass is somewhere between his lower rib and buttocks,
 
do you read me sir, you have been in the fight,
and I really feel sick about this,
 
what is that you say, you are the one to be killed in
the manna,
 
that you got the deserter out this afternoon, and the brass
won't even know the switch,
 
because it is your twin brother who refused that night order,
that night when all but a few of us were slaughtered,
when all of us felt like running back to safety!
 
Yes, Padre, I will, to shoot like the marksman I am,
 
and that you will offer me sanctuary on judgment,
 
morning and fair,
 
that much I promise you,
and I know you have your reasons,
 
dear minister of the night,
but judgment comes up at morning time,
 
please wrap that sack tight
around your soul,
 
and say a prayer for all of us in
this man made hell,
 
if I could take your place, I'm sure,
then I would be the happier man,
 
do you understand?
 
Copyright, William "Wild Bill" Taylor, March, 2002

Bill said this is for Memorial Day, but I've put it in now since Veteran's Day is near - 11 Nov 2004

Warning, golden butterflies mark the tomb of the unknown 

There is an old woman who comes here once a year,
 
to lay a wreath on the lonely monument of our unknown, 
I have been watching her do this for years, ike clockwork she lays some dogwood
mixed with forget me nits
 
at the foot of the giant tomb, 
at about this time of early May, when Arlington's spring is most
prolific saddled with high caution,
 
and each time this woman visits, I ask her the same pitiful question,
 
there a thousands of unknown men how in the world do you know these remains
to be one of your own,
 
she smiles at me, with a whisper, you see those golden butterflies,
 
yes, I reply, 
when my boy was a baby, his hair was of golden blond,
 
and each May, we might sit out and watch the spring come and visit,
 
her morning dew and sunrises made my only child smile,
 
and indeed, he did, with his little hand she pointed with glee into the morning air,
 
wiggling his hands, and rocking his head, 
the butterflies might circle my little angel, 
for an hour or so at a time, 
so, you see those butterflies are doing the same to my little boy today,
 
they let me know where he is and like a long time ago,
we are together, again, until that final call,
 
I did not think much of this sad woman's lament, until she stopped coming a year or so back,
 
and by golly, you would not believe it if I told you true,
 
there are no butterflies anywhere in sight, 
on the first day of May, when one woman knew who lay in
 
the tomb of the unknown, 
her precious child, guarded by butterflies and the faith
 
this is her only son. 
Copyright, William "Wild Bill" Taylor
May, 2002

 

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Power in the hands of the pale  

"You came back to us in a dream and we were not
        here." William Stanley Merwin
 
You were a better soldier than me,
it must have been something you learned
when we were kids back in the Virginia Hill Country,
 
as the summer months came upon us,
we held a blood oath,
to scare the city kids come out with their grown ups
to camp in the open moonshine,
down by the Big Frog creek,
as she turns south into the Dark River,
just beyond childhood's gate, entering like a tired
serpent that stage in a man's life called adolescence,
 
where the call of patriotism and blood takes
on
a significance beyond make believe and folly,
 
boys often do not return from grown up sneak attacks
especially when the land they tread lightly on is hostile
and foreign,
 
but back in those days,
you could outrun a deer,
and your ability to hide was something beyond
the natural,
for I never saw you get caught,
even when outnumbered ten to one,
and counting down.
 
Our enemies were those horn rimmed kids from
the city popular,
whose Dads wanted them to get more color in their face,
and the fresh air might reduce the necessity to sneeze so
often during the closed in winter season.
 
You and I were as agile as a Cherokee brave,
able to sneak in and out of light and dark,
like two ghosts going to church supper!
 
Without our animal voices, we could mimic any
country creature that might be able to walk on stilts
using as a boast a scared child's imagination!
 
With our hands and the glow of a campfire's light,
we could convince those scared little boys,
that bears would soon devour their very souls.
 
Yet, when we grew up, those pale faced kittens
became all powerful with the vote and almighty dollar,
 
they seized upon their massive intellect and dish water
morals to send you and me off to
 
invade tents and lands more dangerous,
 
and when we came home,
 
they forbade us from camping out
near their children,
 
yet, we might accuse their offspring
to sneeze and cry out for Papa
 
in the moonlight.

Copyright,
William "Wild Bill" Taylor
March, 2003

A family affair, at last 

I hated this job General Jackson
gave me,

to pick up and carry the wounded after all the fighting
had been done,

this was not something for a real man,
I complained
to my brother Charles who rode with that dashing but
sometimes confused Stuart,

you get all the glory, yet I get all the blood
and guts, that dangle when those barefoot boys
from Martinsville get too close to Sheridan's canon!

My brother laughed at me,
telling me, in no uncertain terms, that I was lucky
to be riding with Stonewall
since I had lied about my age when joining
down at the county courthouse,

where mothers, sisters, and brides to be read
the telegraph dispatches from Roanoke,
the dreaded numbers are in,

my god, the whales and cries of these poor
women,
right next door to an active slave auction where
the caller is a Yankee from Boston,
go and figure,

There is so much glory and pain to
this war that the Governor told us would last
only six months,
those blue bellies don't know how to fight!

All I can tell you, is that they act crazy brave to me,
cause if they're wounded are mixed in with
ours,
some of their heads have been blown away at point
blank range,
and I do not see too many retreating,
silly how men in high frock coats speak of things
they nothing about,

despite all of this, I want to ride a mounted
charge,
to ride next to Charles,
he is very special to me,

maybe, he says, one day we can,
keep the faith,
for God answers the prayer of the faithful,
so I go out tonight to collect up the

dead and dying,
I look down and see mt brother's head,

where is the rest of him
I scream,

sounding very much like those widowed brides,
and those slaves that have been taken away from
their parents,

I join their chorus tonight.


Copyright,
William "Wild Bill" Taylor
May, 2004


Suddenly, I fall from my horse  

On this beautiful October morning,
I have no desire to fight,
 
the weathercocking down from the Blue Ridge
has made the air crystal clear with forgiveness,
and peace,
 
the rolling grass beneath my horse's feet
have not been stained with blood and innards,
 
it is to sacred a place for death,
children stare at my horsemen from a near distance,
 
my brown chestnut casually flicks the nuisance of
flies
off his tail,
 
the Sun, I estimate is around mid-morning, brilliant
in its repose, last night's rain has cleared the atmosphere
of humidity and the smell of death,
 
but like all good things, this pastoral scene cannot last,
for men in their bitter ways must try and destroy,
 
I have become to hate the idea of causes,
platitudes by shadows on platform shoes,
 
you can bet your inflated confederate dollar,
somebody in New York and Atlanta are getting
rich on our backs,
 
but I refuse to fight today,
I do not care that Sheridan has massed just over the ridge
of that hill,
 
I'll send him a message asking for a ceasefire until this
Virginia weather turns sour,
 
Suddenly, I feel a kick in my back,
and am thrown off my horse,
 
funny, I didn't hear a gunshot,
looking first at my chest, and feeling my face,
there is no appearance of blood,
 
the, right above the small of my back,
I feel tingling,
 
and suddenly I realize that both my legs are numb,
and I am losing feeling below my belling button,
 
I will not survive like this,
only half a man,
 
I end my life with my revolver,
yet, as I lose sight of this sad earth,
 
I hear one of my men say,
 
why did our Captain shoot himself,
what knocked him off his horse,
 
was a youngin shooting acorns
with his mamma's home made pantaloons,
 
he was paralyzed at all.
 
Jesus, the irony of it all.
 
 
Copyright,
William "Wild Bill" Taylor
November, 2003

Like skipping petals off still waters  

Cover me in mounds of dewdrops mornings,
come fall time, when
 
nighttime is cold enough to make a man
happy for firewood brought from an old
friend, where that hilltop road circles down
behind the 
 
Devil's backbone,
corn molasses and fresh made biscuits
from that grist mill where we fell in love,
 
remember my ball room dancer those Sunday morning
with enough guilt in the air
to make us ever so afraid that our paradise would end,
 
no, we don't play by those rules any more,
for we have been sent back to help
the unwanted and unloved,
 
those sad spirits housed in the prisons, mental wards,
and underneath a warm Roanoke bridge,
granted, at best, an earthly reprieve from those cheap
rum hangovers that can drive a man mad, indeed,
 
amongst the seaweed and and lilacs in the rear view mirror,
are closer than they appear to be,
 
yet, I like these new job of angel in training,
you my spiritual preceptor,
 
giving me stern instructions, that I can never take credit
for those random miracles recorded by seismologists at VPI,
 
I tell you in a lighter moment,
 
no worries, my love,
I was a medic the first go round,
 
and nobody but you and the Great spirit
 
ever remembered my name,
was it,
 
Galahad Dogwood from Bull
Mountain?

Copyright,
William "Wild Bill" Taylor
April, 2004