Poems by William "Wild Bill" Taylor
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Where Reuben Fell

This poor family has come up here from Georgia,
to find the remains of their first born
charger,
 
Gettysburg is beautiful in the fall,
since the previous July,
ten thousand country boys
were slaughtered around those places
historians will judge if their
actions were noble, or such,
 
second cousin to such vainglory,
sing a hymn for the unknown
caissons,
 
farmers are still finding miss pieces of Johnny
Reb,
and Billy Yank,
 
this family of five,
sold all their livestock,
so
mother might bring her Reuben home,
for his bones cannot lie in a field belonging to
Lincoln and the Yankee man,
 
he must be brought back to the family plot
in the church of his baptism,
come bring them all,
 
marchin home,
 
Father knows it to be a lost cause,
there are more unknowns than sparrows
about the place,
 
uncounted lilies of the field,
their only crime,
they loved their country uncertain,
 
now, Reuben could be anywhere or no place at all,
 
A young man greets this family,
his face has been destroyed by the grape,
his nose and mouth replaced with buck shot about his bitter skin,
he can only point,
there are no more earthly landmarks to identify him by,
 
he approaches them from Georgia,
wearing a black mask about the lower regions of his maxilla
and mandible crossing,
 
Can you show where the 1st Georgia fell,
father asks him with discontent,
 
yes, the boy nods,
removing his shroud,
 
he recognizes his family, but not him,
 
walking to hug his mother,
she recoils in harrow and fight,
 
don't touch me you monster,
get on with it if you can,
 
my Reuben lies out near the Devil's Den,
we must find him might quick,
 
can you do that, boy,
is that too much to ask of you?
 
Reuben shakes his head no,
he writes the following answer,
on borrowed pad and pen,
 
I'll take you all to that
place,
where the 1st Georgia fell,
 
then, when I'm through,
your coffin will still be empty,
 
and I alone,
will take the next grieving family
to the same place we march in a short,
 
for I am death eternal,
and you all will be gone
 
tonight.

by William "Wild Bill" Taylor
Copyright, November, 2003

Little Rueben and Colonel Mosby,
we will win the fight! 

Hell-o young man from Atlanta, 
I am Colonel John Mosby, 1st Virginia Partisans, 
Confederate States of America, 
the best of raiders and partisans, 

I have been assigned to your case by General Lee, 
to guide you through treacherous enemy territory 
at your stay here at this chivalrous children's hospital. 
I even think Walt Whitman may be there! 

I will be here with you when they 
roll you under this quiet machine, 
and until you are declared victorious 
by the learned doctors and nurses, 
it is a very good team! 

I know you are scared, in a great deal of pain, 
but just hold onto my saddle front, 
we will go for a charge and reconnaissance, 
past mystery mountains, 
clear flows of jelly streams. 

Not to fear young man, for you ride with the best, 
we have yet to be captured, and have declared 
cancer our mortal enemy, 
never will we show them our backs or a white flag! 

Grab hold to your saddle, sit back and enjoy this ride, 
for this grumble machine is really on your side, 
he is like a nagging mother-in-law, 
a fickled radiator that steams harmless in the night, 

Never fear little Reuben, you are riding with the best! 
we'll out fox this disease, attack him like his is Sheridan or Custer, 
then regroup 
next to rainbow lake, 
we'll bivouac and play some fiddle tunes 
to help you with your pain, 

I have already picked you a horse, 
a brown sorrel, whose as gentle as 
a breeze, 
but fast as lighting, I promise, 

wouldn't you like to go with us tonight? 

Don't be so worried, I know you feel lonely and scared, 
we will take care of you, 
me, the Gray Ghost, and my ugly men! 

we will not let this cancer beat you, 
you will grow up to be big and strong, 

I bet you have not been on a calvary charge 
at sunset, or any at all? 

No, we thought so, little black child from Georgia, 
you are not to worry, 

I command from this moment forward, 
never give up, you can lick this silly enemy, 
that is an order young man, 
you must come along with me! 

now close your eyes, and hold on tight, 
don't pay any attention to the sound of this 
big old machine, 
it clicks and clanks, but the MRI means you no harm, 
she loves to hiss and whirl, 
but I promise she doesn't bite, 

but tonight you ride with Mosby and his Rangers, 
around the enemy tonight, 

when you have finished with your photographs and medicine, 
we will be here with you, 
throughout your fight, 

We do pledge you our trough! 

Mosby and his Rangers are your special 
ghosts, 

assigned to you by General Lee himself 
and his good old angels, 

so rest your little head dear Reuben 
on that pillow sound, 

You can be assured, however, your holding onto more than fluff, 
there is horsepower under your crown. 

and when it gets quiet, and you think your alone, 
that is when Colonel Mosby and his partisans, 
are with you all the way 

home! 

Copyright, 
William "Wild Bill" Taylor 
April, 1993 

The execution of Private Eddie Slovik 

I, the officer of the day,
have brought before me a young sentry
who fell asleep on duty,

although this is his first offense,
that damned Mosby and his men were
able to sneak through our perimeter
stealing gunpowder and morphine!

Just to aggravate me,
he takes our mules and pants hostage,
don't ask me how he got the clothes off my men,

it is a ghost story beyond fiction,

so, I have my orders from General Meade,
if a sentry is caught sleeping on watch,

he is to be snot at sunrise,
no questions, no excuses,
no pardons,

Yes sir, you can count on me,

I sentence this Ohio boy, no older than fourteen,
Slovik, is the only name he gives me,

He is much stoic in his demeanor,
I am so impressed I gather the six rifles that will be used
at dawn, slightly placing enough axle grease on the sight,
that will throw the best of marksman off target,

Also, I tell the lad to remove his clothes and make a scarecrow,
for nobody will notice in this foggy bottom sunrise,

you, Slovik, be gone, and never come back to battle,

He nods and salutes me,

At dawn, the drummer assembles the platoon,
I read the charges, to be killed by musketry for dereliction
of duty, such and such,

I give the command fire,
it is done,
I order my men to move out post haste,
and not to look back,

I approach the scarecrow,
it is still alive, not a bullet mark upon his straw,

looking some three hundred feet lay young sentry,
as dead as the grave,

for he'd forgotten his bible when he went to undress,
and come back to get it just as I ordered the guns
fixed,

the verse which lay next to him was indeed
a stunning one,

it is the Lord's command to turn
the other cheek.

Copyright,
William "Wild Bill" Taylor
June, 2003

 

 

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 Ode to Ambrose Bierce

A precious little girl walks in horror
on her front yard that is now
a battlefield,

She is looking for her Papa
a rider with Billy Mahone,
for her
mother has told her he is on
his way home!

Darling Papa has been gone for years, it is true,
battle tested everywhere,
he has earned this permanet furlough,

he must get home in time to save his family,

Darling Papa is the only one to save them now,
the countryside is ripe with bums
and scalawags!

today, is reconcilliation sunday,
but right before the killing of the
fatted calf, 

Friendly fire explodes in front of his face,
he lives, but is blinded for life,

Staggering across this open field,
he hollers first his precious little one,

yet both will spend eternity in
a search barren,

Papa is blind,
his little girl deaf,
Momma has been taken down 
by the typhus bug,

And it is said, a hundred years later,
that on certain nights, this time of year,

you can see a blind rebel soldier
being chased

by the one he hold so dear

by William "Wild Bill" Taylor
Copyright, July, 2003

Let us lay down the fight 

My men are hungry and starving,
yet, we push on because we love him,
 
he is our country, our flag, our heart,
his mere presence drives us into
fits,
grown men who have fought with him since Bull Run
break down and cry at the mere sight of him,
 
they say his command tent is bare,
he suffers none of the trappings of Webb
and Little Mac,
 
when we eat biscuits, he does the same,
when we fail he takes the blame,
 
his is dressed like a knight,
and we are his bride,
 
he prays on his knees,
to convince us God may be on our side,
 
we walk barefoot in snow,
across endless fields of death
during those immortal now summers,
 
but how much longer can we go,
they are many,
we are down to the hard core,
 
surely he must know that our cause
is lost,
plantin' season is coming,
 
and I need to go home,
but I can't desert in the middle of the night,
that wouldn't be right,
 
but, please, Marse Robert,
let us end this fight,
 
for we haven't in days,
and I am too weak to carry
 
on, and on, and on,
please let us go marchin home.
 

Copyright,
William "Wild Bill" Taylor
June, 1994

It is a good day to die 

Summertime comes easy to this flattened field
outside Gettysburg,
the sight of Pickett and his charge,
 
I have come back for one last defense,
of that clump of trees known as Cemetery Ridge,
where me and my boys, some seventy years before,
of Cushing's battery
defended this Union soil
against that suicidal yet beautiful charge
 
of those yellin Virginians,
who got it with full master from my canon
at point blank range!
 
My lord the rush of blood, I have dreamed about it every night sense,
heads and bodies a flaying,
it was a slaughter unimaginable,
but still they kept comin,
 
my artillery got so hot that day,
we couldn't touch it with our hands,
we poured water and dirt over the blazing cast iron,
trying to cool her down for once last
defense,
 
but still they kept comin.
 
I am today an old, old man, and this is my
last trip to the Gettysburg flank,
 
what remains of me and the Army of the Potomac
will defend the Ridge one last time for the Park Service,
cameras, and even President Roosevelt,
 
the Virginians today are old like me,
but still they hope to charge one last time,
 
among the bivouac of the dead,
 
I have heard Bierce and Chamberlain will be here,
along with Pickett and Longstreet,
Armistead, and that proud peacock Stuart,
 
although Jeb is late again as usual,
caught in traffic somewhere around Hagerstown,
gosh, you think he would have known,
 
There are twenty survivors of Cushing's battery,
ten from the southern side,
 
Here they came, someone shouts, don't shoot until
you see the white of their eyes!
 
our commander says in playful surprise,
 
and still they keep comin,
but today I am not afraid,
for I am ready to die,
I lived a good life,
my family is as sturdy as a oak 
it is a good day to die,
 
that all too familiar pain in my chest
has come with today,
I do not reach for my heart pills,
let my death keep a comin,
 
I see the Virginians in front of me now,
old men in misfitting uniforms, their hearing aids
tangle like medals,
 
there is one last thing I must do,
before I leave this earthly battlefield,
 
I must hug my enemy, one last time,
to bid him an Ashton farewell,
then, I am square with the rebels,
 
fallin to the warm Gettysburg ground,
my heart has failed me this I know for sure,
 
in that haze between earth and the afterlife,
they all stand before me,
 
the famous and not so well known,
they smile and hug me,
 
welcome home, young fella,
here's a glass of brandy,
 
welcome into heaven,
but this much you should know,
 
there are no enemies here,
and killing is forbidden,
 
for all of us are like you,
we did our time on earth,
and today is our victory plan,
 
just keep them a comin,
on death's welcoming door.

Copyright,
William "Wild Bill" Taylor

I only regret that I have but one life to give... 

"Thyself disguised, in many a way,
Thou let'st thy sudden splendor
play." -- Ambrose Bierce
 
Victory smells sweet at this parlor I keep
down the road from the War Department,
 
my ladies are fine, young, and seductive,
my prices reasonable,
my lavish surroundings make the Yankee officers
feel warm and loved,
 
many of them, if not all, are staff officers stationed 
here across from the War Department,
close to the politics and not the action,
 
yet, it is amazing the seductive tongue of
a temptress
they spill their intelligence and plans to me
quicker than I can reduce my corset
to a chandelier,
 
my, my the Yankees will be moving south,
in a week, no more than two,
down the peninsula to Norfolk,
were they hope to pull Lee away from Richmond,
then their second front will serpentine around the northern neck coming
hard at us from Winchester,
 
Lee must dispatch Jackson at once
to defend his exposed flank,
I have earned by officer's pay this month,
 
the Washington police will arrest me, I'm sure,
for some nuisance charge of whore mongering,
the gentle ladies of southern society of course
who chastise my operations as immoral and of
the devil,
 
but I am told by the Confederate Secret Service,
my notes slipped to them under the cover of darkness
and french lace have saved Lee's Army more than once,
 
and he thanks me from the bottom of his heart,
but there is a price to be paid
I confess, to you
the dear daughters of the latest unpleasantness,
 
all my girls suffer from the signs of the mad Venus,
we need the mercury to cure this rampant
and incurable disease,
 
some have taken to bed with sores that will not heal,
they will die a soldier's death for our glorious cause,
 
but no parson nor chaplain will accept this verdict
handed down by me and General Lee,
that my girls gave it all to help
the stars and bars, you see!
 
but would not the Yankee really be
upset,
if they knew I was once a
 man.

Copyright,
William "Wild Bill" Taylor

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