The Death of Roscoe Buchanan

“If you’re around when I’m about to croak,
Please promise me it won’t be in Texas;
‘Cause I’d lose a bet to a blackjack bloke,
And in the end, a debt often wrecks us –
‘Us’ means dumb sons’of’bitches, you and me.”
And then with nothing but a puff of smoke,
That poor Kentucky kid joined long dead folk
While drunkenly daydreaming of Dundee.



The day is dull, but still with flash,
As it’s been captured in a split;
A raindrop stuck before the splash,
The world has lurched to halt while here I sit.

The clouds don’t budge across the reach
As Wind has sat for tea with Death.
No crawling waves ascend the beach;
The planet’s petrified within this breath.

The waters of the River’s lungs
Have held their heaving sighs before
They climb the marshes ladder-rungs
And gloss the golden green that grows galore.

The lighting of this nature stage
Has faltered not, while slow, I write;
And though the day grows old like age
I have begun to doubt the fall of night.

I wish to capture this moment,
And hang it somewhere I can see;
Remind me of this time so bent,
This painted, empyrean tapestry.

Alas, have I no skill with oil,
And easels lend no ease to me;
While angled shades I often spoil,
Thus blind attempts are my photography.

But I can take my shot with word –
The tongue will show this aesthetic;
This view, not seen – but instead, heard –
A landscape captured by the phonetic.




Ode to the First Hour

‘Hind the back of unsuspecting midnight,
Down roads of forged, feigned light,
The limbs which dash across the watches land
– With their razor’d jolts to the right –
Cut ‘round the face, bound by but a band,
To a wrist that holds my writing hand.

Time, everlasting, creeps as if on natures power
– A concept man tries to understand –
Right up the walls of dim night’s garden bower;
Like vines blessed with constant shower,
So quickly grows the witching flower –
Thy black and blooming rose, my dear First Hour.

How hopelessly had I tried to quantify,
To capture, breed, and multiply
Every dwindling, irreplaceable second
Carelessly spent while waiting to die.
Until thee, First Hour, who with bleakness beckoned
That my lost time must neither be tallied, nor reckoned.

Thou said, “Only by deeds and words does repetition
– Ne’er time – come back ‘round again, repeat a second.”
So, it is to thee do I fold submission –
Damn the break of day! First Hour, give me new tradition;
Help me speak without such hazed omission,
Explain thy beaming lack of light – O, juxtaposition!

With thee, would I so comfortably dwell
In such thy silent stillness of post-midnights bell
Though my watch tells me to leave thee, Hour of the First.
Drink I’ll another teacup from thy eternal well,
Until this Lethe gin has me coerced
To stay with thee forever, perpetuate my thirst.

I would entomb myself within this fleeting flicker,
Beneath thy constellations: distance songs, well versed.
And the stars, as if a berry picker
I’d pluck from the thy void, the sky-branched wicker
Which only in thy hour grows deeper, thicker,
Enough to birth the Junipers of such a sparse and potent liquor.

I would abandon all I lack and have, live a life both poor and low,
Forsake my human right to see Aurora’s Northern glow
If I could, with thee, my stumbling days out draw;
I would throw myself to the riptides relentless undertow,
Indenture myself to agony of liver-vultures gnaw.
I’d give anything for thee, ‘tis indeed my tragic flaw.

For I, a fool, with open arms, would embrace this boozen blight!
For to be in the darkness of thy hour, untouched, pure, and raw
Prompts me to abandon my book-stack blinded sight;
Remove myself from mimicry, and phrases ever trite.
And unlike those before me, ‘pon wings of Dawn, ne’er take flight,
Instead, stay rooted with thee, eternally, First Hour after midnight.

Ode to Originality

O, Originality! Art thou as real as thee may seem?
Or doth thou lie only ‘twixt a hope, and a dreary dream?
Hold I the skill to crack thy shell, coddle so soft a yoke?
Or will my blunder’ng pen pierce thee once thy chest hath broke?
How I desire to swaddle thee, despite my mind so clogged
As rambling rivers dammed, and laced by a fog like smoke;
For my poetic streams flow from mountain tops of stammer’ng lips
Down tight canyons, through writer’s bog, forming lines: waterlogged.


Could such a rare treasure e’er found be on canoeing trips?
Or art thou only at roaring sea, which strips planked ribs of ships?
If so, I’d beg phonetic wind to speak unto my paper sails
A heaving breath as mighty as those of ancient, great blue whales.
Tell me, Originality! Has what I’m writing, in the past, been said?
For I so dread to repeat already told tall tales.
Repetition swells a fear, so crippling, halting, stagnant,
Hindering what I wish to write – thus sink my poems like lead.

Alas, perhaps, with a drop of luck, while lost at sea or River bent
Thou’ll speak to me, Originality, and leave me with a fragment;
And that mere splash, grain of sea born salt, ‘twould be enough to gloss
What e’er I wish to write, and give my hand a map when at a loss.
With such a chart, and clear a line of sight to the North Star,
I could find my way through woeful water, until met by thee, an Albatross.
And upon my chapped and breathless chest, thou would leave to lie
So sweet an egg – Originality – for which I’ve searched so far.

O, what I’d do for thee, Originality! If for but mere the chance to hear thy lullaby –
To prompt a thought, one new and taut, with which to write a poem, before I die.

The Bottle


Well, The Bottle’s deep and dark and warm, and easy to get lost in

‘Till you’re barfing bourbon bile in the busy streets of Boston.

But you still have long a’walk to home, lil’ bit more than a mile,

Trudging shameful whole the while, ’tis this poem that makes you smile.

To The Willow Tree

O Willow Tree,

These bustling winds

So toss around thy naked braids.

I watch them dance, my mind ascends,

While down my spine, my fear cascades.

This traipse I’ve undertook soon will

Most surely be the death of me,

But first, hold I, some time to kill,

Beneath thee, ancient Willow Tree.

O, bind me, tie me, hold me whole

With ropes of bark and twig and root,

Then read my heart, my mind, my soul,

As if they’re notes for wild flute.

Then play the song so drearily,

That it may reach my deafened ears.

Ignore what I hold near to me,

Instead, explore my darkest fears.

O, Willow Tree! Please help me through

These wretched trials I now face,

And also, must I beg of you,

Hypocrisies of mine, erase.

As strength I found now weighs me down,

Tis my resilience makes me weak.

And in my shallow thoughts I drown,

My breath so full, I cannot speak.

These hands quiver so violently,

Have I no hope to make them move,

Confusion explains what meant thee

In saying how our fear can soothe.

While I, so bogged down in my flight,

To flee from my anxiety,

You showed a road devoid a light,

A perverse path to piety.

As down this trail, onward I walk,

The eyes of all your fellow trees

 Do my every last move so stalk,

I buckle at my shaking knees.

So now the ground doth tear my skin,

And it draws blood from my damp palms.

Though terror in turn rushes in,

This flooding also somehow calms.

And though the demons deep inside

The hollowed alcoves of my heart

Have not quite yet all drowned and died,

They’ve stopped their screams, and that’s a start.

O, Willow Tree! You’ve taught me well,

While walk I through thy eerie park,

Still hope, have I, to outrun hell

As darkness thrives not in the dark.