Poems by William "Wild Bill" Taylor
Page 2
return to Page 1

 

The surgeons are busy today! 

Come quick, Doctor Lettermen
the wagon trains and ox carts are full
of the married and wounded today.

it has been a bloody stalemate,
some even dying of fright.

I didn't want to tell you this,
but we've got rebel wounded, too.

your tent was closer than the gray coats
it was much safer to bring them this way.

do you want me to put the enemy all the way 
to the back?

No, the good surgeon replies,
we will take the worst cases first,
no matter which side the man is on.

Make sure you've got hot towels and
sawdust for we will be doing a great deal
of cutting tonight,
it didn't take him long until legs and arms
piled up so high they reach the top of
the circus tent,

yet the harder we worked,
the more men were rolled into the presence
of from horror
men screaming for their mothers,
for no soldier went unscathed.

blood flowed like the Nile that day,
a river of red and white,
payment in advance for the beat unleashed
called war.

we soon ran out of ether and alcohol to boot
we had to cut the unlucky ones using four
additional teamsters
to hold the poor bastards hard against the
sawdust floor.

many did not make,
all would be whittled and remade by
doctors who knew no better

please, please sir, may I take a quick break,
I've been on my feet for others,
and cannot go on much longer.

no, I'm worry, Whitman, you are all I have,
if you leave now,
I won't be able to continue,
it shouldn't be much longer I promise.
then you can have your supper
how does that sound to you?

I did not tell him that this hell
has taken away my appetite, one sawed down
slicing at a time.

yet, I could not help but think,
I wish the Congressman and Senators
who rush boys off to die,
and copped up like a slaughtered cow,

would feel about their piety,

it it was their arm or let
mounted in that ghastly pile?

Peace might be negotiated sooner
between the powers that be,

if you left the cuttin,
to men who cry death before dishonor,
with a good dose of liberty.

William "Wild Bill" Taylor
Copyright, March 2002

What should I do?

Mother married the a bible and snake
oil salesman
from Boston,

claiming that to see the Lord,
using their elixir,

she brags to all within earshot,
one do not need new bifocals to see Jesus
in the screen door window,

my father had left long before I was born,
so, there being no other blood relatives
that would
take me in,

I was sent by the Commonwealth to a
orphan home
somewhere behind Lover's Leap,

they raised me as a true son of Virginia,
since the sovereign were both mother
and father to me,

I lay awake at night, praying to my mother's Jesus
that I might see her one more time
before I fall,

her face is shown to me in the twilight,
it is hard to recollect her.

My prayer was answered,

Boom! 

The firing on of Sumter
sound!
Virginia goes with Dixie,
and John S. Mosby, a daredevil
not afraid to draw on a armed enemy,

he, feeling piety, took me with
his troopers
, at first, I was assigned water boy status,
but as bullets and time made replacement 
for front line horsemen so desperate,

I was chosen to ride with him,
as we sneaked back and forth in enemy territory,
gathering intelligence and arms for the
Army of Northern Virginia,

I was a natural upon my steed,
we moved as one bolt of lighting against
the enemy,

and before long, I was being mentioned in
the same breath
with my mentor Mosby, and his general,
the great Stuart
from the foothills.

Women adored me, offering me beautiful hand
maidens for marriage,
the newspaper from both North and South,
featured me in
their Sunday edition,

We are today at Yellow Tavern, and Custer
is our nemesis,
he is good with men and animal,
cocky but brave,
he natural genius is trying to catch up to
his golden ego,

General Stuart, a good friend of the golden
George, rides in front,
baiting his old West Point into a small clearing,

then a crack of smoke and gunpowder,
and Stuart has fallen,
quickly I come up to attend the immortal,

a small pocket of blood pools above his
belt buckle,
he looks like around that might not be fatal,

I charge ahead at a full gallop into the
nest of bushes
where Custer has been seen last visible,

dismounting, I see my mother incredibly
sitting with
a Union officer at a group of tents ahead,

Hell-o, mother, funny to see you hear,
I shout, but she only smiles,

more tea, sweetheart,
I am so proud of you, my darling for you
have killed that devil Stuart,

I do not wait for her darling's reply,
shooting him right between the eyes,
he falls face forward into his onion soup,

Willie, Willie, don't you know what you've done,
you shot you real father cold and dead,

how could you do that to us son,

dismounting, I walk slowly in the direction of
her voice,
looking quietly, I do not answer her ridiculous
question directly,

at my mother, the woman 
who betrayed everything about me,

is frozen in time,

I reply with this sentence,

"Woman you are not my mother,
I belong the Virginia!"

Lifting my revolver straight at her,
I cock the pistol,

what do you think I should do?  

William "Wild Bill" Taylor,
Copyright,  March, 2002

 

Go west, young man, go west 

I lay down my arms
and what is left of my honor,
 
now, tell me, sweet Jesus,
you that let me live while so
many others died,
 
better and more worthy souls
than me,
 
what should I do with myself
now,
 
Virginia lay in ruins,
her rail lines and cornfields
a pile of blood and fire,
 
no other state could imagine
it
being like a war zone, 
unless they rode with me,
 
these four long years!
 
They tell me to go West,
that many an ex-patriot has moved
to Nevada, Utah, and Arizona,
 
some have even joined up with
the new Union Army,
to protect the settlers who have
an itch for a better life than now
 
in torn Dixie,
 
I shall give it a try,
I'll move southwest into Texas,
and then to California, perhaps,
 
all the killing I've seen,
I'm sure these nightmares not follow me,
 
it will be a good place to start
a family,
 
these Quakers have offered me a job,
to take care of their horses and wagons,
 
maybe I will,
 
they are gentle folk,
 
I need get my anger
back from the Devil,
 
yes, the West, will be a good place
for a ghost to heal.
 
 
Copyright,
William "Wild Bill" Taylor
June, 2002

 

          

                      

  When my boots were fresh

That certain summer
I finally came home,

but I was not the same boy who left here
low those many years ago,

when my boots were fresh,
my rifle well oiled,
my held high.

Do you remember my sweet thing
as you kissed me good bye,

promising me your loyalty,
your letters came every day for about six months,

we got bogged down outside some small country town,
that held too many churches,
and not enough taverns,

that close in artillery barrage
took out half my face,

I finally wrote you to find yourself another lover,
by golly you did,

marrying into the richest family in town,
for the Tull family has made a fortune on
producing plastic body bags that are cheaper
than the old cotton type,

Your new husband did not lose his face,
but he is seen at all the war rallies and
conventions,
making grand statements about patriotism and
sacrifice,

yet, he refuses to let you see me,
or at least that is what my mother says,

is it true?

sometimes I stand in front of your house,
wearing a black towel around what is left of my head,
he keeps the rest of my nose from falling off,

I can tell you are happy,
one child born,
another on the way,

I never realized how long I'd been gone,
your family could have been mine,

your husband has chased me off
on more than one occasion,
he tells me if I'm caught here again,
he will call the police,

but I am not afraid,
for what have I got to lose,

after all this time, I love you still,
and I beg for the day when you will hold me

hard,
against that part of my chest that doesn't wobble,
and your kiss lands on that section f my face,

where I can feel those gentle lips,
as if it was the day when I marched off,
my boots and body intact,

and you promised me you'd write
until I came back home today.


William "Wild Bill" Taylor
Copyright, March, 2004

A lost letter of the true nature of war 

The battle is over,
the damage has been done,

it is another draw, that weak kneed historians will
argue about for decades,
some getting enough mileage out of this
processional of death,
to complete their doctorate and forever feel
as if they, themselves,
were crowned battle royal!

School children from both North and South
will travel from surrounding universes
and realities to be told,

this is what made America great!

some will even include this specifics of
this battle in their benedictions and doxologies,
declaring before well dressed men and women,
each wearing a version of their own Easter bonnet,
that God was on the side of said righteous,

that this proved, the War Between Broken Hearts
and Field Amputations was the last conflict
between gentlemen,

yet, walk with me tonight,
as we survey the first night's carnage,

and listen to the cries of the wounded,
at such places now called The Cornfield,
The Pit, and the The Bloody Lane,

see that movement down below, where a young man
is holding what looks like spaghetti,
that is in eviscerated bowels,
torn open by a canon ball filled with chain link,
striking him dead on center,
but not with enough force to kill him,

this Billy Yank will stay alive for days,
until the Maryland buzzards pick his guts enough,
that he dies of shock and awe!

Where is the nobility in that,
what did this fine young man from Maine,
do to deserve this,

he happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time,
thinking not of slavery and the Constitution,
but of a young girl with auburn hair,
back in Portland town,
who promises to marry him
once this madness is over,

just down the pike a bit,
here is a Johnny Reb,
both his legs are broken,
and the pain is indescribable,

yet, he might be a lucky one,
for next to him lies a Confederate pistol,

he will end his fight, tonight,
yet, the chamber is empty,

he hears only clicks,
they will find him six days later,
and the surgeons will amputate both legs
without anesthesia or morphine,
that blessing has been used up days and hundreds
of dilation and curettage before,

Johny Reb will live a month,
overcome by the greatest enemy of all,

infection.

You hear men from both sides not calling
for Lincoln or Davis,
Lee or Little Mac,

they want their mothers to come save them,
and you know what, my student of war,

if these precious mothers could hear the sounds
of their sons,

they would move heaven and earth to give comfort,
to the enemy and the common man,
the rebel and the Yank,
the learned and the country boy!

After it is all over,
all battlefields sound the same,

lonely and dying men crying out in the
dark and lonely night,

Momma, come here quick,
because I'm scared,

and I want to go home.

--Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., in a letter to his father, March, 1863.


William "Wild Bill" Taylor,
Copyright, September, 2003

My last letter home, dictated to Mr. Walt Whitman  

And this man they called the Poet,
tends to be on a daily basis,
 
here at the DC Amory,
a name that should be changed to heaven's
place mate for all of us butchered and
sent here to die, not get better,
 
for we waste away, here in your nation's capital,
especially during the late summer months
when Washington is especially cruel to her visitors
her heat and high moisture have caused many a brave 
lad to pass onto Elysian Fields, the educated Harvard fella
that fell at Antietam calls heaven,
his name is Holmes or something,
a fine gentleman,
he bears me no ill will
for fighting the blue coats,
 
I tell you, mother, these Yankees are good men,
they share what little things they have with me,
and ask nothing in return,
 
on good days,
when my stump leaks of blood and that awful smell,
Mr. Whitman, although he insists that I call him Walt,
says that he saw a man's blister heal by letting the maggot
eat the bad flesh off my wound,
and letting fresh air clean it during the day,
 
but I have not got much longer,
I have not eaten in days,
my fever is hellish,
my sunset is coming soon,
to my bed,
 
but somehow, thanks to the grey poet
and Mr. Holmes, I fear not,
 
though I walk through the valley of 
the shadow of death, I will fear no evil
for....
 
times are fading, Mr. Holmes says I will see
the face of my Christ soon enough.
 
here, I am going, crossing the bar,
and I'll be dammed,
 
Jesus looks very much like
Mr. Whitman,
both were with me all along.
 
 
Copyright,
William "Wild Bill" Taylor
September, 2004

 

 

 

 

 

 

Return to Page 1 of the William "Wild Bill" Taylor poems

Return to Poetry Index

Return to the Main Page