The Buckhorn Inn -An Elegy-

First published in CAPRICE MAGAZINE,
Wichita Kansas, 1991.

A tribute and thanks to Mr. Julian Brandt

2008 e-book edition


Also see online publication This Land.

Deep Abyssal Breeze

Words by David Omer Bearden, Date Unknown

2008 e-book edition


Beyond The Sill Of Holly

Okay sweetheart let's think of "them"
for a moment today of all days,
innocent & corrupt celebrating the birth of Jesus,
just think of the deals going down,
tormented & tormenting
ward heelers who imagine the ignoble
pain freezing their faces to be character,
pretty little girls opening bright packages,
their smiles,
middle age arriving on time at the boyish
stockbroker's in the funny form
of his new & almost
unnoticeably slacker muscle tone,
think of a weird star over a desert town
full of snoring jews
& maybe don't think about this now
but there are poor black karma suckers
out there reduced to worshipping hopelessness, -
things happening daily exactly as predicted
in the book of Revelations you know honey,
& think of something for us to say
to purveyors of “Awake!” & “The Watchtower”,
or to a gaggle of Hare Krishna retards about this.
I saw one loose guy, a wino I guess, yelling
at a last days street corner preacher:
“yeah yeah we know; so fucking what?”
That's what I'd say
except for Christmas Day,
thinking of Kid Manger far away
no crib for a bed,
but think of them out there
learning hardly anything is warm enough,
or stone hard or ice blue enough
for the iron circumstances around here,
& think of those getting their hearts broken
this moment for the first, worst time
by the sweetest thing down here, sweetheart,
then think of us.

Christmas Day

Published in:
  • Redress - 1983
  • So Long At The Fair & Down At The Palomino Club & Other Poems - 1976

Homage To Joe Firmage1

Wo gehen wir denn hin? Immer nach Hause.

A house must come to its milk,
though it be made to see red rats
in a Magdalen laundry.
Up from the squalid plain of Sham.
To what bourn may it reach,
the pale causeway of the dead?
Do those departed watch the end of war?
Swim skyward through sleep
past undulate fish jungles in the sea,
or, standing on the promises,
bleed honey at death's door,
under the double nipple.
      Join silent dairies in deep space,
      gaze back for a lost blue marble.

- Dated March 1999

  1. For Who Joe Firmage may be, see “Lost In Space,” by Jeff Goodell, “Rolling Stone” #809 (April 1,1999)
  2. “Where Are We Going? Always Homeward.” -Novalis

Smiling To Depart

For Joe Firmage

I swim in my sleep,
through undulate fish jungles under sea.
This makes me feel strange.
I lean on certain everlasting arms,
trickling honey at death's door,
under the double nipple.
I join old country dances in deep space,
smiling back on a lost blue marble.
See the dead spots on the autumn Palomino?
Great cloud ears over the endless mountains
are listening in on Tunkhannock.
To where does it reach,
the causeway of the dead?
Do departed know the end of war?
The house must come to its milk,
We are made to see red rats
in a Magdalen laundry.
Up from the squalid plain of Sham.
At the kiss in the garden
the rose began to perdie.
The kid became punchy singing
idylls, slumber, rotten ice,
leaking tritium into the aquifer.
Lucky strike green has gone to war,
bringing up the rear,
soft as elder blow.

- Dated 1999


For Janine Pommy-Vega

“Surely all green once, fragile as a truce,
words braiding sun and water,
as on a lake where families sang.
What else would we hope for,
do in the dead miles nothing explains or changes or relieves?”

      -Dave Smith

O why go limping over the earth?
I'm living on Midway Road, who'd say
darkly, my star smoldering in a dream,
like a lodestone in the sky?
Who'd say, over the phone, in a nightmare,
& how could a wrong number reach me
on an old party line?
I'm not on the line.
But please make something warm
like morning's passage looking down
on me, - into the slants & rises
where red & white roses shone
like a gallant & humorous mistake,
as I have made it home, -
this gnostic with lover's nuts,
to live in the colors of the Lord,
just like I never could before,
down Midway Road, outside the town,
in a shelter break of eucalypti
molting their barks in scrolls!
I take some lone rides, do you Janine?
Like Highway 37 down to Marin County,
past Mare Island, Valley of the Moon…
A lighter fluid
sworls peacock eyes
in slack banks & flat bodies of water…
pale jade fire reeds
crush beneath icy winds
on electric blue sloughs…
Titan Kachina skeletons stride far away over tide flats into haze
in the last days
high wires singing thin
white heron
      on one leg all day…
But I come home with El Greco in my hands.
So serve my heart back
Western style: obviously burnt,
but rare at the center.
& bring me my blue Marine
Band harp of beaten tin; -
I want to blow Amazing
Grace real soulfully
to these shaggy eucalypti soughing
around my home…
for I am back breathing
warm like stone fresh
from the fire bath.
Christ risen sends me.
O why go limping over the earth?
I am living on Midway Road,
& who'd say he has seen
a star smoldering in a vacant lot,-
in the darkness of old mammalian politics,
in the darkness of human slot bardo,
as if calumny were a song?
O please lady let me make you
warm, as when my morning light
looked out from where the roses look,
& who sends you?

Published in:
  • Redress - 1983

On The Pale Criminal

It is smooth
& bone white as that gull
against the darkening thunderheads,
or creamy as Nefertiti's inner thighs,
or agony peach,
or off white as the belly of a toad
turned over on his back
by a boy playing God…

Cold phosphorous pebbles
of gypsum stone
gleam in the dark humus
beneath the old blood
of the night roses…

It shines
as the fresh complexion
of the moon…

It is crystalline
as those glittering ceilings
the Okies blow onto sheetrock…
Pearly as tapioca beads,
empty as an eggshell
amphora in the shadowed corner
of a tomb
where the princess Ananka waits
wound in the mummy cloth…

It is a field of dark blue snow
or roseate as frosted milk
glass holding wine.
It is heavy light.

- Undated

The Black Hotel

Visiting the Okie poet's room
To smoke hashish & listen through the walls,
I heard each human sound heroically—
Comprehending the hallway messages:
Next door four fingers cantered like a horse,
A chair scraped out the pensioner's short cough,
& gentle wheezing was a distant broom…
Then I heard anger mounting the high stair
In stiff footfalls! I opened the door a crack
To see a deep-black negro stride the hall's
Length swiftly, pausing before a door
At key & lock. His step was urgent sound
Expressing low what you will understand
That I had overheard with walking ears!

He flicked his glance to me like grabbing flies,
& I saw tarter darken his eye-whites.
In my sensitive trance I heard his voice erupt
As the dull hall light, particle & wave,
Polished dark tortoise plates of his locked skull,
& poured like cocoa down his molten neck.
The sequence was the twinkling of an eye
Wherein the black man made his statement there,
Glancing, turning a knob, …& left the hall
Of fevered light on a conscious knowledge.
The tiny barnacles along his jaw!
His sound was wrathful thunder rising!
The words themselves broke from him utterly-
“Every Damned Dog Will Have His Day.”

Lower East Side
New York City

Published in:
  • Redress – 1983, titled The Harbinger Hotel

Postcard From Back East

When the sky goes bruised
as the deep blue in an old postcard
of nostalgia & regret,
high over the far gilt onion
atop the Greek Orthodox Church
shining as if after rain,
observe that one
on the corner
between the twilight
& pale streetlights just fluttering on,
watching a couple of my ladies of the evening
coming from the mirth of the Melba Bar
to slip wetly past on the Drinkerstrasses…
That bent man's still silhouette
perhaps atrociously shaken by memory,
& clutching a black umbrella,
or is it a walking cane?

Dated November 1999

Saint Anthony's Haven
Olive Street
Scranton, Pennsylvania

The Homeless Stars

“I am hand & glove with all sorts of Fanciers,
Spital-field weavers & all sorts of odd specimens
of the Human species, who fancy Pigeons”

      -Charles Darwin

I walk on in to a workplace
I'll tell you about, through
streets from which the sense
of ease, cheerfulness, & spontaneity
is vanishing. Or is it me?
      Well, winter is getting here.
A cold breeze swells beneath a
moving blue & black leopardskin
sky, portentous of snow.
      I find the keys, enter
the back way, grab a sackful
of fish fillets from the freezer,
& lay them out on an oven tray.
      Professionally cheering up,
I flip on the Arbus-eyed monitor
& set up for the night, putting
out the hopeful stack of white towels.
      Marisol Rosaura is shivering
at the door. I click her in, followed
by Kasper Hauser1, rowdy old Micajah Harpe2
& a few of the boys from Burgess Shale3
Camp on the river.
      About a baker's dozen tonight;
plenty of fish to go around. Set out
with loaves, supper commences.
      Set the television low, & absorb
talk from the soylent couch as I tend
to duties…overheard how in the sky,
faint stars are crushed like roses in
a bible, into black holes. They say
that frogs, with their sensitive skins,
are disappearing all over the world…
      Impose a little order on the closet.
Rich will do this Augean thing in there,
come Saturday.
      Review Rich's log entries. I've
come to appreciate his style.
      Jerry has somehow retrieved Marisol's
lost luggage. She's pleased, & avers that
Jerry owns & operates a heart of gold.
There is some evidence for this.
      Marisol is working, so we hold her bed.
      I'll try & interview Micajah tonight.
      Jeff taught me the armature of this job:
to hold out a firm welcoming hand.
      Called in, I'm learning the mission:
to actually implement their Christs' social
teachings with compassionate diligence.
      Human or alien warmth passed hand to
hand in St. Anthony's Haven, mens' & womens'
shelter, on a street of Scranton,
down here far below the gridlocked traffic
of the homeless stars.


Published in:
  • St. Anthony's Haven Shelter, Welcoming Hands Newsletter, January 20, 1999
  1. See: Werner Herzog's film “Every Man for Himself and God Against All,” “The Mystery of Kasper Hauser.”
  2. Harpe, William Micajah (aka Big), older of two murderous homeless brothers on the Barren River. He was beheaded by a posse in 1799.
  3. See: “Wonderful Life,” “The Burgess Shale and The Nature of History,” by Stephen Jay Gould.
(Marisol, Micajah, & Kasper are changed names for real presences. Jerry, Jeff & Rich you know. I am)

So Long At The Fair & Down At The Palomino Club

Hell we figured It would get behind
the food-exhibits, the hog judging, etc.,
but Christ, toward late afternoon a body
couldn't he'p but notice Its dense soul-lessness;
Its implacable refusal to go along with our recreation…
We all laughed to scorn those old zeppelin dinosaurs
you know, & winked about the Toad-in-a-Hole,
& that cotton-candy teenage Tiresias;
we dug those glib barkers that cut up fruits & vegetables,-
our gang bush-whacked a clown with water-pistols fulla tears,
pecked paranoid turkey-dick til Its comb got red,
slapped It on the feather with a generous “right on, buddy!”,
& jest righteously kept on trucking toward total fun…
Pervo kept asking “do we love one another?”,-
Spanky warned It how we never-mind this fly-ash we breathe now
unless some bummer's sob or hawk & spit brings it up,
threatening to bring our party down;
then black flack flowers burst into bloom around pigasus,-
bloddy that face of wood-pulp & bat-shet
whining about how it hurts to sober up..!
(It'll tell ya anything out front,
but when you go in you're more'n likely to find
auld schweinhund ripe the for home..!)
So anyway we split the pleasure fair's barbarous parade,
where to see what we like to do is proof of Its fault-line,
& on Highway 1, as the switchophrenic welcher cried “I love you”,
we ate Its share (of blue pork eye of brown) down both barrels;
loyally the little woman backed her man up in this…
Lastly, down in the Palomino Club,
while that beautiful freak goddaughter of Kitty wells wailed,
our compassion all puked away, we toasted
Its death in a double-black rush,
smiling, & handed Its snout the glass,
conjuring our Man right on over to the high side,
in the rite in the right on the right
   in the “Love?…self-betrayal” in the Wright
       O my brothers  inn our own  right in
           the right  what was it the old
               draB  fo  novA said about
                           in thee write
                        It's alright  ?  in the right
                                    in the ride
                                rose-hips vit  am  ins
                                    the right

Los Angeles County Fair
& the Linda Ronstadt set
September 1972

Published in:
  • So Long At The Fair & Down At The Palomino Club & Other Poems - 1976

Blood Meridian or,
The Evening Redness in the West A Ballad

Farewell my portrait of the Prima Vera,
goodbye my smoky star,
adios indelible picture
so long my heart's desire.

For the mirror empties into morning,
and the clouds leak glittering snow,
and the dark bright light torments me,
as the sun is sinking low.

Yes the sky tortures me sweetly
as the cows are walking home,
and the swallows are returning,
and arrives the fiery gloam.

No woman can release me
so my shiny craft can leave,
and the gnarled moon ignores me
as they're bringing in the sheaves.

O leafy path through the Prima Vera
beneath a high green star,
be quenched in oblivious music,
so long my lute and lyre.

Published in:
  • The Villager – Undated