Bradley T. Van Deusen

Bradley T. Van Deusen

OutcastsThe Convent of the Guns
Zero HourI May Deceive a Woman But...
Tuan JimmyTo A Girl
Painted LadyIncident
Song to be Sung on Third ReliefA Song of Legionsy
ExplanationA Song in the Cities

Father's Links


Outcast men of the world are we,
Sunk in the depths of iniquity
Detested by all and loved by none.
A blot on the face of the kindly sun.
Men of training and breeding and birth
Who knew full well what the game was worth
Who played their hands -- and lost --
-- and then
Lost themselves from the world of men.

We hid ourselves in the Island world
Where the flashing coils of the "Snake" are curled
We sought the depths to hide our shame.
The "thing" we had made of an honored name.
We swam the Bay in the early dawn
But the Shark came not, and we lived on.
We sought the end in the bolo's steel
But hearts wounds live, while flesh wounds heal.

We went unarmed to the Moro's "jil"
But they called us "mad" and they would not kill.
And the Padre came with his tale of Grace
But we knew better, and laughed in his face.

We twined our hearts in a woman's hair
Then tried to forget in the din and glare
Of a "tienda down on the opal bay
Where many men come and some men stay.

We lost ourselves in the Army then,
Our identity merely "Enlisted Men"
But in the dusk, when the shadows start to crawl
In their weird, wild dance on the barracks wall
A ghastly pageant that comes to stir
Our memory again to what we were
And we bow our heads and stifle a cry
For we don't know how and we'll never know why.

El Tigre.

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The Convent of the Guns

Our clean curved mouths are cold and dead.
Our polished skin is marred.
Our tawny thighs are thick with dirt,
Dinted, cut, and scarred;
Our day is done! But once!
Our open mouths blazed Deaths' caress
Our tongues with steel were tipped!
Ah! Bitter spinsters were we then
As we slashed and cut and ripped;
Our youth was filled with lovers
All laughing, joyous boys
Who stroked our slim, proud beauty
Their latest, deadly toys.
Then clean and fresh and polished
We went forth with the Dead
The living, lovely happy lads
Whose last touch, dyed us red.
But supplanted like all harlots
By the newer fresher one
We turned to rest and quiet
As our kind have always done,
With a printed tag about our throats
To inform our lovers' sons
We're an Ordanance Exhibition
The Convent of the Guns! El Tigre.

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Zero Hour

Grey stars agleam in a blank, dead sky
Grey guns agrowl below.
Grey clad men out beyond the wire.
Grey fields in the star-shells glow.

The barrage is a pounding symphony
That ears attuned cannot hear.
There's something flicking the parapet
There's something above you fear!

Not fear of "stopping one" above,
Or fear for the man beside.
There's something flicking the parapet
There's a fear that you cannot hide.

"Stand By!" The rifle is cool in your hand
And your heart pounds hard and quick.
There's something flicking the parapet
Number Three of the squad is sick.

The rifle hurts the palm of your hand
Like gripping a stiff wire brush
There's something flicking the parapet
"Walk slow through the wire, then rush!"

The whistle! The ladders! Up over the edge!
And your legs seem stiff and sore.
There's something flicking the parapet
Number Three is sick no more!

Grey stars agleam in a blank dead sky
Grey guns agrowl below.
Grey faces turned to the glowing stars
Where men lie dead in a row.

El Tigre.

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I May Deceive a Woman But Disappoint Her - Never!

A war-worn warrior
And a beautiful girl
Met in the darkness
Where black banners furl.

She was lovely
Her heart was warm.
He sought quiet
Out of the storm.

He said, "Love
Your heart's like jade
The green of quiet
Of a Virgin maid...

My hands are spatulate
Designed to caress
To mold tall columns
White limbs to press..."

She said, "Lover
I know you of old
In my dreams you're younger.
Not bitter or old...

My love's a warrior
Straight limbed and tall
With the pride of a peacock
On a marble wall....

You're bent and bitter.
Sword-scarred and worn
My love's a boy
White limbs untorn.

What would you have of me
Ghost of my love...
Dark bodied jungle beast
Tearing a dove."

"Girl," said the warrior
In ironed bodied might
You've lain beside me
In the star stabbed night

You've known my glories
Laughed at my fears
Why do you turn from me
In blinding tears.

Shall I cast my altar
Into the mere?
You are my Host of Hosts
Why should you fear?

Immaculate you came here
Virgin you go
My love's dreams' love
This you should know.

Your fresh mouth to mine, Love
Your body mine to press;
Close your eyes, so, Love
Dream Loves' caress.

By hands and mouth I build here
A dream to buoy on...
Something to cherish
When you are gone.

I shall know Beauty
Before I come to die
With bleeding, gaping mouth upturned
To a brazen, ghastly sky..."

The Girl said, "Warrior!
You have known Death
Hot, bright moments
And panting breath.

If I trust my visions
To you for a toy
It shall bring you happiness

But what of the boy?

Your ribbons tell of glory
Your eyes tell of pain.
Swordsman I come to you
Leave me without stain!"


What matters future, past
Or Gods above...
Two in the darkness
Have found Love...

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Tuan Jimmy

This is a tale of a lonely man,
Where the jungle grass is tall.
It was told to me on a lonely beach
Where the long blue shadows fall.

I have drifted my way through this island world,
For ten long years, come June
Forgotten my people, my race, my creed
And I think that the end is soon.
You gave me a drink and you're holding my head
And it's all that a friend could do
It's funny -- I don't feel a bit of pain
In the hole where the steel came through
I was young, and there was a girl
Who I loved as you'll never know.
I slipped, how doesn't matter
There was nothing to do but go.
A few years later, just drifting,
I picked up a paper at Prome
And the girl, was the girl from home.
It rather broke my heart, Lad
And the Beach claimed another soul.
Yea - another husk went drifting
Where the long blue breakers roll.
I'm about to go to my God, Chum,
But I've won away from my fears
And my God is a bitter God too
For he's had me in Hell for years!
Don't bother the Gu-Gu that got me
It's the way the game is run,
It's coppered and fixed and loaded
Adios! I'm thankful I'm done

With my bolo I carved him a tombstone
In coral, that the Beach might know
"Here lies Tuan Jimmy of England
He died as brave men go-"

The Stumble Bum

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To A Girl

I once wove a beautiful dream
Of a beautiful girl
That I met when existence was grey
A wonderful dream
Of a wonderful girl
And I knew that I'd nevermore stray.

The sword of the fighter
Is reddened with rust
And the joy of the conflict is stale
The wings of the drifter
Are graying with rust
Forgotten the songs of the trail.

I loved as a man
Who can love only one
And my world was the depth of her eyes
The beauty of earth
Was her hair in the sun
And the sound of her voice was my prize.

I knew it was futile
To love as I did
I suppose I'll love on to the end
I may have been foolish
But she'll never know
And at least I have found me a friend.


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Painted Lady

I sing my song with a painted mouth
And staccato, blazing breath;
The Jezebel of the Armies,
The Painted Lady of Death!

Born in the flow of the molten steel,
Baptised in flaming oil,
Cursed by the world ere I saw the light
And went forth to my toil;
Pride of my many lovers
My deep-voiced, fighting men.
Caressed as my kisses took their toll
From my steel ringed, concrete den:
Faithless and lovely always
Denying my love in his need,
Giving myself to the strongest hand
While my cast off lovers bleed.
My curious task is ended,
And couched on a wooden bed
I lie and gaze on the passing throng
And muse on my lovers - dead.

I sing my song with a painted mouth
And staccato, blazing breath:
The Jezebel of the Armies,
The Painted Lady of Death!

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Hey, Doc'! Pardon, Sir, I meant Major.
They say the Kid was hurt last night.
You know, my Bud', the battler?
Slim, blonde, puts out a fight?
I heard the Corpsmen talkin'
They said the Kid was bad.
Jesus, Sir! You'd tell a fella -
The Kid's all I ever had!
He's dead! Never knew what hit him?
A wreck? Why, Sir, the Major's wrong!
The Kid came in last evenin'
An' Gawd knows that ain't long!
An' just because my leg is broke
He wuz kiddin' me to death ...
To ... death ... my budedy's dead then ...
It kinda takes my breath.
Where is he, Doc'? The Post Morgue?
That little house of stone?
Get me outa here, Sir, I'm goin'
The Kid's in there alone!
Sure I know my leg is busted
But, Hell, Man, I can crawl!
I don't want nobody with me
I can guide along the wall!

Take that 'hypo' outa here, Sergeant!
Why ... Major ... that ain't fair ...
I ran with the Kid a week ago.
Had him shapin' pretty fair.
This goddam morphine gets me ...
Kid! Lay off that dame in red!
You can't mix dames and battlin'
An' ya can't win fights in bed!
Roll in-under that left a' his
Then pivot up an' hook!
Don't let'm box but fight him!
This guy fights by the book!

I'm gettin' punch drunk - damn this morphine -
It starts buzzin' in my head!
Hey, Kid! Kid! Why sparrin' pardner,
They told me you was dead!

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Song to be Sung on Third Relief

You are the night winds
Singing of tarnished beauty.
You are the lure and lie
Of all I have held most dear.
You are agonies suffered alone in the squadroom
You are a girl and very near.

You are flat jades
Whipped to a deep green frenzy.
You are wrought shields
Polished to silver bright.
You are an ivory, ancient torture
Suffered throughout the night.

You are the lights
Of the Guardroom glowing.
You are the moon
On my bayonet's blade.
You are duty and more than duty
You are a woman and unafraid.

You are a bugle
Sobbing across the parade ground,
Untouchable, lovely
And remembered long.
You are a splendor and I am a soldier
This is a soldier's song.

"M" Company's stables ...
There's a padlock missing ..."
"Hello, Kid." "Post!"
And the Guard is through.
The dawn in the East is a gay, gold glory
An altar grown great for you.

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A Song of Legions

Then the Legions turned from Britain
On the long white road to Caul
From the purple patterned heather
Bound tight against the Wall.
The Little Painted Peoples
Ran shadows through the grass
As they clawed aside the branches
To watch our Eagles pass.
The gallant, vanquished Eagles
With their faces turned toward home,
The proud and polished Eagles
That led the shields from Rome.
The blazing day flung glory
From each rank of tilted spears
And the Cohorts sang of Roma
As their thoughts rolled back the years.
The salt sweat burned the callous
Where the wet straps tugged and tore
And each shift of shield and armour
But seemed to cut the more.
This land was Rome's and Romans held it
Though the black seas bit the beach,
And wing-helmed through ice and snow whorls
Came those of alien speech.
Huge men and brave in combat
Yellow-haired and raiders all;
But they dropped sail once near Vectis
And we pinned them near the Wall.
Good blades and mighty axemen
And they met us knee to knee,
But our sullen, dark browed Legion
Turned and flung them back to sea.
Yes, they tossed their sails and left us
Bruised and battered, bloody, numb
Yes, we whipped them, whipped them, whipped them
But they never ceased to come!
They'll come again and take this
All this bleakly lovely shore;
The Picts can never stop them
And the Eagles soar no more.
For the Legions turn from Britain
And their half-completed task -
Rome's will - there is no question
That a soldier dares to ask,
Dares to ask or stops to wonder -
There is no Law but Rome!
But the land my comrades died in
The Legions called it - home.

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God knows it has been centuries
Since I last heard
The keen, ecstatic trumpet of your voice.
Ages since I last knew
The wistful softness of your mouth on mine.
(Ah God! Warm mouths that clung and searched!)
Your poised triumphant fingertips
That traced erotic ecstacies
Through the heater amber hollows ...

Curious that time.
The stately cadence of the days and hours and centuries.
Should be so wholly you -
Days that moved in an avalanche
Of crashing, colorful emotion
Have become rhythmic, pendulemated
Grey hammers on my soul.
Hours once etched
With the gold tracery of your laughter
Are pallid indecencies
That cling and will not go.
All things are dead now you have gone.
The lean cats of squalor
Run patterns beneath my feet.
It is not just that I
Who have lived emotion
Should have it stifled
By the slim white hands I so adore
And cannot forget.
Better the agonies
Of your swift, dear fingertips
Playing raptly, certainly
On the raw nerve keys of my soul
Than - nothing.

Have you forgotten -
Have your forgotten -
The body's heat beneath the palm.
The mouth that kissed
Each cool, delightful fingertip
The while they traced
Each tear and tear and sun and You-cut wrinkle
On the face beneath -
Have you forgotten

Write here an epitaph!

He diced the Fates
And, having lost
He could not laugh
But took his heart, annealed
Through close association with a dream.
And broke it.

And watched the thin, scincillating scarlet dust
Float slowly down
Beneath one inch of pine
Beneath a cotton flag
He lies alone,
The mad, tired mind at rest
Of the strident bugle
Echoed the laughter of those
With whom he diced.

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A Song in the Cities

The Little Drums are banging
Mad war songs of the trails.
My nostrils sting with memories
Of thunderous, crashing gales.
My eyes are sick with staring
At these monoliths of Man
And sick of vain illusion,
I shall go where I can
Find Gods to fit my temples,
Find strength to meet my need,
Find scars to hold my memories.
Find men who know my creed.
Sick of the waste of mankind
In these roaring walls of stone.
(These lustful sons of boredom
Afraid to be alone).
I shall make my pack and wander
To the Beach from where I came
And away from all this tinseled filth
I shall revel in my shame!

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Biographies Mother His Father
Favorite Poems Courting Mother His Mother
Photographs Letters to Mother His Grandfather

NJ Governor
Lewis Morris


Henry Livingston
Night Before Xmas
Henry Livingston


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