Joseph Buehler lives with his wife Trish between the cities of Atlanta and Athens in Georgia. He has published poems in Bumble Jacket Miscellany, Defenestration, Common Ground Review, The Write Room, The Tower Journal, Turk's Head Review, Two Cities Review The Stray Branch, Mad Swirl, Burningword Literary Journal and Theodate and has upcoming poems in Common Ground Review, East End Elements and Unbroken.
My regret is that I didn’t teach him what I already knew
or even a tenth part of it. Not about work, but about other things.
I was too busy and too selfish with my time.
I didn’t like him at first, but he grew on me.
He was a former Marine drill instructor, so what did he see in me?
I was totally the opposite. Something.
We walked to the garage together after work. He was a medium sized
guy, thin, ramrod straight, a ruddy face, white hair. He had a deep bass
voice. A cigarette was always dangling from his lips. He used racist
phrases sometime, but in the abstract. I never saw him demean anybody.
When he used them I would remonstrate with him, probably too gently.
Yet he kept the famous picture of the little starved African boy
and the vulture waiting for him to die; it was up on his cubicle wall for
He once kissed Ray on his bald head so unexpectedly that
it made the rest of us laugh. He loved to play golf also; he played it with
Paul, our supervisor and his best friend. But the years of cigarettes finally
got to him; he couldn’t give them up, even when he was on oxygen, even
after all of the hospitalizations and irresolute battles,
So they fired the rifles over him and gave his wife a flag and we
all turned away to our separate cars but I didn’t cry because I knew that
maybe I would see him again back here sometime after the graves opened
up. I don’t think that he’ll have to fight the craving then nor all of those
particular battles again.
Outer Banks After The Hurricane, 2003
The early October ocean was too cold to wade into,
but it was pleasant enough just to sit on the brown sand
after walking through the six foot high dune cut.
We shared a very grand new three story house with relatives,
adults and children, and everyone got along fine, the teen aged
girls screaming in the elevator, which was like a slow moving
vertical coffin---it was much easier to just use the stairs.
Trish and I shared a room that led out onto a second floor porch
(with the dark Atlantic out there somewhere beyond the cut,
rhythmically moving---we opened the sliding glass doors at night
to listen to it.)
A week and a half after the hurricane had passed through, workmen
were still scooping sand off the road with bulldozers. We couldn’t go
to where the really bad damage had been done because the road had
been cut apart and that town had been isolated. We saw debris piled
up by the side of the road and damaged houses and sheared off trees.
We climbed Cape Hatteras Light House, thirty steps at a time to a
landing, then rest, then another thirty steps to the next landing and so
on until we reached the top. There was a sweeping view at the top;
it was a sunny day and you could see in all directions. The light house
keeper’s two white houses sat two hundred feet below. They were now
used as museums. On the other side, below and stretching out to the
horizon, was the great cold blue-green Atlantic. “You have to watch
out for rip currents this time of the year,” a guide warned us.
ur hote ‘ Fifty Three J. W. Convention; ‘Fifty Seven High School Graduation Trip
G.T.: “Funny Face” with Astaire and Hepburn and later the Rockettes kicking
in long legged unison on the large ascending stage.
J.W.: A big ruddy brother from Australia in the subway crowd going to
Yankee Stadium (my dad and I among them). The Aussie was
wearing a large paper clip as a tie clasp.
G.T.: Some unpleasantness on the train with another boy; some boys were
playing cards with pictures of naked women on them. I didn’t join
them. “Do you think you’re better than we are?”
G.T.: Eugene O’Neill with Fredric March and Jason Robards Jr. and Florence
Eldridge and Bradford Dillman and the catharsis at the end of the play
that hits you like a punch in the stomach and fainting after foolishly
running up most of the stairs in the Washington Monument and Neil
Polderman, another kid, staying with me at the top until I felt better.
J.W.: My dad and I at Lindy’s---Fat Jack Leonard, the comedian, talking loudly
with his buddies outside the restaurant on the sidewalk and later all the night
sounds and rapidly passing lights of the overhead trains above us as we were
caught up in the crowd at the stadium, me shy, but my dad outgoing as
always, smiling and talking to strangers, nodding his head up and down in
his characteristic way, his blue eyes attentive to every movement as we
walked, moving slowly (happy to be among our brothers and sisters and teens
and small children) toward the subway that would take us back to our hotel. l.