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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Checkout (06/09/11)

TITLE: The Brigadier and the Merchant's Daughter
By Beth LaBuff


The Brigadier and the Merchant's Daughter

The sun was a fierce inferno that blistered the barren way.
The wind was a dervish dancer that mesmerized her prey.
The sagebrush clung to the parched sand, atop the desert floor.
And the brigadier came drifting—
Like a tumbleweed roamed—drifting—
The brigadier came drifting, up to the merchants door.

His mount was a roan that carried the faded Johnny Reb.
The gray forage cap of a soldier was slouched upon his head.
A minié ball from a musket of a blue-coat Yankee squad
Had shredded his arm at Shiloh—
It shattered his soul at Shiloh—
When they buried his arm at Shiloh, beneath the sullied sod.

His eyes were occluded windows and his thoughts lodged faraway.
The dust caked beneath his kerchief, sweat stained his worn chambray.
He passed through the door then halted, for stocking the shelves with lace
Was the merchant's comely daughter—
Rose, the merchant's daughter—
The merchant's only daughter, coal wisps enwreathed her face.

His heart met its Appomattox, was besotted at first sight.
It was reveille to his spirit and cessation of soul blight.
The battle smoke that had haunted, now wafted from his life.
He'd entered to purchase coffee—
He bought hardtack and coffee—
Then clutching hardtack and coffee, he beseeched her to be his wife.

She noticed his faded gray cap and his sweat-stained chambray weave.
She examined his dust-caked kerchief and queried his empty sleeve.
His eyes sought hers while they pleaded, she sensed the sorrow there.
Then the merchant's comely daughter—
Rose, the merchant's daughter—
With a nod, the merchant's daughter—she tossed her coal-black hair.

The drifter added a purchase, a lace-trimmed wedding gown.
Then he married the merchant's daughter, while the parson was in town.
In the shadow of a mesa, they picnicked at high noon.
They ate hardtack with coffee—
On their makeshift honeymoon—
And the wind was a dervish dancer for the bride and the one-armed groom.

Her pledge of love to the drifter emancipated his heart,
Held sway by the wind-blown dancer, they saw a serpent dart.
It struck with the speed of a bullet, in the heel of his comely bride.
Its fangs were laden with venom—
As the bridegroom eyed the puncture—
Like a bayonet to his own soul, his heart within him died.

He reached for his muzzle-loader, with one arm loaded lead.
He aimed then he pulled the trigger, He shot the rattler—dead.
The dust of the wind-blown desert, seeped through the bridal lace
Of the gown of the merchant's daughter—
Rose, the merchant's daughter—
The wind danced with coal-black tresses across her ashen face.

He made one final purchase, as the sun was ebbing down.
Then he carried the merchant's daughter to the plot at the edge of town.
The strike from the deadly viper had stilled her coal-black locks.
He buried his love at sunset—
Entombed his soul at sunset—
He buried the merchant's daughter in a rough-hewn pinewood box.

They say on a summer's noonday, on the blistered barren way.
When the wind is a dervish dancer that mesmerizes prey.
When the sagebrush clings on the parched sand, atop the desert floor,
That the brigadier comes drifting—
The brigadier comes drifting, up to the merchants door.

His mount is a roan that carries the faded Johnny Reb.
The gray forage cap of a soldier is slouched upon his head.
He walks through the door then he stops short, for stocking the shelves with lace
Is the merchant's comely daughter—
Rose, the merchant's daughter—
The merchant's only daughter, coal wisps enwreathe her face.

—with apologies to Alfred Noyes – The Highwayman

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This article has been read 1833 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Laury Hubrich 06/16/11
Wow! There is so much emotion here. It would take a long time to analyze this poem. It leaves me with an eerie feeling and I can't shake it. Excellent work.
Verna Cole Mitchell 06/16/11
Ahhhhh you made a new favorite poem from one of my old favorite poems. I love the story and your wonderful word choices.
Virgil Youngblood 06/16/11
Outstanding. A winner for sure.
Noel Mitaxa 06/16/11
No apology needed from Noyes or from anyone else. Brilliant in concept and colour, and in the creativity of your construction. (How about that for alliteration???)
It deserves to score well.
Charla Diehl 06/17/11
The stories you weave with your poetic talents never cease to amaze, amuse and entertain me. I expect to see this in the EC list for sure. Great mind pictures throughout this piece that drew me in and kept me there until the closing verse. Excellent!!!!!
Bonnie Bowden 06/18/11
This poem's story was captivating from beginning to end. I haven't read the Highwayman before, but believe me, you don't have to apologize for.

If this doesn't make the EC list, I will be very surprised.
Rachel Phelps06/20/11
I LOVE the Highwayman, so this was a wonderful treat. I recognized it from the first line. Amazing work, as always.
Eliza Evans 06/21/11
You make FaithWriters a better place, Beth. :) Your poems just lift me up! Wonderful in every way. Keep writing and sharing.
Edmond Ng 06/22/11
An intriguing read masterfully written. This poem leaves me wanting ... to unravel the puzzlement of Rose's checkout and 'resurrection'—a dream or mistaken identity? An excellent and exceptional piece!
Lillian Rhoades 06/22/11
This is too much!:-) You've raised the bar. Totally awesome, and up there with Poe,Noyes and the rest of them:-)

Gotta be a winner!!
Verna Cole Mitchell 06/23/11
Woo Hoo--I'm happy dancin' with you. I KNEW this one had to be a winner. Proud of you, Twin!
Carol Penhorwood 06/23/11
A bow to the master! Your creativity and gift truly amazes me.
Patricia Turner06/23/11
I recognized the meter of the Highway Man right off and I think you have no need for the apology. I always look forward to your poems, Beth. Always a treat! Congratulations!
Sharlyn Guthrie06/23/11
Hauntingly beautiful, Beth! I love it. Congratulations on your EC!
Bonnie Bowden 07/04/11
Congratulations Beth on your awesome EC win!
Jan Ackerson 08/24/11
Beth, I'm going to feature this on the Front Page Showcase for the week of September 19. Look for it on the FaithWriters home page--and congratulations!
Virgil Youngblood 09/28/11
Congratulations on being "Showcased." This recognition is highly deserved.