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Saturday, May 11, 2019

The Silver Scribe

by Michael Mauro DeBonis, May 4, 2019

The paddlewheel poet, piloting The River of Rivers,
those words he would float, he shook into shivers!
He went west with the Sun, looking for
some silver and a little gold, as well.
He found much of nothing…no such treasures
to sell!
But in a tavern idle, lonely and cold,
he snatched a tale with a title…and one to be told!

The fires were raised, to burn out the rain!
Sam was the man, who called him Mark Twain.

Such were the stories he worked into wealth…
to make our minds move, from sickness to health.

A misplaced knight and racing frogs,
a prince and a pauper…boys lazy as logs,

all had yarns to weave into wits.
With pages and a pen, he made phrases from fits!

Soon a wife came and children, too.
Riches and renown were his, right and true.

Is happiness a thing that can tell a man lies?
But sorrows were his. They fell from his eyes!

Livy was dead and all his children but one,
and to him joy was gone…long, long gone.

He wore a white suit, spotless and clean.
He walked into a saloon, wild and mean.
But time had stopped, for all at this scene.

He joked, he smoked, with his cigarettes lit!
Men knew not their troubles, and grudges quit.
His hair was silver as well-cleaned ore.
His skin was creased and easily it tore.
But this man was a man, who could not bore!

Words left his mouth, fusing fire and air.
Then as smoke settled, he was not there.

About the Author: Michael Mauro DeBonis is a poet and a historian from Long Island, NY. Michael’s first work appeared in the Village Beacon Record and the Brookhaven Times newspapers. Michael’s latest work may be found in the New York History Review (poetry and prose) and the New York History Blog (prose only). A graduate of SUNY Stony Brook (B. A. English) and Suffolk County Community College, Mr. DeBonis is dedicated to studying and to learning the rich and diverse history of the great State of New York.

The Tale of the Silver Scribe

By Michael Mauro DeBonis

Copyright ©2019 All rights reserved by the author

Part 1: Lonely Man…Big City

It is an early, autumn day in October of 1908. The leaves on Manhattan’s many trees have only recently begun to go from green to yellow, orange and red. A tall thin man wearing an immaculate white suit and smoking a cigarette makes his way into a lonely dimly lit Fifth Avenue saloon. The man’s eyes flash lightning and pride…but they do not exude arrogance or superiority. His wavy-tufted mane of silver-stranded hair and his equally sable moustache make him resemble an aged lion, though now somehow faded, but still very much mighty. He casually sits down on a stool at the bar and he is instantly recognized by the tavern-keeper as Mark Twain, the American novelist, and comedian, par excellence.

What these two discuss we’ll never know. But these things are certain: Mark Twain speaks directly and clearly. His words are always as sharp as his wits…and Twain’s wits are always razor sharp. In this early autumn, Mark Twain has already entered the winter of his life. Yet the ghost of this man is not ready to die. Mark Twain still has one more story left to tell.

He was born Samuel Langhorne Clemens in the small Missouri village of Florida, on November 30, 1835. Four years later, Clemens’ father, John Marshall Clemens, moved his family to the rural riverside town of Hannibal, also in Missouri. Sam and his brother Orion spent countless hours roaming the countryside there, fishing and wandering in the woods. Samuel Clemens was magnetized to the great Mississippi River, which dominated and bordered his little hometown. The Mississippi’s many steam-powered paddle wheelers haunted the young Clemens’ mighty imagination. When Samuel came of age, he would become quite a skilled pilot of these now fabled water vessels.

At eighteen, Sam fully completed an apprenticeship on a newspaper Orion had worked on, as well. After a decade of steady newspaper journalism and riverboat piloting, the Civil War broke out, and everything in Samuel Clemens’ life forever changed. The War Between the States closed the Mississippi and Clemens’ job as a riverboat pilot (not an easy occupation for anyone) came to an abrupt end. Immediately thereafter, Samuel joined the Confederate Army. He resigned and swiftly left his unit after two weeks. Clemens was not willing to endure the hardships of military combat and fight for a cause he did not believe in (slavery).