Monday, November 9, 2015

The Salvation of Cowboy Blue Charles Clifford Brooks III

Copyright 2015 -- JD Cagle
 Copyright 2015 -- Holly Holt

This evening Charles Clifford Brooks III would like to preview his epic, The Salvation of Cowboy Blue Crawford, a work scheduled to appear in print in 2017 (yikes! time is flying).   The picture below, as Clifford observes, "shows a dash of Blue's heresy."  Holly Holt has also illustrated a number of passages from the epic.

Copyright 2015 -- JD Cagle

Image Credit -- Holly Holt

The Salvation of Cowboy Blue Crawford is an autobiographical epic that progressively beat, kicked, and slammed itself against my mind for two years after the release of The Draw of Broken Eyes & Whirling Metaphysics.  At the end of my first book, there was an epic I drew inspiration from due to what I saw working with the juvenile justice system.  That epic was called The Gateman’s Hymn of Ignoracium, and it was the cathartic creation of a Fourth Afterlife worse than the Inferno, of course, in homage to Dante’s Divine Comedy.  It contained no autobiographical elements.
 I had no intentions of writing another one, or making it a gimmick at the conclusion of Athena Departs.  Cowboy Blue’s personality, the landscape he traverses, the woman he’s convinced is his salvation, and finally the addition of two other male characters—as well as a volatile third  female to the family—culminated into a full literary Western in the last two months. 
I’ve been writing pieces of it for over a year.  Like Poe with his short stories, I often don’t know where each chapter is going, or even if these chapters will stay in the sequence in which they are written.  Putting all melodrama aside, a whole portion of my life, and its angel/demon tug of war, has begun oozing into my pages whether I like it or not.  After Athena wrapped up, the tsunami of inspiration now free to engulf me has put Blue into clear focus.
All of my writing is either to enlighten on some level, entertain, never preach, or help me understand who and why I am.  The two men, or wolves, to ramble with Blue are Sword and Shadow and Father Hammer.  Both of these have distinct purposes and an amalgamation of several heroes who have helped me stay away from the abyss.  The fourth of these hoodlums is Lily.  She is sister to the Angel of War, and more ferocious than all other three, combined.  Blue and Lily have a volatile love/hate exchange for kisses and bar fights.
Blue searches for Miss Dixie, which is a journey that is not easy by any means.  I do not dramatize or hide or apologize for any of the details in this story.  It’s far too long to add to the end of Athena Departs, and I think that’s what is best.  As I have entered “the midpoint of my life,” I, too, find myself in a dark wood, but I am not alone.  Blue is not alone.  He and his crew will burn that wood down to find Miss Dixie safe.
Yet, is Miss Dixie even real?  What war are these four fighting?  Is salvation possibly found in anyone but ourselves?  All Blue, Sword and Shadow, Father Hammer, and Lily know is that they are the only loyalty on this earth. There is always a good fight to be had, and putting down the bad man is more than likely “morally ambiguous.” 
My editor, close friend, and Sister of The Southern Collective Experience, Holly Holt, has been creating artwork for The Salvation of Cowboy Blue Crawford I’ve had no influence to craft, and her results have taken me aback.  I say that without pandering to anyone or exaggerating for effect.  I have found that when you work with the right people for the right reasons to the best end – miracles happen every day.  This can be no truer than now.
Below are three excerpts from Blue Crawford that show  some of the American South’s song, its mountains, cities, glory, and decadent setting of this havoc, but also the Old Faith mysticism found below the Mason-Dixon I wish to breathe new life.  I have found peace in the bullets Blue throws at accidents made in the past.  All lost loves, contracts with the devil, promises to God, and hopes of a love that can make Blue simmer are here. 
The only thing Blue fears is Miss Dixie’s ghost giving up too soon, that his sins will make him suffer too soon, and that Lily will gut him before his madness takes them all the way of Ahab and his white whale.  This is a Western with a taste of the Far East, placed into today’s wild South where angels think twice before stopping by.
When a writer tells the absolute truth, to the right music, it is read as metaphor, though it is not.  The epic is slated to be published in 2017 on its own.  At this moment, there is talk of a companion book being released as well where the story is taken in new directions by poets who know me, personally, and see themselves as one of these heretical four horsemen.

Copyright 2015 -- Holly Holt
Image credit -- Holly Holt

Chapter 1

He is calm when it’s called for,
and reckless
at the right times.
Like a decent son,
when Sunday comes
back around,
Blue edges
in beside his momma
before she worries.
Every thief, harlot, and bandit
is cognizant of where God
looks for the saved:
sittin’ penitent beside
the prettiest boss.

Image credit -- Holly Holt

Image Credit -- Holly Holt

Chapter 11

Dear Oracle,
You are the Holy Designer of New Hope.
Hear him.  Blue is trying to thrive
even with the threat of being forgotten
is more destructive
than his more sociable drugs.

Image credit -- Holly Holt
Image credit -- Holly Holt

Chapter 12
It amounts to the cannon fodder
from Cowboy Blue's
Colt .45.
Miss Dixie is his done-in.
The last 365
have been an Averno
to swallow.
But for her,
Blue would engrave grief
into Mother Russia.
The heart is
what the heart makes.

Image credit: Holly Holt

Image credit: Holly Holt

Copyright 2015 -- JD Cagle

Bio: Clifford Brooks is a poet, teacher, and rebel working out his dreams in North Georgia. He and Joe Milford sat ten years ago mulling over how to pull a family, and business, out of art. Over that decade Clifford’s book, The Draw of Broken Eyes& Whirling Metaphysics, earned a Pulitzer and Georgia Author of the Year nomination. Yet, more importantly, his passion born sitting beside his best friend has come to fruition – The Southern Collective Experience is on the map. This collection of artists of all genres is still in its infancy, but can be found by the same name on Facebook and at He is nearing the completion of Athena Departs, a collection of verse that continues where his last book left off; and The Salvation of Cowboy Blue Crawford, an epic with autobiographical intent.

If you would like to purchase The Draw of Broken Eyes & Whirling Metaphysics, see these links:

Copyright 2015 -- Mechelle Ballew

Image Credit -- Holly Holt

Athena Departs is also forthcoming.  The cover above is a joint effort between Ezra Letra and Holly Holt. The book's editor is JD Isip out of Texas A&M.

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