Karl Wagner, though an accomplished editor and renowned writer, avoided publishing his own work, believing that even the most scrupulous editor could not objectively evaluate his own work. Happily I am not burdened with such high standards. I recently came upon a copy of Dark Winds, published in 1982 by Vernon Clark and Rusty Burke which volume contained, in addtion to many laudable efforts concerning Wagner’s Kane, a poem I’d all but forgotten writing in tribute to my friend’s creation. Since no trees need be felled for this publication and no better writings need be displaced thereby, I’ll reprint it here, for whatever value it may have. Three lines were omitted from the text and I have retained no copies of my original, so I’ve had to guess at what they might have said. In the original I left it for the reader to discern the three stolen fragments, but one of them is quite obscure, so I’ve revealed the source of my larceny in a postscript.

Ancient Honky-Tonk

The first of the stolen fragments is the phrase, “I find no refuge in slaughter, And no peace do I find in war,” from, I believe, “The Rose of War” by Yeats (I’ll double check later, another advantage of web over print). It is a poem I couldn’t read without thinking of Kane. The second is “Love’s ever new as morning dew And hate is as old as time.” This is the truly obscure bit. It is from an old comic book series called Boys’ Ranch, drawn and, possibly, written by Jack Kirby of early Marvel fame. The third is the somewhat less specific, ”And I blame you.” Though that is, I fear, a common enough phrase, I own that I did swipe it; it comes from the The Who song, “Behind Blue Eyes” which put Karl and myself so much in mind of Kane that we actually considered whether it might have been inspired by Karl’s character (it seems not). I’ve been trying to get permission to use it as background music on the Kane page, but, thus far, have not received a definitive response. Two more bits that might prompt accusations of thievery are ”the red-headed stranger” (Willy Nelson) and ”Beauty’s Breath” (Poe). But those are so common or so brief that I think I am unlikely to be brought to the bar on their account.

I’ll also mention that my use of black and red in the poem refers not only to the yin and yang of love and death, but also to our school colors at old Knox Central, as well as to the colors Karl chose for the covers of the books his own Carcosa published. You might also note, with or without approval, my toying with tense to express Kane’s unique relationship with Time. Also, the use of the expression, “Now, then.” What a clever lad I was. Handsome, too.