At the Driveway Guitar Sale / Buff Whitman-Bradley


At the Driveway Guitar Sale

poems on Aging, Memory, Mortality by

Buff Whitman-Bradley

ISBN: 978-1-59948-871-4, ~100 pages, $16 (+ shipping)

Release Date: March 25, 2021

The Advance Sale Discount price ended February 25. For those who prefer to pay by check, the price is $20/book (which includes shipping and applicable sales tax) and should be sent to: Main Street Rag, PO BOX 690100, Charlotte, NC 28227-7001. 


Buff Whitman-Bradley’s poems have appeared in many print and online journals and in two previously published collections, b. eagle, poet, and The Honey Philosophies. In addition, he has written two nonfiction books for young people, Endings: A Book About Death, and Where Do I Belong? A Kids’ Guide to Stepfamilies; and a handbook of classroom language activities, Growing from Wordplay into Poetry. His interviews of soldiers refusing to fight in Iraq and Afghanistan became the oral history book About Face: Military Resisters Turn Against War. He podcasts at and lives in northern California with his wife, Cynthia.

I’ve read this author in many publications over the years, and listened to his own gently cadenced readings on his podcast, and I love his poetry. Wit, imagination, a perfect ear, and an effortless touch (not to mention knee-slapping punchlines) mark all of Whitman-Bradley’s work, and the poems in this book are no different. The poet is forgivingly and unforgivingly self-aware, somehow finding all the poetry in life’s least poetic moments.  ~Roger Stoll, essayist and poet


For all of us, even though we may continue to climb stairs and eat our vegetables, the ever-expanding past continues to nip at our heels. Buff Whitman-Bradley reminds us in these poems that we are not alone, that we participate in a common project with its pitfalls and distractions. He calls attention to the gifts and graces that accompany a seasoned perspective, and that there is a special liveliness and wise humor that comes with age that is both balm and elixir.  ~Gary Crounse


With his signature grace and economy, Buff Whitman-Bradley tackles the unimaginable; the body’s elemental breakdown and the proverbial leap into the unknown which awaits us all. Never settling for abstraction or platitude, these poems are as rugged and beautiful as the California landscapes humming in the background. And though he may have given up on his plan ‘to be an ancient Chinese poet’, something of their wild humor and gem-like clarity shines on every page. ~Seth Jani, Publisher and Editor of Seven CirclePress, Author of Night Fable

At the driveway guitar sale


At the driveway guitar sale
I watch old men
Heft various 60’s electrics
And strike surly lead-guitarist poses
That would surely embarrass
Their grandchildren
They play snatches of Light My Fire and
Riders on the Storm
To accompany the Jim Morrisons
Singing in their heads
And I can see the faded blaze
Of their rock and roll dreams
In their eyes
And the language of their
Heavy slightly stooped bodies
That says those doors are closed

It is much the same at car shows
Where old men display
The hot rods and T-Birds
And souped-up Bel Airs
That drove them nearly mad with longing
When they were young
And even though the cars
Of their hearts’ desires
Now park in their suburban garages
I can sense a faint echo of disappointment
Reverberating in the hearts that beat
Beneath their Harley-Davidson t-shirts:
But I’m not 16

And me?
When this old man was young
He wanted badly to be a poet
To smoke Gauloises
To drink Wild Turkey
To swim the Hellespont
And utter seismic profundities
In casual conversation and
Oh yes
To write stirring poems
And declaim them to a waiting world . . .
Which didn’t exactly work out
And although he does still wonder from time to time
What it would have been like
To be a young writer of great promise
He is content these days to strum his ukulele
To drive his battered old Toyota
To pen verses that might occasionally
Lay a patch of rubber, ignite a little flame



Memory’s horses


I am hiking a muddy trail
In the wooded hills
On a brilliant spring morning
After many days of rain.
Purple and ivory irises,
Blue and white forget-me-nots,
And vivid yellow California buttercups
Are blooming
In the long, bright green trailside grasses.
The cool, wet air fills my lungs
And quickens my spirit
As I huff uphill
Letting my thoughts loose
Among oaks, madrones,
Redwoods, bays,
And I suddenly realize
That I cannot remember the name
Of Hopalong Cassidy’s horse.
Roy Rogers and Trigger,
Dale Evans and Buttermilk
Spring instantly to mind,
As do the Lone Ranger and Silver,
Tonto and Scout,
But the name of Hoppy’s horse,
A magnificent white steed,
Is stuck in some neural cranny inside my head.
Perhaps it will wriggle itself loose,
I advise myself,
If I shift my attention to something else —
Glittering ribbons of sunlight
Streaming down through the treetops,
Irascible scrub jays
Complaining on the fly,
Banana slugs poking along through the mud –
But I cannot for long not think
About Hopalong Cassidy’s horse.
I remember Rocinante, I remember Flicka and Black Beauty,
I even remember Bucephalus for God’s sake,
Yet I have forgotten the name
Of my childhood hero’s noble stallion.
I had a Hopalong Cassidy cup and plate
When I was a boy
With a picture of the man and his mount
Painted on each

And inscribed with the words
From your pal, Hoppy.
How I loved using my Hopalong Cassidy dinnerware
Every night at supper,
Watching the picture on the plate
Emerge from under a heap of mashed potatoes
Or a serving of . . .
Wait! I’ve got it! Topper!
The horse’s name was Topper!
Oh, I am a happy man now,
Relieved that the memory was not gone forever,
That the name has returned to me,
That my powers of recollection are still intact,
And I fairly float along the trail beside the creek
At the bottom of the hill,
Where small pines are decorated
With light green brushes of new growth
On the tips of their skinny branches,
Where towhees and juncos and sparrows
Hunting and pecking for food
Flit away into the trees as I approach,
Where the waters babble and tumble
Over stones and boulders
As they hurry toward the bay
And the great sea beyond,
And I would pronounce this a perfect day
If I could just recall
The name of the horse of the Cisco Kid.



Adopt a highway


I hope that when I die
My old pals and chums
Will adopt a highway
A stretch of two-lane road
Somewhere out in countryside I loved
Where they will meet
Once a month
To collect roadside detritus
And reminisce about
What a pretty good fellow I was

The Department of Transportation
Will place a sign on the shoulder:
Litter Control Next 2 Miles
Friends of Buff Bradley
Which is all the memorial I need
Or want

These cleanups will go on
For perhaps a year
Fewer people showing up each time
Because of
You know
Other obligations
Until the last two agree
That a drink together
Once in a while
Would be a whole lot easier
Although they will never actually get around to it

My sign will come down
Stored in some dim back corner
Of a shed in the county maintenance yard
With all the other signs
Awaiting resurrection
Or reincarnation
Depending upon their affiliations
And a new sign
Will appear:
Litter Control Next 2 Miles
Bitsy’s Kut ‘n Kurl
Which a motorist who drives past regularly
Will notice one morning
And will ask himself
Didn’t there used to be
A different name up there?
Although he won’t be able to recall
Who it was

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