The Lost Poet

–The Dirt Road Chronicles

March 1971- Beaufort, SC

It was a sunny March morning, and the sun was rising, making the waterway sparkle and take on a golden tone with hints of lavender and peach.  I caught a ride with a truck driver just after midnight and made it to the downtown historical district.  I had always loved Beaufort with its Spanish moss, shrimp boats, and best of all the Never More Bookstore, and all of this was within walking distance from the waterway.

I walked over to a coffee shop on the waterway close to the park.  After my late night on the road, I needed coffee and I wanted to write a letter home to let my mom know where I was.  The café was small and had tables outside with a view of the river.  The coffee was hot, and they had delicious scones filled with bacon and eggs.  As the breakfast kicked in, I started feeling alive again and put pen to paper and wrote home.  I missed them dearly and hoped they would understand my love of travel and adventure.

I finished up the letter, sealed it, and put it in the mailbox outside the café.  I still had a while before the bookstore opened, so I took my journal out of my backpack and updated my recent travels.  My thoughts went to all the letters I sent home and my friend and mentor, Deacon.  Lately, I wondered how nice it would be to get letters from heaven.  So many are gone, and I hoped to write down their stories so that they would live on as memories passed down through the generations to come.

In the distance coming across the park was an old man walking toward the café.  Looking at him with the sunrise behind him and the colors reflecting off the water it was like a Van Gogh painting.  I almost stopped breathing, the image was so powerful, yet soft and gentle at the same time.

He was wearing a Panama straw hat and a linen suit.  He was a man out of a different time.  He smiled at me as he walked into the café to get his coffee.  After a short time, he came back outside and asked if he might join me.  He smiled and pulled up a chair and sat down.  He mentioned that he came over because I was writing in a journal.  He pulled out an old worn leather journal and said there was a time when many people read his stories and the bookstore over across the block sold many of his books.

He told me of remembering a time of book signings and travels across the south.  But today his time as a writer had passed, and his books are now dusty, worn, and always in the back of the bookstore, or some may be in a new writer’s library carefully kept in a cherished space.  He told me not to always write about the flowers and the pretty songs. He said to embrace Emerson and Thoreau, yet don’t shy away from William Blake or Edgar Allen Poe.  In life, writing has the dual role of light and darkness.  When you go to the bookstore ask for my book, The Lost Poet, only then will you understand.

With that being said, he walked back toward the river and seemed to bit by bit fade into the rising sun until he was gone.  I sat there for a moment stunned trying to absorb my encounter.  I walked over to the bookstore and asked for his book.  The owner said you will love his work and she asked how I knew about him.  I told her I just had coffee with him.  Her face went pale, and she told me he passed away in 1952.  He went out on the river, and no one ever saw him or his boat again.

I paid for the book and as I was walking out, I saw a help wanted sign and I knew I would ask about the job and stay in Beaufort for a while to solve the mystery of the lost poet.  I opened his book and written on the inside cover was a note, “I waited for you to find my book, sadly I am gone so let us plan on meeting on the other side.”

They say that you can never go back again, yet if you can write a story, if you can reach back and touch those long-ago memories you can go back again.


Larry Tyler
Larry Tyler
Awaken the possibilities … then unleash them. After 55 years of successful retail management, I have returned to my passion of writing. I write Poetry, Storytelling, and Short Stories. As a child, I grew up on front porch storytelling. I would sit and listen to my Dad and his brothers tell these great stories that were captivating, and I always wanted to hear more. I wanted to experience the things they talked about. I started writing at a young age and reading everything I could get my hands on. At twelve years old I started a storytelling group and several of my friends became writers or poets. At 16 I hopped box cars and worked the tobacco fields, orange groves, picked cotton, and spent many nights around a campfire listing to life stories. Someone once asked me why I wrote. It consumes an amazing amount of time and I assure you it is not going to make me rich. I write so that my children can touch and feel my words telling of the ones that came before us and the stories they told me. These are the chronicles of our family and even though they come from my childhood memories and are deeply rooted in a child’s remembrance at least they may feel what it was like in the time before them and cherish the things the elders left behind. I am a Columnist & Featured Contributor, BIZCATALYST360 and I have The Writers Café, a group on LinkedIn that features Poets, Writers, Artists, Photographers, and Musicians . On Facebook I have two groups and one page; Dirt Road Storytelling, From Abandoned To Rescue Dogs And Cats, and About Life, Love And Living. As writers, it is true that we honestly do not know what we hold within us until we unleash it. When our words inspire others only then will inspiration return to the writer. I will spend my twilight years in search of the next story, the next poem, and the next image. I will take the time to enjoy my Wife, our Dogs, and Cats, and our amazing new home and I will always find the time to walk down a dirt road I truly hope is that I never have to read another book on Leadership, be on a conference call or see another plan o gram as these were the tool for what I did in life and not about who I am.

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