The CSS Awards - Site of the Day

Buddy Holly's Tour Bus Breaks Down in a Blizzard Outside of Hurley, Wisconsin

Shane Lake



They lit newspapers on fire in the aisle

of their converted yellow Baptist school bus,

a dozen young musicians at thirty below.


One week removed from the Million Dollar Ballroom,

just hours into Sunday and February alike,

moving through the ice-laced upper Midwest

when a piston shot through the engine block on Highway 51,

stranding them in the storm’s ribcage until morning.


Snow falling so fast and thick the windows looked like photographs of ice.


In the back of the bus Buddy and Dion huddled

under a blanket still in their stage clothes—

black jackets, gray slacks and ascots—

picking at a bag of walnuts

and trading stories about their opposite upbringings,

Buddy going on about the Baptists in Lubbock

and Dion romanticizing characters from the Bronx

like Ralphie Mooch, Frankie Yunk Yunk and Joey BB Eyes.


The stories grew until twisted into fables,

until Ritchie joined them with a guitar.


When inside of a song they each knew exactly who they were.


Every so often Ritchie would stop and squint at the window,

rambling about a flickering light somewhere in the midst of all that weather,

a light he saw as a child now back to remind him how all of it—

the snow, the bus, the quivering light in the distance,

even the idea of distance itself—

could all fit inside a single walnut shell,

could be reduced to something hidden in a fist.


They all thought it was just the scotch

getting to him, which when finished

filled the bus with a field trip laughter,

snuffed into silence as quickly as it rose.


They spent the last couple hours that way,

thirty below on a broken down bus

with Wisconsin getting heavier and everything in front of them.









Shane Lake was born and raised in Mattapoisett, MA. He is currently pursuing an MFA in poetry at Arizona State University. His work has also appeared in Narrative Magazine.
A perfectly healthy sentence, it is true, is extremely rare. For the most part we miss the hue and fragrance of the thought; as if we could be satisfied with the dews of the morning or evening without their colors, or the heavens without their azure. - Henry David Thoreau


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