Oct 312013
 
Every man's a fighting man,
By women or whiskey made glad--
Law's no more than smoke from a gun,
And luck the turn of a card.

For fourteen years desert dawn unfurled
Up the cold hillside where my Ma died;
God plumb stole her merry soul
Through a pinprick in her side.

That Fall I got nabbed by a tin-star man
For a sour mouthful of cheese I stole and hid.
That sheriff sure laughed;  he called me a calf,
And branded me "Billy, the Kid."

The winds blew cruel, and wide night shook
The tumbledown sun from the skies;
Up the jailhouse flue I climbed like smoke--
A white rope thrown on high.

Now the law and I are strangers
Cause the law ain't nobody's friend--
I lit out for the open range
And never looked back again.

"An outlaw's life's lonesome rough,"
Declared Pat Garrett, roisterer and rustler.
"Kid," said he, "there's cash on the hoof
High up Rosaverde Mesa."

Galloping nights chased hard-ridden days
High up Rosaverde Mesa--
My soul grew spurs where the coyote bays
And snowy stars bow low in answer.

Those times were best, with Pat my guest
--How sweet the senoritas danced!
We raised campfire cans to life's wry jest
And tossed playing cards for the chance.

* * * * *
Sleep lay deep on the bunkhouse keep,
And soft stars curled slumberin' blue;
A Mexican lady at my side lay sleeping,
And sleep lay on my eyelids too.

Did the darkness slide, that night I died,
Blowed down by Patrick Garrett?
Plugged in the back--despite his peacock pride--
Paid two dollars by a tin-star sheriff.

Tall stars are nothin' but bullet holes
Shot in the fabric of Time.--
Through one such pinprick I send my soul--
It's to those stars I climb.

It's among those stars my story's writ
(Now I am done with lying),
That others may learn by quickened wits
What I have learned by dying:

Every man's a fighting man,
By women or whiskey made mad--
Law's no more than smoke from a gun,
And luck the turn of a card.

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