Friday, April 20, 2012

"scumbag cowboy"

"scumbag cowboy"
written after years of hearing the same joke by jake kilroy.

the scumbag cowboy,
out of the salty wound of america,
a nomad in god's biggest fuck-up,
where the wheels fell off the traveling circus
of holy men that built stick churches
in the promise land of too many women.

but, here, out in the furthest west before the sea,
rides the scumbag cowboy, looking for history,
and finding nothing but grit in his perfect teeth,
looking to shoot down the last few priests
that wouldn't make him a saint this eternity.

what gaiety the broken-hearted can have
with rhyme books mistaken for more!
oh, but he'd rather a gun end the saloon talk
instead of just letting the piano player work,
so he can ramble and gamble with the best
who'd take a noose over a card game with him.

bestow us this glorious heaven!
so bellows the wicked and the wrecked,
a bleak shroud of white in the distant heat.
in the empty sunlight,
here comes the lone rider,
slinking his lanky frame into the picture,
a mesmerizing glow to his noble enemy count,
which belongs to all who have heard his stories,
year after year, as he boasts and slumps through,
shooting the dead and wasting away the living.

the shrug of ends,
or is it the other way around?
truly, the best monks of dirt and damage wonder,
as they build and mend the fences of homesteads
they asked the desert springs to bless with water
and love and all that belongs in the body true.

but the scumbag cowboy,
too pathetic to be a criminal,
too bored to be an outlaw,
too wretched to be anything else,
though old enough to be sheriff,
sure, a smart bag of tricks -
he pins petty theft to his solitude and ritual,
hoping for one good streak of swagger,
but all he ever gets is a roll of the eyes
and the click of a tongue faster than his.

oh, the slick sharpshooter hasn't hit a tin can
since he was a boy out in the badder lands,
when he carried weight as a child,
and then stretched height as a teen,
he works the heavy crack of his jaw
to keep it from falling to rust and dust -
the poor son of rich, god-fearing farmers
that'd rather be hanged than left out to dry.

his horse is a mute and his posse dwindles,
over time, over land, over campfire tales;
still, he crawls the dead coughed-up red earth
with two snickering brothers that aren't his -
three men waiting for a grand, beautiful death,
hoping the grim reaper hates the prosperous,
unaware that the pale rider is richest at dusk.

and then comes night!
what then, what then, patriot of the bitter joke?
how will the riverbeds taste when filled with your blood?
it's bound to happen,
the fiery threat of God,
maybe the only man the scumbag cowboy fears or respects,
but Who will surely bury him in a shallow grave,
because even the Almighty doesn't have time to waste.
and so it goes,
the tragic end of nothing tragic.

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