Distant October

October Night

nervous scuffling

waiting in the frost air

for a give-away flicker

from a curtained window

<>

suddenly

the signal

quick

flashing relief;

“okay men, move in,”

the Sheriff ordered, calmly;

he knew his stuff

<>

grinding out his butt

he led the seven

out of the lap of luxury 

where

Space died by Katmandu

so I put her in a jester box

now I don’t know what to do

<>

(some strangled arrangement

some fitful pondering

an empty cage isn’t always

the reflection of freedom)

<>

“so be on guard, men,”

the Sheriff warner, coolly,

“ ’tis dangerous stuff

dis searchin’ so late at night”

the door opened 

noiselessly at his touch,

“this way’

<>

shivering & afraid

in a bottled room;

hopefully hidden

trusting only one,

who suddenly signalled

with no time for revenge;

he could hear their feet

step carefully over the lawn

<>

shifting weight

one foot

to the

other,

floor creaking giant noise;

catching door open gently

a timid, almost heard squeak;

searching for a way out,

none

(no defence, no crime,

small & fragile

now wrapped in black

after a lingering ugly

mad dash for freedom)

<>

“I think I hear him,”

the Sheriff under-breathed,

motioning for a silent halt,

“in here!”

thrown open door

harsh light blinding

burst of bullets

blood-spattered wall,

spr

awl

ing grimacing corpse

<>

“not a pretty sight,”

the Sheriff chuckled,

avoiding the eyes;

turning quickly

stomach clutching

youngest posse member

staggers outside

in disgust

learning the easy way

about the hard way

<>

crisp moon shining

reflecting on car tops

as they dustily return

their satisfied duty done

return to the lap of luxury 

where

Space died by Katmandu

so I put her in a jester box

now I don’t know what to do

Oct/71

This piece has a clear narrative line – a western trope that has been filmed countless times. I wanted to use that template & turn it into poetry, to allow the reader to see the story in a different light. It is actually two stories at the same time. One is the ambush the other is ‘Space died.’

In the printed version I was able to separate the two stories with line enjambments which disappear in WordPress 😦 So I’ve been forced to do brackets for that visual shift. At points ‘out of the lap of luxury /where /Space died’ there was a nice drift of one story into the other. 

‘Space’ was one of my temple finches – small colourful birds that sang sweetly. Katmandu was a spider monkey my Dad brought home one day. Both were kept in separate cages. But cleaning the bird cage the finches flew around the room & one got too close to the monkey cage & was caught & killed. Hence the ‘empty cage’ line.

I like the way this reads like a screenplay with the clear images, the quickly defined characters: the Sheriff, the newbie. The seven is a reference to the Magnificent Seven. I wasn’t a cowboy movie fan by any means but this narrative line is assembled from many movies & tv shows like Gun Smoke, Bonanza & Have Gun Will Travel. Not Roy Rogers. Much like this piece, none of these had anything to do with the real west.

I do have a limited number of the original Distant Music chapbook for sale for $25.00 each (includes surface mail postage). Send via the paypal above along with where to send it.

paypal.me/TOpoet 

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