Distant October

October Night

nervous scuffling

waiting in the frost air

for a give-away flicker

from a curtained window



the signal


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 


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


floor creaking giant noise;

catching door open gently

a timid, almost heard squeak;

searching for a way out,


(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,



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 


Space died by Katmandu

so I put her in a jester box

now I don’t know what to do


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.


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