Lone Star


My power was absolute; yours was partial.
You wore the hat with the thinner fringes,
As the deputy sheriff. I was the marshal,
You were the back-up whilst I went on binges
Of blasting the bandits, itching my trigger :
You and your dolls kept the office in order,
When I rode on posses. You were the figure
Who welcomed me back from the Mexican border.

My star was tin and yours was the plastic
Grey one. It came with a new box of cereal.
Mine caught the sunlight. It looked fantastic.
Deputies donít wear the shiny material
That puts off The Pecos Kid, rattles the rustlers.
The saloon needed you to keep the cups ready
With squash and with coffee. I hit the hustlers.
I needed a deputy. Kept my hand steady.

And now you are dead. Our wild west is under
A sunset. My six-gunís mock-ivory handle
Is broken in two. And thereís no need to wonder
If Wyatt can ride out Doc Hollidayís scandal.
Our stars do not shine, and there isnít a prize on
The head of the outlaw, the one who attacked us.
Sand and dry scrub fill the childhood horizon,
And your grave isnít marked with imaginary cactus.

From the book Rime Present

in memory of my sister Clare, 1954-2001