A WESTERN TALE, AN UPDATE–Poem by Ken McKeon

The way the old time long ago childhood tales had it,
The rip-snorting gun-toting hard riding cowboy named Joe
Rode into a just framed sudden pop-up of a town,
There he saw some weeping widow of a gal with a child,
And the gal was in her dusty black morning clothes too,
And the child was glum beyond glum, but the gloom of both
Just might be lifted if justice could be done, and the cad
Who shot down her true husband and the child’s dear father
Were caught, tried, convicted and hung on the spot as
The decent sober well meaning folks of the now righteous
And for once well regulated town looked on and witnessed
The neck snap last gasp hokey choke down death play out.
Well that was the scene and the real hope of this gal,
But Joe looked ahead with his far seeing eyes, and here’s
What he saw: the folk for the most part were cowardly,
And even given the exception of one old well meaning drunk,
A sweet staggering and completely useless fellow
Who did know what was what, but could not be counted on
For anything and was likely to go down quickly in any real fight,
All the work to be done would have to be done by him, by gum,
By Joe, and, my God, all Joe really wanted was a drink and an
Armful of dancing girls and a winning hand at the card table
And his horse watered and fed, and a good night’s sleep,
And a cup of strong coffee with a hearty heaped up breakfast to follow,
So from his high horse he smiled at the child and spoke softly
To the widow these few words: Ma’m, I’m sorry for your troubles
And surely wish you and your young son well, but truth be told
I’m a rip-snorting gun-toting hard riding cowboy named Joe,
And my needs are few and coarse, and my skills fewer and coarser,
And this town and your sad plight are just not my cup of tea,
It’s a happier livelier and most of all safer town I’m hankering for,
So would you kindly direct me to such a cheerier scene?
And the weeping widow glared at him and dropping her sad son’s hand,
She reached far down into her widow’s weeds, and she pulled out
From there not a handy little pistol, not a really quite shortened sawed off shotgun,
Neither of those, nope, and no way, though she did have righteous cause,
To shoot this slacker Joe right down for his cheap slacker ways-
She drew out instead a slick little pamphlet, a tourist guide of sorts,
It pointed out the rowdy but safe and pleasing towns nearby,
And it had a map and several money saving coupons, coupons good
For drink, food and lodging, and even dancing girls and gambling.
She held it out, Joe took it in, lifted has hat, said thanks
And with a whoop and shout, rode happily on his way.
And the widow smiled and waved, and the child did the same,
Then they both went back to their weeping and wailing ways.
–Ken McKeon

One comment to “A WESTERN TALE, AN UPDATE–Poem by Ken McKeon”
  1. I really like this poem, Ken. But I’m left unsure whether I should stop feeling nostalgic for “those good old days” or object to Joe bringing “his modern ways” into the open western plains. Either way, I guess I’d like to stick it out in the here and now–if only I hadn’t gone and misplaced them. –Michael

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