Skip to main content

You are here

The Ballad Rode Into Town

Summer 2008 - Vol. 50, No. 3

The ballad rode into town one day,
wearing his deadly gun,
and his Mexican spurs jingled along
in the heat of the mid-day sun.

He wore his blacks, he wore his boots,
he wore a Colt on his hip,
with a re-bored barrel, its trigger filed,
and a custom black-butt grip.

He'd come across the desert heats,
like Dante through his hell,
over the mesas, day and night,
through the sage and the chaparral.

Right up the only street in town,
he and his Morgan came,
as the free-verse rummies scattered,
and slithered away in shame.

But at the saloon, the rondels came out,
with the pretty villanelle,
"Now, that's what I would call a man—
a man with a story to tell."

And even the gambler couplet agreed,
"That's a mighty heroic chap,
who'll face them alone, and fire his Colt,
with the crack of a thunderclap."

They followed him past the Sheriff's door,
abandoned back in June,
then passed the burned-out Weekly Press,
in the silent afternoon.

The ballad rode into town that day,
wearing his deadly gun,
and his Mexican spurs jingled along
in the heat of the mid-day sun.

He rode his Morgan up the street,
and stopped at the only birch,
where all the decent blank-verse folk
were coming out of church.

"Where is she?" he said and waited,
under the Texas skies.
"I'm here!" the lovely sonnet called,
and lit up the rider's eyes.

"They've terrorized this western town,
and bullied us all, my dear.
So set things right and proper,
then take me away from here."

Right then, the critics' gang rode up,
a motley crew of thugs,
with .38s and rifles cocked
with lethal dum-dum slugs.

Quickly, the fearful crowd dispersed,
to hide and watch and wait;
the gang boss sneered, "Any last words?"
as he aimed his .38.

But the ballad blew a bullet hole
right through the de-con's eye,
and dropped the freud and marxist crits,
and then the gender guy.

There were, when his chambers were empty,
six dead in the Texas heat;
there were, when he holstered his .45,
six thugs on the dusty street.

And when the celebration peaked,
Miss Sonnet reappeared,
and she and her man rode off to the west,
and even the rummies cheered.

So the ballad rode out of town that day,
still wearing his deadly gun,
and his Mexican spurs jingled along
in the heat of the mid-day sun.
William Baer