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Cowboy Bill
08/09/10 at 22:02:17
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Cowboy Bill

Driving a bent cowboy conveyance
I saw a man living in abeyance
leastways he looked that way
grief pinched face, beyond disgrace
looking like his best hunting dog, dead

He picked me up as I rode my thumb
in the parking lot behind the picture show
”I’m Bill,” said he, saluting with paper sack
“And, bubba, I been to hell and back”
”Sorry, mister,” I said solemnly
”Won’t you let me get you out’n that place
Tell me what got you drinking
singing country blues
this fine afternoon, this Saturday”

He kissed his brown bottle
in that twisted sack
like it wasn’t ever coming back
his pickup floor littered with wrappers
bottles, and Jehovah tracts
told the tale that was his truth
He belched and said, “Bubba, you know
I lost her just a while ago
but I know she’ll be back
I can feel it from someplace
from my primal roots to my lizard boots
His outstretched arms encompassed
all that was his
out the window, in my face
"And if need be,” said he
”I’ll fly to greet her when she hits town.”

He took my hand, put it on the wheel
“You take her, Bubba,” said he
then prayed into that square liter bottle
one more time
head way back, eyes screwed tight
I steered around a stake bed
a camper and a growling Dobie

Reaching for a comforting word
I began, ”Saw me a show back there,”
”A girl, a dog, a preacher
A girl with no friends.”

Not far down the road
was a stop sign that loomed
like Bill’s impending doom
I thought of jumping out
easy, slow as he was going
leaving him to continue on his own
but his story cut me to the bone

"What’s that you say?” asked he.
"The girl found friends,” I said.
“Knew they were sad
didn’t know what to do.”

”I got friends, too,” said Bill, eyes all hollow
”Who’re with me, now and again.”
”Sure you do,” I opined somberly
wishing for a sign, a tack
to bust the monkey cinched to his back

”Jim Beam,” said he, “Johnny Walker Red
and his brother, Black
And you know, like that.”
From his cooler he took another
whose lid he twisted
He drank and said real frisky,
”And you can take that to the bank.”

Cowboy Bill left me at my stop
I watched him weave curb to curb
thought of that jones on his back
I, too, had been like him
left my empty home
got whiskey, Pepsi chaser
turned up the radio
cruised back streets
old neighborhoods, the woods
and moaned from dusk to dawn
Not long ago I learned to fight
to separate wrong from right

But Bill, would Bill ever know?
Would he cruise the streets alone?
Would he always sing with George Jones
He Stopped Loving Her Today?
Would Bill wither, shrivel, and decay
‘cause he’ll never learn no other way?

Alex 2/22/05
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