published in the Dead Mule School of Southern Literature, April 2012

I idle my bike in this empty field,
dry as a Southern Baptist wedding.
I cough from the exhaust and
the scorched wildflowers on the edges
smell wasted, me on pot.
Don’t smoke, don’t drink anymore…
My body’s given up way before telling me the score.

As a kid, I don’t remember my mother much,
and I never met my father.
He saw me on TV as Josh Randall
on Wanted: Dead or Alive,
priming the “Mare’s Leg,”
and never bothered to call.
Uncle Claude threw me
against walls on Sunday nights
after spending the day drinking Bushmills.
Saturday mornings he taught
me how to shoot ‘em
rabbits and squirrels
in that shitty dump
I had to leave.

Mom showed up,
I couldn’t stand her.
Her dyed blonde hair, legs up in the air
men passed through her
like watches at a pawn shop.
At twelve, I was tumbleweed that blew into Chino,
the reform school where I
was never tall or strong enough,
yet hit hard without hurting my right hand.
(My first two wives would agree)

When I made it in The Magnificent Seven
I asked Big Money to give
soap and jeans to the Chino boys.
Yeah, man, I worked my own stunts,
almost filmed me and not Bud jumping my bike
over the barbed-wire fence.
My dune buggy ride
made Ed Sullivan piss his pants.

They needed to know I drove the Mustang,
I always get the last word,
don’t they know?
Maybe they could fail
but I couldn’t.
When I die, it’ll be
frontpage news.