July 7, 2000


Poet's Corner

Pistolero

By C.F. Kelly

"Drink up your tequila, vaquero,
con un poco de sal y limón
and tip your sun-bleached sombrero
to the lady en ese rincón,
la señorita who's staring at you
above the guitarra she's strumming.

 

"You remind her of someone she knew
who told her to wait-he'd be coming.
The, tall in the saddle, al norte he rode,
with "Yo volveré lo más pronto, hermosa".
And she's waited-it's honor, it's code-
and all for a foolish promesa. ¡Qué cosa!

 

"Since the day that he left, two years have gone by,
and all of the nights she comes with tristeza
and stays till her chocolate eyes have gone dry,
till she's finished her regular glass of cerveza".

 

Three bandidos stalked in through the cantina door
and just waited for rattlesnake eyes to adjust
while stomping their botas quite loud on the floor
and slapping their ponchos of dry desert dust.

 

They looked first at the gringo
and then at the girl,
then barked out in lingo
that rose in a swirl:

 

"We take your dinero, sí, la muchacha, too,
and we take your caballo, a very fine horse,
and, borracho, your drinking is through,
since we take all the whiskey, of course."

 

The cowboy looked tired and pushed back his hat;
the bartender smiled and raised both his hands;
the young lady froze in the chair where she sat;
and hearts beat as loud as bright sun on the sands.

 

With pistolas drawn, they moved as a team
for the whiskey and money with menacing grace,
for the woman of sadness who led out a scream,
distracting the hombres, creating some space.

 

"Pistolero" they called him because of his speed,
his lightening quick draw and eagle-eye aim,
for he dropped each pendejo like kernels of see
then felt his blood flowing through the onset of pain.

 

The sad face above him, a blur in his eyes,
moved closer and closer, soft lips on his brow,
and through fading thoughts, too late, he realized
that the woman he loved had honored her vow.

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