The Music of the Trigger

     Well let me see if I can explain this one, a) it is long, very long, and most likely the longest poem that I have ever written. b) it is western(cowboy) in theme, and not my only one, as I have mentioned before when I posted “Butch and the Kid,”  c) Grab a cup of coffee/tea and something from the “chuck wagon” and give it a read. d) Please comment if you will, as I’m curious if poems of the “story” type are worth the time and effort involved. (I have a few more of some length.)

     Have yourselves a (fill in the blank)___________Thursday, pardners,


The Music of the Trigger

 Once I was a young man,

chock full of life and vigor,

until the day, I learned to dance,

to the music, of the trigger.


 Oh yes, I was an innocent,

of the heart and of the soul,

and the goodness, forced inside of me

had yet, to ease its hold.


 But, it’s departure, I remember.

‘Twas on the third of May,

I shot a man, straight through the heart,

when evil came to stay.


 I will tell you how it happened,

and leave no small detail.

But, as the Bible has it’s Genesis,

so too, does my tale.


 I was raised, to fear my God,

and taught to work the land.

To love my neighbor, as myself,

and respect, my fellow-man.


 These mores and tenets, served me well,

throughout my younger days,

and bound me firmly to my roots,

until, the day I strayed.


 Now, the day began without a hint,

of the changes it would bear.

The sun arose as usual,

to warm the springtime air.


 With mother in the kitchen,

and father in the field,

I was dispatched in to the town,

and at that, my fate be sealed.


 I remember that I whistled,

a light and airy tune.

But, happiness and harmony,

would be gone, by the hour of noon.


 I had picked up the grain we needed,

and the dry goods, from the store,

when I went ahead and did,

what I had never, done before.


 I took the six-gun from the wagon,

and put it in my belt,

 just to walk, the cowboy walk.

To see just how it felt.


 My father always warned me,

not to wear the gun.

That no good, would come of it,

and from trouble, I should run.


 But, I didn’t heed his words,

and on that third of May,

I swaggered down the dusty street,

to a saloon, called “Crazy Faye’s.”


 I pushed the doors, hard open,

as I had seen some cowboys do,

spilling the beer of the stranger,

who would be dead, in minutes, few.


 Now, he didn’t take it kindly,

and blasphemed, and cussed my through.

I apologized, the best I could,

and offered beer anew.


 But, his pride got in the way,

no, he’d not forgive my gaffe.

And his temper, fired further,

at the sound, of a cowboy’s laugh.


 He looked at the iron in my belt,

and suggested that I draw.

His hand went down to his holster,

the fastest, I ever saw.


 His navy Colt, appeared in hand,

like a flash before my eyes.

He took good aim and pointed,

thought I was about to die.


 But then the devil, took my side,

when that Colt, it did not fire.

And when I pulled mine, from my waist,

I helped that man expire.


 Without haste, I pointed,

and I saw his eyes grow bigger.

He knew that I, was about to dance,

to the music, of the trigger.


 The noise and smoke erupted,

from the barrel of my gun.

And when I saw the hole in him,

I knew, I had to run.


 Self-defense, would not be valid,

as I had shot that stranger down.

 Knowing well, I could’ve walked away,

and rode on out-of-town.


 No, I knew what I was doing,

and I knew, that it was wrong.

But, the excitement welling up inside,

made me feel, so falsely, strong.


 But then, the moment faded,

and reality came to fore.

I couldn’t likely flee the town,

in that wagon, at the store.


So, when I ran out through the doors,

and saw the horses tied outside,

a killer, and a horse thief,

now, from the town, would ride.


 I picked the first one, of the lot,

and upon it’s back I sprang.

I had to get away from there,

if not, I’d surely hang!


 The dead man’s friends reacted,

and were shooting at my back.

I hunched low down, on the horse’s neck.

Filled with fear, and that’s a fact.


 I headed south, towards Mexico,

though, I really can’t say why.

A desperate man, now on the run.

Wished I could bid, my folks goodbye.


 Hoping, they’d get the grain they needed,

the wagon and the horse.

I hoped that they’d forgive me,

for my use of deadly force.


 Now, I knew I’d never see them,

nevermore, upon this earth.

And that I regretted, most of all,

with my soul, for what that’s worth.


 But, I kept riding fast, for sure,

to put some space between,

myself, and the posse, bound to come,

and tried to keep my senses, keen.


 I kept moving for three days,

til the Rio Grande I saw.

I looked upstream, for a spot to forge,

and with that, outreach the law.


 But, upstream proved impassable,

no crossing soon be found,

 reluctantly, I told myself,

that I had best be, turnin’ round.


 I rode quickly, back downstream,

too quick, I was to learn.

For when I rounded a little bend,

I found cause, to be concerned!


 The solo horseman in my path,

was quite an imposing figure.

And I could see, he was set to dance,

to the music, of the trigger.


 The Winchester across the pommel,

was cocked and primed to fire.

And a Ranger’s badge, upon his chest,

made my situation, that more dire.


 I reined the horse to come around,

to try to run again,

when the Ranger, yelled to me,

that the chase, had come to end.


 I never heard the shot that hit me,

but, I truly felt the burn,

as it tore its way right through me,

and thus, Satan’s lesson, learned.


 And as I lay upon the ground,

with the blood pool, growing bigger,

I realized my final dance,

at the music, of the trigger!


 Jack Downing

June 2011

Copyright© Jack Downing, aka Jake All rights reserved. Contents may not be reprinted or disseminated in any manner without the expressed written consent of the author. JRD 1/26/12


About poemsandponderings

Hearth and Health are wonderful things and if you're without either such sorrow that brings So I cannot express enough thanks to my Lord and to my family and friends for the support you afford! ~Jack Downing~
This entry was posted in Americana, Animals, beer, demise, gun, history, Music, old days, stranger, violence and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to The Music of the Trigger

  1. I like the “poem as story” type. This was neat. I just finished writing my longest poem the other day (but not quite as long as yours!) 🙂

    • It’s harder for sure, especially when you don’t know where it is going when you start.. I have another for St. Patrick’s day, “The Life and Death of Connor Finnegan”it may be longer than this one, I’m not sure.. But,I am sure your poem will be spectacular, can’t wait to read it..Thanks for the support.. Jake.


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