IF THIS WERE A SAM SHEPARD POEM

sam-shepard

The cumuli would be moving fast

Across a cobalt-blue sky

And there’d be horses and cars

Sage brush blooming and a rattler

Squirming under a porch

A cowboy would be drinking a beer

And we would wonder at the silence

Or what would happen next

 

Then we’d see a jackrabbit

Crossing the two-lane blacktop

It would stop in the middle on the center line

Ears cocked toward shimmering headlights

In the distance a semi would begin taking form

 

A leathery hand would crush a PBR can

And we’d see an old spur on the heel

Of a worn-down cowboy boot

Stomping twice to get the rabbit’s attention

The semi would blow his horn

And the cowboy would wave at the truck

Standing over the chaise lounge

He’d been reclining on moments before

And hold his hat down as the semi rolled by

Billowing dust and the chemise dress across

The road reflected in his mirrored shades

Wafting it high above the blonde’s knees

Whose blood red lips would be posed

A single rose her arms crossed suitcase packed

 

This cowboy would walk by her on his way

To the old reservoir pop cooler behind her

On the porch above the snake’s home

And he’d pause beside her

Turn his head and smile at her profile

And she’d stare at the coyote a good half mile out

Looking in their direction

As the cowboy would roll up his sleeve

Then proceed to the cooler

Pull out an ice cold can of Pabst

 

When the coyote would bolt she’d notice

The clouds had stopped their rush across the sky

And turned in on each other boiling gray

The cowboy would pop open the can of beer

And her eyes would follow the sound

He’d tip it back and drain it in three big gulps

Then burp and walk back for another

“Asshole” she’d hiss and a snake tongue

Would flick in the shade of the porch stairs

 

“What time’s your bus?” he’d ask

“Not soon enough” she’d sigh

And he’d walk back across the road spurs a-janglin’

Flop down in the sun-worn webbing and

A hawk would whistle overhead and thunder

Would rumble and groan while two

Gophers would sniff at the rabbit-mat on the road

 

Both heads might turn toward the sound of a diesel

Engine humming up the highway or maybe his wouldn’t

Maybe just hers and he’d yell “C’mon Baby you know

You’re makin’ the biggest mistake of your life”

To which she’d deadpan . . . and mutter

“I’m guessin’ I already managed that” as the Greyhound

Would pull over and stop between them

 

The cowboy would reach under his lawn chair

And the rattler’s tail would go off

He’d grab his Smith & Wesson .44

Stand up and cock the hammer

See her walking inside toward the rear of the bus

Then slide into the window seat

 

When the bus driver would close the door

And dump the air the cowboy would raise his pistol

Say “Adios Baby” watch the rose open to mouth

The words “Fuck off . . . Jackass . . . forever”

The diamondback would slither into the sun

And when the cowboy would pull the trigger

Lightning would strike out on the prairie

Where the coyote had stood and the cowboy would

Fire again and again and again and again

Until every chamber was empty . . . then

The driver would toot and wave

 

The snake would coil in a clump of sagebrush

And before the cowboy would cross over for another beer

He’d sit down in the cloudburst and reload

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