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Cowboy Poetry and Western Verse

Cowboy Movie: Wild Bill Tames The West
And Wins Himself A Wealthy Bride
Gene McCormick

A whirling dust dervish was stirring things up
‘way out on the prairie horizon, a sight line
usually interrupted only by desolate cacti.
The cloud of dust headed straight for Dodge;
only one man had a winged white horse ‘could go
that hard and fast. One man dressed all in black,
hat pulled low across his eyes sitting ramrod
straight in the saddle…The horseman thundered
full speed up to the Red Dog Saloon,
Old Paint’s sides heaving from exhaustion,
eyes bulging, white lather foaming across his
scrawny neck and flanks. “Whoa, steady, big boy.”
Wild Bill swung his leg over the horse’s haunches
with deliberation, flipped the reins
around the hitchin’ post and slammed through
the swinging doors so hard they broke
from the hinges.
Everybody inside knew who blew into town:
heavy hoof beats and jangling spurs were the
giveaway that Wild Bill was back on crusade.
Deathly quiet inside the Red Dog Saloon,
it would soon get more so.

Four cattlemen sat at the closest table, eyes
averted, playing stud poker. Wild Bill whipped
out his Colt .45 and shot each of them
through the heart before they could ante.
“We don’t want no trouble here, Wild Bill,”
said the bartender in a quavering voice.
Bill shot him between the eyes, the bullet exiting
the back of his head, shattering the bar mirror.
“Shoulda checked their IDs. Varmints got their
poker money rustling Bar B E-Z Ranch cattle,”
grunted Bill through clenched teeth,
reaching for a sarsaparilla.

The mayor of Dodge hobbled out of a second floor
room, pants around his ankles. “Now, Bill…” and
Wild Bill shot him in the crotch, causing him to
cartwheel over the railing, landing flat on top
of the upright piano. The piano player begged
“Don’t shoot me, Bill, don’t shoot me, I’ll play
whatever you want to hear” to tone-deaf ears.
Bill drew his other Colt and shot off
Piano Pete’s right pinkie.
“Play the harmonica,” he said.

“You been gone too long, Billy boy,” gushed
Miss Sadie, whose upstairs business with the
mayor had been prematurely concluded.
“We been ‘a missing you.”
As she sidled up to him the gunman’s
upper lip twitched into a snarl.
“Go put some proper clothes on, little lady,”
and when she turned to go upstairs he shot
her in the back. “Hussy.”

The town midget ran up to him: “Hey Wild Bill,
hey Bill, Mr. Bill, Wild Bill, remember me, Bill,
remember me?” and Wild Bill said “Yeah I remember
you, Shorty,” then grabbed him under the armpits,
turned him upside down and jammed him into a
pickle barrel then shot the barrel full of holes.
“Damned gherkin.”

He reloaded both Colt six-shooters and jangled
out the door into bright high noon sun as
the sheriff cowered by the barbershop pole.
Wild Bill ripped the tin star off the lawman’s
dusty leather vest and leisurely pinned it to his
own black denim shirt. “You won’t be a needing
this,” he said. “Where’s the public corral?”
The ex-sheriff pointed down the street.
“I’d go with ya, Bill, ‘cept I got a bum leg.”
“Ok,” said Bill, “Ok,” muttering gutless
yellowbelly under his breath as he swaggered
to the corral, opened the pen’s gate and freed
chickens, geese, jack rabbits, pigs and squirrels.
Sundance, The Kid, Doc and Black Bart
were quivering in the far corner.
Bill whipped out his Colt, fanned the hammer
four times and turned bad guys into pig food.

The ex-sheriff limped up behind the new sheriff.
“Them was unarmed men, Wild Bill.”
“Not anymore—they’re full of .45s.
What time’s the Wells Fargo stagecoach hit town?”
“It’s pulling in right now, Wild Bill, in front
of the Silver Dollar Hotel.”
Four Pinkerton men rode shotgun, guarding
the monthly gold shipment, but Wild Bill
was after something more precious than gold bars.
Miss Kitty was on board, arriving from Cheyenne.
“I smell gunpowder,” said a Pinkerton.
“You smell Miss Kitty’s lavender perfume,”
said Wild Bill, helping Kitty and her frilly hoop
skirt down from the stagecoach, just before
lassoing the Pinkerton group.
“Go fetch some tar and feathers,”
Bill instructed the ex-sheriff.
“This’ll teach you to go sniffing around another
man’s woman,” he says to the Pinkertons,
slapping hot tar across their noses.

“Ain’tcha worried about the town rounding
up a posse and making you guest of honor at a
necktie party, Billy?” asked Miss Kitty,
straightening her hoops.
Wild Bill rubbed a hand over his tin badge.
“Reckon I’m the law in Dodge, Miss Kitty.”

“That’s good, Billy, real good, ‘cause I got
Wells Fargo’s gold bars affixed to my garter
belts under these here hoops. Now we can afford
that tri-level ranch out by Dry Gulch canyon.”
Wild Bill looked down at her and for the first
time since Jesse James got shot, almost smiled.

Holding hands, they slowly walked toward the sunset
as a golden sun cast long shadows from the
silhouettes of pine boxes being loaded on wagons
for the one-way trip to Boot Hill.
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