On Seeing My First Western

1 / Meeting Burt

Burt Lancaster and I don’t
have much to die for: love
of the game and the gold
and the girl not as much 

makes simple to say she’s not
beautiful, perpetually
never quite undressed,
dusty and sweaty under
that scarf, her dress, her
face, wide plain, blessed
expanse glistening daily
above breasts long fought

for, Burt and I, too old
now to care about love.


2 / Losing Burt

The tropes gather faster when Burt appears,
he’s lost craps and a woman, broke and rebuffed, 
smirking and grumbling that humans make love
face to face, a remark worthy of some score-
settling cowboy in spurs, not you, Burt, your
single regard for time and rock blown rough
in one moment’s furnace of sticks, sweaty, buffed,
refusing objection your fusework near blears
human loss so unsavory
                                               I’m lost, Burt,
can’t tell your face features through the sure
group’s tactics and horses, making calm
ill-advised, more fitting to flail and blurt
guilt in tumid air that soaks these shores
without oceans,
                              Your hand is creased without a palm.


3 / Replacing Burt (On Seeing a Different Western)

Burt and I have had a falling out
I say loud, hoping after a reaction,
eyeing with verve and meaning my now
and new loved outlaw, lanky Gary. Faction

different this time, clean-shaven and freshly
married, on the run not from the long
law but the lawless. Blonde-sweet Miss Kelly
headstrong and stupid—seems he’s on the wrong
 
side of her Quaker complaints. He stays to greet
a death mimed by cruel schoolboys. A crime
for their sake. Boys scatter. Streets empty. Smutty heat,
smutty Gary beneath the Marshall sign,

moral and certain, leather and tallow.