_________________________________________HONDO LANE


First saw him when he jaunted through a wall of dust
Which seemed to billow from his redwood legs
Rooted into the earth at his boots -
The boots of a man in buckskin
The color of the dust, the color of his ruddy face.

His saddle, showing the wear and sweat
Of five hundred miles on horseback,
Was slung over his left shoulder and hanging from the right hand,
His Winchester repeating rifle with its engraved plaque
Reflecting the burning sunlight under which he roamed free.

The Colt, acquainted with its master, hung, of course,
Exactly where it should to fit the hand and clear leather,
Owns the character of a craftsman's tool
At its post edgy and ready to react to the reflex command
Of a skilled shootist who never pulls until in decision to kill.

The hat, brim downward, tells the tale of the man
Of unimaginable sorrow who rode horse soldier tall in the saddle
Hunting Geronimo in the Monument Valley for John Ford,
Admiral of the fleet in harm's pathway, coal miner in Pittsburgh,
Cowboy running herd near the Red River, searcher of captured children.

Such a hero of heroes was, at last, a quiet man who loved
Awkwardly in the way a man can desire but not articulate,
Could comprehend nothing more complex than truth
Spoken Indian style though he had hired out as mercenary to hunt their culture until that Way was extinct, lost to generations.

Godawful did he sometimes find his situation as conqueror
Or steaming through blood alley or Pinkerton detective in London,
But nothing else than true grit of heart prevailed,
Carried him through the sands of ridiculousness
And showed the spirit of the cougar who screams insults but is brave.

A boy child fidgeting in a cushioned chair which folds in on him when he leans back
Will not appreciate until forty years hence a seasoned warrior's words
That everyone dies even the great Vittorio, now off screen, forgotten out of sight,
When it is just their turn, when the desert dust carries the dust of bones,
The end of a hero, the end of a way of life and a darn good one.


© louis j. carro     july,1991    

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