I Knelt Down On The Dirty Floor

for Hank
1.

They’d almost reached the border 
when suddenly the driver thought 
the asphalt had turned into gold. 
It hadn't, the driver had fallen 
asleep, and a rusted pickup 
running for freedom 
ran off the highway and 
into a ditch with the lives
of thirteen Mexican immigrants.

2.

Pale Rider is the 3-to-1 favorite,
but as we look over in the next gate—
Jesus, he’s madder than all of them
and the color of a goddamn firestorm—
we’re taking Roan Stallion for the upset,
if the woman doesn’t shoot him first.

3.

The woman I loved
walked down to the chapel
to kneel before the cross,
but by the time she got there
the cross was empty.
The body of Christ 
had rotted so badly
the altar boys had to get 
pliers and pull him off.

4.

We’re in hell drinking scotch,
and it tastes like kerosene, worse,
and the Old Goat behind the bar
is laughing “NO MORE CREDIT!”
But it beats the other place 
that was selling Kool-Aid
and calling it wine.

5.

The cops had to report
that the child didn’t look
before entering the crosswalk,
because the bystanders were afraid 
to admit the kid was pushed 
by a guardian angel.

6.

When the woman I loved
walked down to the chapel,
I let her go and didn’t follow her,
and she didn't stop
when I tried to tell her,
“It's just a dirty trick.”

7.

Hank, it’s just a dirty trick,
the pictures burned, the bottles
thrown, the Roman candle that 
burns alone on a frozen lake 
of time. And after she left,

I knelt down on the dirty floor
and wept into my shots of whiskey
for the immigrants, the kid,
stinking Jesus, that furious 
red horse and now you.
March 1994
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