Thursday, August 11, 2011

The Outlaw Road

Wiki says: John Wesley Hardin, aka JH Swain, Young Seven Up, Little Arkansaw, (May 26, 1853—August 19, 1895) was an outlaw and gunfighter of the American Old West. He was born in Bonham, Fannin County, Texas. When Hardin went to prison in 1878, he claimed to have killed 42 men, but a considerably lesser number of these killings have been documented as actually attributable to him. Hardin's criminal career resulted not only in the deaths of his victims but also in the deaths of his brother Joe and two cousins who were hanged by a lynch mob seeking revenge for a Hardin killing.

Hardin eventually spent 16 years in prison, then stood for and passed the Bar to become a lawyer. It is possible he committed one more murder after his release from prison. Then after an argument and as a result of it while Hardin was in a saloon gambling with dice, he was shot in the back of the head and killed and then shot three more times. The man who shot him got off due to a hung jury, but was himself killed in a shootout a year later. The man who killed the man who killed Hardin, was himself mortally wounded in a gunfight with two robbers some four years after that. The old west was a cool place, no? This all happened in the 1890's. And a common thing to do, here's proof John was shot dead. See two bullet holes in him, two of the three others, since the kill shot was in the back of his head. Also it looks like an old scar on his chest. Was he branded?

The Outlaw Road

I've been crossing thin
ice above sectarian
water longer than
wise in this old world,
reptilian rage lurking
beneath the wasted
words that bounce off words
grinding it all down to bone
while I continue
to skate and slide on
ahead of the spreading cracks
as fast as I can.

December 11, 2009 9:22 PM


  1. the image of trying to skate ahead of the spreading cracks is marvelous!!
    what a great poem.

  2. and that water is mighty cold, almost instantly cramps up the muscles. Do you want I should tell ya about it?

    This cold water, under the ice

  3. He travelled with a gun in every hand, dontcha know!

    Odd relationship he had with the law, or perhaps not so odd. Can't really go along with the romanticising of all that violence and misrule any more, though I guess I have done in the past.

    Fine, hard poem.

  4. Mostly it's misery you know. The life rises in reaction. People draw lines and step across them because they see the alternatives as making even less sense. Perceived humiliation is often a factor. I hardly romanticize the entrapment and driven character of life in general of which this kind of thing is an extreme example, an attempt to let chaos speak.


The chicken crossed the road. That's poultry in motion.

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