With Sprockett settling in town,
after years of hiding in the mountains,
to keep his crazed killing in check,
I’m suddenly busier than a bunch of beavers:
In his absence, Quarry all too peaceful,
with but one thirst parlor and brothel left,
the rest closed by this damn prissy sheriff
who thinks he can force men to be better
than the Good Lord, or Satan, made them.

But now I’m laying out three ex-Secesh raiders
whose candles Sprockett snuffed: the son
of one of them lucky not to get blasted
into eternity too. I told him I’d not take
a cent for their burying, didn’t mention
their pockets was heavy with coins and paper,
their boots new, their mounts and saddles
will fetch a pretty penny from the livery stable.
As for the clothes in their saddlebags, I’ll sell them
to Mr. Mendelsohn, at the dry goods.

There’s ways a man in my line can profit,
and not just by charging for the final resting place
my sons dig, their backs young and strong,
though Jeremiah—our baby, too handsome
for his own good, and innocent as a puppy—
spends too many evenings among pallet angels;
their wings hide spider webs and rattler fangs.

Robert Cooperman’s latest collection is BEARING THE BODY OF HECTOR HOME (FutureCycle Press). Forthcoming rom Kelsay Books is the chapbook, YOUTH’S JOYFUL NOISE.