john macker | for kell robertson

“Say your name to the rocks.
The wind will blow your voice away.”

for Kell Robertson

on the cool, kindling morning I
got the news,
maybe you stared into the fire called
desperation for the last time, you
once wrote: “I am no coyote.
I am a man.” The
coyote believed you and you weren’t
Pretty Boy Floyd but you got
his Choctaw last words down in
that last breath
middle America
where the earth and
the wind chill bless
all the pretty bones.

You asked the universe,
does the blood
of that Indian, dead 150 years,
dead as
Pretty Boy’s last words flow here?
In these veins?
Poems, like barstool
blues in sun-stunned border towns
of the mind where all cowboys
with words to spare, rhythms
and women,
pouring like lava out of their
brittle shadows,
begin each Juarez whorehouse
litany of love with:

things drop out of our hearts
you could kill a herd of Buffalo with

Your later life in New Mexico
a hermitage of rumor or
legend, scorpions and
Maria’s full of grace deified
in your verse, the
lyricism of empty saddle and
barebones motel
was your range. You wired
your fate to this territory earth,
you wore the coyote
death mask,
you told the world,

officer sir,
all of my means of support
are invisible.

John Macker

1 Comment

  1. edwin forrest ward

    very nice poem for a man who wrote and sang his own song

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