Nick Moudry (Philadelphia, USA): "High noon"

I never saw the bullet-
hole in Billy's skull.
I never saw Billy's body
stretched out along the desert.

I never heard the holy devil
music he spoke of this music
that hooks young people. I remember
how dark it was & how my whole body

wouldn't fit
behind the air compressor & I remember
his slurpee like a smear of moonlight on the cement.

& the plastic dog on your book cover, Billy,
is burning & the cowboy on your book cover
is burning & his hat is burning & the woman
with the green shirt & the pink pants, she is
burning too, & the woman with the pink shirt
& the green pants is on fire & the book is on
fire & when I read it I'm on fire, & when I
touch it, my hands burn & your book is made
of pale, brown paper & the paper is on fire &
the shadow of your book is burning too.

I cannot hear
that same music the burning
people hear. I do
hear the music you'd whistle
at night while we were stretched
out in the sand & I do hear the desert
& the water in the desert, although
everything you say is a mirage.

I know more about Billy from being dead
than Billy from being alive.
Billy the Kid is a mixture
& a jangle that rattles the nerves.
You say, death is permanent
& while I don't disagree, I must say
it has been domesticated.
Billy, in your hideout
I bump into a snake.
Billy, in your hideout
is the skin of the drum.
Billy, our hideout
is a dream of pain. May I say to you,
my friend, there is no such person here.

Billy the Kid, you thought it
was over. Billy the Kid,
you thought after the gunfight
after I had written the poem
it was over. I am here
to tell you there is blood inside
the statue yet. Billy, the cross
is moving. Billy, the Priest stole
the train. I have been given
orders to shoot anything that moves.
It is
not over. This
language that encased you & encases me.

You are sprawled out
along the bottoms of all the rivers
& I can hardly wait
for the music to begin.
You are sprawled out along
the cement & the police are coming.
I have been given orders
to shoot anything that moves.
I don't know if I can save you.

I know you don't exist, yet continue
to ask, "Is there such a thing
as music & if so from where
does it come?" You told me
music comes from within,
but I am trying to sing
to keep myself calm.
I know you don't exist. I
ask you anyway.

Portions of this poem originally appeared in "Cant", "EM", and "Fourteen Hills." It was published as a print chapbook by Indivia in 2005, reviewed on Stoning the Devil in 2007