Jonah and the Open Road

Unexpectedly calm seas
so Jonah lands on the shore
of the Wild West, moseys into a saloon.
Moseys, yeah—despite the stiffness
in his boots. Breakin' 'em in.

Slams his second empty on the bar.
"I reckon all's left for me now
is the open road."
"That the first time you ever said 'reckon'?"
Straightens his hat. "I reckon so.
And I reckon it ain't the last.
Y'see, Miss Kitty—"
"—My name ain't Miss Kitty."
"Y'see, ma'am, when God uses
up a Good Man an' leaves him
to the vultures, that man is born again
a Cowboy."
She's wiping down the bar. "That so?"
"Yes ma'am. Crawls away. Survives
on whatever grit he might suckle
from the dry, dusty teat of destiny.
Ain't nothin' left but the road."
"That the first time you ever said 'ain't'?"
"Second, and I reckon it ain't the last."

Raises his voice, though it's 10 AM,
no one else in the bar:
"Yes ma'am. Open range, open sky,
open bottle, coarse language,
loose women, and all the freedom
a man like me ever imagined."
"You got a name?"
His eyes darken. "They call me The Stranger."
He leans in, whispers:
"Between you and me, I'm a wanted man."
She blinks. "Another chocolate milk, stranger?"
"Reckon so."

Jonah sips, sighs, looks over his shoulder,
—a mite disappointed, to be truthful—
wonders when the heap o' trouble
with his name on it
gonna walk through those doors.