I did not know that what I did, I did with witness.
Once, long ago in the desert, I stood before
a silhouette of truth and offered my
Soon, with my grip locked onto the winds
of trembling devils, I fancied myself a righteous tumbleweed,
a secret sheriff, an ordained badge gambler, as if I had earned
the right to break my holey oath.
They who could see the body within the outline,
and hid beneath hat brims their crackling black eyes, I thought of
as models of opposition enough to prove my piety
to the shadowed face I dared not recognize.
But when I pulled the lever, and brought those demons
to hang, it was then as they smiled at my deadliness
that I knew I had a soul, and that it too
A death rattle and a life rattle had always meant
the same thing before that day. Their evil fruit-wasted teeth
began to scratch at my noose as my hat fell to rest
in the kicked up dust.
And as I flew, the silhouette’s sun-filled blankness formed
into the very man I knew was truth. So weak still, I ran buckeyed
backwards through my own spittle-made mud until the man crossed
from sight to heart and I settled into the darkness of a quiet hillside cave.
Now, so far beyond the gallows, a constant bellowing of awe
bounces off the walls and a cold regret drips from the stalactites
onto my brow. I lay to rest and dream of the Son sounding a yawp over my
stony rooftop which wakes me and compels me to my feet.
I step out again into the desert and make for the land I fled in fear.
As the horizon births light, scouring shadows from my path,
I make the sign of the cross for the first time in my life.
I look up and pray that when I step into the town square
at high noon and face the man who holds my tattered oath
in his holster, I will look into His great eye as I fall to my knees.
Oh, I pray that my small bit of goodness will
finally break through my breast.
And by God, I pray that with Him as my witness,
I will finally know what I have done, and I will repent.