Pistolero, by Charles Carreon
Alacran Y Pistolero
[Regarding the writing of Pistolero ... Once upon a time when I lived in a yurt in the middle of a meadow with two children and a beautiful young wife, we had a neighbor who was a handsome, crusty fellow with an Eastern-European accent, and a cheerfully brusque manner of friendship. His name was Walter Von Finck, and he had run a commune of sorts, gathering fellow-travelers, and their labors, for the great mission of redeeming mankind. Or somesuch. He had made us a part of his grand collective exercise in the summer of 1978, esconcing us in the house called the Big House then, the Mouse House now that Buddhists run it. Tells you something, eh? But after one summer, during which Tara swelled up with Maria (not depicted above) and we moved into Medford to be near our midwife, we knew we couldn't do Walter's trip. As numerous other people felt the same way, Walter's commune, Rainbow Star, eventually ran out of communal steam. But we still liked living out there at Rainbow Star. We moved onto the property owned by Walter's divorced wife Chris, one of the former original Rainbow Starians, and built our yurt right across the meadow from Walter's little shanty-palace, where Dr. Shandor Weiss now lives under the watchful eye of Vajrasattva. When we convinced Chris to rent a place on her land to build a yurt, it was quite a coup. And a lifesafer, because we were so poor we couldn't actually afford rent on a single-family house in Ashland (shit -- now you couldn't rent that house for less than $1,500 a month -- but $275 was too much for us then). It was a distinct weird coup of ours, and for a long time we didn't really talk that much with Walter, though he was our neighbor. But one day he came up the road with a bag of coffee. That's when we all starting drinking the speedy bean. None too soon, I'm sure. Gave us some motivation. But Walter stayed pretty crusty, even when he was friendly. He was always criticizing the choice of our house location, telling us we were spiritually blind for not realizing "what was going to be built there." Well, nothing was ever built there after we tore our yurt down, but that's another story.
Back in the time I'm talking about, Walter and we had become good neighbors. After the quiet that ensued when we effectively seceded from his commune and nailed down a homestead outside of his autocratic influence, a warmth based on mutual respect arose.
So one night he came over and said that we should come over and watch The Magnificent Seven, with Yul Brenner, Ernest Borgnine, and lots of other big stars. It was showing on TV, and he was going to fire up the generator and we could watch it all together. Man, was that exciting.
Our kids never saw TV, and I mean never. They rarely saw electric light. We cooked and read by kerosene light or propane lamps, after the first year of living in neolithic obscurity. Our stove was so small it had been yanked out of a tiny travel trailer. I was snooping around a hermitage up in the hills built secretly on a monk's land earlier this year by an expatriate Australian, and sho' 'nuff there was our old stove. Still crankin' out the meals. At any rate, it was good times.
We weren't quite as backwoods as the folks in that Close To Eden movie, but it was as close as city kids were likely to get. So on that night, we went over to Walter's place and watched the hell out of this old Western classic, while the generator thundered away on Walter's mud porch. Heavy feng-shui coming over to Walters, with a four-stroke generator pounding away in the entry area.
Well the next day I had a fever in my brain. All that western gunfighting action had roiled my neurons, leaching out old stimulation programs that had been wired in my early developmental stages. A man, I realized, was at his most manly as a gunfighter. The decisive image of the showdown in the plaza. A bullfight where each participant is both bull and bullfighter. The duel, made mechanically swift. Two face off. Only one survives. No equivocation, no ambiguity, no uncertainty. One winner. One dead guy. Ain't no question who the ladies are gonna go for.]
Pistolero, go away.
I've been kept awake all night by you
and your friends
Clinking glasses, smoking, gambling
All night in my kitchen.
Pistolero, I remember you
At high noon
In the main street,
Standing with a wide stance on
in pointed boots,
Your gun-hand loose and poised
over a low-slung holster
Hanging heavy with iron.
You and your revolver --
You squeeze the trigger
and the hammer slams down
On a forty-four center-fire cartridge:
The crash of exploding gunpowder.
from the muzzle of your pistol and
Your enemy's laid out cold.
You repeat this action again and again
in a false-front Western town.
You practice on old whisky bottles
perched on a fence, and
The flying shards delight us,
Seeming to explode of themselves,
Balanced on that slender rail.
A wild magic you wield
in a gunfight you turn, wheel,
Blast them from an awkward angle,
Run, dive, roll, take aim and
You make a mess of little towns,
whether you're a good or bad guy
You're always shooting up
saloons and hotels,
Smashing out windows,
breaking down doors,
Crashing through railings,
allowing furniture to be splintered
Apart on your head --
we've fallen in love with your
kind of justice.
We shed no tears for bad guys
Who disturb the peace of
Who destroyed the buffalo?
Who annihilated the Navajo?
Who are all cut from the same
Whole cloth of pure white goodness
Which is never stained by the blood
Or torn by the anguish of whores,
Or disturbed by the stuporous stares
of alcoholic Indians, leaning
against railings that do not break,
Falling heavily through glass that
shatters without drama,
Collapsing at noon in the boring dust
of a real street in a town
Where Wyatt Earp checked out
of his hotel an inconceivably
long time ago.