Siân B. Griffiths

Tuco & Blondie


        "There are two kinds of people in the world, my friend:
        Those with a rope around the neck, and the people who
        have the job of doing the cutting."
                        —Tuco, The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

a pumpkin, a poncho, a hearse, a horse
dark women running in monks' cowls:
how dreams will gallop the night a man
hears death blowing close over the sage
the rope waits the cut that comes from a gun
as if it could change the circle's course

the rope of the hangman's noose rubs coarse
as a man waits the bullet atop his horse
the rope-cutting shot of a saving gun
the cloud that dampens the sun's scowl
the hooves that bruise perfume from sage
the gun-slinging angel who's only a man

the world, he will say, holds two kinds of man
(or man-shaped pigs in hard-boned corsets)
one is a fool & the other a sage
but which is the man who stills his horse
allows his smirk to read as scowl
& which is the man whose already begun

to level that long-legged unflinchable gun
whose report echoes the cash demand
for what one thinks his life is worth: school
teachers & assayers give no recourse
calculations or permutations the hands of a horse
wind-winding bullets & august-dry sage

he aims & breathes what seems an age
steadies the knob at the end of his gun
wills stillness into the distant horse
thinking of possible third kinds of man
as he lets the bullet chart its course
the other man gallops towards the gun's call

perhaps there is nothing in his scowl
perhaps all is nothing if you buy the sage
& time skulls on with its dark oars
always returning to fire the gun
& lending a shovel to bury the man
or hang saddle-side on his patient horse

the sun-beaten scowl shines on gold and gun
the whispering sage speaks the smallness of men
the circle runs its constant course: blistering hooves pounding horse