-on the occasion of outgoing NM governor Bill Richardson refusing to officially pardon
Billy the Kid.
con permiso, Billy,
one hundred and thirty years later,
we still count your unpardonable sins
on both gun hands,
your kind, senorita gnawing buck-
toothed smile killed,
and your victims
are no less colder or deader
for the experience.
A horse is good down to ten below.
In Anton Chico the land is flat, motion-
inhospitable, and frozen but open-hearted,
its adobe streets were full of love and snow
and long on memory.
That night, the moon alerted
the desert that your short life
was in eclipse, the winds shriveled
darkly at the horizon.
Now, you can ride out your coldest nights,
reins in your buckteeth
across these badlands of eternity,
Paulita clinging lustily to your gun belt,
the wind’s got your back-
we’ve all got your back.
John Macker has lived in northern New Mexico on the Santa Fe Trail for over 17 years. His most recent book of poetry is Underground Sky. He is also the author of Woman of the Disturbed Earth among others. He has been nominated for several Pushcart Prizes.