'Pa, she's a-comin', go get ma,
see that line of dust smokin' the horizon?
right on time, just like Wells Fargo'.
The denizens from far and wide
had blown into town ready to welcome
this eyepoppin' starspangled show.
Sure enough – stagecoach pulled
by four fine stallions swayed down
the dusty road, slowing to the speed
of a staggering, drunken cowpoke
with a bellyful of Teepee beer.
Painted on the side in old gold, red and blue,
'The Great Wild West Show's Grand Tour
of the States – here today with no fewer
than eleven great stars, fallen straight from Heaven'
Wyatt Earp, Doc Halliday, Billy the Kid,
Roy and Trigger, the James Boys, Annie Oakley,
John Wayne, Calamity Jayne,Gabby Hayes
Doris Day in corsets and stays, Gary Cooper;
starts at High Noon, bring your own moonshine.
'Pa – look! The Driver!' Pa looked,
'He's dead son, shot by an arrow right
through the head'. The crowd gasped and parted,
'Elmer, you go see now'. He opened the door
of the coach, then rushed off to the latrine,
hands clasped to his retching throat.
Well, each one of those celebrities was stone dead,
blood running down arrows like ketchup.
'Does this mean there'll be no show?'
asked Wilbur, who could be a little slow.
'Sioux' says Pa as womenfolk averted their eyes
and grown men fainted, then 'Get Max Paxo',
(the town taxidermist) 'and tell him
to lay off the Tequila Twisters
an' all you ladies roll up your sleeves
and bring bleach. Everyone's gonna scrub
till our wrists ache. There's work to be done
to save this day.' Two moons later
when they'd finished, the stars stood,
stiff and starched, dead straight. They were
winched on to plinths and at a pinch,
it was hard to tell if they were alive or dead.
Well, the show never moved out of town
as a mark of respect. Years rolled by,
many folk went to try their luck in the City.
The show started to look a pretty pitiful sight,
tacky, tawdry and in need of repair,
standing somewhere in a ghost town
playing host only to a dustbowl
wind. The stars were tended
by Pa's great great grandsons and even
they couldn't manage to scrape the dust
from the wrinkled canyons on those famous faces,
whose fingers still pointed onward, to the West,
staring, glassy-eyed at a far-off dream,
bathed each night in glacial starlight; a far-away
dream that had long ago died.