Wednesday, September 7, 2011

The gunfighter – Alistair Campbell

The gunfighter – Alistair Campbell

You will see him any day in Te Kuiti
or Cannons Creek,
immaculate in black
and triggered like a panther on the prowl.

Conscious of all eyes,
but indifferent to all except the heroine
watching from behind lace curtains,
doom walks the main street of a small town.

Is it fear or admiration that widens
those lovely eyes?
He knows her eyes are on him,
but gives no sign he knows –
he has a job to do.

The sun has reached high noon.
The shadows stand with flattened palms
against the walls of buildings,
or shrink back into doorways.
The heroine lets fall the curtain.
She has fallen –
drilled clean through the heart with love.

Now he stands alone
in the pool of his own shadow,
his wrists flexible as a dancing girl’s,
his palms hovering like butterflies
over the blazing butts of his six-guns.

The streets are cleared,
the township holds its breath –
for the gunfighter, the terrible gunfighter
is in town.

O'Sullivan, V. (Ed.). (1979). An anthology of twentieth century New Zealand poetry. Wellington: Oxford University Press.

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