Down my road a piece or three
lived an ex-pat named George,
who worked the CSX freighters
after he washed up in Charleston
where he discovered his age was measured
in gypsum and sweat, and his trouble
with money lost its punch somewhere
around the sixth double of Canadian Club.
He had a woman called Mac,
a blousy low-lander with a gift for gab
who washed his clothes and sometimes
floated his rent; but he put up with her lip,
he said, "because she's a fair throw
for a broke horse" and then he would laugh
open-mouthed, his teeth as yellow as his skin.
and he had a fascination with guns
that he showed me when I happened by;
an old Enfield
a 45 Magnum and a Colt
a semi-carbine with a strap
and boxes and cartons full of ammunition
"in case those mushrooms ever bloom"
he would say, his eyes wild and glaring
while he sipped his Club and misfortune
like ladies sip tea on hot afternoons.
It all resulted in a shot one morning
that pierced the still of the March air
and made the barn swallows fly off
towards the Atlantic ports
where he had been young once.