Ida Bell

9″ x 11″ Charcoal drawing of Strathmore paper

The dead man sits on a pot-bellied stove
Ida-bell stays around, keeps the cobwebs off
the couple in the corner, pack-rats
steal a bullet shell leave a cactus thorn.
Take it to the hidie hole. Gold mine.
“Where’s it at dead man?”
Shot him dead. Stretched on a tree.
Dead man’s mine still.
Ida-bell
sings softly and she dances to the tune.
Dust motes, dead man, join her in the sun.
Her long blue dress sweeps the dust from the floor
where the dead man slept. “Bum! Get yourself a room.”
Silver coin on the floor.
Dawn. Clouds in the sky burn. Sky blue.
Off to a lake where a pine cone falls
on the dead man’s head
and a squirrel looks down
mad. Laugh, leave him to his home.
Soft night, sing while they ride.
Soft night, sing in the meadow in the night.
Laugh. Love.

Dust covered stranger stumbles
falls in a wagon rut.
Water drawing pebble dry,
sticking out a swollen tongue,
black lips crack blood dribbles down his chin.
Laugh.
Ida-bell looks down,
“Water in the bar.” Leaves.
Tumbleweed?
Where?
Bar cool.
Die in the shade.

Ida-bell’s bones used to rattle in a tree.
Dead man, dead drunk sleeps in the street
when the teamsters cursed.

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