Cowboy Story

The books sit on the shelf, a row of coma patients

in a ward, a series of selves no longer able to learn

and trapped at the point of injury: the last page.

 

At the donor clinic I offer my arm to the spigot

of the needle and think, as I see the bag fill

with blood, there goes some of me. But that’s a lie:

 

as soon as it exits, the fluid is its own object,

with all the attendant foreignness and filthy infection

that implies, and has no meaning in terms of me.

 

Life happens like a cowboy story in which two

lines of gun-wielding men walk slowly toward each

other, skinning those smokewagons until the sky is white

 

with exploded gun powder. Out in the open, shooting

past all logic, they advance until either reality is killed

or they fall. I’m not saying there’s no control,

 

but rather that control is all there is. Keep reading

to find out how it ends. The only cover offered is

the bad aim of enemies, and an adherence to the script.

George Murray, “Cowboy Story,” from Whiteout. Copyright © 2012 by George Murray. Reprinted by permission of ECW Press.

Source: Whiteout (ECW Press, 2012)