MORE THAN BILLY THE KID
Jimmy did not die nice.
It was not clean nor did anyone care.
His mother had passed years before,
And his sister married, they say, to change her name.
Jimmy’s old connections,
Who were now tidy with age and inheritance,
Sighed-off their memories of his laugh,
The convict swagger they once tried to emulate.
See, Jimmy knew the larvae were in his psyche.
He made no bones about it, as they will often say.
And some called him more crazed than Billy the Kid,
Because when he fired a gun, by accident, through the window
And missed his girlfriend’s head by inches,
He just laughed at how the bullet
Poofed into the arm of the couch,
Making fuzz fly everywhere,
Linger in the air
Like a halo around her hair.
I would never believe in raising the dead.
It would be like cloning the past to re-appear,
And I do believe that it has to remain as such,
For without its finality,
Part of us might never grow inside,
Evolve to seek each other beyond the sunlight.
When Jim died, I was finally able
To realize the fact of his pure honesty;
A tide that split just before right or wrong.
Yes, he broke laws, beat people over drugs,
Ran in one door and out the other
While cops tried to bust him.
He did not deny it unto himself.
He did not forsake it,
But one day he told me,
“Bob, you don’t belong here.
Stay at my Mom’s house and get it together,
And then go home. Just leave me your Levi jacket,
So I might remember you,
That I actually knew someone who read poetry.”
So, when I heard that Jim was gone,
I thought of him gliding past me in California,
Hiding his Dillinger smirk
With an young, Auden-like face, the way his mother
May have thought of him
The instant that he was born.
Robert Lesher was raised in Fullerton, California, and did all of his schooling there, majoring in Journalism. Since 1965, he’s been a semi-pro, professional musician, mostly in the Blues idiom. In early 1969, he moved to Victoria, BC because of the Vietnam War, working at UVic Library and playing with the local band, Blues Union. In 2009, this band was inducted into the Victoria Music Hall of Fame. He’s previously had poetry published in Voices International, The Cathartic, and Electrum. Currently Robert Lesher and his wife live in the house he was raised in, with four cats, a dog, and a tortoise.