If you love, adore the moon. If you rob, steal a camel.

Stories for the Long Silk Road

Monday, January 7, 2013

Ed Markowski: Virtue

In  the  mining  town  of  Virtue
where  the  Mercy  River  flowed
two  men  met  with  death
in  a  wicked  blinding  snow

The  Gypsy  left  his  home
a  thousand   miles  east
looking  to  partake  in
Virtue’s  golden  feast

Tall  John  was  the  barkeep
at  the  Ruby  Star  Hotel
a  gentle  man  from  Tennessee
and  a  card  sharp  just  as  well

He  killed  kings  with  the  German
Black  Willie  and  Old  Dutch
that  night  he  dealt  a  loser’s  hand
to  the  preacher  and  the  judge

The  Gypsy  took  room  number  ten
at  Miss  Jesse’s  boarding  hall
when  the  silver  moon  had  faded
and  the  snow  began  to  fall

As  the  sweet  scent  of  a  woman
drifted  clear  across  the  floor
the  gypsy  lit  a  hurricane  lamp
A  knock  rattled  his  door

A  woman  clad  in  sorrow’s  shawl
who’s  eyes  were  wet  and  blue
said  listen  to  me  mister  for  all
I  say  is  true

My  name  is  Emma  Simpson  Sir
the  woman  whispered  low
in  the  morning  mount  your  horse
don’t  look  back  just  go

In  our  town  of  Virtue
no  one  will  hold  a  grudge
unless  you  cross  our  marshal
preacher  mayor  and  our  judge

Why  thank  you  ma’am  the  gypsy said
I  can’t  pass  up  this  chance
in  the  glimmer  of  a  glowing  wick
they  danced  the  lovers  dance

He  is  a  man  of  God  and  truth
Emma  muttered  in  the  glow
and  of  this  tender  moment
he  must  never  know

The  gypsy  flashed  a  crescent  smile
room  ten  grew  cold  and  dark
the  silence  of  the  storm  screamed
a  blood  hound’s  bark

Now  up  the  empty  street  a  block
behind  them  Methodist  Doors
the  marshal  preacher  and  the  judge
called  out  I  need  three  more

Tall  John  cut  the  poker  deck
with  a  magician’s  blinding  speed
inviting  his  opponent  to  take
as  many  as  you  need

Across  the  Pinyon  Altar
he  stretched  his  mighty  arms
Tall  John  gazed  upon  the  cross
feeling  warm  and  calm

The  marshal  kissed  the  hand  he  held
he  was  blinded  to  the  ruse
before  his  eyes  three  of  a  kind
each  card  a  pallid  deuce

The  mayor  and  the  judge  exclaimed
I’ll  see  that  and  raise  ten  more
he  laughed  and  showed  his  triple  play
Tall  John  fanned  Aces  four

The  marshal  and  the  preacher
dropped  his  eyes  down  to  his  boots
Tall  John  laughed  and  said  to  him
as  he  rounded  up  the  loot

Don’t  feel  bad  my  righteous  friend
then  he  gave  the  mayor  a  nudge
I’m  just  a  vagrant  barkeep  your
the  marshal  preacher  and  a  judge

Tall  John  winked  then  closed  the  door
and  through  the  fog  of  snow  that  fell
he  ambled  out  to  pour  the  drinks
at  the  Ruby Star   Hotel

When  the gypsy  left  Miss  Jesse’s  hall
to  sip  a  well  earned  drink
Emma  thought  of  their  bare  skin
as  a  web  of  slate  and  pink

If  the  gypsy  would  invite  her
to  ride  the  mustang  winds
she’d  escape  her  judge  and  mayor
life  would  begin  again

The  gypsy  stood  before  the  bar
he  ordered  up  a  glass
Tall  John  tipped  the  bottle
two  dancing  girls  walked past

You  new  in  town  Tall  John  asked
I  guess  you  could  say  so
What  brings  you  here  the  card  sharp  asked
I  come  to  mine  some  gold

You  know  this  town’s  named  Virtue
said  the  barkeep  with  a  smile
though  Virtue’s  just  a  cruel  mirage
that  hide’s  the  boss  man’s  style

They  use  it  to  disguise  themselves
and  justify  their  sins
you  see  it  serves  them  very  well
another  drink  my  friend ?

I  wouldn’t  know  the  gypsy  said
I’m  here  to  stake  my  claim
sir  I  ain’t  really  interested  in  why
a town’s  named  what  its  named

Ok  said  the  barkeep
I  guess  that’s  up  to  you
in  this  town  you’ll  be  amazed
how  lies  become  the  truth

Old  Piano  Jack  struck  up  a  chord
the  camp  town  horses  ran
Miss  Emma  leaned  against  the  bar
her  face  shifted  like  sand

Well  my  friend  I’ll  consider  that
your  intention’s  crystal  clear
the  gypsy  then  took  off  his  cape
as  a  face  rose  in  the  mirror

A  cropped  goatee  of  gray  and  black
green  eyes  that  glowed  blood  red
A  pistol  shot  then  Emma  cried
My  God  Tall  John  is  dead

It  wasn’t  but  a  minute  passed
when  the  mayor  and  the  judge
showed  up  in  the  bar  room
with  the   marshal  and  his  badge

A  silver  star  shone on  his  coat
he   stroked  his  cropped  goatee
there’s  been  a  crime  the  preacher  said
the  guilty  man  I  see

The  mayor  locked  the  iron  cuffs
round  the  killer’s  hands
We’ll  drop  the  rope  at  daybreak
you  are  an  evil  man

In  the  hate  and  silence  raging
to  the  cadence  of  church  bells
the  marshal  judge  and  mayor  said
Boy  we’re  sending  you  to  hell

That  night  there  was  a  trial
before  the  preacher  in  a  gown
after  the  marshal  judge  and  mayor
alerted  the  whole  town

The  people  lit  their  torches
they  gathered  up  t heir  guns
when  the  killer’s  noose  was  set
they  knew  he  was  the  one

Who  had  ridden  into  Virtue
about  twelve  hours  gone
on  a  dead  man’s  devil  horse
the  judge  said  he  was  the  one

Who  then  walked  into
Tall  John’s  Ruby  Star  Hotel
where  he  drank  a   glass  of  whiskey
and  laughed  when  Tall  John  fell

Who  harbored  malice  in  his  mind
blacker  than  a  pit  of  tar
who  then  sent  Tall  John  six  feet  deep
with  a  bullet  through his  heart.

In  the  frozen  morning
the  gallows  stage  was  set
the  gypsy  wore  his  riding  cape
Miss  Emma’s  eyes  he  met

Her  tears  were  pent  up  deep  inside
of  a  vault  no  man  could  breach
her  love  had  vanished  in  the  storm
to  a  world  no  man  could  reach

The  preacher  judge  and  marshal
dressed  in  gambler’s  black
waved  to  Virtue’s  mayor
as  he  rubbed  Miss  Emma’s  back

When  her  fearsome  preacher
stroked  his  cropped  goatee
he  locked  his  lady  in  her  guilt
for  he  held  all  the  keys

The  marshal  shouted  HANG  HIM !
we’ll  let  the  whole   world  know
that  in  the  town  of  Virtue
a  man  reaps  what  he  sows

When  the  hanging  fest  was  over
the  mayor  then  proclaimed
bury  the  snake  without  a  cross
in  all  his  guilt  and  shame

The  judge  well  he  just  up  and  left
to  raise  a  well  earned  glass
and  in  the  Ruby  Star’s  long  mirror
there  was  no  reflection  cast

The  mining  town  of  Virtue
has  since  returned  to  dust
where  the  Mercy  River  flowed
there’s  just  a  barren  gulch

You  see  there  wasn’t  but   a  speck
of  gold  up  in  them  hills
just  the  vision  of  a  gypsy
who  some  say  wanders  still

When  I  was  a  young  man
fresh  within  my  youth
through  that  night  I  wondered
what  composed  the  truth

Did  truth  have  a  color ?
Was  truth  calm  and  kind ?
I  found  truth  was  a  shadow
just  an  element  of  mind

that   faded  with  each  sunset
then  twisted  into  black
Excuse  me  now  the  old  man  said
I’m  tired  of  looking  back

With  a  nod  he  hit  the  trail
riding  cape  and  dusty  boots
just  another  lonely  gypsy
just  a  miner  of  the  truth.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Silk Road Mantra

by Suchoon Mo

bury me not

in the lone Silk Road

I go and go

from west to east

I go and go

from east to west

bury me not

in the lone Silk Road


As of June 25, 2015, The Bactrian Room is closed to submissions.


Search This Blog

Notice of Copyrights

Original material on this site is copyrighted by the authors and artists. No material may be copied or reused without the permission of the respective author or artist.