Above the pass, he lies in wait,
His craggy face carved out of scorn.
Intolerant of “second-rate,”
His gun now from its hoster torn.
The little band rides into view,
Scanning hard the barren trail,
Lined with boulders that accrue
Among the dust and settled shale.
No cover from the rifle fire,
No place to ‘scape the cross-site threads.
The mocking sun spreads waves of fire
Upon the trav’ling party’s heads.
Above the pass, he cocks his gun,
The click resounding like a shot.
The shadows deepen in the sun,
His lips now strangely dry and hot.
The fair-haired sheriff casts his eyes
To where he fears attack may come.
No chance for talk or compromise,
The seconds ticking like a drum.
The shot rings out! The sheriff falls!
The band of cowboys spur their steeds
And gallop past the valley’d walls,
No thought now of heroic deeds.
The prostate body on the track
Is covered by no mourning shroud.
Above the pass, his head thrown back,
The Dunphy’s laughter echoes loud.
He draws a blade of weathered steel,
Surveying long the dark deed done,
And carves another inch-long weal
Upon the barrel of the gun.