By John Grey

He grew up on cowboy movies.

He was raised on black and white

“Last Stop”

Saturday matinee B fare.

In his adolescence, he matured

to color and night programming

and heroes with a darker side.


He could tell you about Anthony Mann

and Randolph Scott and James Stewart

in the “Man From Laramie.”

He saw himself as the loner with a rifle

who rides into town and makes a difference.

Catch him when he thinks nobody’s looking –


those arthritic arms and hands

are still practicing their draw.


He complains that young kids today

are all into super-heroes:

not men of flesh and blood

who put life on the line

for dusty main streets

against corrals of outlaws,

each as cruel as ten bobcats.


He’s been diagnosed with cancer.                                             

It’s not like the Dalton Gang or the Youngers –

he can’t face it down.

His trigger finger’s wasted.

It’s more like one of those

crazed comic villains –

“Last Light”

a glutinous Galactus

as opposed to just Jesse James.

It wants to consume his world

not a few acres of graze-range.


He gets radiation treatment

at the hospital, spider-free too:                               

if it was a movie,

no way he’d go see it.


Art by Fabrice Poussin