The Good, the Bad and the Ugly
Jessica Baran


Once upon a time, a peaceable kingdom

saw old No Name’s ultimate good luck:

a miraculous draft of fishes splitting

from the backyard shit piñata. 


He said: “The rectum is a grave,

what we do is secret.”


Said Angel: “I'll say, trouble every day

in my mind. When the lone sheep defends itself,

there goes the whole venerable tradition

of failure and then some.”


Down Lackadaisical Route, the rivers are streets,

not a picnic is cancelled, only left to float. Tipping

ten gallon hats, they toast: “To that goat-legend leading

where you'll never put your fingers when I'm gone.”


Angel did it: wrestled the barrel, the sun-rot fish

put away. Tumbleweed tumbling, alike along drifting.

In this paradise ark, the one with no name plays strong. 




“For the last time: I'm not asking your name, only

to clear this dead treasure quick, like

your match-lighter shooting

of doves.”


And whitely, down

one went. “Harmonica, you've got a way with graves.”


Gloving the rocks, not a surprise. Another Sunday burning

bright with hill sage, the high noon sun rolling wide

where they stood, six feet deep. 


“Harmonica, you're just pure service. No

lockbox, all intimacy. Whadaya say after today

we etch this robbed grotto onto our hearts,

x-mark a clear structure, for the new generation?”


Sweat-wiping, scowling,

Harmonica barely descanting: “Yeah, all them young birds

with revolution on their minds. Just reckless gravity

everyone knows.”




In America, several times, we saw it on the news:

a tussle at the convenience store, one

nameless, another tuneless, and the other

without mouth or wings. Can't tell you why, but


they all became somewhat as follows:

bad then ugly then good. And then ugly made better

for the worse. What sense, proved slippery—


“I'll take it,” he said

to the security camera. We supposed it referred

to his own face on the simulcast screen. 


“I'll take the well hidden, prying eyes, and all that

no one will ever see behind them.” Blinking.


Grinning.  Road smutting. Hand made

free for cuffing. What a magic hour

for waking. To songs too blue to cry.