In her wake, dynamite, thought explosions,
a bank safe bereft of gold.
The marshal, style book holstered on his hip,
read her trail. She was writing fast
(uncrossed t’s, mistaken homophones, m’s with extra humps)
on a medium-tip ball point, black ink.
He clipped her with a bullet before she wrote away.
She was bleeding on the page.
He finally cornered her on a cliché,
her inspiration dead at her feet.
She held her wounded arm, sneered.
“Where’s the gold?” he demanded.
He cocked his editing pencil in intimidation.
She dangled a foot over self-doubt.
“Come any closer,” she threatened, “and I’ll jump.”
The way he saw it, he had two choices:
Let her jump and watch her action verbs fall,
her concrete nouns flatten
into sad adjectives, broken and alone.
Let her go, excuse her amateur indiscretions,
save her half-rhyming eyes and smile
for tomorrow’s chase.
The posse, several minutes behind him,
found him alone and on foot.
“She got the upper hand,” he said.
He shrugged, remembering her kiss and the way
she smelled of sunflowers, open prairie,
her smile when he passed her the reins
to his freshly sharpened lead point.
He eyed her path toward the setting sun.
“We’ll start again tomorrow,” he told the posse.
It was the write decision.
(Originally written in November 2006)