Tony Beyer

Toe to toe

fist fights in movies
used to be more fun

limited in both
impact and bloodshed

think of the mudslide epic
in McLintock

or the red dust
puffing off the tusslers

in The Searchers
not otherwise a jolly film

when a man was down
he stayed down

until the nameless one
beaten purple

came back
with a sheet of boiler iron

hung over his chest
cigar stub fixed in his jaw

as the JFK head shot
altered onscreen ballistics

man on man scraps
turned nasty

as they are
as they always are

Fair stood the wind

a man with a Henry V haircut
walks past checking his phone
on Lambton Quay

the coffee’s hot
the women dressed for the weather
indisputably marvellous

politics and the law
dominate the other end of town
where we don’t go

just around the corner
Willis St then Manners and Cuba
funkier by the yard

more dogs and more tattoos
and the dispossessed who have more sense
than to mingle with salaried intentions

like Elvis and his son-in-law Michael
starving themselves on horse tranquiliser
to slim for a concert

he checks his phone again
and prospects are looking good
for Harfleur then Agincourt

Dude ranch

watching John Wayne movies 
on YouTube

truly preposterous

like Elvis
without the songs

the Duke already a bit puffy
slitty eyed

groping over his gut
for his gun

some of the ladies
getting on too

but exquisite
in Technicolor

and there’s usually a boy
who needs teaching

by example how to handle
an Indian raid

a stampede
or repeating rifle

Johnny Rebs or
a horse or a woman

marketable skills
on the frontier that never ends

Tony Beyer is working on new poems in Taranaki, New Zealand. His print titles include Anchor Stone (2017) and Friday Prayers (2019), both from Cold Hub Press.
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