Poetry by Jeff Green


The man with deepset eyes.

by cricketjeff on April 5, 2008.  © Jeff Green, All rights reserved

The piano player stopped mid-bar,
And every head looked round,
To see a stranger come from far
With treasure he had found.
An empty man with eyes deep set
And danger in his heart.
To find what pleasures he could get
Then silently depart.

He slammed his palm down on the bar
And left a glint of gold,
Then wiped his hand across his scar
And what a tale he told.
Of finding riches in the stream,
Of men who’d rob him blind,
The way they died, we heard them scream,
He painted in the mind.

A shadow fell across the bar,
Black Douglas looking down.
A mood the shade of molten tar,
He bared his teeth so brown.
“My brothers were the men you killed,
The gold you hold is mine,
No Douglas blood should have been spilled
I’ll kill you then I’ll dine.”

The stranger there turned not one hair,
Said “friend, resume your seat.
Unless your brother’s fate you’d share
Take up your spoon and eat.”
Black Douglas saw he wore no gun,
So felt no hint of fear,
The dreadful deed would soon be done,
His fortune very near.

The deepset eyes had seen it all,
Their owner knew the plan;
Douglas was broad and very tall
A mountain of a man.
The greed for gold would kill again,
A curse he knew too well,
He’d seen it in a dozen men
And sent them all to hell.

The gun looked small in Douglas’ hand,
He did not get to aim.
He died and could not understand
The knife that was to blame.
The stranger asked for whore and drink
And took them both upstairs.
While we were left to sit and think
The barman made repairs.

The stranger left before the dawn,
The bills were fully paid.
We buried Douglas deep in scorn
Prospecting plans were laid.
I found the stream, but never told
Just slowly worked the seam.
I’ve built my life on stranger’s gold
And now I live his dream.

Author notes

In ballad meter (alternating tetrameter/termeter) but with doubled stanzas to allow slightly longer ideas. Quite short at only 14 quatrains and fully rhymed (abab rather than xaxa) but I hope reminiscent of the many Western Ballads I have always loved.