2015-02-25

Jesse James Off Broadway

Jesse James, late of the nineteenth century

I was on a poetry course, and we were given a paragraph or two about Jesse James and asked to write a poem.


The single two things that struck me most about him were the manner of his death, and:

"...much of what was written about him
was made up, and toured as a stage show
within weeks of his death..."


I only hope when my time comes I can be remembered as creatively, and that somebody sells tickets.










Jesse James Off Broadway

...murdered by a man who is in turn murdered
by a man who is murdered by “an outlaw”
about whom countless they say films insist
on the quote marks and who robs, not steals, trains
whilst representing as a Robin Hood
all Lincoln green and tights and neckerchief
carefully deployed, but... of the man himself
little now is known. A bounty is offered
and a stage show hurriedly prepared, the script
penned by a man, himself in patient line
for the scaffold where the hangman struggles
to get the whole damned chorus neatly dropped
before the interval. He needed shooting—
to keep the drama tense—and his cousin
Bob “Robert” Ford is just the man you'd choose
for a low-living, lily-livered coward's
excuse for a plot flourish. The date was set
for Saturday, the matinee, and Jesse
(as was his name) was lured to audition
for the part of his life. He takes the part, steps out—
is gunned down in cold blood and ironically
the part turns out a whole. Bob himself is...

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