Me and the Outlaw Jesse James

Here’s a poem from my developing manuscript Breath of a Devil: the Untold Story of the Outlaw Jesse James. In it, my story’s narrator, Silas Thatch, speaks about his boyhood friend, Jesse James.

Me and Jesse

From that moment on, me and Jesse
became tighter than death on a corpse,
causin’ mischief where we could:
spookin’ horses, swippin’ whiskey,
and cursin’ like devils. Jesse brained-up

all our plans. Never smart as him,
I just done what he told me. Once,
when we was sippin’ on a bottle of hooch
we snuck from old Tucker’s outhouse,
he hid it there from his wife – guess he would

squat, shit, and drink all at once – Jesse started
talkin’ `bout his pa. He got all serious like,
solem, like what he was sayin’ was real
important, and I aint ashamed to say
it scared me some, made me wanna hide.

Pa was a preacher, loved Jesus more he loved
anyone – more than me I guess.  He spit
holiness and God’s wrath on anyone
he could reach. He even said niggers needed
Jesus `cause Jesus loved them too,

just not as much as white folk. When people
started floodin’ west lookin’ for gold, Pa followed
them – said they needed to know Jesus’ love
or else greed would pull them all to fire and hell.
That’s all Jesse said about his pap. I found out

some time later that Preacher James done died out there
in California. I also heard it chewed Jesse up good.
Now, I ain’t no thinker, but I bet this whiskey your
servin’ me that Jesse decided to chew the rest
of the world up cause of it – his fangs were the sharpest.


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