It’s a snowy day in Northern New Jersey. Schools were closed all over the state, including the two I teach at, Wayne Hills High School and Passaic County Community College. After my son and I returned from the wild, white yonder, I found some time to write. Here is my afternoon effort.
It’s the next piece in my maturing project, Breath of a Devil: the Untold Story of the Outlaw Jesse James.
Morsel of Brain
We got on back to camp, slow like, quiet too.
Only the horses were whisperin’. I always
thought horses spoke about the fools
that sat on their backs. I imagine they
considered us all a gaggle of asses, shootin’
and hatin’ the way we did and then smilin’
like we done something Jesus would be proud of.
Jesse caught my eye and tilted his head
so that I’d take a peek at his shoulder.
I looked and first I saw Jesse had a smudge
of tomato on it, but then his smile told me more.
It was a splat of that Yankee’s head, maybe a morsel
of brain. Jesse’s face was glowin’ bright
as a desert sun, proud as he was. Now, I loved
Jesse, still do, but that was the first time he
scared me, made my stomach turn as quick
a dust devil spinnin’ ‘cross a stitch of sand.
It wasn’t the blood I saw or the fact that I
seen that Yankee’s head bust. It was ‘cause
Jesse didn’t wipe that brain from him.
He let it sit there like it was a medal
that Jesse pinned on him himself.