I lived in New York City for twenty years before relocating to the Berkshires in western Massachusetts where I currently live with my wife and two sons. I am a high school academic tutor and I have served as executive director of several non-profit social service and environmental organizations. I have also been a forest worker in the western and northeastern U.S. I play jazz trumpet. My most recent poetry collections are New & Selected Poems: 1975-2005 (Barnwood Press, 2007) and Communicating the Bird (Broken Publications, 2012). Visit my web site at www.ronnowpoetry.com.
In "The Shootist", J.B. Books is not feeling up to snuff.
He has cancer. What are the concerns
of a man dying.
commensurate with the way he lived his life.
Books dies in a gunfight.
McIntosh dies in the desert, under a broken wagon,
Norman Thayer will die of heart failure
by the side of his wife, Ethel.
Two police officers
die investigating a stolen moped at a gas station
in the Bronx.
One buys it between the eyes, the other in the back.
The killer out on early parole
from a manslaughter rap.
The DA blames the judge, the judge blames the parole board,
and the board says the jails are overcrowded.
What should I be doing, old turtle.
Devote myself to re-order the world
or crawl off to a lonely spot and preserve myself.
We are trying
to educate everyone to their individual capacities
and see that all are fed, clothed and sheltered adequately.
Because the suffering of one citizen makes suffering
for another, the slow death of one sometimes makes
the sudden murder of another.
There is this
black rock we live on and its lovely mantle of green.
It is all that is perfect. And everything of it is
perfect that respects its integrity. On the subway
I was amused to find, hidden in the confused
mass of anonymous, bleak graffiti, unseen
by the studied, expressionless passengers,
in pink, delicate script, vertically written,
the word penis.
People are the element I live in.
The world is pushy, we are bone,
the numbers of us overwhelm.
It is going to be hot again soon
and the Bronx will actively resent it.
Books dies in Carson City,
only two or three people will miss him at all.
He died alone as he lived,
with his enemies.
---title from "The Shootist," Columbia Pictures, 1976.
©2016 Robert Ronnow
©2016 Robert Ronnow