A Man is a Man by His Actions

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I’m a boy from the slums where livin’ is rough

Fought daily for survival, you’ve got to be tough

One on one is expected, but one against many is too

Arise and keep swingin’ or they’ll walk all over you

 

If you can’t take a fall and quickly bounce back

You’ll never earn respect, and they’ll never cut you slack

You learn to be ruthless, when ruthless is called for

But don’t let it change you, not deep in your core

 

Being ruthless is not the same as being mean

It’s taking others down, but keepin’ it clean

Purely for self-defense or in defense of others

Continue to respect life: fathers, mothers, sisters, brothers

 

From slums to foreign soil when fightin’ for “Uncle Sam”

For freedom and G.I. brothers… fuck the political flim-flam

Busted and bloody, but I returned standing tall

But don’t give me no praise, give it to those who gave all

 

Dad said, “A man is a man by his actions

not from his years on Earth;

he sweats courage and bleeds honor

and guards integrity for all it’s worth”

Dad in Navy

War touches all

The following is a term paper based on several books written about the Vietnam War; but it is just as relevant for any war… and for any time.

[Take your ego and preconceived notions out of the equation and it’s never too late to learn.]

Fly the friendly skies0001

War touches all

War is greedy. A little thing can release it, but after it is let loose it cannot easily be tamed. It has no loyalty, not even to those who cast it forth. It seeks to ravage anything and anyone it touches, and it touches everyone. And anyone touched by war will never be the same. But individuals who experience war firsthand will, inevitably, bear a bigger cross: a burden uniquely forged by their experience and perspective. Continue reading

The Curse

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Our kids are outside, the snowballs are flying

Next to the woods where someone is dying

Then rushing of leaves

And thunderous heaves

Before a grizzly growl sent them scurrying and crying

 

The wind, rather chilly, was rustling through trees

But the howling they heard left the kids with knock-knees

A horror to behold

With a heart that’s stone cold

Comes a werewolf so mean it even repels fleas

 

Out of the tree-line and into the clearing

With eyes that are soulless, hate-filled, and leering

Fur covered in crud

And fangs dripping blood

Driven with bloodlust that’s painful and searing

 

The fear is bone-chillin’ for daughter and son

With but one thought between them, get home on the run

Then our son and our daughter

Let go of their water

While yelling for Daddy to bring out the big gun

 

The gun is Old Betsy; I’ve had her for years

A masculine heirloom that was blood bought with tears

When Granny Bigbooty

Was doing her duty

And saw her death coming in the reflection of mirrors

 

She’d been warned of a curse in our family tree

She gave it no thought—just an old fantasy

A human-type wolf

Conjecture—no proof

Till feasting on her flesh like a delicacy

 

I grabbed up Old Betsy and chambered a shell

I had but one thought, send the creature to hell

I took careful aim

At our family’s shame

And then pulled the trigger, intent on the kill

 

Old Betsy erupted with buckshot through fire

Saw blood from the beast, its condition is dire

The pellets were Sterling

Hit the beast while still twirling

Next to me it falls down in the muck and the mire

 

The crisis is over, our children are saved

With a tale to tell, and boy how they raved

So I hid the fear

That the curse was still here

I was nicked by the fangs; and blood I now craved

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Alferd Packer the cannibal tracker

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Alferd Packer, aka Alfred,

alias John Schwartze,

earned his claim ta’ infamy

as a mountain guide ta’ greenhorns.

Born in Colorado,

with only a smidge of education,

he grew up rude an’ crude,

an’ all humanity he did scorn.

At first he tried prospectin’,

he survived by eatin’ game,

but skills fer’ findin’ precious metal

had never lived within his brain.

He was good at drinkin’ courage,

he could talk down tenderfeet,

but when push came ta’ shove

he would crack under the strain.

In the early eighteen-seventies,

a miner struck it rich,

which brought a heap a’ dreamers

ta’ the mountains of Utah.

Yet most who came ta’ prospect

were as poor as Packer at it,

they all dreamed of bein’ Big Chiefs,

but they labored like a squaw.

In the Fall of seventy-three

Packer changed his way of thinkin’,

instead of scratchin’ dirt

he would snatch from those who would.

He conned nineteen Eastern lillies

into acceptin’ him as guide,

an’ they set out in a Winter,

at a time when no one should.

It was record breakin’ cold,

an’ the game it went ta’ ground,

so all these would-be miners had

was carried on their backs.

The days turned into weeks,

an’ the weeks they took their toll,

an’ Packer could not perform

like the lies he told in shacks.

When the food ran out the party barked,

an’ Packer acted squirrely;

he was lost, an’ he knew it,

but he wanted his commission.

A stroke of luck while trekking long,

to a friendly tribe they came;

so with a full belly Packer thought

he’d go back ta’ his ambition.

Chief Ouray, with wisdom wrought

from survivin’ many winters,

told the men ta’ turn back now,

or you’ll not survive til Spring.

The prospectin’ party had a parlay,

an’ ten did see the wisdom;

what good is silver, or of gold,

if ta’ life they couldn’t cling?

A loud-mouthed braggert, Packer was,

he mocked the ten fer’ quittin’,

but all he really cared about

was the money he would lose.

Salt Lake City was not an option,

Packer knew he could not go back;

back there his debts were high an’ wide,

an’ this grubstake was all he could use.

So off they tredged within the storm,

ta’ find within a few weeks,

the very same dire consequence

that had made them desparate before.

Then bickerin’ became the norm,

the party it split again,

to the Los Pinos Indian Agency:

the number ta’ go would be four.

The weather was bad,

the directions not good,

only two men ended up where they should:

an’ that’s after days in the blizzard.

They were gaunt, they were stringy,

they looked like Death come a walkin’,

an’ both were so hungry

 they’d be happy ta’ eat a lizzard.

Though as bad as it was

it coulda’ been worse,

they coulda’ remained with Packer,

like Swan, Humphreys, Noon, Miller, an’ Bell.

Off in the frozen beyond,

in an’ abandoned trapper’s cabin,

they ate their last meal

an’ laid down ta’ fight the chill.

From nineteen men ta’ five,

Packer saw his profit dwindlin’,

so he swore it was the end,

an’ took action ta’ see it thru.

Single-shots ta’ the heads

of all but Miller,

who awoke from the sounds

an’ arose fer’ a fight.

But alas, he was weak

an’ disoriented,

an’ Packer caved in his skull:

a ghastly sight.

Then thru the pockets

an’ packs he did go,

no food did they have,

just thousands in cash.

Yet that wouldn’t do,

he quickly surmised,

an’ the obvious

came in a flash.

With knife in hand

he cut an’ he sliced,

an’ filled his pack

with meat from the men.

A matter of taste,

man breast was his liking;

he judged it quite good,

as he swallowed his sin.

Though at civilization’s door

he would toss the remainder away,

an’ play the last survivor role

fer’ at least a country minute.

He then spent freely

from what he stole,

an’ the wise began ta’ wonder,

an’ Packer knew he stuck his foot in it.

But the biggest ‘damn’ was yet ta’ come,

indians found them on the way in:

the human jerky he tossed away

this time came ta’ bite him.

The jig was up,

his lies unfold,

he would show the law

where the story turned grim.

Yet even then he tried ta’ lie,

ta’ claim it was self-defense;

but with four in bed, with shots ta’ head,

it easily broke that spell.

We’ll take ya’ back an’ do it right

the law dogs quoted sternly,

but these five souls will never rest

til yer’ shit deep in hell.

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© JW Thomas

Hang the Archer Gang

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The Archer Gang was a set of four brothers,

Who took after the Reno’s and a slew of others.

Their reign of crime

Spanned decades of time

And they share the blame with moral-less fathers and mothers.

 

The Archers robbed stagecoaches, travelers, and trains.

Then they hid among kin like wheat among grains.

The Dalton’s and James,

The Fords and other lames,

Had similar families with outlaw-like brains.

 

They played the “good neighbor” until money ran low,

Then they grabbed pistols and shotguns and got up to go.

They roamed far and wide

To fleece others then hide,

But their years of success just darkened each soul.

 

After years on the run a mad posse came callin’.

And when their women-folk heard they all started bawlin’.

Tom, John, and Mort,

Vigilantes did abort

With nooses ’round necks that sparked caterwaulin’.

 

The youngest brother Sam made it to trial,

And was quickly convicted and lost his smug smile.

A noose was soon fetched

And Sam’s neck was stretched,

And the townsfolk commenced to party awhile.

 

History shows the Archer Gang had one of the longest crime waves.

But the end was the same: it sent them to their graves,

Where the outlaw soul

Has one place to go,

To Hell’s deepest hole with the volcanic caves.

 

© JW Thomas

Abilene: wild beginnings

 

In the early days of Abilene

A wide open town in Kansas it would seem

They had a few who served the law

Those quick on the draw

But for the most part it was wicked and mean

 

You would see a gunfight pert near every day

Many came to the town honest then started to stray

Life was an oddity

And death was a commodity

For residents in Abilene in its heyday

 

Many a souls there quaked and quivered

Hoping by day-break they’d be delivered

The drunks had stopped drinkin’

By morning they’re stinkin’

And shoot ‘um ups slowed cuz’ gun hands shivered

 

But mornings turned to noon and then to night

And hangovers gave way to the call of dance hall delight

Between dealings quite shady

They’d court a scarlet lady

And just for kicks they’d cause someone fright

 

Cowboys and floozies danced cheek-to-cheek

Then turned and switched partners for a whole new treat

Cowboys chose pokin’

Or opium smokin’

Yes, every known sin was on an Abilene street

 

Don’t turn down a drink or you’ll be called out

Don’t be caught with a hole-card or you’ll feel a clout

Keep your horse off the pool table

And your paws off Aunt Mable

And you might live to see what Abilene’s all about

 

 

© JW Thomas

Killing Bill Dunn

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[Charley Pierce and Bitter Creek Newcomb killed by Dunn brothers]

Bill Dunn was a hunter of men.

Hunting bounties was a trade for him and his kin.

Calvin, George, Dal, and Bee,

brothers in a bloody family.

They spent most of their time engaged in some sin.

 

A road ranch was owned by the Brothers Dunn.

It was sometimes used by men on the run.

The men would salivate

Over teenage Rose, the bait,

till each of her brothers came with a gun.

 

When Charley Pierce and Bitter Creek Newcomb spent the night,

they were caught by surprise like a deer in the light.

As a matter of course

each stabled their horse,

then were waylaid with an ambush done right.

 

When loading the bodies for a trip to town,

Newcomb — thought dead — started coming around.

No thought of their sister,

just “a glass of water, Mister.”

But they sent him to Hell where no water is found.

 

Bill Dunn was with the posse that dropped Bill Doolin the same way.

But the townsfolk started wondering about their sense of fair play.

Bill tried to shift blame,

using Frank Canton’s name;

but his mouth charged a debt his body would have to pay.

 

Deputy Sheriff Canton faced Dunn on the streets of Pawnee.

And Dunn drew first for all witnesses to see.

But Canton was faster

to trigger his blaster,

and a head shot sent Bill Dunn to Death’s mystery.

 

 

© JW Thomas