Marthy Canary — by Kevin Heaton

                        a highly medicated exaggerationist

She had a zest for reservationing Indians, driving mule trains
through The Muscle Shell, and swore to beat hell; but with a tender
kind of cussin.’

I say it was Calamity Jane what leaned the Winchester Model 1873
up against that juniper in Great Basin National Park back in 1882.
‘Archaeologist Eva Jensen and company had spotted the legendary
silhouette while working their way across a remote outcrop.’ The
barrel was rusted, its once well-oiled walnut stock and legendary
blued steel buttplate were solstice-faded, and history had melded it
to the tree.

Calamity would have loved all this Lost Dutchman prospecting. More
likely than not, she would have heckled these greenhorn lard players
and spit Brown Mule juice in Eva’s eye, just like she and Arkansas
Tom did to that poor actress at the East Lynne Opera House the night
they shot out all the house lamps. Old Tom took a conical ball in the
chest at a bank holdup the very next day.

She was of frontier lively booze stock unacquainted with bourgeois
notions of decorum. A scout and a skirmisher; a hair-trigger rimfire
load of black powder sealed with a cork prime. Her bronze alloy
repeating arms were ruggedly constructed, and had a not-so-easy-to-
handle toggle link lever action that had culled several ex’s and breech
chambered squib loads.

A cross-dressing cowboy Valentine McGillycuddy type of nursemaid
who birthed two daughters in a featherbed at Madame DuFran’s bold-
assed bawdy house on the outskirts of Bear Butte Creek.

Jesus took her to Heaven early, to be a sunbeam.

Kevin Heaton is originally from Kansas and Oklahoma, and now lives and writes in South Carolina. His work has appeared in a number of publications including: Guernica, Rattle, Slice Magazine, Beloit Poetry Journal, The Adroit Journal, and Verse Daily. He is a Best of the Net, Best New Poets, and three-time Pushcart Prize nominee.


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