Perihelion: An Online Journal of Poetry and Mayhem
The Phoenix Issue, No. 16, Winter 2008
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LYTTON SMITH

The Sheriff of Closingtown

The automatic doors the saloon had installed
to compete with the Starbucks on the corner
of the town’s only street kept closing on him

and the dustcloud on the horizon turned out
to be the four horsemen of the apocalypse
riding into town in their hire-purchase Mustang

and he knew it was one of those days, the days
he was always having these days, where he felt
like holstering a dime Western and sedatives

rather than the guns that fit his palms less snugly
each time he drew them on thin air at high noon,
a day where he’d end up breaking the fifth point

of his sheriff’s badge levering open tins of beer,
where someone would find him later, passed out
on the pavement he’d swear had been a dirt road

when he took to his cups, and they’d carry him home
without a thought of stealing his keys, of locking him
in the town’s lone cell like they’d used to. Time was

when he felt the old bear at his back he’d hunt out
the town’s one hooker and arrest her. These days,
he only stumbles into the brothel to be reminded

politely by the madam that people voted hookers
legal, and he stands at a loss, wondering if anyone
remembers a time when a rumble in the distance

didn’t mean a fleet of overnight delivery folk
but something the town needed saving from.
He stands in the brothel not knowing what to do

with himself until something steers him to the saloon
where the automatic doors close each time he steps
towards them, where inside the designated horseman

is drinking fountain sodas, where he slumps
beside the recycling bins, praying let something
be out there in that desert I never left town for.