The Stranger (An Original Poem)

Once there was a mining town, that cleaved upon the desert brown.

In this town was a saloon; beer was drunk from dawn till noon.

Men clutched mugs of liquid gold, their drunkenness a fight forebode.

Empty holster, empty head – deadeye discharged flying lead.

He, gunslinger broad of chest, was well-regarded in the West.

Spit-shined boots and olive skin; drank the whiskey, downed the gin.

Womenfolk would swoon and sigh, as this brawny chap went by.

And so was life in this small setting…ladies gossiping, men betting.

Then one day rode into town, a stranger over grassy down.

He was, perhaps, a lad eighteen, with rawhide belt and buckle mean.

Unkempt hair resisted combing; muddied saddle spoke of roaming.

Light of skin and dark of hair; vest and trousers worse for wear.

Pensive eyes beneath bold lashes; women peered from window sashes.

Wanderer, though frayed may be, was a pleasant sight to see.

Or should have been, were that the case, but doubt was writ on every face.

Suspicious were those sheltered minds, for to his goodness all were blind.

Grimy boots met grimy ground; slid off horse without a sound.

Suddenly, all heads were turned; blood through hardened veins did churn.

A form so marred crept into sight – like Boxer Bill after a fight.

Resembled not a human being; phantom were the people seeing?

Aged were the feeble bones, that trembled with the stifled groans.

Her matted hair was black with mud, and from compressed lips came dried blood.

Shredded were her soiled clothes, and from her nostrils hot breath rose.

Her feet drug on the burning sod, and all the townsfolk found her odd.

“Look at her, that vile creature!  Save us from such filth, dear Preacher!”

Poor wretch, scorned and shunned by all, to her wrinkled knees did fall.

Begged did she for drink of water, as the sun grew ever hotter.

From the gathered host appeared, a gunman who was so revered.

He scoffed and thrust the desert dirt at weakened figure, language curt.

“Sorry brute of words so brash!  You, a beast!” Said he, so rash.

Victim with a face of grief, looked to parson for relief.

Preacher then from mob diverged.  “You from gates of Hell emerged!”

So he spake with loathsome term, without a thought for the infirm.

Were there none who came to aid?  Was the fragile form to fade?

Wait!  Still was there the stranger; would he run the risk of danger?

There he stood with ruptured thought, then bounded down the sand so hot.

The only one who rushed to aid, with livid breath and hands unstayed.  

Tearing through the jeering throng, he rid them of malicious song.

With a fist unleashed in wrath, he smote the victims in his path.

Then he struck the Beast of Prey, who hit the ground by light of day.

Rid of the transgressors bad, the sullen townsfolk viewed the lad.

Gone now was the brow of hate, the flaming eye, the furied gait.

He looked upon the one he shielded, as his concrete features yielded,

To the tears he chanced to keep, but few through troubled lids did seep.

He knelt beside the form so weak, and wiped the teardrops from her cheek.

Two faces of a different kind, impressed upon the people’s mind,

A scene so tender and so true – like buttercups and evening dew.

“Look how gentle and how strong,” went whisperings through the mellowed throng.

Changed were mindsets of the people; stranger wiser than the steeple!

Sunset veiled the fallen gun; the grisly battle had been won.

The yellow sun slunk out of view, and on the great hulk cast a hue.

Fiendish was the senseless breath, that from the gunman’s lips had lept.

Twilight came and all was well, but where the stranger none could tell.

Naught a footprint did he leave, and midnight did a vagueness weave.

Midnight!  Strange and mystic hour!  Not a trace, though men should scour.

All was left from poignant scene, was message wise and message keen.

Take this lesson, I advise: To greatness do the Kindly rise.

For it is deed not grand but right, which gives the blind man back his sight.  

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