West Texas was scarcely settled in 1873.
Billy the Kid was still alive and Comanches were free
To roam the Southwest waste. New-coming settlers pushed them aside
With little care or thought: an unspoken tide of genocide.
Many were Irish; first, second and third generation born,
Not far removed from their green glens, blarney or the blackthorne
That they fondly remembered and storied down around a fire
To family and friends of not forgotten, but now lost Eire.
What gets passed down from generation to each new generation?
What heritage is handed down with each repeated narration?
What makes a man? Is it in the blood or in the telling?
Neither cause of character is any less compelling.
As they moved West, they defined themselves by the work they did
and what each owned and what each earned. There was nothing forbid
to them except beyond the strength of back and bone: stockmen,
rancher, farmer, barkeep and sometimes cowboy now and again.
Bob Faulkner was born, raised and grown into this place and time.
He was a piece of work, flawed and beautiful; a paradigm
Of contradictions. His life was full of frontier stories
Of Texas and New Mexico and the territories.
The Faulkners soon moved to Dayton (a blank space on a map now.)
Bob Faulkner was never a sheriff, but times did allow
Him for some years to run a saloon. He had an ongoing
relationship with local law, but all the time knowing
He flouted the rules, providing alcohol and a good time
to the men and also to the Dayton youth who would climb
up on the back for a taste of beer. Music and laughter
filled the bar and hinted to what was coming after.
Forgetting that loaded guns and booze are never good friends,
While playing poker, Bob Faulkner pulled his pistol and ends
The life of his best friend, Bill Smith. What started as a joke
Now turned tragic and in the silence only one man spoke.
Fortunately for Bob, Bill Smith took some time to pass away,
He died the next day and several witnesses heard him say
That Bob was innocent and everything was a sad mistake
And then Smith took that long sleep from which he would never wake.
Bob was arrested and went to trial, but Bill Smith’s last
Words saved him and he was acquitted. Bob was not asked
To leave, but soon uprooted farther west in the territory.
The tragic facts stand by themselves, but it is still a story.
But in his life no story was ever enough not to be
improved upon. When is a partial truth a lie? A key
to his character was his embellishment of the facts.
The real story is only found as piecemeal artifacts.
From that event on, his life did not change. There was to be
no new direction to his life. He stayed a drinker, free
to play the lady’s man with Irish good looks and charming
To a fault. He never saw the children he was harming.
He passed on this heritage of drink and bars to heirs.
And in all this time and travel it seems that no one cares
That we are he and he is us. He died too young, a heart
Congested by his spirit: he was a man set apart.
Please be advised that if you are looking for a good time,
bring a Faulkner along to the party. It will be no crime,
but also know they are the last ones you want to marry.
And in the end, these words are at best, always cautionary.