Bad Baxter Barton

by Eric Ode
In Tumbleweed Town at the Root Beer Saloon,
a cowboy came running inside.
“I seen ’im!” he said. “He’ll be gettin’ here soon!
Let’s run for the mountains and hide!”

The townspeople knew from words he was saying
that Bad Baxter Barton was near.
A few ran for cover. Another was praying
while others were shaking in fear.

A short moment later, the folks heard a rumble.
It rattled the windows and floor.
And then as the walls were beginning to crumble,
a figure appeared at the door.

His arms were like iron, his fists were like boulders,
his chest nearly seven feet wide.
A buzzard was perched on his mountaintop shoulders.
A grizzly bear stood at his side.

He grimaced and grunted and spat once or twice
as slowly he walked to the bar.
“A root beer!” he shouted. His eyes were like ice.
His voice sounded thicker than tar.

He snatched up the bottle and swallowed it whole
and wiped off his chin with his sleeve.
He turned with a scowl that was darker than coal,
and growling, he started to leave.

The bartender peeked from his hideaway curtain.
He watched the man turn for the door.
“Excuse me,” he said, sounding rather uncertain.
“Perhaps you would like a few more?”

The stranger then pointed a finger in warning
and quietly said with a frown,
“There’s no time for that ’cuz I just heard this morning
that Bad Baxter Barton’s in town.”

Text © Eric Ode, reprinted from Tall Tales of the Wild West (And a Few Short Ones), published by Meadowbrook Press. Illustration © Ben Crane. Any copying or use of this poem or illustration without consent is unlawful.

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