Oatman Town Ghost Rider Gunfight 

Don’t worry folks, we load them pistols ourselves, we know what’s in ’em and what ain’t.

Poem by Donna Langevin
Art by Caya Crum

Oatman Town Ghost Rider Gunfight 

Two cowboys swagger down Main Street

for the noonday scheduled shootout

in historic Wild West Oatman town.

Near deaf as a hitching post, 

I still catch a few scripted nuggets.

The old cowman with a white ponytail

and skin rough as rawhide

drawls from the side of his mouth,

Don’t worry folks, we load them pistols ourselves, 

we know what’s in ’em and what ain’t.

The tourists press closer.

One dad perches a thumb sucking 

toddler on his shoulder, 

kids crane on tiptoe,

teens in jean-shorts jostle.

His gunslinger partner growls,

Okay, I’m ready to do the dirty work

but there ain’t no bank here in Oatman, 

pistols don’t work on that thar ATM,

and there’s no teller to hold up.

So, fit to be tied in his own lasso, he aims

at the old cowboy. Four shots later, 

miming a knee wound, 

the limping old wrangler taunts:

If you wanna shoot straight fer my heart, 

don’t buy yer bullets at Walmart. 

Later, stretched out like a stiff in the dust, 

he miraculously rises, to pass the hat.

Don’t worry folks, it all goes to charity, we’ve been

doin’ this show twenty years and raised 

near a million bucks for “Wounded Warriors”

and “Saint Jude Children’s Hospital.”

The tourists clap like crazy.

A kid, nudged by his dad, drops in a fiver,

his mom pops in a ten-spot, 

my sweetheart slips in a Ben Franklin

Soon the hat’s overflowing 

but the sight of guns conjures headlines 

of school children hiding under desks

and dying in red pools.


Later that afternoon, 

the descendants of wild burros 

abandoned by the miners 

after the gold mine gave up its ghost 

herd themselves down from the hills 

to nuzzle tourists for treats.  

Nudging our backs with their muzzles

they try to loot our handbags. 

Soon everyone’s laughing and feeding them 

barley bites bought for a buck.

One woman turns the burros’ arrival 

into a bible lesson—

Look Billie, see that big fellow—

he could have carried the Virgin Mary 

all the way to the stable in Bethlehem,  

and as for the ’lil burro standin’ beside his mom, 

well, he could be waitin’ for Jesus to grow up 

so he can carry him into Jerusalem. 

Listening, I wonder: 

If Jesus had gone to school in these times, 

would he have survived long enough 

to ride that burro on Palm Sunday?

About the Author

back view of a person wearing colorful poncho and cowboy hat overlooking the vast desert

Canadian Donna Langevin’s latest poetry collections are Timed Radiance (Aeolus House Press, 2022) and Brimming published by Piquant Press, 2019. She won first place in The Banister anthology competition 2019 and also in the Ontario Poetry Society Pandemic poem contest 2020. Winner of a second place Stella award, her play, Summer of Saints about the 1847 typhus epidemic was produced by act2studioWORKS at the Toronto Alumnae Theatre in 2022. A memoir/fictoire, A Story for Sadie was published by Piquant Press in 2023.

About the Artist

Caya Crum is an artist and muralist based in Fort Worth, Texas. Caya’s work is inspired by pop culture references and historical paintings. It varies greatly from watercolor and acrylic paintings to murals and large scale installations. By sharing art, Caya hopes to create memorable pieces that resonate with people and contribute to making the world a better place.

close up photography of white horse

Caya Crum is a Featured artist for Wild West

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