what no one ever seems to talk about
when the Peckinpah gore settles
is that Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid
is a good old fashioned love story

Sheriff Garrett loves Billy
so much
he has to kill him
to prove it

and Billy,
sweet as he is
loves Garrett
right back

enough to let him
put a bullet
at the full stop
of his ending
(as the suicidal Mayakovsky
might have said)

the naked Rita Coolidge
and the various
and unclothed Mexican whores
might confuse
the gender issues
for a second

may even alter
the gaze
of the viewer

but Billy,
barefoot and tender
is the object
of Garrett’s

and in another movie,
in Cowboy Berlin
neither Lola or Bilidikid
can perform themselves
beyond the reality
of the gender
they exhibit

they are
as doomed
as gunslingers
cannot adapt

they are
the old world
spun to the edges
weighed down
by a gender politic
they cannot outdraw

but in the fading sunset
there is hope

a man can have emotion
and masculinity
Lola’s optimistic and resourceful friend
“I am a woman with balls”
and the friendly taxi driver
in bemused flirtation

somewhere else
Billy Wilder turns over
in his grave, giggles
remembers Jack Lemon
on the water
with Joe Brown
turns over again
and returns
to the eternally peaceful slumber
we wish on all our heroes

Lola and Bilidikid, Kutlug Ataman, 1998
Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid, Sam Peckinpah, 1973

Michael Dennis