The Wrong Sheriff
A Tale of the West - by David Beaumont
Most fair-minded folk just want to live life
In a way they agree avoids trouble & strife
But there are some among us who consume every day
In holy pursuit of clout, muscle & sway
Yes - this is a tale of people & power
About folks with a hunger that tends to devour
And the folks who do feed it – yes, us my dear friends,
So shuffle up close and let it commence…
Back in the spring of ninety-seven,
Good folks sniffed a scent of heaven…
The Tory Gang were booted out,
Clutching stuffed brown envelopes - and the odd case of gout
Blair was the man who rode into town,
Silver tongue spinning - he blasted them down
On a gleaming white stallion saddled in red,
The people's New Hero put the bad guys to bed
The townsfolk rejoiced at the great Tony Blair –
"A man we can trust to make this town fair!"
“Look at his smile! and shining, bright eyes!
Sincere as they come! He's one of the guys!”
The Silver Star was pinned to his chest
And he cried to the people - “I’ll do what is best!"
Tony is here! “Hip Hip Hooray!”
True hope restored! - what a glorious day!
And it did seem that day that a new dawn had come
“Things Can Only Get Better” - The song that they sung...
But was there some detail that passed us all by?
Did his smile freeze discreetly; in the blink of an eye?
Was the handshake too eager to be truly sincere?
And what were those welts on his white stallion's rear?
It's hard to recall, except simply to say…
We saw what we wanted: a hero - that day...
But as folks waited, for wrongs to be righted,
Came murmured reports that Tony was sighted
On the edge of town consorting with bad guys
But he smiled a bright smile and said, "Honestly - it's all lies.
You know me - I'm Tony Blair,
And yes I do, I really do care”
The townsfolk smiled back, for this was their man
Who’d vanquished the Tories and laid the 'New Plan'
Yet Tony's face began to change,
One eye stared longer, looking mildly deranged
His smile - once so natural, now stretched like elastic
Across teeth whose enamel bore the cheap glint of plastic
Those eyes, yes they shone - with a light much too bright!
And folks now did wonder if they had done right...
Then, there were rumours of a nature more strange:
A ranch hand spied Tony riding out on the range
At midnight astride his white stallion, buck-naked
Except for great spurs, which drew blood at each kick
‘Til he reached the Great Cactus towering eighty feet high
A great hand hailing Caesar as it split the night sky
By the full moon's pale glow he took its salute
Stiff backed and righteous in his Emperor's suit
With a lash of his whip he wheeled the horse round
Kicking all the way back as the blood trickled down...
Soon after this his grip on town tightened
Taking total control - the people grew frightened
"What is happening to him?” they each asked - and “Why
Is he doing these things? - Just who is this guy?
This ‘hero’ of ours, this ‘Tony Blair’,
Who we truly believed would make this town fair?”
So, late one night, they concocted a plan
To uncover for sure the heart of this man.
They crept up the main street, broke into the gaol,
Forced open his desk and searched through his mail.
And there, on one ominous, vellum page
Was the sight that would shatter this brave New Age
In curlicued letters and ink of vivid blue
His name inscribed yet spelled out anew...
For now was an 'R' where should be an 'N'...!
They drew back in horror - “Can he be - one of ‘THEM’?!!”
Yet, worse was to come - to truly devastate
In the back of his closet, a gilt-framed portrait
Of old Ma’ Tory "With love to T. Blair
My one and my only Son and true heir."!
The darkest silence and deepest gloom
Now descended on that desperate room
They racked their minds for signs they'd missed
For they’d brought The Wrong Sheriff into their midst!
They'd danced with the Devil without hearing the tune
And a price they would pay and knew they'd pay soon
- Then the saddler recalled, much too late, a small clue:
“His saddle was red - But his spurs were blue!”
How should folks take the betrayal of hope?
Faith & trust shattered, they reached for a rope
In the cold light of dawn they searched for their man
But were already pawns in a much grander plan:..
The Sheriff was ready and placed around town
A gang of paid guns who now looked down
From the rooftops, their Winchesters cocked and aimed
At the folks on the main street whose shouts now proclaimed
Their mistrust of the man who gave flesh to their fears
With that light in his eyes and fingers in his ears.
He stood, legs apart, on the roof of the bank
And in a voice quite superior, said; "One day you'll thank
Me for knowing I am right and knowing you are wrong
For a war we must fight to keep this town strong.
Forget all our problems and think on this theme
A town to the East needs a change of regime
We'll help them my friends then I promise you this
We’ll fix all our troubles and our lives will be bliss"
As it turned out, the land to the East
Was the stamping ground of a sought after beast
Which roamed in huge numbers - the buffalo…
The undeclared star of the coming show
For Blair's closest friend was a powerful man;
The Greatest Trader of Hide in all of the land
And as fate would have it; the Greatest Trader of Gun
So war was the way for Great Trade to be done
The ‘campaign’ was in fact a one-sided attack;
Bullet against arrow, cannon against axe
Whole settlements slaughtered - with military distinction,
The buffalo hunted entirely to extinction
Across the Great Plain flesh decayed in the heat
(The Great Trader took hides but discarded the meat)
And though the stench drifted all the way to the West,
The Sheriff insisted it was all for the best
And money was made in fat wads by the trade
In gun and in hide and oh how they paid
But the townsfolk saw none of this dubious revenue
- It was channeled through a well-shaded avenue;
A tree-lined street on a beach-lined coast
Where the Sheriff retired to make speech and to toast
With his friend the Great Trader of Hide and of Gun
The part they had played in “How the West Won”
So our townsfolk eventually learned a bit more
About who they appoint to mind the store
One thing they agreed is perfectly plain
Most so-called ‘leaders’ end up much the same
Yes it's true that the power simply goes to their head
But look at their hunger to get there instead
Is it not true that for men such as these
The craving for office is like a disease?
An unhealthy yen to be above other folk
A consuming addiction to the lash and the yoke
So the townsfolk concluded - and we’d best believe it
Never give power to folks who crave it!
And - when choosing a Sheriff
Don't fall for a grin
For now you can see
What a mess you'll get in!
© David Beaumont 2007