Atavism – Hester L. Furey

(with respect to Arturo Giovannitti)

Our father the outlaw justice,
the chosen bad seed —
Mitch changed our lives,
that night he broke out of jail
in a county so impoverished
it used an old rail car
with a brand new fancy lock.
But not so fancy he couldn’t pick it.
He left for warmer quarters.
The lock was on his smokehouse,
they say, when he died.
You can see it in his eyes,
in this photo – his impudence,
his trickster gaze, facing down the camera,
why he was feared and loved,
this devil in a white hat.
So the county said he still owed them;
like it or not, he was the best at what he did.
They worked his sentence out this way:
“You son of a bitch, you like to strut
downtown with a gun on your hip so much —
you the damn justice of the peace now.”

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