For Ted Berrigan
by John Macker
Your “code of the west” is not the same as mine.
You are all Manhattan via Oklahoma party Pepsi cowboy true
rumbling gut on the Apollinaire streets. Codes are like
sonnets: the truth is so elusive it takes pills every morning just
to be seen. Great seeing you, Ted. You aren’t dead, you’re
hibernating while every winter your poems paw through
the snow looking for berries. My Code of the West is as follows:
1. Every saloon girl is fair game unless she’s your sister.
2. hair shirts are for sissies
3. guns are to be belittled and then planted every spring
4. a saddle is as good as a sonnet to a blind horse.
5. “When you ask death for his credentials, you are dead.”
— William S. Burroughs
6. By 1918, 20,000 British men of military age refused the draft.
Hence, more bodies for World War II.
7. Riding alone across the desert on a blind horse, if you encounter
an angel wearing chaps, it’ll be Ted Berrigan
8. A sonnet is as good as a junior sheriff ’s posse badge to a
9. Calamity Jane is a sympathetic muse.
10. Hands up!
11. “If they move, kill ’em!”