“American Revolver” by Jan Beatty

Willow Springs 68

Found in Willow Springs 68

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I knew a guy named Red from Concord

who robbed whorehouses for a living.

You couldn't tell just looking at him:

his time in San Quentin, his love

of the stolen .44--he was good in bed,

biceps hard and waxed from years

of prison workout--a real American

centerfire revolver--When I asked why

he did it, he said: to see the look in their eyes.

We took long walks on Stinson Beach,

talked Social Science & World Geography--

what he studied in prison. He god hard

when he talked about the suffrage movement:

all those heroic women & their struggles.

Sometimes he would turn me over, call me

Susan (like Susan B.), and then come

reciting the 19th Amendment:

The right of... citizens... of the United States

shall not be denied... or abridged...

he could never make it past abridged,

something about that word let it all loose.

But his eyes most electric blue

when he talked about the robberies:

in Richmond, Martinez, Pittsburg,

down Highway 4, when he'd yell:

Give me all your money!

and the hard girls in gauzy nighties

& push-up bras squealed with fear

wooden doors slammed, & half-naked men

did a jittery dance with their socks

Those nights he'd fuck me standing and yell:

give it to me!--the whites of his eyes glazed

& gleaming, immersed in the maelstrom of

peril & hot thrill, then he'd run to the waters

within him, to that solitary jubilant lake.

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