Prayersmoke by David Chorlton

The marshal stood facing
his adversary, feet set firm
in the main street’s dust
as the two men dared
each other to draw first,

at which moment
several children ran, oblivious
to the standoff,
laughing between them

and suddenly a shot
was fired, then another
in response
until the guns were empty
and some of the children

lay on the ground. This
prompted both
shooters to bow
their heads a moment,
joining briefly

in prayer, then
reloading, determined
never to back down.

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