** Note: I would suggest reading the first poem in the Pair of Aces series: "The Man from Lubbock". :)
A young woman on a mission,
hunting a man of her own volition,
for a brutal murder she seeks revenge,
her father’s death she will avenge.
Her mother died when she was young,
her father raised her like a son.
He loved her with everything he had,
as he taught her right from wrong, and good from bad.
He was a US Marshall, tough as nails,
harder than the outlaws he put in jail.
Shot down by a worthless outlaw,
her daddy in a coffin, the saddest sight she ever saw.
Once strong and full of life,
his early death cut like a knife.
The grief she could not stand,
she vowed revenge by her own hand.
Astride a black horse, with pistols at her hips,
and a prayer of forgiveness on her lips,
she rode into town, headed for the saloon,
she knew her revenge would be enacted soon,
for there outside stood the man’s Bay,
for her father’s murder, he would soon pay.
The saloon was dark, smoky, and empty,
men’s abandoned drinks, there were plenty,
they’d left to watch another man gunned down,
way over on the other side of town.
He was stealing money from the cash box, with his back to the door,
he had no way of knowing his life of crime would soon be no more.
Her father had always said,
“Some men are just better off dead.
Sometimes people are just more evil than you’d figure,
and all that’s left to do is to squeeze that trigger.”
She drew her daddy’s pistol and took aim,
what he did to her father, to him she’d do the same.
Her dark eyes burned with determination,
as she saw on his face a flash of recognition.
“A deep breath and a steady hand,
helps you to be sure where the bullet will land,”
her father’s words echoed in her mind,
along with the memories he’d left behind.
She felt no mercy, no not a drop,
when she pulled back the hammer to a stop,
squeezed the trigger and watched him fall,
she had no regrets, no none at all.
She left the saloon and mounted her horse,
looked around to plot her course,
deciding to move along the edge of town,
she saw the crowd where the man had been gunned down.
A man riding, with his hat pulled low,
caught her attention, for he was riding slow.
He didn’t seem to be in a hurry,
though the crowd was in quite a fury.
The scar upon his face,
made him look out of place,
though him she did not fear,
for he meant her no harm, that seemed clear.
He looked at her and they locked eyes,
she sensed a kindred spirit in him, a bond that ties.
She rode toward him, taking a chance,
he moved his horse forward, closing the expanse.
Maybe this was the beginning of a new chapter,
one full of adventure, loyalty, and laughter.
Soon they were riding together in the same direction,
Could it work out? That was the only question….
~ Liz Austin 2018
The Man from Lubbock rode into town,
straddling a horse that was chestnut brown.
His eyes were dark, hard and stern,
when angry, the brown embers burned.
His temper flashed like bullet out of a gun,
for he carried a pain that could not be undone.
The mark upon his face said to be the mark of Cain,
though from a knife meant for him to be slain.
The scar ran down the side of his face,
the trail of the knife you could easily trace.
Just above the brow, barely missing the eye,
down the cheek, hitting the jaw bone, it was just shy.
The scar a reminder of friends who did him wrong,
he vowed to hunt them down, to send them to where they belonged.
One by one, he found them and put them in the ground,
and in this town, the last one would be found.
The last one standing, the end of the road,
if he felt any mercy, it never showed.
Finger on the trigger and an anger hardened heart,
it had been a ruthless mission right from the start.
He squeezed the trigger and the man fell,
if it had finally eased his pain, no one could tell.
He slid the pistol into its holster, took one last look,
showing no remorse for the life he took.
He mounted the chestnut, gave a quick pull of the reins,
the scar on his face, the only evidence that remains,
of a friendship betrayed and a man left for dead,
of a relentless search and a bullet in the head.
A wrong paid by a wrong,
and a memory that will forever be prolonged.
The Man from Lubbock rode out of town,
with blood on his hands and his hat pulled down,
to cover the dark eyes that still carried pain,
and the scar on his face, looked upon with disdain.
~Liz Austin 2018
* A prequal to The Mountain View
I walked away from the mountain, dragging my soul behind,
I was looking for answers, but found none for I was blind.
I walked through the valley, no peace to be had,
no light to be seen nor reason to be glad.
With no way to help myself, no hope to be found,
there was no laughter or songs, no not a sound.
How did I get here? To where can I flee?
What can I do to get up off my knees?
Misery and pain are my companions,
as I walk through the dark, dark canyon.
Sorrow and confusion cling to my soul,
years of anxiety and fear have taken their toll.
I tried to live on my own wit and strength,
my faults and mistakes compose a list of great length.
Where did I go wrong? What have I done?
Not one thing I’ve tried has worked, no not a one.
I’ve been brought to my knees here in the valley,
a wilderness in which I do not wish to dally.
I turned back to the mountain, was it calling to me?
I heard a whisper, “You’re where you need to be.”
On my knees? I didn’t understand.
“Just ask and I’ll give you a hand.”
It was time to trust in something greater than myself,
if not for my soul, then for the sake of my health.
“Ok, I need help. I cannot do this on my own.”
“I’ve been waiting for you to realize that you are not alone.”
A simple conversation with a powerful impact,
for I learned that He could make up for all that I lacked.
An enormous weight was lifted from my shoulders,
my fears and weariness no longer crushing me like a boulder.
I got to my feet, under His strength not mine.
I saw the mountain and knew that I would be fine.
Making my way, looking forward to the climb,
I knew that I would find the answers this time.
~ Liz Austin 2018
One day as I was walking through the journey of life, I came upon a group of souls. I couldn’t help but to observe them as they scattered all over, running in this and that direction. They all appeared to be looking for something, though I wasn’t sure what. When I got closer to one of them, I asked what it was that it was searching for. The soul replied, “Why purpose of course, what else is there to look for?” I pondered this answer for a bit as I continued to watch these souls scramble around in what appeared to be a growing desperation to find what they searched for. I thought it a noble thing, to search for a purpose in life, but yet the souls didn’t seem happy.
Just as I was about to question the searching soul further, I caught a glimpse of another little soul a distance away from the others. This soul was different from the rest, as it seemed joyful all the while shaking its head at the others. I strolled up to the little soul, and as I reached the place where it stood, it smiled at me. I asked, “What makes you so happy? Why do you shake your head at the others?” The little soul smiled brightly at me and replied, “What makes me happy, you ask? A great many things make me happy. Big things make me happy and small things make me happy. But what brings me the most happiness are the little moments and details in life that cannot be explained by words. I find these moments and details most enjoyable. But alas, you’d be hard-pressed to find something I don’t enjoy. LIFE is enjoyable.”
I thought about its answer, it seemed so full of contentment, but then I looked over at all the searching souls and wondered what made this little soul different. The little soul smiled simply at me, as if it knew what I was thinking. “They search and I enjoy,” it said. Wanting the little soul to explain further, I asked, “What do you mean? Don’t you want to find a purpose and place in life? Why do you shake your head at the other souls?” The little soul smiled that content smile of its and walked on a ways, until it came to the side of a brook. It motioned for me to sit beside it on a large rock, and then it proceeded to explain, “They spend most of their journey searching, while I’ve chosen to spend mine enjoying. While they search and search for what they think is missing or lacking, they end up missing all the beautiful, joyful things around them. They may make it to the finish line, but they’ll find that they have missed the journey all together. What you do or become isn’t near as important as how you got there. I choose to enjoy what’s around me, to enjoy the journey. I do what I love and enjoy. I pursue the things that I am passionate about. The purpose in life isn’t to live forever, nor is it to be something in particular. The purpose in life is to live it and enjoy it. It’s not the beginning or the end, but the journey from and to that counts.”
With a warm smile and a wink, the little soul got up and leisurely walked on down the bank, looking this way and that, being sure not to miss anything.
Now, whenever I find myself getting caught up in the searching and the end result, I remind myself of the little soul and its words of wisdom. It’s the journey that counts
~ Liz Austin 2017
Born and raised in Upstate NY, Liz is a freelance writer. She has written for websites, blogs, and magazines for the last 10 years. She also acts as a proofreader and beta reader for several authors, all the while working on her first book.