(for Larry)

Dressed in black time, he lived a dark road:
a shadow lurking hunched in the night,
befriending the lonely traveller,
rattling at hopeful doors, looking
for a candle burning in our window.

Driving a black stallion on the north road,
scaring ladies who sat sedate in their new
Ford carriages, racing time and wind and the local
police (no gamekeepers now, just the local cops
and the motorway patrol), daring the day.

Looking for the thrill to end it all,
searching for the high gate he could not, would not
try, ever seeking that big one, the final one,
the one that would not miss. Always yearning
for escape: black cloak slapping in the rain,
hounds howling at the hooves, iron striking
wet cobbles, rubber screeching on night tarmac.

They took away his steed, one night. They should
have taken out his heart, instead. In truth, that's what they did.

He was a highwayman out of time, a man
without a home, a man without a horse or spurs,
with only a dream and no means to live it.

There should have been a crime.
There should have been a woman knitting.
There should have been a hangman,
not a clumsy hand
and a hurried chair kicked to the floor.
There should have been a judge and jury.
There should have been sparks and flames
and pistols at dawn.
There should have been a final chance,
a getaway stallion, a pink sun glowing in the trees,
a buxom maid smuggling food and oranges and
a warm bed, and a pitcher of ale
before a glowing hearth.

One day I will turn back time
and place you where you belong.