My heroes have always been cowboys,
and still are, it seems….
                              Willie Nelson

I idolized three simple men,
the seaman Holmes, the boxer Joe,
the hit-man Uncle Al, and from
their lives knocked up a creed
I lived by in the streets, a hymn
to seas’ remorseless harmonies,
rage, and cold control.

To finish me took fifteen years,
a Grand Tour through four trades,
in six cities under three flags.
I fell in with thieves: double-
dipping bureaucrats, bent lawyers,
peacock generals in a libel case.
When these acid travels ended
my saints were slag, my brows knit,
and all my hymns re-writ.

                                                              Published in Dec. 4,2014 TLS