Billy the Kid… from Lessons on Western Riding (draft) by PD Lyons

So here’s the next one from Lessons… Back in 1983ish I did get to travel to what was then West Germany. Spent a January in Hamburg with excursions to Vienna, Lubeck and other winter wonderlands. Then in 1990ish I got to learn how to ride horses. So this poem puts the two worlds together. Hopefully in a way that makes more sense that this pre ramble. cheers.  



Billy The Kid in Hamburg


On the run from what he didn’t know

Brought his six guns, slid down his hat, Night robbing trains by lantern light.


Secret señorita homesick for palm trees & tequila

Small stories of her Badlands youth

Explains to him the length of her long legs

And how she knew she’d never have his kids.


Down in the Reeperbahn*, softly smoking Cigarettes he didn’t know how to roll, so she did.

As if hot grog and sailors would deter him from whatever treasures he’d go back for.


And she’d hear how he’d gone for some golden princess steeple swayed,

Belief in orthodoxy still strong especially when so far away from home

Until eventually surrounded by things even he could not deny,

Wrapped his pistols in dirty laundry packed in a trunk,

Trusted to the stations of trains, fortune of strange ports.


Back in the land where he was born.

Severely betrayed, nearly captured on the river

Escaped by some woman so strong she scared him

But from whom he learned to ride –

Life of horses, Long constantly moving horizons,

Real living breathing freedom between his legs.


And whoever couldn’t understand his guns, Abide the smell of horses

 Take those chances freely offered, wouldn’t they still love him?

Lead him to parlours, boudoirs, Soft green grassy banks secluded by whatever river –

Until once more his own true nature breaks their law?


*Reeperbahn ~ The Reeperbahn (German: [ˈʁeːpɐˌbaːn] (audio speaker iconlisten)) is a street and entertainment district in Hamburg‘s St. Pauli district, one of the two centres of Hamburg’s nightlife (the other being Sternschanze) and also the city’s major red-light district. In German, it is also nicknamed die sündigste Meile (the most sinful mile) and Kiez. The Reeperbahn Festival is among the largest club festivals.



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  • Edward-David Ruiz  On February 23, 2022 at 1:46 pm

    Thanks for sharing, PD. Somehow, the poem brought back memories of my first-ever visit to West Germany as as Fulbrighter. Best to all and God bless.  e/s

    Liked by 3 people

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