Green Hills Literary Lantern





after reading a Ronald Koertge poem



I always wanted to be the sidekick;

Knew I was too fat, too homely

To be Roy Rogers, Gene Autry, 

Or the Cisco Kid.


But I might be Frog Milhouse,

Or Pancho, holding the horse

Outside the house while the hero

Said his tender farewells.

And grin at the memory of pleasures

I would never know.  Say things like,


“Hey, Cisco, let’s went,” or

“Dagnamit,” like Gabby Hayes,

Or knock someone down

With my belly, like Andy Devine

Use to do. (I really wanted to do that.)


I accepted early that tubby boys were pals,

Like the kid who was Timmy and Lassie’s

Best friend.  See! I can’t even

Remember his name, even though


I looked just like him, crew cut

Sandy hair, black high top tennis

Shoes (P.F. Flyers because they

Made you run faster and jump higher)

And khakis a bit baggy around the butt

So I could grow into them, a pound

Or two a week.


Some things don’t change.  Today

I golfed with a friend who had been

A pro, tall and blond; and stood off to the side

With a Dr. Pepper and a Snickers

And grinned as he chatted with a woman,


Wondering once again what an ego trip

Might feel like.




Steve West teaches English at Martin Methodist College in Pulaski, Tennessee. His book of poems, Almost Home, has just been released on March Street Press.