THE LOANSHARK and the LOAN RANGER. by TJ DiFrancesco

In the imaginary war children always wage, I was
the bank. Stuck-up inside of right. Maker of the guarantee,
guaranteed. Stolen board game bills. A roll of nickels in a fist.

In the hours I spent hogtied in the vault or dead in this
bedeviled world, bad luck came to him who believed
best in the aim of others. Who beat their horse-on-a-stick

like a second Texan heart between their legs. It’s normal
here, the alter ego that believes in justice
and wears the bandit mask, too. No matter what side it’s on

the finger pistol flashes, gold dust in the sun,
Spit lands in the standoff silence like a hammer.
Half doors still swinging. Vigilante, save me
from the laws that govern this place. The very last
time the dust settled, we turned our backs to the West

headed to the car, calling out our places
therein: shotgun, six-shooter, bitch.

TJ DiFrancesco is a marketing writer in St. Louis. A California native, he graduated from the Iowa Writer's Workshop. His work has previously appeared in Columbia Poetry Review, Catch-up, and Gigantic Sequins. He owns a red Buick full of balloons and hornets.