1950s Italian bike frame, spray paint, mixed media, pen and lacquer. 2014.
The bike's frame holds the opening stanza from Wild West - a poem written in his youth, by Poet Laureate Ted Hughes (17 August 1930 – 28 October 1998).
I'll tell you a tale of Carson McReared,
Who, south of the 49th was feared
Greater than any man ever before,
And men went in fear of his .44,
For he'd shoot the ears from any man
From Two-Gun Ted to Desperate Dan.
His hoss's name was Diamond Ace
And he'd spit the teeth from a rattler's face,
He was 12 years old when he first ran wild
Because a teacher got him riled.
The sheriff and posse rode him into the hills,
'Cos he shot away the teacher's frills.
So he pulled his guns (his father's gift)
And as the sheriff drew, he gave him a lift
Over the edge of a cliff quite high,
With a .44 slug in either thigh.
Then he turned his guns on the sheriff's men
And shot 'em dead. Yeah, all ten.
Then he saddled his hose and rode away
To the land where Kincaid the Marshal held sway.
'Twas in the street that the two first met,
And the sight of the bad man made Kincaid sweat,
Then like flash the two men went,
And Carson McReared the Terrible sent
A leaden slug weighing 200 grains
Slap into Kincaid's squirming brains.
Then turning to the hose he strode,
Leaving Kincaid the Marshal dead in the road;
And all the town gaped with shock and fear,
Lest they should feel the burning sear
Of a rifled slug around their liver -
A thought which made the brave men shiver.
This check the President could not stand,
So he ordered the law with an iron hand
To encircle Carson with an armoured ring
And make him on a Redwood swing.
So 15 marshals and umpteen men
Hied them forth to Carson's den,
Carson McReared the terrible killer,
The man with a hide like an armadillo.
'Twas in Grand Canyon where they came to grips,
And with steely eyes and firm set lips
1,200 men on spirited hosses
Charged him regardless of all losses,
So Carson stood with his back to the wall,
Triggered his guns, and shot 'em all.
But alas! he too was shot to hell,
No more would he drink in the 'Southern Belle';
And knee deep in blood, where he had to paddle
Stood Diamond Ace, with an empty saddle.
All artwork and images © James Straffon 2017.