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Ballad of Sunny Sundown

Ballad of Sunny Sundown
By Matt Johnson

The sky was black as the night was dark,
And the screams cried out from the silent park.
The people in and the people out, everyone around,
Scared for their lives, knew not to make a sound.
The man was known and out again
And had just killed the one known as Jen.
His dark silhouette was all alone,
His face was masked and never shown.

The sun came up and brought another day,
And on the horizon Mr. Sundown was on his way.
All the people soon became excited,
For Sunny Sundown had just been sighted.
Valdez walked into town that afternoon,
He was in for trouble, he would find out soon.
He walked alone on down the street,
And what he saw sunk his heart to his feet.

It was the man he knew as Sunny Sundown,
And one of their lives would end in that town.
Valdez shot once and shot twice,
He missed both times and paid the price.
For Old Sundown had shot him, he was too quick,
But now Valdez had just one more trick.
He jumped off the ground and onto his horse,
“I’ll be back” he said, his voice sounding coarse.

And now Old Sundown, he was scared,
The fear of the people he now shared.
Valdez had once again got away,
And many more people he was to slay.
And then Old Sundown lay down to sleep,
But then slowly he began to weep.
For he knew Valdez was still on the loose,
And the job wasn’t over ‘til he hung by a noose.

Now Valdez was on a rampage, he killed and he raped.
There were many executions, one even taped.
Where was Sundown? Many were to ask.
He was passed out…right next to his flask.
There was a change of fortune, for Valdez felt empowered.
The roles had switched, Sundown now the coward.
He sat there and drank, all his troubles away.
And drank on as the people were made to pay.

They paid with their lives, one at a time.
No words could describe this horrible crime.
They screamed and they hollered, women and children, too.
Valdez left a note, “I’m coming after you”.
Very quickly word spread, all around town.
Valdez made it known, he was back for Sundown.
The word spread so quickly, it spread so fast.
Everyone knew but Sundown, he was the last.

Now here something interesting happened again.
Sundown was paid a visit, by an old friend.
They sat and they talked, continuing on
Until all of a sudden, Sundown was gone.
He had jumped off his seat, and out the door.
This old friend, he would see no more.
He hoped with his heart, their paths would be crossed.
He wanted to rekindle, this love once lost.

He had broken her heart, once and now twice.
The love of his life, Miss Hannah Price.
But she had said something to him, just a moment ago.
“Every person in town, is on death row”.
They waited and waited, knowing their turn would come.
Hoping Valdez would show mercy, just a little, just some.
And now Sundown realized all the trouble and pain,
And knew it was he, who could end Valdez’s reign.

He had been riding a while, almost a whole day.
A mile to town, he was on his way.
He entered the town as skies turned to red.
The sunset the color of all the blood shed.
The town was so barren, buildings burned and broken.
The only thing left, a terrible token.
A token so terrible, it brought tears to his eyes.
A pile of bodies, watching as the last one dies.

After this sight, frustration turned to rage.
The only thing left, a dog in a cage.
Bodies were bloodied, bodies were charred.
One tortured man had even been tarred.
The women and children had been shown no mercy.
There was James, and Reece, and a good friend Percy.
Sundown could not walk, he dropped to his knees.
He prayed for strength, please god please.

But there was no god, in this used-to-be town.
And he sat there in silence, his face in a frown.
He sat and he wept, tears streaming down his face.
Valdez had been killing, at an amazing pace.
He was now in the hills, only a ways away.
When something happened that brought darkness upon day.
What Valdez thought was over, had really just began.
Someone could still stop him, there was still one man.

Sundown rose off the ground and onto his feet.
He was after Valdez, once again they would meet.
And now our story has come to its end.
Now called enemy, once called friend.
They stood face to face, guns in their hand.
Knowing when it was over, one would drop to the land.
Their minds were clear, they could see their lives.
As they flashed before them, before their eyes.
It was said all time stopped, not even a sound.

And Valdez took a step, then collapsed to the ground…


April 21, 2010 - Posted by | Poem | , , , , ,


  1. Matt,

    Not sure if these comments will be new to you, since I’m not sure what you have done so far.

    You might find that a site or publication that features Cowboy Poetry would really appreciate this ballad. Look for a contest or competition, or check out their submission guidelines.

    I could also imagine this as a song. Know any country/western/balladeers/folk musician types???

    Also, do you participate in any Open Mic events? I once showed up at a Spiritual Open Mic Night at a progressive Baptist Church – and the next thing I knew, they anointed me their “Poet in Residence.”

    All because I happened to see a poster on a coffee shop bulletin board, and then happened to remember it weeks later, and happened to walk on over with my notebook in hand. Their support led me to enter two of my spiritual poems in online competitions. I took first place in one, and Honorable Mention in another.

    And so it goes…(-;

    Comment by rachel | May 12, 2010 | Reply

    • I wrote this poem just over three years ago and haven’t done much with it yet, so this comment is new to me! This has always been one of my favorite poems I have written and so I would love to submit it somewhere to get published! I will be looking around for the right place!

      I have always wanted to go to an Open Mic night, but never had the confidence in my poetry. However, I think I am slowly gaining that confidence. Thanks in part to your support. So I might look for one soon! I will keep you posted!

      It’s funny you mention the song idea! I was just contacted this morning about one of my poems being used as lyrics to a new song, or possibly writing some new lyrics. I think this would be a really interesting idea for the type of genre you mentioned! It could soon become a reality!

      As always, thank you for your comment 🙂

      Comment by Matt Johnson | May 12, 2010 | Reply

  2. Even if speaking in front of people makes you nervous (or even if it doesn’t), there is something very potent about giving voice to your words through your own body. If you tremble or shake, don’t think of it as fear — think of it as your personal power of expression being released after lifetimes of repression. Beneath the nervousness is a wellspring of confidence just begging to be discovered and unleashed. I guarantee that you will feel that your work is better than some of the poets there, and worse than some others, and that’s exactly where you want to be.

    If using my poems as song lyrics came up twice in one day, I’d jump on it via whatever means inspired me!

    Comment by rachel | May 12, 2010 | Reply

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