A downpour in the humid desert valley
was hampering a rancher's horse in stride.
For miles the posse chased the would-be outlaw,
determined that no jury would decide
his wretched fate.
The leader of the lynching wanted land rights,
if only this soft-spoken man had sold.
Another way would clear the ranch of title,
his accusations easily unfold
The rancher's friend rode out to warn of danger,
a posse wouldn't take much time to form,
the pair became two fugitives on horseback,
both unaware an Arizona storm
was moving through.
Deciding to split up and halve the posse,
the friend went east to hide among the hills,
while heading west the rancher followed train tracks,
with Red Rock in the distance with its mills,
in shrouded view.
A water tower stood along the railroad,
the structure nearly hidden by the rain,
the rancher knew that this would give him shelter,
not certain that those hunting would remain
in steadfast pace.
The hail pelted Red Rock with a fury,
as if the heavens tried to intervene,
the rancher safely stood beneath the tower
and tried to figure if he had been seen
by those in chase.
The sounds of hooves and shouts of men were closer,
and barely heard above the rainstorm's roar.
Before the rancher found a place for cover,
the posse entered Red Rock looking for
their quarry's trail.
The water tower looming on the northside
would get attention from the posse's guide,
they followed him and circled 'round the pillars,
the rancher in plain sight, who can't decide
how he'll prevail.
He froze and saw the posse had surrounded
the open tower base, and he was caught,
but no one seemed to notice that the outlaw
was waiting there to face this bitter lot,
A conversation borne of their frustration
became apparent to the rancher now,
they'd ridden in the muck and cold too long,
the posse would return and disavow
the charges weaved.
The rancher stood in disbelief and wondered,
while riders left and headed back through town,
just how the water tower had protected
this unassuming man without renown
His story would be shared there ever after,
the Red Rock Water Tower saved the man
who in a maelstrom, with a lynch mob chasing,
would search for shelter underneath its span-
Jack has published over 350 poems in his career, many with his own photography. He specializes in a view of the commonplace and Americana.