"December 12, 1884: George Cooke"
"December 12, 1884: George Cooke"
A weekly poem, read by the author.
Aug. 22 2006 7:23 AM

"December 12, 1884: George Cooke"

Laramie, Wyoming

Click here to listen to Jill McDonough read this poem.

He drank all night and then all day, and fought his brother-in-law in the street. He killed him. The one who saw the murder said after he fired the shot and James Blunt fell, Cooke looked a little stunned and walked around to address the torn, burnt head: Son of a bitch: I've killed you, have I? His defense was simple: not responsible, they said, by reason of being crazy drunk. No chance.

On the scaffold, his gait and voice were firm and clear:
It was at once evident to all that Cook
meant to die game. Reporters saw not fear,
but wonderful courage. The next day, readers could look
at the front page of the Laramie Boomerang
to see Cooke face this headline: HE DIED GAME.

Jill McDonough is a Wallace Stegner fellow in poetry at Stanford University.