They were never handsome and often came
with a hormone imbalance manifested by corpulence,
a yodel of a voice or ears big as kidneys.

But each was brave. More than once a sidekick
has thrown himself in front of our hero in order
to receive the bullet or blow meant for that
perfect face and body.

Thankfully, heroes never die in movies and leave
the sidekick alone. He would not stand for it.
Gabby or Pat, Pancho or Andy remind us of a part
of ourselves,

the dependent part that can never grow up,
the part that is painfully eager to please,
always wants a hug and never gets enough.

Who could sit in a darkened theatre, listen
to the organ music and watch the best
of ourselves lowered into the ground while
the rest stood up there, tears pouring off
that enormous nose.

“Sidekicks” by Ronald Koertge from Life on the Edge of the Continent: Selected Poems, 1982
University of Arkansas Press. You may visit Ron’s website:

Paul Newman and Robert Redford in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969)
Paul Newman and Robert Redford in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid1969. (Via)

3 thoughts on “Sidekicks

    1. Thanks, Paul, I’m glad you enjoyed. I came across Ron Koertge’s work in Poetry 180, and felt that kick in my stomach when words click with some part deep within.

      I went to look up some material links to share with you, and to my excitement, found that Koertge is on WordPress!

      From his site:

      Sometimes I walk into a classroom for a school visit and the students look at each other with a Who’s-the-old-guy? expression on their faces. I don’t blame them. It seems odd to me, too. If my readers are around fifteen, I’m about five times as old as they are. …

      I didn’t start out as a kids’ writer. Not many people from my generation — men especially – did. But I wanted to write. And I did. I met people in college and grad school who took writing seriously. So I wrote a novel and eventually got it published when I was around forty.

      Ron adds:

      For another thing, I believe in Something. Maybe not the same thing that regular churchgoers believe in, but it’s definitely Something. When I was in my thirties and behaving badly, I thought I didn’t believe in anything. That is, I believed in Nothing. But that wasn’t very satisfying and it sure wasn’t any fun. And things happened that made me see there was Something going on. I’d get the right ideas at the right time. Stoner & Spaz, one of my most popular novels, didn’t have a boy with cerebral palsy in it until Something guided two boys with CP right at me.

      I read a lot of myself into his words, and I thought you may as well. Maybe there’s hope for us old guys and gals afterall. (Remember, I know things. LOL.) 😉

      Glad you commented, so I could discover Ron’s site! Thanks, Christy


  1. Hi! I loved the poetry, but stayed for the eye candy.
    My parents had the Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid record in our family room. I was maybe 5 (6 tops!) and didn’t let a day pass without picking up the album cover and giving Paul and Robert a glance or two. My husband? His blue eyes suspiciously resemble someone pictured above 😉
    What can I say? I’m a sucker for a handsome man with a gun and a cute sidekick.


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