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Rodeo Clown

This poem comes from Autumn Leaves:

He ran a gnarled hand

Through silver-streaked hair.

Arthritis caused pain,

Anguish and despair.

 

This year, he’d quietly

Turned age sixty-two.

His days as a clown

Were long since through.

 

Memories flooded back,

Playing tag with his mind,

Back through the years

To a much younger time.

 

Back then, he was the best…

The most agile around.

Someone better with bulls

Just couldn’t be found.

 

Rubbing his neck idly,

He gave a soft sigh.

Back then, he could rodeo,

Drink and tell lies.

 

He could jump over a bull’s rump,

Stop him dead in his tracks,

Then turn him aside

With a quick-handed whack.

 

He’d sure made it look easy.

There was never a school

To teach rodeo clowns

How to handle mean bulls.

 

Many a hard-riding cowboy

Was thrown high to fall flat.

They owed their health to the clown,

Plus a tip of the hat.

 

Many of those cowboys,

Rising up from the ground,

Will ride once again,

All thanks to the clown.

 

He makes it look so easy

While with danger he’ll flirt,

Keeping bull riders

From both injury and hurt.

 

The next time the rodeo

Comes into your town,

Watch over the action

Of the rodeo clown.

 

Maybe you’ll see

Another one there,

Running a pain-filled hand

Through his silvery hair.

 

There’s a twinkle in his eye —

His interest honed keen.

He’s watching the clowns

And the bull riding scene.

 

He’ll be wearing

An invisible crown

Because once he was king

Of the rodeo clowns.

THE COWBOY’S LAMENT

This comes comes from Autumn Leaves:

His horse had a back like a cast iron grate,

along with a slew-footed, bone-jarring gait.

This greatly agitated the beans he had ate.

 

As he continued passing gas,

He knew he had to act fast

Before Mother Nature held sway.

 

Just up ahead was a cluster of trees

Where he could dismount and bend at the knees,

Letting Ole Mother Nature have her way.

 

Quickly leaping to the ground,

He glanced all around

And dropped his overalls down over his toes.

 

With instant, easing relief,

Which put an end to his grief,

Slim shouted, “Thar she blows!”

 

While shouting, he waved his arm,

Causing his horse to alarm.

It took off with a jack rabbit start.

 

With a stricken look of aghast

At his horse leaving fast,

All he could do was pass gas.

 

Now early this morning,

He’d left just at dawning

To begin this catastrophic caper.

 

Slim was overwrought

With a sickening thought…

He had forgotten to bring along paper!

 

Grabbing a handful of grass,

He made a quick pass

And began to pull his overalls up.

 

His pants got caught on his spurs,

And he started to fall,

Sprawled out like a three-legged pup.

 

Slim had been put to the test.

As the sun sunk in the West,

He turned his horse out to pasture to rest.

 

“Cookie,” said Slim with a wink,

“These troublesome events have a link

Which caused me to ponder and think.”

 

Slim hooked his thumbs in his overall jeans,

Grinned at the cook with a mischievous look,

And said, “I want to compliment you on your wonderful beans!”

 

Cowboy Heaven

This poem comes from Autumn Leaves:

 

The cowboys are gone,

At least so I hear.

“Not so,” said my friend,

“Lend me your ear.”

 

Acting very quickly

On my friend’s good advice,

I went to Cowboy Heaven

And did a double take — twice.

 

The dance hall was crowded,

And, folks, I will swear

There were cowboys and cowgirls

Dancing everywhere.

 

One tall wrangler

Stood out so stark…

He wore a neon hatband

That glowed in the dark.

 

He wore an oilskin outbacker

That reached his boot tops.

He was sweating and stomping

To fast country pop.

 

Another short puncher

Cam shufflin’ along.

He was dressed up for dancin’

And bad-to-the-bone.

 

He wore a flannel checkered shirt

While his partner wore lace.

His huge belt buckle shone.

Mascara ran down her face.

 

Another wrangler came driftin’ by

Wearing sandals and socks.

He bellied up to the bar

And ordered Schnapps on the rocks.

 

It sounded like thunder

As boots shook the floor.

They did the Boot Scootin’ Boogie

And were anxious for more.

 

One huge cowgirl

Dancing and struttin’ around

Must have weighed in

At three hundred pounds.

 

She and her puncher

Were having a fling.

She was large enough

To rope steer with a string.

 

The music was so loud

My nerves were a-tingling.

This one rowdy romped by…

His spurs were a-jingling.

 

Cowboy Heaven, Do-si-dos,

Electric Slide, and Cotton-eyed Joe,

Achy Breaky, sweat and strain,

Cowboys and cowgirls feelin’ no pain.

 

The music slowed down…

You could even hear the tune.

Some crooner was singing

About a Neon Moon.

 

Why did I worry myself

About the cowboys being gone?

They’re all at the Cowboy Heaven,

And they’ve all found a home.

The Cowboys Are Gone

This poem comes from Autumn Leaves:

 

A season for all things,

Boot prints faded from the land.

The cowboys are gone

Like Custer’s Last Stand.

 

No more night herder singing

A lonesome cattle call.

No friendly campfire banter

In soft Texas drawl.

 

No more loaded chuck wagon,

Clattering over the trail,

And no crabby trail cook

Giving the cowboys pure Hell!

 

No more dust and sweat,

Long hours in the saddle.

Riding swing or drag,

Always herding the cattle.

 

No more painted ladies.

No wild cattle town.

The sun for the cowboy

Has already gone down.

 

The prairie’s plowed up

Thanks to a man named John Deere.

The cowboys are long gone,

But the cows are still here.

 

They’re kept in large feedlots,

Fed good every day —

Never to graze on green grass

The old fashioned way.

 

They’ll never smell a branding fire

Or feel a branding iron.

They’ll know only force-feeding,

And they’ll sure know barbed wire.

 

I watched a rancher

Out in the rain and muck,

Feeding his cattle

From his old pick up truck.

 

It’s written that the West isn’t a place,

But a state of mind.

Yet something is missing,

Like yesterday’s wine.

 

It’s the end of an era,

But shed not a tear.

The cowboys are gone,

But the cows are still here.

 

Cowboy’s Prayer

This comes from Autumn Leaves:

Now I lay me down to sleep

In open spaces

Lest I weep.

Saddle for a pillow,

Chaps for a spread,

Starlit canopy overhead.

And should I die

Before dawn’s break,

Thank you, Lord, for your fair shake.

Amen

The Cowboy

This poem comes from Autumn Leaves:

 

At the age of sixteen,

He was tall, hard and lean

As he began his long-dreamed-of quest.

 

On an old swayback nag,

He’d push, pull or drag.

He followed the setting sun west.

 

By a lightning-bolt chance,

He found work on a ranch

Where he grew into a man.

 

He worked hard every day

For very little pay,

But always he rode for the brand.

 

He worked for thirty and found,

As he glanced around town,

And strolled into the Lady Luck Saloon.

 

He ordered Rot-Gut-Red,

You know the fiery kind

That has to be sipped from a spoon.

 

When he was right,

He wouldn’t back down,

Never a question of budgin’.

 

If a man disagreed,

He could go for his gun —

Old Sam Colt would do the judgin’!

 

He learned to live by his word

As he helped round up the herd —

A cowboy’s life is sure tough!

 

He learned about whiskey,

Women and cards  —

Why, he even learned to dip snuff!

 

On a north-bound trail,

Headed towards Kansas rail,

They sweated and worked without rest.

 

The deck was stacked

When the redskins attacked,

And he heard their loud, piercing yells.

 

O’er noise of bawling cattle,

Came sounds of the battle.

He clutched an arrow buried deep in his chest.

 

They found a six-gun by his hand,

His blood mixed with the land —

His dying words, “Tell ’em I done my best!”

 

Where the buffalo roam,

The young cowboy makes home,

A cross by a small bubbling stream.

 

He’s rode his last hoss,

And he’s roped his last steer,

But he’s fulfilled both his quest and dream!

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