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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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