A Cowboy’s Tale
When you’re riding the range for hours without end
It’s time to reflect of how life does begin
And how it will end, nobody knows
But you live each day bringing it to a close.
Such was a time on the South Dakota lands
Where pickings are lean and finding the cows takes careful plans
In winter it’s mostly easy for the cows don’t stray
But in the summer they range far in search of what may.
So you saddle up early before break of day
And head out toward the mesa, picking your way
For the grounds rugged, rocky and rough
Not forgiving a misstep of the poor horse’s hoof.
Sky’s all clear and not a cloud to be seen
Today’s going to be a hot one. Just down right mean.
The horse’s a good one, but sometimes known to buck
And if you get thrown, you’ll be down on your luck.
Sp you cinch him up tight then give him chance to blow
Taking up more slack from the band down below.
Walk him around and see how he moves and how the saddle stays
Making sure he’s good for a long ride this day
Then out of the pens and head straight into the sun
Your long vigil of checking the cows has now begun
A steady walk, is all you demand
From your partner who seems to understand.
Out of sight of civilization’s calling
There’s only the 'yotes' howling,
As they try to scare up a rabbit or so
Or anything else that’s hidden below.
You slope in the saddle trying to be small
As the sun bears down on rider and all
Your mouth’s dry and how good a cig would taste
But any wasted motion is sure a disgrace.
By mid morning the sun’s boiling down
And yet still no cows have been found
The horse is all lathered and covered with dust
He walks with head down as if in disgust.
Time to give him a blow
So into a break you and horse go.
A bit of shade from a scraggle bush
But shade for the horse is a bust.
So you remove the saddle and the wet blanket too
Letting it dry will take moments, few
You lay on your back, the saddle for a pillow
And wonder if this bush could some how be a weeping willow
A cigarette just now after a swig from the canteen
Is all that you need to begin the routine
As you dose off with not a thought of the future
This day’s like all the others that horse and rider endure.
The horse’s tugging on the line that you set
Means that it’s time to get up and get
So you repeat the process that this morning you started
And note the blanket dried out in the brief time allotted.
A foot in the stirrup and you are aboard.
That’s all you remember from this point forward.
You wake with a jolt and look around
For sure, you are lying on the ground.
Could the horse have jumped you when you weren’t properly on?
Could he have bolted and left you alone?
You rise up on an elbow and look around
And there next to you, is your horse on the ground!
Dead as a doorknob and lying quite stiil
Some how he’d been struck dead, surely against his will.
His head’s a mess and one leg missing
A bolt from the heavens through him had been passing.
You on the other hand had been given a pass
For drying the blanket was what saved your ass.
A bit of insulation to shelter the strike
And was all between you and death’s lightening attack.
To finish this cowboy’s tale about strikes from the blue
Meant a long walk back,
Where others were worried about him for he was long overdue.
(This is a true story of a young boy riding the range on the family’s ranch in South Dakota.)
Comments about this poem (A Cowboy’s Tale by Sidi J. Mahtrow )
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