Henry Herbert Knibbs
Roll A Rock Down - Poem by Henry Herbert Knibbs
On, out in the West where the riders are ready,
They sing an old song and they tell an old tale,
And its moral is plain: Take it easy, go steady,
While riding a horse on the Malibu Trail.
It's a high, rocky trail with its switch-backs and doubles,
It has no beginning and never an end:
It's risky and rough and it's plumb full of troubles,
From Shifty -- that's shale -- up to Powder Cut Bend.
Old-timers will tell you the rangers who made it,
Sang 'Roll A Rock Down,' with a stiff upper lip,
And cussed all creation, but managed to grade it;
With a thousand-foot drop if a pony should slip.
Oh, the day it was wet and the sky it was cloudy,
The trail was as slick as any oil-riggers's pants
When Ranger McCabe on his pony, Old Rowdy,
Came ridin' where walkin' was takin' a chance.
'Oh, Roll A Rock Down!' picks and shovels was clangin',
And Rowdy a-steppin' that careful and light,
When the edge it gave way and McCabe was left hangin'
Clean over the rim--with no bottom in sight.
I shook out a loop--bein' crowded for throwin';
I flipped a fair noose for a rope that was wet:
It caught just as Mac lost his holt and was goin',
And burned through my fingers: it's burnin' them yet.
For Ranger McCabe never knuckled to danger;
My pardner in camp, on the trail, or in town:
And he slid into glory, a true forest ranger,
With' 'Hell! I'm a-goin'! Just roll a rock down.'
So, roll a rock down where a ranger is sleepin'
Aside of his horse below Powder Cut Bend:
I ride and I look where the shadows are creepin',
And roll a rock down--for McCabe was my friend.
I've sung you a song and I've told you my story,
And all that I ask when I'm done with the show,
Is, roll a rock down when I slide into glory,
And say that I went like a ranger should go.
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