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About Beau Hamel



Cattle Call Language

Beyond pump-house hill
morning lay like a cold sheet of tin
& over the rolling San Joaquin
came the heifers
trotting pregnant fussy
their bellies wagging
like giant water balloons
thru the pickup's rear view

i saw my granddad & them
the engine ambled forward, in low
first-gear.  Tires cracked puddles
flecking ice & manure

to peer out the cab
i sat on a pillow—knotty torso
humping the wheel.  He stood erect
on the clacking flatbed

hooks on the buckboard
he snipped the bales, bundling wire
into bows—then tossed biscuits
of clover & rye

i wondered why he called them
the way he did, one gristle hand
a megaphone, Stetson cocked
& Levi jumper stiff:

Come, Boss!  Woop!  Woop!

Come, Boss!  Woop!  Woop!

Man yelps did not embarrass him
they wielded power over beasts
later when they came to me
I knew those tones commanded men

© 2010, Beau Hamel
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

"Cattle Call Language" is from Beau Hamel's recentlycompleted full-length (unpublished) manuscript, The Secret Cowboy: a
memoir in verse
and appeared previously, under a different title, in The Other Voices International Project, Vol.37


Beau Hamel comments:  This poem pays homage to my Granddad, Richard H. Hamel, (1900-1976), a
cattleman who cowboyed, farmed, and raised prize-winning Registered Hereford bulls on "Oak Meadows," his large and scenic ranch in the Sacramento Valley foothills. My Granddad was an amazing guy
a leader and a winner. He served as President of the California Cattlemen's Association, sold breeding stock all over the world, and ran a highly progressive operation that, in 1966, received national recognition with a Ford Farm Efficiency Award. I will always cherish the times I had as a boy "getting to ride along with him." My Granddad Hamel taught me many things about life—how to be hardworking, how to solve problems, how to ride a horse, how to vaccinate a cow, how to be tough when I needed to, and also how to be a gentleman.



About Beau Hamel:

Beau Hamel (aka Brad Henderson) is the great-great-grandson of Henry "Hartman" Hamel, one of California's premier pioneer cattlemen. Beau grew up riding horses, herding cattle, and bucking hay on ranches in the Sacramento and Modoc valleys.


Hamel/Henderson is author of the dual chapbook of poetry, Split Stock (John Natsoulas Press, 2006), and the Phi Kappa Phi Award winning novel, Drums (John Daniel/Fithian, 1997).

His poems and prose have appeared in a variety of journals and magazines including Squaw Valley Review, Pedestal Magazine, the Southern California Anthology, and Hayden's Ferry Review.



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