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CHARLES D. KING
Springfield, Missouri
About Charles King

 

 

Coldwater Slim

Me and Zinn was sorta drifting
Got down southwest Kansas way
Chopping weeds and driving tractors
Anything to make some pay

It was getting late in summer
And the work was nearly done
We was in the local watering hole
Drinking beer out of the sun

Looking forward to tomorrow
And a Jay Cee rodeo
We was gonna ride a bull or two
Put them farmers on a show

When this old thin crippled stranger
With a crutch came limping in
He said I see you gents are cowboys
Can I join you there my friends?

He was filthy old and ragged
I whispered "Zinn this guy's a joke"
He's just some old drifting wino
Begging drinks alone and broke

But old Zinn was feeling friendly
He said come on down and sit a spell
Man who's been around like you have
Surely has a tale to tell

As he slid up on the barstool
He shore didn't have much style
He wore a pair of faded wranglers
That hadn't been washed in a while

He had a dirty denim work shirt
Old and ragged not too neat
And he wasn't wearing Justins
Tennis shoes were on his feet

I said tell me what's your handle
as I slid a beer to him
He said the cowboys on the circuit
All called me Coldwater Slim

He said I used to ride the rodeo
Then he took a drink of beer
Old Zinn grinned and winked and whispered
What a tale were gonna hear

Well Old Slim commenced to talking
Telling lies that drunken sot
Old Jim Shoulders, Tibbs and Mayhan
I rodeoed with them a lot

Years ago, I was a rounder
Then he muttered how time flies
Me and Zinn elbowed each other
While we listened to his lies

We tried hard to keep from laughing
As old Slim he bent our ears
With his tales about bronc busting
While me and Zinn bought all the beers

Then he got strangely quiet
With a sad look in his eye
And I found myself a thinking
Why this old drunk's a gonna cry

Just like he knowed what I'm a thinking
He sat straight up on his stool
He said I really was a cowboy
You think I'm a drunken fool

Hell I even rode at Cheyenne
Way back there in sixty four
Why I won a silver buckle
But now I don't ride no more

Last time I rode was sixty seven
I bucked off in Santa Fe
Broke my back and left me crippled
Lord I wont forget that day

Doc says I won't last much longer
Been having bad pains in my chest
He said to get my things in order
He's already done his best

So while I'm a waiting for St Peter
Aint much to do but talk and drink
Thank you hands for the beer and visit
But it's time to go I think

Then he stopped to talk to Mary
Who that day was tending bar
And handed her a tiny package
Before he limped out of the door

Two hours later we were still laughing
As we headed for the door
About Coldwater Slim the wino
Lord I'd seen his kind before

When Mary said ya all wait a minute
That old drunk who went outside
Said to thank you for the free beer
And tomorrow before you ride

You might use what's in this package
To keep your Wranglers off the ground
So Zinn tore away the wrapping
That with age was dry and brown

Inside was a silver buckle
He looked at me, I looked at him
Inscribed in gold was Cheyenne Roundup
Bareback Champion Coldwater Slim

2003, Charles D. King
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without permission.


Charles told us about this poem: It is an original composition of mine and I carried bits and pieces of it in my mind for a long time until I decided to actually make a hard copy.

The poem, like most good stories is part truth, part fiction. In 1958 a buddy and I were working in Coldwater, Kansas for the Brass Cattle Company. One night in a bar in Protection, Kansas we ran into this old cowboy/drunk who claimed to be a former rodeo star. He was wearing a big silver buckle that he claimed came from Cheyenne...I suspect it came from Sheplers in Wichita...anyway it was a memorable evening where my friend and I bought most of the the drinks.


About Charles King:

I am a retired truck driver and after living in a dozen different states from Ohio to the West Coast we now reside in Southwest Missouri where I was born.

 

 

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