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DAVE "KID" KORNBLUM
Jackson Hole, Wyoming
About Dave "Kid" Kornblum

 

 

 

Puzzleface

In 1897 
A stranger came to town, 
His purse so filled with spending cash, 
It made the townfolk frown. 
About that time across the pass 
Someone had robbed the train 
And innuendo shadowed him, 
It trailed his every name. 

Bill Taylor was his handle - 
Of names he had a few - 
But the folk they talked of Puzzleface, 
To him it gave a clue. 
It seems he was a gambler, 
Poker was his trade. 
But when they went to read his face, 
A puzzle was displayed. 

His face would change from day to day, 
Or so some townfolk claimed, 
He was tall, good-looking, quiet, 
With manners neatly framed - 
A smooth and graceful dancer 
Both polished and urbane. 

Still others spoke of a long white scar 
Disfiguring his cheek. 
Of notches in his gunbelt 
And a past no one would seek. 
Mystery enshrouded him. 
Some local people spoke 
Of a character unusual, 
A curious cowpoke. 

Idiosyncratic,
A virtual enigma, 
It would take a heap of doing good 
To rid him of that stigma. 
They studied him, his every move, 
For signs of bad behavior, 
But Puzzleface, he fooled them all. 
He proved more of a savior. 

The 1900 winter 
Was long and quite severe 
And one poor local family 
Had lost all hope of cheer. 
Bill gave them $50 
To help them last the season. 
The basis for such charity 
Had no apparent reason. 
Apocryphal as this may seem, 
Another tale is told 
Of a sympathetic side of him 
That belies the outlaw mold. 

‘Twas in the local mercantile 
A child sobbed in despair. 
It seems she’d lost her only doll 
And no one seemed to care. 
Her weeping prayers were answered 
By a stranger standing by, 
Puzzleface was shopping there 
And ached to see her cry. 

He plucked a clothespin from a bin, 
Sketched on a smiling face. 
Then clothed it with his new silk scarf 
And a swatch of dainty lace. 
The child’s eyes beamed bright and clear, 
Transformed beyond belief, 
Now one might say that such good acts 
Are uncommon for a thief. 

But November,1900
Found his luck had run its course. 
Despair replaced his stoic charm, 
Despondency in force. 
He was living in a cabin 
Down on the Fall Creek Road. 
The year had got the best of him 
And doleful signs soon showed. 
In Harry Filbrick’s cabin 
He chose to take his life, 
A rifle to his temple 
Would terminate the strife. 

In preparation for the ground, 
They laid the body out. 
Removal of some garments 
Was halted by a shout. 
The party stopped dead in their tracks, 
Stunned by what they would see. 
Once again he’d fooled them all 
For HE became a SHE. 

To those who claim 
He got his name from gambling at cards, 
I’d suggest another version 
Which defies established odds. 
About that puzzling look of his, 
Of which the townfolk told? 
Well, God had played a trick on them - 
HE’d used a different mold. 

A jewel-encrusted marker 
Lies off the Fall Creek Road, 
And every now and then I stop 
When my busy life has slowed. 
I often wonder what we’d find 
If we exhumed the bones, 
But legends best lay undisturbed - 
It makes for better poems. 

© 2001, Dave "Kid" Kornblum 
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

 

Dave tells us: This particular poem is anchored in historic fact and not conjured up or embellished by my occasionally fertile imagination. It is based upon written evidence, the 1900 county census, the existence of the historic grave marker on our original property in Wilson, WY, and interviews with old timers, one of whom's great aunts had been briefly married to Puzzleface (for two weeks!) That piece of information didn't make it into my poem due to length considerations, but seems to support one of its revelations.



Puzzleface Taylor's grave in Jackson Hole

 

Cowgirl Steel

The dust had nearly settled
At the Teton Valley Ranch,
Majestic Teton mountains
Framed the scene.
A day of vaccinating
Was about to be done
All the wranglers were hungry and lean.

Five bulls to be sorted
A hard day would end.
They'd be ready to hang up their tack.
Then off to the bunkhouse,
An evening to spend
With some beer and a bottle of Jack.

Dust and dirt permeated
Each wrangler's hide,
As they prodded the great beasts along.
They kept pressing them forward,
Horns a yard on each side,
Until something turned terribly wrong.

Longhorn bulls can by nature
Be mellow and calm,
But they are an impetuous lot.
One can never ignore
The danger in store
When they're someplace they wish they were not.

Two bulls they were scuffling
Along the barbed rail,
When one broke away in great haste.
Somehow the bull knew
He'd bit off more than he'd chew
As his rival turned 'round to give chase.

Though the bull they called Bullet
Was bigger by far,
Just shy of a ton by his weight,
He plunged straight ahead -
Twas as if he saw red -
And rumbled on back towards the gate.

Too many cowhands
Were bunched in the chute
When they all were unnerved by a thump.
They all tried to race
Through a miniscule space
As horse Pudge slowed the charge with his rump.

Melinda on Dusty
Was caught in the rush
As the tormented bull made his charge,
But the sound of the crack
When the black bull cut back
Made everyone's eyes open large.

The tip of his horn
Gouged a hole near the chest
Of Mell's favorite quarterhorse mare.
But the snap of Mell's leg
At the bend in the horn
Gave everyone reason to stare.

The toe of her left boot
Now faced towards the west,
While the toe of the right one faced east.
No wimper, no cry -
She seemed to deny
The damage just wrought by the beast.

Determined to wrangle
The very last bull,
She shouted to push him along,
But the look on my face
Made her stop in her place -
She surmised maybe something was wrong.

She sat there in shock
With her boot dangling back
And cussed at the bull with each yell -
She still hadn't guessed
That her fate had been blessed -
By an inch she had just cheated hell.

Now her friend, Kelly Stirn,
A crack EMT,
Drove the ambulance back into town.
But Melinda still claims
That he purposely aimed
At every deep pothole he found.

And as for the leg
That dangled out there
Upon that fateful day?
Doc Lambert managed
To turn it 'round,
To face the proper way.

Now one might assume
That a wreck like that
Put a spoke within her wheel.
But Wrangler Mell
Was back punchin' cows -
See she's made of cowgirl steel.

And in years to come
As the campfire glows
'Neath a moon so bright and full,
The wrangler's will talk
'Bout a time way back when
Mell was freight-trained by the bull.

While across the peaceful valley,
Far from the coyote's call
An ageless cowgirl
Will toast the bull
Who resides upon her wall.

© 2001, Dave "Kid" Kornblum 
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

 

Dave told us:  Cowgirl Steel is the true recital of my wife, Melinda's, historic encounter
with Bullett, the largest bull in the herd, at The Teton Valley Ranch. The names of the characters, including the animals, the ambulance driver, the doctor, are all accurate. This is one of my poems that required no artistic embellishment. The facts of the event spoke for themselves...I might mention that Melinda still has a titanium rod in her leg which, fortunately, does not tend to go off at airport security


Bullett


Melinda and Dusty

 

Bunkhouse Blues
A Ranch Orchestration

It's 5:00 a.m. in the mornin'
And the coyotes are startin' to howl.
I toss and turn in my bed roll
As I hear the feint hoot of an owl.

I'm hiding alone in the bunkhouse,
Overcome by a strain of the flu.
"Sleep!", Doc Christopher tells me,
"Is my remedy for you!"

Now I'm just as tough as the next guy
And I don't shy away from a row,
But I wish my dear mother were with me
To soothe and console me right now!

I cover my head with my pillow
To drown out the sounds of the morn,
But the orchestra's just then arriving
And the new day has not yet been born.

The dogs all let loose with their wailing
As the foreman commences his rounds.
I can hear him cussin' a bluestreak
In an effort to silence those hounds.

The tractor revs up like a Harley
And the swather it sputters and spits.
The backhoe kicks in with percussion
As I struggle to gather my wits.

The horses all whinny together
Like some piccolos played out of tune.
The cattle they moan out their base line
Gazing up at the hovering moon.

The farrier's pounding a horse shoe
As a magpie cries out in the dark.
The foreman calls out to a ranchhand
Thus reminding those hounddogs to bark.

My fever is just then a peakin',
The alarm clock erupts with a clang.
As I reach down and grab my revolver --
The damn thing goes off with a bang.

There's a scream of loud sirens approaching.
As cars speed through the ranch entry gate.
The hubbub has now reached its zenith,
My frayed nerves are beginning to grate.

The sheriff shows up with his posse
They break down my sturdy front door.
To discover me searchin' for ear plugs,
Bare-as**d on the cold cabin floor.

The shrieks of their laughter bore through me,
Rushing straight through my pulsating head.
I cry out "Go ahead and just shoot me!,"
"I am much better off being dead!."

A blast of a gun -- they've just shot me! --
I pass out with my heart in my throat.
When the officer finally revives me
I would wish that I'd truly been smote.

For the words of the sheriff they scorch me,
My humiliation glows hot.
He tells me: "The pick-up had backfired!"
And I thought I'd really been shot!

I can feel my face burning bright crimson
"Could this please be forgotten and done?"
I offer a month's hard-earned wages
To the Sheriff's Activity Fund.

The sheriff just smiles and chuckles 
No, he cannot be purchased or sold --
For the value to him of this story
Is worth more than his weight in pure gold.

© 2004, Dave "Kid" Kornblum 
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

 

All-American Roadmap

His face was a roadmap
Folded and creased, 
Beard stubbled and sprinkled throughout.
The lines near his eyes
Unveiled something wise
From decades of roaming about.
 
Squinting into the sun
As each day was done,
He’d reflect on the wisdom he’d earned.
When one studied his face
It was easy to trace
The lessons this cowboy had learned.
 
Rodeoed this great country,
New York to Cheyenne,
Dirt embedded deep into his skin.
The marks on his face
Reflected each place
This hard ridin’ cowhand had been.
 
He made his eight ticks
While takin’ his licks
On the roughest of stock that he’d drawn.
Laconic and shy, 
The scar near his eye
Reminded of one vengeful horn.
 
He never regretted
The life that he chose,
The long lonesome nights on the road.
Staying true to his heart 
Right from the start,
Unaware of the courage he’d shown.
 
Well, we’ve all had our fix
Of the changes we’ve wrought
In this cockeyed impetuous age.
Life spinning too fast—
Doesn’t anything last?—
Fifteen minutes of fame center stage.
 
But there’s one thing consistent,
Permanently etched,
On the landscape we’ve all come to love.
A spirit engrained, 
Indelibly stained,
And it fits on our hearts like a glove.
 
It’s the cowboyin’ way
That inspires us each day,
Just eight seconds long at its best.
But it’s not the result
That we need to exult,
It’s puttin’ ourselves to the test.
 
So please close your eyes,
Say a prayer for these guys,
Doff your hat and acknowledge these heroes.
For they follow their bliss,
Ignoring all risk,
And it’s not about all of those zeroes.

© 2006, Dave "Kid" Kornblum 
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.
 

Dave told us, "In performing my poems at various gatherings and events, I noticed that when Sunday came around with cowboy church that neither the self-deprecating style that I've developed nor my historical recitations were appropriate for the moment. I needed something spiritual to honor the sanctity of the occasion. One thing I had noticed was the diversity of states in which cowboys are found, and certainly rodeos—in all corners of our great country. Thus was born 'All-American Roadmap.'"


 


 

The Horse Divorce

Well I’ve been hitched for 19 years
Of matrimonial bliss
But over time I’ve grown confused
Since our wedding’s faded kiss.

I used to think my life was set—
A wife, a home, a child,
Anticpating every day
Awaking with a smile.

But my bride was fond of horses—
She knew a thing or two—
In time she learned the cowgirl way,
While me? I had no clue!

Now she’d been spending all her time
Out among the steers—
I hadn’t had a home cooked meal
I swear, it seemed like years.

So what happened this past weekend
Should have come as no surprise.
Her vows had been unravelling
Before my very eyes.

On Friday we were bickering,
Aspersions on each side.
My wife stormed out the cabin door—
“She was goin’ for a ride!”

All night I waited by the fire
Perplexed, I scratched my head.
When midnight passed, I snuffed the coals
And headed off to bed.

The naked sheets were freezing cold
As I slid underneath—
The last thing I remember
Was the chattering of my teeth.

On Saturday I rose up
And headed to the barn.
No sign of either one of them—
Began to grow alarmed.

Then Sunday was a day of rest.
I lay in bed awhile
Staring out beyond the pasture
For mile after mile.

Across the broad horizon
An empty palette lay.
No horse or rider was in sight—
I sensed the need to pray.

I reflected on the many times
I’d waken from my sleep
To find a vacant mattress,
No company to keep.

Of the countless times I’d heard my wife
Conversin’ with that beast.
Our evening conversations
Were brief, to say the least.

How most wives long for jewelry
Or fancy negligee,
While mine eschews fine perfume
For the scent of fresh cut hay.

How most wives stuff their handbags
With mascara, rouge and lipstick,
While mine fills hers with horse treats,
A curry-comb and hoof pick.

When Monday came it dawned on me
It stunned me with full force—
My wife had just deserted me—
She’d left me for her horse!

© 2007, Dave "Kid" Kornblum 
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.
 

Dave told us, "There seems to be an increasingly frequent occurrence in the New West of women becoming overly attached to their favorite horses sometimes to the detriment of the family unit. The fact is, as ornery as a horse might be, it never talks back and was not designed to put its hoof in its mouth. The following is a true story, a tragic tale of one such family, one, let it be said, I know very well."

 

 

 

About Dave "Kid" Kornblum:

DAVE "KID" KORNBLUM has been dubbed by many (mostly his friends) as the poet "lariat" of Jackson Hole. He owns and operates the PUZZLEFACE RANCH, with his gorgeous wife and teenage daughter, but admits he's long on the poetry and short on the ranch chores. (Puzzleface Ranch, is one of the few remaining working horse and cattle ranches in Jackson Hole.) His poetry is all original material based upon personal experience and astute observations. The Kid has appeared in many venues in and around Jackson Hole including having opened for Michael Martin Murphey at Walk Festival Hall and for the Bar J Wranglers at their dinner barn. He has released his first CD entitled "KID KORNBLUM, ALIVE! at THE PUZZLEFACE RANCH, 'The Bottom Line'" and is in the process of working on a second. He has another life as a member of the Teton County School District Board of Trustees and is President of the Board of Jackson Hole's Off Square Theatre Company, the only year-round professional theatre company in the State of Wyoming.

 

 

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