Cowboy Poetry and Music and More at the BAR-D Ranch

Vancouver, Canada
About Deidre Santesso



On the Rails

A cowboy is born to be lonely,
He never can run with the herd,
He don't feel at home in no city
And commitment is just a big word.

Now once I was king of the rodeo,
Star of the Big Creek Stampede.
Them saddle broncs  never could throw me
And my winnings were all I would need.

Well the women buzzed round me like blueflies
With that come-hither look in their eye.
See, I had the look of a winner
But they wanted me as their prize.

And a few of them thought they could tame me,
Put a rope round my neck in some stall,
Fed me up while they whispered sweet nothings,
Hung my picture on their bedroom wall.

But that darned rope it itched like a collar,
All the fancy food soon tasted plain
And I started to yearn for the prairie
With the touch of the wind and the rain.

The one woman I loved up and left me,
Said she needed a man with more heart.
I had words that I wanted to tell her
But somehow I just couldn't start.

They told me she found her a rancher,
Moved up to Quesnel or close by.
I don't think about her that often,
Just each night as the sun leaves the sky.

See I never cared too much for talkin',
Never needed no listening ear
And the best friend I've got is called Lightning
Tho' he's old now and down to one gear.

I'm done with the saddle bronc riding,
Guess these bones ain't so young any more.
Now I sit on the rail while the youngsters
Flash their spurs as they head for the floor.

Come Spring think I'll head up to Kamloops
Or over Alexis Creek way,
And I'll spend a few days with the roundup,
Me and Lightnin' we go day by day.

There are nights when the moon sure looks lonesome
Up there in that big inky sky
And them stars are just cold little fires
When the coyotes start gath'rin' to cry.

Then my head starts to fill up with questions
And I get to wonderin' why
If there's someone above in the heavens
Will He call me by name by 'n by?

I never got round much to prayin',
I just talk to Him once in a while,
And I ask if there's room there for Lightnin'
When he's done walkin' out his last mile.

See I'm hopin' he'll be there to greet me,
Old lightnin' when I pass along;
There ain't nobody else who'll be waitin',
Any friends I once had are long gone.

Sometimes I dream she is with me
And I call her my darling, my dear,
Then I hear her half laughing half crying
As she whispers these words in my ear.

A cowboy is born to be lonely,
He never can ride with the herd,
He don't feel at home in the city
And commitment is just a big word.

2002, Deirdre Santesso
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without permission.


About Deidre Santesso:

My parents were both Irish although I myself was born and raised in London, England.  We were poor, so at weekends I mucked out stables in return for riding lessons and I hung around horses as much as was possible in a London suburb. 

When I was twenty-two I came to Canada to teach in a First Nations school in a remote area of Central British Columbia.  After our marriage my husband and I spent three years living and working in the Cariboo-Chilcotin region of the province where we became part of the "cowboy" community.  We attended horse sales and cattle auctions in Williams Lake and we never missed a local rodeo.  In fact one year we cooked a spaghetti supper at the Riske Creek Rodeo and with the money we made we took every single kid in our two-room school for their first ever trip to Vancouver!

When we had the first of our three children we moved to the Kootenays where I taught English and French at the High School in Trail, and now that our children are grown we are back in the city of Vancouver - at least for a while.  Today I consider myself an urban cowboy, although since a serious accident two years ago left me disabled, I am no longer able to ride.  In 2001 we were at the Cloverdale Rodeo, and it was there that I was inspired to write On The Rails. The character in the poem, however, is based on my personal acquaintance with real-life cowboys, one of them a past student of mine who is now on the Professional Rodeo circuit.



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