(aka DAVEY LEE GEORGE)
Recognized for his poem, The Newfoundlander and the Bull
(This is page one. See page two here.)
About McCloud (aka Davey Lee George)
McCloud (also known as Davey Lee George) is the foreman of the AJ Ranch, a place somewhere between Calgary and Dallas. He has several poems to his credit.
When we asked McCloud why he writes Cowboy Poetry, he replied:
I find it fascinating that I can dream up and relive all the things I saw in the movies well over sixty years ago. I just wish they still made those old movies because I learned so much about the old West and the scenery was so great. I learned that good was good and bad was bad, and never the twain should dwell side by side.
You can email McCloud: DeLeeGee@aol.com
Visit McCloud's site to read about, browse through, and obtain his new book, "Sailors, Lovers and Cowboys" published by Writer's Club Press, iUniverse.com.
The Newfoundlander and the Bull
(as told by foreman John McCloud)
We were sitting around in the Starlight Bar,
and talking of times now gone,
when somebody mentioned the Newfie fellow,
and how he'd come along.
We turned to John, who had seen it all,
and remembered it at its peak,
and as he sat and mused awhile
we waited for him to speak.
"We was all in town fer the rodeo
that happens ever' year,
an' was talkin 'bout this and that,
when sumpin happened queer.
As we stood thar by the holdin' pens,
that keeps the bulls in close,
we happent to see a stranger thar,
in the oddest lookin' clothes.
As he come up clost we seen his pants
was with a bottom bell,
an' on his head was a ol' time cap
that had a fishy smell.
He looked to be a shanklin' boy,
jedgin' from his bones,
that stuck all out ever' which a'way,
why, even his elbows shone!
Well, I stepped up then and said 'how do,'
thinin' he'd jest answer back,
but when he spoke I never knowed
a word, an' thats a fact.
The stranger said, an' I swar he did,
'Shor b'y 'ow's yer a'ter bean!'
I stood thar wonder'n what to do,
when a feller next to me
said 'he's a Newf, an' thats the way
they always seems to talk.'
I ast him then, (his name was Joe),
what lingo the boy had spoke,
an' Joe he answert easy like;
he said 'good mornin's' all,
I spent some time up thar with them,
and can usually make a call.
It was time then to start to ride,
an' we each had us a bull,
with one left over fer extra like;
the meanest one to pull.
An outsized brahma bull, he whar,
and the wurst I'd ever seen,
an' danger burnt inside his eyes,
an' them horns wud make you squeem.
But before anyone could start a ride
the stranger turned an' grinned,
an' said 'Shor, b'y, oy'll try 'im oot,
tho 'e 'peers a shar bit thin!'
Well, I looked agin to lettle Joe,
and he answers back right quick;
'the Newfy says he'll ride the bull ,
though it don't seem all that slick.'
I thought I'd heerd purt near ever'thin,
but this'n took the cake,
and I said to Joe, what the hell's with him,
he ain't even got a stake!
Then the ganglin' boy throwed down his cap,
and a twunty bill to boot,
and that were all it took to go,
in spite of him wearin' a suit.
Then he said to us, or I think he did,
and Joe will say it's so;
'Shor now, and Oy's a'ter ridin' darries,
in ary squall, oot on de Jarge's bank,
when ye sees naught fer blawin' flume,
and the toid she's rum and rank,
and Oy's seen de ice cume rarin' in,
likes tho 'twere a banshee's wind
and n'er yit has Oy slunk back
and been a'ter styrtin' agin.'
Well, I said ok, whatever he said,
its his scrawny neck, not mine,
but does he know you have to stay
ten seconds to the line?
Then he nods his head an' hauls his cap
down tight above his eyes,
An' I knowed fer sure that purty soon
we'll all see how he dies.
An' then the dam'dist thing of all
took place thar in that shute,
fer the Newfy boy jumped on his back
an' meant to ride him under foot.
I noticed then he was a'wearin' boots,
the kind that's made of gum
an' he looked like he'd been born in them,
an' it showed he warn't no bum.
I hollered out to set on down,
and git aholt the rope,
an' he hollers back, " If they iver hard,
'e'd sot 'is arse in the bottum of de boat,
shor and de b'ys doon ther' ter Carbonair
wudn't n'er let 'im back,
so twer best 'e rode de way 'e knowed,
in case 'e had ter tack."
Then the bell let off, and the gate swung wide,
and out of thar they come,
and the bull he snorted and the Newfy yelled
those words that sounded dumb,
but they musta meant a lot of things
to the bull he was standing on,
fer he bucked an' reared an dove an' turned,
in all, right woebegone.
But thar he stood an' yelled some more
as they went acrost the line,
an' after a while the bull slowed down
an' started looking kind
of like he wondered what went wrong,
an' he also wondered, too,
what had been onboard his bucking back
that had stuck to him like glue.
An' then after all of this took place,
the Newfy boy hopped off
an' walked around to the bulls front end
to show him his new boss.
An' don't you know, that bull stood thar
an' easy like licked his hand,
whilst I stood thar in wonderment,
fer it jest beat the band.
Then the Newfy went to git his prize,
which I reckoned was right big
fer none of us was a'gonna ride,
since he'd done beat the jig.
As he walked on up thar to the jedge,
that bull jest tagged along
like a great big ol' ugly dog;
like the two of them belonged."
McCloud added these remarks about his poem "When I was first stationed at Argentia Naval Station in 1950 most of the Newfoundlanders spoke a dialect similar to what I attempted to portray. In fact, my father in law, who has been deceased for many years now, spoke to me from time to time and I have yet to understand a word that fine old man said."
McCloud was also
Recognized for his poem, Big Roan
Ya see thet ol' hoss out thar,
the one with the tore up ear?
Ya'd never know to look at him
as we stand talkin' here,
but thet ol' nag, thet bag o' bones
wuz onct a mighty steed.
The kind ya seldom heerd about,
an' even rarer see'd.
Yes, it's many a day, now gone by
since he wuz the one to beat,
but onct he run the whole dam' range,
with the Tetons at his feet.
He was big an' strong an' wild as wind
an' his mane flowed like a falls,
why, jest his whinny wuz all it took
to give the mares a pause.
He knowed the range, near ever inch,
an' knowed the dangers, too,
but the ones to try to test his sauce
was dumb and mighty few.
But then one day a bunch come in
that runs the rodeo.
They said they needed healthy stock
to feature in their show.
So the boys from 'round the other spreads,
an' some of mine, as well,
set out to catch that wild ol' roan
but he really give 'em hell.
He led 'em on a merry chase,
all up and down the range,
but after while they cornered him,
an' the way they did was strange,
fer each of them had a pair
of hosses, side by side.
While one of the hosses rested
t'other was the ride.
So after while, even big ol' roan
began to fail and sag,
an' then they jest rode him down
like any other poor ol' nag.
Well, they took him to their rodeo
to make him a great big star,
but his heart was never quite the same,
though he wuz knowed both near an' far.
They kept him there for about three years
but he slowly wilted down,
till finally he wern't nothin' a'tall
but a has-been sort of clown.
So they sent him back fer me to see,
an' it near 'bout broke my heart,
but I looked him deep down in his eye,
and I seen a tiny spark.
Now, ever day he seems to be
a little more on his feed,
an' I hope ta Gawd he gits the chance
ta once more be a steed.
McCloud was also
Recognized for his poem, Hoss Fer Sail
Hoss fer Sail
Hey podner, ya want a hoss, a real live maverick?
I got one hyar I'll let go cheap, if you'll say 'yes' real quick.
He ain't got but one good eye but that don't matter none,
cause he can see more loco weed then them with two has done.
Don't wurry none 'bout his back, he jest holds it swayed
ter make ya think thar's sumpin wrong; it's jest a game he plays.
Them bowed out hocks? Don't mean a thing. He's jest puttin' on
ter make out I done rode him hard, the dirty sonovagun!
Most o' the har thet's rubbed offn him, he done hissef fer spite,
to make out I never curried him, er let him in at night.
Them spavins thar might look real bad, but don't ya wurry a'tall
it's jest the way he holds hissef, he's sure 'nuff got his gall!
He ain't near as old's he looks, it's jest the way he stands
an' onct I even seen him crawl jest to make the other hands
think I took a board to him er some sech kind o' thing,
but the truth o' the matter is, ya see, he's jest a ding-a-ling.
But never mind all his funny ways, an' all his things that strange,
cause he can cut a steer in 'two' and give eight seconds change.
Long-drawn and carefree he sat upon the nag,
and rolled a weed dexterously, then pocketed the bag.
He scratched a match across his nail and watched it start to glow,
then lighting up he looked around, nonchalant and slow.
He took a drag and hauled it down so deep it seemed to be
too long before he breathed again and finally let it free.
The expelled smoke wafted on the air and then it disappeared,
as his hoss saw a rattlesnake and whinnied loud and reared.
With moves that came from years of trials he dug his knees in sharp,
and clung onboard and swung the bronc into a graceful arc.
With one hand still upon the reins he calmed the fleabag down,
and moved away from the scary thing that laid there on the ground.
With the other hand he pulled his gun and scarcely taking aim,
he sent a bullet flying out and the snake was but a name.
Then finishing up his smoke at last he dug his heels in tight,
and rode the bronc away from there and on into the night.
30 and found
The plain is wide, the hoss I ride is knobby, lank an' lean.
The saddle horn, thet does adorn the seat in ever scene,
sticks in my gut, like a gallin' cut an' makes me sit too straight,
but what the hell, I may as well, cause cowboyin' is my fate.
The winter air thet curls my hair with bitin', killin' cold,
eats at my lungs, an' smells like dung an' freezes to my soul.
At least it would--that's if it could, was I to have the thing,
but cowboys don't, an' never won't, allow a soul to sing.
The summertime, in this here clim, is harsh an' hottern hell,
an' the sweat that pours, an' burns the sores, causin' them to swell
wrings out the juice in open sluice, an' drains a man too dry,
an' then fer fun, it makes him run, an' purty near to die.
The strawboss yells, (the voice of hell), an' makes us feel like dirt,
an' then he says, in spiteful ways, we ain't worth half his shirt,
by which he means, it always seems, that we ain't worth a dam,
an' could easy be set walkin' free, the way from whar we came.
But whar to go, I sure don't know, nor what to do fer beans,
an' how to flake, or how to shake this way from off my jeans.
I was born so dumb, that I can't come to write my very name,
so I just ride, an' try to slide, with fate an' all this shame.
John McCloud, foreman
The stars are shining down on them
as they huddle to the fire,
and sing the songs of long ago,
and songs of their desires.
All day they've been astride their mounts,
a'rounding up the steers,
but now at last has come the time
to rest there with their peers.
For each man there is like the lot,
yet still not like at all,
for each of them, within himself
has conflicts to recall
Now Kick there, sitting off a bit,
had once seen other things,
and once he'd had a loving wife
who wore his diamond rings.
But then the sadness came to him,
and another man as well,
and all was lost to Kick that day,
and he began to live in hell.
And Pete, who sometimes cries at night,
but always tries to smile,
for once he had a ranch himself,
but only for a while.
For drought and storm, and icy cold
came and took their toll,
and left him broke, and bitter too,
until he found his soul.
Now that one there, beside old Pete,
the one they all call Tootie,
you'd never think to look at him
that he had once been snooty,
but, yes he was, when he came out,
from deep within the East.
He'd thought himself above the lot
but after a while it ceased,
for he had found the place on earth
that suited him just fine,
and now he loves each manjack here,
and always is so kind.
That old man now, the little one,
the one without his teeth,
to look at him like he is now
you never think of grief.
But don't be fooled by what you see,
for once he was a heller,
and many's the man who found it out
by messing with that feller.
And me, well I was always one
to keep myself apart,
and go my way and do my thing,
and never really start
to being friendly with another,
until one day I found
myself in water very deep,
and very near to drown.
As I went down the third and last,
I suddenly felt a hand,
and as I grabbed ahold of it
I felt a mighty band.
A band as strong as hardened steel;
a band of molton love;
a band as strong as God himself
ever sent down from above.
And now I'm ramrod on this spread
and love this life I've won,
and love each man within the crew
as though they were my sons.
Shiny seat, fancy feet, threadbare plaided shirt.
Wide brimmed hat, chaps like spats, fingernails show dirt.
Drawling speech, chew of 'Beech,' spurs of sterling silver.
Thin as a rail, been to jail, rodeo qualifier.
Buckskin tan, sixteen hands, mean as all outdoors.
Wild as hell, horsey smell, scarcely hears the roars,
of steers that bellow, likes one fellow, hates the saddle girth.
Bucks each day, just for play, gives them both some mirth.
The pair of them, horse and him, riding all day long,
o'er the plains, through the rains, sometimes with a song.
What the hell, ain't always swell, but what's a guy to do?
punching cows, just somehow, fits that very few.
A Cowboy's Way
A man's ambition must be purty dam' queer
to sit all day an' watch a steer.
His hankerin' fer interest must be real small
to set an' do 'bout nothin' a'tall.
He couldn't have much by way of brains,
to jest ride out in the snow an' rain,
an' his way of livin' near takes the cake,
to work fer beans an' tough beef steak.
To ride a hoss that's pure durn mean,
an' have thet beast stuck thar between
his legs so close to his private parts
don't make much sense; don't take no smarts.
A hat thet's way to big to wear,
jest to cover whar they ain't no hair,
an' a vest that ain't got nary sleeves,
as he rides along an' counts them beeves,
is as near to nothin' as I ever did see,
jest to carry fixin's of smokin' 'baccee.
A saddle so big it weighs a ton
an' makes the nag try hard to run,
jest to get it off his back,
jest to cut hisself some slack,
don't make no sense no matter how
ya cuts the cards or chase a cow.
No, the man ain't got ambition a'tall,
jest stupid ways, an' lots of gall.
Long shafts of light, thrown 'cross the sand, in iridescent beams
beguile the wavering shadows there in ghostly ways that seem
to conjure up such haunting things that raise the prickling hairs
upon the nape and cause the skin to quiver in despair.
Dark objects seen, upon the hills, in dusky silhouette
bring to the mind remembrances of thoughts one should forget,
and think instead of better things, of things one can explain,
like walking by a pretty stream; like frost on window panes.
Hushed voices, softly calling out, against a midnight sky
that try to find a kindred soul, or something good nearby,
will seldom find, though always seek, the complacent hand to hold,
the someone special; someone gentle, to enrapture and enfold.
But mostly, all there ever is, across the shifting sand,
is only more, and more and more, deserted, empty land
to waste an always wasted life by looking there in vain,
like searching for and never finding roses in the rain.
They wuz mutterin' in the Starlight
about thet woman thar,
thet sauntered in with a waggin' chin,
an' a fourteen string gi'tar.
She wuz warin' spangles on her boots,
an' jingles on her skirt
that played a tune all by their selves,
when her bottom she'd exert.
On top her head a broad brimmed hat
set angled to the right,
an' it were stuck with feathers around,
all red an' blue an' bright.
Her face wuz painted up fer fair,
with lipstick shiny red,
an' on her fingers diamonds flashed,
near 'nuff to turn yor head.
She sidled up to Tootie Joe
an' tossed a wicked smile
but him bein' jest a country boy,
wal', it throwed him fer a mile.
Then she seen the rest of us
back hyar' by the bar,
an' without the slightest 'howdy-do'
she hauled out thet gi'tar.
An' Law, you never heered the like
of how thet gal could play.
An' ever string sparkled like her rings,
an' I mean, I'm hyar to say,
Thet afore she'd got it started good,
with her jingles hangin' thar,
she had the whole danged bunch of us
glued down on our chairs.
Then she went to singin' a cryin' song,
with a voice jest like a bird,
so soft an' sweet an' yet it held
us all without a word.
She sang to us about the West,
an' about how hard it is
fer a gal to hold on to her man
with nuthin' more'n kisses.
Next she sang about her Ma,
an' how her Pa had been.
Jest drinkin' hard and driftin' on,
and livin' total sin.
An' honey, I mean that gal could sing
the lid right off a jar,
but it weren't near half of what she did
when she worked on thet gi'tar.
It seemed to me she made it cry,
an' then a laff er two,
but ever so often a wimper'd come,
an' thrill you through an' through.
Then by an' by she slowed it down,
but by then it wuz pourin' smoke,
an' she turned an' left us settin thar,
an' wuz gone afore we spoke.
The trail I ride is wrought by peril, with dangers everywhere,
and looking around I see at least a dozen needs for care.
Just overhead, (for where I ride is on the canyon floor),
the jagged rockface towers up a thousand feet or more.
The walls are sheer, but loosened stones, some immense in size,
hang precarious, here and there, in counterfeit disguise,
for though they seem so tightly bound that they can never fall,
the floor is littered by their kin, that once adhered the wall.
Along the trail are boles of trees and branches by the score,
left high and dry from raging floods and teeming tidal bores.
These bores of water racing down from high up in the hills
are deadly forces sent by storms that start as merest rills,
but gather strength as down they roar, increasing as they come,
to where they wrench the ancient trees with sounds that quite benumb
and cause the heart within a man to quake in sudden fear,
and wish his God would lift him up and far away from here.
Beside the boulders, facing south, the rattlesnake abides,
and waits for prey to come along, to fill his mottled hide.
He seldom moves from where he coils, his rattles buzzing loud,
to warn the larger animals of a serpent lying proud.
Now, never think that he won't spring against the one that's slow
to give him space, to let him be, to ignore his fatal blow.
Beside the trail, in places seen, the cliff falls straight away
and looking over it seems so far you can see another day.
But that's not so, though it's a drop that makes you suck your breath
so sharp you often feel you're falling to your death.
Ah, now I see the winding path has finally reached its end,
and we are out, away from it, to where the smooth begins.
I guess I'll never get the knack of riding on that trail,
just always know how mean it is while knowing I'm so frail.
Many's the day I wish I was away from this here place,
an' settin' in a train car a'coverin' lots of space.
I' d like to try a hand er two at walkin' fer a change,
an' leave these goddam mavericks to roamin' on the range.
Jest yesta'day when I got up an' slipped into my pants,
a big ol' scorpion was inside thar eatin' on some ants,
an' a'fore I knowed a blessed thing he'd let me have a sting
that socked me whar I hurt the most of any part or thing.
The day before when I rode out to check the beeves up east,
this foolish hoss went buckin' off like some half crazy beast,
'cause he thought he'd heard a rattler's buzz right down by his feet,
though it weren't nothing but the wind a'tall, but it made me lose my seat.
A week ago the range boss come an' said there w'arn't no pay,
'cause the banks was closed until next week to celebrate a holiday.
Now what the hell's a holiday, when all you do is ride,
and get sunburned an' froze to death an' blisters on yer hide?
Next week this time I'll know my fate cause the roundup's all but done,
an' the fellers thet hold on here through winter's the lucky ones.
An' don't ya know it's likely well, that I'll be among them ones let go,
for that's the way it use'lly seems thet my fortune always flows.
When we all boys went inter town, last S'urday night, it wuzun,
I spied a gal who looked right good, but she was big John's cuzun!
Well, what the hell, I didn't know, but he didn't seem to care,
'cause he hit me in the mouth so hard it made my teeth to smear.
I tell ya friend this ain't no place fer any guy like me,
an' if I had a buck er two the last that you would see
would be the shine on my behind as I sauntered off this spread,
an' lit out from here to somewhar's else, to a better, softer bed.
The herd was restless an' about to bolt,
an' Casey set right still,
fer he knowed the way they always was
when they smelled a fresh wolf kill.
He also knowed they'd run him down,
an' take his hoss, to boot,
if he was to rush in thar to quick,
like he didn't give a hoot.
So Casey took it real, real slow,
an' eased his hoss around
to whar the wolves had drug the steer,
after they had brung it down.
An' then he seen the big 'he' wolf,
an' seen them great big teeth,
an' as he eased his hand to pull
the rifle from its sheath,
he knowed the thing was a'gonna spring,
an' try to get him, too,
so he gouged his hoss's ribs right sharp,
to try to make him slew.
Then as the hoss heeled hard a'port,
the 'he' wolf made his move,
but it wasn't quick enough to do
what he'd hoped that he could prove.
Well, as the rifle cleared the sheath,
an' Casey drawed a bead,
the wolf, he tried once more to leap,
but got a kick instead.
Ol' Casey's hoss was in it, too,
an' didn't like no wolves,
so when he got his chance to kick,
he let him have both hooves.
Well, as it happened, the gun went off,
an' shot into the air,
'twas then the whole thing turned real bad,
an' thar was hell to pay fer fair!
'Cause all them beeves, so pent up scared,
finally let it go,
an' Casey, hoss, and wolves to boot,
put on another show.
As though they'd practiced all their lives,
they ran in union then,
to try an' beat them wooly beeves
a'coming around the bend.
Well, Casey's hoss was big and fast;
he usually won a race,
but that 'he' wolf, he warn't no slouch,
an' easy kept apace,
until 'ventually all of them
got behind some rocks.
Well, Casey looks his rifle over
an' finally he uncocks.
Then as the cows all drift away,
an' quiet comes again,
he watches as the wolves go back,
up into the scree,
to eat the meal they'd worked for so;
it surely war'unt free.
An' then ol' Casey, and his hoss,
goes on about their chores
of watchin' cows an' watchin' out
that they didn't lose no more."
The trail to Tucson wuz mean an' hard an' filled with the durnest things.
Some wuz long with rattles on an' some of them had wings.
Thar's some that slithers along real slow an' some wuz lightnin' fast,
an' thar's even some could change yer mind an' make you go an' ast
the strawboss what they really wuz an' how they got thet way.
But the worst of all was the kind that comes jest at the close of day.
After pushin' cows an' checkin' strays an' tryin' to stay up straight
a cowboy needs to set a spell to get his haid on right.
He needs to know he'll get some grub an' maybe an hour or two
to sleep his aches an' worries off, 'afore he's called to do
all the things them critters needs, for all the crazy ways,
they has of findin' troublin' things to wreck a cowboys day.
But on thet trail to Tucson town we never had seen the like
of what was there in store fer us ... well, jest listen to Ol' Mike,
'cause he's the one what seen the thing; the one who got real close,
an' he's the one it touched all over, an' the one got skeered the most.
But now I'm talkin' out o' turn, cause Mike's the one to see,
(an' he's the one whose crazy too, jest 'tween you an' me).
Well, he won't talk because he's skeered the thing will find him out,
an' he says it told him to never tell what it was all about.
But somebody really oughter tell, so folks can know the worst,
an 'though I know I'm skeered myself, I'll tell it chapter'n verse.
If you don't want to believe me now, in what I have to say,
I won't blame you none a'tall if you calls it jackass bray.
Ol' Mike was a'ridin' drag thet day, cause that's 'bout all he's got,
(you see he's bad about the booze, in fact, he is a sot).
But anyway, he sez he looked, an' way up in the sky
he seen this great big funny thing, somethin' like a pie.
Well, it come so quick he couldn't hide and it settled down so near,
that afore he knowed a mortal thing out popped somethin' queer!
They looked like folks, but then they didn't, iffen you knows jest what I mean,
an' afore Ol' Mike could say a word, he knowed thet he'd been seen.
Then quick as a wink they grabbed his arm, an' his hoss's leg as well,
an' jest as quick, they hauled them in ... to a place thet looked like hell!
It's then, he sez, his mind went blank, (as iffen it warn't already),
an' the next he knowed he was on the ground, an' feelin' mighty fretty.
It wuz jest the time the sun goes down, when thar's always a kinda haze,
an' 'though the rest of us warn't thar, I know it always pays
to listen when you hears a tale of things as yet unseen,
an' I knows as well, it's always smart to have some whar between
what's the truth and what ain't so, an' what you think ain't real,
an' 'though I know Ol' Mike's a drunk, I knows jest how he feels.
This saddle onct wuz yer old man's,
though now it ain't so grand,
but when he was young an' fiery-like,
an' his craw wuz full o' sand,
it wuz the pride of his young life
an' a thing of beauty, too.
Near ever' day he'd shine it up
with neadsfoot, through and through.
He won it in a rodeo,
up t'wards Montana way,
by beatin' all the very best
in ever' kind of fray.
It made no differ'nce what the game,
be it ropin' or throwin' steers ,
'cause he took 'em all without a pause
amidst the yells and cheers.
But only he knowed it wuz his last,
fer he was givin' up the life
to please yer ma, his one true love,
who suffered from the strife.
But thet wuz many years ago,
an' now he's dead an' gone,
but he asted me to hold this thing fer you,
'cause he hoped you'd come along
to take up whar he left off
a'ridin' the circuit round,
and showin' the world he had a son
could wear his cherished crown.
I guess I'll let these stirrups out,
'cause yer taller'n him a bit,
an' although yer skinny as a rail
it seems to me you'll fit,
'cause I see thar's something about yer eyes
that brings yer pa to mind,
an' the way you hold yer shoulders back,
yes, boy, you'll do jest fine.
The cowboy was settin' to the bar,
in the Starlight Bar and Grill,
an' as he set an' nursed his beer,
he was quiet and right still.
He'd been right close in speakin' til
a sailor boy come in,
and started to tellin' ever'body
bout the places whar he'd been.
He said he'd seen the wonders of
all the seas thar is,
an' once he even went so far
as to go to Martinez.
He kept on talkin' 'bout this an' that,
and lettin' on as how,
thar weren't no life quite as rough
as ridin' on them scows.
An' then the cowboy rolled a weed,
and took his time a'lightin',
and when he finally got it right,
he turned to make a rightin'.
He asted the sailor if'n he'd ever
been up upon a hoss,
that nobody ever tried to ride,
or to show him who was boss.
He asted him if the ridin' of
some ship tied up somewhar,
was half as rough as the weather deck
of rollicking pinto mare.
He told the sailor how it was
to try to hook his spurs
into a mess o' empty air,
as his eyes was filled with blurs.
He tol' the boy about the rocks,
that seemed to melt with ease,
when the sun shone down so awful hot
they seemed to flow like cheese.
Goin' on he made mentioned then,
'bout dust up to the knees,
when the rains that shudda, never did,
fer thar weren't no clouds to squeeze .
Then he told the sailor boy
that cowboys never lie,
and as he told that lie to him,
he looked him in the eye.
The sailor looked right back to him,
and then he went ta laffin',
fer he seen the cowboy was pokin' fun
an' was givin' him a gaffin',
So thar they set, all afternoon,
each a'tryin'ta top t'other,
and though the tales got worse and worse,
they never could beat one n'other.
We walked from Maine to Pontchartrain,
then on to Santa Fe.
But every step was sorely wept,
and so was every day.
It was too cold, the thunder rolled,
it was too wet or dry,
and every breath was sick like death
and we hoped that we would die.
That evil bastard, the wagon master,
who rode a shiny horse,
looked down his nose, in abject impose,
as though in strict recourse.
His entourage in like facade
thought they were far above
the slogging ones, all burned by sun,
who lacked both help and love.
The stock grew thin, the worms moved in,
and ate up every bean.
As then the flies crept into eyes
and drove the oxen mean.
On Texas land the burning sand
galled man and beast alike,
and everyone vowed they'd return
to where they'd begun to hike,
if only pluck was more than luck,
and if chances were the same,
but hindsight knows more than foregoes,
and chances never came.
So on we went, our backs all bent,
and failing from disease,
when up aside at last we spied
a distant shade of trees.
Then coming near we found so dear
a place as ever we'd abide,
and laying down our 'thistle crowns'
we rejoiced we were alive.
Then as we settled, soft and mellow,
upon that pretty vale,
we all spoke fine and genuine
about that wondrous trail.
Cowboy in Love
Ya got a smile thet's big as Texas,
an' jest as sunny bright.
Yer eyes is purty as all outdoors;
all sparkly like the night.
Yer hair is soft as a feather bed.
It floats on summer air
like a billowin' cloud above the range,
an' honey, I do declare!
thet you've stole my heart strings clean away,
from whar I had them hid,
to keep them safe from love's wild ways,
an' then thet thing you did
when ya rode yer hoss up to the barn;
jest the way you hopped right down,
with a look and a shake of yer ridin' skirt,
wal, the bobwar I'd strung 'round
my heart to keep it safe from wemmin's ways
jest fell to pieces then,
an' now thet I've seen the likes of you,
I'm in love all over ag'in.
© 2001, McCloud (Davey Lee George)
The hoss wuz lame an' me the same, from ridin' hard all day.
The weather'd been as mean as sin, and we'd 'bout made our play.
But then up come the number one, to tell us we warn't through,
'cause some beeves had got their bottoms sot, (like that wuz sump'n new).
It always seems when I want to dream, that some damned stupid cow
has got to go right out an' throw a wrench in the works somehow.
Well, down we rode, where we seen they'd throwed a fit around the slough,
an' in doing so, the bank let go an' down they all had flew.
They looked so dumb, an' even some had got theirselves so deep
that it looked to me as if we'd be a'haulin' in place of sleep.
At first I thought the lot had bought the farm as it's sometimes said
fer the last thar is; the endin' biz, as the casket's finally laid.
But as I peered at the sight that seared into my head so strong,
I seen a few that warn't all through, an' even though t'wuz wrong,
I wished to hell they all would dwell in the bottom of the sea,
so's I could'a slunk back to my bunk that wuz calling out to me.
But a cowpoke knows an' a cowpoke goes to whar the trouble is,
an' so we hauled as the cattle bawled out there all through the night
until at last, when dawn had passed, an' the sun was a'comin' bright,
the last damned fool had left that pool of death and watery flood,
an' then we rode, with prod and goad, our way out of the mud.
© 2001, McCloud (Davey Lee George)
The longhorns pass the tender grass in favor of the weeds,
and too, they like the prickly spikes of mullein blossom seeds.
The crazy things, that often bring the ticks to Kansas rocks,
are shaggy hides with ribs that ride upon their bony hocks.
Their horns are long, their eyes are wrong, their tails stick in the air,
and when they run the sons-aguns go every 'whichawhere.'
A meanness lies like threatening knives inside their wicked brains,
and they often plan to get a man most anyway they can.
It's worth a lot to trail and plot these surly herds along.
Don't be deceived, and don't believe, the life is just a song.
It's up 'fore dawn, and "carry on" till after sundown comes,
and the life's so tough, the work so rough, that only saddle bums
can take the strain and still remain up on the broncs all day.
So cowboy take, with no mistake, the advice of what I say,
and find a job, and leave the mob no matter what appears,
"cause it's no fun being on the run a'working longhorn steers
When sand wuz made, before the time of Adam an' his mate,
the market fer it wuzn't thar outside them per'ly gates.
But sumpin had to give a bit to move thet mess of sand,
an' other places wouldn't take the stuff from off His hands.
So God set to an' did a thing I've often studied on;
He made a place all horn toad rich, an' as he went along,
he developed too, with cactuses an' snakes right beady eyed,
a land called Arizony, that He thought of with some pride.
Then rollin' up His sleeves a ways, an' heaving with His back,
he fin'ly got the stuff all moved then fell all tuckered in His sack.
But it didn't help because you see, His ma, (her name wuz Mary),
commenced to fret an' holler some, in fact she got contrary,
about the sand left in His shoes, then fussed a little more,
until at last, His sleep disturbed, He began to gettin' sore.
So in a huff, an' to keep the peace, (avoiding apoplexy),
he dug a hole to put the rest in a place thet we call Texas.
© 2002, McCloud
I see out thar, fer miles an' miles,
in never endin' strands,
the posts of 'bob-war' like a plague
thet runs acrost the land.
It ain't been long since all this place;
this prairie green an' wide,
was open to the lot of us
so's we could all abide.
An' then one day, the sodbusters
jest came from out' the blue,
with plows, an' other things as well,
an' times began anew.
I still recall the way it wuz
when all this place outcheer
wuz wild an' free, an' ever'whars
wuz elk an' wolves an' deer.
A man could ride a whole day through
without the nary sight
of any other man a'tall
from mornin' to the night.
But look now whut they went an' done
to all the beauty here.
It's cut an' chopped into a mess.
It seems nobody keers.
But us oldtimers keer a lot,
an' if we had our way,
we'd run the whole dam' bunch of 'em
inter San Francisco Bay!
© 2002, McCloud
Not me, Cowboy!
It seems to me from whar I set, up on this half wild nag,
the desert has a sartin way of seemin' so benign
thet ever'thing is crystal clear an' fully without harm,
unless of course you give account to all the differn't kinds
of crawly things an' screechin' things an' them whut hides er tarries,
to pounce on you an' tear yer cloths, er them thet sometimes bites,
er them whut lurks beneath a rock an' waits fer passers by,
an' too thar's things I cain't describe thet comes out in the night.
But all thet may be 'magination, an' not be true a'tall
an' even tol' to tenderfoots to make 'em stay to home.
Although 'tis true; I know fer sure, thet things ain't all they seem,
fer onct before, (an' I warn't drunk), I seen a strange thing roam
acrost a place not far from hyar down in the cottonwoods,
thet looked to me like it warn't real but made of wood and straw,
an' blowin' in the gully winds thet comes on wanin' moons,
an' skeers the critters half to death an' makes 'em run an' bawl.
But I ain't skeered of stuff like thet, nor even rattlesnakes,
or winds thet rumble like a train thet's screechin' through the night,
an' things thet howls an' runs in fast to try to grab yer boot,
er even banshee sounds at dark to give a feller fright.
An' funny things nobody knows, or even what they is,
thet slide in close against you when the sun has gone ter rest.
Naw, it don't bother me a'tall when them things is afoot
'cause I don't plan on bein' thar, down in thet hellish nest.
© 2002, McCloud
I hunker down by my small fire, ag'in' a fallen tree,
an' look around but it's so dark thar's little I kin see.
Ol' Tom's a'chompin' on some grass he found to his surprise,
an' all thet coffee thet I drunk is proppin' up my eyes.
Thar ain't no sense to beddin' down 'cause I knows thet I cain't sleep,
so I'll jest stay ratcheer a while inside the firelight's keep.
Oh, listen thar! Away down on the valley floor below,
an' hyar thet train a chuffin' in, and hyar its whistle blow.
Ah, now it's set the coyotes to wailin' in return,
like all they ever has to do is yowl their own concerns.
It sends a chill right down my spine to hear thet strange duet,
an' know them coyotes will sing, but jest as quick fergit,
until the next comes barrelin' through, an' rumblin down the line
with pistons screamin' as she tries to muscle 'cross the spine.
Then when she shrills her tune of pain, an' sheerest agony,
them critters will but onct ag'in sing out in harmony.
© 2002, McCloud
Read McCloud's Cowboys and Christmas and Happy New Ya'r posted with other Holiday 2002 poems; A Christmas Story, and A Small Miracle, posted with other Holiday 2000 poems; and Bunkhouse Christmas Eve and Christmas Eve, posted with Holiday 2001 poems.
(This is page one. See page two here.)
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