Kelowna, British Columbia
About Don MacIntosh
Ole Jake he was an ornery cuss
Who'd push you to the wall,
And made it hard to think of charity
With his insults and his gall.
On matter what we'd do
To set him up to bring him down,
He always seemed one step ahead
With both feet on the ground.
He could argue like the devil
And challenge you to win your case,
Then spread the grin of that fabled cat
Across his leathered face.
He had little formal learning,
And the reckless use of words he spoke
We all excused, for that was Jake,
But how he loved the common folk.
He'd taunt the tonguey tenderfoot
When he got too bold and brazen,
With,"Ya can larn a lot from listenin'"
And, "Don't try to rise above yer raisin'"
He had a string of cuss words
As would shame the devil's son,
His artistic use of blasphemy
Would leave your senses numb.
Why, he raised cussin' to an art form,
Truth is, as I've been told,
If this became an Olympic sport
They'd be givin' Jake the Gold.
But the gruff persona he portrayed
Was invented, just to hide
The man he would not have us know,
The Jake that lived inside.
And when he'd mount his spotted grey
To stand watch or move along,
He would glide into the saddle,
"Twas just as if he'd put it on.
He was indeed a picture
Of strength, to men who knew
The value of a hand like Jake
To punch the cattle through.
Serene he'd sit and scan the herd
Chaps blowing, early morn,
With collar up and hat pulled low
Hands resting on the horn.
He had no truck with lawmen,
There was something in his craw
That happened many years ago,
When he lived outside the law.
But on malice did he harbor,
"Ya pay and larn from yer mistakes."
You could always find a positive
In the subtle words of Jake.
And he put no stock in parsons
With their pious points of view,
To him, God's house was the open range,
The spotted grey his pew.
He was an open contradiction
Of the man he kept from sight,
The Jake I will remember
Was stout of heart and spirit right.
You loved him or you loathed him,
The call was yours to make,
But everyone he ever knew,
Will remember him as Jake.
Yes he passed beyond the ranges
When the flush of dawn was red,
Some say the herd stood motionless,
In witness of the dead.
© 2008, Don MacIntosh
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.
About Don MacIntosh:
I was born and raised in the village of Sherbrooke Nova Scotia and since childhood have always had a love affair with words. At age 20 in 1952 I enlisted in the Royal Canadian Air Force and served in several Canadian Provinces as well as Europe and a Peace Keeping tour in the Middle East. I retired from the Canadian Military air traffic control branch in 1984 following 32 years service.
For the past 60 plus years I have been writing poetry about people and places I've known from my rural roots, one of which was published in an anthology of The Poetry Institute of Canada in 1999. My poems have also appeared in local newspapers and the Arizona Bluegrass Beacon.
The poetry of Robert Service has always appealed to me and since retirement I have recited many of his poems at various festivals and retirement homes.
Although Nova Scotia will always be near and dear to me, since relocating to Kelowna in 1990, where we presently reside, I have learned to love the west, the mountains and the Okanagan sunshine. It was this environment that introduced me to cowboy poetry.
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