Folks' Poems

Back to Lariat Laureate Contest
Back on home
Back to the list of Folks' Poems

 

DAVE RHODES
Logan, Utah
About Dave Rhodes
Dave Rhodes' web site

Featured in "The Big Roundup," an anthology of the best of CowboyPoetry.com.


Sleep Is A Ghost Rider

Have you ever wondered why it's so easy
to fall asleep on the trail?
The reason is: Sleep is a ghost rider
and he is always on your tail.

He lives out on the road
waiting for the herds to come by,
then he jumps on behind the saddles
of cowboys who resist his cry.

Like the Devil, he tempts you
as he whispers lies in your ear:
"Just close your eyes for an instant,"
or, "You deserve a little nap right here."

There are those the ghost rider claims easily
and others not so quick to give in
who pay the price of agonizing torture,
holding to the false conviction they'll win.

Seems like it is not very long,
whenever I set out on a ride,
till the fight against the demon begins
and erupts as a raging battle inside!

An occurrence that can be real scary
is when I fight sleep to the bitter end
and just before the war is lost
behold the strange visions my mind will send:

I have seen canyon walls that change
into tall buildings down a city street,
or the old alkaline desert so flat
become a raging ocean with a British fleet;

Desert bushes will dance and sing
like Indian braves around a fire,
a rabbit is a charging buffalo
and rocks on the hill are a church choir!

I have been on rides when time is lost
and the direction traveled is unknown
as I drift along . . . sound asleep,
dreaming of a soft bed at home;

No agony on earth will compare
to the realization of where you really are,
especially when it's not even close
to your dream of comfort that's carried you afar.

One time on a drive to California
I stopped to rest my bones at mid-day,
the ride had out-numbered sleep ten-to-one,
still, a moment's rest and time to be on my way.

Fighting temptation to linger I went to mount,
put my foot in the stirrup to climb on
but, woke up an hour later in the same position,
thanked the horse for his patience . . . and moved along.

If it wasn't so far between places
out here in this new western land
we wouldn't stretch our abilities to the limit,
or try things normal people couldn't understand.

Like everything else, sleep has its time
and we who refuse it create a monster
that haunts from behind on the night ride,
or turns our thoughts into flukes of nature.

To survive, I rely on a truth that gets me through
(which is kept in a place in my mind that's deep),
"The reward of honest rest will eventually come
and when it does it will be pure, sweet, undefiled sleep."

© Dave Rhodes
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.



Take Me Back to Tullemore

The night air is hot and still, and full of dust.
My horse is lathered and I am weary
As we begin to cross Antelope Valley.
My mind wanders, and my eyes are teary.

I start to dream of our Irish home,
And hear the songs mother sings.
Lord, take me back to Tullemore,
Or, at least, get me to Antelope Springs.

The lack of sleep turns me inside-out,
And my feelings have taken flight.
It seems all the worries of my life
Are on this ride with me tonight.

The green of my childhood I see,
Beautiful flowers and running streams.
Oh Lord, take me back to Tullemore,
Or, at least, get me to Antelope Springs.

The full moon lights up the view,
Not another soul for a hundred miles.
I did not know a man could be so alone,
Or feel such pain over life's trials.

I wonder what I would've become
Had I never left those Irish scenes.
Please Lord, take me back to Tullemore,
Or, at least, get me to Antelope Springs.

It's hard to decide which hurts the most,
My back, my legs or the agony inside of me.
Which will give up first, the mind or the body?
I am losing interest in what the result will be.

Would I be at peace back in Ireland?
For that solitary dream my soul screams.
Dear Lord, take me back to Tullemore,
Or, at least, get me to Antelope Springs.

Down on the flat the trail is fast and clear,
But the reality shows still a long way to go.
How many miles have we gone today?
In my mind is nothing, I really do not know.

Oh! the feel of the mist of the sea!
Yes, and the smell that the ocean brings.
Would you Lord, take me back to Tullemore,
Or, at least, get me to Antelope Springs?

What am I doing here on this horse
So far away from anyone's home?
My purpose is losing its image fast,
Again, aimlessly, my thoughts begin to roam.

But if I were in Ireland, my way'd be set,
I'd have the happiness a sense of purpose brings.
I beg you Lord, take me back to Tullemore,
Or, at least, get me to Antelope Springs.

As the grade rises I know we're closer
To the water we both need bad.
The spring is near the western hills.
Lets get there before I go mad.

Now, lying on the ground, looking at stars,
The trickling water is the sound an angel sings.
Lord, did you take me back to Tullemore?
Or is it true, I made it to Antelope Springs?

© Dave Rhodes
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

We're The Riders

It's a thankless life we lead
‘cause nobody knows our names.
We are silhouettes on the hills
and shadows on the plains.

What we carry runs the nation
and we execute our duty well.
We're the Pony Express riders,
the boys that carry the mail.

We've been shot at and ambushed,
chased down and almost kilt,
soaked through and frozed,
survived heat that made us wilt.

The food is a little scarce
and the pay is hardly scale.
We're the Pony Express riders,
the boys that carry the mail.

We're all excellent horsemen
and the mustang is our ride . . .
the wilder and faster the better
to get the job done in stride.

An oath we all took in earnest
and made a promise not to fail.
We're the Pony Express riders,
the boys that carry the mail.

You could say that we are brave
and we have all been scared,
but mostly we're just too young
to know what should be feared.

Racing time and the telegraph
out here on the lonely trail . . .
we're the Pony Express riders,
the boys that carry the mail.

© Dave Rhodes
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.




Out Here at Butte Station

I am out here on the desert alone,
Just me and the horses at Butte Station,
Where the only shade is devised by man
And the water's always on short ration.

There was a blacksmith and extra rider,
Which meant a little more food on the shelf,
But, the last days of the Pony Express
Find me running the station by myself.

Twice a day, for only two minutes each,
An express rider comes burning on through.
There's only time for a couple of words,
Then he's on a new mount and out of view.

This job is like no other I have known,
And to choose it again would be insane,
Though lessons of life and about myself
Have been my reward, and also my pain.

It takes discipline to be on your own,
To feed the horses, do all of the work,
Take a bath when it's time, or wash the clothes,
And the duties of the station not shirk.

There is pride in all these productive things,
And the feelings, they help bring me some joy,
But, out here there are a few darker woes
That can instill mighty fear in a boy . . .

Like when the sky comes clear down to the ground,
And it seems I'll be squashed in between,
Or when the silence roars like a cannon . . .
That is when I break the spell with a scream!

There are times I am overcome with fear . . .
Imagination's a weakness of mine.
I have heard sounds that I cannot describe,
And seen shapes at night I cannot define.

The lowest thought is that of dying here . . .
Just fading away and no one knowing
That I am gone, or where I lay to rot,
Nor the circumstances of my passing.

Once in a while though, I get a great swell
And am overwhelmed by the endless plain.
While looking at this creation so large
I believe it is the whole of God's domain.

A few times I heard Him talking to me
When I had been trying to think things out.
His voice was as soft as the desert breeze . . .
I always thought'd be more like a shout.

There are beautiful sights in the desert,
And other things that bring peace to the heart,
Like the sun that's going down forever,
Or the smell of the sage ‘fore the rains start,

And the owl working the mice in the grass,
A coyote yelp in the bright moonlight,
Or the colors that take time to notice . . .
Sometimes, everything can seem all right.

But, most of the time out here is empty . . .
A magnified sense of being alone . . .
Out here next to the alkaline desert.
What a miserable place to call home.

The loneliest stop on the express trail,
The station with the worst reputation,
Where the only shade is devised by man,
And the water's always on short ration.

© Dave Rhodes
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.



 

About Dave Rhodes:

To say Dave Rhodes is obsessed with the history of the Pony Express is an understatement.

Each year he participates in the annual Pony Express re-enactment which carries the mail around the clock over the original trail between Sacramento, California and St. Joseph, Missouri in ten days.

In 1996 he helped carry the Olympic torch by Pony Express relay between Julesburg, Colorado and St. Joseph Missouri as it made its way to the Summer Games in Atlanta.

He is the editor of the Pony Express Gazette, a newspaper published by the National Pony Express Association.

Dave is known to Pony Express enthusiasts for his articles and poetry portraying the lives of those involved in the original Pony Express and other aspects of frontier life.

His great great grandfather was the superintendent of the Express between Salt Lake City and Robert's Creek, in what is now Nevada.  Many of his poems are based on actual events or experiences of his ancestors, but some are obvious exaggerations of the truth.

About his poetry Dave states, "If there was one objective of my poetry it would be to express the true feelings of the men and boys of the Pony Express and the early western pioneers, while avoiding the clichés and generalities sometimes used to describe the early western life and people."

More of Dave's poetry can be viewed at his web site.

 

 

 

www.cowboypoetry.com

 

HOME

 What's New | Poems | Search

 Features | Events  

The BAR-D Roundup | Cowboy Poetry Week

Poetry Submissions 

Subscribe | Newsletter | Contact Us

  Join Us!

 

Authors retain copyright to their work; obtain an author's
permission before using a poem in any form.

 

CowboyPoetry.com is a project of the Center for Western and Cowboy Poetry, Inc., a Federal and California tax-exempt non-profit 501 (c) (3) organization.  

 

Site copyright information