About E.D. Johnson
The Legend of Bronco Billy
There’s many a legend that’s come out of the West,
and ain’t nobody knows how many is true.
But the realist one I knows about,
is this one I’m tellin’ you.
It concerns a fella named William McCoy,
he’s “Bronco Billy” to kith and kin.
Not a gambler nor a drinker nor a ladies man,
he took no part in any sin.
Nope, bustin’ broncos, that were Billy’s game,
he fit a hoss like a second hide.
and from the Badlands south to the Rio Grande,
he gave ‘em all a ride.
Then he heard about this California hoss,
it hadn’t been rid by any man,
and Billy made his mind he’d have to try or die,
the one they called “ Lightnin’ Dan.”
Well, the word spread quick and the bets went down,
half on Lightnin’, half on Bill,
and when they finally met in Salinas Town,
why, both might’a died, if looks could kill.
It took four strong men to hold Lightin’ down,
and a fifth to cinch his saddle tight,
but Billy waved ‘em off as he took the reins,
on his face not a hint of fright.
Then he whispered, “Listen Dan, I’m just a man,
but I’m your better through and through,
so you’ll just settle down and parade around,
if you know what’s good for you.”
Then he got on Ol’ Lightnin’ and got throwed right off.
Got back on and off again.
And then got on and then got off,
and on and off and then,
Said, “Y’all just sit a spell, don’t count your bets,
‘cause this battle’s just begun.
and in the end, them’s what’s bet on me,
is the ones that will have won.
‘Cause they ain’t no hoss that I can’t ride,
and that goes double for Lightnin’, too.
And I’m gonna ride that cussed hoss,
if it’s the last thing I ever do.
Well, he got on again and hunkered down,
and set his hat just right.
Then he brushed the dust that soiled his jeans,
and he grabbed the reins real tight.
Ol’ Lightnin’ snorted some and stomped the ground,
there was a fire in both his eyes.
and his muscles tensed like springs of steel,
‘til he looked two times his size.
Then Billy kicked him and all Hell was loosed
as Ol’ Lightnin’ bucked and spun,
and Billy was a whoopin’ and a hollerin’,
he was havin’ lots of fun.
Well, they raised this tornado cloud of dust,
as they fought from dark ‘til dawn.
And come mornin’, when that dust was down,
why the both of them was gone.
Now most folks said, “They just rode off
and by and by they’ll come on back.”
But the bettin’ men weren’t so sure of that
and went out lookin’ for some track.
Yet not a hide nor hair was ever found
north, south, east or west of town
and course nobody looked where they really went,
‘cause you see, they went straight down.
And their battle rages to this day
in cracks and crevices below.
And as both are gettin’ a bit long of tooth,
sometimes the battlin’s kind of slow.
Now, I know this tale’s a bit hard to take,
it’s hard to accept as true.
And if you’re apt to be the doubtin’ kind,
well here’s the proof I give to you.
The next time you hear a rumblin’
and you see things shakin’ all around,
and you’re sure that it’s an earthquake,
that’s a churnin’ up the ground.
Well, just remember this here story,
and point your eardrums down below.
You’ll hear Billy, yellin’ at Ol’ Lightnin’ Dan,
“I said whoa, ya danged hoss, whoa!”
© 2012, E.D. Johnson
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without permission.
E.D. Johnson comments: Years ago I was watching a news report in the aftermath of one of California's many earthquakes and the reporters were going on about how animals and children reacted with such fear during and after these events. I remembered that when I was growing up in Connecticut, I was extremely fearful of thunder storms. To calm me, my mother would tell me it was just God bowling. I later learned that it was actually Knickerbockers playing Tenpins, but that's another story. Her story worked on me and I wondered why I had never heard anything like that to explain an earthquake to help allay a child's fears.
I started thinking about it and jotting down some ideas about what could be churnin' up the ground. I ended up with a buckin' bronco and a cowboy havin' a battle. Over the course of the next fifteen or so years I kept revisiting and rewriting, adding and subtracting, until I ended up with "The Legend of Bronco Billy."
About E.D. Johnson
I am a retired designer from Walt Disney Imagineering where I enjoyed a career of some forty years working on rides and attractions for the theme parks. I was born in Joplin, Missouri near the end of WW11 and was raised until age nine in New Haven, Connecticut. My parents decided to move to California in 1953 and I thought I'd better go with them, so we all hopped in the old Chevy and hit Route 66. We settled in or near the San Fernando Valley during it's halcyon days and except for several out of state and out of country assignments to Orlando, Florida, Tokyo, Japan and Paris, France, I have remained a Valley resident.
I've always enjoyed writing rhyming poems, usually short verses and they were often in the form of an apology to a girlfriend for some thoughtless slight. If you should ever endeavor to create a Bad Boyfriend Poetry site, I'm your man.
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