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Queen Creek, Arizona
About Evelyn "Dr. Mimi" Dunham





White Cloud and Pappa Little Joe

Cowboy in the cutter hat, Pappa Little Joe,
has been gone for a spell,
but a trip to Colorado stirred up this old memory
listen darling, now I will tell:

Riding out upon a roan, set for a day’s ride,
over time worn rocky trails,
my mind wandered back to when I was but a kid,
over there’s the old train rails.

At the clearing we had stopped,
hitched our horses to a tree,
in my memory, smiling, I heard Pappa Little Joe
singing "Red River Valley" to me.

Back then in his younger days
Joe rode an Appaloosa, fifteen hands high,
He traversed rocky gullies, sunup to
high noon, beneath azure tinted sky.

Indian paintbrush opened, oak trees made shadow,
sunlight made me squint,
then I noticed centered in a sun spot
on the clearing, a softened sand imprint.

A closer look showed hoof prints
walking backward into times,
returning to a dismal day when the sky turned gray,
as Little Joe rode up steep inclines.

Herding forty burros to the summit,
of the hill on his horse "White Cloud,"
sky quickly blackened, crept down to them,
impervious as a ominous shroud.

Rain poured, lightening cracked a thin tall pine
and singed that big oak tree,
Joe had always said "Little dear, if nothing else will,
white lightening will bring you to your knee."

When he rose, burros scattered everywhere,
White Cloud, gone to town,
red water ran in washes, raged toward the catch,
about seven miles straight down.

Joe whistled for his horse, got up off his knees,
the rain began to slow,
the parti-colored hoofs then walked to him,
‘twas "Cloud"; bucked shin, was all he had to show.

Pappa Little Joe donned his hat and mounted,
rounded up burros three by three,
still…. in my memory, smiling, I hear Pappa Little Joe
singing "Red River Valley" to me.

I asked him, ‘fore he left, how many
they really found, he said "Hm-only thirty five."
Sure enough, grazing there, as I left, in the rain,
I saw the wild burros, that keep this tale alive.

© 2007, Evelyn "Dr. Mimi" Dunham
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

Mimi told us this poem was written "about my Pappa, (Little Joe) when he rode on an Appaloosa, usually bareback. The Ute Indians once owned the horse and named it 'White Cloud' because it would sound like thunder when he rode on the trails. One of my Dad's jobs was to herd burros up to the top of a popular mountain in Colorado, so the tourists in the 1920's could take an incline car to the summit and ride the burros on the trails near Pikes Peak. Pappa Little Joe liked to sing western songs and I would play the guitar for him as we harmonized." She adds, "Here’s a photo of  Pappa Little Joe at the foot of the Colorado mountains he rode over, before he took his last journey to the happy trails in the sky."




  About Evelyn "Dr. Mimi" Dunham:

Since age 5, I’ve written a rainbow of poems about special Westerners who’ve inspired me to be strong. They taught me to respect the land and the integrity of those who carved trails through the beauty of the west. I pay tribute with my strong loyalty to them by teaching these values and by giving my poems sealed with my friendly western smile. Recently inspired by the richness of the western poets legacies shared on CowboyPoetry.Com., I reminisced over the stories told by my Pappa Little Joe, about riding White Cloud in the rugged Colorado mountains. To conclude story time, he would sing classic western songs, as Mamma played piano and I joined in on the guitar.

Dr. Mimi is Instructor and Director of the Institute of Methods for Recovery.



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