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Santee, California
Harvey T. Sampson



Aces and Eights

It was just outside of Reno
In a little local bar.
The boys were playing poker
I watched it from afar.
One of the cowboys hollered
Seats open, wanna play?
I answered sorry fellows
I'm a little broke today.
The door was opened suddenly
And an old man shuffled in.
Got room there at the table boys,
He said with an odd little grin?
I've played a lot of poker
In a lot of cattle towns.
I know the golden rule
You gotta put your money down.
We're playing Texas Hold Em
You know that game old man?
No, all I've ever played is stud
But I'll play it if I can.
They explained the rules to him
Then they began to dealing.
There was something about this cowboy
That gave me an eerie feeling.
His clothes were long since out of style
And his movements pained and slow.
When it's my turn to deal boys
This game has got to go.
I remember a game up in Deadwood
Wild Bill was dealing stud
He dealt himself aces and eight's,
Then the table was covered in blood.
The boys all had a laugh at this
Hell that was a hundred years ago.
May have been he said
But I was there you know.
It was a day just like this
Windy with blowing sand.
How that guy got close with a gun
I'll never understand.
Now Wild Bill usually sat
With his back up to the wall.
But he'd just bet a big one
And I decided to call.
The kid squeezed in behind him
And shot him right in the head.
I hit the floor a running
I knew Wild Bill was dead.
Then one of the cowboys replied
That's a mighty fine story you tell.
But if you had been in Deadwood then
Today you'd be in hell.
Oh it wasn't so long ago
I clearly remember the day.
It was August 2nd '76
When Jack McCall put Bill away.
Now old Jack was a politician
And I guess there's nothing worse.
But someday I'm gonna find him
And that will end this curse.
Suddenly the hair on my arms stood up
And a chill ran down my back.
Another man had entered the room
A younger man dressed in black.
The old man at the table said
Deal me a hand of draw.
I mean to win some money tonight.
Hell, I think I'll take it all.
The man in black slipped behind his chair
And suddenly a gun appeared.
He shot him once in the back of the head
And then he disappeared.
The cowboys jumped and ran
Like they were leaving the states.
The old mans body just vanished
And the hand on the table, was aces and eights.

2004, Harvey Sampson
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.


Store Bought Teeth

I was working on this ranch
Down in Southern Idaho.
Just trying to get through the winter
And out of the cold and snow.

I took the job for wages
Cause it came with bed and board.
At least I'd have a place to sleep
Something I couldn't afford.

There was an old fellow working there
Small and kinda slim.
But he was a real good worker
I took a liking to him.
First night we sat down to eat
They brought out beans and beef.
Old Slim reached in his pocket
And took out his store bought teeth.

What the devil's this all about?
They're my chomping tools he said.
Then he cut off a great big chunk of beef
And grabbed some home made bread.
Those teeth were his pride and joy
He'd bought them the year before.
Never been to a dentist
Found them in a Goodwill store.
When he finished eating
He said they kinda hurt.
Took 'em out and wiped 'em off
Stuck 'em in his shirt.

Now every night in the bunkhouse
Cookie ran a poker game.
Slim said he couldn't play real well
But he won just the same.

This all changed one night
When Cookie started getting hot.
There was a big raise on the table
Slim said this dollars all I got.

Cookie smiled and said
There's one thing you have there.
Throw in your store bought teeth
I'll call the raise all square.

Slim thought and thought about it
And finally said I'll try.
When Cookie showed four aces
I thought old Slim would cry.

Now Cookie owns the choppers
Old Slim he has to pay
A rental fee to Cookie
Or he can't eat that day.

2004, Harvey Sampson
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.


The Buckle 

He sat at the bar
And nursed his beer.
His mind wandered back
To that championship year.

He'd won it all
Up in Lost Wages.
All Around Cowboy,
A man for the ages.

The years went by
And the bulls took their toll.
They ruined his body,
But not his soul.

He's at that time,
Approaching sixty-five.
The body's shot to hell
But the old boy's still alive.

He's busted every bone
And shattered every knuckle.
But he holds his head up high,
He's still got that big buckle

2005, Harvey Sampson
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.




About Harvey T. Sampson:

I am a retired Master Sergeant, I served in the US Marine Corps for two years, then joined the California Army National Guard and served another 28 years.  I was employed by the National Guard for 26 years of that time.  I reside in Santee, California.  I will have been married for 50 years this coming July, have three daughters and seven grandchildren. I have been writing poetry most of my life, and only recently started sending things out for publication.  My poetry has appeared in Tale Spinner and The Log magazines and on the British Columbia Cowboy Heritage Society (BCCHS) web site.  I enjoy writing all types and styles of poetry, but my favorite is the traditional Cowboy Poetry.



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