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JIM OWEN 
Kyle, Texas
About Jim Owen

 

 

The Widow's Sister

I eased down off the chute on to the back of a gray they called the Widow's Sister
Knowing full well that it would be a high point ride, if the first jump out I didn't miss her

I nodded my head and the gate swings wide and I feel like I've got a chance
Then she goes right and my hat heads left and the Sister starts her dance

She turns her head and looks at me and there is hate comin' from her eye
And every time her front hooves hit the ground, her back hooves try and touch the sky

Got my spurs hung half way up this horses flanks, and there's slobber comin' out of her nose
Where this ride is goin' to end up, well probably only those in heaven knows

She damn sure don't want me on her back and she's doin' all she can
To send me flyin' thru the sky, then tryin' to catch up to me after I land

You rise so high, and fall so fast, and then there's that sudden stop
And your head snaps back like the end of a whip, and your eyes they try to pop

'Bout four jumps out of the chute my butt saw the light of day
I figured that old horse thought she was thru and was thinkin' 'bout eatin' hay

But I had a good grip, and by the hair on my lip, I didn't end up in the dirt
But over the clatter and the clamor I heard  a pop, and knew my arm was hurt

'Bout the time I heard the whistle I was givin' her one more rake
And she turned left and headed for the fence, I'm sure my head she wanted to break

I was tryin' to get my hand out of the riggin', but it was wedged in pretty tight
Cause I knew when I climbed on this old girl I was in for a hell of a fight

Widows Sister didn't care, that for me, this ride was thru
She just kept  on buckin', fact was, she turned it up a notch or two

The Sister was goin' to pin my leg between her and the fence, and just about that time
The pick-up man grabbed my arm, and we were gone, and it all worked out fine

I knew I'd made a dammed good ride and figured I'd earned a pretty good score
When Hadley announced over the speakers that I got an eighty-four

Eighty-four, apparently the judges didn't see the horse that I just rode
But that ought to get me some day money, and that'll get me on down the road

I'm walkin' back towards the chutes, and my arm has already started to swell
When a red head in the crowd yells out "Way to go cowboy," and I know why go thru this hell

 

 

The Prickly Pear Patch

Charlie picked the buckskin mare, even tho he knew she wasn't right of mind
Then along with the rest of us, headed on up the line
Every thing was goin' just fine 'til we got down by the gate
Then that roadrunner came out of the prickly pears, and then it was too late

Cause the buckskin mare threw Charlie, into the middle of the prickly pears
And all you could see of Charlie, was the top of Charlie's hair
The cussin' and the screamin' wilted the grass, and turned the air a cloudy blue
Those of us that weren't doubled over laughin', were tryin' to figure out what to do

Every time Charlie moved to try to get up, he'd let out a blood curdlin' yell
Cause those thorns were a jabbin' him, and I'm sure it was a form of hell
Most everyone had a suggestion as to how to end ole Charlie's plight
And the one thing we all agreed on, was, that he was a mighty sad sight

Monty said, "Throw a couple of rattle snakes in and Charlie will sprint right out of there"
Uncle Buck said, "Naw, just set the patch on fire, and it won't be long, 'til he just don't care
How hot it gets or how much it hurts, he'll find his own way out
That way we won't get any thorns in us, and he'll be out without a doubt"

Rusty said, "Let's rope him." But there was nothin ' to throw a rope around
Lefty just got off of his horse, walked to the shade, and kinda hunkered down
'Bout that time the boss came by and wanted to know what was all the fuss
And when he saw ole Charlie, well he really started to fume and cuss

He told us, "Get him out of there, and do whatever you have to do
Cause you need to remember, that one day, in that patch, it might just be you"
Well that sobered us up fairly quick, and someone got an ax
Lefty and Buck got some tree limbs to part the cactus, and I began to whack

It took about twenty minutes, before we finally got ole Charlie free
He had stickers and thorn's from his nose to clear down past his knees
Honestly, he looked like a pin cushion, with all those stickers and thorns
And the look on his face, well it was nothin' short of forlorn

We cut his clothes off and burned them, along with that patch of prickly pears
Then started pullin' thorn's and sticker's, while Charlie just stood and stared
Every once-in-a-while he would whoop or holler or let out a big old shout
But he really got ornery when we had to shave his body, to get all those tiny stickers out

Well I guess if you had come ridin' up on that oh so fateful day
You would have taken one look at Charlie, and may of had a few words to say
About a totally shaved man standin' there in nothin' but his boots
Kinda lookin' like a six foot baby, instead of an old cowboy coot

Yes it all sounds funny, unless you were the one that was in that patch
Or the one that was bein' shaved from head to toe, while you were tryin' to detach
Yourself from all the ridicule, plus all the hurt and pain
Shucks, I'd just as soon you shoot me, as to have to go thru that again

2002, Jim Owen

 

 

The Rim

In late spring and early fall seems like the stars are a more glorious sight
As I lay upon my bed roll and look up into the jet-black night
The horses are a nickerin' and the frogs and crickets have started their din
And way off in the distance, you can here a hootie owl, now and again

Old Bill he's still coughin' from gittin' caught out in the snow
While Big Jim he's a snorin', like a cows bellow, but soft and low
Cookie's banked the fire and the coffee is purt near gone
And down by the herd you can hear bits and pieces, of the night herder's song

Then like a blast of cold North wind, the sound of a thousand hooves split the night
Above it all, the scream of the night herder, and in an instant you know his plight
You're up in a second, runnin' to the remuda to catch a horse to ride
And as you git hold of this Appaloosa, you have this sick feelin' growin' inside

Cause the cattle are headed for camp and you really have no place to go
You see we were camped on the edge of a canyon, with the cows spread out below
The herd was headin' up the slope, and their hooves were strikin' fire
And I knew if'n we didn't git'em turned soon the situation would be dire

Old Bill's horse stumbled and they went down in a heap
Then thru the dust I saw Bill headed for a tree, and he made it in one big leap
Big Jim was already at the front of the herd tryin' to turn 'em around
Hoopin' and hollerin' and shootin' his gun tryin' to head 'em to lower ground

I swung up on my Appaloosa, knowing that it wasn't goin' to be a lot of fun
Cause no matter how awkward longhorns look, one thing's for sure, they sure can run
And run they were, headed straight for that canyon rim
It seemed that no matter what Jim and I did, it had no effect on them

We were gittin' awful close to the edge, cause I could see the dark down below
When Jim pulled off of the leaders, and motioned to me to let 'em go
I jerked the reins on the Appaloosa, and that's when the ground gave away
Right then and there I knew that, I'd never again see the light of day

And a million thoughts go thru your mind when you know that the end is near
Things you've done, and people you'd done different, and you wish for one more beer
As you go tumblin' man over horse, and you know the ground is comin' up real fast
You grab on to you hat, and say one quick prayer, cause you're sure it'll be your last

But then you hear a sound from a far way off, a sound that you've heard before
And you wonder if maybe it could be someone a knockin' on Heaven's door
No, its Cookie, bangin' on a pot, lettin' you know that breakfast is done
Then you crack one eye, and over in the East, you see the first ray's of the mornin' sun

You notice that you've been sweatin', and your mouth is parched and dry 
And you take one more look around, and thank God for the mornin' sky
I looked over at the remuda and the Appaloosa was standin' quiet
And I knew for a fact that she had not gone thru what I had last night

So I rolled up my bedroll and put it in the back of the wagon
Knowin' too well that by the time I took it out tonite, my tail end, it would be a'dragin'
But you know it won't be so bad when I lay down to look at the stars in the sky so black
Cause last nite I fell off the rim of the canyon, but I was lucky, I got to come back


2002, Jim Owen

 

One Last Talk

This ole horse has carried me for well over twenty years
Thru rain, and dust, and snow, and a whole lot of laughter and tears
She's been faithful and true probably the best horse I ever rode
Shucks, she's probably been a better friend, than some humans I've knowed
But she's hurtin' now and I guess I'm goin' to have to put her down
She don't know it, but today, was her last trip, into town
I just gave her fresh water and more oats than she could eat
Then went up to the bunkhouse porch and drug me up a seat

I reckon once she git's thru eatin' we'll take a long slow walk
Out into the hills we rode thru so much, and we'll have one last talk
Seems like we talked an awful lot over the last twenty some odd years
'Bout the ups and downs of life, and why I drank so many beers
Like the time she kicked R.T. Sams when he and I got into a fight
And all the dances we'd been to on so many Saturday nights
'Bout the new calves and the sunrise and the gentle rain in the spring
And the lonesome call of the wolves, an all the songs the mockin' bird could sing

Well she didn't eat a lot, she just stood there lookin' at me with those big brown eyes
I guess she's figured out that I'm gittin' ready to tell her a bunch of lies
Like how things are goin' to be better and she won't have no more pain
And that I'm doin' it for her good, now that's an excuse that's lame
Well we had our walk and we had our talk and now it's up to me
To put an end to a dear ole friend, underneath this big ole pecan tree
Its started to turn cool as the sun goes down with a glorious blaze of flame
And the shadows grow long and dark as my heart as slowly I take aim

The shot is fired, shakin' the shadows, and a still form lies at my feet
And I rejoice knowin' that come daylight some buzzard will have fresh meat

That was probably the biggest snake I've ever kilt in all of my born days
It would have bit me for sure, if it hadn't been for the snortin' of the gray
An eye for an eye an a tooth for a tooth, least that's the way I was raised
So I'm turnin' the gray out to pasture, where all she will have to do is graze
You may say that I turned chicken, or that I was just lookin' for an excuse
But I got to thinkin', on our walk, that I too was gittin' kinda long in the tooth
And when it git's to the point that I ain't quite as good as I use to be
I sure hope someone will put me out to pasture, 'til it's time to plant me neath a tree

2002, Jim Owen

 

The Night Was Quiet


The night was quiet and I was glad cause it had been a hell of a day
Ropin' and brandin' the cows and calves that somehow go astray

My spurs jingled, the leather creaked, and I heard the cry of a hawk
And the bay dropped his head, as we continued on at a walk

Wyly James was saddlin' his Appaloosa, best lookin' horse ever born
Soon he'd be singin' to the herd and would sing to them 'til morn

The hawk shrilled out in the night and the bay pricked his ears
And the song I sang to the cows quickly laid their fears

Soon a cup of coffee, then the bedroll, then to sleep 'neath my tarp
While I dream of a gal in Abilene who plays my heart like a harp

Once again the hawk cries out, this time answered by an owl
The bay gets wide-eyed and stiff, and my face turns to a scowl

As I scan the darkness slowly the hair on my neck starts to rise
Cause of the faint but oh to familiar sound that I quickly recognize

A rattler, and he's mad, then comes a smell that you dread
It's that of a skunk, he must've rousted the rattler out of his bed

The bay wants out'a here and I for one don't blame him none
But we've got to move slow cause we don't want the herd to run

A cow or two get up from their warm bed and a few they bellow out
Lookin' for this black and white stinkpot, whose smell has filled their snout

While I sing a little ditty that will hopefully ease their troubled minds
I keep one eye wide open for the varmint, that I hope I don't find

Camp is a hundred yards or so away and up wind from the smell
And I'm sure come mornin', they'll laugh at the story I'll tell

Next trip around the herd and most of the smell had gone away
But I still kept my eyes wide open, and would 'til break of day

Heard this ruckus comin' from camp as I was on the far side of the herd
Figured if it was somethin' real bad someone would send me word

I heard Wyly singin' 'fore I saw him and knew my turn was thru
We talked about what was happin' in camp, seemed like a pretty big do

The cows were getting' restless from the smell and now the noise in camp
'Bout that time JC rode up tryin' to be quite, but laughin' like a scamp

Said that he had skedaddled from camp just in the nick of time
Cause a skunk, with a swoll up head, had left his scent so divine

Sprayed all over most of the camp especially those who were sound asleep
Folks runnin' ever which way with one boot on or just socks on their feet

The more the commotion the more the spray, it wasn't a lot of fun
And they were afraid to shoot the polecat, and put the cows on the run

JC said he was lucky that his bladder wasn't as good as it use to be
Cause he'd been right slap dab in the middle, if'n he hadn't been behind that tree

Suddenly I'd just as soon ride herd I really didn't need any sleep
I'll just help out Wyly and JC 'til the rooster makes his peep

By now most of the cows were up bawlin' and millin' all about
They didn't like the smell, and all the cussin', and the occasional shout

So we started in to singin' softly, movin' at a slow easy pace
Me and the bay, Wyly and the Appaloosa, and JC and his pony with the bald face

Camp was still a hundred yards or so away but now the source of the smell
And I'm sure come mornin' there won't be much laugher at the story they'll tell

About how this skunk and a rattler got into this hellacious territorial fight
You know I sure hope the day is goin' to be quiet, cause it's been a hell of a night

2003, Jim Owen

 

The Drought

Tied 'nuther knot in 'nuther rope, knots number six hundred and twenty-four
And from the way things look out here, there's goin' to be plenty more
The nights are filled plum full of stars and days nuthin' but sun in the sky
And your mouth and eyes are filled with the dust from winds a blowin' by
Most all the cows, except for some breedin' stock, have been sold and gone
That don't leave much for Shorty and me to do, we're the only ones Elon kept on
But we try to stay busy doin' what we can, makin' sure we earn our keep
And most night's we're tired enough that it don't take long 'til we fall off to sleep
Ten thousand acres is not a lot of land, but that depends who you're talkin' to
But that's the Double Bar H, where we worked and ate our beans and stew
The once fairly good stream that ran thru the ranch, has trickled itself away
All's left is a pool here and there in the limestone and dried banks of clay
Most days Shorty and I go out and burn the stickers off the prickly pear
You know that they've got big tough stickers and some as fine as hair
Then the cows that's left have something to eat and a little moisture too
It' not he best thing I ever fed to a cow, but in a pinch I guess it'll do
Elons wife Marie worked hard on the ranch, always goin' that extra mile
She was a lady thru and thru and every thing she did was done with a smile
One afternoon dark clouds formed up in the West, it was fairly late in the day
And out on the veranda 'neath a big mesquite I could see Marie start in to pray
Now and again clouds would build up but they always amounted to naught
It got to be when they appeared I just figured that they didn't mean squat
But we saw lightin' from these clouds and heard the rumble of thunder by and by
And again there weren't no rain, and that night after supper Marie started to cry
It's hard seein' somethin' blow away that you've worked for most of your days
Cause it really tests your faith in the man upstairs and it's tested it in many ways
Marie and Elon were strong and could weather the lack of rain and blowin' dust
Even so there's times when you have to let off a little steam, 'fore the boiler bust
Next mornin' Marie's prize heifer was sick and Elon sent Shorty for the vet
T.X. Buttermann, who had the driest sense of humor of any human I ever met
Most folks didn't catch on to his humor; some times it took a day or two
I had it figured that we were just in tune, cause I caught on the minute he was thru
He said the heifer would be fine in a day or so but it was good we gave him a call
Low and behold as he was gettin' ready to leave, a few drops of rain began to fall
Some clouds had gathered up that mornin' but we really didn't pay it much heed
Now the drops were winnin' the race with the dust, soon it would be mud, yes indeed
T.X. turned to leave, then turned back, and with this look on his face, a look of pain
Said "For all you children under the age of seventeen, we normally call this rain."
Marie, Elon, Shorty, and I watched thru the rain as T.X. went up the road
Marie giggled, Shorty laughed, I turned to Elon and said, 
                                                                  "That's somethin' we all knowed."

2003, Jim Owen

 

See Jim Owen's One of Those Nights Before Christmas posted with other Holiday 2002 poems

and

  A Song In His Heart and Sam T. Nickles posted
with other Holiday 2001 poems.

 

 

About Jim Owen:

I'm just a fat old man in a cowboy suit watchin' people go by gettin' ideas from life, books, bumper stickers and stuff. Born in west Texas sixty years ago and never got the cowboy way of life out of my heart and soul. Started writin' poetry about 1993. I live in Kyle, Texas with my heart and soul Diana.

 

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