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Woodfords, California
Jim Parsons




First Flight

The other ranchers picked me out
To plead their case on high
I didn't mind a goin' there
But didn't want to fly.

I knew that I just must be brave
And represent us all.
If I did not, our range was lost
There in the capital.

So I put on my Sunday best
And then wiped off my boots.
I boarded my first air-o-plane
And sat my seat quite mute.

It seemed I sat there quite a time.
The plane did not take off.
Some light was red instead of green.
The passengers all scoffed.

We sat and sat and sat some more.
The temperature climbed high.
Some yelled, "We're in a sauna here1"
I hoped these sauna things could fly.

'Twas then I noticed that my boots
Were not quite clean enough.
They gave off smells of ranch and stock
And of some other stuff.

I hoped no one would notice this,
But we sat there a spell,
And then some guy across the aisle
Said, "What's that awful smell?"

So I thought fast and said to him,
"I don't mean to be rude,
But I fly airplanes all the time.
I tell ya, it's the food."

© 2002, Jim Parsons
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.




She'd told her mom that she would be
A cowgirl when full grown.
Her mom had warned her 'gainst the life,
Not one that she condoned.

When she left home to rodeo
Her mom had said, "No way.
That rodeo just drags you 'cross
This land day after day."

Her mom had told her way back then
Her only home would be
A pickup truck and trailer rig
Without the dough for fees.

Her only friends would be a horse
And maybe dog or two,
Until she met some cowboy type,
And good ones were so few.

Her "ranch" would then turn out to be
A trailer on the plains
O'erlooking sagebrush and corrals
And lots more land to tame.

As always kids would come along.
Of this her mom was sure.
There'd not be much for clothes or food
For either kids or her.

Her mom had told her this and more
So many years ago.
She'd heard but didn't listen then.
She had some oats to sow.

Years later now, she has it all,
The sagebrush, kids, and bills.
Her life now hard as mom had said,
Those words were ringing still.

But as she stands her trailer porch,
The morning dawn a sight,
She looks out 'cross her family ranch
So glad her mom was right.

© 2002, Jim Parsons
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.


The Quilt

She wished that she were with her friends,

Especially on this day.

She’d just turned sixteen years of age,

With family in the way.


But grandma, she had just stopped by

To bring a special gift.

She got excited when she saw

It was quite large to lift.


But when she got the prize at last

And tore the ribbon free,

She saw that it was just a quilt,

And not much more to see.


Then grandma said that she’d explain

Just what she really had.

She spread it out before her there

And looked a little sad.


“The first square here is from the drapes

That hung in our first home,

Built o’er a hundred years ago.

We ended there our roam.”


“And this square from your granddad’s shirt.

He wore to work the ranch.

It’s faded 'cause I scrubbed it hard

To clean it every chance.”


“This denim here for our son Bill,

And it’s like new today.

He didn’t live past ten years old.

The pox took him away.”


“Your dad survived, and this was his,

This red and black and white,

From duds he wore when he showed stock

To win one special night.”


“Your mama’s family’s on here too.

That’s from a gingham dress

She first wore when she met your dad.

It was her Sunday best.”


“And you remember Uncle Will,

His days of rodeo?

That square is cut from his old vest.

It’s seen more than we’ll know.”


“And this blue velvet over here

Is from your own prom dress.

Yes, someday you will be like me

And care about the rest.”


The girl then kneeled and touched the quilt.

‘Twas not a quilt she saw,

But family album made of cloth,

The best gift of them all.

© 2005, Jim Parsons
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.


About Jim Parsons:

I live in Woodfords, California on the Eastern slope of the Sierra Nevada.  I regularly take groups of school children for extended pack trips in historical areas. I first started doing this in 1973, when I took high school students over 250 miles of the Anza Trail across the Anza Borrego desert.  Now I take students east of Mono Lake into the Montgomery Pass Mustang Area.  It is an ancient Indian dwelling area, and we almost always get to track and watch the wild mustangs.  

I also have been active in Washington DC working for legislation that would help rural area schools and communities.  This is where First Flight came from. First Flight story:  While in Washington DC, I saw another fellow in western boots and struck up a conversation.  He was, I believe, from Montana and was there lobbying for access to range land.  He told me the story about being stuck on the plane without air conditioning and the smells his boots gave off.  I added the punch line.  Most of my poems are based on true stories,

The poem Cowgirl is my account of a conversation between one of my friends and her daughter.  I have known the girl since she was four and knew she would be an "aggie" when she grew up. She is in college now and taking a vet program.  The poem was pretty close to the real conversation, and I can think of several young women around here that probably had the same talk with their mom or dad.




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