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JIM KITCHENS
Marfa, Texas
Jim Kitchens' web site
About Jim Kitchens

Featured in "The Big Roundup," an anthology of the best of CowboyPoetry.com.

Jim Kitchens
Jim Kitchens

 

A COWBOY’S HAT

A Cowboy’s hat is a symbol of pride,
From Beaver and Rabbit, to palm leaf and straw,
The deeper the dip, the longer it took,
The older it gets, the better the look.

First to go on, last to come off,
Dulled from the dust, and bleached by the sun,
Mis-shapened by rain, and flattened by wind,
Gallantly worn from can to "Cain’t,"

Then used as a feedbox, to satisfy ol’ Paint.
The name of shape, sets the life of the man,
While the tilt of brim, sets the start of his day,
The color’s important, Silver, Brown, Black, or Tan,
But it what underneath, that sets the mark of the man.

A hat’s like a wife, my Dad used to say,
When new and hard bodied, it pinched when it sat,
But like the Woman I married, it grew softer in time,
The pinch, now a pat, and my hat … fits just fine.

This badge of a man, from cradle to grave,
Is dignity worn, but never worn out,
Placed on the floor, but never the bed,
And lays on his box, when the Cowboy is dead……….

1999, Jim Kitchens

 

THE TRAP DOOR SUIT

Bought new in the Fall, but peeled in the Spring,
With body inside was washed in the thaws,
Lye soap and scrub brushed, till the red was all gone,
And all that still worked was the backside trap door.

O for the time that the night was neigh,
The cold wind howled and the Dipper showed clear,
The warmth of your blankets held you in tight,
But Cookie’s supper screamed into the night.

Shake out the boots and put them on fast,
Head for the brush quick as a flash,
Relief on the way and the problem all solved,
Provided the trap door would open in style.

Nine buttons always locked the door shut,
But pull at the corner and the system relaxed,
Twisting and turning and cramping up tight,
Till the door was sprung and the flap dropped from sight.

Now most of you here might be too young to know,
About the trap door suit worn long ago,
Let me tell you though, I worn out a few,
That started out red but ended a lighter hue.

The warmth that they gave was pleasantly greeted,
While the need they served was not overly heeded,
But deep in the night when the calling was great,
The fight they put up was expected but not needed.

They rest on the shelves now, these armored suits,
Flannel and some wool bound tightly by threads,
But buttons of iron and holes always too small,
Still hold the trap door just the same as before,

So if ever the cowboy’s game you play,
And the hallowed suit of fame you wear,
A word to the wise like a blast from the past
Leave the corner buttons undone, so the door opens fast.

1999, Jim Kitchens


THE DAY THAT TUFF JUST CAME TO RIDE

Bad Bulls of the P.B.R.,
Break hearts and heads with ease,
Like two-ton cats they strut their pride,
To wait their turn, the crowds to please,
The banging and clinging of bells and heads,
Says they’re here and ready to ride.

But one, just one, the Yellow Whale,
Bodacious, with the yellow hide,
Stubby horns of wicked curl,
Broad back and shoulders wide,
Knew tonight would be the night, for he knew he was,
The only one, that Tuff had come to ride.

Then came this man, a homely male,
With heart and pride abound,
Came this man, to ride the whale,
Bodacious was and always is,
The one, that Tuff had come to ride.

Hedeman came and was Tuff enough,
Bodacious came to show his stuff,
The match was made, the line was drawn
One would win, while one would ‘bide,
And everyone knew, the one that Tuff had come to ride.

Tuff slid down to top this beast,
With hands of nervous sweat,
Cotton mouthed and jaws clinched tight,
This moment now, as time stands still,
The world will never know, the thoughts that pass,
Between man and beast, in moments drawn like this.

The chutes got quiet, as the bulls drew still,
Skol’s Gold and Locomotive Breath,
Watched with smiles of shown delight,
As Bodacious settled, and the crowd grew quiet,
This was no test, no real just test,
Because, he knew, he was the one, the only one,
That Tuff had come to ride.

He’d been before and would be again,
This rider he knew well,
He’d dumped him once in Tampa Bay and again in Memphis town,
He smiled a wicked smile that brought a wicked frown,
But what he didn’t or couldn’t guess,
Was the Tuff man, was now in town.

The world explodes with rockets glare,
This Bull on his head would stand,
Bodacious, who this cowboy knew,
With down force strong as sin,
Would try like Tampa and Memphis town again,

The ride that day, Californian’s say,
Was the best for beast and man,
The first man out, first to score, a ride, that had no score,
Tuff just smiled and sailed his hat,
Shot holes with thumb and pin, he’d ridden and beaten the best there was,
And lived to ride again.

Freckles Brown smiled down that day,
As Tornado shook his ugly head,
Lane Frost still rode the bitter ride,
And Red Rock hooked the sky,
All that was said, that fateful day,
Was everyone knew,  Tuff was here to ride.

Bodacious, now his time retired, still young for sire and seed,
Knows well the stories, and well the daring deeds,
Bested by the very best, still walks with head held high,
He piled him off in Tampa Bay and again in Memphis Town,
Tried his best, but time cut short, the ride of rides that day,
The whale was spiked and ridden down,
The day Tuff Hedeman, came to town …….


2000, Jim Kitchens

THE LATER YEARS


My Dad’s hair was neither gray nor black,
Was not blond nor red,
What he had left was little to none,
He was after all, my Dad.

Being my Dad was job enough,
For I’m sure, I was not the easiest to mind,
His advice, though mostly unheeded, came from Solomon’s mind,
For he was after all, my Dad.

He was never right, and I never wrong,
He was old before my time,
I never really listened to the words he said,
He was after all, just my Dad.

The faster I go the behinder I get,
As laments the past we share,
The older I got the smarter he grew.
For he was after all, just my Dad.

My dark hair’s now silver and gray,
Crows feet my eyes surround,
The knowledge I gained, was called growing pains,
From the man, that was just my Dad.

My children’s Dad has much to learn,
About the gifts of raising the young,
The mistakes I make have been made before,
For after all, I’m just their Dad.

1999, Jim Kitchens

 

The Ride

Chute gates crashin', clanging - shutting,
Thunderous bellows, muscles massin'
Settling quiet, so loud it screams,
To a quaking crowd, a blurred mix of hats.

Rosin crackin', warmin' stickin',
Rope drawn tight, glove tied,
Stompin', settlin', foamin', slobberin',
Fear and 'citement  mixed to bile in your mouth.

The "Let's Ride" is nodded, hell's door opens wide,
Dust and snot spears, explode through the light,
Salt and pepper, each grain a lightenin', bolt,
Each little bolt thundering its own, rocket's red glare.

Ground rushes up, kissin' your face, --smack -- uffff
A ton of steaks, sizzling to make your chest it plate,
Grindin', and stompin', to feed you it fare,
Fire and blood spurting from red eyes and mouth.

Running, stumblin', the fence close to hand,
Salt and pepper pummel up from your boots,
Screeching lightening from a thunderous head
Hands straining down as the beast bellows, near.

The  silence of safety purrrrr's from within,
Back-slappin, high-fivin' and accolades,
The money  be damned, scorin' too,
One more ride is down, and you've lived through... 

2002, Jim Kitchens

 

Grand Daddy's Swing

Route 1, Box 322, Leander, Texas,
Whitestone School District,
A small, clapboard three bedroom house,
With rolled tarpaper simulated brick outside walls.

Where I spent happy, summer days
My grand parents small farm,
Listless days of summer heat,
Cool evenings in Grand Daddy's swing.

He would sit and swing and read dime-store westerns,
Of heroes and villains and damsels in distress,
To the sounds of passing cars, on the Old Jonestown Road,
Just sitting, swinging, and reading.

Front yard inundated with garden flowers,
Purple morning glories, clinging tightly,
To blue Mustang grape vines,
Hovering over red tipped Texas Star pot-plants.

The old cedar tree groaning and creaking,
To his shifting weight, to catch the fading light,
Rusty chains squeaking, pleading for oil,
Whip-o-wills calling, Bob-Whites cherking.

Grand daddy's swing, a place secure,
No monsters under the swing,
Light fading, soft snoring, a resting place,
Grand Ma softly calling to bedtime.

Cars passing, people waving, friends or stranger,
Sharing a moment of time, or a second of space,
Being close to our solitude of soft movement,
Swinging in the front yard, with Grand Daddy and me.

2002, Jim Kitchens


Jim Kitchens told us that when he was in school recently where the other students were much younger than he, they teased him about living in the "Dark Ages."  Jim says that inspired him to write this poem, and he explains:  "My Grand Dad had a swing in the front yard of his little farm in Leander Texas. This swing was large enough for two people to sit and swing slowly. Grand Dad and I sat there nearly each evening, he read his 'dime store'
westerns and I just listened to the surrounding sounds until we both were sleepy and the went into the house and bed.  No electricity, so when it got dark we went to bed, and got up when it got light."  Jim got his Master's Degree from Sul Ross in 2002.  

This poem is included in our collection of
poems about Cowboy Dads and Granddads.

 

 

About Jim Kitchens

Jim Kitchens is a writer from the area of the Southwest that is famous for
Cowboy Poetry, Marfa located in the Big Bend area of Texas.  He won the
Editor's Choice Award for 2001 from the Western Writing Association in Denver, Colorado.  He has been published in American Collegiate Poets Anthology, Bellingham Review, and has his own book Recipes For Laughter in print.

He  says he is a Game Warden by profession, a saddle maker by trade, and a
poet by heart.  He is a working cowboy, and has worked on various ranches in the Big Bend country and has seen God's inspirations first hand.

See his web site for more about him. 

We asked Jim how folks could get his book, Recipes for Laughter, and he told us:

As of right now, I am carrying the book my self at my residence and at my shows.

The Sul Ross State University Museum and book store are carrying them and Hotel Limpia in Fort Davis Texas has them also. If anyone wants to give me a call they are $7.50 + tax (Uncle has to get his share) and I will mail them.

Jim Kitchens
PO Box 476
Marfa, TX 79843
Phone: 915 729 3275

 

 

 

 

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