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Hilmar, California
About John Silveira




The Coat

I'd driven past this vacant farmhouse everyday just off the main
But today I aimed my pick-up down that dusty gravel lane

I'd often stopped to think about the life these people had
Relying on each other through the good times and the bad

Well, I thought I'd poke my head around to see what I could find
This places' been empty for so long, I was sure no one would mind

As I gazed around the front yard, the paddocks and corrals
I could feel this farm had a history, a story it could tell

Of long forgotten memories of a ranch life once enjoyed
Where a handshake was the custom and where hard work filled the void

As I walked past the empty bunkhouse, and the rusted metal trough
I could hear the lonely voices of the pigeons in the loft

A weather beaten harness, a broken single tree,
A couple of worn out saddles that were as stiff as they could be;

Were all piled up in an old wood barn that had been this ranchers pride
For twenty years they've idled, since the day that rancher died

Well, I came across a worn out coat, stuffed in an old flour sack
Half caked with dirt and spider webs, in that pile of antique tack

As I pulled that coat from its cotton wrap, I gave it a good shake
Then I hung it on a metal tooth attached to an old hay rake

A heavy sheepskin collar firmly sewed to denim cloth
Had survived the countless winters, not to mention mice and moth

I wondered for a moment about the man this coat kept dry
And if he kept it handy, in case dark clouds filled the sky

Or did he leave it in the house underneath his winter hat
Hanging on a little wooden peg, just inside the back door mat

I wondered how it came to be, all rolled up in that sack
And why it wasn't just thrown away, when the old man didn't come back

Well, I figured it to be real special, maybe a gift from kids or wife
Who weren't quite ready to throw away this memory of their life

They probably bagged it up and put it with his other gear
And hear it's rested peaceably, for most those twenty years

Well, I thought I'd take it home because it looked like it might fit
-Replace the missing buttons, and clean it up a bit

But as I lifted it from the rake and threw it across my arm
I thought again how long this coat had rested on this farm

As I took another look around, the message became clear;
This coat was still a part of this farm, as it has been for years

As much as the man who wore it; as much as the horse he rode
Removing this piece of history would somehow break that code

All of a sudden it hit me, and I knew I was at fault
'Cause compared to the work from this old man I wasn't worth my salt

It didn't seem right or justified for me to take it home
It was if I hadn't earned the right to call this coat my own

So, I just left it where I found it, along with the flour sack
But I dusted it off, and folded it up, before I put it back

And as I made my way outside, and old voice spoke to me
It said "thank you for remembering, the way things used to be"

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


Time Alone

He can't wait to get to that cabin tonight
No cell phones, pagers, or fax
For a few days in spring, and a few more in fall
It reminds him what it's like to relax

He hasn't been here for several months
But you can be sure of one thing;
That the sight of that shack, as he rides that last ridge
Is as welcome as it was in the spring

The thick pine boards for the porch and the rail
And the hitchin' post off to one side
A kerosene lamp hangin' by the front door
For those late comin' in from their ride

Deer head mounted above an old wood stove
Shotgun leaning near the door
A reading lamp made from a chunk of mesquite
And a braided rug covers the floor

A small bed over in the corner of the room
With a Mexican blanket on the edge
Two paperback novels by Louie L'Amour
And a coffee cup sittin' on the ledge

All stays quiet in this cowboy's cabin
'Till the gatherin' starts in the fall
When he'll use that hitchin' post every night
And that lantern'll throw shadows on the wall

His tired old boots will echo on the front porch
The wood stove'll keep away the chill
That blanket'll come in handy for sittin' outside
When everything is still

A cup of strong coffee cradled in both hands
As the coyotes sing their good-nights
The glow of the moon peakin' out through the oaks
And a million stars blinkin' their lights

But, in a few days the cowboy will be gone
And the cabin will be left to itself
With the blanket folded up on the edge of the bed
And those un-read books on the shelf

In spring he'll be back, in time to ride fence
A chore he can't afford to postpone
Until then, the cabin and the cowboy
Will just look forward to their time alone

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

Leather Creakin'

Leather creakin' before daylight
Spurs are strapped on, cinch is tight
Gates are set, the moon is gone
Cowboy rides out, before dawn

Fence post frosted with winter's snows
Familiar trail, dog in tow
Couple'a miles before the sun
Several more before this days' done

Tired and dirty, but feelin' blessed
Tomorrow will bring another test
A cowboy's life is day to day
He wouldn't have it, any other way

2006, John Silveira
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

Read John Silveira's Cowboy Christmas, posted with other 2006 Christmas poems.




About John Silveira:

I live in Hilmar, California with my wife and family. I've only been writing cowboy poetry for a couple of years, but I was told it was good for the soul, and found that to be true.



Got Goats?
Family Tradition
Hard to Tell the Difference
House in the Country
Big Fight
Anniversary Dinner
New Truck
The Procedure
Time Alone
My Wife
Timing is Everything
Hole in the End
40 Horses
The Coat

Available for $15 postpaid from

John Silveira
19415 Bloss Ave
Hilmar, CA 95324



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