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About Ken Gardner




Sleepin' in the Bunkhouse

When I came to work that summer,
I was just a city lad.
They put me in the kitchen,
and it sort of made me mad.
But I felt considerably better,
and I quit my grousin’ when
They said that I’d be sleepin’
in the bunkhouse with the men.

Big Harvey had the back room.
In the front room there were three:
Irrigator Mose DeChambeau,
cowboy Aaron Dunn, and me.
Sure, I heard some fancy snorin’,
but that’s expected when
You’re sanctioned to be sleepin’
in the bunkhouse with the men.

We’d go to bed in darkness
in order to be certain
That no one saw us strippin’,
for our window had no curtain.
One night someone turned the light on—
a real comedian!
So we papered up the window
in the bunkhouse for the men.

We had no runnin’ water,
and our plumbin’ was a hole
In a biffy where, in solitude,
you could contemplate your soul.
You took your turn but waited
if you had to go again.
There weren’t no room for sissies
in the bunkhouse for the men.

And when it came to ladies,
there was plenty to be found.
Dudin’ is a business
where romance just abounds!
But you never found a cowgirl
nor a dude equestrienne
Among the social visitors
in the bunkhouse for the men.

There wasn’t any drinkin’
nor many cuss words that got said.
Aaron kept a bible
in the orange crate by his bed.
I’d wake to find him readin’
with his flashlight well past ten.
Night was the time for privacy
in the bunkhouse for the men.

For a city kid to mingle
with hands who lived life straight
Was an adolescent privilege
that’s mighty hard to duplicate.
If God would let me do it,
I’d do it all again.
I'd make sure that I’d be sleepin’
in the bunkhouse with the men.

© 2008, Ken Gardner
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

Ken told us, "Sleepin’ in the Bunkhouse" tells of my first ranching job. I had hoped to be “chore boy” on a guest ranch but, as the poem describes, fate had other plans."



About Ken Gardner:

I am an urban cowboy and a professional dude. I own a saddle but no horse and a pasture but no cow. I have done many things that cowboys do, e.g., fallen off a horse, been kicked and bitten by horses, wrangled dudes, been in a western movie, milked cows, drunk milk with flies in it, slept with wet dogs, rolled quirlies, and written poetry. My verse has brought me
invitations to join the likes of Don Edwards and Baxter Black on stage to recite.





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