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The Boones Creek Bard
East Tennessee
About Leon Overbay

We were saddened to hear of the death of Leon Overbay on March 27, 2016

Find an article about his life here.


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



The Grave Digging

When we were in our teens one thing was for sure when someone passed away
When our relatives consoled the bereaved in our community we knew what
   they were going to say
We're sad to hear of your loss, we brought food over because we know you are weak
And the Overbay boys are the best two grave diggers ever known to Boones Creek

There was the time when a local drunk got run over by a train
No one volunteered to dig the grave; no one would admit they knew his name
Then someone volunteered the Overbay boys; said they are the best around
So we went out that night determined to plant that drunk in the ground

The first three feet went well, then we hit a huge rock
We couldn't break it with  sledge hammers; so our digging had to stop
Then three of the town drunks buddies came out to view the sight
The said; "That's a big rock boys, we'll get you some dynamite."

These good ol'boys left us some home brew to console us during our wait
How could we be so lucky; their assistance was purely fate
They brought back six sticks of dynamite to help us complete our task
The hole was a perfect size after the fourth blast.

We shaped up the sides and the bottom then somehow found our way home
Our parents thought our stuttering and stammering were caused by the work
   we had done
We agreed that in the future we should much better behave
Then we realized that we had left two sticks of dynamite in the bottom of the grave

The dust must have covered the sticks because they were completely out of sight
This should not be a problem;  It would take a flame to cause them to ignite
Surely this would not cause a disruption in tomorrow's ceremony
Where sisters and brothers in faith gather to share in their testimony

Well the Preacher decided to use this drunk as a poor example of Christian life
He said; "I don't know who he was, but he has sure caused a lot of strife
There is no way that God could take him to heaven; He has to go down below
Because of his sinning; where he's going; none of you wants to go."

As the service was ending one of the drunk's buddies rolled a cigarette and 
   struck a match
He flipped it into the grave and it caused a flash
That ignited the two sticks of dynamite as the coffin was lowering into the ground
The earth began to rumble; the blast caused a deafening sound

Everyone at the service, which was surprisingly well attended
Were stunned by the noise and then watched in awe as the body toward 
   Heaven ascended
My brother and I knew what happened; we didn't talk; we knew our rights
The preacher, well he left the ministry. He's still bagging groceries at Whites

Ah, but my brother and I were never volunteered for a grave digging again
Our relatives didn't want us involved no matter how much the deceased had sinned
We never again had to use grave digging for financial gain
And we owe it all to the drunk that ascended, after being run over by a train

Leon Overbay  
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.



The Cross-Eyed Bull

While I was going to college I ran a show string of the Angus breed
I've always been very competitive, I wanted blue ribbons, I showed my greed
I had a Senior Yearling Bull that stood above all others by a hand
In all his competition, Grand Champion he would stand

We won at Gray and Greenville, Newport was the next stop
He would surely win for his pedigree and stature were the top
Of all the competition that had gathered in Cooke County that day
If anyone would have said he would lose, I would have said, There ain't no way

When the judge said. "Walk-em boys."  I was filled with confidence
Then the judge started laughing at my bull and I rushed to his defense
He said surely in selecting a show string, this animal you would cull
I can't judge for laughing at this cross-eyed bull.

Well his eyes weren't crossed when I brought him there so I called a local vet
He said after examining my champion, "That's the funniest looking critter I've seen yet"
He then put a long glass tube in his rear after penning him in the head-gate
Then he blew and blew and blew until the bull's eyes were straight

He said.  "That'll be fifty dollars."  I figured that was way too high
But I could make it up in the winnings so I let the fee go by
We won again at Knoxville, but then at Nashville when we pulled in
When I walked him off the truck, his eyes were crossed again

I knew I had to correct this problem, or he would surely stand last in his class
I didn't want to spend another fifty dollars, so I found me a long tube made out of glass
I could straighten his eyes, in that I had no fear
So I put him in the head-gate and shoved the glass in his rear

Well I blew and blew and blew, but nothing happened
I tried twice more, but when I looked at the other end
His eyes were still crossed, he would surely stand last in his class
Then I looked down the barn aisle and noticed that the vet had just passed

I ran him down and said. "Hey Doc.  I've got something you should see."
He could tell by the glass tube in the bull's rear, I was trying to save the fee
But he said.  "For another fifty dollars, I'll again perform my miracle."
I figured that was better than showing a cross-eyed bull

Well he pulled the glass tube out of the bull's rear and turned it around
He inserted the other end and placed both feet firmly on the ground
He then blew and blew and blew until the bull's eyes were straight
He said.  "That'll be fifty dollars,"  as he opened the head-gate.

I said.  "I'll give you your fifty dollars, but I am curious.
I tried the same as you, I just must not have the touch.
But why did you take the glass tube out of the bull's rear and turn it north to south."
He said.  "You didn't expect me to blow on the same end as you had in your mouth."

Leon Overbay  
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.



See Leon Overbay's Children's Christmas Play, posted with other Holiday 2000 poems.


About Leon Overbay:

I've lived my life in East Tennessee. We call raising cattle "farming." I showed angus cattle and worked them for years. A hobby of mine is performance poetry and storytelling. It is in the cowboy poet style.



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