Seneca, South Carolina
About Mr. Harwell
Me an Jim quit camp at dawn,
Hunkered gin the cold.
Our ponies sniffed and spooked along,
Seekin a firm foothold.
The snow had started three days past,
Forcin us to stop.
Wed planned to cross the ridge real fast,
Campin below the top
Where cabin, wood, an lots achuck
Now lay beyond our reach,
Cause Mother Natured turned our luck
With sermons She would preach.
The need for meat pushed us along
Cravin elk or deer.
Wed gone without for far too long.
Hungerd turned to fear.
It was early in a mild October,
Bears not yet denned,
Squirrels and rabbits, fat an sober,
Waitin fer fall to end
Which left some standin unprotected,
Caught within our sights.
We bagged two rabbits unexpected,
There would be meat tonight!
But the taste for elk meat pushed us on
Past some columbine
Where we caught a glimpse of cinnamon
Brown bear in a pine!
I questions Jim, Would you eat bear?
Íts hard to get a shot.
He says, Ill chop him out of there!
His axe revealed the plot.
He clum that pine til he was held
Right below the bruin,
You shoot him when he falls, he yelled,
Ill send him to his ruin!
I was set to make a shot that counts
When ol bear hit the snow.
But, he didnt hit -- he sort of bounced,
He didn't stay below.
He flew up that tree againin speed,
A falcon on the wing!
His destination seemed to be
A cloud from which to cling.
An Jim (whod been lookin up before,
Now found the bear astern)
Commenced to swingin mighty blows,
His axea dasher in a churn!
An me, tryin to clear myself to shoot
At what? The devil take us!
To plug bear, or man, was almost moot,
I had to stop the fracas.
The gods were with me, thank the Lord!
I nailed the pesky beast.
Poor Jim, hard-pressed to say a word,
Was sure he was deceased.
The weather broke, we cooked some grub
(Grease of bear on hare),
We got to join the survivors club,
An beat it out of there.
Well, we got home, an we got warm,
An concluded, then an there,
Wed settle at the county farm
Afore we tried more bear!
STORM ON ROUTE 66
Whislin low an spoutin steam,
The freight plowed through the driftin snow.
Mother Natured hatched a scheme
To shut things down a day or so.
Route 66 ran long the rail,
Bout two hunnert feet away.
Tourists cars, head-to-tail
Behind some trucksa bad, bad day.
Me an Smokeyd pushed the cows
Ahead, before the storm got worse
An caught em in the open. Browse
Was scarce, but feedin would reverse
An ugly situation. Stacks
Of hay was near, below the barn.
We penned em pretty near the tracks,
Then watched the train bisect the storm.
Ol Smokey dancedhe smelled the feed
In the shed. It was invitin.
He tugged the bit, an eager steed;
When released, we went a kitin.
I peeled the kak an grained him good
An left him in his stall to wait
For mornin. All the neighborhood
Had turned to white. Aint that jes great.
The radio talked great as well
An told of snow ancold. The wind
Will blow your socks away, an spell
Your outdoor workuntil this ends.
The jangle on the wall was Hicks,
The sheriffmakin calls. I need
Yore help out there on sixty-six.
Theres travlers stuck and caint proceed.
Ive commandeered th trainwell tote
Em cross from cars to the caboose.
Its nothin fancy, but itll promote
Their chances. Theyll get some quilts and juice.
I caught the train above our lease,
Swingin up behind the tender;
We choo-chooed down the road apiece
Made out two dozen fender benders.
There wuz three score or more of folks
In carsice boxes in the cold;
We fought the snowjust dumb cowpokes
An carried em, both young and old,
Into the warm caboose. An some,
Though strong and willin, needed pointin
Toward the train. The wind wuz plumb
Near sixty (tween the gusts), anointin
Us with snow, an sleet, an tears.
Once inside, we called the search
Completean quieted peoples fears.
The trip to town was quick. The church
Was near the depotsoup and beans
Was waitin, cocoa for the crowd
Of kids, an games an books an schemes.
A hit! (our womenfolk done proud),
Cept for one ol grunt. He bawled,
You do not have a warm hotel;
Your food is all cholesterol;
Your weather is nothing short of hell!
I doubt that I have ever seen
Such rowdiescrude and out of hand
The law should come and intervene
And bring some order to this land!
The weather cleared, the road got scraped,
An folks got on their way. We watched
Ole Grunt go by, his mouth mis-shaped;
Both bumpers bent, an paint-job blotched.
Mean Smokey wuz gatherin strays
An tryin to glue things back together.
Smoke I sez, Im glad we stays
Upright in spite of changin weather.
THE DRY SIDE
The blazin sun wuz sinkin west,
But still retained its heat.
Two punchers, beat from lack of rest,
On ponies, just as beat,
Sought water an a little shade.
They knowed that they wuz lost,
But figgered, with a little aid,
They could recoup the cost
Of takin shortcuts unbeknown
Jes tryin to save some time.
The profit gained might well be shown
To not be worth a dime.
But lady luck was on their side.
Tucked beneath a bluff
A pool, a tryin its best to hide,
With water just enough
For both the men an jaded mounts,
To stop an drink their fill.
The horses wasted not an ounce
Of effortplunged downhill,
An sloshed the water to a roil,
Formin a commotion!
The taller cowboy said, This boyll
Drink here, this muddy potion
Is gonna save my life. His sidekick
Wasnt quite so sure.
He looked at Slim and said, But Id pick
A spot more clear and pure.
He tippy-toed hisself around
To the other side
Commenced to drink from there. An found
Ol Slim a grinnin wide.
Youd better slurp it up, he said,
Chewin thru his drawl,
Cuz me, Im dry an underfed,
Im gonna drink it all!
About Lynn Harwell:
Born in 1929, on Herbert Hoovers Inauguration Day (a portentous omen?), and grew up in a small town on the Texas High Plains, in the middle of the Depression and the heart of the Dust Bowl. Route 66, all dirt then, was within 50 feet of our front porch (we were on the downwind side). My grandfather had been Division Manager of the fabled XIT ranch in the 1870s (Ojo Bravo Division, in Oldham and Hartley Counties). While most of my family were ranchers, my father farmed also, and I spent far too much time on a tractor and far too little on horseback.
After undergraduate work, I farmed and ranched for twenty years, and then chose to return to graduate school. I earned two additional degrees, in agricultural economics, and was on the faculty at Clemson University in South Carolina for twenty years.
My practical experience has added far more to my productivity than the formal training. Most of the university work was in agricultural finance, grazing systems, agri-forestry, and beef cattle management.
Since retirement in 1993, we have run a 200-acre beef cattle and meat goat farm in South Carolina, being fortunate enough to get in on the ground floor of meat goat expansion in the Southeast. We do a limited amount of educational work on grazing and meat goat management (mostly public speaking and newsletter-type bulletins), and have hosted numerous groups on the farm, including producer groups, college classes, senior citizens, and pre-schoolers.
I feel a need to get back to my roots. Although I have recited poetry many times in the past, and have clowned around writing limericks for friends, this is my first attempt at serious poetry.
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