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Elkwater, Saskatchewan
About Phyllis Rathwell





A Gentle Prod

It was a calm clear shippin' day, I rode to clear the pens
And tried to follow orders from three cranky men
I was hot and tired and dusty when we finished sortin' fats
Thought I'd help push 'em up the chute, so I climbed o'er the slats

I tried to calm my fearful heart as I crowded 'em to the end
I twisted tails, avoid kicks, an' got 'em round the bend
The shadows didn't lay just right so the fats were hesitatin'
Not wanting to move up the ramp, like they knew what was a-waitin'
They milled around and doubled back-- the advice was comin' thick
I couldn't seem to aim 'em right with my short willow stick
Then the trucker grabbed a stock prod, bragged on the new design
It'd hold the charge-- just try it-- we'll load in record time.
Now, I don't like that kinda thing, but glad this chore was endin'
I bent o'er to tie my boot-- someone aimed where I was bendin'
Shock took on new meaning, there's no words to tell the tale
Shock was on each cowboy's face as I cleared the rail
I questioned all their lineage and faulty family tree
Their parents' marital status and their genealogy
I suggested places they could go, said precisely what to do
Commented on their body parts and kicked a stone or two
Not stoppin' at four letters, I said phrases quite unique
Combinations I didn't know that I knew how to speak
I finally calmed, but admit my faith in mankind has eroded
I heard, as I stomped to the house, "I didn't know the prod was loaded."

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

Phyllis comments: I've always believed that if you can't find the humor in a wreck, it would be a long life. I admit it took about three years to see the humor in this one--it is a true story and happened to me. Darn men! Who would look at someone's bum and think "I wonder what she'd do if I poked her with the prod?"


While Yer Up

Four little words I'm sick of, that make me roll my eyes
Aren't foul or all four lettered, but they sure antagonize
I'd like to start a campaign to eliminate the phrase
"Honey, while yer up"'s making me half crazed!
"Honey, while yer up, could ya just turn up the heat?
An, while yer doin' that, could ya fix something to eat?
"While yer up, I'd like a coffee", "Can ya find the new phone book?"
"I think I heard a car pull in, while yer up, just take a look"
It isn't just inside the house, it can happen anywhere!
If I turn and look toward the barn, it's "Honey, while yer there..."
"Can you fetch me my new lariat" or "I'll need the calving chains,
Some boluses an' 'lectrolytes" gives me a royal pain!
In harvest, if I'm hauling wheat, it's, "While you dump that load..
Can ya make me lunch an' check the bulls...there's one out on the road."
In the middle of the night, too....I can't escape no how
It's, "Honey, while yer up, could ya run out an' check the cows?"
"While yer up, just switch the channel", "While yer up there, grab my hat,"
"While yer there, I need a pencil, and adjust the thermostat."
Oh, I don't see any end to this. So, when the Pearly Gates I see,
I'll likely hear his far-off voice, "While yer up there, pray for me!"

2009, Phyllis Rathwell
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.


Phyllis comments, "This poem is just plain the 'story of my life,' the fact of working with and living with a cowboy. Judging by the response when I perform, this is the true story of many women!"


  About Phyllis Rathwell:

Hatched on a hot rock between the Cypress Hills and the Great Sand Hills of Southwestern Saskatchewan, Phyllis raises good Angus cattle in south central Saskatchewan. Refusing to give in to BSE, drought, grasshoppers, cranky men, or common sense, she loves the ranching way of life. Her sense of humor and "been there, done that" experience with ranch life delights audiences. She claims to be equally (in)competent at workin' cattle, checkin' pens, fencin', balin', cussin' gates an' ridin' the grub line. Her poetry reflects the reality of living and working with critters, men and kids.

Phyllis Rathwell has been a featured poet at many gatherings on both sides of the "Medicine Line" (Canada/US border), including Durango, Colorado; Lewistown, Chinook and Virginia City in Montana; Pincher Creek, Banff and Stoney Plain in Alberta, as well as Maple Creek and Agribition in Saskatchewan.

Phyllis has been heard on CBC radio, and the syndicated radio program Spirit of the West. As well, her work has been included in several anthologies and newspapers, as well as Canadian Cowboy Country and Pure Country magazines.

Her publications include two books, Friends and Neighbors, Tried and True, and Range, Riders and Rhymes. A new CD release, Crossing The Medicine Line, with her husband, Larry Miller has been popular as was Three Babes On A Bale, a tape produced with two cowboy poet friends.



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