My knees were the things that
kept me up and my skin is my
cutting board my eyes are the
rain clouds to the fire running
down my arms and my heart is
the fire place that keeps me
burning so calm
But she would not even read it – she knew what lay within—
A red rage toward her country now the fire that was her friend.
Yet just a few days later on a now black Christmas Eve—
Another knock was heard from a cowboy come home on leave.
And Jim Blue Moon stood on the porch with presents in one arm,
A proof against dark forces wishing all of us great harm.
He said like Twain, news of his death was exaggerated—
And with smiles his wife helped him in, and they celebrated.
Yet in the haze of happiness and all her loving care,
Only now did Liz realize Blue’s left arm was not there.
But snatching life from death’s dark rider is a precious thing,
And nothing could dispel the joy their reunion would bring.
Then came the new Christmas day, which now seemed so clear and bright—
Yet Blue held back - flexed his cold metal arm in morning light.
“I wonder if it was worth it?” Blue mumbled at the sight—
But Liz nodded and said: “Yes, you did the thing that was right.”
Then they slowly opened presents - three united again—
Later dad and mom came over, and each rodeo friend.
“PBR’s done,” dad whispered in a voice like from the grave—
“Heck no!” Blue then replied, “I just lost the arm that I wave!”
Sure enough, with prosthetic arm, Blue rode the bulls once more—
Till he volunteered to go back to that faraway shore.
Alone, Jim’s wife held their child and the inner one so new—
As a full, pale Christmas moon rose and slowly turned to blue.
Jimmie’s dad was bent and wise, a man that life had rode by—
But Jim still recalled his words when he would laugh and half cry:
“Life’s a fragile balance between honor and what’s true—
A rare, livin’ miracle like a winter moon that’s blue.”
Jimmie started busting sheep when he was only six—
His dad taught him to ride and shoot, and do those fancy tricks.
He grew long and lean on that ranch and helped with the chores—
And rode the broncs and young bulls then, keeping track of his scores.
His name was Jimmie Moon, but his friends just called “Blue”—
‘Cause kids like him were few and far and his heart was strong and true.
He had wisdom beyond his years – he had seen the light—
He never did the easy thing; he did the thing that’s right.
It came as no surprise; he married a girl named Liz
Folks knew was large with child that was another man’s, not his.
But that was fine with Blue and he still followed his star—
Ranching now part-time and riding bulls in the PBR.
“It’s not like the ol’ days,” smiled his dad, not being funny—
“Then bull ridin’ was for buckles – now you’re talkin’ money!”
But just as Jimmie Blue Moon was on the edge of fame—
September 11th happened and stirred within a flame.
Though his family begged him not to sign and go away—
He enlisted in the Army just the very next day.
Sure enough, his service to a cause became a fact
And he was sent far off to war in a place called Iraq.
Then months and years rolled by as Blue only rode iron tanks—
Never forgetting his wife and child, for which he gave thanks.
Then came a Christmas season when Blue’s ranch was deep with snow—
A knock on the door brought news Blue’s wife did not want to know.
On those endless rides of childhood
Down trails of dark and light,
There are those that you remember
And those that haunt your night.
The green fresh days of farm and ranch
When you raised your first sow—
The flowing sea of bluestem grass,
The calf that was your cow.
You helped give life to Brownie’s calf
Or least so you did hope,
By helping tug its leg around—
Holding that bloody rope.
Then Dad said you could have that calf
To feed just like your own,
Then Brownie’s calf became your pet—
A friend when you’re alone.
Yet, you were big enough to know
The fate of each old cow,
Yet you knew this was different—
But you weren’t sure just how.
And so one day Brownie came home
And her calf was not there,
Then did the same, time and again—
But that calf was no where.
Now Brownie’s calf had gone away,
But you weren’t sure just where—
So Dad and you searched the far fields
In hopes you’d find her there.
Then to some woods and creek you came
Where birds flew overhead
And then the smell of that calves flesh
Told you that she was dead.
You turned and ran back to the ranch—
Sought out old Brownie’s face—
And knew that life is just a chance
But for our good Lord’s grace.
(A remembrance of driving to the auction in Odessa, Missouri.)
You’re bumpin’ down the highway in that ol’ pickup truck,
Just a kid slowly tunin’ in a radio that plays—
Headin’ for the stock auction with your dad and some luck—
A part of history, back in those Odessa days.
Dad will be biddin’ on some calves to haul way back home—
He fancies doin’ more farmin’ like in younger days—
He left the farm more than twenty years ago to roam,
To find a town job and turn his back on farmin’ ways.
But the land stays in your blood and someday you go back,
If not in bone and muscle, at least within your mind—
And you seek a part of youth—that’s just a natural fact,
For you’re always on the outlook for what you’ll never find.
You roll past green pastures and that churnin’ Mighty Mo,
Count the silos, barns and the cattle as you drive past—
Music fills the truck with songs of love and eatin’ crow—
Cowboys, beer, bar fights and pickups—things that never last.
That ol’ black pickup rattles and bucks just like a bronc,
Its days, just like the horses, will soon come to an end—
And as we reach the auction, my dad pulls up to honk:
A ritual of completion for a son and now a friend.
And when we head on home with those calves all loaded up,
We’ll turn on that radio and sing in one sweet haze—
For in just a few years, there will sit dad’s empty cup
And there will just be memories of those Odessa days.