We’ve shared the trail, kicked up some dust,
An’ stood a storm or two.
We’ve rode the plains, the wide frontier,
The easy trails were few.
You’ve listened like some wise old sage
To ever thing I’ve said,
An’ as a friend, supported me,
No matter where it led.
I wished I coulda carried you,
The times you were in pain;
Or rustled up some kinda shed
To turn the blowin’ rain.
I’ve come up shy with some your needs,
You gave me more’n you got,
But in your silence, seemed to know,
I needed you a lot.
Compadre, friend, amigo, pard;
I called you all them things,
But there’s been times, I swear to God,
You musta had some wings,
An’ He sent you to care for me
Like no one had before.
If you’as a man an’ not a horse,
I couldn’t a-loved you more.
We gave this ranch our sweat an’ blood,
It’s yours as much as mine,
An’ raised our young’uns through the years,
An’ Lord they’re doin’ fine.
They’re blazin’ trails an’ raisin’ dust,
They’re off an’ runnin’ free.
We’ve taught ‘em well an’ made ‘em strong;
Compadre, you an’ me.
I always knew the day would come
When we would fine’ly ride,
To join the Maker’s round-up time,
Up on the Great Divide.
I sorta hoped we’d share the trail
But this was not to be,
So, you go on, we’ll ride again;
Compadre, you an’ me.
You think you’re alone out on the range
Sittin’ silent under starry sky,
Just a marvelin’ at the universe
And wonderin’ ‘bout that ol’ question: why?
You shake your head at worlds of worry,
Knowin’ it ain’t often that you’ll find,
All the answers to your queries
Beneath the clear black sky and pine.
You wonder if we rose up from mud
And walked straight and tall upon this earth—
Or was it all created in a moment—
A conception that gave us true birth.
Are we all no more than those monkeys
Evolvin’ slowly down life’s long line?
Or is there more to earth and heaven
Touched by something truly sublime?
We keep on punchin’ clocks and cattle
And tryin’ to get through each new morn—
But is there more to life than dyin’
And will we somehow be reborn?
All the cattle know my hard proddin’
As I lead them along time’s sad way—
We live for but a flashin’ moment,
As we watch life go by in one short day.
So make the best of trails you ride, cowboy—
Each tomorrow is both yours and mine—
And gaze long at stars in that vast sky
Placed there by intelligent design.
It transferred like bequest's constrain;
the ghostly harbor - my sixth sense,
men's goals had died, on lives' expense,
- this notion bothered me again.
Had sent the mail - my filed advice -
the ghosts of gunmen who have died,
on moors they stood yonside old pride,
- the Rider asked his deathly price.
In air he thumped, his rhythm - gust waves;
demanding cruel new death toll;
in town each woman wore black stole,
the 'killed in duel' dwell in graves;
The Rider hummed - our vessel moored
inside this port on Nueces' edge,
much red was shed on cypress sedge
- my instincts sharpened and inured.
Tall stood he on the wharf - I knew
the wind whipped ropes upon head-mast,
- we drew the guns; he lifted fast;
my two guns bucked debt-law to ensue.
I felt the slug - he moved across,
already-a-ghost, on moors he stood;
I tasted blood - got up - I should,
with red drops staining grass and moss.
I saw her standing on the field
amid red poppies and tall trees,
her thought became my holy shield,
bestowed thenceforth, her grace in breeze.
She spread her arms and called me eft,
above the clouds to Astral Halls
athwart stood gunman - fast and deft
in Tombstone, Mobile and Sioux Falls.)
I rolled and lit a Durham smoke
with children watching me round-eyed;
that March, (I thought), a gunman died,
I heard bells' knell and two crows croak.
© G.V. 07-18-2013
(Ballad - Iambic tetrameter)
Sponsor: Poet Destroyer A
Contest Name: Ballad (old/new)
I’ll go a ridin’ no more through blue stem or chaparral,
Just lead my horse to pastures of green.
I’ll watch those rose ruby suns ease on past the ol’ corral—
Think back on the things I’ve done and seen.
Oh, you can’t go on a ridin’ for all your livelong days—
You’ve got to know when to settle down.
You’ll gently pet your ol’ horse as you put her out to graze
And soon life won’t seem so bad in town.
But when blue bonnets and the high plains send their callin’ card,
Your restless feet start to feel that itch.
Then it don’t matter if you’re stove-up or your butt is lard—
That feelin’ calls to the poor and rich.
Just once more I’ll go a ridin’ in the sorrel and sage—
Testin’ my ol’ horse for all it’s worth.
And I know that time cannot stop me, even at my age,
From ridin’ free of the reins of earth.
When the campfire’s out and you try to sleep,
But things don’t seem just right—
You toss and turn on that ol’ hard bedroll
And see faces in the night.
It just may be dreams or a sense of guilt
That now keeps you wide awake—
It may be bad stew or a wrong you did--
A friend you had to forsake.
You shut your eyes tight and let darkness come—
Pray those faces don’t appear—
But they always come and silently speak
To your conscience and your fear.
You see father’s face like it was those days
And wish you’d both had more time—
To ease all the things that then stood between
Before he died in his prime.
And then there’s the face of your bother Tom,
Who worshipped you like a God—
Till he had fever and you laughed if off—
Then buried him in the sod.
But night always brings another dim face
Of the girl that you loved first—
Before she went and married someone else,
And how your heart about burst..
So when the dawn comes to strike you awake,
And with tired relief you rise—
You still see those faces in sun’s red glare
And know part of you yet dies.
Too soon again bright campfires now burn low,
As the sunset still brings fright—
For you know that sleep is not a good friend
And brings faces in the night.
Dark angel of heartbeating pound,
sixth sense of premonition glide,
kin to his ways and scopes to bound,
steel spurs transmit the word around,
the deathwalk starts on dusty ground,
Smith-Wesson guns, tied down his side
Dark angel of heartbeating pound,
sixth sense of premonition glide.
On deathwalk's noon, with light increased,
the shelling slugs will serve the cause,
hands flash and men attend Death's feast,
(gunfighters tho' had ne'er believed,
that once will be 'mid the deceased);
atrocious are, the drawing laws,
On deathwalk's noon with light increased,
the shelling slugs will serve the cause.
Gunfighter walks on dust, midday,
where forty fours will blossom fire,
his eyes traverse the town's details,
a draw of bluff on deathwalk trail,
will have sixes' to beat, twin play,
black coat, gun belt - and dry briar.
Gunfighter walks on dust, midday,
where forty fours will blossom fire.
© G. V. 11/5/2012 All rights reserved
( Ballad - Triolet )
Sun Furnace desiccating.
Man and Beast moving,
In crazed circles of Corral Mirages
Moisture-less Sky and Land.
Buzzards, certain of,
Meat Jerky repasts.
Timing air currents,
Until the Western Buffet
Is finally stocked.
I'll cut you into little pieces,
push you down underground.
I'll let maggots feast on you,
just to see broken flesh.
I'm glad you understand my twisted self,
and you take part of my daily bread.
I'm going to hang you from
the highest star in the heavens,
burning your laughter from your lungs.
I'd be joyful, emotionless,
wreckage not even God Himself can undo.
Underground the maggots chew and chew,
hey girl there I see you.
~A Wooden Cross~
South of Lafayette on interstate 65
I saw a wooden cross.
The roadside monument,
weathered and grey,
was a tribute to a loved one
who lost his life in a car crash.
At 70 mph I only saw it for an instant,
yet it was time enough to see
the cowboy hat that proudly perched
on the weathered wooden cross.
I didn’t know the cowboy nor his wife.
I didn’t attend the funeral.
But for just an instant I felt
both the sorrow and the love that poured
from the weathered wooden cross
with cowboy hat on interstate 65.
A lonely rider traversed the sand upon his sturdy mount,
Beneath a sky so filled with stars that no man might ever count.
A dangerous dash across open land on a night without a moon,
A last ditch chance for absolution before his brother hangs at noon.
He pushed on harder than he should until his pony found a rut,
A broken leg and a bullet played it seemed fate had punched him in the gut.
He went on by foot and prayed to God “Please let a stagecoach happen by,
Or a cowboy with a horse to lend, Dear Lord don’t let my brother die.”
“It weren’t he at the house that night that poor Lizzy got herself kilt,
I knowed all too well because it were me, I alone bear up the guilt.”
“I loved her all to sweetly Lord but my affections were each one spurned,
So on that night I took her life and waited for her true love to return.”
I laid in wait to bushwhack the varmit whoever the cur might be,
Along the trail that led to her house behind a big oak tree.
“It were my intention to shoot him down and lay him at her side,
I then seen him on the dapple gray that only my brother’d ever ride.”
“It struck me like a thunder bolt to think that I broke my brother’s heart,
So I lit clean on outa Texas with my hope of making a brand new start.”
“Her pa swore to the judge that my brother deprived dear Lizzy of her life,
Because she told him the night before that she’d never be his wife.”
“It t’were me that he’d heard talkin’ the night that Lizzy passed away,
Now I got to get back to that town, Dear Lord, to have my final say.”
“It seemed that my brother was luckier at love than ever he were at dice,
But I had dashed his hopes each to the rocks and left him to pay the price.”
But as he prayed and walked along a rattler took him by surprise,
And as the poison run it’s course the murderer closed his eyes.
And in his mind he could see his kin dangling from a rope,
So as the snakebite did it’s work he took one last stab at hope.
He drew his buck knife from his boot and opened up his shirt,
To carve out his confession was his aim so with a cry he went to work.
And when they found his body in the morning just a half-mile out of town,
They found the note that he’d carved on his chest, “I shot Lizzy down.”