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The Lost Pardner

  I ride alone and hate the boys I meet.
    Today, some way, their laughin' hurts me so.
  I hate the mockin'-birds in the mesquite--
    And yet I liked 'em just a week ago.
  I hate the steady sun that glares, and glares!
    The bird songs make me sore.
  I seem the only thing on earth that cares
    'Cause Al ain't here no more!

  'Twas just a stumblin' hawse, a tangled spur--
    And, when I raised him up so limp and weak,
  One look before his eyes begun to blur
    And then--the blood that wouldn't let 'im speak!
  And him so strong, and yet so quick he died,
    And after year on year
  When we had always trailed it side by side,
    He went--and left me here!

  We loved each other in the way men do
    And never spoke about it, Al and me,
  But we both _knowed_, and knowin' it so true
    Was more than any woman's kiss could be.
  We knowed--and if the way was smooth or rough,
    The weather shine or pour,
  While I had him the rest seemed good enough--
    But he ain't here no more!

  What is there out beyond the last divide?
    Seems like that country must be cold and dim.
  He'd miss this sunny range he used to ride,
    And he'd miss me, the same as I do him.
  It's no use thinkin'--all I'd think or say
    Could never make it clear.
  Out that dim trail that only leads one way
    He's gone--and left me here!

  The range is empty and the trails are blind,
    And I don't seem but half myself today.
  I wait to hear him ridin' up behind
    And feel his knee rub mine the good old way.
  He's dead--and what that means no man kin tell.
      Some call it "gone before."
  Where? I don't know, but God! I know so well
    That he ain't here no more!

Poem by Badger Clark
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