Jun 12, 201309:53 AMThe Telegraph

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Poem Of The Week: June 12, 2013

Jun 12, 2013 - 09:53 AM
Poem Of The Week: June 12, 2013


The Old Cowboy


I’m not sure when you first sauntered into my heart. Perhaps

while I memorized lyrics to the ballad of Pecos Bill playing

on Grandma’s wind-up phonograph, straddled a log over

a waterfall, reading Zane Grey, sniffled farewells in darkened

living rooms and movie houses at flickering images of Hopalong,

Tom Mix, Alan Ladd, Gene Autry, Sky King and Roy.

In my mind, you were 6 feet tall, lean, lanky, circumspect in speech,

and wherever you walked, the smell of roasted chicory


Wafted from an enameled blue pot, stars shone with a clarity

and brightness captured only in glossy magazines, eagles soared

majestically, coyotes howled in the distance, horses looked

somehow prouder,  cattle more dignified, pastures more verdant,

horizons more expansive, and clouds, well -- more welcoming

to wool gatherers on sultry, summer afternoons.

Two nights ago, when I dreamt you were dying, I held my son

in my arms and consoled him.  He felt your passing, as well.


This morning, I know you are leaving me.  A chill of certitude

grips the air and a shadow falls on the foothills.  The harshness

of our world is anathema to you who could no sooner wrap your mind

around an unkindness than rustle another rancher’s livestock.

You stand for something idyllic, true, a bygone era, a mystique

of innate goodness, an unquantifiable rightness.  I refuse to make

my so-long permanent.  With your bandanna around my neck,

creased Stetson on my head,  and denim shirt enveloping me,


I will lasso only the purposeful and noble, sidestep malice.

Astride my palomino, I take it all in -- zigzagging tumbleweed,

a spectacular sunset heralding Technicolor glory.  On cue,

daybreak is full of bluebonnets and promise.  You're Hopalong.

You’re Tom. You’re Shane. You’re Gene. You’re Sky. You’re

Roy. You’re  a little girl's comforter and incorruptible hero. You’re

in my very breath. You’re in my bones radiating warmth. You’re

my compass, my North Star. You’re glowing. You’re glowing always.


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