Tag Archives: Horses

CHILDREN HAVE

CHILDREN HAVE

Children have a great sense of smell

Maybe that’s why
their diapers make them cry

their first
breast sends them
on a lifelong quest
and a cinnamon bun
can stop us all in the mall

On a farm there’s hay
before it goes into the cow
and hay when it comes out

The pungency of pig, the foul of fowl

Rain before the first drop falls
and the whip of lightning after it cracks

Smoke on dad’s clothes from the prairie fire
snuff from the round box cutting his shirt

The dog, even wet, not diminished in love

If lost in a blizzard, or in the dark
it is always best to let go of the reins
so the horse’s nose can point you home

Lost in the world at four a.m.
twice blessed if yours can do the same

DANCES WITH HORSES

DANCES WITH HORSES

And what is the poem of Rusty
who slips at full gallop and picks up all
four feet and sets them down sure on the next
dry spot

Of Lady still so afraid of wire she can buck
fourteen hours tired
if a four inch chunk should strike a hoof

And the dance of the wild mare in the corral
who kicks and one foot goes by on each side of
your head

And of the colt separated from mother’s flank
by a gunny sack in the face and a quick gate,
who turns a tight arc and comes back at you, and
you see it in the eyes and duck and he sails over
taking out the top rail

And you hear that your father gave you the first
compliment you’ve
ever heard of by turning to the man beside him
and saying

“The damned fool will get himself killed someday”

GOOD OLD BOYS

GOOD OLD BOYS

For years you’ve been leaning up your act
But now the good old boys are coming back

And the guy they’re coming back to see
Is the good old boy that you used to be

You broke some broncs and drank some
beers
And played tough football in those
years

Cruised to front and back seat double
features
And took big guns to kill small timid
creatures

Since then you’ve passed through many a
door
But can’t say to them. I’m not that person
anymore

Of course they may have changed too

But how oh how could they tell … You

TOO CROWDED

TOO CROWDED

My folks took some time off in the sixties
from their Saskatchewan ranching and
traveled down through South Texas

One day they stopped to talk to an
old cowboy sittin and a wittlin
on a rickety ranch porch

When he found out where they were from he said
“say do you know a man up there
by the name of Bill Prior?”

They said “Yes, he’s an old bachelor who lives up
past our North pasture, why do you ask?”

“Well” he said, “About 1928 Bill and I were out lookin
for some strays when we say another rider
coming over the furthest hill.”

Bill said to me, “It’s getting too damn crowded down here,
I’m heading for Canada.”

“He turned his horse North and I haven’t
seen him since.”

I NEVER SAW MY MOTHER ON HORSEBACK

I NEVER SAW MY MOTHER ON HORSEBACK

I understand that
she used to ride to school
but she was little and it was a farm
and somehow that didn’t seem to count

When she was about 75 she told me
about going with dad to the far end of the ranch
on a beautiful day a long time ago
to help round up some strays

She said that she liked it a lot
and couldn’t remember why she didn’t do it more

PRAIRIE EAR

PRAIRIE EAR

Outer ear gathering
sounds of birds and wind
and hooves on spring grasses

Playing them soft on the drum
as hammer and anvil and stirrup
pass on the faint creaking leather
of my old Texas boot in the stirrup

Ripples wave down inner membranes
and tiny thousands of hair cells
move like grass in the valley

From pressure to impulse
and from sound to
symbol of
sound

All floating in the liquid balance of an easy lope

LADY

LADY

You could see her shine from miles away. he had
a movie way of standing out from other horses.
Her rich chestnut coat always looked oiled and
polished with a deep inner glow that some people
have and you can’t describe. Sort of an abundance
of life that can’t be contained in the body and
radiates from every pore

And she wasn’t easy, coming from a line of
aristocrats. no one could ever ride her mother
or grandmother and her father bucked in rodeo

My brother tried to ride her first, the place where
she broke his arm still hurts when it rains. Not a
frequent problem in Saskatchewan

She bucked me off twice, both times for arrogance

Once in front of relatives from Oregon when I
dropped a rein and leaned over her neck to get it.
I was off balance and soof off of her onto the hard
ground in front of the shed. She did step on me
some too, just to drive home the point

The other time was in a soft field where I was
teaching her to neck rein and making circles to the
left and right. A car was coming down the lane and
I turned a little in the saddle to wave

It was enough, I was loose and I was gone. She piled
me so hard and high that I came down standing up
with reins still in my hands. Pretty good I
thought and started to take a bow for the people in
the car, but the lesson wasn’t over. She came
around full force with her back end like Babe Ruth
with a bat and knocked my flat

Every morning she would buck for the first half
mile, sort of an ongoing initiation; earning the
right to be with her again and again. She would
never be taken for granted and I knew that I would have ( to?)
face that test every day, and I was scared but always
wanted to be there

And I stayed with her every time

I guess I had my fear to keep me tight
and my butterflies to keep me light

As I partook in some small way in Alexander’s feast
and took my classics lesson there

Only the brave
Only the brave
Only the brave deserves the fair