In “cleaning out” old files (a hopeless task), I found a 2006 copy of The Tombstone Times, Arizona’s Historic Fun and Informational Journal. My file cabinets are like crypts. Which is to say, interred therein are manila files holding stuff I thought was interesting, attracted my attention, sparked an idea, inspired a poem, and on and on. In the aforesaid Tombstone Times, the lead story talks about Allen English, a highly talented Tombstone lawyer in the 1800s who utilized an assistant — John Barleycorn — on a regular basis.
Once, during his law career, the Santa Fe Railroad offered him the job as their head attorney at an unheard of 25,000 dollars a year. However, they did ask English to agree that he would quit drinking.
“What!!” he yelled, livid with rage. “Give up my rights?! Hell no!” And he didn’t.
Allen English’s story inspired the following poem — built around a favorite Montana Redneck joke.
DUI – Montana Style
’Twas a Saturday night in a Montana bar
And the boys were whoopin’ it up.
They’d just finished shippin’
the cows and calves
They were dry as a thirsty pup.
So they stopped for a beverage in
the Doggone Saloon
And gobbled down burgers and fries;
The bartender served up beer and whiskey
To darned near all the guys.
The time flew by and then it got late
The bartender hollered, “Last call!”
Jake left first, staggering around
As if about to fall.
He lurched to a pickup
and searched for his keys
While leaning against the truck;
Across the way a police patrolman
Watched the drunken schmuck.
Well, Jake he tried a dozen pickups
Before he found his own;
He managed somehow to crawl inside
And sat there still as stone.
Then several cowboys left the bar
And drove away in their rigs;
Jake just sat and fiddled with lights
And made the wipers whiz.
He started his truck and drove it a foot
Reversed it, then braked to a stop;
More cowboys drove away and Jake
Was alone in the parking lot.
At last he started the engine once more
And slowly drove down the road
The watching policeman started his car
(He’d waited, patient as Job).
The officer turned on the flashing blue lights
And pulled the cowboy over
And administered a Breathalyzer test
On this drunken joker.
But the gadget showed no alcohol!
The cop said, “What the hey!
This breathalyzer must be defective!”
“I doubt it,” answered Jake.
“You see, I ain’t had a drop to drink,
I just been helpin’ the boys;
We flipped some coins and tonight I’m
The designated DECOY.” ❖