Gwen Petersen: In a Sow’s Ear 12-5-11
A bunch of the boys were saddling up
in the rancher’s saddle shed
The crew that wrangles dudes were
choosing horses for the day ahead.
To work the cattle – to shape up pairs
to go out to summer range.
When into the corral with a strut & a shout
came a weird and wonderful dude.
He wore a big hat with a brim so wide
it blocked the morning sun.
His shirt had a pattern so fancy it
rated a score of second to none.
A big bandana swaddled his neck
and batwing chaps on his legs.
The jingle-jangle spurs on his boots
were as big as ostrich eggs.
He swaggered, he postured, he threw out
his chest dreadfully loud and rude.
A cartoon of a man, “This sorry Cayuse
the best you got?” he stewed!
There’s folks who come out west to
know the joy of riding the trails.
They love to help with cattle work;
they go beyond the pale.
Leaving cares behind, these guests so fine
learn to sit the trot.
And don’t complain even in pain;
they bravely endure a lot.
They saddle up at dawn and
they’re off to one more interlude.
But such was not he, this strutting,
shouting weird and wonderful dude.
He growled he aimed to ride the wildest
booger they had on the ranch.
Didn’t matter if the Cayuse was rank,
by gosh, he’d take that chance!
Well the boys they stared and some of ’em
glared but none of ’em said a word.
They couldn’t believe, just couldn’t conceive
of the dangerous boast they’d heard.
He was asking for trouble!
Well the boys wouldn’t cuddle
this know-it-all phony baloney.
They eyeballed their string and
felt their hearts sing
And selected a fine-looking pony.
This was Two Layer, a fine-looking Paint
and named cuz he’d buck in a trice.
Tossed once by him was like being
bucked off by any other, twice!
A wrangler held the reins but
Dudeman snapped, “Outta my way!”
He pulled up his pants, pulled down his hat
and mounted the Dudeman way.
The boys stood back & then stood stunned as
Two Layer walked off like a lamb.
For the first of the trip, he never looked
crosswise, he traveled like a champ.
Dudeman jogged way up to the lead
but the boys could hear him whine.
About country, cattle and horses
(and got in the way most of the time).
At noontime he griped about the food
and bragged how he’d run the show.
Then belched he’d best get back
to tell the boys how they should go.
He mounted his horse and spurred him
out of standstill into a run.
Twas then Two Layer decided this job
just wasn’t any fun.
The Dudeman soared so high,
he interfered with passing planes.
Joe the Wrangler retrieved the horse
and handed Dudeman the reins.
Dudeman held his wheel-sized spurs
away from the big Paint’s side.
He eased on over toward the cattle
before Two Layer tried –
And successfully unloaded Dudeman
at least two times more.
Joe the Wrangler surmised
Two Layer was merely feeling bored.
Joe figured the big Paint came uncorked
when he had to stand still at a gate.
So Joe rode ahead and opened the gates
so Two Layer needn’t wait.
As long as the horse could keep on moving
that pony was pretty cordial.
Dudeman discovered Two Layer became
a horse that was calm and social.
So he handed over his big shiny spurs
to cowboy Wrangler Joe.
(But Dudeman kept a grip on the horn
when Two Layer commenced to go.)
He rode pretty tight in the saddle,
but when the ranch corral could be seen
He straightened some and hoped he’d soon
be out of this bad dream.
He began to speak in his braggy way
how he’d tallied the cattle count.
As the riders pulled up to the big corral gates
and the Dudeman made to dismount.
Two Layer dumped the man square
on his head in front of the gate.
A heroic effort was made by the boys
to keep their faces straight!
Dudeman was still a garish sight but
his garb had smears of cow poop,
And grass stains and dust and mud
and sweat and other mystery goop.
His hat was jammed on the bridge of his nose,
the crown molded his noggin.
The brim had squashed his ears in folds;
his fancy boots were scuffed and sodden.
From somewhere, floating on air, the question,
“Did you have a nice day?” was heard.
Dudeman fiercely stomped toward his cabin
but uttered nary a word.
He didn’t go down to supper that night
(he’d had a real bad day).
Next morning before the breakfast bell,
Dudeman had gone away.
No one said a word and no one said
they were glad he’d gone.
But there was humming among the boys
and some broke out in song.
The damage? A few torn-loose saddle strings
for the crew to repair.
And Two Layer survived in outstanding shape
except for some missing hair.
These are the simple facts of the story
as told by Wrangler Joe.
Dude guests come and dude guests go
as every cowboy knows.
While most are as fine as well aged wine,
there’s always that one dude
Turns out to be a little bit weird
and often wonderfully skewed.
This poem was inspired by a story in “40 Years’ Gatherin’s” by Spike Van Cleve.
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