In a Sow’s Ear 1-2-12
History and tradition – namely cowboy history and tradition – is the legacy of the west. Way back in 1987, I wrote a poem describing the way cowboys bunch up around a pickup bed. It’s the location of choice for discussing land, livestock, the neighbor’s peccadilloes, politics and weather. You might say it’s an historical tradition …
Now it has often puzzled folks
Why cowboys like to stand
A leanin’ on a pickup truck
Discussing points at hand.
They gather ’round a pickup’s rear
Regardless of the name –
A Ford, a Chev or Chrysler truck –
They’re really all the same.
For lookin’ in a pickup’s bed
As if there’s something rare
Concealed beneath old string and cans;
Cowboys ponder as they stare.
Some boys cross their arms and lean
Against the tailgate’s back;
And other sag against the sides,
Their posture gone all slack.
Still others face away to view
The far horizon while
They speak of calves and market price
Or how their life’s a trial.
And some rest forearms on the edge
And let their hands swing loose
For tossing pebbles in a can
While chewing on some snoose.
Now this palaverin’ makes it rough
On cowboys who like to chew;
Tucked away in lip or cheek –
To spit, they’re overdue.
They kick the dirt and raise the dust
And aim upon a spot
Between their boots down on the turf
And fire a juicy shot.
And without a pause they recommence
A-jawing while they stare
Into that pickup’s cluttered bed
And study what is there.
They fix their eyes upon a lamb
With flies a buzzing ’round;
Though dead awhile ago it waits
Interment in the ground.
So should you see a pickup parked
In barnyard, street or road
And groups of cowboys clustered there
In pensive thoughtful mode.
And wish to join these philosophers
Just pick a vacant place
Along the pickup’s side or rear
Where you can rest your face.
Then take a dip and fill your lip
And so you won’t offend,
Never spit into the wind
While palaverin’ with yer friends.