"EVERY MAN HAS HIS SECRET SORROWS
WHICH THE WORLD KNOWS NOT;
AND OFTEN TIMES WE CALL A
MAN COLD WHEN HE IS
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
I started writing poetry as a way to deal with the sudden loss of a very good friend. It was a loss that had started some time before when my best friends started to die. The most of which were from cancer. Youth has a way of shaking off loss because there is always the prospect of tomorrow and the optimism that we are bullet proof. When you look back it begins to dawn on you that it was amazing that we have made it this far considering all the crazy things we did.
I did have the advantage of building a wall around my emotions because of the work I did on the fire department and ambulance. You deal with people at their best and worst. And though you always try to help you soon learn that there are times when your best is not good enough. If you took to heart every tragedy that you dealt with on a regular basis it would drive you crazy. So you deal with the things you see that no one should and build a shell and a strange sense of humor to cope.
There were times that all the shielding in the world would not stop a knife being plunged into your soul. That was the kids. There was no callousness that could stop the pain of losing a kid or dealing with severe injury. I am sure that this was among the many influences in my life as to how I arrived where I am now. I guess this is why I don't understand the thinking of anyone who supports abortion. I have seen how fragile life is and how valuable it is. And how I would work to exhaustion at times to preserve a life.
Losing friends and aging has a way of opening your mind to many things that you kept bottled up. Poetry and music was a way to deal with it and it is something that I enjoy doing. I would have liked to be able to put more time and energy into my entertaining and writing but there are many things that demand my time. So I have to appreciate the friends that I have in the music industry and the fact that they have allowed me into their world.
There is an old saying and it was put into poetry and song by many about old cowboys that "he never sold his saddle". I have my custom built saddle sitting in the shed and it will be the last thing that goes and that is, hopefully, after I am gone. Above all the many things I have done in my life it was working on the farm and ranch that defines me the most. Some may laugh at me loving the cowboy life I hope when I am gone there will be a few that thinks I was a fair hand.
I was listening to the radio online today to my buddy the WESTERN BELLE on COWTRAILS. It is a program of cowboy and western music on the public radio station in Mancos Colorado. Belle, or Barb Richhart, and I have become good friends through the music and declining health. She is on KSJD FM Radio. Once in a while she will play a cut off my CD and sends messages out when she knows I am listening.
Today my favorite cowboy poem was read. It is one of those things that you wish you had written. It hits so close to home for both myself and many that I have been friends with and have known. It is called 'THE MEN WHO RIDE NO MORE'.
It was written by Joel Nelson, a Texas horse breaker and cowboy. He is also in demand for his poetry that he writes and performs in a style that you know he is the real thing. He was on his way to Hawaii to break horses for a ranch and stopped into a nursing home to visit an old cowboy. It was his first time in a care home. What he saw weighed on his mind and he wrote the poem.
THE MEN WHO RIDE NO MORE
"Bronc to Breakfast" calendars hang faded on the walls
There's a lost and aimless wandering through the corridors and halls
Of slippered feet that shuffle on a waxed and polished floor
And vacant stares of emptiness from the men who ride no more
Men who once rode proudly-men with long straight backs
Men who covered hill and plain with steel shod horses tracks
Now pass their idle days in rooms with numbers on the door
With orderlies and nurses for the men who ride no more
Time was when spur rowels jingled when boot heels bumped the floor
Dawns with hot black coffee and saddling up at four
With feet in tapaderos and broncs between their knees
And silken neck scarves snapping as they turned into the breeze
From full-blown living legends true to riding for the brand
To the scarcely mediocre who could hardly make a hand
They would gather for the branding or the shipping in the fall
Now it's walker, cane, and wheelchair in the antiseptic hall
And they all have their mementos on the table by their side
Like a cracked and fading snapshot of a horse he usta ride
Or standing with the wife beside a thirty-seven Ford
A high-heeled boot hooked nonchalant on a muddy running board
Just instants frozen from the past that somehow give a clue
To who and what they were before their riding days were through
Horseback men with horseback rules from horseback days of yore
their one and only wish would be to somehow ride once more
To once more rope a soggy calf and drag it to the fire
To long-trot for half a day and see no post or wire
To ride a morning circle-catch a fresh one out at noon
And trot him in when the day was done to the rising of the moon
To put in one more horseback day and have just one more chance
To ride home to a pretty wife and drive her to the dance
To take her hand and hold her close and waltz across the floor
Before the time to join the ranks of the men who ride no more