Part of the Mare Herd at the 4DH Ranch in Oklahoma. For More Works by Debra Coppinger Hill Click Image.

Monday, December 13, 2010


I see him sometimes in some old cowboy or another. Maybe he is walking down the street or getting into a truck at a gas station. I recognize that beat-up hat, the faded jean jacket or the limp. Yes, I know he is gone these many years, but I catch glimpses of him here and there. Mostly I have noticed that I think I see him when I am unsure of my own direction. Remembering him sets me straight and reminds me that sometimes you just have to stand up and face the bull.

He was just a stove-up old cowboy,
  who only drank to ease the pain,
And he really didn’t need it,
  except when it was cold or gonna’ rain.

He’d spent his life bull-ridin’,
  until he had that wreck,
The bull threw him high, he came down hard,
  and busted his legs all to heck.
He’d been my Daddy’s best friend,
  up until the day my Daddy died,
They rodeo’ed together,
  at the funeral, he cried.

I’d see him every now and again,
  at one or another rodeo,
He always had kind words for me,
  acted like he hated to see me go.

He gave me my first pony,
  and a saddle with a dally horn;
They say he drove my Mamma to town,
  the icy night that I was born.

I heard he’d talk about me,
  and only had good things to say,
He never told me to my face,
  but I knew that was just his way.

It came as a surprise to me,
  when I heard that he was dead,
I couldn’t forget the last time I saw him,
or the last thing he ever said...

“I wish you’d been my own son,
  I’m proud to know ya’ as a man,
I wanted to say ‘I love ya’,
  while I’m sober, and I can.”

Then he turned and strode off,
  and his back seemed straight and strong,
I’m not real sure, but I’d have sworn
  that limp of his was gone.

So, on those nights when I’m alone,
  and hurt gets in my way,
I think of him and the guts it took,
  to say what he had to say.

And now, when I see an old Cowboy,
  a little drunk and broken down,
I stop and listen to the stories he tells,
  ‘cause I know he’s been around.

And Somewhere, Jake is bull-ridin’,
  hittin’ in the eighties on every ride,
Young , Free, and Wild again,
  in that place, called The Other Side.

RIDING DRAG with DEBRA COPPINGER HILL is featured each week at ALWAYS COWBOY where Debra is a Resident Western Poet. Join her and her Cowboy Friends for Cowboy Poetry, News & Events. http://alwayscowboy.net/debra_coppinger_hill_poetry.html

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