Sunrise The chirping of crickets and the slow, waking breeze of a country morning is disrupted by the rumblings of trucks and trailers easing their way down the caliche road. It is as if the deep, rich scent of bittersweet coffee lures them, and they pull in, easing their horses backwards from the trailers, Resistols already pulled down and gloves in back pockets. Quiet chatter draws the first rays up over the horizon as they slide bridles and bits into place and cinch their saddles, the armor of a battle-ready cowboy on branding day. Ride The pastures spread yonder, here and there-abouts, until they find themselves down-aways, a herd in sight, grazing with not a care in the world other than the occasional rattlesnake. Divide and conquer, the army of riders move in with strategy, pushing the herd back south towards the shipping pens, a sea of Black Angus raising dust, their bellowing a song. Spurs clang along creating their own dynamic rhythm, reins taut in fists, sweat beginning to trickle and weave its way lazily over muscles, over veins, over scars like rivers. Branding The business of tending cattle is a difficult one, wrought with a pain that sears in the minds of ranchers as well as in the flesh of the spring calves- a necessary evil. Blood, sweat, soil, and pride- all caked onto the bottoms of boots, but it is the smoke that will hang high in the air, sickly sweet, long after the battle is through, long after the dust has settled. Tags in calf ears, shots administered, the bulls become steers. Ropes are tied back on saddles, and the young children, their Wranglers still stiff from the store, grow up just like that. Dinner “Dinner is the noon-time meal,” the seasoned cowboy will say. “Lunch is something that comes in a paper bag.” They pile their plates with beans, cobs of corn, slabs of brisket. Resting weary bones on bales of hay, forks moving to mouths faster that a cowboy can spit his tabacky, plates are empty, refilled, and emptied again between tall-tales told by the elders. A fresh biscuit sops up the juices, plate ready for a final treat- a cowboy cobbler of berries, peaches, spices, and a lattice crust, eaten much slower, savored, the prize for hard work done. Sundown The horses’ muscles twitch with pleasure upon a cool water bath, a massage and brushing, from the neck and down to the flank, hooves examined and muck and manure pulled out and tossed aside. Only a cowboy knows the unique aroma of a horse’s lather mingled with leather, with dust, with blood, with smoke, with the day. Only a cowboy wants to breathe it, let it be a part of the soul. The wheels of time lower the sun down, bathing the land with a beauty typically unseen in the daytime duties of a cattleman, a peace placed over Earth that eases the aches and pains.
That cursor just blinks…
Its silence mocks, taunts, teases.
Vodka, make it stop.
Her lungs burned hot lies,
Told her she couldn’t go on.
Her legs told the truth.
the things we take for granted.
not everyone has the shoes, the jewelry, the car,
this we know.
but what about a porch in tact?
a couch in the living room void of cigarette burns?
windows, open and clear, framed with decorative curtains?
the things we tend to believe everyone has
just because we do.
but what about running water for which to drink or bathe?
a bed and not just a sheetless mattress on a floor?
air-conditioning on a 103 degree Texas afternoon?
we must open our eyes,
move beyond our own walls, and
see what isn’t so simple, after all.