Horatian Ode* to the Horseman
Horatian Ode* to the Horseman
The Cowman, the Cowboy, and Grandma’s Medicine Man
Old “Mr. McCarty” was an honest cowman.
Worked hard, every deal made square.
Raised his brothers and sisters, taught school at Lone Star,
Brilliant and strong, tho’ austere.
Took care of his help, extr’ blankets, good food;
Cared for them like he’d want to be treated.
Wanted everybody happy with every trade he made
Even if he got a little bit cheated.
Put together a good ranch while others went down.
Helped others while makin’ his place.
He understood land, good cows and men,
Invested with cash as a base.
My Grandpa Pete was a wild cowboy
Liked adventure and challenge or a dare.
Unpredictable, irresistible, the favorite funny man.
He’d show up, but no tellin’ where.
Ray Reed says “Casey Tibbs couldn’t ride a better bronc,
And he played a fiddle good as Bob Wills.”
When I think about his touch and his blood that’s in my veins
The possibilities give me cold chills.
Grandpa Pete’s a friendly guy, liked by anyone he met.
Railroaders tell of his heroic deeds.
But a’straddle the bottle, he’d make his last ride
While scatterin’ destructive seeds.
Grandma Margie’s history can’t be quite traced,
The records have all been burned.
She was sensitive to the supernatural world,
The shaman arts she learned*.
If there is a Cherokee connection here,
Some tell it, some will deny it.
Her last few years, I was her close friend.
Even in pain she was kind- to her credit.
Grandma’s little trailer house was a stall full of love.
I was received there night or day.
Tho’ we didn’t agree on every important thing,
There’s nothing that we couldn’t say.
Mr. McCarty put the math in my head.
Pete’s music is deep in my heart.
Grandma’s magic touch is still in my bones,
Where’ll I go with such a start?
Influenced strongly by a magistrate,
A clown, and a warrior brave,
Whether methodical, moody, or mystical,
At home in a mansion, a cabin or a cave.
With nothing I wasn’t given by
A school teacher, a singer, and a sage or
A man, a curious child, or everyone’s best friend.
I’ve a scientific, spontaneous, spiritual guage.
Managed 7-figure budgets and over 40 hands
By the age of 25
Makin’ music and rhyme since I could talk,
My spirit is active and alive.
Most thanks goes out to my patient parents
When sortin’ out who I can,
When hung ‘tween the cowman, cowboy,
And Grandma’s medicine man.
The trail is not so simple when
Measured from 3 different views.
To pave a way for others to follow
May my be example be fit to choose.
Cactus Jack McCarty 12/24/’94
Son of the Legend?
7/’96 read at Grandmother McCarty’s funeral 9/11/’96
As old hands struggle to remember,
Young ones try not to forget
While bustin’ brush to cut their trails,
They ponder horseback- jet to jet.
The values of a generation
Past live on past lives ahead.
Philosophies live longer than
The personalities now dead.
For “As a man thinks…”in his heart
The man will prove indeed to be;
His children will reflect his ways.
His wisdom walking all will see.
If flow’rs of grass bloom in his heart,
His offspring soon will bear the seeds
That love the land, the horse, the cow
On through the howl of corporate greed.
Taught that a man can stand up straight,
Talk plain and look you in the eye,
To seal a deal with a bare handshake;
His word’s still good when times are dry.
To judge a horse, look at his feet,
The value of a cow- her teeth,
Best land is shown wrap’d in a drought,
A man’s word shows the man beneath.
From timberline to desert floor,
From Quakie cold to Cholla heat,
The buckaroo to cowboy band
All seem to march with same heartbeat
In leather proven, hidden mettle
Buried ‘neath a wooden cross,
They tamed a land, became a legend.
Children mourn’d, then fill’d the loss.
Yet, what was needed to obtain
Will be required to preserve.
The land cares for the character
That cares for land as it deserves.
So, in the nightwind’s harshest seasons
Hear the land’s soft, whisper’d question:
Is there a son of the legend?
Does their wisdom ride again?
another Italian sonnet
A Seasonal Sonnet
“It came to pass…” eternal Scriptures read.
Once mist-air-dust, then mud with breath combined
Becomes a form that now can feel and bleed
To dust a trail that choices leave behind.
The frozen branch that’s leaf-forsaken, still,
Though dormant through obstinate seasons, waits
With life protected, hidden in the Root,
And beauty sleeping, quiet ‘neath the chill
In hope, will bud again on springtime dates
To be rewarded with a harvest fruit,
That is the Seed where life is introduced
With love and song and laughter to be loosed.
A fruitfulness in winter is absurd,
So faithfulness near death is then preferred.
Ropin’ Lessons – A True Story
Boys we were then, ages 12 and 10,
Brother Rick’s first year out using twine.
With lessons to learn, my saddle had turned
But the calf I had snared bedded fine.
My cinch was too slack, so I straightened the kack
The lariat tied fast to the tree.
With the saddle upright, the latigo pulled tight,
With fresh wind, the calf tried to flee.
While I’m still on the ground, with no help around,
That idiot rimfired my mount.
That pony did fly, snagged calf bounced so high
All his feet in the air I could count.
Durned calf in the sky, I’d figger he’d die
As my horse headed straight for Rick’s.
A’leadin’ his catch in, he soon lost his grin-
Loose horses and horn knots don’t mix.
‘Fore Rick could get down, my horse wrapped him ‘roun’
He got tangled in death-trap noose.
Roy Slagle dove in, riskin’ his own skin
With belt-knife, started cuttin’ Rick loose.
Now ropin’ I might, my cinch is near tight.
Even accuse me of a dallywelt.
Won’t tie to a horse I can’t trust, of course,
While I carry a knife on my belt.
December 15, 1998
What specters in the cedar’d shadows hide?
Is it the risk a man would stub his toe,
Or haunting by the horse he could not ride?
Why does a man avoid the moonlight so?
A long-lost loved-one’s face in rocks appear
As horn’d owl questions-coyote moans reply
With Annie Laurie’s whisper in his ear,
The disappointment’s in the night-wind’s sigh.
His roots, fed by ancestral dream-fill’d sails,
Attack’d by fears and failures, friends and foes,
While mind’s eye fills in blanks where vision fails
‘Til tidal dawn will heal the moonstruck blows.
A full moon spotlights man’s fascination
And monsters in his imagination.
The Hell-Bound Train (From an old song. I didn’t like the theology, so I changed it)
A Texas Cowboy on a barroom floor had drunk so much he could hold not more.
He went to sleep with a troubled brain to dream he rode on the Hell-Bound Train.
The engine with murderous blood was damp and the headlight was a brimstone lamp.
The imps for fuel were shoveling bones and the furnace rang with a thousand groans.
The boiler was filled with innocents’ tears and the devil himself was the engineer.
The passengers were a mixed up crew: church members, atheists, gentile and Jews.
There were rich men in broadcloth, poor men in rags, beautiful girls and wry scalawags.
With red men, yellow men, black-folks and white all chained together, ‘twas a terrible sight.
The train rushed on at an awful pace, the sulfurous fumes scorched hands and face.
Faster and faster the engine flew, and wilder and wilder the country grew.
Brighter and brighter the lightning flashed, and louder and louder the thunder crashed.
Hotter and hotter the air became ‘til the clothes were burned from each shrinking frame.
Then out in the distance there arose a yell– “Ha ha!” said the devil “The next stop is Hell!”
Then Oh! How the passengers shrieked with pain as they begged the devil to stop the train.
But he capered about and danced with glee as he laughed and mocked at their misery.
“My friends, you’ve earned the seats on this road, and the train goes through with a full, complete load.
“The laborer always expects his hire, so I’ll land you safe in the lake of fire.
“You’ve bullied the weak, you’ve cheated the poor, the starving brother turned from your door.
“You’ve laid up gold ‘till your purses bust, and given free play to your beastly lusts.
Guilty at a young age, your innocence lost but you wouldn’t take forgiveness by the Blood of the Cross.
You could have turned, but you chose not, so now your soul in Hell will rot.
“Your flesh will scorch in the flames that roar and my worms will torment you forevermore.”
Then the cowboy awoke with an anguished cry, his clothes were wet and his hair stood high.
He prayed as he’d never prayed before to be saved by Christ from Hell’s front door.
His prayers and pleadings were not in vain for he never did ride that Hell-bound Train.