Gunfighters, Romance and Espresso

An old western writer friend of mine once told me that authentic cowboy poetry consisted of two things: Number one to keep a western cadence and number two, most importantly – to drop your G’s.

At the time I was greenhorn poet puzzled by his statement, however, as he started reciting one of his poems his G’s began to drop. His poem and rhythm guided me to an old ghost town where images of leather tough cattle rustlers, scarlet lipped dance hall girls, and poker players began to fill the smoke laden saloon. Drifters and claim jumpers joined in as they too began telling stories of run-ins of bandits, sheriffs and Mexican federales.  We decided to meet for coffee.  I knew he would rope me into a cowboy poetry challenge – one I would of course accept.

Visions of High Noon ran through my mind. Gary Cooper, toe-to-toe with his nemesis. I felt myself in the center of and old ghost town. The chink of jingle bobs on our spurs as we slowly got  out of our vehicles. Wild dogs barking, running in the dusty, dirty street. The sun directly overhead; I had to squint as I felt for my pen and paper. He readied his trigger hand to grip his blackberry. I could see the tumbleweeds ducking for cover under the general store porch. The theme from, “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly” played in my head. We walked toward into the entrance of the Starbucks, grabbed two chairs in the WIFI section, sat down.

A sweet little gal came over to take our order. I glared at her with the stare of a wild mustang not ready to be broken . . . okay it was more along the line of, “I’ll motion for you when I’m ready to order. Are the biscotti’s fresh today?” I digress. Where was I . . . the stare, yes the stare! His stare was cold. In one quick motion he propped his blackberry in his left hand and slid the cover up with his right turning it on. His start-up theme Happy Trails was appropriate for the challenge that lay ahead.  I’d planned to leave him in the dust.  I wrote, “The pen is mightier than the sword”, my favorite quote from Charlemagne at the top of my notepad – a portent to his impending doom.

We talked about writing and how every writer has their own sense of tempo especially when it comes to cowboy poetry. I wanted to give it a try so I started jotting down recollections of my years working a cattle ranch, rodeos, cowboy cafes, etc. I organized them into narrative poem called, Porch in Wyoming:

“An old driftin’ cowboy, Meeteetse bound
Needed some rest and a place to lie down
Many a folk seen him early that day
They walked by his soogan
Without much to say

‘Ceptin’ one little gal with a right purty smile
Said, “Come up on my porch and rest here for a while”
She cooked him a meal and let him clean up
And brought him fresh coffee in a blue floral cup

She listened for hours to his tales and stories
Of bronc ridin’ mishaps and gold buckle glories
Of rustlers and gun fights and old battle scars
Of nights in the desert camped under the stars”

I handed him my incomplete rough draft.  Eager to hear his praise I asked, “So what do you think?”   As he finished reading what I thought was a brilliant piece of cowboy dialog; he tilted back in his chair.

His critique – like a bullet from an old Colt revolver it was quick with no recoil he said, “Well, darlin’ I’d better git goin’, keep doin’ what your doin’, don’t quit your day job, keep writin’ and maybe some day you’ll be as good a cowboy writer as me!”

Good as me?  I reached down to put on my symbolic shit kicker barn boots because his advice was getting pretty deep.

We finished our espresso and left the café. I walked him to his truck. He turned and plopped his cowboy hat on my head. “Here you go darlin’ I hope it inspires you as much as it has inspired me. Keep up the good work and you’ll be a cowboy poet, before you know it. “As he rode off into the afternoon sun, (did you really think I was going to say sunset; that would be so Mel Brooks) in his truck, I waved goodbye thinking, “I know draft horses that produced less manure than you did today.”

For Stephen 1944-2011
Adios mi amigo

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4 thoughts on “Gunfighters, Romance and Espresso”

  1. I think being “full of it” is a cowboy requirement. 😉 Lovely tribute Deb.

    1. Thanks Jack and you are so correct, if you not full of cow crap, lousy coffee or bad gas you ain’t a cowboy!! 🙂

  2. Thank you Donna. He was a special person and will be missed by his friends and fans. My heart goes out to his family.

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