Aces And Eights
I want to ride to the ridge where the west commences
And gaze at the moon till I lose my senses
And I can’t look at hovels and I can’t stand fences
Don’t fence me in.
–Words and Music By Cole Porter
Bounty hunter: You’re wanted, Wales.
Josey Wales: Reckon I’m right popular. You a bounty hunter?
Bounty hunter: A man’s got to do something for a living these days.
Josey Wales: Dyin’ ain’t much of a living, boy.
–Clint Eastwood, The Outlaw Josie Wales (1976)
As a way of softening you greenhorns and tenderfeet up for my long promised Clint Eastwood piece, I thought we might have poems on a Western theme…so saddle up an’ let’s get this herd to the railhead at Abilene. Git along, little dawgies…
The Saddle Tramp’s Lament
Come gather ’round boys an’ I’ll tell you my story
A tale of adventure an’ heartbreakin’ woe
How a bright boy left home an’ went lookin’ fer glory
From broad plains of Kansas to ole Mexico.
Oh, the life of a cowboy’s a sad lonely tale
You bust up, you bust out, you land right in jail
Yer out in all weathers, in the storm an’ the gale
It’s a hard life an’ a short life on the ole Chisolm Trail.
Well, my Ma waved me off on that long ago day
She cried and commenced right to sobbin’
“Don’t get no young girls in the family way
An’ don’t take to thievin’ an’ robbin’.”
Well, I thought to myself she was wastin’ her breath
The ole West weren’t no place for a saint
An’ I weren’t afeared of no hellfire nor death
An’ I’d take my lumps without complaint.
Oh, the life of a cowboy’s a poor one an’ hard
You might git yerself shot at the turn of a card
An’ doors are all bolted an’ gates are all barred
Agin a cowboy the townfolk are all on their guard.
Well, I soon took up with a desperate crew
An’ I fitted right into their ranks
I tell ye, boys, there weren’t much I wouldn’t do
Took right smartly to robbin’ them banks.
But a man’s luck has only got so long to run
Afore the dice come up snake-eyes each time
If you live by the Colt then you’ll die by the gun
Else it’s jail an’ get hung fer yer crime.
Oh, a life in the saddle is weary an’ short
Don’t believe them tall tales of romance
An’ punchin’ them cattle ain’t no kind of sport
As fer women? You ain’t got a chance.
Let’s mount up an’ ride out an’ hope fer the best
An’ pray that the herd don’t stampede
An’ play all yer cards right up close to yer vest
If’n you cain’t hope fer luck, hope fer speed.