Throwback Thursday: More Cowboy Poems

Happy Throwback Thursday, everybody.

For those of you who weren’t here for our last Throwback Thursday installment, this week I’ll be continuing with my series of cowboy poems.

I have to chuckle when I read these, because they very literally have no rhyme or reason. There’s no clear plot line, sketchy scenery descriptions, and usually a pretty abrupt ending because my brain started hurting trying to sculpt a cohesive rhythm. So I hope you’ll forgive my total lack of general storytelling etiquette.

But in any case, I’ve been thoroughly enjoying binge-walking down memory lane lately, so I’m gonna share. Here’s another:

A defined black silhouette cut through the brilliant orange sky.
It grew quickly as it neared where Dr. Kelly heaved a sigh.
The man rode hard as beads of sweat ran sideways ‘cross his face,
And fourteen miles away, made Dr. Kelly start to pace.

The woman stirred in bed, and doing so, let out a moan.
The doctor only shook his head and thought, “I should have known.”
The man on horseback yelled a slew of loud, impatient words.
The sky darkened behind him as he raced a flock of birds.

His horse was panting hard when that first star shone clear and bright.
Others like it took their place in the icy threatening night.
He shook the reigns again, last trace of purple drowning east…
The gap closed now to twelve miles, and Dr. Kelly’s fear increased.

The rim of his old cowboy hat was wet with sweat and blood.
The bottom of his boots and jeans were caked in orange mud.
His shirt was ripped, his jacket torn, his face upset and scared…
But Dr. Kelly stood convinced that he just didn’t care.

Another painful moan came from the woman on the bed.
The doctor wandered to her side and felt a burning head.
“There’s nothing I can do,” he whispered with a silent tear.
More followed with the blatant lie, “Your husband’s almost here.”

Eight miles away, a tired shadow pushed against the cold.
He’d been riding for hours, now, from the moment he was told.
The messenger had brought the news that made his heart stop dead.
“Your wife’s in grave condition, sir,” the poor young man had said.

And grave was too cheerful a word to apply in his wife’s room,
For death was hovering nearby, and toward her bed it loomed.
Six miles to go, the ride pressed, and screamed a silent prayer:
“Dear God, I know I’ve made mistakes, but this just isn’t fair.”

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Throwback Thursday: Susie and her cowboy poems…

Hardly anyone I went to high school with reads my blog, but if they did they’d be rolling their eyes right now.

I may have mentioned my obsession with poetry in a previous post… and I believe I also mentioned how absurdly god-awful my poems were. What I haven’t discussed yet, was my perpetual fascination with cowboy-themed poems. (I was reading a lot of Zane Grey at the time.)

There was just something about the romance of riding horseback, kicking up dust and adventuring into the great wide nowhere with nothing but a bandana around your neck and a revolver at your hip.

It grabbed hold of my heart and hung on tight – as it did so many writers before me. And as such, my crude attempts at poetry began to assume the tropes of the Wild West.

In the next Throwback Thursday series, I’ll recount a few of the poems here… as long as I have your assurance, dear reader, that you won’t judge them.

(Note: None of them are titled. I’ve always struggled with titling things – a trait that has followed me into my current writing career. Also, I know I change tenses and I use adjectives instead of adverbs. I’m sorry, okay?)

Late at night, in the dark and the wet
When the light is teased and shunned,
There rides a man weighted down with regret
And the thick metal sheath of his gun.

He slumps on his saddle, tired and worn
His silhouette not but a clod:
A sorrowful cowboy whose jacket is torn
And whose morals are tragically flawed.

Yes tragically flawed are the morals of he,
Who sits in his hollow, on heaps of debris,
And grins as he waits for his poor enemy,
Yes, flawed are the morals of he.

A labyrinthine cavern, just miles away
Was where he’d established his lair.
He had good intentions, although I daresay
That his victim had hardly a prayer.

The hapless approached as his murderer waited
And as he arrived at the den
Sat a man with a pistol, all conscience abated.
A shot rang out once – then again.

Yes, two shots rang out that night, painfully clear,
And out of the cavern, two bodies appear,
The live one discernibly bearing a sneer,
Yes, the shots rang out painfully clear.

And now as he rides, he is ridden with shame
And can taste acrid guilt on his breath,
For he knows that he deserves all of the blame
For that miserable, undeserved death.

 

Happy Throwback Thursday, world!

New Feature: Throwback Thursday!

 

Okay so I know. Throwback Thursday is not, in fact, new. It has been in existence in the world of social media just long enough to become passe… so, naturally, I am just now hearing about it.

In any case, because it’s new to ME, I am going to be starting it as a new feature on my blog.

I may have mentioned that my mom is the-most-amazing-slash-also-the-weirdest person in the whole world. And this time, she might have outdone herself.

During her last visit, I mentioned that I was sad about the fact that my books didn’t follow me during my move from my hometown. I had about one box’s worth of my favorites, but beyond that they all sat gathering dust in my parents’ garage. So my mom, being the superhero that she is, took it upon herself to mail me the rest of my library – to the tune of twelve different boxes traveling cross-country and hundreds of dollars in shipping.

photo 1   photo 2

Needless to say, my mother is the very best person to ever walk Planet Earth.

It took hours to rifle through the dozens of books, and proved to be a reflective and wholly nostalgic venture. But one thing I didn’t expect to find, was the enormous stack of journals my mother had kept throughout my childhood.

photo 3

The very first entry I could find was written in 1997, which means I was at the wee age of eight years old. And from what I can surmise, I haven’t really put the pen down since.

So in light of this (for me) Earth-shattering discovery, (along with the slightly less Earth-shattering discovery of “Throwback Thursday”), I will be featuring a glimpse into my youth every week.

This week, I’ll keep it brief. On October 18th, 2006, having just celebrated my 17th birthday, I contributed to my journal this enlightening limerick:

I once had a very nice shoe.
Its brother was very nice, too.
But the left and the right
Were both lost in the night.
Oh heavens, now what shall I do?

It sometimes concerns me that I will never regain the intellectual prowess I once held.

On Train Tracks & Stopwatches

Dear Time,

I would like to thank you, first of all, for everything you’ve done – for that matter, everything you are. By our very definition, we humans are chaotic and barbaric – and without you, Time, we might give way to our more disorderly nature. You are the train conductor of our lives, tapping your pocket watch and keeping us on schedule. You regulate, and organize, and govern the world. Your existence has been the perpetuating heartbeat of ours.

And yet, for something so absolutely structured, your delineation seems rather flexible. To an impatient child, an hour can seem like a lifetime – while for an inmate awaiting his execution, it passes in the blink of an eye. You are sly and elusive in this way, and it is impossible to nail you down. We try to summarize our nebulous understanding of this phenomenon by assigning you dozens of idioms – You heal all wounds, you save us nine stitches, we race you, lose you, invest you, and borrow you – but trying to understand or capture your essence is like trying to cup water in our hands. The harder we try to hang on, the faster you slip from between our fingers.

I know, I know that somewhere in the rulebook it states that you have to move forward. You must. It is written in the laws that govern our universe, it has been proven by scientists and philosophers alike for centuries. Forward momentum seems to be the only absolute, the only concrete understanding we have about you, Time. You are a moving train, hurdling ever onward, and we are your weary passengers catching only glimpses of the passing countryside before we’re onto the next town.

But I am writing to ask of you – beg of you, really – that you cease this forward momentum immediately.

I have ridden this locomotive patiently for 24 years now. For most of that time, I have often spent too much energy lamenting the past or anticipating the future – hardly acknowledging or appreciating the “Right Now.” Which, truthfully, has been a blessing – since Right Now’s presence is always so fleeting. It is much easier to look forward or backward on the tracks than it is to try and focus on the constantly changing scenery out the window.

But here’s the thing, Time, and I hope you’ll understand. Presently, Right Now and I are getting along swimmingly. In fact, it’s more than that – I am besotted, absolutely infatuated, head-over-heels in love with Right Now. Right Now is my rock, my knight in shining armor, and I have never in my life been so attached to the landscape outside my boxcar window.

And yet I know, as certain as the setting sun, that this landscape is bound to change. 

Oh, Change – Time’s other half, its alter-ego. You and Change are flip sides of the same coin, aren’t you? I cannot battle one without battling you both. So because Right Now and I are so madly, desperately in love, and Change is what is threatening to tear us apart – my only course of action is to beg you, Time, to stop altogether.

I do not want to continue plummeting forward. I do not want anything to change. I want life to stay right where it is, I want to press “pause” and enjoy this gorgeous setting for more than a passing moment.

I want off the train.

(In response to this DPChallenge)

A Ballad of Unfortunate Comparisons

I shouldn’t care if she has flair, or if her hair is curled.
I wouldn’t trade my dull and faded looks for all the world.
When I walk by, the boys don’t sigh and lean back in their chairs.
I shouldn’t care.

Her hips sway like a pendulum when she walks down the street,
They hypnotize the hungry eyes of everyone she meets.
And when she melts the hearts of all the boys who turn and stare,
I shouldn’t care.

Her eyelashes are long enough to brush against her cheek
She bats them up and down and pouts her lips out when she speaks.
And if those fiery lips inspire a scandalous affair,
I shouldn’t care.

I shouldn’t care what clothes she wears, or if her nails are done,
Because my nails are chipped and pale, and that is just as fun.
It shouldn’t matter next to her, that I don’t have a prayer –
I shouldn’t care.

No – never should I pay a mind to things like this, it’s true.
And yet I just can’t help myself – I shouldn’t, but I do!

A Letter to the Girl in My Driver’s License Photo

Dear Girl In My Driver’s License Photo,

 
Dear, dear girl. What a life you lead! The winds of change have blown you through four cities in the last year, and spat you out here, spinning, with your hand on your hat. In each new place you have shaken your head, dusted yourself off and walked forward into another new situation – scarcely even taking the time to absorb your surroundings.
 
And as a gentlemanly gesture, your surroundings, in turn, did not absorb you either. You and your respective cities of residence have lead lives as kindly neighbors – acquainted, sure, but otherwise hardly cognizant of one another’s presence. Arizona’s sprawling desert and beautiful, panoramic views made friendly eye contact in passing but did not call to you, did not whisper sweet nothings into your ear. Similarly, the noisy, pulsating streets of San Francisco were quaint and appealing in photographs, but in the end warmed someone else’s bed. No, the dapper charm of these cities was lost on you, dear one.
 
It seems needless, then, to say you have not felt “at home” at all this year – flighty and transient as your existence has been, that four-letter word has not even snaked its way into your vocabulary. What is home, but a place to hang your hat? A place where you never got around to stocking the pantry, where you’re not quite compelled to unpack allthe boxes… just in case. No, a mere stepping-stone to the next adventure, surely not a home.
 
Were you afraid? Of course you were. Before this tumultuous year you were secure in your place in the world. Your entire life – friends, family, every school you ever attended – were all a stone’s throw away. You had hunkered down in your hometown like a bird protecting her eggs: You spread your wings out wide and strong, but stayed firmly perched on your nest. Because to do anything else would mean certain danger – even an inch’s movement in any direction would be much too risky.
 
Little did you know, little bird, that you would move from that nest of comfort and familiarity – not just an inch but 400 miles, and then another 800, and then 600 more. As if your ties to it were not made of rope but of rubber, and you wanted to see just how far they could stretch.
 
And did they stretch? Do you still feel like that little bird, pulling and tugging against the bonds that held you there for so long? Or is the resistance all just imagined, and the cord was severed completely when you first left home a year ago?
 
And if no binding ties exist to that old nest, to what now, dear girl, do you consider yourself bound? Not the sunny plains of Arizona or the bustling streets of San Francisco, surely.
 
Are the evergreens and snowcapped mountains of your current surroundings enough to provide anchor? Your new home carries not a single unpacked box, and your cabinets are full of canned goods. Could this mean that you are, after all, itching for some measure of permanence? A place to call your own?
 
I think the answer might lie in the one, solitary declarative act of relocation you have made. The only time, in three moves over 13 months, that you have taken the time to stand in line and notify this new location of your intent. Like crying from a rooftop that you are here. You do exist, and you wantthis city to open itself up to you, and vice versa.
 
Dear girl, waiting patiently for your turn in metal folding chairs, standing behind the yellow line and looking up at the camera, wide-eyed and grinning…
 
Welcome home.