HEAVEN OR HELL, an age old question, explored through the eyes of a couple of old wore out cowpokes!
Ben McKenzie is as good a cowboy poet around. His poems will come closer to giving you the feeling of the old classic poets than any body I know. Check the links on my main page for entry to Ben's page, and you won't be disappointed.
Me and ol' Ben McKenzie here, we gab on now and then, and once in a while, I'll shoot my mouth off and get in trouble. Sometimes ol' Ben opens the door and I'll stick my foot in and waller it around a little, hopin' Ben don't slam the door on me. Well I said all that to say this; Ben sent me a poem a while back, that he had written some 20 years ago, and I 'bout flipped over it. It was a little murky of spirit, though, and I wrote an answer to it. Both poems follow here and I think most folks will see what I'm talking about. Maybe you'll get some help from either one of these pieces.
Another Old Cowboy Has Died
By Ben McKenzie
Sit down on that old saddle,
Put all your doing aside,
I only rode out here to tell ya’,
Another old cowboy's died.
I know its getting hard for the taking,
All those empty saddles hanging off the corral,
I like to think of them in heaven,
But you know there'll be cowboys in hell!
His death sorta’ got me to thinking,
Of everyone I ever called friend,
That have already gone to the Great Beyond,
And I'll never see again.
Cause they were the right kind of fellas,
And heaven is where they belong,
I treated them right in my passing,
And mourn for them now that they’re gone.
Our trails will never cross again,
They'll rope a different spread.
They won't remember this outlaw,
Or see me again when I'm dead.
I hold no remorse for the things I've done,
That cut me out of the herd.
I always played the hand I was dealt,
And never went back on my word.
Now I ain’t just jacking my jaw bones,
A man can't deny what’s true!
I just got to thinkin’ it won't be long,
Till you'll be going too.
That's why its such a welcome sight,
To see you standing there now,
With that old pitchfork in your hand,
And the sweat beading up on your brow.
I remember the times we throwed together,
And a lot of things best left unsaid.
I rode the trails again with you my friend,
Last night while I lay in bed.
There was Curley Joe and Toothless Pete,
Sam, Sunny, Kindle and Tex.
Talking as though they was still in the go,
Reliving life's little wrecks.
I thought of the day they'll lay you away.
I'm ashamed to admit I cried.
Then I just rode over to tell ya’,
Another old cowboy's died.
Now, I happen to think a feller' can go to Heaven regardless of what he's done. The following answer to Ben's super poem, gives some insight as to why I believe that.
© 8/99 All Rights Reserved * David Kelley
Ben you let the air out of me, with
the news about ol’ Hank
The older I get the harder such news
gives your heart a yank.
I’ve lost count of the old crew…
must be about eleven,
Yea’ yer’ right some’r going to hell,
n’some are going to Heaven.
Speakin’ of that, did you know, a preacher’s
what ol’ Clem come be?
In light of his unruly past, that was
wonderment to me.
I throwed all them things up to him, the
last time he come by here,
What he said got me thinkin’ and seein’
things a mite more clear.
He said trails might no longer pass
But trails run trough all time,
And follerin’ the right tracks is the
path to heavenly climb.
Bein’ a varmint here and now is a
cancer ripe for the cure,
Just findin’ the right physician can
make it right and pure.
See, he said I couldn’t ‘do’ anything
that would get me in the door,
and then he said a shocking thing, I
ain’t rightly heard before;
He said I also couldn’t ‘do’ what
would erase me from the roll,
However bad we think we’ve been,
that’s NOT the fiery toll.
Our entry into hell, was sealed in
a garden long ago,
Our only ticket out is the Lamb that
washes white as snow.
Clem showed me how to miss on hell
so I flat refuse to go,
Ben it ain’t the thing you did or didn’t
it’s purely Who you know.
I appreciate you comin’ by, and I
always bawl a bit too,
When old cowboys die without the Lord,
It hurts me through and through.
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