I've not had the privilege of meeting Rod Nichols, and though I will some day, his poetry tells me all I need to know about him. I think you'll agree.
Some fellers favor sunup just before their day begins,
while others favor evenin' when their day is at an end.
But this old cowboy's diff'rent it's the way I've always been,
cause the time that gets me smilin' is the time for headin' in.
With a day of work behind me and before the sunset ends,
it's a quiet and peaceful feelin' on the trail while headin' in.
There's a breeze that often comes up as a warm, southwestern wind,
and a glow across the prairie as I'm slowly headin' in.
Above a hawk is wheelin' swoopin' down then up again,
as if he wants one final look 'fore he too is headin' in.
My saddle pal don't say much but he tells me with a grin,
he feels about the same as me with our ponies headin' in.
Someday this'll all be over just the prairie, grass and wind,
I hope He'll let me pass this way when it's time for headin' in.
THE LAST CATTLE CAR
The cattle were loaded and the tally was toted
when the trail boss he took me aside,
he'd been called away and decided to stay
and he wondered if I'd care to ride.
Well I'd never been past a railhead back then
so I had some misgivings you see,
but out of respect I said,"What the heck,"
and after a bit I agreed.
Course I didn't know which way I would go
but I figured a good way by far,
but that weren't the kind the boss had in mind
when he showed me the last cattle car.
Now I don't mind critters and I ain't no quitter
though I'd sure miss them San Antone bars,
but I'm here to tell you don't miss a smell
downwind in the last cattle car.
My "Pappy" had told me how things used to be
San Antone up to old Abilene,
now that was a Trail but soon the iron rail
came south into Texas it seems.
Our drive in the spring was a much shorter thing
compared to the Old Chisholm Trail,
but from Old San Antone that train ride was long
to the North where the cattle would sell.
Did I say the spring that don't mean a thing
when the winds of the North start to blow,
I'll tell you son when that train trip was done
it felt more like forty below.
I'd run out of food and was in a bad mood
when that engineer stopped for a rest,
and I swore me an oath that's never been broke
I'd never again leave the West.
There's a lesson in this you'd better not miss
'bout a train neath the moon and the stars,
if the trail boss should ask just tell him you pass
if the ride's in the last cattle car.
One eve'nin after supper late when the herd was bedded down,
a grizzled Curly Adams took his place upon the ground.
"Boys," he says," I'm awful tired. These bones have seen their days,
and after a life of ridin herd I'm putting things away."
"If I should go before we're through just put me under deep,
and as a sort of thanks to you why all my goods just keep."
"Except for one this locket here that holds a tiny ring of hair
from the only woman I ever loved and I'd like you boys to spare."
Well none of us could say a word he'd caught us all off guard,
and at the thought of such a wish I had to swallow hard.
As if ordained by some strange fate old Curly didn't make the night,
and as coyotes raised their howl that haggard cowpoke lost his fight.
So as he wished we buried him and his worldly goods we split,
except for a locket ring of hair we wouldn't have him part with it.
I guess you never know a man or what he's like inside,
though you've known him for a lifetime and have shared a hundred drives.
Sometimes it takes his dying to make you really see,
that deep inside some sunbaked hide is a man like you and me.
Oh fill my cup with coffee son hot steamin' thick with cream,
some biscuits please with honey squeezed erí peppered gravy lean.
Some bacon cured in mesquite smoke a slab er two will do,
then let 'em cook til they is crook'd and I'll be 'bliged to you.
I'll take some eggs no matter how a dozen from the nest,
then scramble, fry or at least try and I'll do all the rest.
Some grits would suit me to a "T" with red-eyed gravy son,
a big ham steak upon my plate now that's what I call fun.
Instead we got this half-baked cook who never heard of that,
they's jest one thing on his pea-brain that's hard-tack, beans and fat.
That brew he touts as coffee is shore some fitful stuff,
at least four times on one old grind I think is long enuff.
Those rocks he claims fer biscuits are hard enuff to eat,
I've lost a tooth and that's the truth the second one this week.
You'd think them beans was bad enuff before they're boiled er baked,
but cooked in lard and bullet-hard is more than I kin take.
I don't want you should fault me son fer speakin' ill of Slim,
but if I could I surely would feed all this meal to him.