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Cain’t Rush the Desert

A Couple of Three
October 5, 2021
What’s in a Friendship?
October 19, 2021

Cain't Rush the Desert

Hooowee that sun was hot!
‘Felt like my chaps were a'flamin'
Guess that's why they call it Fry Canyon
Gonna' be late for the destination I was aimin'

Right under Wingate Mesa
Found me a red rock outcroppin’
Seein' the shade, my palomino detoured
Leavin' no doubt we were stoppin'

Who was I to argue with
A horse obviously smarter than me?
Tryin to appear to be wiser
I shrewdly chose to simply agree

Though the water was from a brackish hole
The canteen was still mostly full
I poured some into my hat and watered Pal
Before myself takin' a long pull

I stripped off her blanket and saddle
Underneath she was mighty wet
I knew that dry breeze a blowin'
Would cool her while dryin' up sweat

I spread that horse blanket down
Droppin' the saddle at one end
Tyin’ her bosal off on the horn
So's to not be separated from my friend

My saddlebags and bedroll got tossed
By my feet in a nearby nook
Keepin' them shaded best I could
So my vittles and such wouldn't cook

Stiffly, I stretched out on that blanket
Tucked into that hollow's shade
I stripped those chaps away
Chuckling at the decision we'd made

Before driftin’ off to sleep
I remembered the advice I'd ignored
It'd been given by an old desert rat
And here is what he had implored

"When crossing a dry hot desert
A man's first gotta' decide
Just how big a hurry he's in
That dictates how he'll ride"

"The best way to cross a desert
If a man plans to survive
Is travel 'tween sundown and sunup
It'll improve his odds of stayin' alive”

I hadn't expected such heat
So early in the spring season
On my way to the Navajo Nation
I was travellin' for good reason

My sister was gettin’ hitched
The wedding was late tomorrow
She’d forgive my missin’ her hitchin’
But maybe not her worryin’ sorrow

Well when I finally did show
She was all married up and beamin’
I thought she’d be all mad but
She hugged me while happy-screamin’

There’s something about kinfolk
A tie much stronger than steel
I sure was glad to see her and
Speak the happiness for them I feel

I was only a day and a half late
But they'd held up their honeymoon
They just couldn’t leave for fun
While worryin’ if I’d show up soon

My new brother had organized
A posse for searchin’ my trail
They were over east of me some
When they called me with a loud hail

Everyone was glad I was okay
Huggin’ and handshakin’ a lot
Believe I’ve learned my good lesson
Leave early and seek shade when it’s hot

by Rik Goodell

© 2021. All rights reserved

I'm grateful, once again, for the generosity of the
Price family in agreeing to allow me to post a copy of
their painting alongside my work. I've ridden many a
mile across the hot desert a'horseback. There are times
when your cantle can get too hot to touch. The shade
and respite from the relentless desert sun that this rider
and his palomino found beneath the rock outcropping is
a blessing I relate to. This calm yet provocative painting
(the artist calls it “Shady Rest”) brings back those
simultaneously fond yet dry memories and inspired me to
write this poem.

See more of this artist's work at

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