Two things led me to write this poem. First of all, I wanted to write something about how life changes in an unexpected instant. Any of us who has had an auto accident or the dreaded midnight phone call has experienced this truth. Having that in mind, I'm nudged to not put the important things off but to do them while I can.
The other thought behind this poem is my zest for always living to the fullest and doing my best to ignore the unfaltering advance of time on my limited days here on earth. I'm inclined to push myself to keep doing today what I was able to do yesterday. When the Lord decides to call me home, He'd better do it quick. If I get stuck in a hospital bed for months on my way out, the dang thing had better have some pedals on it because I'm heading outside!
Die First - Then Quit
Tuck was heading back to the ranch
Coming from town with supplies
When around a bend in the trail
A sow and cub roared up in surprise
His horse shied and reared
Bucking Tuck off into the air
It was hours before a packer found him
A bloody mess, evidently mauled by a bear
He came-to in the bunkhouse
He'd been unconscious more'n a day
Surrounded by the other riders
Obviously, he was in a very bad way
He wasn't going to make it
The doc gave him a day, maybe two
There was just too much damage
There was nothing anyone could do
"Seems that griz done me bad for sure boys
Doc says my season's drawin' to a close
Saddens me they's things I ain't finished
But, maybe I never would'a, who knows?"
"Strange what notions come to mind
Appearin' outt'a the gloom at a trot
It ain't about the pain and all
But what I've done and what I've not"
"I never told Jolene I love her
That always seemed a fool thing to say
But I'd dangsure tell her straight
Now that it won't matter anyway"
"I wish I'd'a told my mother
How sorry I am I troubled her so
Before she died last winter
I wasn't much of a son, I know"
"Wish I'd'a taken the time just once
To scout out Jack Rabbit Trail
How many times did I pass that sign?
Seems I've spent my life chasin' my tail"
"I might'a drank whiskey less
And spent time in the Good Book more
Funny what reveals important now that
I'm about to settle up and tally my score"
"Shame I never got that grulla rode
Reckon I never sat her just right
One of you boys will get 'er done
Dang, ain't she got some fight?"
"Always wanted to learn to dance
Could'a hoofed along to San Antonio Rose
Maybe held me some pretty girls
While showin’ off my doe-si-does"
"What's cherished in life is suddenly clear
Now that I've been dealt this death-blow
I’m proud to’ve had y'all for compadres
Thanks boys, for callin' me Amigo"
"Never considered myself a bad hombre
Though I weren't no saint I don’t suppose
Many's the time I could'a done better
Should'a forgiven more as chance arose"
"My Pa was always fond a’ sayin’
Ain’t none of us permanent on this earth
That this was just a testing place
To sorta' roundup what we're worth"
"Well boys it's been a good ride
More often than not I've been blessed
I always hoped when my time came
I would retire gratefully, a satisfied guest"
"Give my Winchester to the Simmons boy
He ain't manned up much yet
But he's asking the right questions
So I believe it's where he'll get"
"Give my horse and saddle to Jolene
Not sure if she ever loved me or not
But she showed me kindness once
Reckon that's 'bout as close as I ever got"
"Seems it's gatherin' time up yonder
In God's bunkhouse I believe there's room
For one more used up ol' buckaroo
So smile boys, this ain't all doom and gloom"
"Tomorrow when you remember me
Don't go mopin' 'round all sad
Instead lift a whiskey - the good stuff
And drink to the shinin' times we had"
"Lastly boys, I'll leave you with free advice
Y’all ponder on what really makes a man
And whatever it is that stirs your heart
Go do it now while you still can"
"Now help me get my boots on
I wanna die doin' like I've always done
That reaper that’s a'comin' after me
He's gonna get met by this old son"
"Go saddle me up my gray boys
I ain't breathin' m'last in this bed
Help me trot on out to meet the end
I ain’t a’quittin’ ‘til after I’m dead!"
by Rik Goodell
© 2021. All rights reserved
I continue to be grateful for the generosity of the
Price family in agreeing to allow me to post a copy of
this painting alongside my work.
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