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Nocturnal Notions

My Finest Poem So Far
May 11, 2021
Visitor in the Lineshack
May 24, 2021
My poetry is often inspired by the art of others. In this case it was an original painting. I have, since a young child, been drawn to the quiet hours of darkness. Whether as a young lad delivering newspapers in the pre-dawn morning or as a police officer working a graveyard shift, the solitude of being awake and alive when the surrounding world is asleep has been a comfort; a familiar place usually accompanied by a more manageable yet provocative pace.

Nocturnal Notions

A cattle drive is a unique event and
The best way to push a big herd faster
It is, for example, how we move the gather
From high up down to winter pasture

Though they’re not the long and dusty
Two month trails of yesteryear
Each day’s still fraught with the same work
And the trials can be just as severe

All day long it's one challenge after another
Keep 'em movin’, chase them strays
No time to think beyond the herd
Not a minute for reflectin' on m'ways

I’m blessed to do my cowboyin’
With my cattle dog and my ol' gray
Together we’re quite a team
Good for night ridin', drag or chasin' a stray

Now lots of hands grumble when called
To nighthawkin’ and accompanyin' loss of sleep
But the three in this crew cotton to it
For there, in the dark, our secrets we keep

I reckon' they’re not really secrets
But simply some inner thoughts
Which get plenty of ponderation
While bein' watchful under starry dots

Oh sure I'll sing to them critters
The only ones who can tolerate
My poor efforts at wannabe croonin’
Which to most would fair aggravate

And we regular circle the herd
Keeping an eye peeled for trouble
But most nights are fair quiet
So ponderin’ time's more'n double

There's a calm, a peaceful presence
Comes astride a horse nocturnal
A Cowboy can collect his thoughts
Reflections he can document and journal

I hear the cattle's sporadic lowing
As if they're trying to communicate
“We'll stay close tonight Cowboy
S'long as you continue to circulate”

It does a body good to take time
To consider, dream and assess
A man must occasionally take stock
It's necessary for a favorable life process

I think about my sweet Audrey
And the ranch were gonna' build
Moon reflectin' o'er the sea of horns
I can see our dream-spread fulfilled

Reviewing my past deeds
My good judgment and lack thereof
I figure it's maybe how a man develops
Learnin' to not put himself above

There is a calm, a soothing satisfaction
Unique to the solitude of night
As if the three of us share mysteries
Until the morning comes light

It mighta' been seventh day nighttime
When God rested from His creatin'
The day’s hustle all gone away
And all creation for sunup waitin'

This is a life that's simply me
Cowboyin's in my blood shore 'nuff
It's a way I'll never give up
Even though it can get real tough

I love this cowboyin' life I’m livin’
To keep it I pray with all my might
I'll embrace whatever job from horseback
Even ridin’ fence if I can do it at night

By, Rik Goodell

© 2021

This poem was inspired by a Sheila Cottrell painting, "Lonely Night Vigil". I am honored to have her permission to use it here to accompany my work. Ms Cottrell's work can be seen at

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