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In Praise of Bees

Life on the Cowboy Fringe
September 14, 2021
Sunrise at Helmville Rodeo
September 28, 2021


In Praise of Bees

I’m just a simple workin’ hand
Doin’ hard to earn my own keep
Hard tellin’ what I do each day
Before I bed down to my sleep

Ain’t got no wife no family 
“Bout all I got to my own name
My six-gun, horse and my saddle
Gettin’ by this man's modest aim

Some seasons it’s cattle I push
Others I might do prospectin’
Mostly I lead folk's wagon trains
Good folks with their dreams connectin’

This was my third time out
Leading folks on the Santa Fe
It was a small train of only eight families
And we hadn't found water for many a day


All the previous tanks on this trail
That I'd promised them to find
Had turned out to be dust dry
Recent days had been a parched grind


The travelers were weary and edgy
Nerves were frayed and raw
Folks were short fused and fightin’
My own duty was beginnin' to gnaw


In fact two wagons with young-uns
Were talkin' of turnin' back
They just weren't thinkin' straight
It was a big mistake to backtrack


Their dreams were all ahead of them
A better future down the trail
They'd trusted me to get 'em there
I hard prayed, “God don’t let me fail”


I'd been scouting out ahead
For days as we'd near known water
But the tinajas had been dust
And each hour was getting hotter


Our water casks were all bone dry
Not even a drop to wipe lips
I was desperate, in despair
This was the worst of all my trips


A bee buzzed by my face and arm
Travelin' fast an’ headin’ north
It's direction was off the trail
But bees're known t'bring water forth


I spurred my horse into a trot
Followin' that buzzin' critter
It was hard to keep it in sight
But I would, I ain't no quitter


Up ahead was a rock cluster
Around which I beheld some green
When that water came into view

The beautifullest thing I'd seen


My slicker behind the cantle
Hollerin' I twirled it in air
The train might be too far to see
But right then I just did not care


I fiercely wanted to just drink
But in my heart it didn't set right
I galloped back to the wagons
Hootin' out joy of water sight


We got the horses  and oxen
All watered and bedded on down
Them snorty folks came admirin'
They 'bout wanted to give a crown


Things then settled in to just right
I got them folks where they're goin'
And here's a thing I've decided
Bees are mighty fine for knowin'


When next I head out on a trail
With wagon train or cattle drive
I'm thinkin' it might be real wise
To be takin' a whole beehive!


By, Rik Goodell
© 2021 All rights reserved



I'm grateful to the Price family for providing inspiration for
this poem and for their agreeing to allow me to post a copy of
their painting alongside my work. The enthusiasm of this rider,
for having found water in a dry desert, leaps off the canvas.
See more of this artist's work at

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