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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’ what it takes to earn my keep
Hard tellin’ what I might do in a day
Before I bed down to sleep

Ain’t got no wife and no family to tend
And about all there is to this southpaw's name
Is my six shooter, horse and my saddle
Honestly gettin’ by is this man's modest aim

Some seasons it’s cattle I push
Others I might do some prospectin’
Mostly I lead wagon trains to help
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 had entrusted me to get them 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 even the tinajas had been dusty
And each hour it was getting hotter

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

A bee buzzed by my arm
Travelin' fast an’ headin’ north
It's direction was off the trail
But bees are known to bring water forth

I spurred my sorrel into a fast trot
A' followin' that buzzin' critter
It was hard to keep it in sight
But I would bein's I ain't no quitter

Up ahead was a cluster of rocks
Around which I saw some green
When that cool, clear water came into view
Well, it was the beautifullest thing I ever seen

I loosed my slicker from behind the cantle
Hollerin' I twirled it in the air
The train might be too far back to see
But right then I just didn't care

I fiercely wanted to get down and drink
But in my heart it didn't set right
So I galloped back to the wagons
Hootin' out the joy of my waterin' sight

We got the horses, mules and oxen
All watered and bedded down
Them ornery folks became right admirin'
Seems they 'bout wanted to gimme a crown

Things settled in to just right
I got them families to where they were goin'
And here's a thing that I've decided
Bees are a mighty fine thing to be knowin'

When next I head out on a trail
With wagon train or cattle drive
I'm thinkin' it might be step-up wise
To be takin' along a whole durned 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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