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What I Left Behind

Real Myths / Kind Cowboys
July 19, 2021
Becomin’ Papa
August 3, 2021
Much of my poetry is inspired by the art of others. Often that will be original paintings but sometimes it is photography or even music. I expect a painter wants to tell a story with his or her art. Sometimes, however, that story when seen through the filter of another's life experience, will speak a very different line than the painter may have intended. Such is the nature, and the beauty, of art I believe,

What I Left Behind

Ridin east toward the Wasatch
Mount Nebo in clear view
My bay and I no longer in a hurry
Ponderin’ what next to do

It was late afternoon on a day
When we'd reluctantly been angry ridin’
Poutin' and cussin' since well before sunup
My anger only now subsidin’

Didn’t know where I was goin'
Heck, not even sure why I'd left
My thoughts were consumed by
Loss of hope and feelin' totally bereft

We'd clashed and cussed for an hour
Just one more screaming snit
So I did what I am best at
I'd given up, run away and quit

I'd stomped outside to the barn
Quickly tossin’ a saddle on the bay
Never packed along grub or bedroll
Hadn't thought of where I'd stay

But now I'd calmed a bunch
Reality dawnin' with the settin' sun
Truth was, I really loved her
And was gravely shamed by what I’d done

Nothin' short of complete desperation
Got me off'n the saddle of that bay
I hit my knees beside some sage
I had no earthly idea how to pray

Would I spend the rest of my days
Runnin' from every imagined threat?
Or would this be the day
My responsibilities would get met?

Mama had tried to learn me faith
But the Jesus thing never took hold
A cowboy saddles his own broncs
With his own strength, bein' bold

Bein' well into my thirties
The trail ahead lookin' bleak
Maybe it was time to surrender
Time to admit I really was weak

I prayed something like this,
"God, if you really are who Mama said,
If you're listenin’ and carin’ as she told,
I'm a lost man, how 'bout fixin' my head?"

Before I was done prayin' them words
The following came into my mind
"It's not about your head My son
It's about your hard heart bein' blind”

Then came my mama's words
Clear as she'd many times spoken
"God loves you so much Son and
He'll help you once your pride gets broken"

Well a buncha' answers started racin'
Swirlin' round fast within my thinkin'
Go home and beg forgiveness
Stop from responsibilities shrinkin'!

Next I knew I was ridin' back west
Not at a trot but an easy walk
There was a lot to figure out
Before Sally and I had a talk

I guess it was God doin' the talkin’
Cuz I was listenin' shore 'nuff
He said rejectin' bein' so passive at home
Is where a man begins to show tough

And now that you've decided
To accept your responsibility
You must be strong and lead with courage
All while doin’ so with a servant's humility

And then out there on the Prairie
I heard Ezekiel’s words clear as a bell
I will give you a new heart
A new Spirit will within you dwell

Your heart is made of stone
But I will take that away
I will give you a new heart of flesh
I will be your God every day

By, Rik Goodell

© 2021

This poem was inspired by a Jason Rich painting, "Checking the Rangel". Obviously it struck me as something other than a range search. I saw it as a wistful heart search. I am honored to have his permission to use it here to accompany my work. Mr. Rich's work can be seen at

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