October- Week 4

October 23, 2012

Bareknuckle

He wrapped a bandage tight around his battered knuckles
to stanch the flow of blood. His buddies ponied up
the cash to keep his pitcher full of beer, their chuckles
inviting him to tell again about the whup

he’d laid on that there thief, the way he went and slugged
the noisy little dude that interfered with his
prerogative to hear the song he picked. While drugged
with alcohol, he’d made it his especial busi-

ness setting matters square by punching out the lights
that darkened his already ugly mood. Fort Knox
would barely cover debts owed on his ranch—his sights
lit on the quarter stuck inside that damned juke box.

C.B. Anderson, the longtime gardener for the PBS television series, The Victory Garden, spent his formative years in Blue, Arizona where, in the late 70’s, he worked for neighboring ranchers (Clell & Katharine Lee) at the stupendous rate of $5/day. He has castrated many a bull-calf and eaten the grisly harvest that was grilled on site atop the rusty iron cylinder in which the branding irons were heated red-hot by a propane torch. His poems on other subjects have appeared in many print and electronic journals internationally.

********

The Cowboy Who Counted the Stars

At days tattered close, head nodding to rest
His ride for the day is now done,
He thinks of the hours whose total won’t count
“Cause he only gets paid sun to sun.

His eyes shift above a duster of red
That rakes blowing sand from the wind,
He’s glad day is made but knows in his heart
Before long, another begins.

Reins still in his hand he steps to the ground
Tipping his hat with a nod,
He lets go the cinch to bring back the breath
Then takes stock of the four that are shod.

The dust billows free as he raises a leg
And gives his worn boot a good stomp,
His horse now at ease as it chases the ground
Looking for some sweet grass to chomp.

With care, a brush, and sure measured strokes,
To her mane and her flank and her withers,
Sweeping tangles and brambles, knotting the tail
She speaks thanks to him when she shivers.

Deep purples and reds are all that remain
Of the sky that was painted pure blue,
The sun cutting west will be dipping below
As night waits to answer its queue.

Hobbling his mount to the picket line
He knows she’ll be safe for the night,
Covering his traps with a dusty ole tarp
Resting easy, ’cause all is put right.

Upon a soft meadow his bed is unrolled
Then he studies a vast sparkling sky,
He asks if there was ever a count,
Of the stars ’cause it takes a sharp eye.

Repeating the question for no one to hear
Thinking, “Cowboy, now how can this be,
That no one has counted the lights in the sky
Are they leaving it all up to me?”

Begin the tally from a well-chosen point
Should you have to start over it’s plain,
The northern star on the handle shines bright
To preface your celestial domain.

The counting established with nary a slip
He knows he’ll not stop ’til its penned,
With thousands to reckon he can’t miss a one
At least, that is what he intends……

Darkness now past, the camp’s in a stir
As the riders crawl out of their rolls,
Saddles are creaking, horses are speaking
Big Augur recalls these poor souls.

Rousted from sleep, he’s not quite awake
As he raises an eye toward the heavens,
He remembers the count of nights’ flickering lights
But was sure there were more than eleven……

Robert L. Penven Sr.
70 years of age, the patriarch of a rather large family/grand kids included. He served in the United States Marine Corps from June 1961 to January 1966. Honorably discharged at the time of separation. From 1967 until 1992, and served with the New Jersey State Police as a state trooper. Since the time of retirement Robert has taught tennis under the auspices of the United States Professional Registry, and has been employed as a finished carpenter and later years an assistant to an airplane mechanic. Hobbies are many, aversions are few. He likes writing stories and poems, and this is his first real publication, but he did submit poetry to his college magazine in 1975 and it was published for the benefit of the student body, probably not so much for himself. Now you know more about Robert Penven than you probably should.

*******

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