December- Week 2

December 10, 2012

Call The Fire Joe

Cookie, I know your dark drinkin’ secrets
But you got no notion of mine
So we can talk around this dying campfire
While the moon limps down like a three legged coyote.
I don’t care if some fruity song writer
From New York City claims out here we call the rain Tess, the fire Joe and the wind Maria,
The embers of this fire is burning out nameless
While we hang this last bottle of whiskey
And rehearse our eulogies for its funeral.
Our campfire don’t need no name
Not like our buddies
We drove with on yesterday’s trails
And who are the dust we choke on today.
Cookie, you got even more grey whiskers and fewer teeth than I do
These young bucks snoring away in their bedrolls
Couldn’t handle the whiskey or the truth under this clear black sky
Nor are they even going to appreciate that some of the stars is missing
Since they can’t see yesterday’s sky.
That Jimson boy rides frisky and free reminds me
Of my pardner Joe just after the war
Same strawberry blond hair and easy laugh
We shared many a bottle and many a hard dirty ride
And many a lady at Miss Lucy’s sporting house
But we could only share feelings up to that line
That a real man draws
For fear he will be less of a man.
There was them two ladies
Miss Susan and Miss Elspeth
That Joe and I would pass back and forth
Neither was any great looker
Not like some other younger slim fillies Miss Lucy kept in her stable
I’d go upstairs with Miss Susan and Joe with Miss Elspeth and next payday we would trade across
Older and a bit stockier
They still looked perfect after the whiskey started playing the piano.
They conversed about more than the coins
And the arrival of the next stagecoach
They could see the magenta in the sunset and puce in the cactus blossom
If we weren’t cowboys and needin’ to drive the herds up this Goodnight Loving trail
We might have ridden with them on a good night lovein’ trail of our own
A few cows and an couple quarter sections
Miss Susan could almost see the lace of the sins in my soul
And loved me anyhow
Cotton Eyed Joe
Where did you come from?
Where did you go?
I know where my Joe rode off to
We buried him in Wyoming
Too far from a town to carry his body
I’ve always wondered if I knew then
What I learned in all those starry nights
Silent except for the dust and the voices of the cattle
That there ain’t no great eye of God watching us
Or even if he was
Would even care how close Joe and I could have gotten.
Fearing mostly the scorn of the other young men who was thinking they was going to live forever
And the whuppings from our daddy’s
We high tailed it from any feeling that a silk dress is something purdy
Not just the body of the lady that’s wearing it
After all these years of hard saddles and even harder women
I just wonder if there was some soft place we was missing
Where we might want to bed down for a while
Some place near cool water
Before I sleep with Joe under this hard prairie soil.

Tyson West is a is a traditional western poet whose aesthetic continually shape shifts. He watches the Northwest with veiled and hooded lynx eyes, broods among the conifers and quarrels with Coyote. He has a degree in history, but writes a variety of poetry styles, and has written a series of poems around Spokane Garry who is our local magical Indian. One of Tyson’s Western poems was published in Spoke Magazine called “Floorshow”, which is based on a picture of a 1922 floorshow in the Davenport Hotel which photo you can find on line. He lives in the middle of Eastern Washington, which is definitely cowboy country. There are two Washingtons, Eastern and Western, and they are as different as a Mocah Mint Latte with organic goats milk and black boiled coffee at a chuck wagon fire.

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