June Issue- Week 1

June 2, 2013

Steerhead-2

by  Laura Jean Schneider

***********

SHAWNEE TRAIL

Come all you young cowboys so young and so hale

And I’ll tell you what happened on the old Shawnee Trail.

Come listen beside me and I’ll tell you the tale.

I got me a job for pretty good pay

Bein’ a wrangler for a rancher, the name of Bob Gray.

Taking ponies to Sedalia for a dollar a day.

 

We rode out one morning, the cowboys and me

Captain Gray lead us all, on his mare named Marie

My pal rode a paint, the one named Pawnee.

That horse was a killer, but we didn’t know then

How that paint had hurt more than a dozen good men

He would throw a good rider, time and again.

 

When that rider was down, God it was sad

That horse would go crazy, plum ravin’ mad

He’d stomp on the rider, and kick him real bad

Til the rider was dead and mashed in the ground

That horse wouldn’t stop but just whirl all around

And stomp the poor cowboy, that was there lying down.

 

That horse was smart; he would wait for his time

He’d be fine for a while and then turn on a dime

He’d spin like a top when commitin’ his crime

And then he’d start bucking, my God what a sight

He’d heave off the ground, goin’ high as a kite

No cowboy could ride him, you couldn’t set tight.

 

Captain Grey told my pal, “Don’t ride him you see

Just leave that damn paint horse to someone like me.

‘cause I’m gonna shoot him, I damn guarantee.”

Maybe my pal was too foolish and bold

He just didn’t believe in what he’d been told.

He said,” That horse is fine, he jist needs controlled

 

I am really your man, I aint terror struck

I’ll soon see if this outlaw can buck

If he tries to throw me, he’ll be down on his luck”

And he saddled the paint and with the ponies we rode

My pal seemed to have him, he didn’t explode

He seemed to be calm, like in a church mode.

 

Well we herded those ponies like they had wings

Until we got south of the town Baxter Springs

Now I seen some sights and some terrible things

But nothing prepared me for the sight I would see

When that damn paint horse started his spree

He spun and jumped higher then a goddamn dog flea

 

He was bucking and screaming like a mad grizzly bear

That was roused from his sleep and come from his lair

My Pal couldn’t stay on him, he hadn’t a prayer.

He reached for his night latch, to help himself stay

Screwed In the saddle, this wern’t child’s play

That paint was on his hind feet, when the saddle broke ‘way

 

The latigo busted and my pal hit the ground

And that paint was on him in one single bound

A kicking’ and stompin’ my pal who was downed

There was blood on the saddle and blood on the ground

My pal was a yellin’, a terrible sound

But that damn horse was still on him, he wasn’t unwound

 

 Bob Grey rode up yelling, “get out of the way

Cause this is that  Devils Goddamn last day”

He pulled out his pistol, a Colt forty four

And 6 shots went off with a hell of a roar.

That Paint went down, all covered with gore

He won’t kill no riders, not anymore.

 

But my pal lay dead there right next to that horse

Their blood run together as a matter of course

All in a pool as if from the same source.

In all my life, I seen nothin’ worse.

All we could do was stand there and curse

Our hearts was sad and filled with remorse.

 

We buried my pal right there on the trail

Wrapped in a blanket, his face was so pale

And over his grave the coyotes would wail

The bones of the Paint still mark the spot

So when you ride by, your horse at a trot

Jist give my pal more than a thought

 

Some horses are killers, that’s all I can say

And if you find one you best stay away

You may try to ride him but it’ll be your last day

On the trail near that pile of rottin’  horse bone

Listen to the south wind with its sad moan

And think of my pal, lying there all alone.

Merle Grabhorn is a rancher living in the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma. Yes, he does own and ride a horse, and yes, he drives a pickup truck down dusty dirt roads. And like all ranchers, he diversifies, growing wheat, soybeans, and milo, along with the hay that the cattle need in the winter. 

His family came west by covered wagon in the 1850s and homesteaded.  Some of his family drove horses and cattle along the Shawnee Trail.   This trail is the South West’s eastern-most, earliest south-north trail.  Before the railroads crossed the Mississippi River, Texas cattle were driven east to New Orleans. When the Pacific Railroad terminated in Sedalia, Missouri, cattlemen found it easier to take their cattle north. Using the rails, cattle could then be shipped to slaughter houses in St. Louis and Chicago much quicker than when traveling by ship from New Orleans.  Horses could be driven north on the trail and sold to the Army in Sedalia.

************

First Choral Sonnet

 

Now penetrators concentrated stones

Of silver pierce in shafts with sharpened picks,

Mining her guts, as mother Tellus groans,

In rival disembowelment to affix

Themselves. These delvers, axing depths, intent

On access to the earthen entera

Of ore, all rupturing her fundament

In rock, would argentine phenomena

Confirm. In Gaian innards grubbing, down

Toward the inmost domain of bowels they dig.

They’d shiver fundatorial earth, her brown

Intestines breaching where the find is big.

The pithiest sinuosity, fulfilled

With argent marrow, must be mined and milled.

Second Choral Sonnet

Nevadan cavers excavational

Evisceration speed in Davidson,

Where fissured strata, fused with mineral

Profundities, afforded by the ton,

Are struck. As burrowed indentations spread

In deeper ores of pitted danger, so

Interior horrors must be hazarded,

For ground spates shoot into the mines below

Five hundred feet with permeat magnitude

In steam. Thus noxious burrows, nether bound,

With vapid calefaction are imbued,

Where delves are veins with fervid trouble found.

Indented Davidson is disemboweled,

Down where her hollowed viscera unfold.

F. L. Light has written many sonnets and this piece is from his drama Bonanza Mammon Booms, a drama of the Comstock Lode, which is set in Virginia City, Nevada. The protagonist is William Sharon, principal of the Bank of California branch in Virginia City. The Lode was about two thirds silver and one third gold. Virginia City is now a tourist site. Alex Hyde-White, a well-known actor, is producing Mr. Light’s translation of *Oedipus the King* for Audible.com. *Antigone* and *Women of Trachis*, performed by other actors, are now listed there.

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