Way Out West - Poetry

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Tailgate Bistro by the San Pedro - Slim Rost and Tom Poley

Rex and Luke took too long fixin’ the wire and roundin’ up the Brand’s cattle that strayed
They dragged in at dark to find they’d missed chuck, arrivin’ so late in the day
So, under the flow of the Milky Way’s glow and just south of the shining Big Dipper
Those cowpokes conspired to spread out a feast down by the San Pedro River

When they birthed the idea, Rex’s stomach was growlin’, he said, “Jump in Nellie, let’s head to the market
Who needs Cookie’s vittles? We’ll get what we like, drive down the river, pick out a spot , and park it”
On the way, they discussed what they wanted to eat, and there developed a mighty tall challenge
To seek out some food types beyond the norm to expand their bland cowhand palettes

The glove was thrown down to round up the grub of multitudinous cultures and nations
To augment the cowboys’ usual fare of sour dough bread, beans, beef, coffee and bacon
The market was new, chrome and all lit up too, and they could see it’d been globalized
Stockin’ dark beer, corked wine, mushrooms bobbin’ in brine, stinky cheeses and a dip of fish eyes

So the boys loaded up with plastic forks and deli cups and moseyed to the line with their treasures
Quite satisfied with their haute cuisine finds, though unnerved by the price of their pleasures
Down to the river Rex and Luke brought their grub and parked in the dark, moonless night
Dropped the tailgate, opened tubs, and gazed at their spread in the ambiance of  Nellie’s dome light

Luke went for the sushi intent to reveal that of raw fish he was not afraid
Dowsed soy on a ball of seaweed and eel and slathered on gobs of green paste
Meanwhile, Rex scooped the herring a’swimmin’ in cream and spread lumps on a dry Melba toast
And they began to partake, with tremblin’ lips, of those foods that are foreign to most

As the sushi slid down the back of Luke’s throat, it stuck headin’ down towards his gullet
And he had his doubts about eatin’ raw fish, but his pride wouldn’t let him expel it !
That raft of toast cracked, when Rex started to laugh, seein’ Luke’s face puckered and glistening with sweat
And his inhaling breath sucked that herring right in, pluggin’ his throat leaving Rex short of breath

Emily Post would need a new chapter indeed, ‘bout what cowboy etiquette lacks
If she watched these scenes of tailgate cuisine and what made those hombres laugh
Yes, they had a great chuckle, eatin’ pickled pig knuckles, with pinkies extended for fun
And Luke threw in foreign words, between nouns and verbs, “Hey, I’m hammin’ it up! ‘Scuse the pun!”

They’d rest and chew the fat, ‘bout adventures they’d had, and the choices ahead in this life
Then they’d share a quiet space, and for a moment they’d gaze, at the stars in that San Pedro sky
They schemed about kidnappin’ Cookie some night, and slippin’ in the kitchen and makin’
Javalina Hollandais served with Chardonnay when all the boys was expectin’ beans and bacon

As their legs dangled down, a rattler slid ‘cross the ground, and Luke jumped on its head with his boot
As he held it aloft, and gently dusted it off, he said, “Tomorrow, it’s rattler au jus!“
And they’d definitely go, ‘neath the Milky Way’s glow just south of the shining Big Dipper
Where they’ll spread out a feast that’s fit for a king down by the San Pedro River

Bill Rost and Tom Poley, copyright 2005 We settled round the fire, and things had got quiet
We’d picked over the topics at hand
You know horses, and water, and just how much cattle
Really could live on this land

And, it was relaxin’ … the fire … the quiet
Smoke risin’, nothing stirrin’ the flame
When somebody asked (like sparks in dry tinder)
“What instrument you think’s best on the range?”

Oh, howdy, it get’s rowdy, when “What’a ya’ think?” is the question
Everyone’s got a point to be proved
Defending their ground, stepping out from the crowd
Strong opinion can often trump the truth

In the ring goes Six Bartell, talking ‘bout a vaquero
Played “Las Mananitas” on a beatup, gut-string
Six swore that the night hawks dosey-doed in the heavens
To the notes that the Spaniard did sing

Robbie Martin throws in a feint, “Why, fiddle’s the ticket!”
And an uppercut, “It’s just the right size.”
Then charges, “Guit box’s too noisey! A bounce off the riggin’d
Send the cattle stampeding all night!”

“Harmonica!”, wheezed Gugus, from out his corner
“Melodious notes riding creosote breezes
Flitting through the cactus towers and the flowers
Why, that Irishman’s poetic when he pleases!

Leanin’ on the ropes, Jay Lawson says, “Bass fiddle!”
A pause, then hootin’ fills the night
Cowboys holdin’ their sides, a cryin’ with laughter
Considering a horse with a bass strapped on it’s side

Them boys littered the canvas, with accordions and mandolins
Out the ring went flutes, whistles, and a sax
Then, coming through the ropes, Cookie bulls to the center
Spits out his chew and says, “Pards, here’s the facts!”

There’s an instrument that’s tail to nut above the rest
It’s handy, like an old pocket knife
It’s the perfect end of an evolution’ry trend
And if you know how to use it, could save your life

Now, the strings are long, strong, supple, an’ dandy
For bindin’ up your broken knife handle
And that just takes one! There’s four of em’ left
To reconnect pieces of your old saddle

Them that know have respect, seein’ it strung on the riggin’
Neck’s long enough to hold off a big cat
And flailin’ that neck’s way more powerful than frailin'
When your fighting off a wildcat attack

You remember Soup Cruz he’s fording that river
His pony faltered, we thought, “Drowned for sure”
But, he grabbed it off his saddle and started in to paddle
And by God, he made it to shore

The gears and screws are right handy, too
For patchin’ a windmill or a pump
Why the ring’s round an’ tempered an’ hung from a rope
Gives a tone that brings a crew in to chuck

Now, don’t be foolish, I don’t claim it sounds good
Been tone deaf most all my life
But, I use it to stir stew, it adds a piquant flavor
And you’ve et some? You’s praisin’ it just tonight

And, my opinion’s got nothin’ to do with the music
Specially not the way you cowboys play
But just thinkin’ practical, you know that the banjo’s 
The best hardware source on the range