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Poetry from the past

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By Jim Byous

The following is a true story embedded in verse, a bit of cowboy poetry. It is from my youth when I was in my first year of college.  The names have been changed or avoided to protect the innocent.  I wrote it about 30 years ago, but recently revised and expanded it a bit to better tell the story.  As my friend Dave Marston would say, “It is the truth…… as I remember it.”

 

Oh… for all of my city friends or the Easterners that might read this, the word “brimmer” is a Western-American term for a Brahman bull.  A brimmer is a mean, vicious animal that is best eaten with A-1 sauce but otherwise should be avoided at all cost.

 

Also to explain – as is so around Ceres and Turlock, California where I grew up – in the West, you can drive out across open country seeing miles of nothing, then find empty, seemingly orphaned rodeo arenas.  However, on certain days of the week or month the site becomes a crowded place for the gathering of the testosterone-numbed minds of young men who engage in actions that result in the procurement of broken bones, twisted limbs and dirt-injected orifices, all to the ooohs and awwws of young women of a similar age.  I know.  I’ve been there… on the male side.

 

But, thankfully simple logic dictated, in my way of thinking, that the cause and effect of such actions is to predictively hurt like hell or perhaps die looking like a rag doll being ripped apart by a pit-bull terrier.  I learned to suppress the hormone-induced stupor of my youth and am quite proud of that decision.  As a result, I am still here as of this writing.

 

I call the poem:

 

My True Life Experience at Bull Riding

and Why I Was Able to Live To Be So Damned Old

 

By J.D. Byous

 

When I was a boy

And feelin’ quite manly

I went down to Turlock to ride

 

With the other boys

On the backs of bulls

And show off our manly pride

 

As we waited our turns

We sat on the fence

And talked of how good we’d look

 

Then we cocked our hats

To the sides of our heads

And spoke of the guts that it took

 

Well… the first boy out

We called Whirlwind Bill

And he crawled on a mean lookin’ brimmer

 

But, under his backside

Down beneath that bovine hide

You could see the hate start to simmer

 

I spoke –

“Well, it’s my turn next”

I bragged to my friends

Those bulls have this boy to fear

 

I then talked about courage

That I was never discouraged

As my time for ridin’ came near

 

But then…

 

Over in the chute

Bill’s bull started to boil

About the time they opened the gate

 

That bull articulated himself

As anyone could see

‘Cause he was spoutin’ and seethin’ pure hate

 

And then…

 

An obvious hush

came over the crowd

As we viewed the horror and awe

 

The image that day

Is burned in my mind

As I watched with fear-slackened jaw

 

‘Cause that bull squealed like a demon

As he launched like a jet

Then he bounced, and he bucked, and he flipped

 

And threw poor Bill

High up in the air

For a landing, he was poorly equipped

 

‘Cause Bill landed flat

As prostrate and spread

As a cheap, second-hand, yoga mat

 

Now Bill’s feelings I know

Were not the bull’s worry

That animal just didn’t care

 

His sensitivities for Bill’s comfort

Were not on his mind

See… he had no emotion to spare

 

‘Cause he reared straight up

Rammed his head back down

And he buried Bill about a foot deep in the mud

 

Then he backed up again

And he took a nosedive

And the whole arena shook with a thud

 

And he pushed poor Bill

clear …across… to the fence

… And I flinched

 

‘Cause back behind him

Wasn’t nothin’ but a bunch of bull tracks

…And Bill’s shape in the form of a trench

 

Grab your gear, cowboy

I heard my friend say

‘Cause now it’s your turn to play

 

But when he turned around

Ol’ Jimbo weren’t there

I was in my truck about five miles away

 

Now I’ve had years to think

Of my retreat from the brink

Of death, or of mind-numbing pain

 

That the flight-fright notion

Is a valued emotion

That God planned and instilled in our brain

 

And to see the condition

Of all my old friends

All bent, all crooked and lame

 

I’m standing right tall

Not ashamed, feelin’ small

For my bovine hoppin’ refrain

 

You see…

It’s bronco bustin’

For some of the guys

And I’ve been known to try that some

 

But when it comes to ridin’

On the back of a bull

This Okie boy

Sure as hell

… Ain’t that dumb

 

©J.D. Byous 2016, all rights reserved

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