Me and My Friend Ben
This post is slightly different than most of my writings. As it says on my blog, I offer writings that contain poetry, short stories and other musings about life’s adventures. A few years back, I decided I would venture into the poetic world of “cowboy poetry”. I could fool myself into thinking I was a part of “the old west”, relive a time that has always been in my dreams. I have somewhat an envious position for those who live that lifestyle today. Of course, I am confident the reality of those times was not nearly as adventuresome as has been depicted in the books and movies. Nevertheless, it is a part of my makeup.
Born and raised in Texas I have an affinity for cowboys, not that all Texans have such an understanding; however, I grew up in an era that idolized the character. For me, there was nothing like riding horses all day long, chasing outlaws, rescuing the fair damsels in distress or helping out the rancher whose property was about to be taken from him by some evildoer.
Please bear in mind; I never did any of these things. But I wanted to. In actuality, I got most of my information from old western comic books and Saturday matinees. Now these many years later, I still get goose bumps when I turn on the old western movies and transform myself into the character on screen. As Willie Nelson sang, “My heroes have always been cowboys”, I relate to that.
With that in mind, I wanted to post a poem about a cowboy and his friend. It seems to transport me back to those days. Perhaps it may strike a chord with you.
Please understand, it is does not rank even close to the class of a “Baxter Black” or a “Red Steagall”, two of my favorite cowboy poets.
Me and Ben in the Summer of 1873
I laid my old friend Ben into his final rest,
Out here on the Texas plains, in the land he loved best.
We rode together for nigh on all his born years.
old cowboys ain’t s’posed to break down in tears.
There was times when we didn’t know no fear
Just me and Ben, on the wild frontier.
We’d brushed up against the wild Comanche
Late in the summer of sixty-three
We lived through that skirmish with a wing and a prayer
Got out of their way not a minute to spare.
I’m thinking those Indians misunderstood
but we outran their ponies as fast as we could.
We put up with sandstorms pitch darker than night
Got burned up in the noonday light
stormed over by rain clouds unleashing their wrath
and blinded by snowstorms covering our path
Outran the red wolves and jumped over snakes
We did all we could, what ever it takes.
We dodged all those tumbling tumbleweeds
Roaring cross the plains, scattering their seeds.
we chased after outlaws who picked the wrong side
tracking them lawbreakers with no place to hide
sometimes we disagreed about which way to go
most times, we went the way the winds blow.
We’ve crossed over the Pecos near Monahans
near by where Old Fort Stockton stands.
we rode by Fort Phantom Hill near Abilene
And all parts of Texas, most folks ain’t never seen.
But late in the summer of eighteen seventy-three
Old Ben slipped on his old bad knee.
He came down hard and his heart gave way
He died on the prairie right where he lay.
I miss the old days when we rode together,
me and my friend, in all kinds of weather.
but as sure as the blood flows down through my veins
Old Ben surely is riding ‘cross heaven’s plains
I ain’t no preacher speaking with no preacher’s goal
but some say that animals are born with no soul
I ain’t so sure that notion withstands the test
I’m thinking old Ben must surely be blessed.
I’m wondering if heaven would really be heaven for a cowboy without his dear horse?