RIDIN’ WITH JIM
by Andy Nelson
It’s been years now, and I can’t tell you how,
Many times I’ve wanted to rewrite the end;
I fret and I ponder, and most often wonder,
If I’ll ever be as good a cowboy as my friend.
Friends come and go, as does every foe,
But certain people touch your life forever;
Jim was a horseman, unlike most men,
And a better farrier I’ve never seen, ever!
He was old and grizzled, and his blood sizzled,
If I wasn’t paying attention to his advice;
He taught me all, that he could recall,
About horses and shoein’, at least twice.
But I was young, and awfully high strung,
I didn’t have time to listen to his stories;
I had to ride fast, and not be the last,
To tout my accomplishments and glories.
Of course I wasn’t one, to ever be out done,
I was so full of myself, cocky, and young;
I knew it all back then, but that was when,
My wits weren’t near as sharp as my tongue.
So I did my own thing, never wondering,
What was missing in my life back then;
It wasn’t ’til later, my ego would crater,
And I would become teachable again.
My oats I kept sowing, not ever knowing
God sent him to make me a better man;
So He took him away, one cold spring day,
And I was left alone to do the best I can.
I never did think, he’d die on the brink,
Of me becoming the cowboy that I should;
But now it’s too late, I’d sealed my own fate,
I’d have to venture alone into manhood.
I knew that I, couldn’t break down and cry,
Or let the others see how deep I was hurt;
I felt ashamed, and myself I had blamed,
For this old hand that lay cold in the dirt.
Many times he tried, before the day he died,
To share what he learned from life’s travails;
But I didn’t take time, my life was mine,
What could I learn from his stories and tales.
Well, now I feel cheated, for the way I treated,
Riding with that old cowboy as a chore;
And still I pray, that some how, some way,
I could gather strays with Jim once more.
Periodically I’m given, a chance while still livin’,
To ride horseback once again with Jim;
When I fall in a deep, almost comatose sleep,
God allows me a brief rendezvous with him.
I know it’s a dream, but to me it sure seems,
Just as real as the first day we rode together;
We don’t ever talk, we simply ride and walk,
Enjoying the quakies, the sage, and each other.
We ride up fall creek, where the willows are thick,
And the untouched water cascades down,
A doe and fawn, bound effortlessly on,
We’re partnered up and miles from town.
The sun peaks over, and spots this old drover,
And illuminates his face under his hat;
His peaceful look, like the cover of a book,
Shows contentment for where he is at.
He is astride Big Joe, and we all know,
That big ol’ steed was his favorite mount;
With his rawhide hack, and slicker on back,
We ride while cows and blessings we count.
The dew burns off, I hear a cow cough,
And Jim sets out for the top of a draw;
I tag along side, our horses in stride,
And we surround the strays without flaw.
We ride all day, gatherin’ mavericks and strays,
And I know at any moment it will end;
I hold on tight, this couldn’t be more right,
But the home corral is just around the bend.
I don’t want to wake, but as a new day breaks,
The stock’s waiting for me in the morning light;
But first I thank God, and I give Jim a nod,
For the wonderful ride we took that night.
It don’t sound like much, of a vision or such,
But it helps me ’til the next visit to be had;
And I’m proud to say, in a boastful kinda way,
That old cowboy was my mentor, and my Dad!
I took much for granted, but the seed he planted,
And now I cherish each and every ride;
My heart’s still hurtin’, but this I am certain,
Jim and Big Joe are waitin’ on the other side.
© Andy Nelson
This poem should not be re-posted or reprinted without permission
Here’s wishing all a happy Father’s Day!
Andy Nelson—second-generation farrier, popular cowboy poet, emcee, rodeo announcer, and co-host (with his brother Jim) of the popular syndicated Clear Out West (C.O.W.) radio show—honored the memory of his farrier father, James W. Nelson (1920-1993), in a special Father’s Day tribute at CowboyPoetry.com.
Andy and his brother Jim have passed on their farrier skills on to their children. A bio at C.O.W. Radio tells, “Andy and Jim Nelson were born and raised in the small southern Idaho town of Oakley, where they were taught the way of the cowboy by one of the last great horsemen, their father Jim. They followed their dad all over the great basin of southern Idaho, northern Utah, and northern Nevada learning how to shoe horses, and although they no longer shoe horses for a living, the brothers have had the farrier way of life forever branded on their hides.”
Andy shared these photos of his father.
This poem is the title poem of Andy Nelson’s award-winning book that includes his stories and poems and his father’s writings as well, along with photographs. He wrote about the inspiration for that book, “My dad was gone before any of my children could get to know him, all that are left now are photographs and stories.”
Find more about Andy Nelson in our feature at CowboyPoetry.com and at his site, cowpokepoet.com. Visit clearoutwest.com, where you can listen to weekly archived radio shows, full of cowboy poetry, Western music, and much cowboy humor.
Find more cowboy poems and more special tributes to fathers by other poets for Father’s Day in a collection at CowboyPoetry.com.