by Rod Nichols (1942-2007)
“It’s been awhile,” the cowboy said.
“Yep,” replied his friend.
“It must be nearly fifteen years.”
“Yep,” he said again.
“I guess you been a driftin’ some?”
“Yep,” his friend replied.
“I guess I’ve done about the same.”
“Yep,” the old friend sighed.
“Remember Shorty Winkleman?”
“Yep,” friend answered slow.
“I hear he up and passed away.”
“Yep,” he answered low.
“Sure looks like we may have some rain.”
“Yep,” his friend allow’d.
“Lord knows that we can stand relief.”
“Yep,” the other scowled.
“I guess you need to head on out?”
“Yep,” his friend intoned.
“I sure am glad we got to chat.”
“Yep,” the old hand droned.
The cowboy, after supper, said
he’d run into Ray.
The other boys now gathered ’round.
“What’d he have to say?”
“He said that it had been awhile,
nearly fifteen years.
he said that he had drifted some
workin’ with them steers.”
“He said he knowed ’bout Shorty’s death,
that it made him sad.
He figured we was in fer rain,
fer relief was glad.”
“He said he was a headin’ out,
glad we got to jaw.
Ol’ Ray is quite a talker, boys.
Beats all I ever saw.”
© 2003, Rod Nichols, used with permission.
Rod Nichols left behind countless friends and good poems. Find more about him and more of his poetry at CowboyPoetry.com:
This 1939 photo by Russell Lee (1903-1986)—which seems to fit the poem so well—is captioned, “Foreman of the SMS Ranch on left and old cowboy on the right waiting for dinner at the chuck wagon. Ranch near Spur, Texas.” It is from the Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division. Find more here.
Find a feature about noted photograph Russell Lee and a gallery of photographs from the University of Texas at Austin here.