by Pat Richardson (1934-2016)
I ran a little trap line up in Idaho one year;
one night I heard a tapping on the door.
I looked out and there stood Bigfoot, holding up his off hind leg,
acting like his foot was kind of sore.
So I let him come on in, it was mighty cold outside,
and offered him a bowl of beans to eat.
He acted mighty hungry, and as he scarffed them down
I made a close inspection of his feet.
Seems he’d run a jagged splinter in-between two hairy toes
and I thought, “I better pull that if I can.”
I got my shoeing nippers and pulled that splinter out,
and that’s how our relationship began.
He did up all the dishes just to show his gratitude
and soon had things as clean as they could get.
As he stood there looking ’round for something more that he could do
I realized he hadn’t spoken yet.
I asked him ’bout his childhood, and he just made slurping sounds,
seems like talking wasn’t something he could do;
I thought of all the stories that I’d have to tell my kids
if I could teach old Sasquatch something new.
So I’d hold up a simple object, and tell him what it was
and I soon found his mind was sharp and crisp;
and with exact pronunciation he’d repeat each word I said
though I noticed he was hindered by a lisp.
Mississippi gave him problems with all the esses it contained,
and he’d dribble little spitballs on his fur;
I tried tongue depressors, enemas, and books by Baxter Black,
But I never seemed to come up with a cure.
As the winter days passed quickly, I taught him how to cook,
sweep the floor, make the beds, and check the traps;
and with him to help me out it sorta took the pressure off
and for once I had some time to just relax.
I taught him several card games just to while the time away
and at first I think old Bigfoot liked them all;
but if I’d paid more attention, I’d’ve seen the warning signs
’cause as time wore on he favored Five Card Draw.
At first we played for matches, or see who’d warm the beans,
sweep the floor, make the beds, and get the wood.
‘Fore you know it, seems I’m doing all the chores around the place,
and our relationship is going none too good.
Pretty soon I’m betting beaver pelts I can’t afford to lose,
they’re the only thing of value on the place;
and I still think he bluffed a lot, but it was hard to tell
’cause old Bigfoot really had a poker face.
Well, by spring he had me busted, everything I owned was his,
he had my rifle, wore my parka and my cap.
He held title to my cabin and the land I built it on,
he had all my beaver pelts and owned the traps.
They say gambling’s an addiction that can only be controlled
if you recognize the problem runs real deep.
Well, I can recognize my problem from half a mile away
’cause he weighs eight hundred pounds and drives my Jeep.
© 2004, Pat Richardson, from “Pat Richardson, Unhobbled”
Oh how we miss the late Pat Richardson, California poet, humorist, artist, cowboy, and former Pro Rodeo Sports News cartoonist. Baxter Black’s “Cow Attack” poem in our previous poem post brought to mind critters behind the wheel and this poem.
Known for his deadpan delivery of his humorous poems, Baxter famously said of Pat Richardson’s poetry, “If you boiled cowboy poetry down to what’s worth savin’, this is what the stew would smell like.”
See Pat in action in a video from the Western Folklife Center’s National Cowboy Poetry Gathering (where he was a frequent performer).
“Bigfoot” is on The BAR-D Roundup: Volume Ten,” a double-cd of top classic and contemporary cowboy poetry from CowboyPoetry.com.
Find some of Pat’s poetry and more about him and his book and recordings at CowboyPoetry.com.
This photograph of the George McGregor Cabin, Yukon River near Coal Creek, Circle, Yukon-Koyukuk is from The Library of Congress Prints and Photograph Division. The description includes, “Significance: George McGregor, a miner-turned-trapper, built this cabin in 1938. McGregor staked some of the richest ground on Woodchopper Creek in the 1920s. He sold out in the 1930s and turned to trapping. His modest cabin, which he also used as his fish camp, is representative of the small log cabins built by solitary trappers.”
Find more about the photograph here.