dgpinkphoto © 2006, Lori Faith, Photography by Faith


by Dennis Gaines

“Hey, Gaines, you’re up. We paid yer fee; the first man in the chute.”
As I dribbled chili on my pants and mustard on my boot,
From the hot dog I was scarfin’ at the travelin’ circus show
Known as Colonel Potter’s Big Top Tent and Wrestlin’ Rodeo.

Ol’ Slim Bodine, the Chisos Kid and Ikie Bob and me
Had left the ranch and gone to town to see what we could see.
We had come to ride the elephant and watch the dancin’ bear,
But such a tribe of freaks could melt yer bones and curl yer hair!

There was oddities and marvels that most eyes have never seen.
He had giants, midgets, leprechauns and Martians, blue and green.
There was ladies sproutin’ whiskers and a gent with twenty toes,
And a man who gapped his gulper wide and gobbled his own nose!

The Turtle Boy was in his shell; the Human Crocodile
Was swallerin’ live chickens with their feathers, all the while
That the bear was swattin’ baseballs, and the Flyin’ Cossack Boys
Was jugglin’ bowlin’ balls and flamin’ swords and livin’ toys,

Like bunnies, kittens, puppy dogs and circulatin’ saws,
As the lion tamer stuck his head between the mighty jaws.
There was fortune tellers guessin’ weights and calculatin’ luck,
And Ikie paid four bits to see a seven-legged duck.

A feller set himself on fire and jumped into a trunk
With poison Gila monsters and a hydrophoby skunk.
A monkey in a kiltie jigged a Highland country dance,
Then showed the crowd that Scottish monks don’t wear no underpants!

The hoochie-koochie gals was squirmin’ in another tent,
And the barker told me, “Cowboy, you look like the kind of gent
That would ‘preciate the finer things, so have a peek inside.”
If the preacher seen what I could see, he’d shorely tan my hide!

They was wearin’ mostly nothin’, down to here and up to there,
So I give ’em each a dollar and said, “Buy some underwear.”
When I told the other fellers what I’d seen and what I’d done,
They all agreed the circus show was shorely lots of fun.

I ate my weight in circus grub, from cones to car’mel corn,
Cotton candy, roastin’ ears and shore as I was born,
When I’d had my share of chuck, from beans to chocolate goo,
The boys said, “Gaines, it’s time to go and show what you can do.”

For months and months we’d heard the brag from Colonel Potter’s camp,
‘Bout a wrestlin’ phenomenon he claimed to be the champ.
A thousand bucks went to the gent who’d stay three rounds or more,
So natcherly the boys had drafted me to beat the score,

In tribute to my title as the Champeen of the Land,
For rasslin’ bawlin’ calves in dusty pens to wear the brand.
I could flip four hundred pounds of hide and hair and slingin’ snot,
Serve him up for shish-kebobs or tie him in a knot.

“There’s only three tough hombres in this world,” I told my pards.
“And them other two, I’ll guarantee ya, send me Christmas cards.
We’ll take their money first and then we’ll run ’em out of town.
The big galoot will rue the day he tried to take me down.”

The poster said the victim of my wrath was named Attila,
The mutant offspring of a man and African gorilla.
A whisper circled through the crowd and stirred up quite a whirl.
“Good Lord,” said Slim Bodine, “it seems Attila . . . is a girl!”

“Ha, ha, my boys, we’re rich, we’re rich. I’ll take this gal to school.
Gallant, though, my cowboy ways, I’ll be nobody’s fool.
I’ll bounce her like a sucklin’ calf; hooray for womens’ lib!
She’ll curse the day she thought to stray away from Adam’s rib.”

The band struck up the drums and pipes, and folks had gathered ’round,
When a total solar eclipse cast its shadow on the ground.
The earth begun to rumble with an awesome, crackin’ noise.
The hair stood straight up on my neck, and on the other boys.

The Chisos Kid was paralyzed, his vocal cords was broke.
Ikie Bob had wet his pants, and Slim begun to choke
At the fearsome female specimen displayed before our eyes.
A gal should have a zip code when she gets to be that size!

Her mammoth girth wrapped ’round the Earth as far as I could point!
A smarter man than me would say, “It’s time to blow this joint.”
Ikie said, “There’s bigger gals; at least that’s what I hear,
But all of them are pullin’ plows or wagons full of beer.”

Colonel Potter told me, “Son, them duds has got to go.
There’s rules that we must follow at the Wrestlin’ Rodeo.
You keep your hat, you keep your boots; a cowboy’s got his pride,
You’ll have to wear a diff’rent outfit there upon your hide.”

They stripped me down, they togged me up, they turned me inside out.
They took my shirt, my britches, too; the crowd begun to shout.
They brought me out a wrestlin’ rig that really made me blink.
It was tight and it was shiny; it was spandex, it was pink.

Attila loomed above me with a glaring, evil eye.
A voice more like a hippo’s belch said, “Cowboy, now ya die!”
“No holds barred, and to the death,” the ref was heard to say.
The buzzards started circlin’, and I begun to pray.

My plan, it was to psyche her out, and that would save the day.
I flexed my pecs, I struck a pose, I leaped the grand jetè.
Croisè devant, the arabesque, I limbered down and up.
I drank my fill of Gatorade and crushed the Dixie cup!

I circled in, I circled out, I feinted left and right.
I darted in and grabbed a leg and heaved with all my might.
My strategy worked mighty well; she landed with a thud.
A ton of lard in a leotard squashed me in the mud!

My ears was full of gumbo and my mouth was full of sod.
She heaved me high enough for me to pay respects to God.
She had a grip in places where she shouldn’t oughtta grab.
If I should ever walk again, I’d waddle like a crab!

She tightened up her grip until my voice begun to soar.
I’d shorely sing soprano if she’d squeeze a little more!
She whirled me like a helicopter revvin’ up to fly.
Snot flew from my nostrils as the world went sailin’ by.

She changed the game to basketball; she dunked me in the goo.
She bounced me to the hippo pen and chunked me in the poo.
She mopped me through the mud and muck ’til I begun to squish;
Grabbed my ankles, snatched me up and told me, “Make a wish.”

She tied my legs behind my head; it was an awful scene.
My eyeballs spun like cherries in a Vegas slot machine.
I saw stars and little birdies as she cracked me like a nut.
‘Twas then I realized that I was starin’ at my butt!

Colonel Potter offered me a job he had in mind.
He’d bill me as “The Cowboy Who Could Kiss His Own Behind.”
I figgered there was safer ways to earn a thousand bucks,
Like standin’ up to cannonballs or tractor-trailer trucks!

I lay there in the slime and slop, with not much cause for glee.
My bones was broke, my joints was popped; I’d lost the entry fee.
At least I had my cowboy pards, no better could I choose.
“Don’t worry ’bout it, Gaines,” they said. “We bet on you to lose.”

© 2000, Dennis Gaines
This poem should not be reprinted or reposted without permission,

Cowboy Dennis is known for his humorous windies and on-stage antics.

As most of his many friends know, he is struggling with stage four cancer. Yesterday, he said that he is feeling better than he had been since his recent diagnosis, and with pain control and treatment, he is doing much better than he was a few weeks ago when his illness was announced.

Judy James is holding a stay-at-home benefit on her Cowboy Jubilee radio show on Saturday, October 26, and along with Jean Prescott and Linda Kirkpatrick and others, they have set up a way to donate to Dennis Gaines, who can no longer work. You can donate with a credit card here. Find  more complete information here, including an address for mail donations and how to contact Dennis Gaines, who appreciates receiving calls and mail.

Find more about Dennis Gaines at

Thanks to Lori Faith of Photography by Faith, for sharing her 2006 photograph from the Cochise Cowboy Poetry Gathering, of Dennis Gaines’ “Spandex Cowboy” performance there.

(Please respect copyright. You can share this poem and photograph with this post, but for other uses, request permission.)