DONATIN’ RODEO STYLE
by Baxter Black
There’s a piece of little finger on a fence out in Cheyenne
They had a wild horse race and I thought I’d lend a hand
I gave a bite of ear lobe to a bronc in Calgary
A souvenir, I reckon, so he’d remember me
A hank of hair is clingin’ to a light pole in Raton
Where we both went up together but I come down all alone
In Omaha, Nebraska I left a chunk of chin
I tried to find it later but I forgot where all I’d been
I left bone chips down in Tucson with a doctor and his nurse
Gave blood in Oklahoma just to help me reimburse
My pardners I was owin’ for the gas to Angelo
Where I’d grudgingly donated a percentage of my toe
An Oakdale corriente took the tip off of my thumb
And this cast I got in Denver is a little cumbersome
A doggin’ steer in Billings took a bit of this eyebrow
When he thought he thought he’d do some farmin’ and used me for a plow
A bull in Garden City took interest in my nose
And peeled the top off of it, for his scrapbook, I suppose
I’ve got shrapnel in my body from arenas far and near
From Bismarck, Cedar City, Winnemucca and Pierre
Pendleton, Ellensburg, Shreveport and Dubuque
When I start to think about it, it makes me kinda spook
Though I’ve made quite a collection, I only think it’s fair
’cause pieces of my body I left scattered everywhere
Enough hide to make a riggin’, enough hair to braid a rein
Enough teeth to make a necklace, enough to build a brain
I’ve left a trail of things I’ve lost like heart and soul and mind
But them that went before me left some of theirs behind
So I borrowed ’em and used ’em like they meant for me to do
And I’ll leave ’em for the next guy and if that next guy’s you
When you run short of courage or losin’ gets you down
Remember them before you left somethin’ in the ground
And in the chute or ropin’ box or floatin’ in the air
It’s the ghost of every cowboy who ever entered there
Every ridin’, ropin’ outlaw left you some will to win
Just look around ya, pardner.
You’ll find a piece of skin.
© Baxter Black, used with permission, from A Commotion of Rhyme (2018)
There’s no time like now to celebrate rodeo.
This is just one of the poems in Baxter Black’s brand new book of poems, prose, and plenty of cowboy philosophy, A Commotion in Rhyme. He introduces the poem, “This poem, as well as ‘Legacy of a Rodeo Man,’ was used in the move 8 Seconds. “Legacy’ was later used often, including being the inspiration for the RAM truck ad campaign ‘Guts and Glory.'”
The book is chock full of entertainment and overflowing humor, including laugh-out-loud multiple choice Ag Trivia Quizzes; pieces such as “Women Who Love Cowboys” and “The Potato Salad Principle”‘ and poems as varied as this one and “Why Cowboy Poetry is Funny.” The attractive 250-page hardcover includes drawings by top illustrators.
In the Introduction, Baxter Black reflects on his career from Vet school to the stage and considers “luck” a large percent of his success. He offers a lot of luck-backed reasons and closes with, “I can live with those reasons, but I do know this: without you, the countless thousands, millions who have climbed on my entertainment wagon and kept it going, I’d be a country vet somewhere takin’ care of your cows. And…I guess that wouldn’t be so bad either.”
Just in time for Christmas, find more at baxterblack.com.
A reminder about Baxter’s policies of use for his poetry, from his office: Baxter is busy with many media projects; he has retired from live performances. Since Baxter Black is no longer doing live performances, there are inquiries about others using his material in their performances. His policy is that anyone is welcome use his material in appropriate occasions, including non-profit or paid-for performances. He requests that the poems or stories be performed the way they are written, allowing for editing of length if needed. Please give the author credit.
His office adds that no one, for any reason, has permission to include his work “on cds, books, or dvds…or to try to sell it in any manner, including online.”