by Rod Nichols (1942-2007)
Lord knows why the boss ever hired him,
he wuzn’t what you’d call a hand,
he stayed in our way or in trouble,
not much of a cowboy that man.
I think that the boss would’ve fired him,
just waited to find the right way,
til after our supper one evenin’
he took a mouth-organ and played.
It might have been Red River Valley
or Down In The Valley so low
or Kathleen or Come To The Bower,
to this day I don’t rightly know.
But that doesn’t really much matter
cause whatever tune that he played,
when that rascal pup started playin’
we all wuz right glad that he’d stayed.
Have you felt the warm wind on the prairie,
the soft mourning call of a dove,
then you may have some sort of feelin’
for what we wuz all thinkin’ of.
The cares of the day soon forgotten,
they vanished without any trace,
there wuzn’t an hombre among us
without a big smile on his face.
The Lord gives to each man a talent
to use or to hide as he may,
there wuzn’t no doubt ’bout his talent
whenever that feller had played.
Lord grant me just one little favor,
please help me a bit now and then,
to call on just half of such talent
to shine as a light before men.
© 2002, Rod Nichols
This poem should not be reposted or reprinted without permission
Texas poet Rod Nichols left many gems. He is greatly missed by his many friends. He wrote this poem soon after September 11, 2001, when he told us he had sensed a growing interest in cowboy poetry and music, and wrote, “… Here is one more that speaks to the use of the talents that the Good Lord has given us all whatever they may be.”
Find more about Rod Nichols at CowboyPoetry.com.
This 1937 photograph by noted Depression-era documentary photographer Dorothea Lange (1895-1965) is titled, “The Texas cow-puncher in town for the day. The ranch for which he works is 90 miles away, and the road which leads to it passes one house on the way. Van Horn, Texas.”
The photograph is from the digital collections of the New York Public Library. Find more about it here.
Find more about Dorothea Lange in many sources, including a biography from Ken Burns’ film, The Dust Bowl, at PBS.
(Please respect copyright. You can share this poem with this post, but other uses require permission. The photograph is in the public domain.)