01  Sep

my father died 10 years ago this month … everyone knew him as “cowboy russell” a nickname he acquired when he showed up for the first day of high school football practice in his typical rancher’s garb … i wrote this poem for and read it at his funeral — quite the cowboy affair … his hat and lasso were on the casket and the pallbearers wore cowboy shirts and boots … music included kenny roger’s “the gambler” (his favorite song) and “home on the range” … after his burial in the black hills national cemetary, friends and family came back to the ranch for many margaritas

a helluva guy
with a heart as big
as all outdoors
most likely he was a friend of yours
‘cause he liked people
most that he met
many will miss him
and few forget

always fixing
or making repairs
often hosting
enormous affairs
of family and friends
“come over for dinner
no reason to stay home
getting thinner”

he loved to laugh
or to provoke one
he bent a few polecats
but never broke one
when he stopped by a joint
for a cup of java
his wit was relentless
as oncoming lava
and waitresses
from new york to l.a.
liked their job
better that day

sharp as a tack
well, except for his hearing
“run that by me again
my loop’s not big enough”
which meant he’d heard
but wasn’t buying
a single word
of that absurd new-fangled notion

he could be cantankerous
as the horses he broke
he hated
hollyhocks and hospitals
political infighting
organizational backbiting
or muddy thinking
his eyes would start blinking
in disbelief
his ire would rise
and he’d cut the offender
down to size

but he loved much more
children and poker
football and hunting
his life
both women who became his wife
his kids and their achievements
his corner of the world
which he never tired of seeing
his roles as dad, grandpa and friend
which he never tired of being

he left this earth
quite near to where
he had been given birth
the sun and pre-autumnal air
as sharp and clear
as his ability to see
an antelope
a hawk
a deer
way off in the distance

they broke the cowboy mold
when they created him
they filled it up with love and strength
and overflowed the brim
i can’t begin to capture
a man so warm and tough
and we can’t know how we’ll miss him
our loop’s not big enough

posted by admin on September 1, 2002, at 1:00 am | filed under poetry | no comments »

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