i recently had the great pleasure of meeting carol hall, the composer of “the best little whorehouse in texas” … we had communicated years ago because alan stein, an attorney who represented both of us, gave carol the poem which follows … she wrote me the nicest letter saying that no one in the world would understand it as well because she also comes from a ranching family …


(for dad)



the steers are herded

into the sales ring
and the bidding begins
my father
(“cowboy” to all)
sits stoically tall
knowing he’s going
to take more of a beating
than he already has
from these high-strung cattle


the battle began
with the branding
and never stopped
foot-rot and runaways
topped by the round-up
when his horse gave way
and he and his steed
tumbled down the hill
sixty-four years of western will
in a painful pile


and now the trial
of compensation
the market’s down
and the calculation
of average weight
shows the s.o.b.s

hardly ate hors d’ouevres
let alone the bulk
to make beefy curves
of profit

the ranchers scoff it off
chalk it up
carry on
tear and toil
all gone
for loss


and as we cross
these cruel plains
my dad explains
the cattle trade

in my youth i paid no heed
thinking i would never need
knowledge at such far remove
from worlds where i longed to prove
my worth

a birth of understanding
happens on this sunset ride
as i confide
the workings of the stage
and we compare
the nurturing of page
and steers
the months or years
of work
dependent on a single day
when scales or critics
have their say


the way our callings
are the same
extends right to the bottom line
for if we reap reward
or not
we both love the work
it’s been our destiny
to pick
and share the bond
of ranching, writing and arithmetic

posted by bill on November 5, 2008, at 3:42 pm | filed under news, poetry | 1 comment »

One Response

  1. David K. Whitlock

    Since I knew you and your father I can see why that poem had deep meaning for you.

    We don’t really appreciate our fathers untill sundown followed by the darkness.

    I know this to true for both of us and I am sure it is also true for many others.
    Thanks for sharing her poem.

    David Whitlock

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