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COLD and GRAY

Following a winter storm that dumped quite a bit of snow in my area–and after shoveling it off the sidewalk and driveway a couple times–I looked outside today at the overcast skies, the blanket of snow, and knew that the temperature was none too warm. The wintry scene reminded me of a western poem–a cowboy poem–I wrote that bears the title of the vision outside my window.

Enjoy. Thanks for stopping by.

COLD and GRAY

From the time when I was little

I knew just what I’d be

Ridin’ fence and herdin’ cattle

It was a cowboy’s life for me

My momma tried to tell me

My daddy, he told me too

“Son, that life is hard and lonely

We know, we’ve lived it through”

But I’d seen my daddy’s full-faced grin

Every time he sat Ol’ Chips

The pair stood proud, in a sea of grass

Like captains of their ships

So I didn’t bother listenin’

As determined boys often will

My mind intent on open range

My dreams they would not kill

Been cold and gray this winter, it was cold and gray last fall

Been cold and gray, but it’ll go away and I’ll soon be ridin’ tall

 

I made my livin’ straddle a horse

An’ did for fifteen years

Worked hard disprovin’ my parent’s advice

An’ their predicted fears

I sweat, bled, and damn near froze

An’ cracked a bone or two

All part of a cowboy’s résumé

That became my point of view

My parents watched me bust my butt

But uttered nary a word

They understood there was no use

That more opinions would not be heard

That’s right, I still didn’t listen

Never planned to swap my ways

My horse an’ me an’ cattle

That’s how I’d earn my pay

Been cold and gray this winter, it was cold and gray last fall

Been cold and gray, but I’m gonna stay, my lifestyle’s got it all

 

But I never saw it comin’

Didn’t know that I could fall

’Til that pretty gal stole my heart away

An’ had me follow a different call

Her eyes shone bright as mornin’ sun

Her hair smelled sweet as clover

One look and I was smitten

My cowboyin’ days were over

My folks they tried to warn me

Said, “Son, you’ll never change

That woman may own your affection

But your soul’s still on the range”

Of course, I didn’t listen

As enamored men often do

I knew they were mistaken

An’ that my love was true

Been cold and gray this winter, it was cold and gray last fall

Stayed cold and gray ’til that special day, swappin’ vows at city hall

I left the ranch that August

For a honeymoon house in town

I was king within my castle

But I’d never wear the crown

I traded in my saddle

To be the man my sweetheart craved

Then life became a battle

When her love made me a slave

“We told you so,” my parents claimed

A fact I couldn’t deny

“Your bond lies not with a woman, son

But with the open sky”

Again, I didn’t listen

But stubborn men seldom do

I’d come that far livin’ my way

Might as well see it through

Been cold and gray this winter, it was cold and gray last fall

Cold and gray since my baby said goodbye, an’ I don’t see no change at all

With no lover or folks to guide me

I returned to who I am

Found my saddle in a pawn shop

An’ bought a seasoned nag called Sam

Went back to herdin’ cattle

Wherever they might roam

Spent months out ridin’ fences

An’ callin’ line shacks “Home Sweet Home”

I outlasted several horses

My latest, a roan named Blue

A bow-legged, hunched-backed cowboy

That’s me at eighty-two

I really should have listened

Early on, to Mom and Pops

‘Bout the life of a lonesome cowhand

Who’ll work hard until he drops

Yep, it’s cold and gray this winter, like most winters in my past

Always cold and gray as my life slips away, guess that’s how my die was cast

My parents, they still warn me

Though they’ve been gone for years

Their voices echo in my head

As I wipe away the tears

But what if I’d chosen different?

     Would my wife have stayed with me?

Would she have never tried to change my ways?

Would we still live happily?

Would my sweetheart have never had reason

To tell me I was wrong?

Would she still say, “Babe, I love you”

Each time we heard our song?

If only I’d have listened

But I fear that it’s too late

Got a job with Ol’ St. Peter

At a ranch called Heaven’s Gate

There’s no cold and gray this winter, nothin’ but sunshine galore

No more cold and gray since I passed away…that’s all…there ain’t no more

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