a very old poem, more or less true

A Gift-wrapped Day


I throw a saddle on ole Sam 

and we head out. 

It’s cold. 


We don’t get to the first house place 

before my toes are tingling. 

I can’t speak for Sam 


and I won’t try, 

but I imagine his toes, so to speak, 

are just fine. 


We begin seeing cattle. 

A few come out of the timber, 

head for the creek 


and the south facing slopes— 

get a drink, catch a few rays. 

They’ll be scattered this morning. 


Sam is quiet. 

The cows look good. 

They should, 


we’ve had plenty of rain this fall, 

unlike Texas, 

and there is grass enough, 


though come New Year’s Day it’ll be gone 

and we’ll be feeding hay. 



So to speak. 

The sun is low and will stay low all day. 

I have to imagine the warmth rather than feel it. 


I let my feet dangle from the stirrups, 

shaking them 

to try and get the circulation to do some good. 


It doesn’t much work. 

So be it. 

It isn’t the first time I’ve ridden cold. 


I think of ole Robert Redford 

playing Jeremiah Johnson out in the high mountains, 

how he never wore a hat, 


or if he did it was only briefly 

so we could admire that thatch of pretty blonde hair. 

I’ve never seen a man so keen to pull off his hat. 


I tug my Resistol down 

and wish I'd had sense enough 

to wear my old Filson with wool ear flaps. 


Sam is silent 

and it seems kind of lonesome 

in a non-Jeremiah Johnson kind of way. 


We ride the high hill by Brauer’s 

north-south fence-line. 

I admire the view. 


I’m always a little surprised by it, 

how sort of grand it is. 

We come to the spring and the spring house. 


I think of plum pudding. 

Despite the cold the watercress is doing well. 

We ride on. 


The cattle are healthy, their coats are glossy. 

They like this—the cold, sunny weather. 

The calves are damn near gamboling. 


We ride on. 

We ride up that hill that never has 

gained a name. 


Thistle rosettes everywhere. 

We ride on. 

Sam stops, I think he has to piss. 


I give him a minute, but no. 

He’s stands there, 

quiet in a contemplative kind of way. 


I nudge him on. 

He balks. 

I nudge him again. 


Quit, he says. 

I quit. 

It’s fine, he says. 


I look around. 

It is fine. 

Look at this, he says. 


Look at what we’ve done. 

Look at the cattle. 

Look at the pasture. 


I look. 

The pasture is green and almost lush. 

The sky is winter blue. 


The trees are bare 

but for the oak leaves which haven’t dropped. 

The hills roll to the long ridges 


that make the horizon, 

one ridge after another, each a little lighter 

in color than the last, 


each soaking up more atmosphere, 

each ridge growing fainter. 

I can see a long way. 


We’ve made something of this place, says Sam. 

The fences are in sorry shape, I say. 

He sighs. 


We ride on. 

It feels like Christmas. 

It feels pure and primal, it’s just me and Sam 


and a world that doesn’t seem to exist 

beyond these pastures 

and the timber and these grazing cattle. 


I think of snow covered hills and sleigh bells 

and wonder how that came to be 

the image of Christmas 


instead of arid hills and an unfamiliar star. 

This feels more like it. 

It’s peaceful. 



Peace on Earth. Goodwill toward men. And women. 

And horses. 


Poetry by jim The PoetBay support member heart!
Read 96 times
star mini Editors' choice
Written on 2018-04-01 at 13:27

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Elle The PoetBay support member heart!
I like this jim, it is peaceful and contemplative and matches my mood, I ambled along with you and Sam, experiencing the quiet comaraderie (sp) of man and beast embracing this wonderful world.

Elle x

Editorial Team The PoetBay support member heart!
This text has been chosen to be featured on the home page of PoetBay. Thank you for posting it on our poetry website!

Jamsbo Rockda The PoetBay support member heart!
Wonderful Jim. I am old enough to remember that movie :) Pat ole Sam for me. He knows when a scene needs to be drank in.

yes, kant can The PoetBay support member heart!
you are a modern cowboy
and a modern philosopher i guess

Just love the title. I so enjoyed the journey that is so alien from my own. To reach peaceful is so good.

josephus The PoetBay support member heart!
You’ve taken us on a wondrous journey to a place we’ll never go to without you as guide. Thanks and thank Sam for us.

Lawrence Beck The PoetBay support member heart!
And a gift for us, too. What placid, beautiful poem.

I like the narrative quality of the poem and the message at the end of it. Thoroughly enjoyed reading it.