What words can move a tough girl like me…? The first time I heard this read, it brought a shiver to my spine and a tear to the eye…
Legacy of the Rodeo Man by Baxter Black
There’s a hundred years of history and a hundred before that
All gathered in the thinkin’ goin’ on beneath his hat.
And back behind his eyeballs and pumpin’ through his veins
Is the ghost of every cowboy that ever held the reins.
Every coil in his lasso’s been thrown a million times
His quiet concentration’s been distilled through ancient minds.
It’s evolution workin’ when the silver scratches hide
And a ghostly cowboy chorus fills his head and says, “Let’s ride.”
The famous and the rowdy, the savage and the sane
the bluebloods and the hotbloods and the corriente strain
All knew his mother’s mothers or was it his daddy’s kin
‘Til he’s nearly purely cowboy, born to ride and bred to win.
He’s got Buffalo Bill Cody and Goodnight’s jigger boss
And all of the brave blue soldiers that General Custer lost
The ghost of Pancho Villa, Sittin’ Bull and Jessie James
All gathered by his campfire keepin’ score and takin’ names.
There’s every Royal Mountie that ever got his man
And every day-work cowboy that ever made a hand
Each man that’s rode before him, yup every mother’s son
Is in his corner, rootin’, when he nods to make his run.
Freckles Brown might pull his bull rope,
Casey Tibbs might jerk the flank,
Bill Pickett might be hazin’ when he starts to turn the crank.
Plus Remington and Russell lookin’ down his buckhorn sight
All watchin’ through the window of this cowboy’s eyes tonight.
And standin’ in the catch pen or in chute number nine
Is the offspring of a mountain that’s come down from olden time
A volcano waitin’ quiet, ’til they climb upon his back
Rumblin’ like the engine of a freight train on the track.
A cross between a she bear and a bad four wheel drive
With the fury of an eagle when it makes a power dive.
A snake who’s lost its caution or a badger gone berserk
He’s a screamin’, stompin’, clawin’, rabid, mad dog piece o’ work.
From the rollers in his nostrils to the foam upon his lips
From the hooves as hard as granite to the horns with dagger tips
From the flat black starin’ shark’s eye that’s the mirror of his soul
Shines the challenge to each cowboy like the devil callin’ roll.
In the seconds that tick slowly ’til he climbs upon his back
Each rider faces down the fear that makes his mouth go slack
And cuts his guts to ribbons and gives his tongue a coat
He swallows back the panic gorge that’s risin’ in his throat.
The smell of hot blue copper fills the air around his head
Then a single, solid shiver shakes away the doubt and dread
The cold flame burns within him ’til his skin’s as cold as ice
And the dues he paid to get here are worth every sacrifice.
All the miles spent sleepy drivin’, all the money down the drain
All the “if I’s” and the “nearly’s”, all the bandages and the pain
All the female tears left dryin’, all the fever and the fight
Are just a small downpayment on the ride he makes tonight.
And his pardner in this madness that the cowboy’s call a game
Is a ton of buckin’ thunder bent on provin’ why he came
But the cowboy never wavers he intends to do his best
And of that widow maker, he expects of him no less.
There’s a solemn silent moment that every rider knows
When the time stops on a heartbeat like the earth itself was froze
Then all the ancient instinct fills the space between his ears
Til the whispers of his phantoms are the only thing he hears.
When you get down to the cuttin’ and the leather touches hide
And there’s nothin’ left to think about, he nods and says, “Outside!”
Then frozen for an instant against the open gate
Is hist’ry turned to flesh and blood, a warrior incarnate.
And while they pose like statues in that flicker of an eye
There’s somethin’ almost sacred, you can see it if you try.
It’s guts and love and glory-one mortal’s chance at fame
His legacy is rodeo and cowboy is his name.