A Cowboy Conscience
by Dan Hess

Up on Powder River
In a diggins made o' dry pine logs,
sat a solitary cowboy there,
all dressed in his winter togs.

He was wrapped in a four point blanket,
an' he stared at the driftin' snow.
Loneliness invaded him,
as the wind begain to blow.

He had stumbled on this cow camp,
lost in a winter storm.
Overjoyed to find this haven,
with a stove to keep him warm.

There was wood in the old log cabin,
an' a little bit o' grub to boot.
"I couldn't ask more," he thought with a grin,
as he chewed on a bitter root.

"I can make it now," he mused and thought.
"There ain't much more I need."
An' alone outside in a log corral,
stood his wore-out noble steed.

Hangin' from a rafter on a frayed ketch rope,
was a half a' sack o' grain,
so he carefully measured out a pound or two,
an' stepped out on the frozen plain.

The old horse a waitin' in the round pole pen,
was a ragged flea bit gray.
A little too old for a hard day's work,
yet he still had the heart to stay.

The cowboy slipped a time or two,
as he made his way to the gate.
While the gray stood there with his rump to the wind,
Resigned to the hand of fate.

Now I know you won't believe this tale.
You'll say it's a dad-blamed lie;
but the ol' horse snorted when the cowboy spoke,
and he made this calm reply.

"I thought you'd never git here pard,
this winter wind blows cold.
I could take it better when first we met,
an' I was jist a four year old.

But now I'm a little bit "long in the tooth,"
an' my blood's a gettin' thin.
My hair ain't as thick as it used to be,
an' it lets the cold git in.

But with a little bit o' feed I'll be okay,
an' I jist want you to know,
there's a couple o' things I'd like to say,
'fore it comes my time to go.

I love ya Jim, you know I do,
an' I've never let you down,
when I knowed impatience was a drivin' you,
to git to a cowboy town.

With your bankroll blowed on whiskey,
sometimes I never had shoes.
But I knowed you craved that amber stuff,
so I never cried the blues.

You've spurred me over mountains, Jim
through drivin' snow and sleet,
but I bowed my head and trotted on,
and forgot about my poor ol' feet.

It's a many a long night I've stood alone,
at the horse rack wore plumb slick,
while you was in the blaze o' the dram house lights,
a talkin' to a cute young trick.

I recall the years that have sped too fast,
an' the roundups we went to.
when I was a colt, so young and quick,
an' you was a buckaroo.

Oh....we turned their heads when we rode up,
all decked in a brand new kack,
an' if I had one wish left tonight,
I'd call them ol' times back.

'Cause I love ya Jim, with all my heart,
an' I'll stay as long as I can,
but one o' these springs when the colts come up,
I won't be in the band.

You'll miss me then, when they rope the colts,
an' you'll wonder where I'm at,
"Winter kill, I reckon," the boys 'll say,
"or maybe a rank ol' cat."

But you'll come a lookin' anyway;
I'll bet both eyes that's true.
'Cause the same thing's goin' wrong with me
are goin' wrong with you.

Then you'll find me there in a snow filled draw,
with the wolves all gathered 'round.
I'll be sinkin' fast, but not quite gone,
still holdin' to my ground.

You can take your pistol from its sheath,
an' skeer the wolves away,
but don't waste all your bullets Jim.
There's one debt left to pay.

Stand bravely to your post, ol' pard,
an' do what ya have to do.
That's all in the world that ya owe me Jim,
when we bid our last adieu.

Then take your ol' broke pocket knife,
that ya used to pick my feet.
Cut a little hank o' hair from my tail,
an' mumble I was hard to beat.

Take the tail hair to the ol' Indian man,
that lives on Rosebud Creek
for a dollar he'll braid you a fine hat band,
pretty as a virgin's cheek.

Well the cowboy started to make reply,
but a lump rose in his chest.
Then he turned away and wiped his eyes,
an' stared at the mountain's crest.

"I never meant to treat ya bad Gray,
I jist didn't think, ya see.
For if I'da knowed it made it hard on you,
it would 've made it hard on me."

But the ol' horse never answered back.
He jist munched on the frozen grain,
an' the cowboy thought, "Hell, I've gone plumb loco,"
as he stared at the frozen plain.

Then he stumbled back to the little log shack,
as he gazed at the mountain's crest.
An' when he contemplated what he jist had heard,
he thought, "It must've been the wind, I guess.

Jist must've been the wind, I guess."

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