Saturday, July 4, 2009

Pausing To Shake the Spit from Their Horns by John A. Ward

Pausing to Shake the Spit from Their Horns
by John A. Ward

The cattle stopped and shook their heads almost on command. We had been spitting on them all day. After forty days and forty nights on the trail, cowboys just can’t take it anymore. Cowgirls get persnickety, too, but they don’t chaw and spit tobacco. They just say, “Bless their hearts. They mean well.”

It’s a good thing the PETA™ activists weren’t around, or they would have been after us for bovine abuse. But they were off somewhere, doing whatever it is they do with their PETA™s. That’s why you can never find a PETA™ when you need one.
We figured the herd needed a rest, so we sat down and had lunch. Cookie whipped us up some sandwiches. It was Thanksgiving, so to celebrate, he served us turkey jerky on, you guessed it, pita bread. As he passed out the pockets, he looked over at the livestock and told us we should stop chawing tobacco, because the herd, which were Brahmans, started out white on the drive and now were brown. He allowed as how they looked like Jerseys and who would believe cowboys driving dairy cattle, especially ones named for a foreignyankeegetarope state.

After lunch, he set half of us to washing clean spots onto their hides so they would be brown and white. The other half gathered up mesquite and tied it to the steers’ heads, so they would look like Texas Longhorns when we got to the railhead in Dodge.

Doc had gotten into the cooking sherry again, so he had no idea what he was gathering and tied tumbleweeds atop ten percent of the herd. Cookie asked what in the third world of nucular family values and miunderestimated strategery those critters were. Doc told him they were wearing afros.

By that time it was growing dark and we built a campfire with what was left of the mesquite. Pretty soon, Dusty took out his trumpet, Rusty took out his trombone and Busty took out her Flugelhorn and they started playing “Get Along Little Dogies.” I don’t know why they couldn’t carry harmonicas like other cowpersons.

Suddenly, a group of mariachis came riding over the ridgeline firing off cumbias and rancheras and joined us. Before we turned in for the night, the cattle were standing like fiberglass statues and the musicians paused to shake the spit from their horns.

Author bio:

John A. Ward was born on Staten Island, attended Wagner College in the early 60's, sold his first poem to Leatherneck magazine, and became a scientist. He is now in San Antonio running, writing and living with his dance partner. He has published in Doorknobs & Bodypaint, Clockwise Cat, Apollo’s Lyre, Toasted Cheese, Green Tricycle, Ascent Aspirations, Alighted Ezine, Lit Bits, Cenotaph Pocket Edition, The San Antonio Express-News, Antithesis Common, Wild Child, Greenbeard, Static Movement, Holy Cuspidor, Idlewheel, Cautionary Tale, Sentence, Sun Poetic Times, Byline, Quirk, ken*again, R-KV-R-Y, The Smoking Poet, Long Story Short and Rose & Thorn. Links to his work can be found at Dancfool

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