Friday, August 10, 2007

Wyoming Tale

When snow was done and spring had sprung,
The cattle of Wyoming
Were free to wander, old and young,
No limit on their roaming.

All across the summer plains
The bovine hordes would amble,
Dodging intercity trains
And eating grass and bramble.

But when the leaf fell off the tree
And hounds began to shiver,
The cowboys would search thoroughly
Beside the great Wind River.

To find their brand in that great land
Was always such a battle
They spent more time than they had planned
In finding errant cattle.

Now deep within this wild expanse,
There lived a wily farmer,
Who only owned one pair of pants,
They called him Billy Palmer.

Billy owned three thousand head,
But he was quite meticulous.
He’d count them all, which people said
Was blatantly ridiculous.

He never lost a single calf
Through doing stocktakes sloppily.
Things were never done by half,
He always did them properly.

One fine and bright autumnal day,
Old Billy-Boy inspected
The cattle in the new-mown hay,
His hired hands had collected.

With pen and pad, he set about
The business of stocktaking,
Although his men were wont to doubt
The fuss that he was making.

He marched the cattle one by one
Between two sturdy fences,
And by the setting of the sun,
He finished off the census.

He worked the long addition out,
And tugged his forelock lightly,
And then a naughty word came out,
Although he said it tightly.

“Thirty cattle short!” he cried.
The cowboys started moaning.
“Search this country far and wide,
And stop your bleedin’ groaning!”

Three whole weeks his minions rode
The vast Wyoming prairies,
But saw no cows from their abode,
No more than they saw fairies.

Billy watched the men ride in
Without the bovine thirty,
He took another swig of gin
And muttered something dirty.

He knew it was the brothers James
Who’d stolen Palmer cattle,
For in the town he’d heard their names
Through local tittle-tattle.

Frankie James owned paper mills
That hardly were successful.
They just kept mounting up the bills,
Which Frankie found quite stressful.

Jessie James worked in a store,
Performing inventories.
He could count to ninety four,
If one believed the stories.

And so they’d stolen Billy’s cows
To see them through the winter,
And hidden them behind the house
Owned by their ma, Jacinta.

But Billy knew old Sheriff Jed
And paid to him a visit.
“It’s time you acted, Jed,” he said.
The Sheriff said, “Oh, is it?”

“Yes,” said Billy. “Can’t you shake a
Leg, and nab them hustlers?
The store boy is a stock-taker,
The paper boy’s a rustler.”

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