Out in this country all men are Kings
And all the women can drink you under the table.
If you can find one...
The cattle own these hills one roamed ny antelope.
Those fleet and curious beasts were consumed
By the skillets of the Boomers in the valley.
Those gold camps and oil towns have vanished too,
Blown away by the winds that never sleep.
But the cattle remain...
Trudging to ancient water troughs,
Propelled by genes that go back to Spain, Africa,
And probably back to the dinosaurs.
They once said that all roads lead to Rome,
As if a road was like a river that flows to the sea.
But a road is not a river.
All roads lead to other roads, other trails, other visions,
And to lonely graves, scoured clean by the wind.
The coyote jogs down the middle of the road,
Tongue lolling in the morning breeze.
He is a friend of mine. He follows me down all these old roads.
He is more than just a trickster.
He is the totem of the lost and lonely;
The faithful companion of all us weary wanderers...
Another windblown cowtown.
Two churches, two bars and a grammar school.
Two paths to redemption, two paths to oblivion,
And one road out of here.
The Rodeo Queen found her own way out.
Married a rock star...
Partied with Belushi on the night he OD'd.
Yeah Baby, let the good times roll,
And there's a horse ranch in the divorce settlement.
Out on Huerhuero Creek they made the hippies' last stand
And their poetry still hangs in the breeze.
A well worn trail led up to the garden in the box canyon.
The Marijuanero tending his crop with a shotgun and a water can.
Drawing down on a deer at the salt lick with an old .32 Winchester.
Playing Grateful Dead and Hank Williams to the stoned sunset on a cheap guitar.
If that ain't country...
The coyotes hunted peacocks and sang their songs with new colors.
Beauregard running deer from here to Templeton,
Puzzling the coyote with his long drawn swamp dog calls.
When he wore himself out he would sit by the side of the road
Waiting for a kindly neighbor's pick-up truck.
Goddam hitch-hiking dawg....
The rivers here run dry,
But the whiskey and the gin will always flow free...
Anna pours her own grave from a rocking chair.
Cowboy Bob crashing through fences in the night,
Sleeping it off on a mattress in the tractor shed.
Gospel music flying through the too bright rays of Sunday morning.
Now where's that truck?
The cowboys wear their spurs to bed.
They know their days are numbered,
Counted in cigarettes, beers, cups of coffee and gallons of gasoline.
The indians are not remembered by name.
The places where they camped
Occupied by abandoned diners and watering holes for cattle.
They all became cowboys in the end,
The skulls of their ancestors grinning under glass
In small town museums closed for lack of funding...
And then the breeze shifts,
We crest the ridge,
And I behold the waves of the endless sea.
For that is where the road leads on this morning.
At least in my own mind...
And the coyote waits on a hill for my return.