My Last Cattle Drive


I was going for a walk, one sunny day in June,
And just behind the mountains must’ve lurked a big full moon.
The reason I surmise that will show in the tale to follow—
Which reveals my foolish actions, and makes my heart grow hollow.

I was traipsing by this pasture, all rich and green with spring,
Just soaking in the sunshine and not thinking about a thing.
When I started looking at the cows that filled that pasture bright;
And I’m thinking to myself, “I’ll have some fun, all right.”

Well, there must’ve been three hundred cows milling around that place,
And I went marching up there with a big grin on my face.
First, says I, “I’ll take this cow chip and play a little Frisbee—
Don’t ask me to explain it—I don’t know what came o’er me.

The calf was just so gol-durn cute, but I commenced anyhow
To fling that great big cow chip at his nursing mama cow.
She left her young in a heartbeat, and I still can’t believe it,
But she whirled around and with one big hoof, she commenced to cleave it!

The chip, that is—I should explain—she didn’t hurt that calf;
And now in my amazement I could only stand and laugh.
Well, I started back along my way, but now my interest’s up;
I was hungry for excitement, and just had to fill my cup.

This next part’s so embarrassing, I don’t want to admit it,
And to this day I find it hard to think I even did it.
But here it is, so listen close—I’ll only tell it once,
About this lone, bored hiker who made himself a dunce.

I guess I thought it funny to pretend I was a cow—
It certainly was funnier at the moment than it is right now.
I got down on my hands and knees and began to moo just right;
And all the time I’m crawling, and I must have looked a sight.

But, boy, it was hilarious, to see the stares those cows gave—
They gawked at me like some cadaver had just crawled out of its grave.
I mooed and mooed and giggled some, and then I crawled and crawled,
And all the while three hundred cattle stared me down and bawled.

And I figured out in time, they were talking back to me—
It was the most hilarious thing I think I’ll ever see.
Those cows were all lined up like ducks, all along the fence—
And I don’t know if it was the cows or me who’d lost more sense.

Now I was getting a hoot from this, and trying not to laugh,
Mooing and crawling along like a little lonesome calf.
And then I started to bellow like a big old angry bull;
Those cows all stood there staring at this crazy, ignorant fool.

I guess it’s probably funny to imagine all this stuff,
But to bring myself to tell the rest is becoming rather tough.
Suddenly, I got this thought, “Let’s see if we can stampede ’em.
Let’s scare the grass right out of them, till nothing will impede ’em.

So right when their eyes were biggest, and their heads were way down low,
And they’re staring with their tails twitching, all in one neat row,
I charged them on my hands and knees, screaming like a mad bull,
Having me a gleeful time like some idiot kid in school.

Well, you never saw the like of it—man that was some stampede;
The cows and calves all scampering, and big bulls in the lead.
And then I was on my feet again, having a belly laugh,
At those old cowardly bulls and some tail-twitching calf.

Yeah, I had a chuckle that afternoon, for it was a hoot, of course,
Until I looked across the field and saw that saddle horse;
And it wasn’t just a saddle horse—there was some rancher in the saddle,
Staring at this strange two-legged cow and his stampeding cattle.

The humor of my little trick exploded down the trail,
And I stood with my mouth open, catching flies and looking pale.
But what does a fellow do when he’s caught his tail in a crack?
Do what I did, and to that rancher fellow, turn your back!

I started walking quickly, singing a merry tune,
Sure and certain I’d hear that rancher galloping up real soon.
But he never showed, and I got free, with sweat running down my face;
I dared one glance back to see that man and cows scattered every place.

He probably wrote this all down, too, and he’s reading this story to someone—
About this lunatic, half-man, half-cow—and oh, a mighty dumb one.
But that day when I looked back at him, I saw why he couldn’t give chase;
He was still sitting, surprised as those cows, with one big, baffled look on his face.

—Kirby Jonas, October 7, 1995


I imagine some of you are wondering how I got the idea for this poem, so with some embarrassment, I will tell you: It’s a true story.

When I was living up in Salmon, Idaho, apparently I was pretty bored one day coming back from a hike, and having spent much of my childhood practicing different animal noises, it seemed only natural to have a little fun. Everything in the story is true, including that huge, fat cow wheeling around and taking that cow pie Frisbee straight out of mid-air with her hoof before it could hit her. So DON’T UNDERESTIMATE A FAT COW!

If you had fun with the story, you might enjoy the funny bits and pieces between Sam and Tom, the main characters in my Kirby Jonas-Clint Walker novel, Yaqui Gold. Incidentally, the characters were modeled after Tom Selleck and Sam Elliot, in hopes that the two of them would pick it up for a movie, which sadly is too late now. You will also find actors Charles Bronson, Woody Strode, James Drury, and Clint Walker in the book. Tell me if you figure out who is whom!