Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Rodeo Champ

On a hot summer afternoon, I was driving home from Killeen, TX to Leander, TX after a hard day's work digging out a fire scene.  I spotted an old pick-up truck parked on the road side with the bed full of watermelons.  I knew my wife loved watermelon, so I stopped to see if I could get a good one.  An older gentleman got out of his lawn chair and met me at the back of the truck.  He introduced himself as Joe Hood, former Rodeo Champion.  I enjoyed his company for quite a while and he was the inspiration for this poem.

                OLD RODEO CHAMP

I saw an old pickup all loaded with melons
one hot summer’s evening not too far from Austin.

Sitting beside it, a graying bent cowboy
in faded blue Wranglers watching the cars pass.

I stopped, we spoke, he arose from his lawn chair,
struggled to stand, and walked to his truck’s bed.

“Good ones?” I asked.  “Sweet ones?”
He nodded.  “Three dollars a piece or two for a five spot.”

“Pick me a good one.” I said as we stood there.
He turned a few over, and looked at their skin.

“Rabbits won’t scratch the ones that aren’t sweet.”
He said nonchalantly, his blue eyes a’ sparkle.

I found a scarred one and placed it aside.
“I’m Dennis,” I offered. 
“I’m Joe,” he replied

“Did you farm all your life? 
He answered, “No”.
Then I stood there and listened for two hours or so.

“I’m a Rodeo Champ.” He smiled as he spoke.
“Or I was through the fifties, that’s a few years ago.”

“I did it all.  Rough stock, ropin’.
“We had to back then - the purses were small.”

“Bulls were my favorite.  Everyone liked them.
I got extra money when side bets were made.”

He told me about it, the good rides, the great ones.
Clay Bank, Poison Ivy, the rankest of all.

Each ride was re-told from cinching to buzzer.
The bucks, the twists, the bruising come downs.

I finally left.  He was smiling and waving.

Three bucks and two hours well spent for us both.

Dennis Price


  1. Glad you liked it Buff. Hope all is well at your end of the globe. Pappy

  2. Wonderful! What I wouldn't give for a good watermelon and some good stories!


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