February 04, 2007

So Long, Chinook!

I was invited by Russ and Marcia Davis' daughter Jill - now living in California - to present an evening of cowboy poetry on the occasion of her parents 50th wedding anniversary celebration, February 3, 2007 in West Valley City, Utah. Jill found my poetry on the internet, responded to it, and then located me and made the arrangements.

Last night was an evening to be remembered - a first class catered function with 100 or so long-time friends of the Davis family. I took the mic during dessert and guided the crowd through a 45 minute ride "along the rimrock, where memories rhyme."

The program consisted of thirteen orignal poems as well as three from the classics - The Meeting, by Arthur Chapman (see video to the left), Morning on the Desert by Katherine Fall Pettey and So Long, Chinook! by Henry Herbert Knibbs

Some of the comments afterwards were:

"Jill, we nailed this one! - this was the right thing to do for Mom and Dad - they really responded to it."

"I loved the poem about the wolves When Evening Sets on the Yellowstone - it took me back to where I had the same experience in the Bitteroots some years ago."

"I have seen a lot of cowboy poetry presentations - I think this one was the best - nice, layed-back and mellow." (Not sure I believed this one, but it was nice to hear.)

So Long, Chinook!
by Henry Herbert Knibbs

Chinook, you're free: there's plenty pasture there:
Your gallant years have earned you more ... and yet ...
Go on and graze! Don't stand like that and stare!
Now quit your nosing! No, I'll not forget.

You want some sugar? Lady's horse you are!
I reckon I've spoiled you. Some would say,
A pet, that lazies by the corral bar,
Rubbing his mane and switching flies all day.

Chinook, they did n't know you as a colt:
We were some young and wild in those days, Chinook!
They never tamed a foot-loose thunderbolt
That pawed a star down, every jump he took.

Here now--my pocket's empty! Drift along.
Your saddle's off. Now can't you understand
We've made the last ride, sung the last old song?
They signed our warrant when they fenced this land.

Doggone it! This is not a funeral.
I've turned you loose for good, old horse; you're free.
Why don't you kick and squeal and act like--well,
Perhaps you feel it's tough to quit -- like me.

Say, if you will keep nosing me, why, there!
Listen! Do you remember how she came
Laughing--a rosebud pretty in her hair,
And I reached down? And how you played the game?

You, fire and trouble! that day you stood still
For once: and I was lucky. And that night
I turned you loose to graze on Flores hill:
The yucca never bloomed so tall and white!

Young days, young ways, and many trails to ride,
And Romance tugging at the bridle-rein:
Chinook, and if we swung a bit aside,
We always found the old home trail again.

And here we are! I reckon we're both free:
No wonder that you stand like that and look
So solemn and wise. What's wrong with me?
I'm talking wild, to-day, So long, Chinook!

Henry Herbert Knibbs, from
Songs of the Trail, 1920

So Long, Chinook!

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