September 29, 2008

A Grizzled Face and a Graying Beard

The horse we loaned out at the time this poem was reality was a sorrel mustang gelding named Prince. Prince wasn’t a bad horse, just not a really good one. I remember one time as a small child in one of the Wyoming wilderness areas that we were riding along the trail with no apparent problem when suddenly Prince was overcome with the temptation to take a side trip down the slope to graze on good grass next to a creek. Small as I was, I could not turn him back and had to call for help. After a short attitude readjustment session administered by my father, we headed back out. Prince did actually throw his head so hard that he knocked the teeth out of the sheepherder mentioned in this tale. I still can see his brand new dentures - the old guy was mighty proud of them.

A Grizzled Face and a Graying Beard
by Paul Kern

A grizzled face and a graying beard,
Somehow matched the sheep he sheared,
A wrinkled brow and wizened cheeks,
Blue eyes that sparkled when he speaks.

The sun had taken its weathering toll,
As wind and rain over him would roll,
His face tanned to leather deeply lined,
Outside in the hills - he just didn’t mind.

About who you are or how you’re seen,
Or how you dress or if you’re clean.
What matters most is what’s inside,
No matter how wrinkled or tan your hide.

But to get something there inside,
It helps to have a mouth full and wide,
Of teeth that can bite and also chew,
So as not to gum like babies do.

This good old herder had done a lot
‘Cept clean his teeth - they’s full of rot.
A dangling smile and a checkered grin,
Was all he had to put his food in.

For him a dentist was a thing to dread,
He’d just drill a hole into your head,
And to boot it would hurt if ever he did,
So it always seemed his smile he hid.

We loaned him a horse to use that summer,
Hoping to help out this old gummer,
Who still had the rest of an ivory or two,
Stuck in the middle of where you chew.

The old horse’s teeth needed a float,
So it’d take a bit on a good note,
Teeth filed to take down the ridges,
Smoothed off and polished on the edges.

But it didn’t happen to this pair,
Both bad in need of dental care,
So they went to work herding sheep,
And got along fine until one deep,

Gully came up they had to cross,
And there the horse gave its head a toss,
Straight back into his bobbing head,
Felt like a blow from a pipe of lead.

From the saddle he fell without a doubt,
Right in the spot where his teeth fell out,
There in the sand in that deep rut,
Toothless and bleeding he rubbed his gut.

Where he the saddle horn had hit,
Horse lurching, with him at full sit.
He picked up his teeth and put ‘em back down.
No sense in taking ‘em back to town.

Where the dentist built a brand new mouth,
Shiny white pearls from north to south,
All glued in both front and rear,
They gave him a grin from ear to ear.

So the horse we loaned out that summer,
Hoping to help out our friend the gummer,
Was what got him dentures all brand new,
Stuck in the middle of where you chew.

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