April 04, 2008

Why'd He Have to Steal My Boots?

Badger Clark once wrote about “talk of loss and gain” in his classic poem “The Piano at Red’s.” This poem isn’t about gambling at Red's Saloon and it’s not about winning either – it’s about losing a favorite pair of boots. I understand that that may sound pretty silly in our economy of cheap goods from China, but it hasn’t been all that long when good things were a little harder to come by, especially if you were just a kid trying to spread his wings for the first time. During one of my summers spent up in the hills and mountains of central Idaho, I bought a very good pair of leather boots. They were well built though plain. I lovingly oiled them down with Hubbard’s Neatsfoot oil to waterproof the leather and to preserve them. My intention was to wear them until the time had come to go back home and start school. I had saved my money up for a few months and finally found just the pair I wanted. They were a prized possesion.

One evening a drifter wandered into camp. He was thin and ragged and was wearing a pair of mismatched canvas boat shoes – hardly what a man needed in that country. He said he was hungry and asked to spend the night with us. We agreed in the best western tradition, fed him and gave him a bunk together with the rest of us. All the while we were thinking that we had done him right - until the next morning when in my disbelief I yelled out . . .

Why’d He Have To Steal My Boots?
by Paul Kern

The wilds are home to the roughest of men,
Life’s tough now but was tougher then.
In springtime before I went to the hills,
I looked hard for boots – solid no frills.

I needed a good pair of leather and heal,
And hunted around for just the right deal.
I found ‘em at last in an old ranch store;
They served me well the more that I wore.
A season’s work for minimal pay,
All young and green enjoyin’ our stay,
Workin’ through the long hours of light;
Sleep came easy in the old tent at night.

Around sunset just before night,
A drifter walked up with lips drawn tight,
Said he’d been goin’ most of the day,
Was hungry and tired and wanted to stay.

So we rustled up the beans and the stew,
With all the fixins dished up on the blue,
Speckled enamel plate and dish -
Biscuits and gravy with a servin’ of fish.

After he finished he hit the sack,
Still we all wondered about this hack.
No more to do for the present,
We slept as the moon rose in a crescent.

When we awoke he had got up and got,
I went for my boots underneath of my cot.
They were gone and so was he.
Did this just happen - could this be?

He left behind his old worn out shoes.
Why’d he do it that cussed cayuse?
We had lent a hand to that ol' mooch,
So why’d he have to steal my boots?

free hit counter script

No comments:

Post a Comment