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Special Cowboy Poetry Feature

Spring/Summer 2004, Volume 21.3

Cowboy Poetry

Don Kennington

Photo of Don Kennington.

Born and raised on a border ranch between Idaho and Wyoming, Don Kennington has been a horseshoer for over 36 years and a poet for 16. He is the winner of numerous cowboy poetry competitions throughout the West. He is the recipient of the Idaho Silver Quill Award, Poet of the Year for the Utah Chapter of the Western Music Association in 2001, winner of "Best of the Best" from the Western Legends Roundup in 2003, and recipient of the Ogden Pioneer Days Spirit of the West Award for 2004. He has "driven over 31 miles of horseshoe nails and rasped the length of nine football fields from the bottom of over 34,000 horses' hooves." Currently, he lives in Farr West, Utah, with his wife Arlene.

O'l Bunnion

I'm going to sell Ol' Bunnion,
That horse doesn't know a thing.
So I'll take him to the auction,
And they can run him through the ring.

Mama said, "My goodness Daddy;
Do you think you really should?"
She kind of liked Ol' Bunnion;
She really didn't think I could

But I took him to the auction.
I'll sell that worthless, stupid horse.
I can rid the ranch of him
Without a smidgen of remorse.

Mama kind of liked Ol' Bunnion;
She cried when I led him away.
She sat way up in the bleachers;
This was not her happy day.

But when they ran him through the ring,
The auctioneer begins to shout
'Bout what a grand horse Bunnion is
And things I didn't know about.

He said, "That horse is syncopated
And see the rhythm in his stride,
And the muscles congregating
Beneath his smooth and silky hide?"

Ol' Bunnion's stepping high and fancy
As he cavorts around the place,
And the auctioneer, he mentions
The kindly look on Bunnion's face.

"And there's compassion in his eyes
And love and kindness in his glance.
If music was a' playing
That horse'd probably try to dance."

`Took a second look at Bunnion
And he is moving pretty nice.
And the people at the auction
Just start a' bidding up the price.

And that doggone auctioneer
Gets folks a' boosting up the bid,
And I'm a' having second thoughts
About this hasty thing I did.

But the folks just keep on bidding
On that there horse that once was mine.
Maybe I missed out on something;
The auctioneer thinks he's just fine.

He says, "That horse can jump so high
He leaves his tracks there on the ground
And steps into some brand new ones
When gravitation pulls him down."

Like he said that doggone Bunnion
Is just a stepping up and back,
And every time he lifts a foot—
Sure 'nough, he's made a brand new track.

I realized the auctioneer
Had pointed out a thing or two
'Bout Ol' Bunnion's fancy capers
I didn't know that he could do.

"That horse can tell how old you are
Without makin' one mistake.
Start whenever you are ready
And count how many steps he takes.

I just sat there in amazement
At all the things Ol' Bunnion knew,
And when I finished counting,
Sure enough 'twas sixty-two.

And Ol' Bunnion just keeps stepping
Still counting for the older guys,
and I just sat there astonished
Overwhelmed and real surprised.

I just stared in utter silence,
That horse was something to behold;
Then suddenly the auctioneer
Slapped down his hand and hollered, "Sold."

Now I'm just a little flustered;
That guy had sold my brilliant horse.
Then went right on with the auction
While I'm a' feeling some remorse.

'Told Mama someone bought him,
And I was sorry as can be.
Then Mama cleared her throat
And said, "Why Honey—it was me."


The Last Nail

There's pain a' throbbing in my back.
Sometimes my knees are stiff and sore.
Guess I'd better see the doctor.
'Don't get around good anymore.

But I know just what he's going to say,
"You've got to quit that shoeing, Don.
I know it's something you enjoy,
But you've been doing it too long.

But he just doesn't understand
That it's the center of my life.
I love it more than anything,
Except the kids and my dear wife.

'Cause when I'm under that ol' hoss,
I'm just as good as any one.
Those folks think that I'm important;
We laugh and joke, a' having fun.

I've been out there shoeing horses
And making friends o'er thirty years.
And when Doc says I ought to quit,
I start a' fighting back the tears.

'Cause I love a' shoeing horses,
Yeah, I suppose that sounds kind of dumb,
But when I'm shoeing that ol' hoss,
That's when I really am someone.

My shoeing friends don't laugh at me,
And they don't call me stupid names.
They treat me like I'm one of them,
Like we're all just the same.

And when I see them somewhere else,
They honk and wave at me.
And I grin and wave them back;
Then I feel good inside, you see?

We're supposed to tend God's creatures,
But some folks get a little rough.
That's when some of God's creatures
Live a life that's pretty tough.

Like when you walk up to a pony
And he's a' shaking like a leaf.
You whisper and you scratch him,
Ain't hard to tell he's had some grief.

And you keep scratching and a' whispering
'Cause you're trying to be a friend,
And that pony starts to relax
And he starts to comprehend.

And when that pony licks his lips,
You can feel him settle down.
Then you won't have any trouble
Working his feet up off the ground.

And when that pony walks away,
His legs are swinging straight and true.
And it really is amazing
At what a little love can do.

Oh, it hasn't been all roses,
But for the most part it's been fun.
I've met a lot of real, nice folks
And come to love near everyone.

Yeah, I've been kicked and knocked around,
By horses been abused a lot.
That's when you've gotta keep yer cool,
Use all the patience that you've got.

So let me drive just one more nail
And snug that shoe down good and tight.
My back is hurtin' some
But I've just got to do it right.

"There now. That's a little better.
That pony's ready for the trail.
But I won't be coming back,
'Cause I've just driven my last nail."

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