It’s Friday.

And at 9:19 PM, coming downstairs after a brief tussle and quick surrender to Daddy for The Sleepless One’s bedtime, I realized that Friday=Poetry.


Poetry Friday has been such an enjoyable part of my life for the last few months that I can’t believe I forgot. I just forgot.

This week, I’m going to share a tidbit from Humorous Cowboy Poetry, a book I bought the last time we were up at the pony farm. It was 50 cents, give or take, and has slightly bent corners. It was tucked in among the other horse paperbacks – fiction and horse care and stories, oh my! – on a dusty shelf by the front window, far more interesting to my eye that the gift shop paraphernalia on glass stands.

I imagine it as a gift given to a young wrangler girl, one who probably spent the summer workin’ at the hoss farm, dreamin’ herself up as a cowgal. Well, the tomboy cowgal probably didn’t read it much, because if she had, she wouldn’t have parted with it, and surely she would have dog-eared a page or two. Maybe it got pushed back behind her bunk during her summer as a camp counselor at the hoss farm, and when they found it, all they could think to do was sell it for 50 cents in the gift shop.

Whatever the story behind it, the stories inside it are simply delightful. I make no claim at doing more than just enjoying poetry in a rabbit-trail kind of way. Some of these poems are sort of knee-slappy-har-har, but I’ll bet I’d get my dad giggling to them. They might not be fine art, but, to a woman who has a young tomboy-cowgal-wannabe tucked inside still, they’re just the thing.

Before I share this, though, don’t miss out on the rest of the Poetry Friday fun, hosted this week at A Wrung Sponge.

And, with that, here’s my poem for the week:

Cowboy Vernacular
By Marie W. Smith

Now, this young school-age cowboy
still had a couple of years
to finish learning English
so he could graduate with his peers.

He was like most all the cowboys
that I have ever met.
He’d say “knowed” for knew and “ain’t” for isn’t,
and for “have gone” he’d say he’d went.

This day, his teacher had had enough
of this “gone” and “went” at school
and said, “Right at three you stay today
’til you learn this golden rule:

“That there’s no need to say ‘I have went’
when you want to say ‘I’ve gone’.”
He thought, it’s them haves and hads and hases
that can turn a fella wrong.

So the teacher set the young cowboy
an after-school assignment –
One hundred lines of “I have gone home”
on the blackboard as a reminder

That proper English is a must
if he wanted a diploma.
He’d have to learn the right from wrong,
that sometimes “went” is a misnomer.

So he stood before the blackboard.
He wore out several sticks of chalk.
His hand grew cramped, his fingers stiff;
at eighty-six he began to balk.

He moved back, surveyed his work –
Eighty-six was quite a sum.
“I have wrote eighty-six lines,” he signed,
“and now I have went home.”

Copyright 1995 by Gibbs Smith, Publisher
Humorous Cowboy Poetry