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GARY ROBERTSON: Poems

The Price

(Gary Robertson)
Gary Robertson
I got to thinkin’ ‘bout them old time Vaqueros
It’s said they’d never walk anywhere they could ride
Men who had earned the mantle of Horseman
Through a lifetime of hard work ‘n pride.

Spade bit men, with the hands of an angle
Send their very thoughts through a hand-braided rein
Men who knew that a touch, ‘n patience, ‘n caring
Thought much more than the fear born of pain.

Oh, they’d use their spurs, quirts, ‘n frenos
But for the purpose that each one was made
Never with anger ‘r malice
Fore they were an artist’s tools of the trade.

‘N the Vaquero was surely an artist
Mold horses like a sculpture molds clay
‘N each horses showed the Vaquero’s talents
In it’s desire to serve ‘n obey.

‘N the horse ‘n the horseman were partners
Each owed his life to the other, you see
The mind of the horseman, ‘n the heart of the horse
When combined, set each of them free.

But the life of the old-time Vaquero
Was destined to fade ‘n to pass
‘Cause a world built ‘round horses ‘n cattle
Was dependent on an ocean of grass.

So men like Don Jose, who managed the Tejon
‘N old Jake from the Miller & Lux
‘N George Brunk from the San Emideo
Had to see the wagon be replaced by the truck.

Saw the car replace the carriage
Saw the commin’ of telephone lines
Saw villages turn into cities
Saw the commin’ of these modern times.





See, the price they had to pay fer havin’ the honor
Of bein’ the last of the Vaquero breed
Was watchin’ the San Jouquin grasses
Fall to the tractor, the row-crop, ‘n greed.

‘N those of us still tendin’ cattle
From San Diego to the Monterey Bay
We have a similar burden
‘N a similar price we must pay.

The oak-studded hillsides ‘n valleys
Those not yet covered by concrete ‘n steel;
We’re watchin’ em turn into vineyards
At a pace that just don’t quite seem real.

Now, do I think we’re the last to tend cattle?
No, but how it’s done is destined to change
The paddock, the pen, ‘n the feedlot
Are replacin’ the pasture ‘n range.

So if you get-ya the chance to work horseback
Even if your ole pick-up will do the job fine
Go ahead, fork your ole saddle....
‘N savor those moments like fine vintage wine.