Cow Talk

Down on the plains of West Texas

Plenty neighborin goin on,

All pulling together

To get the season’s work done.

And even the preacher

Turned out for the fun,

Ridin his cow pony

In the bright morning sun.

But the preacher had problems

None else had encountered;

Not a cow seemed to listen,

Despite all his efforts.

He’d try to head em, or hold em,

Or push em out on the flat,

But, nope, they’d refuse

To do any of that.

Sittin at breakfast

Early next mornin,

The preacher spoke up,

“Boys, I got me a problem…

Now I’ve worked cattle from childhood

Out in New Mexico,

But these West Texas critters

Have done gave me the throw.

“They’re the most rebellious of creatures

I ever did see.

Why not a one of em cares

To even listen to me.

As a matter of fact,

It’s come to my view,

That these onery critters

Kinda remind me of YOU!”

The boys round the table

All had a good chuckle,

But no useful insight

To help with his struggle.

Till Vivian, boss’s wife,

And ranch’s half owner,

Smiled politely and said,

“I’ll give you the answer!”

“Now preacher, we all know

You’re a sensitive feller

With a heart full of kindness,

Not much of a yeller.

And while we sure appreciate

All your heartfelt devotions,

And your looking out for these critters

And protecting their emotions…

“Still, it’s not your tenderness

That they be demanding,

But plain and simple instruction,

And clear understanding.

See, these West Texas cows

Have a dialect their own,

No English or Spanish,

Or any other jargon.

“And the problem you see

Isn’t THEIR attitude,

They’re simply unable

to understand YOU.

So, if you want to enlist

Their cooperation,

Ya best get yourself

Some new pronunciation.”

So the preacher started listening

Instead of doing all the talkin.

And it didn’t take long,

Hearing the other hands squawkin,

That he hit on the secret

To which Ms. Vivian was alludin,

So, he thought he’d give it a try

And look for improvement.

The preacher lifted his eyes,

Saying, “Lord I need help here,

You know I try not to lie

Or give offence to Your ear.

But these cows that You made

To dwell in West Texas

Are a whole different lot

And frightfully contentious.

“If I’m gonna make

Any difference for You

And get the job done

Like they’re expectin me to,

Then I fear I will need

To use words yet unsung.

Please, open my mouth

And give me new tongue.

“While I don’t wanna trouble You

Or make matters worse,

Lord, I’m afraid You’re gonna have

To teach me to curse.”

Then prompted by the Spirit,

The preacher moved forth

To speak in expressions

He’d never spoken before.

He sashayed his cow pony

Up to some cantankerous old cows,

Then, “Hellfire and Damnation,”

He hollered aloud.

And every cow on the range,

And the cowboys as well,

Stopped in their tracks

To see who’d given that yell.

The boss turned in his saddle

And raised his eyebrows,

“Did I just hear the preacher

Cursing at those old cows?”

“Hellfire and Damnation,”

The preacher hollered again,

And, by now, half the ranch

Was starin at him.

“You’ll be headin for judgement

In that Hadean realm,

If I don’t see those derrieres

A gettin in that cow pen!

And brimstone is all

You’ll find waiting for you,

If you’re any more trouble

By the time day is through!”

Every cow, calf, and yearling,

And the bulls young and old,

Trembled with fear

And did exactly as told.

Cause “hellfire” was something

Each cow understood.

And “damnation” they knew

Just couldn’t be good.

“Brimstone” was a word

They had heard once or twice

From a few angry cowboys,

So they knew it weren’t nice.

Struggling with “derrieres,”

They contextualized

And figured complying

Would likely be wise.

For never before had they

Heard such a sound

From that gentle old preacher

Who’d been hanging around.

But now he meant business,

As they plainly could see,

For he was speakin their language

As clear as could be.

Next Sunday at church

Filling up both front pews,

Sat every cowboy in the county

Who had heard the good news:

There’s a new preacher in town

Who speaks our own lingo,

And he doesn’t mince words

When it comes to the Gospel.

Now, tis said that little church

Underwent transformation

Why, even the kids

Have quit misbehavin.

And folks started coming

From all over town

To hear a word from the Lord

While He still could be found.

And while some think that ole preacher

Uncouth and ungracious,

With all of his talk

Of hellfire and damnation,

The cows and cowboys

Of West Texas will tell ya,

To a more compelling pulpiteer

They’ve never attested!

Copyright © 2022 Philip R. Stroud

All rights reserved

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