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Behind the Grindstone: Rodney's Story

By Bill Bunting

June 4, 2024

This week I was goin’ through boxes of poetry I had written years ago. Some finished, some started that must have fizzled. I found this one I had written about thirty years ago. I had been speaking and doing some poetry at a cowboy camp meeting in Eastern Oklahoma. After the meeting that Sunday morning a cowboy came up and introduced himself. He told me he had been a horse trader all his life and handed me an old worn out Bible. He said, “There’s a story in the back I’d like you to read.” That afternoon I sat under a shade tree, opened that old Bible up and there in the back were fifteen or twenty pages for notes. The story was like a journal. The first entry was dated and said, “Today my wife says she doesn’t love me and moved out.” And the story went on from there. Drivin’ across Oklahoma the next day I wrote these verses on a brown paper sack. I call it Rodney’s Story. It goes somethin’ like this.

Lord, you know I’m a cowboy
And my kind has lots of pride
When troubles come upon us
We just take ‘em all in stride

And Lord I never knew I needed You
I just never gave it much thought
I just always figgered a man
Learned to deal with the hand he got
And Lord the little woman up and left
Now that was hard to take
But I just cowboy’d up
Though I thought my heart would break

Then Ol’ Joe up and dies
Best friend I ever had
Not only was Joe my friend
You know he was my dad

I went out behind the horse barn
And had myself a cry
Then I just cowboy’d up
No more tears my cheeks were dry

Then the colts started dyin’
And there’s nothin’ I can do
The hired man came in yesterday
Says, “I done run over Blue”

Now Blue was just a healer cross
Might not look like much to you
But man he had a big ol’ heart
He was cow dog through and through

Today the vet came to look at the horses
Had the results of the tests
And Lord they say You know everything
So I guess You know the rest

You’re quarantined, we’ll put them down
The blood test, yeah we’re sure
Cowboy you know this disease
You know there is no cure

Man, that’s thousands and thousands of dollars
But you know it’s my luck
Then the vet says real quiet like
The same thing goes for Buck

And Lord I tried to cowboy up
But Buck’s the last friend that I had
And now it all came back on me
My wife, my dog, my dad

And now my horse, Oh Lord, my horse
I’d rode him fourteen years
And kneelin’ here in his stall
I can’t hold back the tears

And Lord I’m tryin’ to cowboy up
But I just can’t get off my knees
And I can’t get these tears to stop
Would You help me please

Now I ain’t had no bible learnin’
And don’t know much what to do
But Lord the only way I can see to go from here
Is to put my trust in You

Goodbye, Buck.

At least, that’s the view here from behind the grindstone.

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