The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #105603   Message #2175007
Posted By: Rapparee
19-Oct-07 - 10:44 PM
Thread Name: BS: Poems that speak to you.
Subject: Lyr Add: OLD PROC (Wallace McRae)
by Wallace McRae

Old-timers in the neighborhood
Would bandy words on who was good
At puncher jobs for hours on end when I was just a kid.
They'd get wall-eyed 'n paw and bawl
And swear, "By damn I knowed 'em all.
If'n Josh he wasn't best trailhand, I'll eat my beaver lid!"

"Down and dirty, I'm the dealer.
Old Bob Seward? Best damn peeler
Ever snapped a bronc out, jist give me one he broke."
"Give, you say? That's what I heard.
You're right that Bob's a tough ol' bird.
But better practice cactus pickin' and work on your spur stroke.

Cain't stay astraddle one of his'n
When he pops the plug and goes t' fizzin'
She'll be adios caballo and howdy to the nurse."
They'd move from bickering bronc peelers
To rawhide hands 'n fancy heelers.
"Red Carlin?" "Young Mac Philbrick?" They'd testify and curse.

They'd analyze Link Taylor's cuttin':
"His bag-splittin' way of calf denuttin'
Is pure askin' for trouble, 'sides he don't cut by the sign."
"You cut your calves by the moon?
Keep on night brandin' and pretty soon
The sheriff'll change yer address and you'll be twistin' hair and twine."

On they'd rave and postulate
'Bout who was fair 'n who was great.
As they scratched brands in the hot dust, I'd never say a word.
But in their jousting verbal battle,
Among the boasts and barbs and prattle,
I sat in youthful judgment as they sorted out the herd.

So I came early to understand
The names of every good top hand.
In my scope of country, from hearing tough hands talk.
But when they'd crow and blow and boast
The one name that came up the most
Was a wily wild horse runner they simply called "ol' Proc."

"You boys jist start 'em. I'll stop 'em."
Old Proc'd say and then he'd chop 'em
Off at some escape route. He'd wheel 'n bring them in.
"Proc thinks horse," I'd heard them say,
And finally there came the day .
That I would get to meet this fabled mounted paladin.

My mother's father, John McKay,
Up and said one fine spring day
While I was staying with them, "Minnie, get your bonnet."
"Let's go up by the Castle Rock
'N see some country, visit Proc.
If you're late, I'll be upset. You can bet your life upon it."

He never paused for her reply.
My grandma fussed around and I
Asked grandpa, "Is he the wild horse man?" "That's him," my grandpa said.
As we ricocheted and bounced our way
In a tobacco-stained green Chevrolet
My grandpa told "Proc stories" and chewed and spit and sped.

From all the tales Grandpa told me
I felt like an authority
On this ranahan, Joe Proctor, who came north with Texas cattle.
His wife had been the JO cook.
But Proc had sparked and won and took
Her for his bride. They fought and won the homestead battle.

I couldn't wait to meet Mr. Proc,
Whose peers all praised his ways with stock.
But when his calloused hand gripped mine, surprise hit me in waves.
Those old cowboys who cut no slack
Deemed it unimportant Proc was black,
And wasn't worth a mention that Joe Proctor's folks were slaves.