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Anticipating the Cowboy Song Assembly: Poetical Propaganda by Ralph Lelii

The first, and most likely the last, Cowboy Song Assembly will be coming to your very own Walton Auditorium later this year. Cowboy hats will be de rigueur. Date will be announced in good time.

Cowboys do not twitter or text,
and techno leaves them mostly perplexed.
They sit tall in the saddle,
no 'lectronic prattle,
at home in their natural context.
-----
 
Cowboy Love Song Assembly coming this winter. Those who lie abed during this event, will count their manhood and womanhood cheaply that they were not present for this once in a lifetime (hopefully) occurrence.
 
Cowboys never order pasta;
They don't affiliate with Rasta.
But friend, you can trust,
In good times or bust,
they can't ever be called imposta's.
-----

There will be a raffle at the Cowboy Love song Assembly this winter. If you are sitting in the lucky seat, you might win a blender, a rechargeable leaf blower or a set of NFL drink coasters.
 
A cowboy brought up in Duluth,
considered it essentially uncouth
to eat, when his horse,
was still hungry, and of course,
this remains his one gospel truth.
 
Several years ago, I heard of a small child in downtown Palermo, Sicily, who dreamt of someday coming to the United States to see cowboys. "Papa,” she asked, "I know what the mafiosi are, but when will I get to see the American cowboys?" Her father, a poor but industrious farmer, wept that he could not show his daughter the cowboys for he knew that he would never have the funds to travel from Sicily to America. Wanting not to disappoint his daughter, he whispered to her, "Someday, yes, I will show you the cowboys, and they are indeed different from the Mafiosi."
 
It was hearing about this story that prompted me to bring to realization the Cowboy Song Assembly in our very own Walton Auditorium.
-----
 
Cowboys eat their beans in a pan:
Nouvelle Cuisine they don't understand.
Some starch and some lard,
a few meaty shards,
saturated with pepper, Cayenne.
 
Cowboys don't export sub-prime loans;
derivatives they do not condone.
Hedge funds they eschew,
and all wealth that accrues
from leveraging stock they don't own.
 
Cowboys reek of testosterone,
that magical, aggressive hormone,
and like the cattle they steer
they live life austere
so they've no need to ever atone.
 
Cowboys mostly forsake wedded bliss,
but about this they don't feel remiss.
"By temper consigned
to lives less defined,
we're really just lonesome solipsists."
 
A cowboy don't care about frills;
he prefers his bronc' bustin' thrills.
Of cufflinks and such,
he won't fret too much
while workin' on his lassoin' skills.
----- 
 
Friends may not know that Fran Bradley spent a good deal of his youth on the plains of North Dakota, first as a cowpoke and later as a Bronco Bustin showman in a travelling rodeo show.
 
It was these experiences that nurtured in him his lifelong devotion to both cowboy love songs and ground hogs. At home, after the rigors of teaching, Fran often relaxes by singing a few of the old cowboy tunes, and setting out scraps of food for the many adorable groundhogs which find a hospitable residence there.
 
Cowpokes never dress in tuxedos;
suits violate the cowboy credo:
"Boots, belt and hat,
are surely all that
we need for our macho libidos."
 
Cowboys eat baked beans in the pan,
won't speak of things he don't understand:
"Why am I here?
Does the universe cohere?
It's enough to just know I'm a man."
 
A man recently stopped me on the street asked if there was any thought being given to a Cowboy Love Song Assembly. I replied, "Sir, can you tell me why you ask?" He answered, "When I was a child, I had hoped always to ‘sing like the cowboys’. Alas, my parents had other plans," he opined, "and so I ended up a podiatrist. In my heart, though," he continued, "when I am working on a patient's feet, shaving down a bunion,  I sometimes see them in my mind's eye fitting snugly into a pair of cowboy boots, and it is then that my heart fills to brimming with cowboy love songs." I was happy to tell him that indeed there will be a Cowboy Love Song Assembly, proof again, I added, that dreams do sometimes come true.
 
Friends, cowboys are loyal indeed;
it's sort of their unwritten creed.
They follow the stars,
ride horses, not cars,
and can start and stop a stampede.
 
Cowboy Song Assembly coming soon.
----- 
 
Cowboys don't change their undies each night,
just occasionally, when it feels right.
They brush when they can,
forego pension plans,
behave always in manners forthright.
 
Cowboys don't often wear much cologne:
in fact, there is little they own.
A saddle, a horse,
a tall hat, of course,
is all that they really condone.
 
Cowboys don't fend well with romance:
they pursue with a well tendered glance.
No oysters and pearls,
just gun toting girls,
and sometimes a friendly square dance.
 
Cowboys like their beans in a pan:
haricot verts they don't understand.
Some starch and some grease,
a daily release,
seems their part in God's master plan.
 
Cowboys live lives of wistful remorse
for a world drifted far from the source
of things simple and pure
now that we've grown inured
to the truth of a man on his horse.
 
A Cowboy relies on his hat,
so others might know where he's at.
With shooting and such
it seems a bit much
that he could be killed where he's sat.
-----
 
Yesterday, as I was shopping for my weekly provisions, a small boy approached me. He was a lad of about five, a beautiful boy with fluffy brown hair and a million dollar smile. Perched atop his angelic head was a genuine cowboy issue hat, a real ten gallon beauty. As I bent down to compliment him on his most excellent chapeau, he looked up at me and wistfully asked, "Mister, do you know where I might see a cowboy song assembly, huh mister, do you?" Friends, I felt as though I had been belted with Thor's own hammer. "Yes" I cried, "yes my son, you can see a cowboy song assembly at Walton Auditorium on December 7th. That's a fact."
-----
 
A gaucho from South Argentina
had love for his fair ballerina.
Her battement tendu,
and the ballotté fondue,
in his mind made her Athena.
-----
 
Friends,
 
Once when I was a child, my dad took me to a rodeo. As I watched the cowboys on their mighty steeds, my young heart froze at the splendor of their mighty deeds. I vowed to myself on that day¬¬s — seven years young I was — that someday, God willing, I would participate in a cowboy assembly. No, there would be no horses, but the mythical possibilities embedded in that rodeo would be somehow present in the assembly. Well folks, I stand here today on the threshold of that realization. The Cowboy Song Assembly appears on stage December 7.  This will be a show like none other — mostly because we won't be permitted to have another — and mark my words, those who lie abed whilst this show plays will curse their fates and howl to the moon in pitiful lamentation.
 
Cowboy Song Assembly December 7
-----
 
A cowboy never spits on the floor:
a spittoon's their preferred decor.
A fresh plug in the jaw,
enlarges the maw,
thus sustaining that manly rapport.
 
Cowboy Song Assembly December 7
-----
 
Cowboys are often quite vexed
by people who prefer to text.
For them, a lone word
is far more preferred
than some virtual artifact.
 
Cowboy Song Assembly December 7
-----
 
A cowboy with gastric distress,
had a gal he wanted to impress.
They sat near the loo
so if trouble brewed
he could leave before it coalesced.
-----
 
Friends may not know this, but Fran Bradley is not well regarded in the rodent community. He has had several angry confrontations with groundhogs over the years, and what was once only mutual suspicion has, unfortunately, grown into a genuine antipathy. You may recall that back in Uruguay, Fran made his reputation as a rodent extinction specialist when he was riding herd in the early sixties. In those days, he was known simply as the marmota vaquero, the groundhog cowboy.
 
Cowboy Song Assembly December 7
-----
 
Cowboys aren't really into rap;
it just doesn't appear on their map.
They need things home-y,
where the buffalo roam-y,
and FiftyCent just can't fill that gap.
 
Cowboys always bathe once a week
standing upright in a shallow creek.
While the steers are gathering
the cowpokes start lathering
before somebody else takes a peek.
 
Cowboy Song Assembly December 7
-----
 
A young cowboy from Kalamazoo,
with his horse danced a pas-de-deux.
Though ballet's not macho,
this gentle muchacho
compensates with his brawny tattoos.
 
A cowboy always says "Yes Ma'am."
To them, "Yo Babe" is sort of a sham.
They tip their hats,
never try to act "phat",
always first to say, "How sorry they am."
-----
 
Cowboys never eat sushi or microgreens.
 
Cowboys don't often dine on tofu,
preferring edibles they can chew:
Meat on the bone,
fried okra home grown,
washed down with some unfiltered brew.
 
Cowboy Song Assembly December 7
-----
 
A cowboy always polishes his boots, sharpens his knife, oils his rifle and tends his horse.
 
When Bradley rode herd in Uruguay,
the groundhogs were heard to wonder why
this gringo came down
intending to drown
them all to the sweet bye and bye.
-----
 
Friends may not know this, but Fran Bradley has a long history of antagonistic relationships with rodents, particularly furry little groundhogs. Astute observers will notice that the hat he wears during the Cowboy Song Assembly is woven from the soft belly hair of rodents he bagged while riding shotgun in Uruguay during the early sixties.
 
Cowboy Song Assembly December 7
----- 
 
A cowboy with sharp flatulence
was harassed and grew petulant:
"If cut, don't I bleed?
My heart's full of need.
It's not my fault all those beans ferment."
 
Cowboy Love song Assembly, December 7
-----
 
The other night, I had the occasion to be sitting in Slack's hoagie shack. My beloved bride was attending a conference out of state, and I thought I would take the opportunity to enjoy one of this establishment's famous hoagies, more specifically, "The Sicilian."  This splendid creation, boasting as it does copious layers of fresh mozzarella, prosciutto, capacole, provolone and other condiments dear to the Mediterranean soul, never fails to transport me to the idyllic climes of my forebears.  As I was happily anticipating my first bite, a tall and lanky stranger rudely pulled up a chair, took the cigar out of his mouth, exhaled the smoke into my incredulous face and asked, "I reckon you're one of the fellas setting up the Cowboy Love Song Assembly over at the George School?"  Startled, I lovingly placed my hoagie back on its plate and without batting an eye, looked this fella right in the face and said, "I reckon that's about right." His face had a raw and textured hue, suggesting to my naked eye that he might well have shaved that morning with a stainless steel cheese grater. His nose was long and thin, and the way that he tilted his head made it appear that one nostril was considerably larger than the other, an image, I must confess, that momentarily startled me.  "Well" he continued, "I don't think them GS folks much likes cowboys."  With those ominous words, he fell back into his seat, his eyes resembling nothing so much as angry blood worms emerging from small globules of smoked mozzarella. "Take it back" I cried, "Take it back." Now I am a peaceful man, a humble Quaker teacher earning his modest living in the vineyard of God's own children, but I was riled. "Take it back!" I screamed, "take it back or I'll hold you down on the floor and thread red string licorice (the good kind not the imitation kind that calls itself watermelon or something equally fatuous) up that large nostril and I'll pull it down the back of your throat and I'll lasso it around your uvula and pull on it until it flaps like a drunken Death's Head Moth." I apologize to the reader for losing my temper, but cowboys are special, and I think that his disrespect was a slap in their collective cowpoke faces. Startled by my vehemence, he sat up straight, cocked his ten gallon hat low over one of those bestial eyes and said, "OK." With that, he rose, walked to the door, and disappeared into the black light of an eastern October sky.
-----
 
A cowboy from South Sicily
drove cattle in North Italy.
Instead of baked beans,
he ate pasta with greens,
washed down with a fine Chianti.
 
Cowpokes never sleep in the nude
but not because they are somehow prudes.
Rather, it seems,
that even in dreams
they're models of cowboy rectitude.
 
Many a cowboy, back in the day, would mark his gun belts with notches each symbolizing a man he had helped to shuffle off this mortal coil.  Interested campus observers might notice Fran Bradley's belt, and the eleven notches thereby inscribed. In the case of the riegue vaquero, the notches represent groundhogs, each of whom, by Fran's brotherly hand, were at once from life, liberty and family dispatched, water cannon being the instrument of their demise.
 
Cowboy Love Song Assembly December 7
-----
 
Cowboys will never drink lattes,
watch ballet or practice karate.
Spam in a pan,
beats an elegant flan,
and George Jones tops Pavarotti
 
Cowboy Song Assembly December 7 featuring, among others, the vocal stylings of Fran Bradley, aka the riegue vaquero.
-----
 
Cowboys sing, "Get along little dog-gies",
accompanied by the lilt of the breeze.
But when Bradley rode,
he sang a different ode,
"Get gone, you vile ground hog-gies."
 
Cowboy Love Song Assembly December 7. Already, several standing room tickets have appeared on eBay.
-----
 
Cowboys don't visit the dentist,
they've got no use for the hygienist.
Beef jerky, you see,
cleans their teeth, keeps 'em free
of those wretched gingival cysts.
 
Cowboy Love Song Assembly December 7
-----
 
Cowboys don't ever get pedicures,
hair weaves, Botox or their lives insured.
They don't really floss,
except with their hoss,
and never purchase haute couture.
-----
 
Friends may not know this, and he is much too modest to tell you himself, but Fran Bradley once rode lead horse on a cattle team during his years in Uruguay. It was during this time that Fran developed his antipathy toward groundhogs, since their incessant boring ruined much of the arable grass for the cattle. Because of his pacifist leanings, Fran eschewed rifles, preferring instead to squirt the detested rodents with a fire hose. So proficient was he at discouraging groundhogs, that at night when he settled around the fire with the other cowpokes, they would affectionately call him riegue a vaquero, the water cowboy.
 
Cowboys never take laxatives,
antacids, anything that gives
surcease from the stress;
instead, a caress
of their horse is restorative.
 
Cowboys don't often get depressed
'cause they aren't obsessed with success:
Some bacon in a pan,
a small part in the plan—
that's enough to sustain their zest.
-----
 
I spoke with an old friend recently, a woman with whom I share many memories. She told me that she had been depressed for many years, finding little joy or satisfaction in her life. I asked her if she had ever considered dating a cowboy, and she said that while she had dreamt of it often, she had heretofore lacked the courage to act on her desire. I told her that life is short, that we must grab for our dreams, no matter how elusive or daunting. Go, I said, find a cowboy and woo him with all of your heart, all of your art. Yes, she said, this thing I will do.
-----
 
Cowboys don't send out for Gen'ral Cho's,
shrimp lo-mein, ribs, any of those:
They eat what is served,
fresh or preserved,
then fall back in tranquil repose.
 
A cowboy once said to his spouse,
"If you'd like I'll iron your blouse."
The cattlemen cried "Wow,
you've run afoul
of the ethos we cowpokes espouse."
 
Cowboy Song Assembly December 7.  Same date, a different kind of infamy.