hpst at EARTHLINK.NET
Thu Dec 29 20:24:51 UTC 2005
I hate to even say this but when you are dealing with linguistic problems
you have to first deal with the social formations in which they come into
I think I uploaded this once before, but if I did not here are the words
for Curly Fletcher's magnum opus, "The Open Book." which was written by a
certified cowboy who knew what the hell he was writing about.
In other words there ain't no such things as cowboys in the abstract or at
least there weren't when Curly wrote his poem.
I have no idea about what common usage is today, but I beg you not to ever
to use a generic term such as cowboy in order to suggest that the generic
term has any relationship to the reality of regional usage.
If anyone wants to have me explain to them what some of the more obscure
references such as "roll cigarettes with one hand.", "gunsel" and "He
sponsors a double-rigged saddle" mean I will be happy to explain them to
In the mean time please do not assume just because such words as "cowboy"
exist in American do not assume that such things as "cowboys" exist and
never attempt to universalize them and suggest that they have any relation
I have no idea what a "ranch kid" might be any more than I know about its
geographical distribution might be in terms of usage.
I do know from having lived on a ranch for a couple of years I will freely
admit that as a cowboy I am a gunsel in other words an incompetent.
Enough said so now I ask you all to read Curly Fletcher's poem and to cease
using the word "cowboy" as a generic word.
The Open Book
You've been tamped full of shit about cowboys;
They are known as a romantic band--
Bold knights of the saddle, who round up wild cattle,
And roll cigarettes with one hand.
Now according to movie and story,
He's a sheik in a ten gallon hat.
All he knows of romance is the crotch of his pants,
What the hell do you think about that?
So it's high time somebody debunked him;
He's so plumb full of crap, and, besides,
A bullshittin' bastard who's always half-plastered
Is no hero just 'cause he rides.
Now I've harvested wool in Wyoming
And rawhide in New Mexico.
I've worn a bandana in Sheepshit, Montana,
And raped squaws over in Idaho.
So me, I'm plumb soured on cowpunchers;
In fact, I ride sour long ago.
The clap ridden slats in their ten gallon hats
Ain't worth a damn that I know.
But each range breeds its own brand of bastard
And boozefighter, bugger or bum;
Every half-assed vaquero who wears a sombrero
Is marked by the range he is from.
Some come from the Canadian Rockies,
Some drift from the southwestern plains.
It surely beats hell, but it's easy to tell
Where each learned to tighten his reins.
Take for instance the Panhandle hairpin,
Widely known by the moniker "Tex";
He's a son-of-a-bitch with a bad trigger itch
And a big Bowie knife complex.
Why at heart he's an unpaid policeman,
And he'll brag of tough spots he's been in.
But his powder is damp, and his gun hand will cramp
When he draws near a cotton gin.
Take the clip-cock from California,
He's been christened "The Native Son."
A half-baked vaquero who has no dinero,
But no worse than the general run.
He's a cross between a greaser and gringo,
Produced by the whore from the mine,
A renegade breed that's gone plumb to seed,
Since the gold rush of forty-nine.
There's boosters from Oklahoma,
And bastards from Arkansas,
But they're just cotton pickers and tinhorn dice lickers
With not too much in their craw.
There's the pistol prick out in Nebraska,
He's known as the corn sucker class.
>From the cootie that crawls on his crab ridden balls
To the piles that blister his ass.
Count the cocksman from Colorado,
Where Pike's Peak ponders and broods.
A miner and mucker, the phony cock-sucker,
And his racket is wranglin' dudes.
He sponsors a double-rigged saddle;
His gifts are the gifts of the gab;
With a rope made of grass and teeth in his ass,
The best he can get is the tab.
Take the "never sweat" from Nevada,
He's known as the "Son of the Sage."
A tinhorn card hustler and discard cunt rustler,
A throw back to some ancient age.
He sponsors a center-fire saddle,
And his brains have a chronic limp.
Just a contrary fart and a cow thief at heart,
And actually just a lunch bucket pimp.
Now we can't overlook Arizona;
He's a son of the old Sacatone.
An ornery critter and a famous bullshitter,
About the sorriest seed ever sown.
He's bothered by Mexican heartburn
With protruding piles and gut;
A red hot tamale is right down his alley,
'Tis a diet his ass hole can't cut.
There's that whistle-prick out there in Utah;
He was sired by old Brigham Young,
The sap sucking swizzler and cunt cheating chiseler,
Of the barrel he's only the bung.
Often called the crying Jack Mormon,
His penchant is guzzling booze.
He's got a round ass and can't ride nor lass',
And he'd give a sad jackass the blues.
There's a flute blower out in Dakota,
Just a liar, and, what's more,
A psalm singing sooner, a guitar picking crooner
And as worthless as tits on a boar.
His tongue is diseased with diarrhea,
The half-breed gut eating tramp.
He knows more of plows than he savies of cows,
And was born with his ass in a cramp.
That greaser from down in Chihuahua,
He claims he's a cowpuncher, too.
He curses the gringo in that Mexican lingo,
But that's about all he can do.
He sponsors a rawhide riata,
And he straddles a silver trimmed rig;
Just a counterfeit chump, the result of a hump,
Twixt a Spaniard, a Yaqui, and a Jig.
There's a herd in the Hollywood movies;
You can find them at Sunset and Gower.
And brother to brother they bullshit each other,
And just bellyache by the hour.
'Course they're just a mixed bunch of bastards
Of that there is damn little doubt.
And each sorry hand wears the mark of the brand
Of the country that had him run out.
All in all, they're considered half-witted
And the curse of the wide open west.
Whether Canada twister or Oregon mister,
They're just sons of bitches at best.
No, there isn't much difference in cowboys,
Whether hemorrhoid, stool or hard turd;
Spring, summer, and fall, I've rode with them all
And maintain they're a plumb sorry herd.
Now I might be a gullible gunsel,
But at that, why, I ain't too damn dumb;
If a she-sheep don't cross with her herder or boss,
Where in hell are them cowpunchers from?
So now that I've opened the ledger
On cowpunchers as they be,
Some frijole chomper or half-assed bronc stomper
Will kick all the shit out of me.
Now, just so you won't die of wonder,
Why a "Native Son" is what I am,
And what I've tried hard to say in an indirect way
Is that cowpunchers ain't worth a damn.
As for those I've neglected to mention,
Why, it's not that I can't find the rhyme;
But between you and me, I've got work to do
And those bastards just ain't worth my time.
> [Original Message]
> From: Michael McKernan <mckernan at LOCALNET.COM>
> To: <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Date: 12/29/2005 1:50:29 PM
> Subject: Re: gay cowboys
> ---------------------- Information from the mail header
> Sender: American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster: Michael McKernan <mckernan at LOCALNET.COM>
> Subject: Re: gay cowboys
> >On Dec 23, 2005, at 11:19 AM, Alison Murie wrote, about cowboys and
> >> ~~~~~~~~
> >> I turned this over to Martin, knowing he would have something to
> >> say on the subject. His reply:
> >> Proulx called them "ranch kids."...
> >very informative response. thank you, Alison and Martin.
> In a recent radio interview, Proulx actually said: 'They're not cowboys,
> they're ranch kids,' which, in the context of this discussion, seems
> somewhat more 'informative' in the negation.
> Michael McKernan
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