05-16-05: I didn't post this poem when I originally put up my photos from the Southwest road trip, because I love it too much and didn't want to risk it being stolen (I flatter myself too much?)  But it's safe now, as it's published.  This poem won an Honorable Mention award at the Perry County Council of the Arts Sophie's Reaction Writer's Group Awards.  Another one of my poems - another inspired by life on the road - won an award, as well.  I received these awards April 27, 2005 on the 5th anniversary of my stage debut.

 

ďModern Cowboy SongĒ

 

Cowboys are driving pickup trucks now.

Open range is a rare stretch of road in Colorado

       marked with a square yellow sign.

Round up comes in a bottle;

       you spray it on weeds to make them die.

Barbed wire has gone to the prisons,

       holding millions of men whoíve forgotten to play the harmonica.

The Sheriff has blue lights now,

       and you donít want him behind you.

The Indians got some land back,

       pulling quarters from slot machines,

       still waiting to hear us say weíre sorry.

And the cowboys pass by in their pickup trucks

       listening to Johnny Cash,

       and Johnny Cash has passed away.

 

But itís still America,

       with long desert roads and the desire to drive fast.

But itís still America,

       with bacon and eggs for breakfast and any other time of the day we damn well please.

 

The Four Corners is a National Monument

       with a fence and a gate, and the sign says it closes at five.

Tumbleweed tumbles across the interstate,

       tumbling with litter and cigarette butts,

       bouncing against the guardrail;

       it must have missed its exit.

The guitar pickers sit on the sidewalks in Nashville

       pulling quarters from tourists,

       canít even sell themselves to Satan at the crossroads

       like Robert Johnson did.

The Pueblo ruins must look magic in the sunset

       but thereís a gate and a sign saying the National Park closes at five.

World war vets in Buicks hold up the pickup trucks on the interstate,

       thinking itís been a long while since Robert Johnson passed away.

 

But itís still America,

       with plenty of milk and steak from the cows on the ranches.

But itís still America,

       where Hollywood helps remember the cowboys on horses.

But itís still America,

       with long desert roads and the desire to drive fast.

 

Youíve got to get there early, because itís too late.

Besides the Supercenters and the casinos,

       Americaís frontier closes at five.

 

But itís still America, 

       and thereís still gold in them thar hills.

 

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