March 9, 2021

Kidnapped by Cowboy Poets


Home to the leafy bowery of Doodlebug Island and none too soon!

I am, in fact, only just returned from the most frightening and trying experience of my life, and I am counting myself lucky to have escaped when I did. You see, a couple of days ago I was kidnapped at gun point by a group of cowboy poets from Prescott who were sore at me for the things I’ve printed in my newspaper about their poetry. What I’d said was the truth, largely, but whether or not it was recognized as that commodity by these heathen rhymers wouldn’t stand scrutiny.

“We don’t think you’ve given our work the consideration it deserves, so we’re gonna take you to a quiet place and give you the opportunity to change your mind,” said one of my captors.

With that they blindfolded me and drove me to a ranch outside Prescott where they subjected me to endless recitations of their collected cattle-wrangling sentiments expressed in the form of rhymed poetry. Believe me, the whole thing took the fear right out of dying!

Fortunately, an opportunity to escape presented itself when, in the late hours, the recitation of a particularly dull, sing-songy poem written by a particularly dull member of the group put everyone but me to sleep. I mean, there could have been a stampede through the group of cowboys guarding me and not awakened one of them. This is a sample of the kind of mind-numbing verbiage we heard:

“In the dark and inky blackness of the night
I awake in terror at the memory of that sight
Of stampeding cattle struggling in their might
To escape their bleak and terrible plight.”

Well, I was lost in the woods for three hours, stumbled over rocks and downed branches, was bitten by a scorpion, and nearly froze to death–but it was a blessing by comparison. The recitations had been akin to Chinese water torture, which inflicts pain one drop at a time.

Except the poetry, with all its non-sequiturs and extra syllables, kept rattling through the synopses of my brain, developing into a cacophonous reverberation that nearly drove me mad. Even as I fled, I could still hear some of those accursed lines:

“The love of my life was a feckless brown cow,
That wanders the lanes of my memory e’en now.”

Sometime during my ordeal, I swore that never again would I criticize cowboy poetry, even though it richly deserved to be exposed for what it is. The personal sacrifice was too great!

The fact that this type of poetry is like a peg-legged man in a grape smashing contest, that it is long on slang and made-up words, that it is devoid of proper structure, spelling, punctuation, logic, and grace, that it stumbles over sentiment and desecrates common sense, would not tempt me to write of it again.

Of course, now that I’m back to the protective walls of my own home, I remember the duty I have to protect my fellow man from the ravages of uncivilized literature, so I intend to forget my vow and can’t wait to renew the attack. A “feckless brown cow” indeed! Anyone who can write about one of that or any other color deserves what he gets!

Admittedly, cowboy poetry can be viewed as an aphrodisiac for the long, weary, monotonous, and largely uneventful hours spent in a saddle on some spavined horse plodding the dusty miles from one pasture to another. Beginning in dullness, it flowers to the infinite music of the inane. Perhaps the best thing that can be said for it is that the horse doesn’t seem to mind.

If I disappear again in the next few days, don’t panic and look for ransom notes. Just know that I have been once more kidnapped by one of the groups I have offended-cowboys, or members of church groups, or psychologists, or ADOT, or college administrators’ and that I shall escape in good time.

Why, the last time I was captured, it was at the hands of a cathedral choir who expired together after the fourteenth rendition of Handel’s redundancy known as “The Messiah.” It took me three weeks to wash the word “hallelujah” from my mind.

All of this asks a single question: Why is it that whereas we suffer “the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,” we seem to enjoy inflicting further suffering on ourselves?

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