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"Day in the Work Life": Cowboy Poet

Waddie Mitchell's been regaling audiences with his yarns for decades. In 1984, he organized the first-ever Cowboy Poetry Gathering in Elko, Nevada.

THAT 'NO QUIT' ATTITUDE

by Waddie Mitchell

While gathering cattle near the ruins
Of a long abandoned homestead,
In the shadows of the mountains,
Questions swarmed around my mind
Of the people who had claimed there,
Most forgotten now and long dead,
Still, I wondered what had prompted them
To leave their world behind

Searching for a life uncertain
In this vast and rugged region.
Up and leave their home and kin
For opportunity to find.
Taking little more to start with
Than an idea and a reason
And the dream of their succeeding
In a future yet defined.

Soon these queries led to more like
Why it is that some folks always
Need to push their borders out beyond
The furthest milestone
On some never ending quest to find
New ways and trails to blaze
And, in the process, stretch the realm
Of what is built and done and known.

From the little draw above me
In my pard rides with his findin's,
Throwing his bunch in with mine
Now shaded up and settled down.
I could see he'd gone through battle
For his pony's sportin' lather
But his smile claimed he'd made it in
With everything he'd found.

The sweat and dust and brush streaks
On that pair done heaps o' speaking
As he pulled up near, dismounted,
Loosened latigo a bit.
Said "we jumped 'em in the roughs
And would've lost 'em had we weakened
But, i swear, this here caballo
Ain't got one half ounce of quit."

And that 'no quit' phrase speaks volumes
On one's character and makin's
To the cowboy drawin' wages
Ridin' ranges of the west.
Those who have it, you'll find, usually
Conquer most their undertakin's
For the best in them is drawn out
When their spirits' put to test.

Then, I spot my cowdogs brushed up
Stayin' well hid from the cattle
Knowin', with a cue, they'd give all
To do anything need done.
And i thought then how the most of us
Will opt to shun that battle,
Never knowing fully what we could
Accomplish or become.

Still, I believe, like dogs and horses
We're all born with resolution
And, like muscles and good habits,
It needs use and exercise.
When left dormant it's in jeopardy
Of loss to evolution
For eventually it shrivels up
In atrophy and dies.

But when flexed it blossoms heroes
And a source of inspiration
For we recognize the virtues
In a 'no quit' attitude.
And it proves its' attributes
In competition and vocation
Which evokes appreciation
And a show of gratitude.

And since mankind started walking
It's been swifter, higher, stronger
As if pushed by some deep need
To keep their limits unconfined.
Almost thriving, always striving
For things bigger, better, longer
In some unrelenting pursuit
Of perfection redefined.

And in this world of soft complacence,
There's still a few among the masses
Who will readily give all
To see a job or dream fulfilled.
It's a trait that's void of prejudice
Towards races, sex or classes
Just demanding its' possessor
Be of valor and strong willed.

Then as we point our cattle homeward,
Lettin' dogs bring up the rear,
And we leave what's left of, once,
Somebody's hopes and dreams behind,
I'm convinced that 'no quit' attitude
Will always persevere
And that's the essence and the promise
And the crown of humankind.

WADDIE MITCHELL
C 2000 Waddie's Words Publishing Company

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