Poem by J. Laird Warner
Th’ wind’s a whistlin’, whistlin’ ‘cross th’ hills
While rump to breeze he’s standin’ cramped ‘an cold,
A shiftin’ of his feet an’ shiverin’ while
Th’ cold dawn’s breakin’ – Hawse, you’re growin’ old
All day he paws the snow to find the grass
Thin sown by wind and chance, more thin to graze,
And of the lifts his head as if he hears
The jingle of the caveyh through the haze.
But roundup time is over, in th’ fields
Th’ doggies are munchin’ lucerne hay,
Th’ fat ones are a millin’ in th’ pens
— a thousand miles away.
Hard times are come an’ grass – fat on th’ hoof
Are bringin’ less than canners aught to bring,
So out among th’ badland’s thousand hills
Old Hawse is rustlin’, rustlin’ through ‘till spring.
Forgot must be th’ times he’s stretched a rope,
Three dallies, still th’ rawhide smoked th’ horn;
A wild slick snared, a long-horn on th’ prod,
He held ‘em — better cow-hawse never born.
Once down th’ Powder River
in th’ night,
A wild stampede, a dog-hole, down he fell –
A touch on the bit, a word and there he lay,
His master to th’ leeward lived to tell.
Forgot? Almost, but yet not quite forgot,
Th’ snows are meltin’, breath of spring is here.
Th’ restless ridin’ fever wakes th’ veins
And mem’ries quicken, quickens also fear.
Th’ poison weed is sproutin’, green grass shows
But fresh feed weakens, toughened tendons fail,
A slip in frost-slush, back down-hill they lie
And bleached bones later mutely tell th’ tale.
For days a jaded rider seeks old haunts,
At last a plaintive nicker greets his ears,
Close up he rides, gets down, old Hawse stands still
And wonders at caresses, sobs and tears.
A weary trail but ranch-smoke looms at last,
A manger full of hay, a bed of moss
Are yours while there’s a sou to spend or lend
For old time’s sake – Old Haws, Old Hawse, Old Hawse.