‘ I’ve bin a lot of places,” this old cowboy said to me,
I’ve traveled this world over and even went to sea”
I studied this old cowpoke, with his dirty dungarees,
With old felt hat and worn-down boots, he was a sight to see.
Perhaps he read doubt in my eyes; he began to tell his story,
Of riding range in Texas, when the west was in its glory,
Of cattle drives and stampedes, but said I shouldn’t worry,
Most of his falls and broken bones were just a little gory.
He even was the cook, one time, on a chuck wagon, he said,
That was up in Utah, but the work “’bout nearly killed him dead”,
The Mormons preached of brimstone, so off again, he fled;
Off to Arizona, where he rode the range instead.
Then he heard of California, a land of milk and honey,
A paradise where all the days were warm and bright and sunny;
So, he hitched up with a wagon train and worked to make some money,
But the work was “hard as hell” he said it wasn’t funny.
He panned for gold and “’bout near starved” the pickins’ was so slim,
He said a cowboy had no chance and where could he begin?
So he hopped a freighter heading south, the work made him fit and trim,
But lost it all at gambling, –“’a course gamblin’ is a sin”
“Where are you heading now, sir?” I finally thought to ask,
He eyed me with distrust, then, and took a swallow from his flask.
“I’m riding shotgun on the stage,” and his face became a mask,
He glared at me with anger, as if to take my words to task.
And so. I climbed back in the stage and settled in my seat,
The other passengers were sisters and it was a pleasant treat
To inhale soft perfume and powder and a scent of something sweet,
They fluttered fans and whispered of the simply awful heat.
All the while I’m thinking of the words the cowboy said,
he’d been a lot of places and here was I, instead,
On my virgin voyage with two sisters who were quite well bred,
Wondering what the future held and where this journey led,
In my satchel I found a notebook and a pencil I could use,
And wrote the words he told me—it made me pause and muse.
I’d like t see a lot of places—what did I have to lose?
I sent a letter to my pa to let him know the news.
So now I’m old and wrinkled, my blue jeans torn and stained,
I never saw that cowboy again, though I searched for him in vain,
“I’ve been a lot of places” I tell people now and then,
And now I’m in a nursing home, without family, without friends.
I know no one believes me, I can’t walk without a cane,
But I wasn’t like this when my traveling started way back when,
“I’ve been a lot of places, but now my journey’s end.
Now my story has been told and I can say “Amen!”
Sandra Lee Smith