The Dying Moon Café
Once upon a time a bunch of old cowboys would have their say
At a greasy spoon outside Lubbock called the Dying Moon Café.
Calloused, gallused, withered, water eyed in ass gone jeans,
Each told a story of rodeo glory, big bucks, and busted dreams.
No time hangs on the wall ‘cause it don’t matter none no way
And nobody gives a damn if you come or if you stay.
Old hands fartin’ and a blowin’ that’s what the Moon’s all about
Talking yesterday – not tomorrow – such talk will get you kicked out.
Caffeine and nicotine get hearts and minds going soon,
Another big time morning dawns on the Dying Moon.
Greasy smoke chokes the air as caved-in mouths flap
And Big Sal, the Rodeo Gal, gets ready for a lot of crap.
“It’s all a pissin’ in the wind,” wheezes clanky Dan,
“By a gaggle of old hands thinking they still can.”
He hops upon the bench, his roll-ya-own burned to his lips,
Empty butted jeans sagging from his wasted hips.
So it starts what them old cowboys come for:
Yesterday’s words as old Dan hocks and spits on the floor
“A Cowboy’s Last Sonnet by Dan MacLemore:
I am falling apart.
I creak and crank and can’t hardly see.
I cough like an old car that won’t start,
I count myself lucky to see a new day.
I wonder which will be my last
As I bitch and groan and try to stay
In a world that for me has passed
But when I think of you and find you
My heart beats steady, my blood warms,
For you are the only thing in this place
That eases my pain and fills my arms.
So death means only one thing to me:
The pain ends, my soul flies to thee.”
Now, that gets it quieter than moon glow
Shadows on a West Texas winter night
When nothing moves and the fat-faced
Moon shines frozen white.
Old cowboys know when the whistle blows or they can’t make eight,
When time runs down and when it’s their last time out the gate.
Quick as it came like a thought the silence is gone…
One breath when an old cowboy stands bare and alone.
So up hops bent Billy Joe, rodeo twisted body shrunk, shrank, and frail,
And lets out a squealing howl of a one time West Texas wail:
“There ain’t but one way to be…free
(Tell it, cowboy!)
Go where I want, do what I want, see what I want
(Tell it, lee roy!)
No wife, no kids, no job, nothing’ to hold me…
(atta boy, roy!)
Yep, free to me is a ropin’, rompin’, stompin’
Frontier Days Rodeo!
A manure stinkin’, beer drinkin’, gal chasin’,
A leg breakin’, ass kickin’, ball bustin’,
Now the boot stomping, backslapping, hand shaking thunder
And the vows that nothing will ever put them asunder;
They’ll be pards as long as they live and they swear to be true
To their code of rodeo, the past, and the red, white and blue.
The hands at the Dying Moon know it’s time to go,
The cold hand of a silent something has told them so.
But just like in the good old days they stick to their code
Of hats off to the ladies and one for the road.
Big Sal, the rodeo gal, slops up the cups, delivers her own thing
As cowboys mellow and settle to hear her sweet voice sing:
“So, cowboy, sing me a sad song, tell me what ain’t true.
Tell me about love and how much I mean to you.
Tell me I’m the lady who brought you down,
The gal who run you out of town.
Come sit down beside me, tell me your sad story
Of happy trails, good times, and rides into glory.”
So, once upon a time a wild bunch did have their last say
At a greasy spoon outside Lubbock called the
The Dying Moon Café:
When the sunrise comes at noon
And the twilight of autumn
Touches April seed
When a tear hangs like tinsel
Over the snow
While eagles drum the laurelled
And on the tide the crucifix wine
And the poppy is white-purple-
While the nightingale sings
To the lion…
The cowboy endures.
Now it is quieter than moon glow
Shadows on a West Texas winter night
And nothing moves and the fat-faced moon
Shines frozen white.
Dedicated to Uncle Buck, Big Sal the Rodeo Gal, Ducky Harris, and all
the old time cowboys who bootscooted across the sawdust of The Dying Moon.
Author: Rocky Rutherford
Originally published- December 2011
The Dead Mule School of Southern Literature