Rodeo
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Rodeo

Jack rode the rodeo when he was young
and kept the company of rough men.
He loved the danger of the arena,
the long and dusty days of sun.

We was just up from a bum, he said,
traveling around the West
without a cent except what prize we won.
You could do that then,
Now, he laughs, it takes big bucks
to get up entry fees and such.

Jack rode the rodeo until he couldn't
take the pain no more.
He pokes his fingers through his clothes
and places on his arms and legs and chest
when he was thrown and gored
and where the bone became exposed,
places that are still and sore.

Then Leila, she settled me,
he said.
She wanted me to stay in town with her
and get a house and kids
and what the hell else.
The rodeo got less and less.

His hands are hard and brown,
broken more than once,
so rough they catch on silk;
still strong enough to master a wild horse
or turn a bull calf's course
but oddly shy and innocent
resting next to napkin and dinner fork.
Dale Harris