Wyoming deputy rides into sunset
after dress code bans cowboy hats
“For chrissake Gene, it’s just a goddamn hat
we’re talkin’ about here,” he crooned and leaned
back in his chair and sorta casually
picked his nose with his left thumb as if –
Just the kind of thinkin’, talkin’ and doin’
that’s brought this world so irretrievably
into the latrine it’s in. Hell, I watched Honor
back his truck up to the side ‘a the barn
years ago and load it full of the last
bit a’ hope remainin’ then drive away
with Loyalty and Good Sense sittin’ shotgun.
First off, it ain’t just the hat they want gone,
It’s the boots. A man’s good God gracious boots!
Soles, holes and all the sweet manure they hold!
Shit, I’d take three retirements without
a dime of severance before I’d pull off
my stomps and push my flat dogs into some
city-sized wing-tipped military loafer.
I don’t care if the toes are plated with
gilded titanium from Fort damn Knox.
As for “just a hat” well, there you go now.
Think anyone ever bothered to tell
ol’ Bonaparte that it was just a sword?
to tell Patton it was just a pistol
or Churchill that it was just a cigar
or Lincoln that it was just a damn beard?
I ain’t sittin’ in that sphere I know, but
I do understand the meaning of a thing.
And I know what aging sounds and feels like
after sixty some odd years of coffee black.
Hell, I pretty much invented so-called o
community policing ‘round here long
ago. It’s called knowin’ who belongs here
and who don’t, who’s related to who and
who’s just hangin’ round rustlin’ trouble.
And the hat? Bigger and more respected
than a badge I can tell you that for sure.
A fella’ comes all the way to Cody
to mess with the law, he expects to get
arrested by a man in a cowboy
hat and fear havin’ a boot up his ass.
He deserves as much and he welcomes it.
Still, a relic’s a relic and my hat
and boots and broken body all qualify.
Old men got gray beards n’ wrinkled faces,
eyes purging thick amber and plum-tree gum,
and usually a plentiful lack of wit,
together with most weak hams and knuckles.
I own the weak hams, eye gum and wrinkles,
and I mean to step aside just before
my whittled wits and knuckles leave me first.
I know which way the sun goes down and know
just how to get there. Hand me my banned hat.
You don’t have to ask me what’s my hurry.
Read more of Gary Bouchard’s poetry.
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Photo by Aitor Escauriaza/Flickr