Monday, December 12, 2011

Monday's Poetry: "That Spotted Sow"

by Pa Rock
Poetry Appreciator

It's been awhile since this space was used to highlight any cowboy poetry, a favorite genre of mine.  I came across "That Spotted Sow" by Carlos Ashley recently and instantly knew that it was something that I would like to share.  As someone who once ran a small farm (petting zoo, actually), I occasionally came into contact with the odd animal that felt he controlled me, and not the other way around.  (A particularly bossy goose comes to mind!)  The old sow in the poem that follows has a big streak of independence and will not be tamed.  She is the type of character who is easy to "root" for!

That Spotted Sow
or The Ballad of Cedar Mountain

by Carlos Ashley
Did you ever hear the story
   Of that famous hog of mine?
She’s a razorback and spotted
   Black and white from hoof to spine;

With a snout made outa granite,
   She can root just like a plow;
And the fence ain’t been invented
   That can turn that spotted sow.

Born and bred on Cedar Mountain
   She is wilder than a deer;
And she’s known by reputation
   To the ranch hands far and near.

Though a sow of mine had raised ‘er,
   On that mountain she was free;
And I always kinda doubted
   That she really b’longed to me.

She didn’t claim no owner—
   Save the God who put ‘er there—
And for mortal man’s relations
   She just simply didn’t care.

She preferred the solemn silence
   Of her Cedar Mountain home,
And most of all she wanted us
   To let ‘er plum alone.

Ever Fall I’d try to mark ‘er
   But she’d get away agin;
And I reckon that my cussin,
   Though artistic, was a sin.

Well, I sold my brand in ’30—
   Moved out ever hog and cow;
Rounded-up…yea…all but one head,
   All but that blamed spotted sow.

So we organized against ‘er—
   Got the best of dogs and men;
But we never got good started
   Puttin that hog in a pen.

Now we really went a-huntin
   When we tried to catch Ole Spot;
We left the ranch at daylight
   And her trail was always hot.

She might be pickin acorns
   On the banks of Sandy Creek.
Or in somebody’s turnips
   Cultivatin, so to speak.

But let the foot of dog or man
   Disturb the morning dew.
And you might as well a phoned ‘er,
   Cause somehow she always knew.

She’d light out for Cedar Mountain
   Where the land and sky divide—
There ain’t no spot on earth nowhere
   A better place to hide.

We’d hear the pack a-bayin
   Up the mountain loud and clear.
But before we rode up to ‘em
   That ole sow would disappear

Or she’d rally ‘gainst a boulder,
   Bristlin like a porcupine,
Till a dog forgot his caution—
   Then she’d cut him into twine.

Killin dogs was just a pastime
   To that hog; I’m tellin you
With them long, curved, knife-like tushes
   She could slice a houn in two.

She could whip most any critter
   On four legs I ever saw,
And she had a perfect record
   'Cause she never fought a draw.

Now the more I tried to catch her,
   And the more I give it thought,
I begin to get the notion
   She’s opposed to bein’ caught.

I couldn’t help admire that sow,
   When all was done and said;
For, to tell the truth about ‘er,
   She was really thoroughbred.

She had character and courage
   And the heart to do the right;
And when it come to fightin
   Now she shore as hell could fight.

Well, the Fall froze into Winter,
   And the Winter thawed to Spring.
April watered hill and valley;
   Maytime painted ever’thing.

Late one evenin just at sundown
   I was ridin home right slow,
When I passed a lonesome waterhole
   And saw… was a show.

Ole Spot was trailin down the hill
   And right behind her trotted
Ten baby pigs not ten days old,
   And ever one was spotted.

I stopped and stared; she studied me;
   My eyes filled like a fountain;
And there I gave ole Spot a deed—
   A deed to Cedar Mountain.

Now I was taught that folks who try,
   You oughta help and praise em;
So, “Boys,” I sez, “Ole Spot's got pigs,
   And, damn sure gonna raise ‘em."

She’s still on Cedar Mountain
   Though I seldom see ‘er now;
You can bet that’s one dominion
   Where the Queen’s a spotted sow.

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