The Punchy Bunch
By M.P. Cremer
This week, it’s hard to find anything to write about, agriculturally speaking, because the news and many people’s minds are dominated by things outside of ag. I acknowledge it may be “tone-deaf” of me not to write about the household debates going on in our country right now, but to be frank, my opinion on this matter is my business, no one else’s and you read my column to learn about agriculture and agriculture only.
So, to hopefully lighten the mood a bit, and in the spirit of keeping this column ag-based while not having any anti-ag newsworthy information to report, here is a poem I compiled after Lane and I shamefully binge watched a reality show called “The Ultimate Cowboy Showdown.”
Disclaimer: This poem is not about anyone in particular – it’s about a handful of wannabe cowboys I’ve had the pleasure, or burden, of knowing in real life and various media outlets/platforms. I’m sure you can think of someone who fits this bill as well.
The Punchy Bunch
The leader’s name was Redman Ryder Rogers,
for short, everyone called him Red.
He had a handlebar mustache he groomed every morning,
taking longer to primp than he would to brand 250 head.
Pecos Payne was Red’s right-hand man,
one so pretty, but oh-so dense.
He’d ask you which end a cow stands up on first,
then look at you like a steer looking at a new fence.
Easton Earle was next in line,
Red’s most arrogant and punchiest friend.
He mistook a retired bucking bronc for the American Quarter Horse Association horse of the year,
and he’d brag about it with a grin.
Dallas Day finished up the pack,
he was lanky, vulgar and loved to fight.
But Dally’s mouth was bigger than his muscles:
he was simply all bark and no bite.
“The Punchy Bunch” they called themselves,
traveling to every sale barn, branding and rodeo in the land,
talking trash to the best the West had to offer,
not knowing they, themselves, were more foot than they were “hand.”
They’d sip obscure beers all night and carry on,
never shutting their eyes before daybreak.
Then wake up at nightfall to do it all over again,
throwing on a pair of dirty Wranglers to represent the hard work they faked.
One June evening, about half past nine,
the four Gensels strolled into their hometown bar.
The out-of-towner buckle bunnies gawked and swooned.
The old barflies knew they wouldn’t get too far.
With their chambray shirts pressed
and 10-inch crowned hats yielding,
they sported spurs they’d put their boots
moments before entering the building.
Red snapped at the bar tender,
demanding their usual sorority-style order:
Pineapple juice with cheap tequila,
“We enjoy our liquor from south of the border.”
They slammed their shots like hammers
but Dally longed for a nicotine thriller.
He pounded his fist and yelled to the crowd,
“Any-a you yuppies got a cowboy killer?!”
“I’ve got one,” a gruff voice answered,
it belonged to a man who shall remain nameless.
The mysterious cowboy hid behind a tattered straw brim,
he wanted to be faceless.
His calloused hands tossed Dally a pack of Marlboro Reds,
“Take ‘em all, I’ve been meanin’ to quit ‘em,” the stranger stated.
Dally took the cigs, turned around and smirked,
“Remind me to keep my head down too, if I ever look that jaded.”
“What’d you say?”
the stranger asked through many-a-muffled chuckle.
“I called you ugly, old timer!” Dally replied
To the man who didn’t need a faux-trophy gold buckle.
The stranger shook his head
then stood up from his stool.
“Follow me outside, young men,
time to learn some things they don’t teach in school.”
The back-alley brawl of the century was upon the pack,
‘Twas one on four; then three; then two; then one.
Pretty Boy Pecos stepped up to the plate last,
“Not my face!” he pleaded, but the damage was already done.
With Fourth of July faces they sat,
their jaws and noses speckled red and blue.
“A bit of advice,” the stranger said,
“Never bite off more than you can chew.”
The band of black-eyed brothers sat in disbelief
As the stranger turned and left them to mope.
With his worn-out boots stomping on the blood-stained pavement,
They knew he was in their costume, but his wasn’t a troupe.
It was then and there that Easton had an epiphany,
“Hey old-timer, could you stay a minute?
We’re just punchy, young cowboys like you once were,
Mind sharing the secret behind your rugged, ranchy spirit?”
The stranger stopped in his tracks.
What was this kid trying to pull?
He’d seen this crew a time or two,
Was this a load of bull?
“You want my advice?” the stranger asked.
The four boys nodded their heads in agreeance.
But looking at their freshly manicured fingernails,
The stranger didn’t have much credence.
So, he kept it simple, “Alright, here it goes…”
The stranger said, offering a clever sentiment.
“You boys are just too punchy for your own good,
And you shouldn’t take that as a compliment.”