Selected Poems

This is the title poem from my book, Old Stories...

Old Stories


His eyes were like memory, grown faded with time.

He shuffled, and looked out of place.

And I'd swear that a map of the whole western desert

Was etched in those lines on his face.

He lifted his head, and a quick recognition

Twisted his face to a smile.

And his voice sort of cracked as he said, "Hey, kid.

I ain't laid eyed on you in awhile."


And I saw it was Warren, who had been an old hand

On my grand-dad's place, long years ago.

He'd told us such stories, and sung all the songs.

There weren't any songs he didn't know.

And I said, "Hey, old-timer.  What you doing clear up here?

I'd not expected to see you in town."

And he said, "I'm here lookin' for a job that pays wages.

Like a man's gotta do when he's down."


'Cause there ain't many cattle left out on the range,

Few horses now in the corral

And it seems all my songs have faded and gone

And I've forgotten those stories I'd tell.

I guess there ain't no more stories to tell.


I reached in my purse and took out two twenties.

It was all I had with me then.

I said, "Here, take this, Warren.  I wish I had more.

I'd sure like to help if I can."

I could feel his reluctance to take what I offered.

His face warred with need and with hurt

And his gaze clouded over, his hand clearly trembled,

As he tucked those bills in his shirt.


Then I gave his my address, said, "Warren, come by.

We'll brew coffee, and have us a chat."

But he looked at the ground instead of my eyes,

As he mumbled, "Yeah.  I might do that."

Then he got in a pick-up that was battered and old,

Said, "Well, I'll be on my way."

Tho' where he was headed in the concrete and noise

Of that city, I just couldn't say.


Because there aren't many cattle left out on the range,

Few horses now in the corral.

But Warren, you're wrong.  I still sing your songs.

And I remember those stories you'd tell.

I still tell those old stories you’d tell.


©Jo Lynne Kirkwood - 2002


And - a bit of nonsense!


Farmer John

The west is crossed with lengthy roads paved with clay or gravel

Scenic routes, they’re called on maps, where city folks like to travel

And one such long and dusty track marked the boundary fence

of Farmer John, who was known for calves, fine hay, and business sense. 


Accountant Joe and his wife, Sue, traversed John’s scenic lane

Admiring the flora, and cows out on the range

The day was warm and lovely.  The sky a bright blue bowl

When Joe and Sue drove their car into a big mud hole.


Water splashed around their doors.  The hole was filled with muck.

And the more Joe gunned the engine, the deeper they were stuck.

For a moment there was panic.  They were miles from help or home

until wafting on the summer’s breeze came a distant tractor’s drone.


Farmer John was hard at work, plowing up his land

And accountant Joe scurried out to seek a helping hand.

John’s tractor came equipped with torque.  Joe knew he was in luck

when Farmer John agreed to pull them out – for fifty bucks.


John hooked a chain and gave a yank, and quickly they were free.

Joe paid the bill.  Said Farmer John, today you’re number three.

Some days there’s four or even five that’s caught.  I swear,

Sometimes I spend half my time, pulling tourists outta there.


It must be quite a struggle then, came Sue’s astute remark,

to farm your land.  You must have to work through evening, after dark.

It’s true, John said.  It’s quite a chore to keep the farming in control

But evenin’s out.  That’s when I put the water in that hole.



©Jo Kirkwood - 2009