“Rider” by Bruce Berger

Bruce Berger


Son of the rodeo circuit,
He clung from kick to kick
Till demon Coors reduced him
From trick rider to trick.

One-night stand or an hour’s,
It rustled him a few
Bucks for a few more cool ones.
What’s a poor cowboy to do?

Nights getting rolled in the alleys,
Other nights when he lay
On cement until they released him:
There must be another way.

In the mirror over the bottles
He cast a lingering eye
And landed a sugar daddy
With a bunk where he could lie,

With a kitchen he could eat in,
A car that he could ride
And a listening face to talk to.
But the daddy up and died.

He dried these tears and kept drying
Until he was thoroughly dry,
Sweating his way from detox
To the halfway house to the Y.

Son of a different circuit,
He rides the bus by day
To double shifts as a busboy,
Evenings off at AA.

A ride in the West is still lonely,
And sometimes all you own
Are pawn stubs instead of trophies
And memories of being thrown.

from Rattle #30, Winter 2008
Tribute to Cowboy and Western Poetry

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