THE BATH

by Dan "Doc" Wilson

(c) Copyright 2017

As darkness settled on the trail

And Onion rode back to the ranch,

He passed beneath the bunkhouse oak

And brushed aside a hanging branch.

 

The bunkhouse door let out a squeak

That mixed with cowboy snores and sighs,

Then Onion fell into his bunk

And settled back and closed his eyes.

 

It wasn’t long until it stopped,

And silence soon replaced each snore.

Then Clemmons murmured in the dark,

“Say, whut’s thet awful smell?” He swore!

 

 “I b’lieve a polecat died in here,”

 A rotten skunk thet really stank!”

“Eh, ‘tain’t a skunk,” somebody said,

It’s Onion who’s so awful rank.”

 

“It’s Onion!?” outraged voices chimed.

“Waal, shore. It’s near July the fourth

When Onion takes his yearly bath

A-fore he rides the line up north.”

 

An old time cowboy known as “Grit”

Had offered his discerning piece

While Onion slept on through it all

As if the snores would never cease.

 

“Waal, somethin’ shore ‘nuf needs be done,”

Said Clemmons with a nasty growl.

“I jest cain’t sleep with sech a stench.

Smells like coyote breath gone foul.”

 

Then Pencil stood and cleared his throat

“I reckon we could dunk his hide

Into the river ‘til he’s clean

And almost good as citified.”

 

 “Waal, thet won’t work,” said Curly Bill,

He’d make a fuss and cuss us all

And prob’ly get us soaked to boot,

Then start a rumpus and a brawl.”

 

“There’s only one thing can be done,”

The Owl blinked wisely with his say,

“We need to fool him ‘bout the date

To think it’s Independence Day.”

 

“And make him think...July the fourth?”

The notion struck the waddies right.

“Shore! We ken do this,” Rooster said,

“With pistol shots and yells tonight!”

 

“And I have Roman candles here,”

Just waitin’ for the proper day!”

Ol’ Chester Barnes jumped up with joy

To think of such a grand display.

.     

 “They’ll fill the sky with rockets’ glare

And sparkle out to Timbuktoo!

Just like it does on ev’ry Fourth

And make him think it must be true!”

When midnight fell the prank began

As cowhands dressed in silent glee

Anticipating laughs to come

And fun the bath would surely be.

 

They filed out through the bunkhouse door

And waited for the fun to start,

Then as the quarter moon rode high,

Their ruckus tore the night apart.

 

The screams and yells and pistol shots

Rose such a din that Onion woke

And looked around in startled awe,

Then nervously he cussed and spoke.

 

”Whut in tarnation’s goin’ on?”

He ran outside and pulled up short,

Saw fireworks across the sky,

Heard pistol shots and horses snort.

 

“Hey, come on, Onion,” someone yelled,

“Let’s celebrate July the Fourth!

It came while you were sound asleep.

It’s time to bathe and head up north!”

 

The waddies grabbed him by the arms

And threw him on his nervous horse,

Then drove him down the dusty trail

Where soon they met the river’s course.

 

Into the rapids, boots and all,

Went Onion with a mighty splash!

Then laughter echoed all around

Above the roaring river’s crash!

 

They slapped each other on the back

And howled at such a cowboy prank

As Onion scrambled to his feet

And up the slipp’ry riverbank.

“Waal, boys,” he grimaced as he rose,

“I guess I got my yearly bath.

But while you had your prank and fun

The fireworks took out their wrath!”

 

“A fire, fire!” someone yelled

As Onion pointed in the dark,

And when they turned they saw a blaze -

The bunkhouse caught a random spark!

 

They passed the buckets all night long

From riverbank to bunkhouse door,

And every ranch hand in the chain

Got doused from head to foot and more.

 

And when at last the blaze was out

The waddies cringed at all the crud.

Their bunks were soaked and smelled of smoke,

The ground was deep with soggy mud.

 

So, Onion had the final laugh

As he exclaimed and headed north,

“This was a bath I’ll ne’er forget,

A fiery fright and phony Fourth!”

 

 

© 2017 by Dan "Doc" Wilson

This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.