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.