I’ve been riding the horn
of this bucking bronco all night,
with the saddle sores
to prove it.

He moves . . .
and I move
across the floor
on a carpet of country western
attitude and spittoon casual

We’re already tight,
buttons to brass,
but he pulls me still closer,
his hands clammy
and possessive,
gripping my ass.

Is this what I’m here for?

Guzzling Coors
and bull riding,
wrestling steers
in the starlight
and car light of
too many back seats,
with horns poking at me
when I’d really
much rather be
home by myself,
tucked in my chair,
with my dog by my side,
watching Jeopardy,
just trying to decide
how much to wager
on the final question
of the final round.

But instead, here I am–
a final round-up
in a midnight rodeo
where cowboys and cowgirls
compete and retreat,
tussle and struggle,
until someone is roped
and then branded,
often by someone sweaty
and drunk, already banded
by the cowgirl he married
with unwilling vows
and insolent scowls,
paying for another sweet ride
in another dark car
in the back lot of
another old rodeo bar.

But the bull
broke the fence,
so I’m here in this dance,
beer breath in my hair
and my face.
too close and too tight,
his hat on my head,
his neck close to my neck,
veins bulging and red.

Thighs chafed and rubbed raw,
I’m riding sidesaddle,
trying to elude and escape,
rather than straddle
that stiff horn he proffers.
Grinding and dipping,
he pokes and he prods
with the gift that he offers.

But tonight I’m not buying;
no more bum steers.
I’m leaving, head up and solo
amongst cat calls and jeers.

Here’s one rodeo cut short,
by one wearier, but wiser;
with no rancher, no consort.
The curtain comes down,
the crowds all go home,
while this cowgirl
rides into the sunset,
contented alone.

— Elaine Pedersen ©


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