Eugene's Old Grey Mule

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Horse Poems

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Mostly he just stood there 
Next to the fence 
Looking at what, 
We knew not 
Eyes were closed 
As he dosed. 

Sometimes he shifted 
His weight from three legs 
To another three 
Putting a hind leg in place 
Of the one he raised 
And maybe his head 
Was too much to bear 
So it hung down 
In apparent despair. 

But the Old Grey Mule 
Was a testament 
To times gone past 
When farming was for 
Survival to the last. 
When the rows of 
Of cotton or corn seemed endless 
As the Old Grey Mule 
Pulled the buster 
Down the middle. 

With progress 
If you can call it that 
Eugene had a tractor 
And equipment to match. 
He had no need 
For the Old Grey Mule 
Who had no place 
In the modern world 
Of a fast pace. 

But Eugene kept him 
As a reminder of times 
Long ago 
When feeding the family 
Seemed so 
Difficult as there were 
Many mouths to feed 
Not just the ones of 
His own family breed. 

But neighbors also, 
When the times were rough 
All hoed the row, freeing the 
Crops of weeds; mighty tough. 
And when layby time finally came 
There was a pause in the routine 
That to all seemed the same. 

And the Old Grey Mule 
Could stand alone by the gate 
Hoping for a nubbing 
Or something else to eat. 

Whether he sensed 
That in the Fall 
He'd not get 
Eugene's call 
Was known only 
To him who stood 
In the shade waiting. 

As others returned 
To the fields 
To save the crops 
After the corn ears drooped 
And the cotton bolls popped. 

Time was when 
Back in the field 
To pull the wagon 
With faithful companion 
Of many an eon 
(She'd gone the way 
That all critters do 
And her bones lay 
In the gully scattered ado.) 

But now the rumble of the tractors 
With diesel smoke aplenty 
Easily did the job 
That once required many 
The wagons filled 
With fluffy cotton 
Captured from hanging open burrs 
And no one seemed to understand 
What a blessing harvest is 
Saving the crop 
From waste and distress. 

So the Old Grey Mule stood 
Never blinking an eye 
As storm clouds 
Gathered in the evening sky 
And in the morning 
When the terror had past 
The Old Grey Mule 
Was found lying 
There in the grass 
Having given a final sigh 
As he passed away 
With nothing to comment on 
Or to say. 

But Eugene knows that surely 
As the Old Grey Mule died 
The same fate is due us all 
Who pass this way. 

And the Old Grey Mule 
is a reminder 
That life's for the living - 
time to consider. 
Take time to stand and 
gaze into the near pasture 
For soon it will be home 
For the bones of another.

Sidi J. Mahtrow

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