(1946 / Arkansas)

*mose And Bonnie Lee

Way back in the mountain and beyond bread creek
Where muscadines hang from the hardwood trees
The coyotes howl all through the night
And backbones tingle when the catamount cries.
Where the mountain’s hard and mighty unforgivin’
And, where the faint of heart got no bus’ness bein’.
Old “Mose” the hermit lived by hisself
In a ratty old shack on the mountain’s shelf.
He didn’t like people and he didn’t like towns.
He didn’t like it when folks from the valley came ‘round.
But, once in awhile down the mountain he’d go
To get salt and meal at the gen’ral store.

‘Twas on one of these trips his life made a change
When he was headin home through a drivin rain.
A little walker pup, soaked plum to the bone
Had been dropped and abandoned on that lonely old road.
With the goods on his back and his head bowed down,
He paid little notice to the rain soaked hound.
When he finally got home he was soppin wet,
So he pulled a blanket up around his head,
And stood by the fire to try and get warm,
Then he saw somp’n movin outside in the yard.
That little wet pup was standin out in the rain
Starin at Mose through the wind’r pane.

Now, it weren’t like Mose to care much ‘bout nuthin,
But, fer some odd reason he swung the door open
And that little hound pup, not one bit shy,
Come saunterin in and laid down by the fire.
Somp’n ‘bout that pup touched old Mose’ heart.
He sat hisself down and propped his feet on the hearth.
He said, “pup, this mountain man is pore indeed,
Hope you can make do with some cornbread and beans.”
When the pup had finished her “pore man” feed,
She curled herself up ‘ginst the old Man’s feet.
Old Mose couldn’t ‘member when he’d felt so pleased
And he called the little pup “Miss Bonnie Lee.”

Now, Mose and Bonnie Lee got to be real tight;
When she’d grow’d up she made a powerful sight.
She was big fer a hound and her shoulders was wide,
She had somp’n ‘sides walker blood to give ‘er that size.
She was strong as a Dane and she could run all night;
She’d whup’d ever coyote that ever come by.
But, there was this one time they was huntin the hill,
Hadn’t been fer Bonnie, old Mose’d been kill’t.
A big old catamount jumped from a tree
And knocked the old mountain man down to his knees.
Bonnie was on ‘em like a flash of lightning
You could hear growls and cat screams all over that mountain

When Bonnie first landed on that big mountain cat,
She grabbed a mouthful of fur at the back of its neck
And lifted that catamount right off of its feet
And they fought as they rolled down the hill to the creek.
When they landed in the water, Bonnie Lee started shakin
And the skin on that old cougar’s neck started breakin.
She shook the cat loose and it whirled in the air
And she was left standin with a mouthful of lion hair.
But, that old cat’d had all that it wanted
When it’s feet hit the ground, it was scat’in and squallin.
Bonnie’s hound instinct said she oughta give chase
But, Mose called her back, He didn’t want to tempt fate.

Up there on the mountain, as the years went by,
The light was gettin dim in the old man’s eyes.
He’d always loved goin up to the crest;
Seemed like that’s where he always felt best.
He’d stare in wonder at what God had created
And tell Bonnie, “I ‘spect we’re the reason he made it.”
But, seemed like lately he’d been stumblin a lot
So, Bonnie would lead’m past the blowdowns and rocks.
The old man knew their time was runnin low
And worried ‘bout Bonnie if he’s the first one to go.
So, he ask the Lord, “if I’m the first one to leave,
Won’t you please watch over Miss Bonnie Lee? ”


Way back in the mountain and beyond bread creek,
Where muscadines hang in the hardwood trees,
The coyotes howl all through the night
And backbones tingle when the catamount cries.
Where the mountain’s hard and mighty unforgivin’
And, where the faint of heart got no bus’ness bein.’
A blind old hermit, on a cold winter’s night,
Sits by the fireplace in the glowin light,
Thanks the Lord for all the blessins he’s had,
In partic’lar the best dog a man ever had.
He props his legs up to warm his feet
And, gently, pats the head of Miss Bonnie Lee.

User Rating: 3,1 / 5 ( 36 votes ) 8

Comments (8)

Dear Mr. Clark, Your writing echoes in the lifestyle you have lived here in Arkansas. I, too, reside in Arkansas and your lines and rythms resonate in the shadows of my past, also! You are very gifted and I thouroughly enjoy your art! 'To him all good things-trout as well as eternal salvation-come by grace and grace comes by art and art does not come easy.' <><.
You are an amazing story teller and fantastically skilled poet thoroughly enjoyed this poem. A great 10! SG
Oh my this was so wonderful I just wished it was longer.I live in Indiana but my oldest son lives in Jacksonville and works in North Little Rock we visited with him in 2000 and he took us to the Ozark mountains.As I read this I could visualize it.Thanks for sharing great job
A passionate reflection of mutual love and affection!
This wonderful poem is unquestionalby one of the greatest story-poems I have had the privilege to read, Richard. It was reminiscent of many of the great poets of the past, most notably Robert W. Service. From it's first words it held the reader's attention rapt in this remarkable story. The superb effort you put into this beautiful and appealing poem is greatly appreciated by this reader. Someone commented that this poem shouldn't end, that it was poetry of the soul. All that it was, and more. It captured the spirit and values of a vanishing frontier that can only be found in extraordinary poems like this one. Carl.
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