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Reincarnation

Though just written in 1980, this poem is already considered to be a classic.

“What does reincarnation mean?”
A cowpoke asked his friend.
His pal replied, “It happens when
yer life has reached its end.

They comb yer hair, and warsh yer neck,
And clean yer fingernails,
And lay you in a padded box
Away from life’s travails.

“The box and you goes in a hole,
That’s been dug into the ground.
Reincarnation starts in when
Yore planted ‘neath a mound.

Them clods melt down, just like yer box,
and you who is inside.
And then yore just begginin’ on
Yer transformation ride.

“In a while the grass’ll grow
Upon yer rendered mound.
Till some day on yer moldered grave
A lonely flower is found.

And say a hoss should wander by
And graze upon this flower
That once wuz you, but now’s become
Yer vegetative bower.

“The posey that the hoss done ate
Up, with his other feed,
Makes bone, and fat, and muscle
Essential to the steed.

But some is left that he can’t use
And so it passes through,
And finally lays upon the ground.
This thing that once wuz you.

“Then say, by chance, I wonders by
And sees this upon the ground,
And I ponders and I wonders at,
This object that I found.

I thinks of reincarnation,
Of life, and death, and such,
And come away concludin’: Slim,
You ain’t changed, all that much.”

By Wallace McRae, Cowboy Poetry, Edited by Hal Cannon, Salt Lake City: Gibbs M. Smith, Inc., 1985