The Gateman by Ron Wilson

(Ron Wilson) A cowboy has a lot of dirty messy jobs and oftentimes that involves the south end of a cow going north but when we’re sorting cattle, there is a very important job and that is the job of the gateman. It’s a thankless job because he has to make some split-second decisions. In his honor, this poem is entitled The Gateman. There are certain thankless jobs that you encounter in this life like a policeman given parking tickets or perhaps the farmer’s wife who is sent to town for parts, “It’s about yay big. We don’t know the model number but it looks like a thing of a jig.” Those jobs are truly thankless. But among the cowboy clan there is no job so thankless as that of the gateman. When we go to sorting cattle, and the gateman’s simple job is to open and shut the gate when we separate the mob. But that task ain’t nearly as simple as it sounds. He must decide in a split-second with chaos all around. He may have angry steers barreling straight towards him or a crazy cow that will dodge, or jump or kick upon a whim. He gets splattered by manure and will have the gate tore from his hand but he must do the job just right to meet the boss’ demand. His head may be spinning from the contrary directions about when a cowboy says to stop the calf and the other says, “Turn him out.” The gateman’s job is thankless but he can always protect his fate by saying to his critics, “All right. It’s your turn to man the gate.” Happy Trails.

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