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Tall Men Riding

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Tall Men Riding

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Tall Men Riding
(S. Omar Barker)

Oh, the high hawk knows where the rabbit goes,
   and the buzzard marks the kill
But few there be with eyes to see the tall men riding still
We hark in vain on the speeding train
   for an echo of hoofbeat thunder
And the yellow wheat is a winding sheet
  for cattle trails plowed under

Hoofdust flies at the low moon's rise
   and the bullbat's lonesome whir
Is an echoed note from the longhorn throat of a steer,
   in the days that were
Inch by inch, time draws the cinch,
   till the saddle will creak no more
And they who were lords of the cattle hordes
   have tallied their final score

This is the song that the night birds
   sing as the phantom herds trail by
Horn by horn where the long plains fling
   flat miles to the Texas sky
And this is the song that the night birds wail
   where the Texas plains lie wide
Over the dust of a ghostly trail
   where the phantom tall men ride

   Squire Omar Barker (b. 1894), honorary president of the
     Western Writers of America, has been a rancher and a teacher,
     and was once elected to the New Mexico legislature.  Look for
     more of his poems in Vientos de las Sierras (1924) and
     Buckaroo Ballads [!] (1928), as well as many pulp magazines
     and a couple of anthologies.

To the the tune of Tramps and Hawkers.
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E-Book - An Annotated Compendium of Old Time American Songs by James Alverson III