The Axeman at the Cowboy Poetry Open Mic

Jeffery carried a guitar slung on his back. He did not know how to play it, not really. Although, he could strum enough to accompany himself singing “Red River Valley.” It might be noted that saying Jeffery sang “Red River Valley” is somewhat of an exaggeration. He played the four or five chords he knew on the guitar considerably better than he sang. General Grant once said he knew two songs, “one was ‘Yankee Doodle’ and the other one wasn’t.” Jeffery could sing about three notes. One was F-flat and the others weren’t. At least he didn’t think they were. The poet once said:

“The hands that shaped a voice of clay,
“did they muddle eons, or in a day
“form and teach this singing bone
“that praises Him in monotone?” (“Hymns“, from Have by Lee Robison)

Jeffery’s singing bone was pretty monotone. But he carried the guitar and occasionally dropped his F-flat on “Red River Valley.” He did this because sometimes it brought on oblivious young women. There is just something about a large Rogue RA-090 Dreadnought Acoustic Guitar with a scintillating rainbow trout painted (by his buddy Ronny Tallmunt) below the bridge. It was quite the axe on his back. It said something.

What it said, exactly, has not been clearly delineated. But Mava Walshner thought it said, “Here is an Axman.”

That was enough for Jeffery. That was all Jeffery needed.

Jeffery and Mava first hooked up at the Cowboy Poetry open mic at the old West Bench schoolhouse. Jeffery stood at the squawking mic and read something by Baxter Black—Mava could not tell you what it was. Jeffery did not care what it was. And He even lost any care he might have when the young blond in form fitting jeans stuffed inside her boots came up to him, her violet snap button shirt all but unsnapping, and said, “That was sooooooo good.” Jeffery thought she meant his reading of Baxter Black. And a case could be made for her meaning this, except she had her eyes on the Rogue RA-090 Dreadnought Acoustic Guitar slung over Jeffery’s back from the minute he stepped on stage to the moment she walked up to him and said “That was soooooo good.”

Jeffery had intended to flip the Rogue over his shoulder and axe into the opening bars of “Red River Valley.” But he had chosen too many of Baxter Black’s poems and his time ran out, and Dirk Edgewind stepped up clapping his hands and smiling out at the audience, saying, “Well thank you Jeffery. Great reading of one of the best.” Dirk actually jumped the gun a bit, because Jeffery had a couple of minutes left. But Dirk knew what was coming and used his Master-of-Ceremony interpretation of the time limit as a reason to spare everyone Jeffery’s four or five chords and f-flatting ruination of “Red River Valley.”

As far as hooking up Mava and Jeffery goes, whether or not he axed into “Red River Valley” was no big deal. Mava, like General Grant, would only hear the words with something else annoying going on around the words. Which is what she heard (sans pearl button shirt and skin tight jeans–but not sans the boots) when Jeffery finally f-flatted “Red River Valley” for her. It was a big axe win-win.

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