‘Twas the night before Rodeo, when all throughout Houston

Not a cowboy was rustling, not a lasso was loopin’;

The boots were all lined up next to Wranglers and buckles,

(And medical tape, for the bull riders’ knuckles);

MagEGordon · ‘Twas The Night Before Rodeo: A Very Houston Poem

The horses were nestled, each snug in a stall,

While visions of second-cutting enchanted them all;

Parker McCollum in his hat; Brooks & Dunn in their jeans,

Had just called it a night from practicing their routines,

When outside NRG there arose such a clatter,

I sprang from the stadium to see what was the matter.

Away to the midway, I galloped, I trotted,

Fast as I could so I wouldn’t be spotted.

The moon in the sky, and the lights from the Loop

Gave the luster of mid-day, helping me snoop,

When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,

But a miniature cowgirl, and eight lambs following near,

She couldn’t have been more than 3, maybe 4,

And barely fit into those britches she wore.

More rapid than stallions, her mutton they came,

And she whistled, and shouted and called them by name;

“Now, DOLLY! now, DAISY! now, BOPEEP and MARY!


To the mutton busting ring! Now let’s hit the dirt!

I’ll prove to them all! I’m a tough little squirt!”

As tumbleweeds through a West Texas ranch fly,

When they meet with a Dodge Ram, blow to the sky,

They leaped over fences, into a dirt ring,

Like a little wool air corps, taking up wings.

And then, in a thunderclap, I heard them all stomp

They were prancing and pawing – a full ovine romp.

As I followed behind, crouching low to the ground,

To the arena, the cowgirl came with a bound.

She was dressed for her part, from her hat to her chaps,

Her flannel shirt buttoned with little pearl snaps;

She stared at the sheep, never turning her back,

As she pulled a GoPro from a small leather sack.

Her eyes – how they twinkled in anticipation!

Her cheeks flush with freckles in loose constellations!

Her droll little mouth beamed a baby-toothed grin,

As she scanned her arena, taking it in;

She grabbed some gum from her back blue jean pocket,

And blew a bubble so big that her Stetson brim popped it;

She had a cherub face and a little round belly,

Her fingers were sticky with peanut butter and jelly.

She was plucky and feisty, a right jolly tot,

And I laughed when I saw her, and almost got caught;

But she stared at the sheep, her head in the game,

Energy focused on mutton busting fame;

She spoke not a word, but went straight to her work,

And hopped on a lamb, who bleated and jerked,

And grabbing the mane on the little sheep’s neck,

She wriggled and wrangled and held on like heck;

Then she sprang to the next lamb, and the next after that,

Eight seconds apiece, and she never went splat.

And when she was done, I heard her voice yelling bright,


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Maggie Gordon is a columnist who has worked at newspapers across the country, including the Stamford Advocate and the Houston Chronicle. She has covered everything from the hedge fund industry and education...