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RAFTING DOWN THE BLACK RIVER
     by Hilma (Volcano) Volk

Bill wheeled his pickup to my house.
George and Susie rode in the back
Sittin' on this blue rubber thing.
"Come on, we're gonna raft the Black."

I asked, "You ever done this before?"
George spit, "Heck, what's to know?
Gotta be easier than ridin' a bull."
"A bull's only eight seconds though."

"Shoot we see them city folks
On them big rapids ride,
An' they ain't near as tough as us."
Said I, "They go down with a guide."

Bill asked "Gal, you in or not?"
"Heck I ain't missin' the thrill."
Grabbed warm clothes and a rain coat,
Then climbed in the cab with Bill.

"Whose raft is that?" I queried.
"Mine, got it at a garage sale.
Only fifty bucks: got a pump,
four paddles and a bailing pail."

The take out was by Wolf Fang Bridge.
George's pickup was parked there.
We drove on up the canyon;
The swollen river churned a dare.

"You got lifejackets?" I feared.
"Heck no! Them's sissy stuff.
'Sides, the river ain't all that deep."
I replied, "For drownin' there's enough."

We put in at Poker Point
The raft looked kind of squishy.
George kicked it, "There's a slow leak -
You know that price was kind of fishy."

"No big deal, we'll take the pump."
We set out rather fearless.
Four cowpolks on a buckin' raft,
On a river that could care less.

Sue yelled, "I went down here years ago,
An' I just remember this,
Through rapids you keep paddlin' hard
Or an icy bath you'll kiss."

We rode them rollers just like pros.
George hollered, "Piece of Cake!"
We yee-hawed through the second set.
Those waves formed a bigger break.

By the third rapids we were drenched,
Our raft was ridin' low.
We beached and dumped the water out
And pumped it up some mo'.

The rapids got bigger, too many to count.
We were hurtled down a hefty dip.
Then a monster wave crashed on us.
We felt the whole world flip.

I fought to keep my head up,
Bein' battered and hurled about -
Coughin', spittin', and sputterin',
Tryin' to figure some way out.

In a quieter stretch I struggled to shore
Scannin' the river for my friends,
Shiverin', chatterin', chilled to the core,
Hoping this wasn't how it ends.

They came on down with the upturned raft.
The rocks had beat up on them too.
George's leg was bleeding, Sue's head was bumped;
Bill was every shade of blue.

A miserable crew, we bailed the raft.
Our bodies were growing numb.
We were down to just two paddles left.
This trip was no longer fun.

We crawled in, gave a limp "Heave ho!"
And down the river rushed.
Like a little blob in a toilet
That some unseen hand had flushed.

Then it all seemed like slow motion -
Headed for a big rock wall.
Missed - we all breathed relief -
Till the nine foot waterfall.

Then things happened way too fast.
A mound of water crashed.
I'm pulled around in a torrent.
As they say, my whole life flashed.

I'll spare you all the horror stuff
But we all reached the shore.
Completely drained, cold and pale
Clear we couldn't take no more.

The four of us now zombied
Trudged our way by land
A long steep trek up to the road,
Half-inflated raft abandoned.

We got a ride in a pig truck.
Anyways we made it back.
Took four hours to get warm again -
Nearly killed by that River Black.

Next Friday night at the Firemen's Dance
They picked the door prize slip.
I actually won, wouldn't you know,
A Black River raftin' trip.

P.S. I went.

  Selected Cowboy Poetry
by Hilma (Volcano) Volk

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Manure Happens
by Hilma (Volcano) Volk
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