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The Nooseletter
Boomer Johnson
Line Camp Batchin'
Line Camp Batchin'
Now Mr. Boomer Johnson was a getting’ old in spots,
But you don’t expect a bad man to go wrastlin’ pans and pots;
But he’d done his share of killin’ and his draw was getting’ slow,
So he quits a-punchin’ cattle and he takes to punchin’ dough.

Our foreman up and hires him, figurin’ age had rode him tame,
But a snake don’t get no sweeter just by changin’ of its name.
Well, Old Boomer knowed his business-he could cook to make you smile,
But say, he wrangled fodder in most peculiar style.

He never used no matches-left ‘em layin’ on the shelf,
Just some kerosene and cussin’ and the kindlin’ lit itself.
And, pardner, I’m allowin’ it would give a man a jolt
To see him stir frijoles with the barrel of his Colt.

Now killin’ folks and cookin’ ain’t so awful far aprart,
That musta been why Boomer kept a–practicin’ his art;
With the front sight of a pistol he would cut a pie-lid slick,
And he’d crimp her with the muzzle for to make the edges stick.

He built his doughnuts solid, and it sure would curl your hair
To see him plug a doughnut as he tossed it in the air.
He bored the holes plum center every time his pistol spoke,
Till the can was full of doughnuts and the shack was full of smoke.

We-all was getting’ jumpy, but he couldn’t understand
Why his shootin’ made us nervous when his cookin’ was so grand.
He kept right on performin,’ and it weren’t no big surprise
When he took to markin’ tombstones on the cover of his pies.

They didn’t taste no better and they didn’t taste no worse,
But a-settin’ at that table was like ridin’ in a hearse;
You didn’t do no talkin’ and you took just what you got,
So we et till we was foundered just to keep from getting’ shot.

When at breakfast one bright mornin’, I was feelin’ kind of low,
Old Boomer passed the doughnuts and I tells him plenty: “No,
All I takes this trip is coffee, for my stomach is a wreck.”
I could see the itch for killin’ swell the wattles on his neck.

Scorn his grub? He strings some doughnuts on the muzzle of his gun,
And he shoves her in my gizzard and he says, “You’re takin’ one!”
He was set to start a graveyard, but for once he was mistook;
Me not wantin’ any doughnuts, I just up and salts the cook.

Did they fire him? Listen, pardner, there was nothin’ left to fire,
Just a row of smiling faces and another cook to hire.
If he joined some other outfit and is cookin’, what I mean,
It’s where they ain’t no matches and they don’t need kerosene.
by Henry Herbert Knibbs of Western Folk Life
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