COWBOY POETRY: Jasper, the Lop-Eared Mule

Bryce Angell is a cowboy poet. Angell was raised on a farm/ranch in the St. Anthony, Idaho area with approximately 75 head of horses. Horses remain an important part of Angell's life.  Angell shares his poetry with Cache Valley Daily every Friday.

I checked the outside temperature. ‘Twas 12 degrees below. The stove inside my canvas tent was burning a bright red glow.

I opened up the tent flap, filled my lungs and gave a yell. I swear old Jasper looked at me and said, “It’s cold as @#%&!”

Jasper and my saddlehorse were munching on the hay. Last night I threw enough feed out to last them most the day.

I closed the flap and tossed a chunk of Doug fir in the fire. Then I tied the stove door shut with a piece of baling wire.

Now, Jasper was an old pack mule. He’d packed my gear for years. But I should have named him Ugly. Let me tell you ‘bout his ears.

When Jasper was a yearling, my horse kicked him in the head. He laid in the corral and I was sure that he was dead.

But then to everyone’s surprise, that mule got on his feet. He tried to take a step or two. His walk was plumb offbeat.

I noticed that one ear of his was lying almost flat. Well, Jasper got his wits back, but his ear stayed just like that.

I tried a bunch of different ways to keep that ear up straight. I even tied a hat on, but it seemed to agitate.

So all this time, old Jasper’s ears have never been the same. It’s been a conversation piece. Some folks think it’s a shame.

I’d say most mules are ugly, but old Jasper takes the cake. A friend of mine says, “Jasper looks like nature’s worst mistake!”

I’ve always made a point to give that mule some extra care. I guess I feel responsible he’s had this cross to bear.

But Jasper doesn’t seem to mind that no one wants to gush. When someone calls him ugly, I have never seen him blush.

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