Kell Robertson at home on MacCallum land south of Santa Fe

Passover at Waldo Draw 11-7-11

A gentle mean madman poet has come home
To leave this life in peace
Out on MacCallum land
Where he found family and friend

And what joys he has known
Along the Lone Butte Road
These last fifteen years

Argos says it was 1997
When he built the cabin for Kell.
Back then
We all read poetry on his birthday
At the Cowgirl Hall of Fame
And Mitch Rayes’ wife gave Kell a
Sack of marbles, saying he had clearly lost his.

And along the Lone Butte Road
Frank the cowboy broke and rode good horses
And worked on movie sites with Kell
Frank handsome tan carefully groomed
Vietnam vet
We drank Schlitz beer
And smoked cigarettes talking of the horrors
Of war and the importance of warriors
While we cast our eyes to the sparkling stars

And Frank’s mate, Doña, barrel racing at the Galisteo rodeo
Doña Dillenschneider who grew up in the sixties
On a ranch at Lone Butte.
Doña who sang in cowboy bars
In Santa Fe at the age of sixteen.
Doña who still rides horses
And dances to the New Year’s Eve music of Joe West at the
……….Mineshaft in Madrid

Friends of Kell’s.
Tom Nordstrom, Larry Goodell and Martha Straba from Placitas
Tony Moffeit from Pueblo who performed poetry with us in
Taos Santa Fe and Bernalillo.
Lynne Wildey, Bob Kaufman from San Francisco
Bar keepers
Felix Silva and Lena at the Silver Dollar and Ross the mayor of
Pat White’s Last Chance Bar on the Indian edge of America

Morning Star hippies
Ace of Hearts and David Pratt from Arroyo Hondo
Socorro Romo, Lisa Gill, Katherine McCracken
Lynne Cohen at the End of the Universe
Mitch Rayes and Bob Swearingin and Bill Nevins
Don McIver, Gary Brower, and Neil Elliot – all friends of Kell’s.

These connections the gifts
He gave to me.

It grieves me no end to lose those years
Of books and politics and human emotions
A lost friendship built on trust and truth
Real cowboys don’t cry.

Argos MacCallum and Kell

November Early Afternoon After Kell’s Passing
Waldo Canyon

Beneath a grandfather cottonwood tree
Leaves rustling brown
Skittering over a dusty road
Down Waldo Draw
Kell is gone.

But before he passed over
Kell and I drank cold ale
He bought at the Lone Butte store

On a summer hot July sunset evening
We ate ham and cheese sandwiches
Munched Fritos
And watched the lightning flash over Cerrillos

Silence surrounded
With only the sounds
Our voices
And the popping of beer caps
As the Fat Tire
Washed down our thirsty throats

Just this past summer.
Just this last September
When green leaves filled thick branch and trunk
When shade meant cool relief
When cold beer and grand ideas
Filled the canyon with poets’ talk
And drunken laughter.

We spoke of his approaching death and that of my own
He wondered why the end came so slow
He said Argos would take him to the emergency room
If it got too bad.
He said he wanted to die
At home.

8 November 2011
Waldo Draw

Kell passed over peacefully yesterday
November 7th at 9:45 in the morning

He breathed his last desperado breath with dignity
And on that day he held my hand
Letting me know he was glad to see a friend
One last time. On the music box Kell’s voice
Filled the candle-lit room. “Rescue the Perishing
Care for the Dying,” and here’s what I saw:

Argos friend and fellow poet actor director
Farmer and carpenter held one limp palm.
Penelope, Kell’s long lost daughter from San Francisco
Hippie days – his 1969 love child
Grasped the other hand crying telling her daddy goodbye.

This poet she had not known
This strangely revered old man beloved
In the gentle hands of boon companions
Walking in and out of the death vigil room

Joanie and Bruce and Summer from next door
Who had cared for Kell 14 years and more.

Argos and Corinna on the edge of Kell’s bed
Settling his sheets
Whispering words of loving concern
Watching for Kell’s final rapid goodbye.
Measuring morphine drops
Easing the pain.
Those little sponge lollipops of Dr. Pepper
To soothe his dying thirst
A wipe of cloth to dry his brow
A kiss on the forehead.

I walked out as people gathered inside.
“He’s gone,” Argos said.
I had enjoyed our last goodbye
Under the cottonwood trees of Waldo Draw.

At the funeral today – at High Noon in a cold whiskey wind
Kell’s stiff body was dressed in rumpled clothes
Wearing a Solano’s Western Wear fine black fedora.
Old boots stuffed into Wrangler jeans

Martha reached down to drop a rose on his breast, and then
She fastened a new Indian band on his old black hat
Before four men lowered a rope with board and body
One last cowboy with a worn leather book bag
Slung as always over his right shoulder.
Entombed like his poetry in the beloved New Mexico Mother

Mike Goode sang at the grave we’d dug
“Another hole to fill,” and “I’ll Waltz Across Heaven With You.”
I read Kell’s poem, “Of Bats and Drunks”
Other poets read songs of their own poems
About heroes and drops of blood
Fading away on a stone.

Kendall McCook