Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Badger Clark's Gay Cowboy Poem "The Lost Pardner"

The Lost Pardner

We loved each other in the way men do
And never spoke about it, Al and me,
But we both knowed, and knowin' it so true
Was more than any woman's kiss could be...

...The range is empty and the trails are blind,
And I don't seem but half myself today.
I wait to hear him ridin' up behind
And feel his knee rub mine the good old way.

-from 'Sun and Saddle Leather,' by Badger Clark

Badger Clark was the first Poet Laureate of South Dakota (in 1937) and was famous for his cowboy poetry.  I found this Library of Congress photo and this poem in this great Huffington Post article, "Gay American History: The Country's Gay Secrets"

1 comment:

GrizzledGeezer said...

Charles Badger Clark Jr remains a mystery. The biggest question surrounding him is his sexuality -- hetero, homo, bi-, or a-? To a modern reader, The Lost Pardner's homoeroticism (as opposed to its evocation of intense personal friendship among cowhands) is obvious. And you don't have to go much further to see the symbolically sexual elements (eg, the men rubbing their knees together).

Badger Clark was also a virulent misogynist (because women constantly broke up male friendships). The misogyny of The Lost Pardner is mild, compared to the hatred expressed in Pals.

It's comforting to imagine Badger Clark as actively homosexual. And he might have been. But there isn't any direct evidence for it -- just as there's little evidence for him ever having had sexual relations with women. He was a loner, and his loner-ly-ness probably included sex.

The Web has a lot of Clark's poems. There's not a one that isn't worth reading.