Rope Burn


Eyes squint tight against the sun.

Hat screwed on tight against the wind.

Focus on the target, weight on feet.

Grip with your legs. Lean forward.

Hold the reins loosely, start the loop.

Look at the nose, not the horns.

Throw the loop and draw the dally.

Tight! Tight! Tight. Don’t slip.

Don’t get caught against the horn.

Turn away. Let the horse do the work.

Rope burns hot under your gloves.



He drawled, his voice like molasses.

Slightly bitter and thickly sweet.

Holding up scarred hands with

fingers bent to the shape of rope

and rein. Legs bowed from saddle

hours, shaped by the horse and ride.

Drawing stories of the range work

with his words. Strange words to

city ears, music to ranch girls.

Open range and all the time

we need to tell the tale. No rush.

He rubs a scar, remembering a

rope burn so very well.



He goes through life sorting a to-do list.

Once it is done, it is gone. Move on.

She goes through life taking snapshots.

Each one worth the time to enjoy.

He hardly gets done the job before.

Gotta go. Move on. Nothing to see here.

She lingers, enjoying the moment, the color.

The flavors and sounds of memories stay.

He is constantly on the move. Go. Now.

Thinking. Pondering. Random. Gone.

She wants to enjoy, to hold the moment.

Each one a special singular moment of time.

He misses the moments, gets rope burn!

She holds on too tight, they go. Rope burn.



Shadows dance along the sandy shore.

Moving their moments along stately.

Sandals left, their abandon revealing.

Their shadows growing long .


Laughter dances along the sandy shore.

Moving eyes to smile, moments glisten.

Sandals left, waiting on dryer ground.

Their shadows growing long.


Memories caught with a shutter’s click.

Moving one frame to the next, capturing.

Sandals caught, in a moment framed.

Their shadows stilled forever.


Holding tight to two days, she sifts sand.

Moving it through fingers, she smiles.

Sandals hot in the fading sun.

Their shadows a bruise, rope burn.



One word. A tone. A look.

The frozen heat rises up.

Her face feels red, shamed?

Her body tenses, flight?

Her mind snaps – fight!

Hold on. Hold on tight.

No wait, let go! Let go!

Emotions race hot

with acidic words

and burning tears.

A rope burn of emotion.




  1. brian miller said,

    July 4, 2013 at 10:32 pm

    ouch on that last one…was enjoying the story a bit…i know a few cowboys…its intense riding…all that power when the chute opens…you def turned rope burn around a few times taking in facets…nice lines….

    He misses the moments, gets rope burn!
    She holds on too tight, they go. Rope burn.

  2. Waltermarks said,

    July 4, 2013 at 10:36 pm

    That’s interesting. It took me a while to figure out where you were going, but I like the usage of rope burns in several different metaphors

  3. July 4, 2013 at 10:40 pm

    Very engaging read, nice job 🙂

  4. ManicDdaily said,

    July 5, 2013 at 12:00 am

    This sums up so much. I found the beginning especially engaging – you paint the scene and the person so very strongly – with the molasses and the focus on the leading by the nose not getting caught in the horns! Really well done. k.

  5. Marya said,

    July 5, 2013 at 1:55 am

    Oh, I like the picture you paint in the first verse with no descriptions at all, just thoughts. And then all of the imagery and the contrast between him and her. And finally, boom! Emotional rope burn. Well crafted, Shannyn!

  6. claudia said,

    July 5, 2013 at 3:56 am

    the art of knowing when to hold tight and when to let go… i like the rope burn image…makes something abstract so palpable

  7. July 5, 2013 at 8:44 am

    I like the way you told the story and each poem had it’s own mood, from tense and manly of the cowboy, a strong beat, to the lovely romantic and the end. All the way you kept the image of the rope with rope burns and letting go. You used the moods real well in my eyes.

  8. wolfsrosebud said,

    July 5, 2013 at 12:27 pm

    loved the analogies here… the tension built up nicely… don’t sweat the small stuff and everything is small

  9. July 5, 2013 at 10:01 pm

    This is just wonderful, how you wove that analogical rope from frame to frame creating such a life lesson. I find it so easy to hold on too tight and have the burns and scars to prove it. Have to chuckle…I golfed this morning and forgot the lesson a pro taught me once that I like to use as a mantra: “Let the club do the work!”

  10. July 6, 2013 at 3:33 am

    The rope weaving throughout the vignettes helps to heighten the tension of your atmosphere. Each story and characterization illuminates another aspect of the conceit winding up to your emotive conclusion. Punctuation and the consistent length of the lines also contributed to the mood, nicely done.

  11. July 6, 2013 at 9:43 am

    The first verse set up the “rope burns” for throughout the other verses, and held the common ground even as the mood changed from verse to verse. Great write.

  12. MarinaSofia said,

    July 6, 2013 at 11:03 am

    Ah, touche there, I think! The balance between tense and slack, the rope burn of life however we approach it… It took me a while (and several readings) to understand the poem, but it created an instant feeling of empathy in me.

  13. SSMatthews said,

    July 17, 2013 at 8:25 pm

    A very nice compilation of scenes, solid images and of course, rope burns! Enjoyed this very much.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: