Big Joe Haynes

Big Joe Haynes

Big Joe Haynes,
’bout 6-4, 300 pounds of Texan
with a big voice and roaring laugh,
came out of the farmhouse in Razor, Texas
greeting me with a hug that took my breath away
before he ushered me to the screened-in side porch
of that farmhouse in February chill
where i would cling to the Old English Sheepdog pup
under the homemade quilts and blankets
before awaking to hoar frost on the farmyard.

Big Joe Haynes
(who to my knowledge was never called “Big”
by anyone but me)
later asked me to ride over the bridge
in the vintage unknown, faded gray pickup,
across the Red River
to the honky tonks and liquor stores
of Oklahoma because
’bout 100 square miles of northeast Texas
was dry
while Oklahoma across the Red River
was wet,
including the honky tonk where
the older, somewhat worn waitress
flirted with Big Joe Haynes
while we sipped our Pearl beers
until they brought out the case,
which we took across the bridge
to drink into the dark of night
followed by the next morning
while i huddled with the sheepdog
once again under the quilts and blankets
on the cold, cold February porch,
he nudged his granddaughter, my fiancé, awake
to inform her that sailor boy of hers could drink.

Big Joe Haynes asked me if i would help
seine a pond on the south side of the farm;
on the next day, we headed out in the old pickup
while Big Joe Haynes took his right hand off the wheel
to reach back and retrieve the vodka bottle
from behind his side of the bench seat,
holding it between his legs to screw off the cap
before taking a swig and passing it to me
several times before we bounced
across the fields to the pond,
where we took the big seine and swiped
across the pond about a dozen times
in the Texas summer heat,
producing about a dozen medium size crappie
Big Joe Haynes had stocked there
before we took the lively lads to the weeds
to produce a clean pond for the cattle’s water,
leaving to bounce across the farm’s terrain
swigging from the vodka bottle,
laughing a lot on the ride back to the farmhouse.

Big Joe Haynes got too old to work the farm;
i was not there to help him out;
so he and Nannie Kat moved
to a comfortable small house in Paris, Texas,
just south a bit,
which did not fit well with Big Joe Haynes
who, with no farm to work, no ponds to seine,
began to take naps,
getting to be longer and more frequent enough
to put his day bed in the front room of the small house
where he just kept sleeping more
until he died.

i am about the same age as Big Joe Haynes
when he passed to the other side;
i take longer and more frequent naps now
to dream of riding over the Red River
in a beat up faded gray pickup
to drink a Pearl beer with Big Joe Haynes,
to seine a pond and swap swigs out of a vodka bottle
with Big Joe Haynes.

1 thought on “Big Joe Haynes

  1. One of my fondest memories of Grandpa Joe….
    Nannie Kat was in the hospital, momma and I went to check on Grandpa Joe and feed him lunch. Coming through the back, where the screened in porch was, then into the kitchen. ( Not the farm in Razor, but in Paris ). We found Grandpa Joe, sitting in front of the refrigerator, the door open. Him smiling with a beer in his hand, he said, ” Hello puddin’ and puddin’ 2. ” He never spoke much , but when he called me puddin’2. I always relished it. Needless to say, Grandpa Joe, he did not need us to make lunch that day. He took care of it himself.
    Cheers, Grandpa Joe. I miss and love you.
    Puddin’ 2

    Sorry Uncle Jim,
    I got carried away in my own memory.
    Thank you for sharing.
    I love you too,
    Cheers to you, as well.
    Love 💜

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