2011 North Dakota
Senior Poet Laureate
Theodore B. Skaggs

Theodore Skaggs, aka Chance T.B., is a returning guest Senior Poet Laureate visiting from North Dakota in 2010/2011. He is between 70-80 years of age, depending on which persona the creative mind-traveling writer/engineer portrays. When not scriptwriting, the winner of a 2011 Jack London Award from the California Writers Club, is professionally known as Harold E. Grice, owner of Grice Enginering in Salinas, CA. He is past president of the Central Coast Writers branch of California Writers Club, a storyteller by nature, and Virgoan by birth.


That North Dakota's so cold my brain near froze up,
So I took the color from the cricks an’ sluices’s an’ such
an’ threw it on Burro an' hauled it to the bank there in Killdeer.
I takes Burro inside an’ spill it out, an' ask, “How much?”

The clerk gasps, mouth open an' eyes big, “I don’no!”
An' he holler for ol’ fancy pants Bernard,
Who come a-strutting out all puffed up like important.
Look hard to the pile a-color spill off Burro, thinking hard.

Says he, “We’ll take it,” eyes a-blaze, “get it analyzed, credit your account.”
“You gotta give me a receipt for how much,” I says to him.
“What for? We gonna get you how much it is when we get it.”
“I’ll just go take it over to that there bank in Dickinson.”

“No--no--no!” shouts Bernard, “We’ll take it down to Bismarck.”
“I’ll be a-going with it. It ain’t a-gonna be out-a my sight,”
I tells him, an' get in the carry van with the poke an' guys a- takin' it.
We gets to Bismarck an' take it in. I make sure it’s there all right.

Well, they counts it an’ weighs it an’ assays it, all the while markin' on paper;
Then they comes an' invites me in to this big office. I go in an' stands a-lookin’.
He looks old, mean an’ dried up an’ scratchy faced, grins, “Who the hell you rob, Chance Tee?”
“Weren’t the ones you already done robbed in this here bank, Billy-doon.”

“Well, let me say you got the goodly part of a fortune there.”
He signs a paper and pushes it across. “We’ll be takin' care of it for you.”
I look at the paper. It ain’t got zeroes, jus’ numbers, sluice gold don’t come that way.
“That’d be good,” I says to old Billy-doon. “'Cause I don’no what’m gonna do.”

An' I comes out, and stand to thinkin’. An’ all the fillys are a-smiling and glad-eyed.
I supposed it would-a been easy to take one along, one with heft,
them knowin’ I got this here paper with a bunch of numbers, none of 'em zeroes,
but I been heart broke so much an’ again there ain’t a lot of funnin’ left.

So I traipse back up to my cabin on the hill where the sun sees it first.
An' I sits on the porch with the glossy that be in my mail box down to Manderee.
An' I study all the clean sand an’ blue water an’ girls with hardly nothin’ on
an’ I says to Burro, “Ain’t it ‘bout time I done something just for me.”

Burro just yawns, flaps dust off his ears, an' says, "EE-YYAAWW. "
"Shut up! Burro, you ain't nuth'n but a stupid JACKASS! "

Theodore B. Skaggs