Kip Willis
Ode to Cowboy Poetry

 Tony Blisard
First Performance

 Dusty Grange
Today's Cowboy Poet

Barry Butler
The One That Got Away

Omar West
 The Cowboy Poet Gathering

Hal Swift
Write, er Git Left Behind

eric lee
Cowboy Poetry Gathering.. or "How t'write cowboy po'try

C. W. (Charles) Bell
Writin' and Recitin'

John Anderson
Cowboys 'n Poetry



Page Seven of Seven




Ode to Cowboy Poetry

Been do’n me some thinking,
just sittn’ here at my desk.
About all the cowboy poets
An how they pass the test.

I wonders on the lingo
That they pass off for prose,
An their sentimental wanderings
As a tear rolls off their nose.

Memory must kick in gear
As they watch a hoss munch on grass
Or about swimin’ in the cow pond
With a bunch of jumpin’ bass.

They ponders upon adventures
That left them sick 'n lame.
Or on their son's humble beginnin’s
And his rise to fame.

They poke fun about their wives,
Their money er their gain
A-ropin' steers on a ticket
Or loadin’ cattle on a train.

They speak of good ol’ hoss sense
Learned the hard way around
Then advise you sincerely,
How to get pounded in the ground.

They see the beauty in a lonely soul
Or the Devil in the dirt,
When they behold a piece of earthly Heaven
They sob like they’ve been hurt.

They cry the blues of broken hearts
As if their heart would burst!
An’ tidy up all their words
So’s you won’t think they curse.

Where‘er their mind may meander
On prairie or down a dusty lane
Or in the rodeo arena
Somethins’ mighty plain.

As you read them cowboy poems
A love of life just fills yur breast,
An you saddle up your own steed
So you too can pass the test.

© 2009, Kip N. Willis
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.



Read about Kip Willis's here.


Words of rhyme that never end
Stories of where this cowboy's been
Writing down lines with aching hand
Sore from handling horses and working land

Words written with twig, scratched in soil
Sharing the life from where I toil
Whether setting a saddle or tending the herd
Always finding time for a line or a word

Sometimes making not a whole lot of sense
Who's ever heard of tamping post or electric fence
Pink horizons wink a slow setting sun
Horses are fed, lines written, chores done

© Tony Blisard
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

Read more of Tony Blisard's poetry here.

First Performance

Sauntering along cobbled walkways
Giggling spur rowel touching the ear
Oil-tanned duster dancing upon stirring breezes
Black conchoed hat shading sultry eyes
Putting all aside for traditions sake
A cowboy has come to perform

Stepping on stage, scared to death
Microphone's poignant smell of cigarette smoke
Lights blinding glare exciting the moment
Sweats profuse presence, gorged on emotion
Body tingling with electric current
A trembling voice begins to speak

Soulful pouring upon anxious ears
Welling tears streaming down her face
A woman has started to cry
Almost stopping, humbled by the thought
Inspired too hold nothing back
Words echo exact meter and time

Stepping down exhausted, everything left behind
Wandering through aisles of applause
Reluctant that this is real
Collapsing into a familiar chair
The overwhelming reality, I touched a tear

© 2001, Tony Blisard
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.


Read more of Tony Blisard's poetry here.


Today's Cowboy Poet

Takin' the cowboy along, the west's almost gone as both are turnin' rare
It leaves behind another kind who wish they lived back there
We live the land and take pen to hand about like it was before
To ride the west when it was best with openness galore
 We stand the stage in imaginary sage and pull our cinches tight
To all the folk, their minds we'll stoke till imaginations light
To live today one can say a fella'll never know
That's why we're here for folks to leer and listen to our show
To take ya back with nothin' to lack in our verbal time machine
Back to the days and cowboy ways when the air was crisp and clean
With a heartfelt wail we'll tell our tale about a never endin' plight
As to how it felt with gun on yore belt to be in that tombstone fight
Lookin' behind yore eyes at the big open skies as ya drive ol' Loving's herd
With leather at yore seat ridin' tir'd and beat puttin' the sting in every word
Folks'll soon learn how we all yearn to live a life in the past
It seems strange the shape of the range just changed too durned fast
But we as a group still shake a loop and keep to the cowboy way
We're a sort born a century short of livin' the western day
So we paint a scheme of an unlived dream and hope ya understand
As we tell our poem our minds will roam with mental hoofs across the land
And the next time ya see a fella like me with work that I ignore
With a half cleaned stall I'll hear the call of the west for evermore
Scribblin' a mite with pen movin' light for shore I'll bet ya know it
One of them for shore we're filled to the core we're today's cowboy poet

© Dusty Grange
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.


Read more of Dusty Grange's poetry here.

The One That Got Away

I met Baxter in the men's room at Payless today
Wasn't sure it was him, so said howdy this way:
"You bear a resemblance to that poetry man,"
Whereupon he responded, "That's good, 'cause I am!"

I said, "Sorry I missed your performance last week."
His reply was a quiet, "So am I, well, I think."
We talked a bit more, but my son had to go
So behind separate doors we all. . . well, you know.

What does one say to a man so revered?
Do you just keep the silence or bend on his ear?
He's captive behind metal doors, in a way.
I'll show off a little, but what do I say?

I made up my mind and recited my poem*
Then my mind it went blank  . . . and it started to roam.
Did I do the right thing?  After all, he's a pro
And I'm just a wannabe . . words, they come slow.

In the moments that followed my plans went awry
To impress that great bard . . ..perhaps one more try.
My son was there with me, we wouldn't be long
But in no time at all, with a whoosh. . . Bax was gone.

I met Baxter Black in the men's room today.
Like catchin' the big one . . .that then got away!

A Paraphrase of a True Encounter, March 5, 2001
With loving critiquing by my wife, Anna.
©2001 Barry Butler
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.


Read more of Barry Butler's poetry here.


The Cowboy Poetry Gathering

In Elko, there’s a Gathering
     For Cowboy Poetry
Around the end of January
     That’s the place to be.

You think you’ve seen a thing or two
     But here is one sure bet
Until you’ve been to Elko, Pard
     You aint seen nothin’ yet !

The poets and performers
     And musicians that appear
Are only just the finest
     That you’re ever going to hear.

Although some Cowboy shows are great
     And some you won’t forget
Until you hear these folks perform
     You aint heard nothin’ yet !!

You meet with all the poets
     And you talk with everyone
And there’s dancin’ and carousin’
     If you don’t mind havin’ fun.

The Cowboy Poetry Gathering
     Is good as good can get
Until you’ve been to Elko, Pard
     You aint been nowhere yet !!!

© 2000 Omar West
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

Read more of Omar West's poetry here.



Write, er Git Left Behind

When I started puttin' down words on paper
It was a novel I planned t'write
Never thought t'write no cowboy poems
I never even figgered I might

Then a cowboy friend, he up an' died
An' there was somethin' I needed t'say
So I set down here at m'big ol' Mac
An' jist started typin' away

Next thing y'know the words started t'rhyme
An' I found it was kinda fun
I'd wrote a cowboy poem that was good
But then couldn't stop at one

Now the things jist rattle aroun' in m'head
A doin' their best t'git free
But, one by one I'm gittin' 'em out
An' it's sure a puzzle t'me

I had no idea I could write sich things
Much less that people'd read 'em
But I git one done an' they's two more here
I hardly kin wait t'complete 'em

I'll be settin' aroun' not thinkin' a'much
Then somethin'll come t'mind
An' when the words to a poem start tumblin' out
I either write, er git left behind

My wife says I git in kind of a trance
An' write like a house afire
An' when I'm done I got a cowboy poem
With words that sometimes inspire

But sometimes they don't, they're jist plain funny
An' that's okay with me, too
So I'm a cowboy poet, an' like it er not
It's somethin' that I gotta do

© 2001, Hal Swift
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

Read more of Hal Swift's poetry here.


Cowboy Poetry Gathering...
(or "How t'write cowboy po'try")

Was Sharlot Hall, in Prescott; I went down to hear Mike Dunn
an' read some of my own stuff (kinda mostly just for fun).
Lloyd Shelby read some po'try, but I missed Byrd Woodward there...
then I stepped outside to get some air.

An old man with a face like hard years handed me a beer
an' said "You told a story 'bout my own life inside there!
It made me sorta misty-eyed" he told me, soundin' gruff.
"Tell me, do you write that stuff?"

(Well, to me, that there's a poser, 'cause I never could'a not!
If I didn't write these rhymes of cowboy life, I don't know what
would keep me sane. I live a world, these days, that's hard and fast
and there's memories that I just need to last.)

I told him "One part mem'ries of my Pa's red beans an' bacon,
one slug of good, strong whiskey while the coffee's still a makin'...
one dose of stock-yard perfume, two of Granny's Good-Book readin'.
That's the first part of what-all you'll be needin'.

"Stir in one good taste of oak-wood campfire smoke
that follers ever'where you move until yer like t'choke!
Add deals behind the chutes fer yer best buddy's vicoden
('cause doctor bills are so high it's a sin!)

"blend it slow with all the times you come up one point shy
and add the gal you lost for what you done that loser's night
and how you miss her now. Mix in GrandDaddy's best advice
an' all the things you never will do twice!"

"Spice with the jaw you aimed for, that drunk night you broke your knuckle
an' the way you felt the day they handed you that first gold buckle!
Cook it slow with all the smells that mix to tell you 'home'
and with some luck, you got a cowboy po'm!"

The ol' man handed me another beer, an' told me "Son,
thanks for takin' time to talk". He squinted at the sun
an' said "I better git fer home, 'cause supper's likely on
an' with three kids, if I'm late, it'll all be gone!"

I heard 'em call my name, just then, so I went back inside
and read another rhyme about another real hard ride
but midway, I recalled the thing I'd missed about my life.
'cause I really should'a told 'im 'bout my wife

but if he had supper waitin', that's a part that he knew well
about a cowboy's life, and one I had no need to tell.
If he had her and three strong kids a'waitin' there at home
he had a dang good start on his own po'm.

© 2005, eric lee
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.


Read more of eric lee's poetry here


Writin' and Recitin'

Now I'm no stranger to performin', been doin' it most alla my life.
Been singin' it seems since my teens with the girl who became my wife.
When we were young I courted her with an occasional rhyme,
And after a bump in the road or two she hired me on full time.

The years passed by, we continued to sing, performing now and then
And besides makin' a livin,--and babies-- I still had some time to pen.
Then after retiring from my work, I joined a male quartet,
And the singin' and performin' continued, t'was the best performin' yet.

At a gig a couple of years ago we sang in the Western style,
And I wrote a cowboy poem, to give the folks a smile.
The poem was about my cowboy days when I was a cocky youth,
And although somewhat embellished, it had a ring of truth.

Writin' that poem set me a thinkin' I'd like to write some more
And I began to enjoy the writin' more than ever before
Some of my poems got published on the internet.
'N that turned out to be fer me the biggest thrill as yet.

Back a while I had a chance to use my performin' skill
But the idea of recitin' poems sorta made me ill,
For I was invited to compete in the Poetry Rodeo.
So I hitched up my jeans 'n courage 'n told 'em I would go.

Well, I looked at my cowboy duds and they were pretty rough,
So I went out and bought new jeans 'n boots 'n shirts 'n stuff
Then I decided which poem to do and tried to memorize,
I tried and tried but all I could do was set and agonize,

A thinkin' that writin' these poems was lots easier to do
Than standin' up and sayin' the words and actin' them out too.
I wondered why 'twas easier to learn and sing a song?
What was there 'bout recitin' made everythin' go wrong?

Well, August came and wife and I took off in our S-U-V,
And drove to Kanab so I could meet my poetry destiny.
I loved rubbin' shoulders and jawin' with the cowboy poet Elite
But when it came time to recite my stuff --I got a case of cold feet!

Me! The seasoned performer of sixty odd years or more,
I fumbled and froze and forgot some words, like I'd never performed before.
Of course I didn't win the prize, but I really learned a lot--
I learned that I can write 'em, but-- a reciter of poems I'm not!

Well, after I wrote and worked this poem, I looked it over a bit,
And right away it occurred to me, that day when I took the hit,
It was my own durn fault, you see, why the problem came to be,
'Cause I turned out to be a self-fulfillin' prophecy!

© 2005, C. W. Bell, All Rights Reserved. 
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

Charley told us: I wrote this poem after having read an essay by Rod Miller, "Five Ways Cowboy Poetry Fades in the Footlights." Rod lists different kinds of writers of cowboy poetry. I like to think I fit into this one: 'Some people simply love language and like to play with it. 


Read more of C. W. (Charles) Bell's poetry here

Cowboys 'n Poetry

Cowboys 'n Poetry!  Who'd'a thunk that you could ever mix 'em!
The way they talk, all drawley-like, you'd think their words'd trix 'em!

Roundin' up stray metaphors, to corral with wild c'ntractions
Makes the Cowboy's lang-u-age some kinda Wild West Attraction.

Jumpin' on a buckin' proverb and ridin' to the end,
Can make the baddest English-buster come up short of wind.

So take a deep seat, give your nod, and mark them phrases out!
Talkin' like you know your stuff, is what it's all about!

Y'know, Cowboys ain't just reg'lar, they be a special breed.
To make the word or phrase that says it, is to them a special deed.

Y'see, a buck-rein ain't a buck-rein, unless there's only one,
And a Hooey's just a half-hitch that says the tyin's done.

There ain't no dogs in 'Doggin', and the bendin' poles don't bend,
And the cuts that cuttin' horses make, ain't the kind you need to mend.

Now, when you cut a bull or stud-horse, that ain't what you get back,
And if a saddle's just a saddle, then what the heck's a KACK?

If ropes are just for ropin', why lasso, or lariat?
Is it tyin' fast or dallyin' that makes 'em win the set?

They 'dog the steers, and ride the bulls, and jerk the flank-strap tight.
They resin the riggin' then lift up a hand, just to make it seem a fair fight.

A cowboy's a cowboy his entire life, though cattleman he may become,
And, boy-like, keeps his countrified speech, even if they think he's dumb.

So, ride the wild sentence, young cowboy, and ear down a word picture, too.
If you didn't talk funny, and massacree words, we couldn't be sure it was YOU!

© 2006, John Anderson
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.


Read more of John Anderson's poetry here.






Page Seven of Seven



 What's New | Poems | Search

 Features | Events  

The BAR-D Roundup | Cowboy Poetry Week

Poetry Submissions 

Subscribe | Newsletter | Contact Us

  Join Us!


Authors retain copyright to their work; obtain an author's
permission before using a poem in any form. is a project of the Center for Western and Cowboy Poetry, Inc., a Federal and California tax-exempt non-profit 501 (c) (3) organization.  


Site copyright information