Cowboy Poetry and Music and More at the BAR-D Ranch

Boulder, Colorado
About Al "Doc" Mehl
Al "Doc" Mehl's web site



Cowboy Pottery

A cowboy...  is like pottery.
(At least by end of day:
His boot prints on the carpet
Leave a trail of thin red clay.)

A cowboy is like pottery:
A spinnin' mound of mud;
That's just soil that's mixed with water,
He's just flesh that's mixed with blood.

A cowboy's built like pottery,
And the method's none too purty;
See, to build yourself a cowboy,
You're gonna get those two hands dirty,

'Cause a cowboy is like earthenware:
He's mostly made of dirt.
And just some time and water
Will usually fix him when he's hurt.

Like pottery, he's hard to clean,
Sometimes you have to rope him in.
(Though I've seen a few who clean up good,
Kinda like fine porcelain!)

And when he goes to break a horse,
Those flanks his boots keep pokin',
Just like pottery, sometimes
The cowboy will get broken.

A cowboy's usually strong,
And on a horse, he's even agile.
But heat him, under pressure,
Just like pott'ry, he'll turn fragile.

Just send him out to mend some fence,
And wrap him in barbed wire,
And cook him in the mid-day sun
Until he's hot as fire;

Then bring him home at end of day
And cool him in the shade,
And watch his eyes "glaze" over
As he sips a lemonade,

Then tips his hat...  and falls asleep.
His manners best be pardoned,
But rest him over night, in time
You'll find...  the cowboy's hardened.

Now send him out into the rain,
You'll find... he's waterproof.
And ask about his grief or pain,
You'll find he's now aloof.

And now, instead of sensitive,
He's got a thicker skin.
And if he ever had emotions,
Now they're locked down deep within.

And through the years, he'll hold that form,
His edges chipped and battered;
Or, if the bronco drops him hard,
You might could find him shattered;

But once that cowboy's hardened
You will never see the day
That he's newly soft and flexible...
Like that younger mound of clay.

© 2003, Al "Doc" Mehl
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

Al told us, "In this age of new technology, even cowboy poets are learning to use computers. So when it was time to open a new file for some of my poems, my imperfect typing skills caused me to label the folder 'Cowboy Potery' instead of 'Cowboy Poetry.' The idea of writing a poem with the accidental title 'Cowboy Pottery' followed. A few months later, I premiered the poem at Old West Days in Valentine Nebraska.  Needless to say, the audience wasn't sure how to respond when I donned a potter's apron and brought out a potter's wheel and a big lump of clay, then thanked them all for inviting me to the Cowboy Pottery Festival.  Good friend Marty Blocker played the straight man, as I acted surprised to learn that the event was a poetry festival, not a pottery festival.  The poem followed Marty's playful reprimand, and the poem's title has since become the title of my first poetry CD, Cowboy Pottery."



Fence Posts Made of Stone

In the heart of central Kansas,
Near my daddy's boyhood home,
There are miles and miles of fences
Where the posts. are made of stone.

In the middle of the Great Plains,
Where a tree could scarce be found,
Men carved out limestone pillars,
And they sunk them in the ground.

Now, when the prairie wind comes blowin',
Those posts don't seem to care,
As the wires strung between them
Dance like jump ropes in the air.

And standin' at attention,
Their shoulders never tire,
As they hold, to either side of them,
Those strands of old barbed wire.

Those posts have stood a hundred years,
They'll stand a thousand more.
And when the wires rust away,
Folks might wonder what they're for.

But like soldiers in formation,
Dressed in limestone grays and whites,
They do more than form a boundary;
They salute a way of life.

They line a road paved with persistence,
Not just a homestead, but a dream
About a family's subsistence.
Those fence posts paint a scene:

It's a wagon, loaded down with stone;
A Morgan fights the reins;
A young man, wet with sweat,
Is buildin' fence out on the plains.

So when it seems I've had a hard day,
As I haul myself back home,
Well, I just imagine Grandpa
Settin' fence posts...   made of stone.

© 2005, Al "Doc" Mehl
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.


Al told us: When I was a small child, my family would drive from our Colorado home to visit the grandparents in Abilene, Kansas.  While there, I would climb and play on the old stock yard fences, remnants of the great cattle drives that took place nearly a century before.  As a boy, I'm sure I noticed (but never paid much attention to) the stone fence posts so unique to central Kansas. At the time, I didn't think twice about the origins of the stone posts, or the fact that nineteenth-century homesteaders in Kansas quickly discovered that there weren't any trees from which to fashion wooden fence posts.  Only a half century later did I remember those stone fence posts, watching the neat rows of tiny historical monuments fly by at 70 miles per hour, as my son and I traveled across Kansas on the interstate highway.  With son James at the wheel, I pulled out a pencil and a scrap of paper, and the poem "Fence Posts Made of Stone" was finished before we crossed the state line.


The Great Depression

From my Daddy, I've learned more than I can say.  (But less than he

Back in junior high, while tryin' to complete a his'try lesson
There at home, I asked my dad if he recalled the Great Depression.
Now my dad was usually helpful, but he answered, "Mostly, no,"
Sayin', "I was awfully young back then.I have one mem'ry, though:

Let's see, I was just a boy, 'bout five years old... no, maybe four.
When a family with three children come a-knockin' at our door.
Now, our home was in the country, we were far from any town,
As for daytime visitors, they purt much never came around.
But right there stood five thin people.  And they looked like skin and bones.
In a single carpetbag, the dad had purt much all they owned.

With her outstretched arms, the mother held the children by her side;
And the daddy stood behind them.  I could sense his fading pride.
Now "depression" is a word from economics, and a mood;
See, a man gets feelin' low, with first no job, and then no food.

All their clothes were lookin' threadbare, and their shoes, some holes were showin'.
No idea where they'd come from, where on earth they might be goin'.
"Beg your pardon, ma'am," the man said, slipped his hat down off his head,
"It ain't right for me to ask, but...could the children have some bread?"

He was askin' for our food!  It seemed to me this man was crazy.
Just a good-for-nothin' unemployed freeloader.  He was lazy,
Just a bum!  Heck, we were strugglin'. I guess "poor's" the word I mean.
Or you might say we were "dirt poor," but that's not bad as it seems.

See, by "dirt poor," what I mean is that we owned a piece of land.
On that little patch of dirt, we made a livin' with our hands.
Through the bounty of a harvest, we'd put food upon the table,
And my mom was 'bout to show me that we'd share, when we were able.

"Yes, indeed," my mama said, "Well, yes, of course, please do come in."
And she served each child a bread slice from the battered kitchen tin.
It was then, to my amazement, that those children filled their bellies
With those slices of dry bread, without no butter or no jelly!

Eatin' bread without no jelly?  Couldn't 'magine such a thing!
And so I whispered to my mama, and I asked if I could bring
A jar of jelly to the children, and her smile got big and bright,
And she spoke to all the guests, "My friends, what say we do this right?"

Then I ran to set the table with three different kinds of jam!
Mama peeled a couple cucumbers, and sliced some salted ham,
And I picked a bag of snap peas, and we scrubbed a dozen carrots.
All the children washed their hands, and then we all sat down to share it.

Then that family bowed their heads.  The mama cried into her sleeve.
And the daddy prayed, "Dear Lord, please bless this food we now receive."
Then we had ourselves a feast!  That mem'ry's clear through years gone by.
Think I learned about the spirit of Thanksgiving... that July.

Son, those are my only memories about the Great Depression,"
Said my dad, and then he added, "But it sure taught me one lesson:
Were we poor, or were we rich?  Now, there's a fine distinction there;
I'd define it not by what you have... instead, by what you share."

© 2004, Al "Doc" Mehl
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

Al told us: This poem is just about as close to a true story as you will find in cowboy poetry. Just like the opening line says, it was a junior high school assignment (some 40 years ago) that prompted me to ask my father what he remembered about the Great Depression. And the story in the poem is pretty much what I heard from my father in response. Even one or two details that seemed convenient in completing the rhyming sequence turned out to be more true than I realized at the time.  Recently, I enjoyed the great pleasure of reciting the poem on stage in front of dear old dad himself, now 78 years old and stronger than an ox. He has been the inspiration for this poem along with several others. The poem is dedicated to my father, Clint Mehl, and to the memory of the Mehl family getting through those tough times in the heart of central Kansas.

The first photo below was featured in our weekly Picture the West feature, and Al shared additional photos.

Al comments on this photo and the others, below: Times were hard in the early 1930's.  There certainly wasn't enough spending money to buy fancy toys from the local department store.  But on the Mehl family farm near Abilene, Kansas, the kids could always pull out the homemade sled and create some winter fun on the snow.  In this photo, a very young Clint Mehl, my father, stands atop the sled pulled by his older sister, Elva.

Clint as a young boy, the shadow figure of his mother (referenced in the poem as well), and the family hog (also referenced in the poem when they served some "salted ham").

Young Clint holding a chicken.

Baby Clint sitting up tall in a baby walker of the era, circa 1930.


The Great Divide

Great Grandpa Mehl was born in West Virginia, 1849.
The old log home where he was born sat on the Mason Dixon Line.

Now if the baby'd been a girl, they would've dressed her up in pink,
But when they saw it was a boy, they maybe had to pause and think.

Of course, you'd usually dress a boy in blue, but this boy, hard to say;
Would he wear blue just like the Union men, or maybe Rebel gray?

And, later, Gramps was born in Kansas; it was 1881,
A couple years before the Texas cattle drives were fin'lly done.

It was a complicated birth, left him a palsy in one arm,
So, though he might have been a cowboy, now he'd have to learn to farm.

And then my dad was born near Ab'lene, of a doctor's helpin' hand.
Would this boy someday move to town, or maybe stay to work the land?

Would he be learnin' 'bout the thresher and the old style bailin' hooks,
Or maybe learnin' from a schoolmarm, and a library of books?

Me, I was born in Wichita, and though my daddy's life was gritty,
Would I ever know the land, or would I live in some big city?

Would I walk a new direction, or trod 'long in daddy's boots?
Would I be turnin' 'way from his'try, or be searchin' for my roots?

See, at the time of procreation, it's as if a coin is tossed,
And only one road can be taken; somethin's gained, but somethin's lost.

Each brand new baby comes into this world upon a shiftin' tide,
And every birth is like a raindrop...fallin' on the Great Divide.

© 2007, Al "Doc" Mehl
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

Al Mehl comments: Recently, I encouraged my father to recount the stories of his family's experiences homesteading in central Kansas. I was particularly intrigued when he reported the year of his father's birth to me. This man (my grandfather) Fred Mehl, was born during the glory years of the American cowboy, and born in the vicinity of the town that marked the northern terminus of the Chisholm Trail, Abilene, Kansas. I could only imagine that young boy, growing up and dreaming of life as a cowboy, a life he could reach out and touch. As a child, he was living close enough to these original cowboys to taste the life about which most of us today might only fantasize. And yet, instead of becoming a cowboy, the young man grew up to be a farmer. The poem grew from an exploration of the unseen forces which might have been guiding not only this man's fate, but the fates of generations who came be! fore and after him as well. I now live at the foot of the mighty Rocky Mountains, about as far east of the Continental Divide as my father lives west, and so the metaphor of each new generation being balanced atop the Great Divide became palpable as the poem was drawing to a conclusion.


Above: Al Mehl's great grandfather, Henry Mehl and his grandfather, Fred Mehl.  Below: The home built by Fred Mehl outside of Abilene, Kansas. 



The Mav'rick

Beside this fire, I’ll tell a story ‘bout a Texas longhorn steer,

And by the time I’m done, I ‘spect you’ll come to taste a trace of fear,


Because this longhorn isn’t like the cattle you’ve pushed down the trail;

And just the thought of seein’ him’s enough to turn most cowboys pale.


Now, I’ve been told that he looks old.  As for his color, hard to say;

You see he’s marked with black, and tan, and rust, and roan, and charcoal gray.


He measures wide across the shoulder, and he stands ‘bout fourteen hand,

And seems his eyes look even older.  And he doesn’t sport a brand,


You see, they say that he’s a mav’rick from the herds of Pancho Villa.

And he lives off sage and mesquite, and the leaves of manzanilla.


Wanderin’ up from Northern Mexico, he crossed the Rio Grande,

And then he crossed the Devil Ridge, and then the desert of white sand,


And fin'lly crossed the Southern Rockies, where the lower peaks allow.

He wears a marking like a crucifix across his leathered brow.


It seems he ran the Mason grassfire, and that’s how his hooves got burned,

And some folks say he gored a cowboy, and that’s how one horn got turned. 


Well, now, he’s got to be a ghost, because they say he never ages;

Men have seen him walk through fence rails and the bars of makeshift cages.


I can see my story frightens, and it really isn’t meant ta,

But they say that he’s still out there… in the desert near Kayenta.


They say if you see the Mav’rick, you will never be the same,

And you might newly be possessed of powers you cannot explain.


And it’s been said that if you see him, you will never take a wife,

And that the horn you gaze on first just might predict your afterlife;


You see, it seems one horn is pointed up, toward heaven, so they tell,

And, well, the other horn is twisted ‘round, and pointed down… toward hell.


Now, as for if I’ve ever seen him, I’m not sure that I can say,

Although I s’ppose I ought to tell you ’bout one fateful August day.


Rode out alone, beyond the butte, there were some strays I’d hoped to find,

And, well, the mid-day desert sun can maybe trick a cowboy’s mind.


You see, my eyes were feelin’ heavy, but my heart was racin’ fast,

And when I crossed a steep arroyo, maybe heard those strays at last…


And there he was!  Just like a vision, as I dropped in from the gap,

That longhorn standin’ by a crik that never showed on any map.


The Mav’rick stared at me, our eyes were locked; my pony turned his head,

And from the scent, the pony seemed to sense, this longhorn must be dead.


Then maybe time stood still; my breathin’ stopped; that Mav’rick stood his mark.

And I did not show up in camp again ‘til couple hours past dark,


And I could not remember nothin’!  And they asked if I’s insane.

And as for how I made it back to camp, I never could explain.


And that old trail boss called me “loco,” and the cowboys shook their heads,

And then a couple laughed at me while crawlin’ back into their beds.


But me, I knew that somethin’ happened in that August desert sun;

See, somethin’ there was lost forever.  But then somethin’ else was won…


‘Cause when I go to throw a loop now, well, you know I never miss.

And lately, under me, a wild bronc turns as gentle as a kiss.


And if I ride a moonless night, it seems my pony never falters.

And you know, of course, I never took a bride up to the altar.


Guess I’ll finish up my story, now the fire is just an ember.

And which horn did I see first, you ask? 


Damned if I remember.

© 2007, Al "Doc" Mehl
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.


Al comments: In October of 2006, I had the honor of performing at the Durango Cowboy Poetry Gathering in southwestern Colorado.  Each year in Durango, a piece of western fine art is recognized, and a poster of the artwork is made available as part of the festivities.  Cowboy poets in attendance are encouraged to write a poem about the poster for a special one hour session of poetry.  In 2006, a painting titled "And There He Was" by Tom Lea was presented.   Set in the desert southwest in the shadow of a great red sandstone butte, the scene pictured a cowboy on horseback in the foreground, staring across a tiny stream at a longhorn steer just a stone's throw away.  My own poem gradually began emerging through a description of the scene in the painting.  But when I decided to include the rhyming words "manzanilla" and "Pancho Villa," I suddenly realized that the longhorn must be a ghost.  From that revelation, the poem took shape, and eventually became my first-ever ghost-story poem.  


Room With a View

From a cedar timbered line shack built a hundred years ago,

Through a smoky pane of glass, I gaze upon a field of snow.

Trapped inside the rough-sawn framing of that wood-planked window trim,

Antique glass becomes a canvas for the masterpiece within.


In the foreground runs a barb'd wire fence, the points have dulled with age,

Three embroidered lines, like still-fresh ink upon a brand new page.

Marking time like measured music 'cross the lines that someone wrote,

Ancient gnarly wooden fenceposts sweat the tar of creosote.


Two old magpies on the upper wire, content to strike a pose,

Their long tails swept back to balance 'top the fulcrum of their toes,

Like a pair of high-wire artists, frozen there as if to rest,

Starchy shirts under the jackets of an evening's formal dress.


In the billowed cotton mid-ground, cloaked in hoods of sooty stain,

Geese from Canada push 'round their tapered beaks for bits of grain.

And their creamy feathered breasts take on the color of a fog,

While their mottled backs and wings appear as bark upon a log.


In the background, at a distance, gathered tightly in the fold,

'Bout a hundred head, black baldies, markin' time out in the cold.

And each coal dust silhouette sports bleaching 'round the nose and eyes,

Like the shimmer of a crescent moon against a midnight sky.


Overlapping clouds diffuse the light, a muted solar glow;

Crystal sparks drop gently from an air that's 'bout too cold to snow.

At the far side of the pasture, the horizon's lost from sight;

There's no scale for judgin' distance, sky and ground both look alike.


Every day, I see the beauty of this life to which I'm bound,

Scattered fractured rays of color from a prism finely ground.

God's creation is a marvel, and his palette's quite a sight,

But it seems today that God's work in black and white.

© 2008, Al "Doc" Mehl
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.


 Al comments: Our Boulder, Colorado home isn't exactly a line shack, and our picture window isn't exactly an old smoky pane of glass, but this poem pretty much describes the view from our family room in the winter. One cold January day, I was intrigued by the alignment of the magpies sitting atop the wire fence in the foreground, the Canada geese milling around not far behind, and a collection of black baldies in the distance. Combined on this particular day with the stark silhouettes of leafless trees, the overcast sky, and the snow-covered pasture, the pastoral scene was remarkable for the sheer absence of all color. Just as an old black-and-white movie takes us back in time to the days of our childhood, the view that morning seemed to capture the spirit of times gone by.




I'd Rather Be

I’m told there’s a home for old cowboys

On the outskirts of north Abilene.

At the top of the stairs, he sits in a chair,

In the dim light of burnt kerosene.


And it’s there that he stares from a window

At a pasture that once was a trail.

It’s clear, when he’s asked, that he lives in the past,

As his heart and his memories fail.


But it’s told that he rode with the Goodnights,

And they say that he once rodeo-ed.

Life’s pretty full when you’re mountin’ the bull,

But now he can’t even mount the commode.


          He’s thinkin’, “I’d rather be well than ill,

          But I’d rather be ill than old,

          I’d rather be old than dead, I fear…

          But I’d rather be dead than here.”


They say there’s a place for old horses. 

(Not a barn, but a broken-down shack.)

Half-blind or lame, they’ll offer ‘em grain,

And a place they can walk ‘round the back.


Pacing the fence, a gray stallion,

With a limp and a sway in his back.

How could he hold an old cowboy,

When he can’t even carry the tack?


But they say that he ran with wild mustangs

Under a Montana sky.

Now he’s haunted, at last, by the years that have passed;

You can tell by the look in his eye.


          He’s thinking, “I’d rather be well than ill,

          But I’d rather be ill than old,

          I’d rather be old than dead, I fear…

          But I’d rather be dead than here.”


One night the old man climbed down the stairway,

And pushed his way out the front screen.

Then somehow that horse appeared by the porch,

As if it were all in a dream.


Somehow the cowboy tossed up a saddle,

And reached out to pull the cinch tight.

Then drawn by the ghosts of old cattle,

They together rode into the night,


          Singin’, “I’d rather be well than ill,

          But I’d rather be ill than old,

          I’d rather be old than dead, I suppose.

          (Dead’s just a bad way to wear some fresh clothes.)

          I’d rather be old than dead, I fear.”

          Then together… they rode out of here.

© 2008, Al "Doc" Mehl
These lyrics may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

Al told us about the song's inspiration, "One Saturday morning, I woke up achy from the top of my head to the tips of my toes. No cough, no fever, no upset stomach, just achy all over. It lasted all day, and Sunday was no better. Late that Sunday evening, I turned to my wife and lamented, 'Hon, I sure hope I’m sick. Because if I’m not sick…I just got old.' The song 'I’d Rather Be…' followed, and has become a real crowd pleaser. Seems that the travails of growing old are a universal theme."

The song is the title track to Al "Doc" Mehl's I’d Rather Be… CD.




This is one mis’rable profession, days of dirt and nights of fear,
The loss of limb, the loss of comfort, haulin’ hay, barb’d wire, and gear.
It ain’t a job for most, and goodness knows these clothes don’t make the man;
The only reason why we cowboy… is to get a real good tan.

In early spring, when we’re out calvin’, that low sun will hit your face,
Those southern rays of less intensity provide a real good base.
We equalize our sun exposure, as we’re comin’ or we’re leavin’,
Ride out west, then east, in measures, to assure the tan is even.

Then we ride the river slowly, soakin’ up reflected rays,
We tip the head a bit to darken in where every shadow lays.
And even after sun is set, we’ll bask in early evening twilight,
Those refracted beams of harvest moon will leave a real good highlight.

We don’t care much ‘bout the chest and back, in fact we never check,
Because we’re focused on the muted tones about the face and neck.
That is the image we are proudest of, and hope the world to see,
And so we loosen up our collars, tanning in that letter “V.”

It is a friendly competition, through the summer you’ll surmise
That we approach it like a contest, seein’ who can win the prize
To have the deepest, darkest tan, but we’ve all got frustration that
Our narcissism has a bound'ry, underneath that cowboy hat.

We’re gettin’ brown up to the brim line, but it’s snowy white on top.
That’s where the hat’s “forever-shadow” brings the tanning to a stop,
And so the tender scalp stays pale wherever skin lays open bare.
It wasn’t all the bad for me… until I lost most of my hair.

That shadowed upper cranium, it looks like quartz instead of coal.
It’s kinda like the frozen wasteland of a planet’s northern pole.
Below that arctic circle, my dark tan makes me look tough and mean,
But if I tip my hat and bow, folks say I look like Mr. Clean.

Now it’s embarrassing to see folks stare; that line of demarcation
Seems to catch their eye, they wonder why this strange two-tone creation.
So I’m prone to always wear my hat whenever I am able,
At a concert, in the church, or even at the dinner table.

Tried to paint my scalp to match (a splash of lime juice with vermouth);
That failed, and so I built, inside the hat, a tiny tanning booth.
Installed, up top, a solar panel that would make ‘lectricity
To light two bulbs inside the hat: one UVA, one UVB.

And in the center of the hatband, there I placed a little knob
To twist and operate a rheostat, to even out the job.
Then I’d adjust for different voltages, and gauge the copper wire.
I thought it maybe just might work, until I set three hats on fire.

And so I fin'lly learned to live with it, that cranial equator,
Just apply a moisturizer now, a mild exfoliator.
With the face and neck dark brown beneath that alabaster dome,
By fall, it seems I’ve come to look like… a vanilla ice cream cone.

© 2008, Al "Doc" Mehl
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.


Al told us, "There's nothing like a jam session following a successful cowboy poetry gathering. On a Sunday morning in Encampment, Wyoming this last summer, following their annual cowboy poetry and music festival, I met up with a few musicians and we crowded into the town's Visitor Center for a few more laughs and some shared music. I couldn't help but notice that one of the pards was bald as a cue ball, with a dark facial tan that stopped abruptly just above the ears. When we finally broke up the fun and hit the trail back home, I couldn't stop thinking about that signature two-tone look that so many hat-wearing thinning-hair cowboys acquire from their many hours out in the summer sun."



The Braided Country Road

The rolling Sand Hills of Nebraska, that’s the dirt that I call home,

Where all the land is kinda granular, a sug’ry sandy loam.

Now if your dream’s to have an orchard or a farm, you’d better pass,

Because this powdered milky soil is only meant for growin’ grass.


Of course there’s nothin’ wrong with grass, it lays the groundwork for a ranch,

And that’s become this family’s livelihood, at least my humble branch.

We leave our tracks upon that vegetation, foot or horse or wheeled,

Until the grassy wrap is creased, and then the land’s no longer sealed.


For doin’ heavy work, my ancestors used wagons and a team,

A method good enough to last for generations, it would seem.

But when it all got motorized, a truck or car to haul the load,

That seemed to mark the first appearance of the braided country road.


If you drive out through the pasture with that modern horseless carriage,

You’ll leave trails of flattened grass blades runnin’ parallel in marriage,

But with time, the grass is worn away, the tires now newly slicing

Into soil that feels like drivin’ through a cake’s milk choc’late icing.


And those two ruts grow ever deeper, as the soil just melts away,

Eventu’lly, your undercarriage starts to brush against the clay.

That’s when you start a brand new track, your left tires hold the center crease,

Just half a car-width to the right, the road secures a wider lease.


But now the wagon ruts have doubled, grassless scars soon number four;

Before that center ridge is lost you’ll maybe choose to carve one more.

You move out left this time, and line the right side down the center groove,

And plow the fifth and final trough, until it’s fin’lly time to move.


It’s time to start a brand new path, before you’ve pressed your final luck,

To find one tire is off the ground, and you’re high-centered, and you’re stuck.

You jump the whole track way out wide, where all the grass is still alive,

And start the weaving once again, and make another braid of five.


O’re many months, when these five ruts become too deep to navigate,

You’ll start anew, out on the other side, a mirror-image mate.

And through the years, you will complete the trio, three long braids of five,

With ev’ry rut now deep and lifeless, but each thinning ridge alive.


These long artistic prairie carvings, as they wind and serpentine,

Plot out a course across the landscape, triplets lovingly aligned,

Yet pulled together at the gate, a sinew bind placed tenderly,

Just as the mother braids the daughter, native aborigine.


It’s at that binding gate you’ll pause someday, and come to realize

That all three braids are near impassable; they’ll lay before your eyes,

But you’ll be paralyzed to choose which rutted muddy track’s the best…

It’s time to build another gate, and bring the road in from the west.


© 2008, Al "Doc" Mehl
This article may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.


Al comments: "In October of 2008 I was lucky enough to participate in the Old West Days celebration in Valentine, Nebraska. Better yet, Ken Moreland was kind enough to invite me for a visit at his house a few miles down the road. (Turns out Ken's home is a veritable Western History Museum, full of antiques and memorabilia.) Ken and Marty Blocker told me how to find the turn-off, and then both boasted about Ken's new road leading up to his house, 'a great improvement on the old road,' they both commented. Maybe so, but when I arrived I found that the traffic to and from Ken's house had already worn a handful of different grooves into the sandy soil. The poem is written from Ken's perspective, coming from a family that settled and ranched over the years in that corner of the magical Sand Hill country of Nebraska."


This poem and related photos are included in Picture the West.

A Quilt in North Nebraska                          

There’s a quilt in north Nebraska

That’s been sewn into the land;

Rolling grass fields are the fabric,

And the batting’s made of sand.


It’s been trimmed at the horizon

Where it’s pinned against the sky;

Ev’ry stock tank is a button,

Ev’ry windmill is a tie.


And the runs of old barb’d wire,

They are the braided threads with which

Nimble fingers sew a pattern;

Ev’ry fence post is a stitch.


Each square tells a family’s story

Sewn inside a bound’ry fence;

That quilt chronicles a his’try

’Bout the trials of sustenance.


Formed of fabric from those lives,

That quilt will shield us from the storm;

Daytime’s tapestry breathes beauty,

Come the night, ’twill keep us warm.


Pieced a broad mosaic patchwork,

’Tis a blend of life and line;

I should think that some great spirit

Had a hand in the design.


Most folks picture the Almighty

In the image of a man.

But if judgin' by that quilt,

I’d say God has a woman’s hands.


© 2008, Al "Doc" Mehl
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.


Al comments: Several years ago as I was driving into the Sand Hill country of Nebraska to perform at Old West Days in Valentine, I couldn't help thinking of the finely detailed quilting of good friend and accomplished poet Yvonne Hollenbeck (who lives nearby just across the state line in South Dakota). The rolling grass covered hills of this uniquely beautiful countryside reminded me of Yvonne's billowy bed-cover creations, and an idea for a poem began to take shape.

As it turns out, a few scribbles on a loose scrap of paper were all that survived that original inspiration, and the cryptic notes languished in a "poems-in-progress" file until recently. This last fall, poet
Jane Morton was kind enough to present me with a copy of her latest CD titled Turning to Face the Wind. Listening to her recording, I was inspired to revisit my own quilting-poem idea by Jane's somber poem, "Summer '34." In this piece, Jane describes her mother taking up the art of piecing a quilt to combat the loneliness she felt living out on the eastern plains of Colorado. I can still hear Jane's voice: "Mom pieced and pieced and pieced some more, that summer '34; My mother was expecting, and the wind blew evermore."

I pulled my former notes from the file that evening, and it seems the original idea had finally come of age; the poem about the Sand Hill country flowed out onto the page.



Sometimes I feel I maybe oughta
Tell of eastern Colorado,
And the little town where I attended school.
That town had one run-down saloon,
One little school (just one square room),
And just one pump that rang a bell when you’d re-fuel.

’Twas just a little prairie town,
And so the kids from all around
Would have to all take school together, I’m afraid.
And since that county’s population
Wasn’t bent on procreation,
We would number just a couple in each grade.

Now we had one great winter storm,
And couples snuggled to stay warm;
It came on New Year’s Day of 1941.
And in nine months (predictably),
Six couples all birthed progeny,
And in that banner litter… turns out I was one.

See, Mrs. Finn gave birth to twins,
The Guenther triplets then checked in,
One other pair, then me, and Blair, and Adeline.
And, as if joined by one long tether,
We all went through school together,
And became the class of 1959.

Our little school, at least back then,
Had never seen a class of ten;
With our enrollment, it was burstin’ at the seams.
And so, with each successive grade,
A few adjustments would be made
To keep us movin’ toward our graduation dreams.

Now it was spring, my senior year,
I maybe first began to fear
That my straight path toward graduation might be bent.
See, in my class, the other nine,
Unlike myself, were doin’ fine,
So I was mired… in the bottom ten percent!

I s’ppose I really did not get it,
That I did not have the credits
To be graduatin’ with that close-knit pack.
I still recall that teacher’s voice
As she explained she had no choice;
Instead of graduation, I would be held back.

’Twas no big deal (my point of view).
The class of ’60 numbered two,
And now, with me, they’d number three, or so I’d heard.
But, though I hit the books again,
I guess it hurt a little when
I learned that I was ranked… down in the bottom third!

I fell behind, I will admit;
’Twas not “attention deficit,”
In fact, a growing sense of “tension” had begun.
And, in the spring, that old schoolmarm,
She came and led me by the arm,
I’d have to join the class of 1961.

Now in my new class, I should tell ya,
There was just one other fella,
And his study skills would kinda make you laugh.
I figured now I had it made,
Until I fin’lly saw my grades,
And then discovered… I was in the bottom half!

It seemed that I could never win,
And, yes, they held me back again!
I was a pris’ner there inside those iv’ry towers.
I was no longer havin’ fun,
And I was pushin’ twenty-one!
How would I ever earn those last few credit hours?

But then that teacher, I’ll confess,
She fin’lly noticed my distress,
And maybe realized our goals were ’bout the same.
She gave me points for simple rhymes,
And points for showin’ up on time,
And extra credit just for writin’ down my name.

I’d say it felt a little awkward,
Makin’ As for washin’ chalkboard,
Takin’ tests with open books in front of me.
That teacher tried to find a way
To keep me focused on that day
Of graduation I was fin’lly gonna see.

Now I was class of ’62!
And I was celebratin’, too;
You see, I’d earned me that diploma, more or less.
And since there were no babies born
Back there in birth year ’44,
’Twas I who gave… the Valedictory Address!

© 2008, Al "Doc" Mehl
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.


One-room school house, Sand Hill country of Nebraska
This photo is a part of a Picture the West entry that Al "Doc" Mehl shared, here

"Graduation" is included in the Summer, 2010 Rattle poetry journal, in a special "Tribute to Humor." One of Al's poems was also chosen for the Winter, 2008 Rattle issue that celebrated "the poetry of the Western range" with works by 24 cowboy and Western poets. Read about that issue here at the Rattle web site.

Al comments: I had been giving some thought about writing a poem on the topic of a one-room schoolhouse after visiting an old schoolhouse in Nebraska with cowboy and poet Marty Blocker. (Marty even showed me where his own name had been carved into the wood trim around the blackboard about 150 years ago, or so he claimed.) With the image of that schoolhouse in mind, I happened to hear another poet from Wyoming mention that I couldn't possibly be familiar with the name of her hometown, because the town was only big enough to support one gas station and one saloon, and at that moment the first stanza began to take shape.

Of course, we've all heard poets begin a recitation with the words, "This is a true story... honest!" Well, there isn't more than about one kernel of truth in the entire poem "Graduation," but it has nevertheless become a crowd pleaser. And I've had more that one cowboy poet come up to me after hearing the poem, and comment, "That guy in the poem... that was me."



He remembers all the days that he spent horseback,

He remembers every hour of stretchin’ wire.

He remembers every mount,

a number near too high to count,

And the bronco that the waddies called “Spitfire.”


He remembers ’bout the cool shade by the river,

He remembers the dry heat of desert’s noon,

And the buckle that he won

when he rode “Spit” at Pendleton.

And the coyotes’ song against a rising moon.


He remembers workin’ long into the sunset,

He remembers settin’ camp each near-to-dark,

Eatin’ beans instead of meat

aside a campfire’s late-night heat,

And the crackle from the wood sap ’neath the bark.


He remembers how his brother got him started,

And the girl who stole his heart, and stole a year.

He remembers how his mum

would say his father was a bum,

But he can’t remember how he made it here.


And he can’t remember if he shaved this morning,

And he can’t remember how to say his name,

Or what doctor really meant

when she said “vascul’r accident,”

Can’t remember why his right side’s limp and lame.


Now he’s ridin’ down the hallway on a gurney;

Just one buck, and from this saddle he’ll be torn.

With his left hand, holds on tight,

but hangin’ free he sees his right,

And he’s wondrin’ how he’ll ever make the horn.


And instead of chaps and jeans and Tony Lamas,

Seems he’s dressed up in a paisley cotton gown.

And he’s wondrin’ how he’ll fare

without a stitch of underwear

When the gurney rises up to take him down.


But the night nurse saw that belt, and saw the buckle,

And she’s draped that leather strap across his waist,

So the buckle that he won

when he rode “Spit” at Pendleton

Now reflects a little spotlight on his face.


And that buckle’s now a little gleam of sunshine,

And the leather’s like a trusty broke-in rope.

Braced against the gurney rail,

he’ll ride this ne’er-intended trail,

For the night nurse… left him with a ray of hope.

© 2012, Al "Doc" Mehl
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.


Al comments: I'm embarrassed to admit that the poem "Spitfire" represents a missed deadline, or maybe stated more optimistically, represents an undeserved second chance. You see, I was mulling over an idea about the Art Spur activity in early 2012, and thinking about the oil painting created by Shawn Cameron, titled "Mornings on Horseback." I was easily drawn into the first line, starting with "He remembers all the days that he spent horseback," and gradually inserted a reference to the Pendleton Round-up Rodeo, undoubtedly inspired by Juni Fisher's great music CD, Let 'er Go, Let 'er Buck, Let 'er Fly.

And then I gave the muse a few weeks off, and inadvertently didn't return to the idea until long after the Art Spur deadline had passed. Still, the muse seemed to insist on finishing the poem, and gradually the theme about remembering evolved into a poem about not remembering. My sweet mother-in-law, Ruth Kempe, died three years ago following a massive stroke, and I have to think that she might have been helping the muse in our collective completion of this poem. I have told others in the past that if a man were allowed to search the planet for the mother-in-law of his choosing, he couldn't do better than to choose Ruth Kempe. This poem helps me to remember her, and to think of others who have faced the challenge of this potentially overwhelming medical event.


Al "Doc" Mehl went to Ghana, Africa, in April, 2010, where he participated in a medical mission sponsored by "Alliance for Smiles" and by the Rotary Club. He writes:

The team provided surgery for patients with cleft lip and cleft palate, a total of 77 patients with ages ranging from 6 months old to 40 years old.  I was involved with pre-operative evaluations and with post-operative care, with all of our patients spending a night or two in a medical tent in the hospital courtyard that we had fashioned into a post-op ward.

Here are some links:

Check out this YouTube slide show of the trip.  In addition to some dramatic before-and-after photography of our patients, you will get some idea of what our surgical team was doing, and the environment in which we triaged patients and provided post-operative care.

Also, you can see photos of the trip at two different Facebook pages, available for viewing even if you aren't a Facebook member: The medical mission and a photo album of the faces and places in and around Accra, Ghana.

Doc adds, " it turns out I was actually on a cowboy poetry mission as well.  Every evening after our dinner at the hotel in Accra, Ghana, I would perform a cowboy poem for the 24 members of our team, a run of about 14 consecutive evenings and 14 consecutive cowboy poems.  I'm willing to venture that it could very well be the first time that cowboy poetry has ever been performed in Ghana."

The Peds Tent

I’d been workin’ in the Peds Tent with my partner Mary Lou;

We had made it through the first week, and were startin’ out week two.

All our patients were respectful, all were calm, and all coop’rative,

Unusual, consid’rin every patient was post-op’rative.


See, we’d traveled with a team of surgeons, staff, and anesthesure,

Each had volunteered to give up ’bout two weeks of their own leisure,

Volunteered to paint a picture from a plastic surg’ry palate,

And repair the facial defects known as “cleft of lip and palate.”


Volunteered to give their time so others might have surgery,

With the whole endeavor sponsored by the Clubs of Rotary.

We’d all signed on with a “Smile Alliance,” known as “A.F.S.,”

And when asked to come to Ghana, we’d all willingly said “Yes!”


And Ridge Hospital was kind enough to host the surgery,

And the project had been funded so that all the care was free.

Still, we’d come prepared for difficulties, come already knowin’

That the pediatrics wards were filled with kids, and overflowin’.


So we made do with a tent, each post-op patient spent the night.

Every morning, we’d be rounding, making sure the wounds healed right.

And the parents, they were grateful, and their children never whined,

And although the tent felt primitive, nobody seemed to mind.


We’d prepared each child for discharge on that day, except a few ones,

And our nurses changed the beddings as we braced to get some new ones,

When a man in coat and tie approached the tent that steamy day,

And with clipboard in his hands, these were the words we heard him say:


“In the U.S., you’ve got OSHA, that inspection agency;

Here in Ghana, we’ve the same thing, and it’s called A.E.S.C.

I’m inspector for this region, and I’m here to ask you, please,

To respond to my concerns about ‘irregularities.’


“I’ve been told you’ve turned this tent into a pediatrics ward.

Quite irregular!” he bellowed.  Then he caught his breath and roared:

“This wood subfloor is uneven, just loose boards without no nails.

The supplies have got no shelving, and these beds, they’ve got no rails!


“Now this floor, it’s downright filthy, and the rest is far from clean,

And you’ve built a twelve-bed unit, but there isn’t one latrine!

Using one extension cord for two large fans, you’ll start a fire,

And that I.V. bottle’s hangin’ from a live electric wire!


“This old wash sink is a travesty, you’ve never changed the rag,

And it seems your sharps container is a plastic sandwich bag!

You’ve got opened fruit juice bottles, but you’ve no refrigeration.

Having other parents translate?  That’s a privacy vi’lation.


“All the lighting is improper when I measure it in lumens;

I’d condemn this place for livestock husbandry, much less for humans!

And this tent, it is an oven!  I’m surprised you all aren’t dead,

Though our restaurant inspector says it’d pass… for bakin’ bread!”


That old gent then shook his head, and seemed to scowl an ugly frown;

We could sense from his demeanor an intent to shut us down.

“I’ve a list of these deficiencies; the list is now quite large.

I must share all these citations with the person who’s in charge.”


“Mary Lou and I, we run the tent,” I said in some distress,

“We report to Barbara Fisher; she reports to A.F.S.”

“Barbara Fisher?” said the man; the name, it jogged his memory;

He recalled he’d seen this woman on the news on his T.V.


Then he stared at all the fam’lies, and the children in each bed.

And he measured rather carefully the words that he next said,

Words he whispered in my ear, and then he packed up, and he left.

But he’ll be back tomorrow morning.  See, his nephew… has a cleft!

© 2010, Al "Doc" Mehl
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.





What is Cowboy Poetry?

OK, friends, I’ve been readin’ this column about Cowboy Poetry just like you, catchin’ each update as they appear, and thinkin’ about my own personal definition of Cowboy Poetry.  Now I’m kinda new to this whole cowboy poetry thing, but I’ve wrote a poem or two, and I’ve even been accused of bein’ a cowboy poet, so I guess it’s time I took a crack at it. 


And I’m gonna do it with the help of one of my poems, titled “Ode to Rhymin,” all sliced up to fit with my ideas.


Cowboy Poetry?


First, I guess it’s worth sayin’ that Cowboy Poetry is…  well, it’s “poetry,” for Pete's sake.   Heck, we all figured that out in grade school.  It’s just meaningful groups of words held together by a rhyme at the end of each line.  Oh, sure, I’ve read the New Yorker magazine.  I’ve seen those ramblin’ word collections with fancy indentations and skipped lines and jumbled typesetting without a single upper-case letter that don’t have any rhyme at all, and they somehow still call it “poetry.”  As for me, I’m goin’ back to the basics:



          I guess I’m just old fashioned, a throw back into time,

          But when you’re writin’ poetry…  I’m thinkin’ it should rhyme.


          See, poetry these days is filled with somethin’ called “free verse.”

          Just wanderin’ lines with absent rhymes, and phrases I find terse.


          But poems are really so much more, and rhyme’s their shinin’ glory.

          Take the couplets out, ‘bout all that’s left is just a story.



Now, that’s a good starting place. 


But lots of words rhyme. / You see it all the time.  /  Just because the words sound the same,  /  that don’t mean they came  /  together in a way to make a real  /  poem.  At least that’s the way I feel.


You see, just havin’ plenty of rhymin’ words does not mean you have created a poem.  Far from it.  The words need to flow and march, and sing together in a way that’s lilting and predictable and easy to follow, like the clip-clop of your pony’s hooves on the hard pan.  


They call it meter.  And folks who study it and teach poetry to others have given it lots more fancy names, like “iambic” and “pentameter.”  But for me, it’s just kinda knowin’ that it sounds right when the words all keep time in a steady predictable way:



          And meter, that’s important too:  The pace you set when talkin’

          Should kinda mark the time, just like the steps you take when walkin’.



Now, if I had to choose which was more important, rhyme or meter, well, it’s kind of an unfair choice.  They’re both important.  But I suppose when you speak a poem in front of an audience, you can pause a little, or double up the syllables once in a while, and usually make even a poem with imperfect meter sound pretty good.   But you can’t very well hide it if the words at the end of each line don’t rhyme just right:



          But rhymin’, see, that’s critical, ‘cause rhymin’ holds the ear.

          And if the rhyme ain’t perfect, well, it ought to be darned near.



OK, poems should rhyme, at least mostly I’d say.  And Cowboy Poetry ain’t no exception.  But why?  Why is the rhyme so dang important?  And why have human beings (Cowboys and otherwise) been writin’ down words that rhyme for thousands of years?



          I guess I used to think that all the rhymin’ was a game,

          ‘Cause it’s fun to tell a story usin’ words that sound the same.


          But over time, I find that rhymin’ might be somethin’ more.

          And here’s the hidden secret ‘bout what rhymin’s really for:


          See, long ago, when poems began, folks couldn’t read or write.

          But everyone could listen, memorize, and then recite.


          Yes, long before the printin’ press, when writin’ was a myst’ry,

          Your knowledge could be transferred through a spoken oral hist’ry.


          So that, rich or poor, high or low, no matter what your station,

          Your stories could be passed on to another generation.



Pass it on to another generation!  That’s the secret about rhymin’.   And the Cowboy story is a story worth passin’ on, don’t ya think?   Oh sure, men and women have tended livestock on this good earth for thousands of years.  But somethin’ happened in the late nineteenth century here in North America that was a whole new story, and people have been livin’ the life and tellin’ the story ever since.   From the great Texas trail drives, to the spirit of the rodeo, to the modern day rancher, it’s a heritage worth preserving, and we do it in books and movies and songs, and, best yet, in Cowboy Poetry.  And, of course, every time we recite from the classics of Cowboy Poetry, and speak again the words of those Cowboy authors, we re-paint the picture for our children and our grandchildren:



          And if it’s somethin’ mem’rable about your life and time,

          You preserve it for the future when you lock it in a rhyme.


          Cause when that story’s told, long after you’ve passed into night,

          Well, if the words still rhyme, they’ll know they got it mostly right.



But that still ain’t the whole story.  ‘Cause it’s just not our nature to be simply a bunch of reciters.  Folks who have the gumption to get up in front of a crowd aren’t likely to speak only the rhymin’ words of others without throwin’ in a few poems of their own.   From our interest in the history, and our love of the lifestyle, each of us soon becomes both a writer and a reciter.   And with each generation, the oral history is massaged and changed, at the same time both improved and diluted.   Should we value less the poem written by the cowboy who spends as many hours in a pick-up truck as he does atop a horse, or wears old beat up athletic shoes almost as often as he wears cowboy boots?  Is it still cowboy poetry?  Well, of course it is. 


It’s an oral history, by golly.  It’s the spoken word bein’ given a life of it’s own.  And if we don’t allow each generation to add just a bit of it’s own experience to the common voice, then it will all die a quiet, somber death and be lost forever. 


Should we forbid the Native American to sing the songs of his people and dance the dances of his tribe just because he now lives in a dwelling of brick and mortar instead of a tepee?   His story is measured in thousands of years rather than hundreds.  Wouldn’t we wish as much for the story of the American Cowboy?


And if the Cowboy song or the Cowboy poem captures the spirit of the lives that came before, then perhaps it matters less whether the singer or speaker is still wearin’ the same boots and livin’ the same life.  An oral history is an evolution; it’s an amalgam of old stories and new sentiment.  And because of that, the oral history will endure, long after the Cowboy life itself has changed, ever so gradually, to the point of being no longer recognizable. 



          So when you pass from this good earth, you might just leave your mark,

          If rhymin’ words of your own voice still echo in the dark.


          The poem is just your story.  But now it’s clear to me

          That rhymin’ words will guarantee you…  immortality!

© 2005, Al "Doc" Mehl
This article may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.


Al "Doc" Mehl has contributed photos to Picture the West:


amclintsled.gif (99072 bytes)  To accompany his  poem, "The Great Depresson"

  To accompany his  poem, "The Braided Country Road"



Read Al "Doc" Mehl's

Three New Hands in our Art Spur project


The Bottomland in our Art Spur project


Old Man Akers in our Art Spur project


She's Wrangler, Boys in a 2010 National Day of the Cowboy Art Spur

copyright 2009 by Lori Faith Merritt ( "Heading In"
© 2009, Lori Faith Merritt

Headin' Out in our Art Spur project


Round up the Cavvy Again in our Art Spur project


The Gift in our 2008 Christmas Art Spur project


Scopin’ the Bosque in our Art Spur project


Someday in our Art Spur project


High Water Mark in our Art Spur Project


Ol' Muley in our Art Spur Project


 Star of  Wonder in our 2007 Christmas Art Spur project


The Brand New Year posted with other 2007 Christmas poems


At His Own Pace in our 2007 Cowboy Poetry Week Art Spur project


A Cuttin' Horse in our 2006 Christmas Art Spur project


No Room at the Inn posted with 2006 Christmas poems


Headin' Home in our Art Spur project



  About Al "Doc" Mehl:

Hailing from Boulder, Colorado, Al “Doc” Mehl traces his family roots to central Kansas, where his grandfather raised six children on the family homestead.  With one foot in the past and one in the present, Al weaves the history and the mystery of the West into his original poetry and music.  He has performed in cowboy poetry festivals from Denver to Durango, from El Paso to Cheyenne.  His debut music CD is titled Asphalt Cowboy, and his second music CD, titled I’d Rather Be… was released in 2008.  Al has also published a CD of original poetry titled Cowboy Pottery.  Poet Doris Daley describes his work as “Refreshing, original, witty, and loaded with clever wordplay about contemporary cowboy life.”  Musician Juni Fisher adds, “Just when you think his fries have been left out of his Happy Meal, he whacks you over the head with a verse that leaves you stunned.”  And, in the words of Rick Huff, as published in The Western Way magazine, “there’s a unique mind at work here that may be one of a kind in the Western Music arena.”

The Great Divide

original poetry by Al “Doc” Mehl



Ode to Rhymin'
The Bearded Buffalo
Hear the Footsteps
Fording the Platte
Room With a View
The Brand New Year
Old Man Akers
A Quilt in North Nebraska
The Train Back to Ne' Orlins
Dancing With Doris
The Mav'rick
Old Boots
Scopin' the Bosque
The Music Box
The Great Divide



I'd Rather Be


original music by Al “Doc” Mehl


The Ladies’ Man
I’d Rather Be…
Sweet Barbara Wire
Wet Dog
Brand New Leather
Can’t Do Without
Twenty Pounds Over
Leavin’ Montan’
Startin’ Today
Would I Were a Cowboy
Love is Like…
Happy Trail Mix




Cowboy Pottery

original poetry by Al Mehl


Cowboy Pottery
Fence Posts Made of Stone
I Ain't No Cowboy
The Good Old Days
The Great Depression
Bad News Travels Fast
The Rabbit Hunt
Silent Night
Have Dominion Over
The Cowboy Genes
My Daddy Went to College


Asphalt Cowboy

original music by Al Mehl


Asphalt Cowboy
Jupiter and Mars
Reel Cowboy
You’re Not From ’Round Here
Knee Deep in Religion
The Blackened Blues
That Hat
I’m Rodeo
Bring Me a Bud
The Man Who’s Leavin’ Town
I Think of You
Stupid Dog
Welcome to the Whine Bar
Almost Cowboy
Here’s to the Red, White…I’m Blue
There’s Two Cowboys
Good Enough



Who says progress isn’t good?  Here at the Al “Doc” Mehl Mercantile, ordering a CD recording of your favorite cowboy poetry or original contemporary western music couldn’t be easier.  Now you can choose from the old fashioned send-a-check-by-snail-mail method, or the new-fangled-order-on-the-internet method.  What a country!


The tried-and-true old fashioned way to order your CD:


Just send a check for 15 dollars, plus 3 dollars postage and handling (that’s 18 dollars total for those of you without a calculator) to:       

Al "Doc" Mehl
9140 W 107th Place
Westminster, CO 80021

Specify which CD recording you would like:


            Cowboy Pottery  – 14 original cowboy poems, with guitar interludes.

            Asphalt Cowboy  – 17 tracks of original contemporary western music.

            I’d Rather Be…  – 13 tracks of upbeat leave-you-smilin’ western music.

           The Great Divide – 17 tracks of original cowboy poems, with instrumental interludes

Order any two or more, and the postage is on us, just 15 dollars each for your total cost!


The new, hard-to-believe-it’s-this-easy internet method of ordering your CD:


To listen to every track of Al “Doc” Mehl’s recordings, and to place an order using a credit card, just crank up the old computer and visit:


There you can type in the open box and search for “Al Mehl” to find all of his recordings.  Or, to save a few keystrokes, try going straight to the CD that interests you:    -  for Asphalt Cowboy (music)  -  for Cowboy Pottery (poetry)  -  for I’d Rather Be… (music)  -  for The Great Divide (poetry)


It’s never too early to start shoppin’ for the holidays.  So get your order in today and avoid the rush!


Need more information?   Just drop a line to Al “Doc” Mehl at Or visit Doc's own little "Home, home on the web..."



 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