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The Big Roundup

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See the ArtSpur introductory page here

It's been said that a picture is worth a thousand words...we know many that are worthy of a poem.

In Art Spur, we invite poets to let selections of Western art and photography inspire their poetry.

Our second piece offered to "spur" the imagination is "Ponderin' Lines 'n Lyrics," by Tom Morgan of San Antonio, Texas. Morgan sculpted "Ponderin' Lines 'n Lyrics" as a tribute to Cowboy Poets.  He describes it as a "tribute to those whose words preserve the past."

The inspiration for the piece came about when he purchased a copy of The Big Roundup.  "The more I checked into the world of Cowboy Poetry, the more intrigued I became with how it brought together such a diverse and passionate group of people.  I hope they enjoy the sculpture or at best know that someone out here appreciates their work enough to pay them a tribute," he says.


Below are selected of poems inspired by "Ponderin' Lines 'n Lyrics." 

Read more about Tom Morgan and see more of his work here and at his web site.


"Pondering Lines 'n Lyrics by Tom Morgan of San Antonio, Texas



End of Day by Rod Nichols
Notes on Lonesome Crick by Bruce Satta
Ponderin' Paul by Glen Enloe
The Sculptor and the Cowboy Poet by Hal Swift
The Old Cowboy Rhymer by Harold Roy Miller
Cowboy Thinkin' by Gregg Norman
Cowboy Verse by Gene O'Quinn
A Good Day's Ride by Ed Myers
Lyrical Ponderings by Clark Crouch
Ponderin' by Willie P. Smith


End Of Day

At end of day, he'd rest a spell,
one leg hooked 'round the horn,
a-lookin' back on what had passed
since headin' out that morn.

The men who rode the cattle trails,
the trials they, daily, faced,
were rounded up like scattered strays
and jotted down in place.

It started with a book he'd read
in line camp, long ago:
a journal that a man had kept
of things he'd seen and knowed.

The writin' stirred his bein', so,
in ways he couldn't 'splain,
but, when he came away, at last,
he vowed he'd do the same.

The rigors of a cowboy's life,
the herds, the dust, the heat,
now, made his pen, a runnin' iron,
his brand on ev'ry sheet.

And as the day began to fade,
near time for headin' in,
he'd mark a place within his book,
where, next, he would begin..

At end of day, he'd rest a spell,
one leg hooked 'round the horn,
a-lookin' back on what had passed
since headin' out that morn.

2004, Rod Nichols
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.


Notes on Lonesome Crick

There beats in me a wild heart
That's mellowed through the years.
Ol' Pete 'n I have long since vowed
To stick to "lower gears."
Like everyday, at Lonesome Crick,
He's stopped to get a drink,
So I'll just dig my notebook out
'N write down what I think.
I've lived a lot, 'n seen a lot,
But memory's selective
'N as the years start pilin' up,
They alter your perspective.
I reckon, someday all these notes
May serve my purpose well
If I've a want to write a poem,
Or cowboy tales to tell.
They'll take me back, with clarity,
Trumpin' Father Time
And that's a real good startin' point
For poets past their prime.
You won't find gems of wisdom
Down on any sheet,
Just a way to bring back memories
Of Lonesome Crick, 'n Pete.

2004, Bruce Satta
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.


Ponderin' Paul

He sits cockeyed in the saddle, his elbow on his knee,
Ponderin' the sky and cattle, thinkin' 'bout poetry.
They call him Ponderin' Paul and plum lazy to his face,
They think he's got the gall and that he's a dern disgrace.

He says he's a cowboy poet ponderin' lyrics and lines--
Contemplatin', don't ya know it, beauty and life's designs.
Well, he may find reincarnation in some ol' cow pie,
But, by all tarnation, he can't rightly tell us why.

There he is again gazin' with his chin cupped in his hand--
Least he ain't crazin' women--raisin' hell to beat the band.
But the range boss is complainin' that Paul don't pull his weight--
He spends too much time explainin' why cowboy life is great.

This went on for a week--they knew they'd have to let Paul go,
They was gonna cross that creek after they sang "Wrangler Joe."
Then someone 'round that blazin' fire asked Paul to tell a few,
No one had found the time to ask 'bout poems he wrote and knew.

And much to their surprise that quiet Paul became possessed,
Tellin' poems comprised of hopes and dreams of the Old West.
He must have gone for hours--he brought them both laughs and tears,
He spoke of buttes and bowers, cowboy ways and passin' years.

Then next day, though dog tired, them pokes worked with new hearts--
Inspired by words--not just hired to fill saddles with rear parts.
That range boss noticed Paul did his work before his dreamin',
As he rested his big paw on his chin as if schemin'.

They kept Ponderin' Paul on the payroll of that big outfit--
'Cause you can't be wonderin' 'bout the price of dreams that don't quit.
And if it weren't for poets and the writer's of our song--
This world's range would not be lighter and life would be too long.

So listen to cowboy poets with their lines and lyrics of light--
They glisten and glow with life's fire while holdin' back vast night.

2004, Glen Enloe
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.


The Sculptor and the Cowboy Poet

Sandy McFerrin says, "Whoa!" to his horse,
'cause somethin' has just come to mind.
It's an idea he's got, for writin' a poem--
one of them Cowboy kind.

Now I come ridin' up, right about then,
to say his wife wants him at home.
Sandy says, "Tell her it'll be a little while,
'cause I'm workin' on a Cowboy Poem."

"Really?" I says, "Well, I'd like to hear it,
if you don't think it's askin' too much."
"It's about Tom Morgan," Sandy says,
the man who makes statues and such."

"Tom likes how Cowboy Poets," says Sandy,
"are tellin' the story of the West.
So I figured I'd write him a thank-you poem,
'cause his Cowboy Statues are best."

"Hold onto your hat," I says to Sandy,
"because I got somethin' that's true.
I just seen a brand-new statue Tom's made,
and by crackey, it looks like you!

"You're settin' on your horse, and rubbin' your chin,
and your mind's way off somewhere.
Just like you didn't have work to do,
or at least, like you really don't care."

Well, Sandy was no small amount dismayed.
He says, "And you think it's me?"
"Sure enough," I says, "It's you all right,
'best likeness I ever did see."

Sandy nudges his horse, and says to me,
"I gotta go and tell my wife.
She'll be tickled, 'cause a thing like this
ain't happened in all my life."

Now, I don't think anyone ever has made
a statue of a Cowboy Poet.
If somebody had, I'd certainly think
that I'd be one that'd know it.

So, listen, if you see that Tom Morgan statue,
take a real good look if you can.
It's a tribute to all of us Cowboy Poets,
and the likeness of a real, live man.

2004, Hal Swift  
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.



The Old Cowboy Rhymer
The old puncher sat watching the cattle,
his right leg propped up on the saddle.
The leather reins lay along his shin.
His rough hand cuffed his stubbled chin.
His eyes were hard and very keen.
He looked stern but not at all mean.
His range demeanor depicted "old school."
He didn't look to be anybody's fool.

He wore suspenders over a faded shirt.
His hat was rife with ground in dirt.
His chaps served to hide the advance
of the deterioration of his Levi pants.
He was thinking back to nostalgic times,
trying to fit them into rhymes.
Under the shade of a cottonwood tree
he pondered a western soliloquy.

His vocabulary was limited at best,
but he knew the lingo of the west.
To the world, he was trying to impart
the western lore deep in his heart.

I, for one, have to agree
with this cowpoke's philosophy.
This is a goal for which I also strive,
to keep the spirit of the west alive.

2004, Harold Roy Miller
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.


Cowboy Thinkin' 

When it's too hot too ride or too wet to plow
Or when he can't dance 'cause he don't know how,
He'll go out and sit on the top corral rail
And let his mind wander down some dusty trail.

He'll think about stories with endings well told.
He'll think about rainbows with big pots of gold.
He'll think about tunnels with lights at the end.
He'll think about ways to get 'round the bend.

Then he'll think about ridin' down roads less traveled,
'Bout aimless wanderin', 'bout plans unraveled.
He'll ponder on not knowin' just where he's headin'
And sometimes his lack of ambition's unsettlin'.

But then he'll think life is too short for such thoughts
And figure that maybe he really just ought
To stay in the saddle and live for the ride,
Forget about money and settle for pride.

Just drift on life's trails, wherever they lead.
Live for the day and immediate needs.
Tomorrow's tomorrow, it's too far away.
Tomorrow's tomorrow, it's just one more day.

That's the way of the cowboy, one day at a time,
Thinkin' that each day he's still in his prime.
Just chasin' the wind wherever it blows
And reapin' whatever he happens to sow.
It ain't a bad life if you think on it some.
There's no harm in marchin' to different drums.
It ain't that he's selfish or lazy, you see.
It's just that he's bein' what he wants to be.
He's true to his callin', he's true to his heart.
There's the rest of the world - then there's him, far apart.
Just a man on a horse with a job to be done
And a life that's the best that there is, bar none.
2004, Gregg Norman
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.


Cowboy Verse

I was ending my search for a stray or two
as the light of day was starting to dim,
when I saw a rider on the ridge ahead
and I couldn't take my eyes off of him.
He was just sitting across his saddle
with his right leg curled around the horn,
and he appeared so very deep in thought
with a faraway look of  the forlorn.

I reined in and quieted my horse
While I studied this stranger's face,
he was so deep into his thoughts
he didn't know I was near the place.
Then I spied the tattered book in his hand
and my old face had to break into a smile,
it was a book like the one on my shelf
and I remembered I hadn't read it in awhile.

The book is one that I treasure so dear
a collection of poems written,
by cowboys of now and in the past
who like me, had been smitten.
Then I understood this cowboy's look
and why he was steadily staring so,
for that rider was surely ponderin'
lines and lyrics that he'd read moments ago.

2004, Gene O'Quinn
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

A Good Day's Ride

We all have them days when it don't mean much,
the sun don't rise right, tiltin' life a touch.
When the barn door hangs and the pitchfork breaks;
when the stall's sweet smell is about all you can take.

It's only then I decide to drop it all for a day,
saddle up the mare and quietly ride her away.
Far out across the hills, where only sound's the wind,
all the way to the river, stoppin' at the bend.

There I pause for a spell to drink in some air,
get a fix on my bearins' and shade for the mare.
Even with work a waitin' I need this special day,
though fences beg mendin' and stock need hay.

The herd needs a drivin' to the greener lower end,
with many more chores I can even comprehend.
Ranchin' sure ain't for rich men, whilin' away time;
it ain't even for poor men with hopes of a dime.

But it still lights the fire in us fortunate few,
even on them days we don't care for it too.
That's why I ride out to ponder all these things,
that lure me to live what tomorrow brings.

2004, Ed Myers
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.


Lyrical Ponderings

At them infrequent times
when you're stricken by the muse,
you pause the things you're doing
to think what words to use.

It really don't matter none
when that mood to ponder hits,
you gotta stop right then
to capture those rhyming bits.

Maybe a prairie sunset
kicks off the mental spree
or maybe a sculpted piece
sets your mind completely free.

No matter where you are,
you ponder on that theme,
thinking up the lyrics
to give life to a dream.

2004, Clark Crouch
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.



I've been sittin' 'n ponderin'
on which trail ta' take.
I want ta' give it considerable thot',
lest I make a big mistake.

Ma' right leg is aroun' ma' saddle horn.
Ma right hand is under ma' chin.
I've been able ta' think this way before.
Thot' I'd give it a try again.

Old Star has his head down,
fer he knows we'll be here awhile.
We're both hongry and tuckered out.
Don't need an extra mile.

Star will usually stand,
till' I tell him he can go.
Right now, he's a pretty worn out hoss
so, this time I don't know.

I've been ta' the place down the right fork.
It's been a couple years or so.
Don't know what's down the left fork,
that's probably the way we should go.

Ma' stomach is makin' lots of noise.
Haven't eat since yesterday noon.
If I don't get some grub real quick,
I'll ferget how ta' use a knife an' spoon.

Star has been awful patient,
standin' here whilst I think.
I know he needs a few gulps of water
an' I need a real stiff drink.

He's started to shuffle aroun' a mite
an' is lookin' ta' the right.
Guess he's made up ma' mind fer me.
He don't wanna stand here all night.

Heck, we left home hours ago,
we've had a real good trip since then.
Guess we'll jus' take the right fork.
Star's probably right again.

2004, Willie P. Smith
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.







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