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See the Art Spur 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 inspire their poetry.

Our seventh piece offered to "spur" the imagination, is "Heading Home," by Joelle Smith. We are honored to have "Heading Home," also, as the official poster for Cowboy Poetry Week, 2006. 

Read the resulting poems below.

© Estate of Joelle Smith. Used with permission, reproduction prohibited.

"Heading Home"

Joelle Smith's work is familiar to many in the posters she has done for Cowboy Poetry and Music Gatherings, including the Santa Clarita Cowboy Poetry and Music Festival, the Monterey Cowboy Poetry and Music Festival, the Visalia Roundup; for the Cowgirl Hall of Fame; and for Western music albums, including those for Don Edwards, Lorraine Rawls, and Wylie and the Wild West.

Joelle got her first pony, George, when she was ten. This was not the start of her love of horses, but was the first real horse that came into her life. She even chose the college she attended because they had a school pasture where she could keep her horse.  

Joelle's life revolved around her love of horses, both in her work and in the rest of her life.  She lived with her mother, Sally, on twenty acres in Alfalfa, Oregon, along with seven horses. Sally contributes as secretary for Joelle's business, as well as chief cookie baker. She has become known as "Cookie Mom" at Joelle's shows for the cookies that she brings.

Joelle spent her mornings with the horses and painted in the afternoons and evenings.  The horses came first in her life just as they came first in her daily schedule.

Her favorite subject was horses, and these she painted with true passion.  "The art came from the horses," she explained. The love of horses was always there and so was the art, but the horses came first."

All of Joelle's subjects were real horses, real places and real people. She did not pose them for her paintings, but tried to capture a slice of life in a documentary style. Many of the horses in her paintings are her own, as they were close by.  She made at least two trips out of the area a year to gather material.

Joelle's work is a reflection of her experiences on ranches throughout the West.  Her paintings are records of contemporary Western life, her legacy to future generations.

Joelle was invited to display her work at the 2006 Prix de West at the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum, an accomplishment she strived for during her entire career.

On August 5, 2005, Joelle lost her valiant three year battle with cancer.  Though her physical presence here on earth is and will always be greatly missed, her legacy of work will live on.  

Read more about Joelle Smith and see more of her work in our feature here.

Visit the Joelle Smith web site for more information and more of her art, including originals, open and limited editions, posters, sculpture, and more.


    Ranchers TJ and Nate Wald of Lodge Grass, Montana, are the pictured riders in Joelle Smith's painting, "Heading Home," which was selected for our Cowboy Poetry Week Poster, as the cover art for the first edition (2006) of The BAR-D Roundup CD, and for this Art Spur subject.  

Nate Wald is a respected rawhide braider and a member of the Traditional Cowboy Arts Association. TJ Wald is a Vintage Dance Mistress. She teaches and she manages the annual 1876 Grand Ball in Hardin, Montana, and the 1864 Grand Ball in Virginia City, Montana, and other Vintage Dance Events. 

TJ Wald kindly shared some memories of Joelle and of how the painting came about:

Of course we have grand memories of the photograph and several others that Joelle took herself at our ranch, and painted, as well.

She came and stayed for several days. We had to ride out and gather some cows belonging to a neighbor.  (Joelle was really happy that we had to do that.)  So, she took her camera along and snapped many photos.  By the way, Joelle was a very good hand.

It was a beautiful day and the sky looked just like it does in the painting. Joelle sort of rode back behind people so she could get the shots she wanted and when we would turn to look for her she would be snapping pictures.

The next day my husband Nate asked Joelle if she would like to go along to a neighbor's place to move some cattle.  Joelle said, "Oh, would I" ... and she  had a terrific time.  They were gone all day long and I was very surprised that Joelle was not really very tired when she returned.  (She was not well  at the time but no one would have known that.)  Joelle was an amazingly strong woman.

We have so many paintings from her visit with us and we cherish all of them.  Our son Jackson was the model for "High Trot" by Joelle on Capriola's 2005 calendar. She drew a beautiful pencil of Jackson's horse "Dan" that we totally love and look at fondly while being reminded of her visit.

People who pass away are remembered by their families and  friends for as long as possible but a person like Joelle will be remembered by many, many people who had never even met her, thanks to her gift.



In a nice connection, Utah poet Paul Kern recognized the Walds. He shares his poem, Under a Montana Moon, which is about the Victorian Ball hosted in Virginia City, Montana. He wrote, "T.J. Wald is the proctor, Nate is her sidekick.  T.J. is a very talented dancer and dance instructor." Read the poem and see photos here.



Photo by Jeri L. Dobrowski, obtain permission for reproduction rights
Montana ranchers T. J. and Nate Wald and their son pose with the 2006 Cowboy Poetry Week poster at Cody's Annual Cowboy Songs and Range Ballads gathering, in April, 2006.

Photo by Jeri L. Dobrowski, obtain permission for reproduction rights
Nate and T. J. Wald at Cody's Annual Cowboy Songs and Range Ballads gathering, in April, 2006.



Poetry Submissions

Poetry submissions were welcome from all, through March 31, 2006 Submissions are no longer being accepted.

We'll post poems inspired by "Heading Home" during our annual celebration of Cowboy Poetry Week, April 16-22, 2006. 

© Estate of Joelle Smith. Used with permission, reproduction prohibited.

"Heading Home"


The Sign of the Grass by Paul Kern of Utah

Headin' Home by Dave Watson of Texas

Heading Home by Yvonne Hollenbeck of South Dakota

The Kid by Dave P. Fisher of Nevada

Headin' Home by Mike Moutoux of New Mexico

Headin' Home by Slim McNaught of South Dakota

Headin' Home by Michael Henley of Arkansas

Headin' for Home by Bruce Satta of Ohio

The Trail that Leads to Home by Rod Niichols of Texas

Heading Home by Don Hilmer of South Dakota

Heading Home by Jeff Hildebrandt of Colorado

Heading Home (the Work's All Done) by Glen Enloe of Missouri

Visiting Melanie Gay by Merv Webster of Queensland

Lucille by C. W. Bell of Utah

Headin' Home by Clark Crouch of Washington

Worthwhile Ride by Harold Roy Miller of Nevada

Heading Home by Bette Wolf Duncan of Iowa

Headin' Home by Al Mehl of Colorado

Weekend Cowboy Heading Home by Victoria Boyd of California

End of the Day by Van Criddle of Oregon



The Sign of the Grass
   (for Joelle Smith)

Springtime grass grows thick and green,
To bring new life to the yet unseen,
A round of living has again begun,
Under a full moon and a brand new sun.

That endless rotation of the sky,
Leaves track and sign for both you and I,
That a cowboy's heart beats just so far,
Before it's hitched to that one last star.

When summer ranges are all grazed down,
And winds have scorched them all to brown,
Old partners with furrowed lines,
Know to read the tracks and signs.

When winter winds howl mean and cold,
And a cowboy's heart grows tired and old,
The sign of the grass he knows so well,
With the rangeland tracks has a tale to tell.

That a good man who knows his station,
Looking after part of God's creation,
Raising cattle and horses on that place,
Has come to know the Master's grace.

It's in this knowing that he lets it go,
To unfenced ranges he'll come to know.
A round of living will begin again soon,
Under a full sun and a brand new moon

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


Headin' Home

He hadn't spoke a word since "Prairie Falls" two hours back.
And then, " I aint mad" was all he said.
She thought, " I oughta shake a loop and panty hose that "meeno".
Jar a little sense in that man's head.

Yesterday, three years ago, they'd swapped their wedding vows
Right after he had headed his last steer
At th' annual " Bar Fork Team Ropin', Calf  Fry , and Old Time Barn Dance."
They'd celebrate "that date" here, ever' year.

That first year she wrapped horns, helped push th' steers and keep th' beer cold.
Aint nothin' more romantical than that!
A hands wife from th' Rafter M said, " I'll teach ya how to rope.
And next year, me and you'll skin that cat."

Long story, short, that next year got called off for "lack o' rain"
(another year ta get that much more better)
Th' next year, tho, they toed th' line. Them ladies paid their fees.
They flipped a coin for who would be th' header.

B'fore she'd put her money down, she went and told her husband,
"Honey, why don't you and me team up?"
He laughed at her! That boiled her blood. Them gals decided then,
They'd  make these cowboys drink th' bitter cup.

Those girls won every go-round, boys. Their twines were quick and true.
They got big buckles and a chunk o' cash!
Th' owner of th' Bar Fork made th' girls both give a speech
As "Guests Of Honor" that night at th' "Bash."

So, here they were, a' headin' home. Th' cat had got his tongue.
("If he'd won, he'd be wearin' out my ear.")
She'd had her fill of "cowboy pride"- she cocked both hammers back..
And cooed, "Honey, you can heel for me next year!"

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


Heading Home

There's a feeling that you get when you're horseback,
and the wide open prairie's where you ride;
when you know that all your work is behind you
and you've got a faithful partner by your side.

The only sound is squeaking saddle leather
and horse hoofs trodding on the grassy loam.
There's reverence as you take in all the beauty,
and satisfaction that you're heading home.

But as the shadows lengthen you're reminded
how life itself is like the day that's done;
you never know what lies within its pathway
from dawning 'till the setting of the sun.

Some days are filled with happiness and blue skies
while others filled with heartache and with pain;
but we must face whatever lies before us
and know that sunshine always follows rain.

No matter what the trail is like we travel
we know that we can take it all in stride
if we will try to make peace with our Maker
...then He too will be riding by our side.

Together we will journey down life's pathway
and even though we sometimes tend to roam,
we'll know our work will once again be finished
...the satisfaction that we're heading home.

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


The Kid

She put him on the bus in Vegas, one way bound for her brother Ed,
To his ranch up north and out of the city, before he wound up dead.
He was bad at sixteen, a liar and fighter; he beat all she ever saw,
But it was because there was no man to guide him, the boy he had no pa.
She told her brother to work him hard, and teach him to be a man,
For she had given up and told him, "Do with him what you can."
Now, Ed was a busy man, with no time to wet nurse a spoiled brat,
So he picked out one of his best men and partnered the kid with Pat.

He dropped the kid at the bunkhouse, "You work with this man here,
And don't give him none of your lip or you'll end up on your rear."
The kid stared at the weathered, tough old face and the hair of silver gray,
Anger boiled in him; there was no way these people could make him stay.
He smirked at Pat's outstretched hand; he'd give the old guy something to feel,
But instead he almost went to his knees; for the old man had a grip like steel.
Pat could see this kid needed a steady hand; his attitude overflowed the brim,
As he showed him where to stow his gear and which bunk belonged to him.

He woke the kid next morning at four and listened to him cuss and shout,
Then grabbed him by the back of his collar and dragged his tail on out.
"Now, boy, you'd best get this straight, you'll do like the others here and work,
Cause no one has the time to nurse maid some little snot nosed jerk."
The kid didn't like it one bit, he'd never been talked to straight that way,
But something inside of him needed that, and he figured he'd better obey.
They put him to work building fence and worked him hard the whole day long,
He came in sore, blistered, and angry, and just knowing they'd done him wrong.

As the days went by they kept him working, but all he did was whine,
He was always the first to quit the day, then first in the supper line.
He did his best to get out of jobs and not tend to the work he should,
Then lie and make excuses, so they kept him in, and put him to cuttin' wood.
Pat shook his head, "Son, you've the makin's of a hand, I can see it in your eyes,

But, I'll tell you right now, no man'll ever trust you if all you can tell are lies."
It shook the kid to the core, and for the first time he felt shame, instead of mad,
That's when he realized how that old man was becoming the pa he never had.
The next morning he was the first one up, and the last one to bring it on in,
He was on the wood all the day and no one had to wonder where he'd been
As the days went by he felt the change and now he started to show some pride,
Then one day he came into supper sorta nervous and sat down by old Pat's side,
"Pat, I've been taking a hard look at myself, and I really don't like the guy,
I want to be a hand like you, if you'll help me, I'll sure give it my best try.
To rope and ride, and be a man folks can trust, that's what I really want to be,"
Pat grinned, "I knew it was in ya son, and as of tomorrow you'll be ridin' with me."

Well, a lot of years have gone by since then, and that kid he became a hand,
And he grew up to be a mighty fine man, a truer one never rode for a brand.
He was there when old Pat's time had come and he bunched up his last herd,
And there wasn't a dry eye in the church when the kid said the final word.
Now, he's got a spread of his own, where he raises horses and good white face,
And he gets these problem kids out of jail and hauls 'em on up to the place.
He teaches them respect, and to tell the truth, while workin' 'em hard all day,
Then headin' home at night he talks about, this old hand, with hair of silver gray.

© 2006, Dave P. Fisher
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.


Headin' Home

Six miles out give or take, and we let the horses walk
Enjoyin' the company of each other, neither known for idle talk
The scenery magnificent, far off mountains softly lit
If Heaven is a place I'm sent, I hope this looks like it
The grass is only pastern-high, but showin' signs of greenin'
A breeze has every cloud a-movin' every blade of grass a leanin'
This is the time and space where thoughts are free to roam
Ours' turn to a special place, you see, we're headin' home
Five miles out, give or take, we hit a level spot
Put some weight into the stirrups and then ease into a trot
I catch my partner's eye and we both begin to smile
She nudges her horse, I cluck to mine, and we lope them for a while
We call it the old wagon road, no doubt used by pioneers
It starts somewhere outside of town and crosses way up here
We plan to follow it someday just to see where it might go
The horses sense it's not today, they know we're headin' home
Four miles out, give or take, we finally hit the top
We see our valley down below and bring the horses to a stop
Spread out below before our eyes is everything we know and love
One good reason to make this ride, is to see this valley from above
Something always gets to me, seein' the ranch, our home our life
Makes me thankful for who I am, the children and my wife
Up here I've come to understand what is known by all who roam
It's nice to visit foreign lands, but there's nothin' like headin' home

Three miles out we find a cow motherin' a day old calf
Knobby knees and spindly legs--we both begin to laugh
"Another hundred just like this, we might be in the black," I say
"I don't know," says my wife, the realist, "You hear the report today?"
We pick our way across a draw; kick up a little dust
Pass by the old stock tank long peppered with holes and rust
Just another relic left by a man we'll never know
Who prob'ly passed this way himself when he was "headin' home"
Two miles out and lower now, the grass is getting' high
Down here in the valley, the soil ain't so awful dry
Some folks are proud of material things; we never joined that crowd
It's the grass here in the early spring that really makes us proud
Hardly a day goes by we don't think about our pasture
We pray for rain and move the cows to help it grow a little faster
We curse the weeds and try to protect our grama and mountain brome
As I ride, it's the grass I check whether ridin' out or headin' home
One mile out, we see the willows and the two big cottonwood trees
Splash through the creek, clear and cold, up to the horse's knees
Here we stop, let the horse drink, enjoy the dappled shade
On a day like this I often think that we sure got it made
Headin' out on a horse I'm always eager to turn our faces west
Ridin' out with the mornin' sun on your back well, it's just about the best
Only thing better than headin' out is the best thing I've ever known:
Finishin' a good days work out there and headin' home, headin' home 
© 2006, Mike Moutoux
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.


Headin' Home

There's a time of day we put cares away
and the herd is sorted and penned
And our horses pace as they leisurely face
the rewards that come with day's end.
With soft clouds in the sky and our shadows close by
and the sun headed down toward the gloam
We laugh and we talk as our horses walk,
day's done, we're headin' home.

It's times like these when a cowboy sees
the satisfaction of this way of life
With the world in a mess and many folks stressed
and the cities teeming with strife.
But the cowboy's way of work through the day
have rewards that for many aren't known
And few can know the comforts that go
with knowin' we're headin' home.

In this land of ours we're blest with powers
of freedoms to live life our way
And as the afternoon heat starts to beat a retreat
we're content with the toil of the day.
And deep in our hearts we would never part
with the feeling that wells up like a poem
When it's that time of day to put our cares away,
day's done, we're headin' home.

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


Headin' Home

In our twenties we talked too much
 as we rode out for a gather.
Pushed our horses way too hard
 seemed to keep 'em in a lather.

In our thirties we were top hands,
 knew our way around a cow.
Took less words to tell about it,
 but, still more than it does now.

Then we hit forty and we were mortal
 thought through the risks a little more.
Kept the fear of grayin' to ourselves
 and spoke not a word of bein' sore.

By God, fifty had us reelin' hard
 kids were gone, the work was double.
We leaned on each other a lot more then
 neither mentioning the trouble.

Kay's sixty now, me I'm close behind.
 Quietly, we ride together, but alone.
Peacefully, cattle settle their new pasture
 As two friends are headin' home.

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


Headin' for Home

Ridin' Cloud Eight, lookin' over at Nine,
With the Bitterroots spread out below:
My lady and I, on our favorite mounts,
Just takin' life kind'a slow.
On Sundays we ride: most every week,
In most any kind of weather.
My favorite place in all of Creation
Is here, when we're together
Up in this high country, miles from the ranch,
Ridin' as a pair:
You could say, I reckon, we're headin' for home -
Truth is, we're already there.

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


The Trail that Leads to Home

On the trail to where I'm headin'
there's a woman by my side,
and she's always been there pardner
since I took her for my bride.

Though the way is often bumpy
and the prospect not all bright,
just as long as she's there with me
not a thing we can't make right.

As a young man I was dreamin'
'bout the things I yearned to do.
It was she who worked beside me
til the wishin' all came true.

From a fam'ly to our own place
and the spread that came to be,
not a bit of all you're seein'
would have been if only me.

In the face of all disasters
when my will would sometimes lack,
she was there with faith in hand boys
just a reinin' in the slack.

Not a man I've ever known son
had the strength I've seen in her,
nor a heart so sweet and gentle
when the need would most occur.

As a man of years I now see
as we ride out side by side,
what a gift the Good Lord gave me
when He gave to me my bride.

May the sun shine down upon us
and the trail be longer still,
and the love we share grow stronger
though I doubt it ever will.

For a greater love's impossible
than the one that we have known:
a cowboy and his lady love
on the trail that leads to home.

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



Heading Home

     We're riding out and wondering—as light of dawn breaks through...
Why the mule-deer and the coyote hide from such a glorious view.

     Could it be they seek seclusion to give thanks for space they roam?...
As nighttime ends and day begins we see them heading home.

     As the cold gives way to Springtime's sway of branches in the breeze...
The sunshine calls for seeds to grow, and leaves spring forth on trees.

     The curlew greets the meadowlark, the robin pecks the loam...
They'd once gone south for wintertime, but now they're heading home.

     The colts are born—the calves—the lambs, all move to summer range...
Each nurtured by their mothers love,—a miracle unchanged.

     The cycle spreads from mountain slope to rolling ocean foam...
Life ventures forth, but ne'er forgets the time for heading home.

     The rancher and his faithful wife relax in rocking chairs ...
As younger generations ride across the range that's "theirs."

     They'll keep the homefires burning, and they'll never be alone...
Cause when the 'stock and fence are checked, they'll all be heading home.

     There'll never be a better place on earth for you or me...
Than riding on the open range, no greater sights to see.

     And when our day of work is done, no matter where we roam...
We'll turn and face the open space, and we'll be "Heading Home."

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



Heading Home 

Bent blades in short grass;
A trail to where they've been,
to where the sun is going.

Two riders heading home.

Their shadows point the way to
bunks, beef and beans
as cotton-ball clouds
dapple distant granite wind breaks.

Two riders heading home.

No need to talk as ponies walk.
Their cowboy cadence conducts
a symphony of solitude.

Folks look and say,
"They're heading home."
But, if home is where the heart is,
they're already there.

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


Heading Home (the Work's All Done)

They're heading home, the work's all done; the herd is settled down,
They turn their horses for their home; glad they don't live in town.
Their office is green pastures as far off as they can see-
An open sky and lazy clouds that let a rancher be.
There's no whistle or clock to punch - they work the land they own-
They'll do their work and ride the plains and reap the things they've sown.
Each knows that it's no easy life - like marriage it's a vow-
The kids moved on to live their lives and they'll get by somehow.
The work's all done; they're heading home with sense of deep content-
And come the slant of morning light, they'll know their day's well spent.
So now the sky is crystal blue and sun rides toward the West-
They're heading home, the work's all done, and life is at its best. 

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



Visiting Melanie Gay

Though the breeze on my back was a pleasant relief,
it had Buckleys of changing my mood.
Sister Pam and myself were not saying a lot,
we just rode and were happy to brood.
To begin with I'd kicked off the day rather well,
but now rode with a frown 'cross my brow,
'cause events played a hand . put a damper on things
and I know what you're thinking . but how?
Looking back I was puzzled why young sister Pam
rose so early from out of her cot.
Like she had something planned and was rearing to go,
though I hadn't a clue as to what.
She had sung all the morning and cleaned up her chores,
then had showered and got slickered up.
Within five she had saddled her favourite mount
and had bolted like some scalded young pup.

I had reason enough to be cheerful myself
and was keen to be heading off too.
For the neighbour's sweet daughter young Melanie Gaye
had come home for a week, maybe two.
We had grown up together and all through those years
I had fancied the girl from next door,
but I somehow begged off from expressing that fact,
though I'd tell her today, that's for sure.

I'd looked forward to hearing her laugh once again
and had missed her infectious, warm smile.
Too, those dark piercing eyes and her long velvet hair
that she wore in a free flowing style.
She was always the life of a party that girl
and admired by all the young men.
Just a half hour or so and two ridges to go
and I'd see that sweet girl once again.
With my heart in a flutter I'd reached the front gate
and then cantered along to the yards.
All the while I'd kept thinking... remember your lines,
'cause forgetting was sure on the cards.
But the sight up ahead threw a spoke in the wheel
and I couldn't believe what I saw.
There were dozens of horses all tied to the rail
and the porch it held cowboys galore.
There was Butch from "Iona" and Tim Brackenshaw
and the twins from the "Lazy Bar D."
All the lads from "King Ranch" and old "Belleview" as well
and Buck Holliday from "Wannabe."
From the spread "Kickatinnie" came Alby and Ralph
with their neighbour young Danny McNair.
But the shock of all shocks was the moment I saw
Sister Pam tearing tufts from Mel's hair.
Poor young Pam she had played second fiddle to Mel
All those years 'til her friend went away,
Then the boys all around started calling on her
Or they had been it seems til that day.
I think Pam was excited and had hoped to share
How good fortune had blest her at last.
But when she rode in and saw all the boys there -
I'm afraid that the friendships had passed.
I had no other choice but to break up the fight
And apologise to all the crew.
It seems Cupid had gathered us all to the fray
and had saved on an arrow or two.
So you know now in fact what was ailing me so
and what dampened my spirits that day.
We were now heading home, without speaking a word
'bout our visiting Melanie Gaye.

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



Jeanine and I rode back on the range
From the graveyard down the way,
' Cause she and I were headin' back
From a sad, sad buryin' that day.

It was our precious Aunt Lucille;
Just passed beyond the veil.
After more than ninety years, her life
Was a true horsewoman's tale.

As we rode the trail we talked about
Her life as it went along.
How she was born the last of five,
And lived a life so long.

When she was young she met a boy,
A Swede, very backward and shy.
She wanted him to marry her,
But he'd just let it go by.

At last she gave it up and wed
A man, was her second choice.
Years of living with a cowboy
Who cowed her with his voice.

As time passed by she came on out,
Went to college and got a degree;
Then started to teach at a country school
So the cowboy would let her be.

Her fav'rite pastime was sittin' her horse
Behind the rodeo fence
Watchin'  cowboys rope and ride;
It helped her maintain her sense.

After fifty years the cowboy died;
She began a widow's life.
After fifty one years the Swede came back,
At last she became his wife.

She and the Swede were a happy pair
For twenty years and then
The love of her life, the Swede died too;
So she was a widow again.

The Swede had left her a little ranch;
Her son came and helped her run
And raise a bunch of cows and calves,
Until her ranchin' was done.

Ninety years, some bitter, some sweet,
'Til the Lord, He headed her home.
With a smile on her face she left us,
That Heav'nly range to roam.

Jeanine and I rode back on the range
From the graveyard down the way.
'Cause she and I were headin' back
From a sad, sad buryin' that day

© 2006, C. W. Bell
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.


End of the Day

Headin' home at the end of the day
Is a special time in life,
With my sweetheart ridin' by my side.
I'm so glad that she's my wife.

We been pardnered  twenty years now,
Seems like only yesterday,
When we first became man and Mrs.,
How the time does slip away,

She rides good as any of the men
She's my very best top hand,
She works, ropes, and rides the whole day through,
And I'm proud she wears our brand.

Ridin' west towards that setting sun
She looks fine upon that bay.
The bright blue sky and billowing clouds
Sure made it a pretty day.

The grass is still lookin' mostly green,
Though it's been a little dry.
It sure doesn't look like there's much rain
In those clouds there in the sky.
My golden pony, his head held low,
Knows this trail leads to the barn,
Where he'll get himself some feed and rest,
He's a good ol' pard, by darn.
Those blue mountains on that horizon
Mark our little piece of land,
All that stretches between here and  there
It's more than we had planned.
Headin' home at the end of the day
Is a special time in life.
With my sweetheart ridin' by my side,
I'm so glad that she's my wife.

© 2006, Van A. Criddle
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.


Worthwhile Ride

I hadn't seen my son Andy in a quite a spell.
Most of our communication had been by phone and email
So he could tell when he looked into my eyes
that his showing up unexpectedly was quite a pleasant surprise.

I wanted to sit and visit but one of my mares had gotten loose
and I needed to go and find that wandering cayuse.
So Andy grabbed a Stetson and pulled on his riding boots
and I was proud to see that he still remembered his roots.

I saddled up the palomino and Andy took the bay
and we rode out to look for the lost horse all that day.
I figured more than likely she'd struck out across BLM land
and just might be running with a wild mustang band.

The grasslands were still green and the foothills had a purplish hue
which contrasted nicely against the prairie sky's baby blue.
The scattered cumulus clouds hanging low in the sky
looked like puffy cotton balls as they slowly drifted by.

Most of the wild mustangs had been rounded up a few weeks back
and I figured we'd be lucky if we even found a track.
But I didn't want to spoil our fun horseback ride;
it was great just having my son by my side.

We rode back and forth and we looked high and low.
We searched every eroded gully and dry arroyo.
We widened our circle on a cross-country course,
but  there wasn't much sign of any kind of horse.

Andy brought me up to date as we traversed the grassy plain
and I came to the conclusion that this ride wasn't all in vain.
He told me about his dreams, and the great job he had found
and that day we literally and figuratively covered a lot of ground.
Eventually we found the mare that we went looking for
and we also found something that meant a whole lot more.
We both realized, even though the words were unspoken,
that family bonds and ties are not meant to be broken.
We turned our horses toward home, tired but content,
reflecting on the way our long day had been spent.
Andy said he'll come back again, though it might be awhile.
Until then, I'll remember that ride whenever I need a smile.

© 2006, Harold Roy Miller
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

Heading Home

Home again. Back home again
to haunts we used to know.
They say you can't go back again.
I know that isn't so.
They say you can't go back again.
I know that isn't true.
Though you were buried long ago,
I'm heading home to you.

Home again, across the years
to trails we used to ride
across the Bighorn Mountains...
racing side by side.

Once again my heart rides back
across the trails of time;
to where the Big Sky smiles above
and snow peaked mountains climb.

I'm riding on those trails once more-
back home again with you.
They say you can't go back again.
I know that isn't true.

© 2006, Bette Wolf Duncan
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

Headin' Home

I want to head home
and never more roam
'cause I am tired and worn.

But I can't ride back
to that old sod shack...
the place where I was born.

The folks are gone now,
there's nary a cow...
the place is plumb forlorn.

There's nothin' left there,
'cept mem'ries to share,
'though there is lots to mourn.

So just in my mind
is where I can find
the place where I was born.

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

Headin' Home

Every year, T.J. and me, to mark our anniversary,
We go and saddle up, and simply ride away.
It doesn't matter what direction, when you celebrate affection,
And the chores will somehow keep 'til end of day.

We leave the homestead to our back, we let the ponies choose the track,
And, well, it really doesn't matter much the weather.
We simply ride a gentle walk, don't even really have to talk,
It's just a time when we can fin'lly be together.

Of course, we're older now than last year, ride a slightly greener pasture,
Ride a slightly slower pace, all things considered.
A bit less fit, if I'm not wrong, a bit less "git" in our "along,"
And though our minds are not as sharp, they're not as littered.

The sounds of distant waters flowin' harmonize with breezes blowin'
O'er the ridge, and as they join, it forms a song.
And in that whispered melody, I'd have to think T.J. and me
Have come to know this is the place where we belong.
See, every time I lay my eyes on that distinctive far horizon,
Every time I hear the rhymin' of a poem,
From our own birth, until we die, each time I gaze at God's blue sky,
I'd have to think we're maybe always... headin' home.

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


Weekend Cowboy Heading Home

Have you ever heard of a saddle sore?
Well, it don't hurt the saddle none!
It's the price ya pay after ridin' all day,
from dawn till the settin' sun.
You can set how ya will, chasin' cows fer the thrill;
You can slouch... you can switch bun to bun.
But, you mark my word, once you've settled the herd
n' yer day's work is finally done --
When ya dismount yer steed with uncommon slow speed;
you will wonder just why ya don't learn!
On thet long ride to camp, yer aware of that damp
sticky spot that's a hurtin' a ton!
Ya walk... then ya ride... then ya slump n' ya slide;
Dangit all! Thet part ain't any fun!
But, yer pain ya just hide-- cuz ya got cowboy pride!
After all, yer a packin' a gun!!!
OH NO!!! What's that ya hear? "We've missed us a pair!"
"Gather up boys, we've got us a run!"
N' with..." YAHOO ... KIYI" Them ol' cowboys race by;
Just when ya thought ya were done.
You can't stay there alone!!! You'll get lost on yer own!!!
So, ya follow...with tears in yer eyes.
N' ya sob as ya ride... Tryin' ta switch side to side...
Chasin' cows beneath starlit night skies.

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




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