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Versions of our regular column of cowboy poetry and songs appear in the Backforty Bunkhouse Newsletter, Rope Burns, and occasionally in other publications.

The column began publication in Rope Burns in 2001. It is currently on hiatus.

 

 

Below are other recent columns with featured poets and songwriters:

2011

May/June 2011, Elizabeth Ebert and May and June gatherings
March/April 2011, Larry McWhorter, Cowboy Poetry Week, and The BAR-D Roundup: Volume 6
February 2011, Jay Snider and February gatherings
January 2011
, DW Groethe and January gatherings

 

2010

December 2010, Juni Fisher and December gatherings
November 2010
,  Doris Daley and November gatherings
October 2010
,  Ken Cook and October gatherings
September 2010
,  Brenn Hill and September gatherings
August 2010
,  Mike Puhallo and August Gatherings
July 2010
,  Al "Doc" Mehl and July Gatherings
June 2010
,  Rodney Nelson and June Gatherings
May 2010
,  Slim McNaught and May gatherings
April 2010
,  Linda Kirkpatrick, April gatherings, Bruce Kiskaddon, and Cowboy Poetry Week
March 2010
, Jim Thompson, Cowboy Poetry Week, S. Omar Barker, and The BAR-D Roundup
February 2010
, Ray Doyle and February gatherings
January 2010
, Jane Morton and the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering
 

2009

December 2009, Doris Daley and the Monterey Cowboy Poetry & Music Gathering and other events
November 2009
, Janice Gilbertson and the Rhymers Rodeer and other events
October 2009
, Andy Nelson and the Pinedale Cowboy Roundup
September 2009
, Smoke Wade and the National Cowboy Poetry Rodeo
July/August 2009
, Diane Tribitt and Cora Wood
May/June 2009
, Ken Cook and DW Groethe
March/April 2009
, Georgie Sicking, Cowboy Poetry Week and
The BAR-D Roundup: Volume Four
January/February, 2009
, Colen Sweeten and Yvonne Hollenbeck

2008

November/December, 2008, Jay Snider and Mag Mawhinney
September/October
, Pat Richardson and Rod Miller
July/August, Carole Jarvis and Deanna Dickinson McCall
May/June, Michael Henley and Sam DeLeeuw
March/April
, Doris Daley, Cowboy  Week, and
The BAR-D Roundup: Volume Three
January/February, Jay Snider and Linda Kirkpatrick

2007

November/December, Sandy Seaton and Slim McNaught
September/October
, Diane Tribitt and Andy Nelson

July/August, Susan Parker and Audrey Hankins
May/June, Rod Nichols, Bruce Kiskaddon
, and Open Range
March/April, Peggy Godfrey
and The BAR-D Roundup: Volume Two
January/February, Pat Richardson and Ken Cook.

2006

November/December, Smoke Wade and Van Criddle
September/October, Carole Jarvis and Les Buffham
July/August
, Jerry "Brooksie" Brooks and DW Groethe
May/June, Dee Strickland Johnson (Buckshot Dot) and Mike Puhallo
March/April
, Trey Allen, Bruce Kiskaddon, and Andy Nelson
January/February
, Colen Sweeten and Ray Owens

2005

November/December, Yvonne Hollenbeck and Jean Prescott
September/October
, Virginia Bennett and Janice Gilbertson  
July/August, Jay Snider and Jo Lynne Kirkwood
May/June
, Doris Daley and Andy Hedges

and others below

Columns first appeared in Rope Burns in November/December 2001

Poets featured in past columns include:

Trey Allen
 JW Beeson
Virginia Bennett
Jerry Brooks 
Les Buffham

Scott Bumgardner
Charlie Camden
Carl Condray
Ken Cook
Van Criddle
Doris Daley
Sam DeLeeuw
Ray Doyle

Janice Gilbertson
Peggy Godfrey
DW Groethe
Audrey Hankins
Andy Hedges
Michael Henley
Brenn Hill
Debra Hill
Yvonne Hollenbeck
Chris Isaacs
Sam Jackson
Carole Jarvis
Jay Jones
Jo Lynne Kirkwood
Linda Kirkpatrick
Deanna Dickinson McCall
Slim McNaught
Rod McQueary
Jean Mathisen
Mag Mawhinney
Al "Doc" Mehl
Rod Miller
Jane Morton
Andy Nelson
Rodney Nelson
Rod Nichols
Ray Owens
Susan Parker
Jean Prescott
Mike Puhallo
Buck Ramsey
Pat Richardson 
Sandy Seaton
Georgie Sicking
Jay Snider
Colen Sweeten
Diane Tribitt
Smoke Wade
Cora Wood

classics by...

Larry Chittenden
Bruce Kiskaddon
Henry Herbert Knibbs
Buck Ramsey

and others.

 


Most recent

May/June, 2011

                                                                                                                                                                                                          

Spring gives forth to many top cowboy poetry and music events. To name a few in May and June: Nevada's 2nd annual Genoa Cowboy Poetry & Music Festival; Washington's Dollar Watch Cowboy Jamboree; New Mexico's 4th annual Tyrone Cowboy Poetry and Music Gathering; Montana's 9th annual Motherin' Up Gathering of Poets and Pickers;  California's Bishop Mule Days; Washington's 5th annual Historic Ritzville Days Western Art Show; Alberta's 6th annual Canadian Rockies Cowboy Festival; Oklahoma's National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum's 21st annual Chuck Wagon Gathering and Children's Cowboy Festival; Nevada's NV of the West; Kansas' 15th annual Echoes of the Trail Cowboy Gathering; Alberta's 24th annual Pincher Creek Cowboy Poetry Gathering; and North Dakota's 25th annual Dakota Cowboy Poetry Gathering.

The Dakota Poetry Gathering, held in Medora (this year, May 28-29) was one of the first events established after the first Cowboy Poetry Gathering in Elko, Nevada in 1985. South Dakota's widely admired Elizabeth Ebert has been a frequent performer at both events. Her poems, both serious and humorous, come from her ranch life. Many people will relate to this one: 

Cowboy Courtin' Time

When Romeo went courtin'
     He climbed a balcony,
And some men serenade you
     Upon their bended knee.

Leander swam the Hellespont
     To reach his lady's side,
But when a cowboy comes a-courtin'
     You get a pickup ride.

Sometimes the pickup's even washed
     (Will wonders never end?)
But like as not he's brought along
     His trusty cowdog friend.

The dog will bark a welcome
     (And you know what that means)
There'll be paw prints and dog hair
     Upon your new black jeans.

The cowboy'll open up the door
     And hold it while you enter.
You know he's gettin' serious
     'Cause he sits you in the center.

The cowboy's reeking of cologne,
     Half a bottle, you can tell,
You wish he'd shared it with his friend
     Who has that doggy smell.

A hairy face on one side
     A mustache on the other,
And both of them are squeezin' in
     'Til you think you're gonna smother.

You sit there in the middle
     Like a rabbit in the hole.
The one is merely droolin'
     While the other's droolin' Skoal.

Makes a body sometimes ponder
     On the strange queer twists of fate
Makes you sometimes even wonder
     Which one really is your date.

The cowboy'll put his arm around
     And hug you 'til you hurt.
And then he starts to pawin'
     (The dog, that is) your shirt.

They've got you snuggled there between
     Just a pawn within their game.
I doesn't matter where you turn
     'Cause they kiss about the same.

Long years have passed since courtin' time
     Changed me from Miss to Mrs.
And I'll admit, I've grown to like
     Those cowboy-cowdog kisses.

© 1997, Elizabeth Ebert, All Rights Reserved

Her recitation of that poem is on the new BAR-D Roundup: Volume Six, from CowboyPoetry.com. It's also in her book, Crazy Quilt, and on her CD, Live from Thunderhawk, available for $15 and $17, respectively, from Elizabeth Ebert, 10930  208th Avenue, Lemmon, SD 57638 and from http://stores.ebay.com/Aurora-Dew.

Elizabeth Ebert recently received the first annual Badger Award for Excellence in Cowboy Poetry from the Heritage of the American West Performance Series in Spearfish, South Dakota. It's named for Badger Clark Jr. (1883-1957), a favorite of cowboy poets, who served as the Poet Laureate of South Dakota. Elizabeth Ebert says that she was pleased to receive the award, especially because, "...the first poems I can remember my mother reading to me were from Badger Clark's Sun and Saddle Leather."

Learn more about the gatherings mentioned above at CowboyPoetry.com, where you’ll also find hundreds of cowboy poets and Western musicians and their works. It's an on-going gathering, with continual news, features, poetry, lyrics, gathering reports, and an extensive event calendar. Come by and stay a while.

 


Versions of this column appear in the Backforty Bunkhouse Newsletter, Rope Burns, and occasionally in other publications.

The column began publication in Rope Burns in 2001. 

 

March/April, 2011

                                                                                                                                                                                                          


 

 

This year's Cowboy Poetry Week—the tenth annual—is celebrated April 17-23. Inaugurated by CowboyPoetry.com, which is a project of the non-profit  Center for Western and Cowboy Poetry, the celebration has been recognized by unanimous resolution of the United States Senate. Twenty-two states'  governors and other officials have issued Cowboy Poetry Week proclamations, and the week is celebrated with activities across the West and beyond.

"Pilgrim," a painting by noted Texas artist Duward Campbell, was selected as this year's Cowboy Poetry Week poster art. The painting depicts Texas cowboy J.B. Allen (1938-2005) and his horse Pilgrim. Posters aren’t sold, but are sent to libraries as a part of the Center's Rural Library Project and are premiums for Center supporters.

For 2011, there's a new edition of The BAR-D Roundup, the Center's annual compilation recording of classic and current cowboy poetry, a collection intended to grow as an archive. The annual recording's focus—and that of the Center and CowboyPoetry.com—is to preserve and celebrate the stories of the real working West. Some tracks are from existing CDs and others were recorded for The BAR-D Roundup or lent by organizations and families. The CD is also offered to libraries and is available for purchase; proceeds help fund the Center's programs.

This sixth annual edition of The BAR-D Roundup has themes of generations, enduring connections, and the Lone Star state. There are several poems written by Texas poet and cowboy Larry McWhorter (1957-2003), including one recited by his daughter Abi McWhorter:

Therapy

The early predawn silence
Is like music to the ear
Of the rested and contented
Who take the time to hear.

I've missed the predawn silence
Not found upon the track
The world says one must follow,
But I shall have it back.

For once again I’ve horses
To fill my spirit’s hole
Dear God, oh how I’ve missed them
And how they ease my soul.

© 2000, Larry McWhorter, All rights reserved

Top cowboy poet Waddie Mitchell recites another along with Larry McWhorter—in a recording made possible after Larry McWhorter's death through the use of technology.  That track and another by Texas songwriter, singer, reciter and poet Andy Hedges, were lent by Texas singer and songwriter Jean Prescott, who produced the award-winning The Poetry of Larry McWhorter.

Additional Texas voices are heard, including  top cowboy troubadour Don Edwards’ spoken-word piece, "The Devil's Hatband"; premier singer, songwriter, and cowboy poet Red Steagall’s "McCorkle and the Wire"; and the respected Buck Ramsey's (1938-1998) rendition of the traditional "Windy Bill." Other Texas poets and reciters include J.B. Allen, Joel Nelson and Linda Kirkpatrick.

There are classics recited by Randy Rieman, Jay Snider, Jerry Brooks,  Jesse Smith, and Dick Morton.  The poets who present their modern works include  Doris Daley, Elizabeth Ebert, DW Groethe, Linda M. Hasselstrom, Yvonne Hollenbeck, Sam Jackson, Carole Jarvis, Rod Miller, Jane Morton, Andy Nelson, Rodney Nelson, Pat Richardson, and Bob Schild. Popular singer, songwriter and poet Brenn Hill recorded a radio PSA.

This year's cover features legendary fiddler and cowboy Frankie McWhorter (1931-2008),  father of Larry McWhorter  and grandfather of Abi McWhorter. Inside, there's a photo of  Andrea McWhorter Waitley, Frank Waitley, and Abi McWhorter, along with Sunday, a horse started by Larry McWhorter as a two-year old and ridden over his thirty years of life by four generations of McWhorters.
 
Past editions of The BAR-D Roundup have enjoyed wide radio airplay, and the new edition will also be distributed to hundreds of Western radio stations, thanks to Joe Baker of New Mexico's Backforty. Wyoming's Andy Nelson,  poet, writer, humorist, popular emcee and co-host of the award-winning Clear Out West (C. O. W.) Radio show is the CD's co-producer.

The BAR-D Roundup is offered for sale, with proceeds supporting CowboyPoetry.com.

Take part in Cowboy Poetry Week: Get your schools, libraries, and community  involved!  Perform your poetry, donate a book, share your knowledge. Read more about it all here at CowboyPoetry.com. 

 


Versions of this column appear in the Backforty Bunkhouse Newsletter, Rope Burns, and occasionally in other publications.

The column began publication in Rope Burns in 2001. 

 

 

February, 2011

                                                                                                                                                                                                          


 

February welcomes the 7th Spirit of the West Cowboy Gathering in  Ellensburg, Washington; the 11th Saddle Up! Celebration in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee; the 19th Cochise Cowboy Poetry and Music Gathering in Sierra Vista, Arizona; and the 25th Texas Cowboy Poetry Gathering in Alpine. And, there are dozens of other excellent Western gatherings and events early in the new year.

Oklahoma rancher Jay Snider (returning to the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering in January) will appear at the Cochise Cowboy Poetry and Music Gathering and at the Texas Cowboy Poetry Gathering in February. Jay’s a much-awarded poet, and he was recently featured in Western Horseman. He has been collaborating with songwriters in recent years, and here is a recent example:

The Cowboy's a Legend

Granddad told stories that his granddad told
Of raging stampedes, the rain and the cold
Of herds pointed north and the rivers they crossed
The deep, muddy water. The good cowboys they lost

Chorus
The cowboy's a legend, conceived by the trail
Cut short was his life by the wire and the rail
His laws, plain and simple, passed down to the rest
No title, no chapter. That's the code of the west

He knows what he stands for. Won't veer from that trail
Distinct in his vision as a coyote's wail
Can't stand rude behavior toward horses or men
Has no place in the world that he's living in

Chorus

Some are cowboys by choice, others born to the breed
They'll ride, when they die towards the nearest stampede
The cowboy lives on yet today and beyond
Though the ruts have blown in and the trail herds are gone

Chorus

© 2009, Jay Snider, All Rights Reserved


Texas singer, songwriter, musician and Wrangler Award winner Dale Burson will include the song on a forthcoming album he's recording with Dan Shipley.

Jay was named the 208 Top Male Poet by the Academy of Western Artists. He is featured on each annual volume of The BAR-D Roundup from CowboyPoetry.com. His CD, Of Horses and Men, was named the 2006 AWA Best Cowboy Poetry Recording. It’s available for $19 postpaid from Jay Snider, Route 1, Box 167, Cyril, Oklahoma 73029; www.JaySnider.net .

Learn more about the gatherings mentioned above at CowboyPoetry.com, where you’ll also find hundreds of cowboy poets and Western musicians and their works. It's an on-going gathering, with continual news, features, poetry, lyrics, gathering reports, and an extensive event calendar. Come by and stay a while.

 


Versions of this column appear in the Backforty Bunkhouse Newsletter, Rope Burns, and occasionally in other publications.

The column began publication in Rope Burns in 2001. 

 

January, 2011

                                                                                                                                                                                                          


 

January features some great gatherings, including two of the most popular: the 22nd Annual Colorado Cowboy Gathering (coloradocowboygathering.com) in Denver and the one that started it all, the Western Folklife Center’s 27th National Cowboy Poetry Gathering (westernfolklife.org) in Elko, Nevada.

Montana ranch hand, poet, and songwriter DW Groethe is among the participants at the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering; he's returning for a seventh time in 2011. This poem resonates with many listeners and readers:

My Father's Horses

It must've been a day
for peace an' reverie
When my father took a pencil in his hand
an' scribed upon his notebook,
all the horses that he'd had
when growin' up in West Dakota land.

I can see him sittin', thoughtful,
soft smile in his eyes,
As the ponies pranced before him, once again.
Then he jotted each one down,
with a slow an' careful hand.
Sometimes, horses, can count right up with kin.

Tobe, Frank an' Muggins,
Daisy I an' Daisy II,
(his mem'ry felt a breeze that stirred their manes.)
Charlie, Chub an' Pearl
found their way up to the front
an' back once more upon the dusty plains.

Prince I an' II an' Mike
come lopin' lightly into view,
he penned their mem'ries, gentle on the page...
a-waitin' an' a thinkin',
he was missin'...just a few
when Queen an' May neared, nickerin' thru the sage.

An' finally, down the draw,
come Thunder, Buck an' Bill
a'flyin' like the wind an' they was one.
then he eased back in his chair,
contemplatin' all that's there,
his gatherin' of the old bunch was all done.

Yeah...it must've been a day
of peace an' reverie,
in his office, at a desk of metal gray,
when the ol' man made a tally
a-gatherin' up his cavvy,
One last time, a-fore they slipped away.

© 2007, DW Groethe, All rights reserved 

He comments: "Among the many things I inherited from my father was a box of items from his office desk. In it there was a ...small pocket notebook...on the first page he'd written the names of sixteen horses...the horses he'd grown up with back in the twenties and thirties. I wish I could remember all the stories he had about them. As it is, all I have is a page in an old worn notebook and a poem to honor their memories."

DW Groethe has a recent chapbook that includes the title poem, My Father’s Horses, available for $15 postpaid from him at PO Box 144, Bainville, MT 59212; 406/769-2312. His recitation of “My Father’s Horses” (recorded at the 2007 National Cowboy Poetry Gathering) appears on The BAR-D Roundup: Volume Three compilation from CowboyPoetry.com. DW has an award-winning book of poetry and lyrics, West River Waltz; CDs of his music and poetry; and additional chapbooks.

Learn more about the gatherings mentioned above at CowboyPoetry.com, where you’ll also find hundreds of cowboy poets and Western musicians and their works. It's an on-going gathering, with continual news, features, poetry, lyrics, gathering reports, and an extensive event calendar. Come by and stay a while.

 

 


Versions of this column appear in the Backforty Bunkhouse Newsletter, Rope Burns, and occasionally in other publications.

The column began publication in Rope Burns in 2001. 

 

December, 2010

                                                                                                                                                                                                          


The holidays are coming and along with things to celebrate are Arizona’s 22nd Annual Cowboy Christmas Poetry Gathering in Wickenburg; the Larry Chittenden Cowboy Celebration in  Anson, Texas; Michael Martin Murphey's 16th Annual Cowboy Christmas Ball at the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City; and California’s 12th Annual Monterey Cowboy Poetry & Music Festival and Western Art and Gear  Show.

Premier Western songwriter and singer Juni Fisher is a part of the stellar lineup for the 12th Annual Monterey Cowboy Poetry & Music Festival (December 10-12; www.montereycowboy.org). She’ll be joined by Dave Stamey, Ian Tyson, Richard Chon, R.W. Hampton, Wylie & The Wild West; poets and reciters Jerry Brooks, Andy Nelson, Randy Rieman, Jessie Smith, and Diane Tribitt; and others.

Juni Fisher has been honored with countless awards, including the prestigious Wrangler from the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum for Gone to Colorado, the Western Music Association’s Best Songwriter Award (the first woman to receive that award), and many more.

This year’s Monterey poster features the art of the deeply missed Joelle Smith (1958-2005 ). Juni wrote a moving song in her memory:

Goodnight Good Pony

A cowgirl stands at her mirror
Ties her fav'rite silk scarf and she smiles
Slips on her boots and best silver spurs
The ones she's worn many a mile

By the door there's her flat brimmed sombrero
And her chinks in a gold sunset hue
She steps out on the porch when she's ready
The pastures and mountains in view

Then the cowgirl walks out to her pony
Who lies in the sweet grass at rest
She tells him "Of all of the horses I've known,
good pony, you know you're the best"

(So) Goodnight good pony goodnight
Rest your head and close your eyes tight
I'll see you tomorrow when all the world's bright
Goodnight good pony goodnight
                                                                   
So the pony lay still and was dreamin'
Of the days he had carried that girl
How she'd started him when he was younger
How she laughed when he bucked and he whirled

He dreamed of the days they worked cattle
And of rides with no work at all
How he'd nudge her to get her to smilin'
How he'd find her whenever she called

At daylight the pony heard singin'
He pricked up his ears to her door
He nickered to call out his cowgirl
To come sing to him once more

Goodnight good pony goodnight
Rest your head and close your eyes tight
I'll see you tomorrow when all the world's bright
Goodnight good pony goodnight

He waited for her until sunset
Then the sky filled with beautiful light
His cowgirl had gone to her Maker
So the angels sang to him that night

Goodnight good pony goodnight
Rest your head and close your eyes tight
I'll see you tomorrow when all the world's bright
Goodnight good pony goodnight
Goodnight good pony goodnight

© 2005, Juni Fisher/Red Geetar Music ASCAP; All rights reserved
 

That song is on her Cowgirlography CD. Juni’s most recent sell-out CD is Let 'er Go "Let 'er Buck" Let 'er Fly, which celebrates the men, women, and horses of the Pendleton Round-up.  Each album is $15 postpaid from Juni Fisher, 2105 Granville Rd, Franklin, TN 37064; www.junifisher.net.

Learn more about the gatherings mentioned above at CowboyPoetry.com, where you’ll also find hundreds of cowboy poets and Western musicians and their works. It's an on-going gathering, with continual news, features, poetry, lyrics, gathering reports, and an extensive event calendar. Come by and stay a while.

 


Versions of this column appear in the Backforty Bunkhouse Newsletter, Rope Burns, and occasionally in other publications.

The column began publication in Rope Burns in 2001. 

 

November, 2010

                                                                                                                                                                                                          

November events are among some of the year’s most awaited, including the 22nd Annual Western Music Association Festival and Awards Show in Albuquerque, New Mexico; Utah’s 16th Annual Cowboy Poetry Gathering and Buckaroo Fair in Heber City; Arizona’s Tombstone Western Music Festival; California’s Annual Cowpoke Fall Cowboy Poetry and Music Gathering in Loomis; Idaho’s Diamond Field Jack Cowboy Poetry Gathering in Rupert; the 5th Annual Arizona Cowboy Symposium in Sonoita; and the 4th Annual Columbia Gorge Cowboy Gathering in The Dalles, Oregon.

Doris Daley—named the Western Music Association's 2009 Top Female Poet, the first Canadian to earn that honor—is featured at the Columbia Gorge Cowboy Gathering. Known for her wit and wordsmithing, she delivers a great amount of both in this standout poem:

A Baxter of Blacks

Sheep come in flocks, whales come in pods,
Geese come in gaggles, police come in squads.
There are hovers of trout, bouquets of pheasants
Bands of gypsies and rabbles of peasants.

Prides for a lion, packs for a rat
Lamentations of swans-what's up with that?
Hosts of angels, dens of thieves.
What else has the language got up her sleeves?

Collective nouns-how droll, how poetic!
But where are the nouns with a cowboy aesthetic?
Mr. Webster, I fear, lacked in western perspectives
So I offer my word list of cowboy collectives.

A gavel of auctioneers
A marble of fattened steers.
A Bodacious of bucking Brahmas
A shank of Tony Lamas.
A clutch of John Deere tractors
A Clint of western actors.
A chip of coffee shop mugs
An Ian of Navajo rugs.
An annoyance of all-know-its.
An Elko of cowboy poets.
A King of roping resources
And now…for the horses.

A rum of Morgans, a dapple of greys
An acorn of chestnuts, a Hudson of bays.
A bray of Jennies, a stubborn of Jacks
A sunburn of whites, a Baxter of blacks.
A shag of Shetland ponies
A rack of skin-and-bonies.
A bourbon of Tennessee walkers
An amazement of Mr. Ed talkers.
A prance of Lipizzaners
A Preakness of also-ranners.
A gait of Paso Finos
A Trigger of palominos.

Friends, add these terms to your vocab
And dazzle your friends with the gift of the gab
But  caution to you collective noun go-getters:
Best to quit before you get to manure-spreaders.

© 2009 Doris Daley. All rights reserved

Top cowboy poet Baxter Black likes the poem so much that he lists it on his web site among his favorites in “What’s in Baxter’s Truck.” The poem will be a part of the 2011 edition of The BAR-D Roundup from CowboyPoetry.com.

“A Baxter of Blacks” is on Doris Daley’s most recent CD, Beneath a Western Sky, which was named the 2009 Top Cowboy Poetry CD by the Western Music Association. The CD is available for $20 CDN, $18 US, postpaid from Doris Daley at Box 103, Turner Valley, AB  TOL 2AO: Box 103, Canada; www.dorisdaley.com.

Learn more about the gatherings mentioned above at CowboyPoetry.com, where you’ll also find hundreds of cowboy poets and Western musicians and their works. It's an on-going gathering, with continual news, features, poetry, lyrics, gathering reports, and an extensive event calendar. Come by and stay a while.

 


Versions of this column appear in the Backforty Bunkhouse Newsletter, Rope Burns, and occasionally in other publications.

The column began publication in Rope Burns in 2001. 

 

 


October, 2010

                                                                                                                                                                                                          

Cowboy poetry and music events abound in October. Among the many are Wyoming's 5th Annual Pinedale Cowboy Roundup; Cartersville, Georgia's 8th Annual Southeastern Cowboy Festival and Symposium; Ft. Worth's Red Steagall Cowboy Gathering and Western Swing Festival; Payson, Arizona's Heritage Festival; Martin, South Dakota's Fourth Annual Cowboy Poetry and Music Show; Montana's 22nd Annual Alzada Cowboy Poetry, Art & Music Show; New Mexico's 21st Annual Lincoln County Cowboy Symposium; Acton, California's 2nd Annual Whistle Stop Ranch Fall Cowboy Roundup; and California's 20th Annual Visalia Fall Roundup.

And, starting on the last day of September and continuing into the first weekend of October, two venerable gatherings take place: Colorado’s 22nd Annual Durango Cowboy Gathering and 19th Annual Nebraska Cowboy Poetry Gathering and Old West Days.

South Dakota cowboy and poet Ken Cookrecently named the Top Male poet by the Academy of Western Artistswill be on stage at the show in Martin and also at the 19th Annual Nebraska Cowboy Poetry Gathering and Old West Days in Valentine, September 30-October 3, 2010 (nebraskacowboypoetrygathering.com). Other featured performers include Kevin Davis, Elizabeth Ebert, Jay Snider, Suzi Killman, and Prickly Pair & the Cactus Chorale (Les & Locke Hamilton and Norman Winter).

Ken Cook's poem below was written for an "Art Spur" at CowboyPoetry.com, where poets are invited to let selections of Western art inspire their poetry. The piece that prompted Ken's poem was "Born to This Land," the work of premier Western artist Bill Owen. The painting was selected as the 2010 Cowboy Poetry Week poster.

Cowhand

  Swallowed by a cow outfit,
    Stayed horseback all his days,
  Hardly choked on growing older,
    Just chomped down cowboy ways.

  A man tied to a calling,
    Tough work with no remorse,
  Staying close to grass and water,
    Tight bound to cow and horse.

  Seldom drifted far from horse flesh,
    A woman's scent was rare,
  Always hungered for the prairie,
    When he could not smell her there.

  Feasted on the day to day,
    Of grass for months on end,
  Savored every horse he rode,
    Like drinks with an old friend.

  Gorged his self on punchin' cows,
    And work horse reins held tight,
  Devoured every daylight hour,
    Just trying to work 'em right.

  Never strayed too far from leather,
    Truth is just plain cowhand,
  But plumb content in knowing,
    He was anchored to this land.

  © 2010, Ken Cook, All rights reserved

Ken comes from generations of cowboys and has spawned another generation of them himself. His most recent CD is Cowboys Are Like That.  Find more about Ken’s other recordings and see his schedule and more at his web site: www.kencookcowboypoet.com.

Learn more about the gatherings mentioned above at CowboyPoetry.com, where you’ll also find hundreds of cowboy poets and Western musicians and their works. It's an on-going gathering, with continual news, features, poetry, lyrics, gathering reports, and an extensive event calendar. Come by and stay a while.

 


Versions of this column appear in the Backforty Bunkhouse Newsletter, Rope Burns, and occasionally in other publications.
 


The column began publication in Rope Burns in 2001. 


September, 2010

                                                                                                                                                                                                          

September brings many great long-standing cowboy poetry and music events, including Colorado’s 22nd Annual Durango Cowboy Gathering; the 22nd Annual National Cowboy Symposium in Lubbock, Texas; Saskatchewan’s 21st Annual Maple Creek Cowboy Poetry Gathering; New Mexico’s 18th Annual Nara Visa Gathering; the 18th Annual Gila Valley Cowboy Poetry & Music Gathering in Safford, Arizona; the 19th Annual Nebraska Cowboy Poetry Gathering and Old West Days in Valentine; Wyoming’s  Devils Tower 16th Annual Cowboy Poetry Gathering; the 13th Annual Badger Clark Hometown Cowboy Poetry and Music Gathering in Hot Springs, South Dakota; and the San Juan Western Heritage Festival and 13th Annual National Cowboy Poetry Rodeo, held together in  Montrose, Colorado.

At the National Cowboy Poetry Rodeo (September 17-18, 2010)—conceived by and produced by poet Sam Jackson—poets compete for prize money, silver buckles, and trophies. This year’s "riders" will come from 14 states, Canada, and Australia. Sam states the event’s aim as "excellence through competition." That goal is reflected in the impressive list of past competitors and winners, who include top poets and reciters such as Pat Richardson, Doris Daley, Jerry Brooks, Jane Morton, Janice Gilbertson, Yvonne Hollenbeck, Dennis Gaines, DW Groethe, Linda Kirkpatrick, Andy Nelson, Jay Snider, Ken Cook, and Diane Tribitt.

The National Cowboy Poetry Rodeo also includes evening entertainment, and the popular, respected Western singer and songwriter Brenn Hill headlines at the Saturday evening show. In his songs, Brenn is known for capturing real Western life with stunning clarity. These lyrics, from his Endangered album, are a fine example:

Pickup Truck Café

Talk about the weather
And the prices of cattle
Your wife's worthless brother
And his brand new saddle

Talk about women
The heart-breakin' kind
And lay it all on the table
Get it off your mind

Down at the Pickup Truck Café
We drink coffee here every day
We sit and talk the morning away
Down at the Pickup Truck Café


'Cross the county line
And out on the very edge of town
You'll never see the sign
Facin' down on the ground

The world's movin' on
The mornin' radio
Twenty years long gone
Nobody knows where they go

Down at the Pickup Truck Café
We drink coffee here every day
We sit and talk the morning away
Down at the Pickup Truck Café


It don't matter what you wear
It don't matter who you are
Cuz most things they don't care
But don't you dare drive a car

Down to the Pickup Truck Café
We drink coffee here every day
We sit and watch the time just fade away
Down at the Pickup Truck Café


© 2004 Red Cliffs Press Music (BMI) / Silversongs West (BMI), All rights reserved

Though he is as accomplished with horses as he is with his music, Brenn doesn’t like to call himself a “cowboy”; he says he has too much respect for the real cowboys and their work, and is grateful to be able to help out when he can on friends’ ranches.

Brenn is thoughtful about all of the work he does. He is featured in an extensive profile in the September, 2010 issue of Western Horseman, where he’s quoted as saying, “I believe the Western genre commemorates a way of life that’s unique to the West, and I consider it a sacred duty to carry forth this genre as those before me have done.”

Brenn Hill’s brand new CD, Equine, is already a runaway favorite with listeners and reviewers alike. Find more about Brenn and all of his music at www.brennhill.com.
 

Learn more about the gatherings mentioned above at CowboyPoetry.com, where you’ll also find hundreds of cowboy poets and Western musicians and their works. It's an on-going gathering, with continual news, features, poetry, lyrics, gathering reports, and an extensive event calendar. Come by and stay a while.

 


Versions of this column appear in the Backforty Bunkhouse Newsletter, CowboyLegacy.org, and Rope Burns.  

The column began publication in Rope Burns in 2001. 



August, 2010

                                                                                                                                                                                                          

Summer is full of cowboy poetry and music events, and among the August happenings are: Michael Martin Murphey’s Westfest; the 25th Annual Montana Cowboy Poetry Gathering in Lewistown; the 23rd Annual Arizona Cowboy Poets Gathering in Prescott; Nevada’s 5th Annual Reno Cowboy Poetry and Music Gathering; California’s 11th Annual Big Bear Cowboy Gathering; Colorado’s 13th Annual Wet Mountain Western Days; Utah’s 12th Annual Western Legends Roundup; Wyoming’s 4th Annual Ride A Horse Feed A Cowboy event; and Alberta’s 18th Annual Stony Plain Gathering.

British Columbia cowboy and poet Mike Puhallo—the Academy of Western Artists' 2009 Cowboy Poet of the Year—is featured at Alberta’s 18th Annual Stony Plain Gathering, August 13-15, 2010 (stonyplaincowboypoetry.com). Since 1998, Mike’s been writing weekly “Meadow Muffins,” short poems, for three weekly newspapers, a dozen magazines and more blogs and websites than he can count.  

A few years ago, Mike sold his interest in the ranch he shared with his brother, and now is doing what he says he always wanted to do: just cowboy. While many of his poems draw on his ranching and cowboying experience, this gem sparkles in its vision of poetry itself:

Just Words

Words, are about as durable,

As campfire smoke,

Scattered by breezes

As quick as they’re spoke.

 

Yet, when captured like dewdrops...

On cobweb of rhyme,

Some words,

Turn to diamonds,

Preserved for all time.
 

© 2010, Mike Puhallo, All Rights Reserved

One of Mike Puhallo’s most famous poems is no doubt “Man in the Moon,” which he wrote in 1993, inspired by the 25th anniversary of the moon landing. Mike says, “It got me thinking about where I was when man first set foot on the moon and how surreal it seemed, to be in a cow camp with no electricity or phone, listening on a radio to a man who was walking on the moon!” The poem was recited at the NASA launch of the Clementine Mission in January of 1994, a photographic mission that was the only lunar project during the 25th anniversary year. The recording is also on the first edition of The BAR-D Roundup from CowboyPoetry.com.

Mike Puhallo is the long-time president of the British Columbia Cowboy Heritage Society (BCCHS.com), the home of the popular Kamloops Cowboy Festival. That event celebrates its fifteenth year, March 10th - 13th, 2011.

Find more about Mike, his poetry, books, and CDs at mikepuhallo.com.


Learn more about the gatherings mentioned above at CowboyPoetry.com, where you’ll also find hundreds of cowboy poets and Western musicians and their works. It's an on-going gathering, with continual news, features, poetry, lyrics, gathering reports, and an extensive event calendar. Come by and stay a while.

 


Versions of this column appear in the Backforty Bunkhouse Newsletter, CowboyLegacy.org, and Rope Burns.  

The column began publication in Rope Burns in 2001. 


July, 2010

                                                                                                                                                                                                          

In July, the weather heats up and so does the world of cowboy gatherings. To name just a few: the 23rd California Rodeo Cowboy Entertainment Gathering "Cowboys and Cabernet" in Salinas, California; the 2nd Bear Lake Cowboy Gathering in Montpelier, Idaho; the 10th Willow Creek Cowboy Poetry Gathering in Stavely, Alberta; and the 5th White Mountains Roundup of Cowboy Poetry, Music and Art in Pinetop-Lakeside, Arizona.

There will be plenty of entertainment also at the 72nd National Folk Festival in Butte, Montana; the 98th Calgary Stampede; Arizona’s 122nd Prescott Frontier Days; the 100th California Rodeo Salinas; Wyoming’s 102nd Cheyenne Frontier Days; and at Riverbend, in Winston, Oregon. National Day of the Cowboy (July 24) events are planned across the West and beyond.

One particularly popular event is Wyoming’s Grand Encampment Cowboy Gathering. This year’s, the eighth annual, takes place July 16-18, 2010 ( www.grandencampmentgathering.org ). Colorado poet and songwriter Al “Doc” Mehl is on the program there.

“Doc” Mehl, known for his fun and quirky poems and lyrics as well as for his more serious themes, creates lyrical imagery in this poem:

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, All Rights Reserved

“Doc” Mehl says that the poem was inspired both by South Dakota poet and ranch wife Yvonne Hollenbeck's award-winning quilts (she lives just across the Nebraska state line) and by Colorado poet and writer Jane Morton's poem, "Summer '34." He recalls, "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.'"

Al “Doc” Mehl’s most recent CD is  I'd Rather Be. Find more about it and his other poetry and music CDs at www.cdbaby.com/Artist/AlMehl.  

In his "other life," “Doc” Mehl recently returned from Ghana, Africa where he was participating in a humanitarian medical mission.  

Find more about Al “Doc” Mehl at CowboyPoetry.com, where you’ll find hundreds of cowboy poets and Western musicians. It's an on-going gathering, with continual news, features, poetry, lyrics, gathering reports, and an extensive event calendar. Come by and stay a while.

 


Versions of this column appear in the Backforty Bunkhouse Newsletter, CowboyLegacy.org, and Rope Burns.  

The column began publication in Rope Burns in 2001. 


 

June, 2010

                                                                                                                                                                                                          

Some popular June events in the cowboy poetry and Western music world include the 14th annual Echoes of the Trail Cowboy Gathering in Fort Scott, Kansas; the 9th annual Cowboy Entertainer Gathering in Townsend, Montana; and the 23rd annual Pincher Creek Cowboy Poetry Gathering in Pincher Creek, Alberta. There are venues with regular events in June, including Scofield's Cowboy Campfire in Fiddletown, California; the Emerald Valley Opry in Eugene, Oregon; and Mavericks in Visalia, California.

One of the oldest gatherings, the 24th Dakota Cowboy Poetry Gathering in Medora, North Dakota, takes place each Memorial Day weekend. Crowd-pleasing North Dakota rancher, poet, and writer Rodney Nelson, who is a frequent performer at the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering and other events, is featured at Medora. He has a colorful introduction to that part of the country in this poem:

Dakota Fresh Air

The folks down at the tourism department
     sure go through some pains,
To brag up and glorify
     my state up on the plains.

I saw an ad not long ago
     that really did impress me,
Who would have guessed—my state is best
     for things one wants to see.

Yes, the pretty photos stunned me,
     I would have never thought,
I was living in the middle
     of one grand vacation spot.

It stressed our scenic beauty,
     talked up our industry,
Pointed out historic sites
     with good ac-cu-ra-cy.

They may have praised our weather
     a little to excess
but when they spoke of clean fresh air 
     well, folks, that's no "B. S."!

Yes, fresh air is abundant,
     it's never stale or sour—
We import the stuff from Canada
     at 90 miles and hour!

Air that we are breathing
     when it's pretty close to noon,
Was probably at breakfast time
     somewhere near Saskatoon!

It's truly quite a blessing,
     that sometimes it's a sin,
When it's traveling by so doggone fast
     that one can't breathe it in!

It comes from all directions,
     but the North winds are the best—
the air gets sort of thick sometimes
     when the wind is from the West.

I hate these blasted droughty years,
      like the ones we've had of late.
A hard, West wind is often filled
     with Montana real estate!

But it sometimes works out dandy,
     we all thought it was fine
how we got the Kildeer Mountains
     when they blew across the line!

When North Dakota parents
     Send their children out to play,
They fill their pockets up with rocks
     So they won't blow away!

But, by gosh, I'm not complaining,
     thought the wind is sometimes mean,
the air that we are breathing
     is truly fresh and clean!

And our weather—oh, it's grand sometimes,
     be it warm or winter chill.
But a good day in North Dakota
     is when that fresh air—is standing still!

© 1995, Rodney Nelson, All Rights Reserved

Rodney writes the popular bi-monthly “Up Sims Creek” column for Farm and Ranch Guide. He also works as a part-time brand inspector, horse trainer and, in his words, “an aging rodeo performer.”

Rodney Nelson has several books and appears on several recordings, including The BAR-D Roundup, Volumes 4 and 5 from CowboyPoetry.com. His “Cowboy Laundry” poem from Volume 4 is one of radio’s most-played poems from that CD.

Find more about Rodney Nelson at CowboyPoetry.com, where you’ll find hundreds of cowboy poets and Western musicians. It's an on-going gathering, with continual news, features, poetry, lyrics, gathering reports, and an extensive event calendar. Come by and stay a while.


Versions of this column appear in the Backforty Bunkhouse Newsletter, CowboyLegacy.org, and Rope Burns.  

The column began publication in Rope Burns in 2001. 


 

May, 2010

                                                                                                                                                                                                          

 

Cowboy poetry and Western music events are plentiful in May. They include the 20th annual Chuck Wagon Gathering and Children's Cowboy Festival at the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City; the 8th annual Motherin' Up Gathering of Poets and Pickers in White Sulphur Springs, Montana; the semi-annual Dollar Watch Cowboy Jamboree in Winthrop, Washington; the 12th Annual Cowtown Society Of Western Music Swingfest in Mineral Wells, Texas; the Green Forest Cowboy Poet Gathering and Trade Show in Green Forest, Arkansas; the new NV of the West in Reno, Nevada; the 5th annual Canadian Rockies Cowboy Festival in Nordegg, Alberta, and many more.

One of the oldest events is the 24th annual Dakota Cowboy Poetry Gathering in Medora, North Dakota, which takes place on Memorial Day Weekend. South Dakota poet and master leather craftsman Slim McNaught will perform on the afternoon stage at the Medora event.

Slim’s recent CD, Reminiscin’, received the 2009 Academy of Western Artists Top Cowboy Poetry Album award. It includes the following poem, which he says was inspired by the Black Hills landscape, with “a high ridge that appeared to go right into the sky.”

Where the Hard Grass Meets the Sky

When time began God promised man
        a lifetime of sweat and toil
So we started our clan where the coyote ran,
        in the west, on hard grass soil.
Where winter's snow and summer's blow
        took it's toll on those who'd try
To tame this land with calloused hand
        where the hard grass meets the sky.

We were young and free with a need to be
        out where the rivers run
And we did our work with nary a shirk
        from dawn 'til the settin' sun.
We stomped our broncs while the wild geese honked
        and the prairie sharpened our eye
Of dangers there we had our share
        where the hard grass meets the sky.
 
We'd mount our horse and set our course
        by the stars of early dawn
Each trail we rode by the cowboy code
        'til the sun had come and gone.
Then squat on heels and eat our meals
        with campfire smoke in our eye
And we thanked our God for this prairie sod
        where the hard grass meets the sky.

When winters hold on a range so cold
        gave cowboys a dangerous trip
And horses then were our best friends
        as the blizzard tightened it's grip.
With each comrade lost we counted the cost
        of hardships we all lived by
And inside we cried as the night wind sighed
        where the hard grass meets the sky.

But our faith was true 'til our work was through,
        we finished each job with pride,
Each blessing received because we believed
        made us thankful we'd stuck to the ride.
When my time comes and my roundup's done
        and Heaven is waitin' close by
I'll ride o'er the ridge when my Master bids
        where the hard grass meets the sky.

© 2007, Slim McNaught, All Rights Reserved
 

In addition to performing at Western events and creating his fine leather work, Slim serves as the “lariat laureate” of the daily Live With Jim Thompson radio show (www.livewithjt.com) and he wrangles the event listings for CowboyLegacy.org.

Slim’s award-winning "Reminiscin’" CD is available for $18.50 postpaid from slimscustomleather.com, CDBaby, and by mail: Slim McNaught, P.O. Box 274, New Underwood, SD 57761; 605-754-6103.

Find more about hundreds of cowboy poets and Western musicians at CowboyPoetry.com. It's an on-going gathering, with continual news, features, poetry, lyrics, gathering reports, and an extensive event calendar. Come by and stay a while.

 


Versions of this column appear in the Backforty Bunkhouse Newsletter, CowboyLegacy.org, and Rope Burns.  

The column began publication in Rope Burns in 2001. 


 

April, 2010

                                                                                                                                                                                                          

In April, events are as plentiful as wildflowers. This year they include California’s Santa Clarita Cowboy Festival; Nevada’s 1st annual Genoa Cowboy Poetry & Music Festival; Cody, Wyoming’s 2nd annual Songs of the Cowboys; and Washington State’s 7th annual Columbia River Cowboy Gathering.

It’s also Cowboy Poetry Week (April 18-24) and that is celebrated at New Mexico’s 3rd  annual Tyrone Cowboy Poetry and Music Gathering; the 13th  annual Missouri Cowboy Poets Association Festival in Mountain View; Ranch Day at the National Ranching Heritage Center in Lubbock, Texas; The Heritage of the American West Performance Series in Spearfish, South Dakota; the Cowboy Poets of Utah Annual Heritage Dinner; and at many other community events, including libraries and schools.

Ranch-raised poet and writer Linda Kirkpatrick always involves her hometown of Leakey, Texas (population 359) in Cowboy Poetry Week activities. Her poetry and recitations are often featured on The BAR-D Roundup, an annual CD compilation of classic and contemporary cowboy poetry from CowboyPoetry.com, created for Cowboy Poetry Week and released each April. The CD is offered to libraries in the Rural Library Project of the Center for Western and Cowboy Poetry, the same non-profit organization that sponsors CowboyPoetry.com.

On this year’s fifth annual CD, Linda Kirkpatrick recites a poem by Bruce Kiskaddon (1878-1950), “The Creak of the Leather”:

The Creak of the Leather

It's likely that you can remember
A corral at the foot of a hill
Some mornin' along in December
When the air was so cold and so still.
When the frost lay as light as a feather
And the stars had jest blinked out and gone.
Remember the creak of the leather
As you saddled your hoss in the dawn.

When the glow of the sunset had faded
And you reached the corral after night
On a hoss that was weary and jaded
And so hungry yore belt wasn't tight.
You felt about ready to weaken
You knowed you had been a long way
But the old saddle still kep a creakin'
Like it did at the start of the day.

Perhaps you can mind when yore saddle
Was standin' up high at the back
And you started a whale of a battle
When you got the old pony untracked.
How you and the hoss stuck together
Is a thing you caint hardly explain
And the rattle and creak of the leather
As it met with the jar and the strain.

You have been on a stand in the cedars
When the air was so quiet and dead
Not even some flies and mosquitoes
To buzz and make noise 'round yore head.
You watched for wild hosses or cattle
When the place was as silent as death
But you heard the soft creak of the saddle
Every time the hoss took a breath.

And when the round up was workin'
All day you had been ridin' hard
There wasn't a chance of your shirkin'
You was pulled for the second guard
A sad homesick feelin' come sneakin'
As you sung to the cows and the moon
And you heard the old saddle a creakin'
Along to the sound of the tune.

There was times when the sun was shore blazin'
On a perishin' hot summer day
Mirages would keep you a gazin'
And the dust devils danced far away
You cussed at the thirst and the weather
You rode at a slow joggin' trot
And you noticed somehow that the leather
Creaks different when once it gets hot.

When yore old and yore eyes have grown hollow
And your hair has a tinge of the snow
But there's always the memories that follow
From the trails of the dim long ago.
There are things that will haunt you forever
You notice that strange as it seems
One sound, the soft creak of the leather,
Weaves into your memories and dreams.

Linda Kirkpatrick performs at events across the West; this year she’s performed at the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering, the Texas Cowboy Poetry Gathering, and other events. Her most recent CD is Beneath a Western Sky. Find more about her at www.LindaKirkpatrick.net.

The BAR-D Roundup, Volume 5 includes more than two dozen tracks by top poets and reciters, along with vintage recordings (this year includes two by Charles Badger Clark, Jr., and others). The CD is also offered to CowboyPoetry.com supporters and available to the public.  


There's poetry and information about hundreds of cowboy poets and Western musicians at CowboyPoetry.com.  It's an on-going gathering, with continuous news, features, event calendars, the best in classic and contemporary cowboy poetry and Western music lyrics, and an e-newsletter.

The BAR-D Roundup: Volume Four CD includes poems recited by J.B. Allen, Jerry A. Brooks, Allen Clark, Ken Cook, Doris Daley, Elizabeth Ebert, Gail I. Gardner, DW Groethe,Yvonne Hollenbeck, Linda Kirkpatrick, Jo Lynne Kirkwood, Slim McNaught, Larry McWhorter, Rod Miller, Dick Morton, Jane Morton, Andy Nelson, Joel Nelson, Rodney Nelson, Ray Owens, Buck Ramsey, Pat Richardson, Randy Rieman, Georgie Sicking, Jesse Smith, Jay Snider, Gail Steiger,  and Diane Tribitt, with a PSA by Baxter Black. Learn more at CowboyPoetry.com.

CowboyPoetry.com is a project of the non-profit Center for Western and Cowboy Poetry. We're supported by people like you.  Please join us!
 


Versions of this column appear in the Backforty Bunkhouse Newsletter, CowboyLegacy.org, and Rope Burns.  

The column began publication in Rope Burns in 2001. 



March, 2010

                                                                                                                                                                                                          

This year's Cowboy Poetry Week—the ninth annual—is celebrated April 18-24. Inaugurated by CowboyPoetry.com, which is a non-profit project of the Center for Western and Cowboy Poetry, the celebration has been recognized by unanimous resolution of the United States Senate. Twenty-two states' governors and other officials have issued Cowboy Poetry Week proclamations, and the week is celebrated with activities across the West and beyond.

"Born to This Land," a painting by premier Western artist Bill Owen (
www.billowenca.com), was selected as this year's Cowboy Poetry Week poster art. The painting's title is from an outstanding poem by Red Steagall, past Texas Poet Laureate, singer, songwriter, radio and television host, and entertainer. Posters are sent to libraries as a part of the Center's Rural Library Project and are available to Center supporters.

For 2010, there's a new edition of The BAR-D Roundup, the Center's annual compilation recording of classic and current cowboy poetry, a collection intended to grow as an archive of today's cowboy poetry “scene.” The annual recording's focus—and that of the Center and CowboyPoetry.com—is to preserve and celebrate the stories of the real working West. The CD is also offered to libraries and available for purchase; proceeds help fund the Center's programs.

This fifth annual edition of  The BAR-D Roundup includes vintage recordings by Charles Badger Clark Jr. (1883-1957) telling how he came to write "A Cowboy's Prayer," followed by his recitation of the still-popular work. Noted reciters Jerry Brooks and Randy Rieman perform two of Clark's poems, “The Legend of Boastful Bill” and “Married Man,” respectively. Nevada poet and writer Hal Swift recites one of Clark’s lesser known poems, "Jeff Hart."

Other CD highlights include the somewhat boisterous first track, a piece of "cowboy brag talk" by the legendary Harry Jackson, from a rare Smithsonian Folkways recording. Top cowboy poet Waddie Mitchell makes his first appearance on the compilation, with his thoughtful poem, "No Second Chance."

Continuing a proud tradition, there is a fifth selection from "Grass," a master work by the late Buck Ramsey, a National Endowment for the Arts Fellow, recognized as the modern spiritual leader of the genre. Another "modern classic” is included: "Waitin' on Drive," by the late Larry McWhorter from an acclaimed, just-released two-CD collection of his complete works.

Other top poets' offerings include recent NEA Fellow, rancher and poet Joel Nelson's "Awakenings" and Red Steagall's "The Fence That Me and Shorty Built." Frequent gathering headliners Yvonne Hollenbeck, Pat Richardson, Doris Daley, and Andy Nelson present their poems, along with a host of other popular poets, many of whom frequently appear on contemporary gathering stages. Included are Marty Blocker, Ken Cook,  Janice Gilbertson,  DW Groethe, Chris Isaacs, Dee Strickland Johnson, Rodney Nelson, Jay Snider, Georgie Sicking, and Diane Tribitt.

Classic poems are recited by Linda Kirkpatrick, Susan Parker, Rex Rideout, and Jim Thompson. Jim Thompson presents a poem published in 1928 by S. Omar Barker:

"He'll Do!"

Don't call me no star in the bronc bustin' game—
     Sech words is plumb natcherly wrong.
Us cowboys jest say, when a feller is game:
     "He'll do, boys, fer takin' along!"

Don't call me no "prince of good fellers" nor say
     I'm "bold, brave an' fearless" nor such!
Don't claim I'm no "marvel"—no fine "sobrikay"
     Like "world-beatin' champeen"! Not much!

Fer I never hanker fer high-soundin' praise
     A cowboy can't half understand.
I'd ruther be told, in the old puncher phrase:
     "Say cowboy, yuh'll shore make a hand!"

Big words never warm up no cowpuncher's heart
     In praise of him doin' his best
Like them simple phrases. A man does his part—
     "He'll do, boys!" they say in the West.

© S. Omar Barker, reprinted with the permission of the estate of S. Omar Barker, further reproduction without explicit permission is prohibited.

Vintage and contemporary photos of featured poets and their families are a part of each year's CD. This year's cover features a circa 1940s photo of octogenarian cowboy, poet, and Cowgirl Hall of Fame inductee Georgie Sicking. Inside, there's a contemporary photo of Diane Tribitt's family, taken on her Minnesota ranch.

Past editions of  The BAR-D Roundup have enjoyed wide radio airplay, and the new edition will also be distributed to hundreds of Western radio stations, thanks to Joe Baker of New Mexico's Backforty Bunkhouse (who also recorded this year's radio public service announcement). Wyoming's Andy Nelson, poet, writer, humorist, popular emcee and co-host of the award-winning Clear Out West (C. O. W.) Radio show is the CD's co-producer.

The BAR-D Roundup is offered for sale, with proceeds supporting  CowboyPoetry.com ($20 postpaid from CowboyPoetry.com, PO Box 330444, San Francisco, CA 94133 and at CowboyPoetry.com).

Take part in Cowboy Poetry Week: Get your schools, libraries, and community  involved!  Perform your poetry, donate a book, share your knowledge. Read more about it all at CowboyPoetry.com.
 


There's poetry and information about hundreds of cowboy poets and Western musicians at CowboyPoetry.com.  It's an on-going gathering, with continuous news, features, event calendars, the best in classic and contemporary cowboy poetry and Western music lyrics, and an e-newsletter.

The BAR-D Roundup: Volume Four CD includes poems recited by J.B. Allen, Jerry A. Brooks, Allen Clark, Ken Cook, Doris Daley, Elizabeth Ebert, Gail I. Gardner, DW Groethe,Yvonne Hollenbeck, Linda Kirkpatrick, Jo Lynne Kirkwood, Slim McNaught, Larry McWhorter, Rod Miller, Dick Morton, Jane Morton, Andy Nelson, Joel Nelson, Rodney Nelson, Ray Owens, Buck Ramsey, Pat Richardson, Randy Rieman, Georgie Sicking, Jesse Smith, Jay Snider, Gail Steiger,  and Diane Tribitt, with a PSA by Baxter Black. Learn more at CowboyPoetry.com.

CowboyPoetry.com is a project of the non-profit Center for Western and Cowboy Poetry. We're supported by people like you.  Please join us!


Versions of this column appear in the Backforty Bunkhouse Newsletter, CowboyLegacy.org, and Rope Burns.  

The column began publication in Rope Burns in 2001. 


 

February, 2010

                                                                                                                                                                                                          



February is filled with great events, including the 24th Annual Texas Cowboy Poetry Gathering in Alpine; the 18th Annual Cochise Cowboy Poetry and Music Gathering in Sierra Vista, Arizona; the 10th Annual Saddle Up! Celebration in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee; the 6th Annual Spirit of the West Cowboy Gathering in Ellensburg, Washington; and Moab's Western Stars in Moab, Utah.

Dublin-born top musician, singer, and songwriter Ray Doyle has been a part of the popular Wylie & the Wild West band for over 20 years. He’s also in demand as a solo performer (he performed solo in January at the 21st annual Colorado Cowboy Poetry Gathering in Arvada and at the 26th annual National Cowboy Poetry Gathering in Elko, Nevada). He is featured as a solo performer at the 10th Annual Saddle Up! Celebration in Pigeon Forge (February 25-28).

Ray's 2008 CD, The Emigrant Trail, has received wide airplay and wide acclaim. "The Jewel," one of its enchanting songs, won the Western Folklife Center's Yellowstone and Tetons song contest and was included on their Deep West Songs of Yellowstone and the Tetons CD.

The Jewel

There's a place upon this good green earth
like nowhere else you've ever seen
where misty mountains soar above, majestic and serene
clear and gentle waters flow, past grazing elk and buffalo
like a picture from the past, inside a dream

But sleeping restless deep below the summer sun and winter snow
there lies a secret waiting to be told
and with a shudder and a rumble wakes,
as pulses race and timber shakes
like they did as mighty ages rolled

It's the meeting of the water and the fire
a merging of a heaven and a hell
a land of wonder and surprise
where water flows up to the skies
a place of sulfur, smoke and ash
where God must surely dwell

If you believe in heaven high
then you should go before you die
and see the jewel we call Yellowstone

If I could paint a canvas right
like Remington or Russell might
you'd see my little picture bright and true
But I've just got words to close the deal
a piece of wood and strings of steel
this postcard sent with love, from me to you

          chorus

 © 2007, Ray Doyle, All rights reserved

The Emigrant Trail is available for $18 postpaid from Ray Doyle, PO Box 661111, Mar Vista, CA 90066; and at CDBaby. Find more, including a great video at
www.raydoyle.net.
 


There's poetry and information about hundreds of cowboy poets and Western musicians at CowboyPoetry.com.  It's an on-going gathering, with continuous news, features, event calendars, the best in classic and contemporary cowboy poetry and Western music lyrics, and an e-newsletter.

The BAR-D Roundup: Volume Four CD includes poems recited by J.B. Allen, Jerry A. Brooks, Allen Clark, Ken Cook, Doris Daley, Elizabeth Ebert, Gail I. Gardner, DW Groethe,Yvonne Hollenbeck, Linda Kirkpatrick, Jo Lynne Kirkwood, Slim McNaught, Larry McWhorter, Rod Miller, Dick Morton, Jane Morton, Andy Nelson, Joel Nelson, Rodney Nelson, Ray Owens, Buck Ramsey, Pat Richardson, Randy Rieman, Georgie Sicking, Jesse Smith, Jay Snider, Gail Steiger,  and Diane Tribitt, with a PSA by Baxter Black. Learn more at CowboyPoetry.com.

CowboyPoetry.com is a project of the non-profit Center for Western and Cowboy Poetry. We're supported by people like you.  Please join us!
 


Versions of this column appear in the Backforty Bunkhouse Newsletter, CowboyLegacy.org, and Rope Burns.  

The column began publication in Rope Burns in 2001. 



January, 2010

                                                                                                                                                                                                          

 

January brings the top cowboy poetry event of the year: the Western Folklife Center’s 26th annual National Cowboy Poetry Gathering in Elko, Nevada, January 23-30, 2010 ( www.westernfolklife.org).  Along with the best in cowboy poetry and Western music, there are workshops, seminars, exhibits, and other special events.

Colorado poet Jane Morton, whose work often focuses on her family's ranching roots, makes a return invited appearance to the 2010 Gathering. She's participated previously as a poet, and several of her short films about her family's ranch have become a part of the WFC's Deep West Video project.

Her forthcoming book, In This Land of Little Rain, includes over fifty poems and many photographs that span her nearly eighty years of Western living on the high plains of northeastern Colorado. The book takes its title from this included poem:

When the Grass Greens Up This Spring

Let me be in Colorado
when the grass greens up this spring.
Let me see blue sky above me
and the hawks a'circling.

Let me ride out through the pastures
and across the low-slung hills.
Let me see sand lilies blooming,
thrill to hear lark buntings' trills.

Let me find an Easter daisy
near as pretty as its name.
Let me see the orange-red paintbrush
light the prairie like a flame.

Let me smell the rain-drenched sagebrush,
breathe in air that's clear of smog.
Let me see the white-faced babies
with their amber eyes agog.

Let me watch a herd of pronghorn
flowing over sunlit plains.
Let me listen for the swallows
and the cries of sandhill cranes.

In a world of many wonders,
nothing beats spring on the plain
And the greening of the grasslands
in this land of little rain.

© 2008, Jane Morton, All rights reserved

Jane Morton's previous book, Cowboy Poetry: Turning to Face the Wind (winner of the Will Rogers Medallion Award) includes stories, poems, and photos about her pioneering family. It is available from $19.95 plus $4.50 shipping and handling from Jane Morton, 12710 Abert Way, Colorado Springs, CO 80908.
 


There's poetry and information about hundreds of cowboy poets and Western musicians at CowboyPoetry.com.  It's an on-going gathering, with continuous news, features, event calendars, the best in classic and contemporary cowboy poetry and Western music lyrics, and an e-newsletter.

The BAR-D Roundup: Volume Four CD includes poems recited by J.B. Allen, Jerry A. Brooks, Allen Clark, Ken Cook, Doris Daley, Elizabeth Ebert, Gail I. Gardner, DW Groethe,Yvonne Hollenbeck, Linda Kirkpatrick, Jo Lynne Kirkwood, Slim McNaught, Larry McWhorter, Rod Miller, Dick Morton, Jane Morton, Andy Nelson, Joel Nelson, Rodney Nelson, Ray Owens, Buck Ramsey, Pat Richardson, Randy Rieman, Georgie Sicking, Jesse Smith, Jay Snider, Gail Steiger,  and Diane Tribitt, with a PSA by Baxter Black. Learn more at CowboyPoetry.com.

CowboyPoetry.com is a project of the non-profit Center for Western and Cowboy Poetry. We're supported by people like you.  Please join us!
 


Versions of this column appear in the Backforty Bunkhouse Newsletter, CowboyLegacy.org, and Rope Burns.  

The column began publication in Rope Burns in 2001. 


 

December 2009

                                                                                                                                                                                                          

 

Some of the year's most popular events take place in December, including the Larry Chittenden Cowboy Celebration in Anson, Texas; Michael Martin Murphey's Cowboy Christmas Ball at the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City; the 21st Annual Cowboy Christmas Poetry Gathering in Wickenburg, Arizona; and California's 11th Annual Monterey Cowboy Poetry & Music Festival.

Top cowgirl poet Doris Daley will be in Monterey (along with Don Edwards, Dave Stamey, Hot Club of Cowtown, Sons of the San Joaquin, the Gillette Brothers, Dennis Gaines, Pat Richardson, Jess Howard, Waddie Mitchell, Lacy J. Dalton and others; December 11-13, www.montereycowboy.org ).

Doris Daley's recent poem offers a fine way to bid farewell to the year:

Goodnight to the Trail

Come with me to a place out west
Where all who trod are Nature's guest
We'll ride to the top of a piney crest
And gaze at the valley below.

Come with me where the cattle graze
We'll tighten our cinches and gather the strays
Leather's creaking, the hills are a-blaze
And the night might bring some snow.

Ride with me as the sky turns gold
Hear the cattle bawl and the magpie scold.
Pull up your collar 'cause the wind is cold,
Coffee'll taste good tonight.

I wish my pen could find the wings
To soar with rhyme when the nightwind sings
But words are often feeble things
To get that job done right.

But the rhymes won't come; my pen is dry
No poem could capture this sweep of sky
Let's hit the trail and say goodbye
To this patch of God's good clay.

So mount up, Joe, let's ride for home
The range wants to sleep 'neath its starry dome
The wind and sky can finish this poem,
We'll call it quits for today.

So ride with me as the light turns pale
See the moon come up, hear the coyotes wail
Supper's waiting, and we say to the trail,
Good night, Old Friend, good night.

© 2009, Doris Daley, All rights reserved

Doris Daley returns to the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering in January, 2010, her eighth invited appearance there. Her latest CD, Beneath a Western Sky, includes the poem above. It's available for $15 (US), $20 (CDN) plus postage from Doris Daley, Fiddle DD Enterprises, Box 103 Turner Valley, AB TOL 2AO; www.dorisdaley.com.

In November, 2009 Doris Daley was named top Female Poet by the Western Music Association and Beneath a Western Sky was named the top Cowboy Poetry CD.
 


There's poetry and information about hundreds of cowboy poets and Western musicians at CowboyPoetry.com.  It's an on-going gathering, with continuous news, features, event calendars, the best in classic and contemporary cowboy poetry and Western music lyrics, and an e-newsletter.

The BAR-D Roundup: Volume Four CD includes poems recited by J.B. Allen, Jerry A. Brooks, Allen Clark, Ken Cook, Doris Daley, Elizabeth Ebert, Gail I. Gardner, DW Groethe,Yvonne Hollenbeck, Linda Kirkpatrick, Jo Lynne Kirkwood, Slim McNaught, Larry McWhorter, Rod Miller, Dick Morton, Jane Morton, Andy Nelson, Joel Nelson, Rodney Nelson, Ray Owens, Buck Ramsey, Pat Richardson, Randy Rieman, Georgie Sicking, Jesse Smith, Jay Snider, Gail Steiger,  and Diane Tribitt, with a PSA by Baxter Black. Learn more at CowboyPoetry.com.

CowboyPoetry.com is a project of the non-profit Center for Western and Cowboy Poetry. We're supported by people like you.  Please join us!
 


Versions of this column appear in the Backforty Bunkhouse Newsletter, CowboyLegacy.org, and Rope Burns.  

The column began publication in Rope Burns in 2001. 


 

November 2009

                                                                                                                                                                                                          

 

The year may be winding down, but events and festivals are going strong in November. To name just a few: the 15th Annual Cowboy Poetry Gathering and Buckaroo Fair in Heber City, Utah; Arizona's Tombstone Western Music  Festival; the Annual Cowpoke Fall Cowboy Poetry and Music Gathering in Loomis, California; Colorado's Grand Junction Cowboy Poetry Gathering; the 21st Annual Western Music Association Festival in Albuquerque, New Mexico; the 3rd Annual Columbia Gorge Cowboy Gathering in The Dalles, Oregon; the 1st Annual Cat Spring Texas Cowboy Poetry Gathering; and the 22nd Annual Rhymers Rodeer in Minden, Nevada.

California poet and writer Janice Gilbertson will be in Minden (joined by Rod McQueary, Walt "Bimbo" Cheney, and Rush Creek; November 6-7 at the Carson Valley Inn). Janice, who has lived all of her life on a piece of  paradise in the foothills of the Santa Lucia Mountains on the west side of the Salinas Valley, comments, "Wouldn't life be grand if we could each be doing the work we know and love every day, and have the comfort that comes in knowing that we are exactly where we are meant to be." And that's what inspired this poem:


Maybe It's Your Callin'

  Maybe it's that certain way
  Early morning smells in June
  The fragrance of the damp leftover heat

  Maybe it's the rise and fall
  Of golden dust at dawn
  From the milling of the saddlehorse's feet

  It could be the slap of leather
  The jangle of the bridle chains
  The cadence of the hoofbeats down the lane

  There's that friendly cowboy banter
  And the planning of the gather
  Some spittin' and some razzin' to sustain

  There's the frolic of the cowdogs
  In their rough and tumble glory
  There's the quiver of excitement in a mount

  In the mid-light of the coming
  Of the sunlight o'er the ridge
  Maybe that is what it's really all about

  Then there's that swagger on your jog
  And that ole sense of satisfaction
  You can get when you bring in that ornery stray

  And when you water at the crossin'
  Give your horse a little rub
  Maybe that would be the best time of your day

  Ah! Maybe it's the headin' home
  Followin' your shadow
  Anticipatin' supper and your bed

  Maybe it's the certain way
  The night air smells in June
  Or a hundred things that never could be said

  Could be the knowin' where you fit
  That easy comfort in your soul
  Like that ole saddle that you ride most every day

  Just maybe it's your callin'
  Or, you were just born lucky
  Cuz you know you couldn't live no other way

  © 2008, Janice Gilbertson, All rights reserved

Janice Gilbertson makes her third invited appearance to the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering in January, 2010. Her book, Sometimes in the Lucias, was a runner up for the prestigious Spur Award from the Western Writers of America. It's available for $17 postpaid from Janice Gilbertson, PO Box 350, King City, Ca 93930; kiger@onemain.com.

 

There's poetry and information about hundreds of cowboy poets and Western musicians at CowboyPoetry.com.  It's an on-going gathering, with continuous news, features, event calendars, the best in classic and contemporary cowboy poetry and Western music lyrics, and an e-newsletter.

The BAR-D Roundup: Volume Four CD includes poems recited by J.B. Allen, Jerry A. Brooks, Allen Clark, Ken Cook, Doris Daley, Elizabeth Ebert, Gail I. Gardner, DW Groethe,Yvonne Hollenbeck, Linda Kirkpatrick, Jo Lynne Kirkwood, Slim McNaught, Larry McWhorter, Rod Miller, Dick Morton, Jane Morton, Andy Nelson, Joel Nelson, Rodney Nelson, Ray Owens, Buck Ramsey, Pat Richardson, Randy Rieman, Georgie Sicking, Jesse Smith, Jay Snider, Gail Steiger,  and Diane Tribitt, with a PSA by Baxter Black. Learn more at CowboyPoetry.com.

CowboyPoetry.com is a project of the non-profit Center for Western and Cowboy Poetry. We're supported by people like you.  Please join us!
 


Versions of this column appear in the Backforty Bunkhouse Newsletter, CowboyLegacy.org, and Rope Burns.  

The column began publication in Rope Burns in 2001. 


 

October 2009

 

                                                                                                                                                                                                          

 

Fall means roundup time, for cows and cowboy poets. Poets and musicians will gather at Wyoming's 4th Annual Pinedale Cowboy Roundup on October 3, 2009. The event is a community benefit, noted for its high-quality cowboy poetry and music—and for the most inventive gathering logo, created by the infamous poet and artist Pat Richardson. Check it out at their web site pinedalecowboyroundup.com. Among this year's performers are R.W. Hampton, Chris Isaacs, Jesse Smith, Jerry Hall and Trick Shot, and Andy Nelson.

Pinedale happens to be where popular poet, writer, and emcee Andy Nelson hangs his hat and his shoeing apron. Andy and his brother Jim also co-host the weekly Clear Out West (C.O.W.) Radio (clearoutwest.com)  from Pinedale. The C.O.W. boys are known for their hilarity as well as for the excellent selections of top cowboy poetry and music on their syndicated show.

Andy tells that the following poem, like all good cowboy poems, is "all true." Its title comes from a phrase in Curley Fletcher's classic "Strawberry Roan."

The Worst One to Buck

She chatters my teeth, and rattles my bones,
And she is the worst one to buck;
She squeals like a pig, she snorts and she moans,
And shimmies like an old feed truck.

She beats on my kidneys, bruises my spleen,
And is cantankerous as heck;
Runs away at will, she's ornery and mean,
And thrills in whiplashing my neck.

Why do I keep her? She pounds me each time,
I swing a leg and get on her;
She cost way too much, and ain't worth a dime,
Each ride I think I'm a gone 'er.

She just takes her head, goes as she pleases,
No matter what cue I give her;
She breaks plum in two, jumps, kicks and wheezes,
Jarring my tonsils and liver.

I tell her back up, she plows straight ahead,
Runs bucking and stirring up dust;
She spews out exhaust, and revels instead,
In flaunting her growing distrust.

With all her bad habits, her noises and smells,
She plain torques me off every day;
If I didn't need her, to clean my corrals,
I'd give that darn skid steer away.

© 2008, Andy Nelson, All rights reserved 
 

About the poem being true, Andy adds, "... that sonuvagun bucks and beats me up every time I get on it, I've never been on a more rough piece of equipment in my life..."

The poem is on the 2009 volume of The BAR-D Roundup, an annual CD of classic and contemporary poetry from CowboyPoetry.com. Andy's most recent CD is Full Nelson Shoeing, available for $18 postpaid from Andy Nelson, PO Box 154, Pinedale, WY 82941; www.copokepoet.com. His new book of stories and poetry will be published later this year.

You can catch Andy's performances at a number of impressive forthcoming events, including the Heber City Cowboy Poetry Gathering and Buckaroo Fair, the Colorado Cowboy Poetry Gathering, and at the 2010 National Cowboy Poetry Gathering. See his web site, www.cowpokepoet.com for his entire schedule.


There's poetry and information about hundreds of cowboy poets and Western musicians at CowboyPoetry.com.  It's an on-going gathering, with continuous news, features, event calendars, the best in classic and contemporary cowboy poetry and Western music lyrics, and an e-newsletter.

The BAR-D Roundup: Volume Four CD includes poems recited by J.B. Allen, Jerry A. Brooks, Allen Clark, Ken Cook, Doris Daley, Elizabeth Ebert, Gail I. Gardner, DW Groethe,Yvonne Hollenbeck, Linda Kirkpatrick, Jo Lynne Kirkwood, Slim McNaught, Larry McWhorter, Rod Miller, Dick Morton, Jane Morton, Andy Nelson, Joel Nelson, Rodney Nelson, Ray Owens, Buck Ramsey, Pat Richardson, Randy Rieman, Georgie Sicking, Jesse Smith, Jay Snider, Gail Steiger,  and Diane Tribitt, with a PSA by Baxter Black. Learn more at CowboyPoetry.com.

CowboyPoetry.com is a project of the non-profit Center for Western and Cowboy Poetry. We're supported by people like you.  Please join us!
 


This column, now monthly, features one poem. Versions of the column appear in the Backforty Bunkhouse Newsletter and other publications.
The column began publication in Rope Burns in 2001. 


September 2009

                                                                                                                                                                                                          

 

“Bucking off” takes on a whole different meaning at September’s 12th annual National Cowboy Poetry Rodeo (www.nationalcowboypoetryrodeo.com). This year the exciting event takes place in Montrose, Colorado (September 10-12, 2009) in conjunction with the San Juan Western Heritage Festival (www.sjwesternfestival.com).

Poet Sam Jackson conceived the unique National Cowboy Poetry Rodeo, based on his belief in "excellence through competition.” Sam likes to say the competition helps “make fair poets good and good poets better.”

Poets compete—rodeo style—for $6000 in prize money, silver buckles, and trophies. Smoke Wade, a popular poet, writer, gathering organizer, emcee, and past champion contends it’s “all about the silver buckle.” This year Smoke will emcee the events at the rodeo and festival.

Smoke Wade grew up in the 1950s and 1960s on a remote cattle ranch in the Hells Canyon. He tells, “The lifestyle of Hells Canyon cowboys was a way of life that was often considered to be thirty years behind the rest of the world. Lacking other forms of entertainment, stories, tall-tales and poetry were standard fare in the cow camp and they helped relieve boredom while on the trail.”

He says that in writing the following poem, "I was trying to re-capture the memory of the days when we used to trail large herds of cattle out of the Hells Canyon of the Snake River as the herd followed the seasons. Those days are gone now along with the cattle ranches in Hells Canyon.”

Trailing the Herd

They moved often then,
From warm winter grounds by the river's mouth,
Where mothers gave birth,
On rocky hillsides that faced the sunny south.

Up steep trails, they moved,
Through saddles bathed in late spring showers,
Above the canyons filled with pine,
To mountain meadows with purple flowers.

Past green ponds, they moved,
Through huckleberries on the summit high,
Then swiftly down the Devil's run.
To the land of endless sky.

Through rolling hills, they moved,
Down dusty lanes in August sun,
To fall pasture with ample room,
For cows to rest and calves to run.

Behind barbed wire, now they move,
There to fatten and to graze,
The winter grounds sit idle now,
Modern times with different ways.

Yes, they moved often then,
Through sumac gullies and mountain streams,
Before trailing the herd became a part,
Of our memories and dreams.

© 1991, Smoke Wade, All rights reserved 
 

"Trailing the Herd" is included on Smoke Wade's CD, Smoke Wade, a Legend in His Own Mind, available for $15.00 postpaid from: Smoke Wade, 716 Pear Tree Lane, Mesquite, NV 89027; smokewade@clarkston.com. It is also on the 2007 volume of The BAR-D Roundup, an annual CD of classic and contemporary poetry from CowboyPoetry.com.


There's poetry and information about hundreds of cowboy poets and Western musicians at CowboyPoetry.com.  It's an on-going gathering, with continuous news, features, event calendars, the best in classic and contemporary cowboy poetry and Western music lyrics, and an e-newsletter.

The BAR-D Roundup: Volume Four CD includes poems recited by J.B. Allen, Jerry A. Brooks, Allen Clark, Ken Cook, Doris Daley, Elizabeth Ebert, Gail I. Gardner, DW Groethe,Yvonne Hollenbeck, Linda Kirkpatrick, Jo Lynne Kirkwood, Slim McNaught, Larry McWhorter, Rod Miller, Dick Morton, Jane Morton, Andy Nelson, Joel Nelson, Rodney Nelson, Ray Owens, Buck Ramsey, Pat Richardson, Randy Rieman, Georgie Sicking, Jesse Smith, Jay Snider, Gail Steiger,  and Diane Tribitt, with a PSA by Baxter Black. Learn more at CowboyPoetry.com.

CowboyPoetry.com is a project of the non-profit Center for Western and Cowboy Poetry. We're supported by people like you.  Please join us!
 


The column, now monthly, features one poem. Versions of the column appear in the Backforty Bunkhouse Newsletter and other publications.
The column began publication in Rope Burns in 2001. 


July/August 2009

                                                                                                                                                                                                          

 

July and August bring a host of events: the 22nd Annual Arizona Cowboy Poets Gathering in Prescott (August 14-15), the 22nd Annual California Rodeo Gathering in Salinas (July 12), the Calgary Stampede (July 3-12), the National Folk Festival in Butte, Montana (July 10-12), the 7th Annual Grand Encampment Cowboy Gathering in Encampment, Wyoming (July 17-19), Cheyenne Frontier Days (July 18-25), the 29th Annual Texas Ranch Roundup in Wichita Falls, Texas (August 13-16), the Montana Cowboy Poetry Gathering in Lewistown (August 14-16) and so many more.

Another big July celebration is the National Day of the Cowboy (July 25), which spawns many events around the country, including at
CowboyPoetry.com, where there is a special "Art Spur." Art Spur invites poetry submissions inspired by original Western art and photography. The 2009 National Day of the Cowboy Art Spur offers an impressive photograph by Tucson photographer Lori Faith Merritt ( www.photographybyfaith.com), known by many for her great images from cowboy poetry and music gatherings and her CD design work.

The featured photograph, titled "Heading Out," is an image of octogenarian "cowboy" (the term she prefers) poet, and Cowgirl Hall of Fame honoree Georgie Sicking and Minnesota rancher Sam Scott. Minnesota poet, writer, and rancher Diane Tribitt was present when the photo was taken; Sam is her fiancé and Georgie is her good friend. Diane had written a poem about the day well before the Art Spur was planned:

Headin' Out

Throughout her life she'd been condemned
for havin' cowboy dreams
But she fulfilled her destiny,
enduring all extremes

She lived for ropin' cattle, and
she roped 'em with be best
Tied 't burrows, cows and mustangs,
surpassing every test

She's thankful God has blessed her with
the opportunity;
for cowboys who had taught her and
a mom who'd set her free

to live the life she dreamed of
with horses, cows and rope
as a lady and a cowboy,
on horizons brimmed with hope

She taught her kids to understand
the only life she knew
and blessed them with the gift of being
"you, and only you"

Each time she passed the reins to them
she made sure she was near,
yet far enough away from them
they wouldn't sense her fear

She has loved some horses dearly
and disliked quite a few
She has lived by cowboy ethics
Honest, loyal, tried and true

Though she is blind, now, she still sees
what some refuse to see
for her soul was borne of nature
and her spirit's proud and free

She was born to be a cowboy
and there ain't any doubt,
When most old hands are headin' in
they'll meet her, headin out

© 2009, Diane Tribitt, All rights reserved

Diane's poem, "Half the Hand," also inspired by Georgie Sicking, is on The BAR-D Roundup: Volume Four (2009)" from CowboyPoetry.com. Diane is a popular performer, who has been featured at the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering, the Santa Clarita Cowboy Festival, the Colorado Cowboy Poetry Gathering, and many other events. She's also the Senior Executive Editor of "I.M. Cowgirl" magazine(www.imcowgirl.com). Her latest CD is Ranchin' Rhymes. Read more about Diane Tribitt and her poetry at www.dianetribitt.com.

You'll find hometown cowgirl Cora Wood at the 7th Annual Grand Encampment Cowboy Gathering in Encampment, Wyoming (July 17-19). Cora has earned a reputation for her confident stage presence and her poetry, singing, and yodeling...at age 7. And when time permits, she's out working cows with her father.

Here's one of Cora's poems:

Chester

      Giddyup Chester, We're gonna be late.
      We're helpin' Dad move cows today,
      And he's waitin' at the gate.

      Chester is my good pony.
      Kind of short, but really fast!
      Today, he'd move a whole lot faster
      If he'd just get his head out of the grass!

     
© 2007, Cora Wood, All rights reserved

You'll also find Cora featured at the Arizona Cowboy Poetry Gathering in August, performing with her mother, singer and musician Laurie Wood. Cora
Wood has a new CD, "Cora's Cowgirl Yodel" (with a design by Lori Faith Merritt). Find more about Cora and the CD at www.woodwesternmusic.com.
 


There's poetry and information about hundreds of cowboy poets and Western musicians at CowboyPoetry.com.  It's an on-going gathering, with continuous news, features, event calendars, the best in classic and contemporary cowboy poetry and Western music lyrics, and an e-newsletter.

The BAR-D Roundup: Volume Four CD includes poems recited by J.B. Allen, Jerry A. Brooks, Allen Clark, Ken Cook, Doris Daley, Elizabeth Ebert, Gail I. Gardner, DW Groethe,Yvonne Hollenbeck, Linda Kirkpatrick, Jo Lynne Kirkwood, Slim McNaught, Larry McWhorter, Rod Miller, Dick Morton, Jane Morton, Andy Nelson, Joel Nelson, Rodney Nelson, Ray Owens, Buck Ramsey, Pat Richardson, Randy Rieman, Georgie Sicking, Jesse Smith, Jay Snider, Gail Steiger,  and Diane Tribitt, with a PSA by Baxter Black. Learn more at CowboyPoetry.com.

CowboyPoetry.com is a project of the non-profit Center for Western and Cowboy Poetry. We're supported by people like you.  Please join us!
 


 

May/June 2009

                                                                                                                                                                                                          


 

Like the weather, you could say that everyone knows about “cowboy logic,” but no one does anything about it. That quirky way of looking at the world is often at the heart of Baxter Black’s poetry and commentaries, and is perfectly summed up in Michael Martin Murphey’s popular song that takes the term for its title.

Montana ranch hand, poet, and songwriter DW Groethe demonstrates that art of cowboy reasoning in this poem:
 

Two Cowpokes and a Tamper

They came upon a fencepost,
a tamper leanin' on it,
an' pondered on the world of fencin' arts.
"Ever worked them things?" one asked,
"Not a chance," the other quipped,
"the darn thing’s got too many workin' parts."

© 2008, DW Groethe. All rights reserved.

DW's been featured at the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering and other gatherings, the Library of Congress, The Kennedy Center, and returns to the 71st National Folk Festival in Butte, Montana, July 10-12, 2009. His recent book, West River Waltz, received the Will Rogers Medallion Award ($24.50 postpaid from: DW Groethe, PO Box 144, Bainville, MT 59212; 406/769-2312).

Third-generation South Dakota rancher and poet Ken Cook makes a bold statement about cowboy and ranching life in a poem inspired by memories of his grandfather:
 

The Conversation

What has not changed ol' cowboy friend
Since you was young and men were men?
When horse not broke till nearly five?
Cow's horns intact kept calf alive!

What has not changed in all your days,
Is nothin' left of cowboy ways?
The wagon was your only home
And blackest eve Nighthawk did roam,

To hold 'em quiet with lullaby
And ride the ridge where coyotes cry.
What has not changed in all your days,
Is nothin' left of cowboy ways?

When fences held a garden tight
And grass for miles a wondrous sight,
With horse and rope to branding fire
You burned the hide with one desire,

To live a life on Sandhills grass.
Tell me cowboy, has all that passed?
I'll tell you boy what still remains
Of cowboy ways here on the plains.

By God you ride the same as me
And cows are cows near's I can see.
I'll tell you son what still survives
Of cowboy ways shines in your eyes.

Few teams are left and fence appeared
So Nighthawk sleeps but over years,
By God you rope and do it grand
'Cause it's your life, you've made your stand,

Which has not changed in all the days
You've kept alive a cowboy's ways.
You fight back change to keep old ways
That every year make ranching pay,

So generations yet to come
Might live this life that we've begun.
They'll saddle horse to work a cow
Here on this ranch like we do now.

© 2007, Ken Cook.  All rights reserved.

Ken has been featured at the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering and other events across the West. He will perform at the Dakota Cowboy Poetry Gathering in Medora, North Dakota, May 23-24, 2009. “The Conversation” is on his new CD, Cowboys Are Like That ($15 postpaid from Ken Cook, 23154 Teal Lane, Martin, SD 57551-6601; 605/685-6749; www.kencookcowboypoet.com).

Both DW Groethe and Ken Cook are a part of The BAR-D Roundup: Volume Four (2009) from CowboyPoetry.com ($20 postpaid from CowboyPoetry.com, Box 330444, San Francisco, CA 94133; www.cowboypoetry.com).

 

There's poetry and information about hundreds of cowboy poets and Western musicians at CowboyPoetry.com.  It's an on-going gathering, with continuous news, features, event calendars, the best in classic and contemporary cowboy poetry and Western music lyrics, and an e-newsletter.

The BAR-D Roundup: Volume Four CD includes poems recited by J.B. Allen, Jerry A. Brooks, Allen Clark, Ken Cook, Doris Daley, Elizabeth Ebert, Gail I. Gardner, DW Groethe,Yvonne Hollenbeck, Linda Kirkpatrick, Jo Lynne Kirkwood, Slim McNaught, Larry McWhorter, Rod Miller, Dick Morton, Jane Morton, Andy Nelson, Joel Nelson, Rodney Nelson, Ray Owens, Buck Ramsey, Pat Richardson, Randy Rieman, Georgie Sicking, Jesse Smith, Jay Snider, Gail Steiger,  and Diane Tribitt, with a PSA by Baxter Black. Learn more at CowboyPoetry.com.

CowboyPoetry.com is a project of the non-profit Center for Western and Cowboy Poetry. We're supported by people like you.  Please join us!
 

                                                                                                                                                                        


 

 

March/April 2009

                                                                                                                                                                                                          


This year's Cowboy Poetry Week—the eighth annual—is celebrated April 19-25. Inaugurated by CowboyPoetry.com, which is a non-profit project of the Center for Western and Cowboy Poetry, the celebration has been recognized by unanimous resolution of the United States Senate. Twenty states' governors and other officials have issued Cowboy Poetry Week proclamations, and the week is celebrated with activities across the West and beyond. 


"The Horse Wrangler Gather'd the Morning Mounts...," a painting by notable Western artist Bob Coronato (www.greenwichworkshop.com) of Hulett, Wyoming, was selected as this year's Cowboy Poetry Week poster art. Posters are sent to libraries as a part of the Center's Rural Library Project and are available to Center supporters.

For 2009, there's a new edition of The BAR-D Roundup, the Center’s annual compilation recording of the best in classic and current cowboy poetry. The CD is also offered to libraries and available for purchase; proceeds help fund the Center's programs. 


This fourth annual edition of The BAR-D Roundup includes a vintage recording of Gail Gardner reciting his famous work, "The Sierry Petes" and contemporary poets reciting their work, including "The Men Who Ride No More" by Joel Nelson, "Cowboy Laundry" by Rodney Nelson, and "Housewife" by Georgie Sicking. Also included are "The Red Cow" by the late Larry McWhorter, and "Tracks that Won't Blow Out" by the late Ray Owens. Among other classic selections are poems by Bruce Kiskaddon and Henry Herbert Knibbs recited by the respected Randy Rieman and Jerry Brooks and the traditional "Roundup in the Spring" recited by the late J.B. Allen and "The Cattleman's Prayer" recited by Dick Morton. Gail Steiger recites "The Dude Wrangler" written by his grandfather, Gail Gardner, and Jesse Smith recites “The Black Beauty” by Johnie Schneider. The CD has a fourth annual selection from "Grass," a master work by the late Buck Ramsey, a National Endowment for the Arts Fellow, recognized as the modern spiritual leader of the genre.
 

There are many additional tracks of classic and contemporary poems (28 total), most from poets who frequently please audiences from contemporary gathering stages, including: Allen Clark (reciting a poem by Arthur Guiterman), Ken Cook, Doris Daley, Elizabeth Ebert, DW Groethe, Yvonne Hollenbeck, Linda Kirkpatrick, Jo Lynne Kirkwood, Slim McNaught, Rod Miller, Jane Morton, Andy NelsonPat RichardsonJay Snider, and Diane Tribitt.


Vintage and contemporary photos from featured poets' families are a part of each year’s CD. This year's cover features a small "cowboy" in an image of Gail Gardner (1892-1988) from an 1890s tintype. Inside, there's a contemporary photo of three generations of the cowboys in Jay Snider's family, taken on the Snider ranch in Cyril, Oklahoma.

 

Past editions of The BAR-D Roundup have enjoyed wide radio airplay, and the new edition will also be distributed to hundreds of Western radio stations, thanks to Joe Baker of New Mexico's Backforty Bunkhouse. The CD includes a radio public service announcement by top cowboy poet and philosopher Baxter Black. Wyoming's Andy Nelson, poet, humorist, popular emcee and co-host of the award-winning Clear Out West (C. O. W.) Radio show is the CD's co-producer.

 

The BAR-D Roundup is offered for sale, with proceeds supporting CowboyPoetry.com ($20 postpaid from CowboyPoetry.com, PO Box 330444, San Francisco, CA 94133 and on line at CowboyPoetry.com).

The annual CD's focus—and that of the Center and CowboyPoetry.comis to present stories from the real working West. Octogenarian “cowboy” Georgie Sicking (she prefers that well-earned title) tells it like it was in her selected poem:

 

Housewife 

We went to the bank to get a loan to keep the ranch afloat
little banker had whiskers on his chin just like a billy goat.

He wrote "profession: rancher" on my husband's pedigree,
asked a few more questions and then he looked at me

 

He looked me up and down with kinda squinty eyes

and opened up his mouth and uttered a word that I despise: housewife

 

Now when I'm calvin' heifers and haulin' hay and doin' other chores

to call me "just a housewife" is enough to start a war.

 

I've got cows to move and fence to fix, gotta doctor that ol' bull,

and that balky tractor it won't start without a pull.

 

Now the ranch work is important so the house will have to wait.

I'll cook supper for my husband because he's workin' late.

 

I've been a rancher's daughter, I've been a rancher's spouse,

But never was I ever married to a house. 
 

© Georgie Sicking, All rights reserved

The poem is included on Georgie Sicking's CD, To Be a Top Hand, which received the 2008 Academy of Western Artists' Will Rogers Award for best cowboy poetry album. The National Cowgirl Hall of Fame Inductee comments, "To be a cowgirl is more than just fluff and stuff. You have to do your share of the work, kill your own snakes, never complain, mount up even when you know you may get bucked off, and all the while being more of a lady at work than when you are at home." To Be a Top Hand is available for $18 postpaid from Georgie Sicking, PO Box 11, Kaycee, Wyoming 82639.
 

Take part in Cowboy Poetry Week: Get your schools, libraries, and community involved!  Perform your poetry, donate a book, share your knowledge, get yourself a copy of The BAR-D Roundup.  Read more about it all at CowboyPoetry.com.

 


There's poetry and information about hundreds of cowboy poets and Western musicians at CowboyPoetry.com.  It's an on-going gathering, with continuous news, features, event calendars, the best in classic and contemporary cowboy poetry and Western music lyrics, and a free email newsletter.

CowboyPoetry.com is a project of the non-profit Center for Western and Cowboy Poetry. Your contributions are tax-deductible. We're supported by  people like you.  Please join us!
 

                                                                                                                                                                        


 

January/February 2009

                                                                                                                                                                                                          

In 1985, a small mid-winter gathering of cowboy poets in Elko, Nevada spawned the world of cowboy poetry and music gatherings as we know them. The event, now known as the Western Folklife Center’s National Cowboy Poetry Gathering, celebrates its 25th anniversary January 24-31, 2008 (www.westernfolklife.org).  More than 50 poets (including 15  who participated in the 1985 gathering) and 24 musicians and music groups will participate in the event, which also includes workshops, panel discussions, lectures, exhibits, films, dances, and more.

 

Beloved poet Colen Sweeten (1919-2007) was invited to the first gathering, and returned twenty-three times. Early in the event's history, he wrote this poem:

 

Elko
 

They came to the mid-winter gath'ring,
Leaving haystacks and dehorning chutes.
Dressed true to old west tradition,
Levis, Stetsons, and high heeled boots.

A few were in casts or on crutches,
Some looked like I'd seen them before.
Each wore the hat no one touches
And had high polished boots on the floor.

The faces were brown as a saddle.
Some mustaches wide as a door.
And they walked with a half cocked straddle,
Like the part that they sit on was sore.

Their poetry, sprinkled with sagebrush,
Was not meant for the city galoots.
And there each one sat in his ten gallon hat,
And a cow and a half worth of boots.

© 1987, Colen Sweeten, All rights reserved

Colen Sweeten’s name will live on at the gathering in a special way. Award-winning South Dakota poet, ranchwife, and champion quilter Yvonne Hollenbeck conceived and created an incomparable work to commemorate the 25th anniversary: a brand quilt. She dedicated many hundreds of hours to the project, which contains 160 blocks with the brands of past participants. Performers and their families supplied their brands, and some created their own quilt blocks. The quilt will be on permanent display at the Western Folklife Center. Yvonne comments, “The quilt was made entirely by hand in the traditional method of quilt making from the pioneer days.  I did all of the quilting with a thimble that my great-grandmother Sarah Carr used in her sod house, to make her own quilts.


Yvonne’s traveling trunk show, “Five Generations of Quilts,” includes her family quilts and stories and poems inspired by her ancestors and other pioneer women of the Plains. It has been offered at many venues, festivals, and cowboy poetry gatherings. Here’s one of her quilt poems:


Patchwork of the Prairie

 

She called it "patchwork of the prairie"

and I never understood
how one who had so little
could make quilts that looked so good.

 

She used a lot of tiny scraps
and wasted not one thing;
just tiny pieces of the past
to form a Wedding Ring.

 

Dresden Plate or Sawtooth Star,
the list went on and on
of quilts she pieced by oil light
'till all her scraps were gone.

 

She lived there on a homestead
on the South Dakota plain;
it was there in her old soddy
that she stitched away the pain

 

of hardships only known to those
who came to pave the way
so we could have the kind of life
we all enjoy today.

 

She said she loved the prairie
and the years of living there;
it was where she raised her family
and her prairie home was where

 

she made those lovely patchwork quilts
and they will always be
more than “patchwork of the prairie”
'cause they're grandma's legacy.

 

© 2005, Yvonne Hollenbeck, All rights reserved

Yvonne Hollenbeck’s most recent CD, Pieces of the Past, was named the 2008 Top Cowboy Poetry CD by the Western Music Association. Her 2005 book, From My Window and other poems, received the Academy of Western Artists’ Will Rogers Medallion Award. It includes a section of poems about quilts and quilters. Visit her web site, www.YvonneHollenbeck.com for more about her CDs, books, and quilt show.

 


There's poetry and information about hundreds of cowboy poets and Western musicians at CowboyPoetry.com.  It's an on-going gathering, with continuous news, features, event calendars, the best in classic and contemporary cowboy poetry and Western music lyrics, and a free email newsletter.

The BAR-D Roundup: Volume III CD includes poems recited by Robert Service, Red Steagall, Wallace McRae, Paul Zarzyski, Randy Rieman, Ross Knox, Jerry Brooks, Buck Ramsey, Joel Nelson, Ken Cook, Doris Daley, DW Groethe, Yvonne Hollenbeck, Paul Kern, Linda Kirkpatrick, Deanna Dickinson McCall, Andy Nelson, Susan Parker, Pat Richardson, Georgie Sicking, Bill Siems, Jay Snider, Rhonda Sedgwick Stearns, Hal Swift, Mick Vernon, and Smoke Wade,  with a PSA by Francie Ganje. Learn more at CowboyPoetry.com.

CowboyPoetry.com is a project of the non-profit Center for Western and Cowboy Poetry. Your contributions are tax-deductible. We're supported by  people like you.  Please join us!
 

                                                                                                                                                                        

(See photos of the Anniversary Quilt here.)


November/December 2008

                                                                                                                                                                                                          

 

California's Monterey Cowboy Poetry and Music Festival (www.montereycowboy.com) marks its tenth year in 2008 (December 5-7). It's a celebration with top-notch entertainment, including Mike Beck, Baxter Black, Juni Fisher, Linda Kirkpatrick, Wally McRae, Jay Snider, Sourdough Slim, Dave Stamey, Paul Zarzyski, and others.

Oklahoma rancher and poet Jay Snider—just named "Male Poet of the Year" by the Academy of Western Artists—makes his first California appearance at the Monterey Gathering. This poem was inspired by a drawing by Kansas artist Don Dane (
www.dondanestudio.com) and says a lot about why Jay is a respected horseman.

Minor Adjustments
For Don Dane

He's grown half a hand in stature
Since I turned him out last May
To rid his tail of cockleburs
Took nearly half a day

He's fat and slick and gentle
Just the way I knew he'd be
He's had some time to let it soak
The saddle, the bit, and me

I watched him from a weanling
How he'd run and buck and play
His actions told me early on
He'd be a champ one day

I'd like to take the credit
For all the things he knows
But his bloodlines tell the story
His heritage, it shows

His gentleness and kindness
And his pride are plain to see
These attributes, I'm hopin'
Are the ones he learned from me

© 2005, Jay Snider, All Rights Reserved

Jay Snider's recent CD, Of Horses and Men, is available for $19 postpaid from: Jay Snider, Route 1, Box 167, Cyril, Oklahoma 73029; http://www.jaysnider.net.

British Columbia's Mag Mawhinney's poem was inspired by moving cows on a November day at Meadow Springs Ranch. She says, "The beauty of that meadow and surrounding forest, the contrast between the inquisitive actions of the  dogs and the other animals grazing peacefully on grass  stubbles protruding through the snow, gave me a feeling of pure joy, a completeness beyond words. The scene was God's winter masterpiece! And it's moments like that when I understand why a cowboy is willing to work for short pay."

Winter Range

The gauge measured four below zero
with a dustin' of snow on the ground.
We bounced through the meadows in a flatbed truck
to a lake with a fence all around.

Sittin' on the truck was a big water drum,
a shovel and four ranch dogs.
When the pump started up, all the dogs ran off,
sniffin' tracks through the bush and the bogs.

We rattled on past a big rail gate
and sidled up to the water trough tanks,
with a dog runnin' point, another on drag
and two closin' in on our flanks.

 Ice was scooped out and the tanks topped up
 from the drum on the back of the rig,
 while the dogs played about with their tongues hangin' out,
 flappin' 'round like four whirligigs.

 Then the cows and the calves were all counted
 as they grazed on the rich meadow grass
 and pretty horses with thick, heavy coats
 turned their heads to watch as we passed.

 It was a scene of Christmas card beauty
 that can't be expressed in a word—
 happy dogs in a snow-covered meadow
 and a cowboy out waterin' the herd.

 
© 2006, Mag Mawhinney, All Rights Reserved

Mag Mawhinney's recent CD, Passin' it On, includes 27 original poems and 4 original songs, co-written and sung by the award-winning singer Abe Zacharias. It is available for $20 postpaid from: Mag Mawhinney, 835 Chapman Rd., Cobble Hill, B.C., Canada V0R 1L4;
www.magmawhinney.com.

 


There's poetry and information about hundreds of cowboy poets and Western musicians at CowboyPoetry.com.  It's an on-going gathering, with continuous news, features, event calendars, the best in classic and contemporary cowboy poetry and Western music lyrics, and a free email newsletter.

The BAR-D Roundup: Volume III CD includes poems recited by Robert Service, Red Steagall, Wallace McRae, Paul Zarzyski, Randy Rieman, Ross Knox, Jerry Brooks, Buck Ramsey, Joel Nelson, Ken Cook, Doris Daley, DW Groethe, Yvonne Hollenbeck, Paul Kern, Linda Kirkpatrick, Deanna Dickinson McCall, Andy Nelson, Susan Parker, Pat Richardson, Georgie Sicking, Bill Siems, Jay Snider, Rhonda Sedgwick Stearns, Hal Swift, Mick Vernon, and Smoke Wade,  with a PSA by Francie Ganje. Learn more at CowboyPoetry.com.

CowboyPoetry.com is a project of the non-profit Center for Western and Cowboy Poetry. Your contributions are tax-deductible. We're supported by  people like you.  Please join us!
 

                                                                                                                                                                        

 


 

September/October 2008

                                                                                                                                                                                                          

 

Cowboy poets are full of surprises. That includes the notorious “bad boy” Pat Richardson, who has written some serious—even lyrical—works, including “Roundup Time,” which Curly Musgrave turned into the fine song, “Boys, It's Roundup Time," on his The Heritage CD. Here’s another of his (few) serious poems:

Morning Mist

Horses veiled in morning mist, spurs jingle out a song
first rays in the east as moon surrenders to the dawn

Ponies snort and shake the bridle reins, a coyote slips on past
shod hooves beat a rhythm muffled only by the grass

You glimpse an owl returning home, you hear the leather creak
the beauty of the morning's such that no one dares to speak

The North Dakota Badlands filled with secrets of the past
lies in silent grandeur with a beauty unsurpassed

We rode along in silence as the morning sun arose
and most would be embarrassed if their feelings were exposed

Cowboys love a roundup and as the crew heads out again
you detect a little soft spot in these cattle-savvy men

It's times like these I wish in maybe some poetic way
I could record for others, special feelings of the day

If I perhaps possessed a much more educated pen
my primitive descriptions would be understood by men

Though I lack the wit and wisdom to do justice to this scene
I'll bet the cowboys out amongst you know exactly what I mean

© 2006, Pat Richardson, All rights reserved
 

Of course, Pat couldn’t let a serious poem lie. His original final lines to the poem were:  I can think of only one thing that's more beautiful in life/ it's to snuggle undetected with the neighbor's gorgeous wife.

Pat tells that it made his brother, poet Jess Howard, "madder than hell," so he relented and changed it. Jess suggested the lines: The North Dakota Badlands filled with secrets of the past / lies in silent grandeur with a beauty unsurpassed.

Pat used something like those lines in the poem, and made the most of them at the start of one of one of his funniest poems, "The Queen of North Dakota," which comes close to being as politically incorrect as his famous "The Donner Party."

Those poems are in Pat's recent Will Rogers Medallion award-winning book, Pat Richardson Unhobbled, Cowboy Poetry, Stories, and Outright Lies, which includes his original art, vintage personal and rodeo photos, and over 50 stories and poems. The book, 99.9% humorous, is available for $15 postpaid, from Pat Richardson, 562 Breeze Avenue, Merced, California 95348; www.patrichardsonpoet.com.

Utah‘s Rod Miller is also surprising, in the range of style and subjects in his poetry and other writings. This poem lets the reader see something familiar in a new way:

Long May it Wave

The Star Spangled Banner inspires all manner
          Of feelings in folks when it plays—
Every bareback bronc veteran feels a rush of adrenaline
          Long after his rodeo days.

The Anthem’s first sound brings the Chute Boss around
          Yellin’ “Pull ’em down boys! Let’s rodeo!”
And you straddle the chute, ease down onto the brute,
          Grab your riggin’ and stretch latigo.

 Then the rockets’ red glare, the bombs bursting in air
          Grow distant; seem to fade into dim.
Rosin squeaks in your handhold. The horse shivers as if cold.
          And, for eight seconds, there’s just you and him.

          © 2007, Rod Miller, All rights reserved

Rod, the most-published poet in Western Horseman and American Cowboy magazines, is also the 2008 Guest Poetry Editor for American Cowboy. Over 80 of his poems have appeared in print.

Rod Miller has published short stories, an acclaimed novel, and non-fiction books, including the recent Massacre at Bear River: First, Worst, Forgotten, available from the publisher, Caxton Press (www.caxtonpress.com), and other booksellers.


There's poetry and information about hundreds of cowboy poets and Western musicians at CowboyPoetry.com.  It's an on-going gathering, with continuous news, features, event calendars, the best in classic and contemporary cowboy poetry and Western music lyrics, and a free email newsletter.

The BAR-D Roundup: Volume III CD includes poems recited by Robert Service, Red Steagall, Wallace McRae, Paul Zarzyski, Randy Rieman, Ross Knox, Jerry Brooks, Buck Ramsey, Joel Nelson, Ken Cook, Doris Daley, DW Groethe, Yvonne Hollenbeck, Paul Kern, Linda Kirkpatrick, Deanna Dickinson McCall, Andy Nelson, Susan Parker, Pat Richardson, Georgie Sicking, Bill Siems, Jay Snider, Rhonda Sedgwick Stearns, Hal Swift, Mick Vernon, and Smoke Wade,  with a PSA by Francie Ganje. Learn more at CowboyPoetry.com.

CowboyPoetry.com is a project of the non-profit Center for Western and Cowboy Poetry. Your contributions are tax-deductible. We're supported by  people like you.  Please join us!
 

                                                                                                                                                                        


July/August 2008

                                                                                                                                                                                                          

 

The Arizona Cowboy Poets Gathering (www.azcowboypoets.org) marks its twenty-first year, August 16-18, in Prescott, Arizona. Scheduled poets and musicians include Jean and Gary Prescott, The Desert Sons, Joel Nelson, Gail Steiger, Bud Strom, Mike Dunn, Chris Isaacs, Rolf Flake, Kay Kelley Nowell, and many others.

This year’s gathering poster, a painting by Bill Anton of Prescott, inspired the gathering’s theme, "Headin’ for New Range.” The event, long held at the Sharlot Hall Museum, is itself moving to a new “range,” the Yavapai College Campus.

Participating poets write about the poster and gathering theme and present their poems in special sessions. Several years ago, the gathering chose another Bill Anton painting, “Spellbound.” The painting spawned many fine poems, including this one by Arizona poet Carole Jarvis:

Spellbound

  Seems I've spent a thousand nightfalls
  Watchin' evenin' stars grow bright
  As the old earth slowly darkens
  In the sun's last fadin' light.

  It's a time to shed my worries
  Let the rest of the world go by
  Alone out here, just me and my horse,
  Underneath God's big wide sky.

  Hear that old coyote howlin', Blaze?
  Bet he feels a lot like me
  Satisfied with the life he's got,
  Content at just bein' free.

  'Cuz the trails are never too rough
  And the days are never too long
  If you're livin' this cowboy life
  And know it's where you belong.

  I can't see into the future
  But I've seen into the past
  Through the eyes of cowboys gone now
  And the wide loop that they cast.

  For their lives were never hollow
  And their dreams were never small
  But you didn't want to push 'em
  With their back against a wall.

  Sittin' quiet like, this evenin',
  I can feel their spirits near
  As though in some mysterious way
  What I'm thinkin' they can hear.

  Guess it's part of the connection
  Us old cowboys come to know
  That ties the life we're livin' now
  To those days of long ago.

  For much of what our life's about
  Goes beyond cows and the land
  It's bein' in the company
  Of cowboys who made a hand.

 ©  2002, Carole Jarvis, All rights reserved


Carole and her husband Dan have lived and cowboyed in Wyoming, Oregon and Arizona. Among other honors, she has received the Prescott gathering’s Gail I. Gardner Award for a Working Cowboy Poet and the Will Rogers Medallion Award for her book, Time Not Measured by a Clock. The book is available for $19.95 postpaid from Carole Jarvis, 43909 West Highway 60 Wickenburg, Arizona, 85390 and from www.cowboyshowcase.com
.  

Fifth-generation rancher, writer, and poet Deanna Dickinson McCall has been a frequent participant at the Arizona Cowboy Poets Gathering.  She lent her poem, “Advice,” for The BAR-D Roundup: Volume Three (2008) from CowboyPoetry.com.

Advice

    The corrals were full enough to bust,
    And we'd all had our share of dust.
    But, we'd got all the pairs in
    And the separating was about to begin.
    Our new son-in-law was working the gate
    Trying hard to discriminate
    When an angry mama came charging up
    Mad over the hold up.

    Hearing the commotion I rode through the dust
    And shared some advice he could trust,
    "Son, don't crowd her, whatever you do,
    When her head is held high she'll take the fence or you.
    Better off to just let stand, cool down a bit
    She's not afraid of horse or man, let her have her fit.
    It's nature way to attack or run, fear and anger is part of life.
    I know it's not exactly fun, but, remember she is your wife."

     © 2006, Deanna Dickinson McCall, All rights reserved

Deanna comments, "I wrote this poem for my son-in-laws. It made a good introduction to the family." Deanna McCall’s CD, Hot Iron, is available for $15 postpaid from Deanna Dickinson McCall PO BOX 376, Timberon, NM 88350-0376.

The cover of The BAR-D Roundup: Volume Three (2008) pictures Deanna Dickinson McCall’s grandfather, Perry “P.P.” Dickinson, a Texas cowboy, rough-string rider, Marshall, and Texas Ranger special agent. The CD is available for $20 postpaid from CowboyPoetry.com, PO Box 330444, San Francisco, CA 94133.


There's poetry and information about hundreds of cowboy poets and Western musicians at CowboyPoetry.com.  It's an on-going gathering, with continuous news, features, event calendars, the best in classic and contemporary cowboy poetry and Western music lyrics, and a free email newsletter.

The BAR-D Roundup: Volume III CD includes poems recited by Robert Service, Red Steagall, Wallace McRae, Paul Zarzyski, Randy Rieman, Ross Knox, Jerry Brooks, Buck Ramsey, Joel Nelson, Ken Cook, Doris Daley, DW Groethe, Yvonne Hollenbeck, Paul Kern, Linda Kirkpatrick, Deanna Dickinson McCall, Andy Nelson, Susan Parker, Pat Richardson, Georgie Sicking, Bill Siems, Jay Snider, Rhonda Sedgwick Stearns, Hal Swift, Mick Vernon, and Smoke Wade,  with a PSA by Francie Ganje. Learn more at CowboyPoetry.com.

CowboyPoetry.com is a project of the non-profit Center for Western and Cowboy Poetry. Your contributions are tax-deductible. We're supported by  people like you.  Please join us!
 

                                                                                                                                                                        


 

May/June, 2008

 

                                                                                                                                                                                                          

 

"Art Spur" is a project at  CowboyPoetry.com that invites poets to let selections of Western art inspire their poetry. One of the recent subjects was a piece drawn by the popular Pat Richardson (sometimes known as "the bad boy of cowboy poetry"). In addition to being a top poet, Pat's an accomplished artist who has contributed illustrations and cartoons to The Pro Rodeo Sports News and other publications. His drawing was of "Sammy," a mule who "belonged to Doc Clarke, the famous horse vet in Petaluma, California."

Pat Richardson told a bit about Sammy: "Doc used to team rope off him. He heeled and did pretty good for never getting to practice much. Old Sammy was about the nicest mule I ever was around. Doc had to give him a tetanus shot once and Sammy threw a fit. Doc said, 'I don't blame him, he's only human.' And I think that attitude is why Doc got along with animals as well as he did."

Pat particularly admired one of the poems selected from many submissions, "Packin' Sammy," by Arkansas rancher Michael Henley:

  Packin' Sammy

    Don't put that meat on Lucy
    cause she don't take to blood.
    And probably not on Kate
    she ain't travelin' like she should.

    Pay heed behind Lil' Satan boys
    you know that outlaw kicks.
    Don't put no dudes on Molly
    Bob say's she'll buck off ticks.

    Picket Dan with hobbles on
    he's bad to want to roam.
    If he takes a notion boys
    he'll beat us all back home.

    Slick's the stoutest thing we got
    but he's a chore to pack.
    With a belly like a barrel stove
    and that hog ridge on his back.

    Don't tail the roan to Shilo cause
    them two don't get along.
    This is a damn fine pack string
    so gents don't take me wrong.

    Just put the quarters on Ol' Sammy
    and girt that decker tight.
    Then start him down the trail
    and he'll take it down all right.

    Nope, you don't need to lead him
    cause he's seen the trail before
    and he won't cause no problems
    he always accepts the chore.

    He'll be standin' at the trailers
    when we all cross Eagle Creek.
    He'll be the first into camp boys
    when we start 'em back next week.

    See he's the one I seem count on
    when the tough works needin' done.
    When it has to be done perfect
    Sammy's gonna be the one.

    Packin' dudes or catchin' calves.
    Pullin' feed sleds in the snow.
    Sammy's never shirked a task.
    He's never told me no.

    Cause of that he gets mistreated
    overused while others coast.
    Seems we put our biggest burdens
    on the ones we trust the most.

   
© 2008, Michael Henley, All rights reserved

Michael Henley’s poem was also selected as one of "8 Seconds" in the most recent Lariat Laureate competition at CowboyPoetry.com. Michael commented on the poem's inspiration: "I've often used pack stock as examples of how we mistreat the folks in this life who we count on the most. The most trusted child, sibling, friend or employee will get the call on all the tough stuff and it's sure true with our horses and mules. I saw the great Art Spur sketch and thought of Ron Dube's outstanding pack string in Wyoming and the 'politics' of who went where in the string before beginning a 26-mile, one-way trip."

The First Annual Golden Spike Cowboy Poetry and Music Festival takes place May 8-10, 2008 in Ogden, Utah, with headliners Belinda Gail and Curly Musgrave, the Bar-J Wranglers, and Baxter Black. They'll be joined by many musicians and a number of poets and reciters, including Jerry Brooks, Jo Lynne Kirkwood, Smoke Wade, Sam Tixier, Bob Urry, Bob Christiansen, Don Kennington, Phil Kennington, and Brenda "Sam" DeLeeuw.

Sam DeLeeuw is a frequent performer at events around the West. She's a founding member and past Chairman of the Board and past President of the Cowboy Poets of Utah, and President of the Utah chapter of the Western Music Association, active with the WMA Youth Chapter.  Sam is also a past "Lariat Laureate" at CowboyPoetry.com. "Spring" is the poem for which she won that status, a poem just right for the season:

Spring

  When cold grey clouds take flight
  Chased off by azure blue,
  And rigid earth gives way
  To desert life anew...

  When cactus blossom hues
  Adorn the desert sand,
  When wild grass turns green
  Across a barren land...

  When heifers, bawling low,
  Announce new life at dawn,
  When crusted ice and snow
  Shine bright and then are gone...

  When mares with early foals,
  Stand guard against the wind,
  And show their growing ire,
  Heads high, with ears laid pinned...

  When hawks and eagles fly
  Then hover overhead,
  And guard their feathered nests
  In cliffs of desert red...

  When howling chants arise
  From wolf pups in the night,
  When antelope downwind
  Are spooked and bolt in flight...

  Warmth comes to the prairie ...
  When sun rays stretch their arms,
  Magic fills the senses....
  When Springtime shares her charms!

 
© 2006, Brenda "Sam" DeLeeuw, All rights reserved

Sam has a recent CD of her original poems, Spreadin' Sunshine, available for $18 postpaid from: Sam DeLeeuw, 510 West 500 South, Manti, Utah 84642; 435-835-8662
 


There's poetry and information about hundreds of cowboy poets and Western musicians at CowboyPoetry.com.  It's an on-going gathering, with continuous news, features, event calendars, the best in classic and contemporary cowboy poetry and Western music lyrics, and a free email newsletter.

The BAR-D Roundup: Volume III CD includes poems recited by Robert Service, Red Steagall, Wallace McRae, Paul Zarzyski, Randy Rieman, Ross Knox, Jerry Brooks, Buck Ramsey, Joel Nelson, Ken Cook, Doris Daley, DW Groethe, Yvonne Hollenbeck, Paul Kern, Linda Kirkpatrick, Deanna Dickinson McCall, Andy Nelson, Susan Parker, Pat Richardson, Georgie Sicking, Bill Siems, Jay Snider, Rhonda Sedgwick Stearns, Hal Swift, Mick Vernon, and Smoke Wade,  with a PSA by Francie Ganje. Learn more at CowboyPoetry.com.

CowboyPoetry.com is a project of the non-profit Center for Western and Cowboy Poetry. Your contributions are tax-deductible. We're supported by  people like you.  Please join us!
 

                                                                                                                                                                        


March/April, 2008

 

                                                                                                                                                                                                          

 

This year's Cowboy Poetry Week—the seventh annual—is celebrated April 20-26. Inaugurated by CowboyPoetry.com—a project of the  non-profit Center for Western and Cowboy Poetry—the celebration was recognized by unanimous resolution of the United States Senate. Nineteen states' governors and other officials have issued Cowboy Poetry Week proclamations, and the week is celebrated with activities across the West and beyond.

"Waxed Jacket," a painting by respected Western artist William Matthews (www.williammatthewsgallery.com) was selected as this year's Cowboy Poetry Week poster art. Posters are sent to libraries as a part of the Center's Rural Library Project and are available to Center supporters.

For 2008, there's a new edition of The BAR-D Roundup, the Center’s annual compilation recording of the best in classic and current cowboy poetry. The CD is also offered to libraries and available for purchase; proceeds help fund the Center's programs. 


This third annual edition of The BAR-D Roundup includes Robert Service's vintage recording of his "The Cremation of Sam McGee" and contemporary poets reciting their work, including "Shadow on the Cutbank" by Joel  Nelson, "The Memories in Grandmother’s Trunk" by Red Steagall, "Urban Daughter" by Wallace McRae, and Paul Zarzyski's "Luck of the Draw." Noted reciters Randy Rieman, Ross Knox, and Jerry Brooks present classic poems by Henry Herbert Knibbs, D. J. O'Malley, and Badger Clark, and the CD has a third, annual selection from Grass, a master work by the late Buck Ramsey, a National Endowment for the Arts Fellow, recognized as the modern spiritual leader of the genre.

 

There are many additional tracks of classic and contemporary poems (27 total), most from poets who frequently please audiences from contemporary gathering stages, including: Ken Cook, Doris Daley, DW Groethe, Yvonne Hollenbeck, Paul Kern, Linda Kirkpatrick (reciting a Bruce Kiskaddon poem),  Deanna McCall, Andy Nelson, Susan Parker (reciting an A. V. Hudson poem), Pat RichardsonGeorgie Sicking, Bill Siems (reciting a Curley Fletcher poem), Jay Snider (reciting a Luther A. Lawhon poem), Rhonda Sedgwick Stearns, Hal Swift (reciting a James Barton Adams poem), Mick Vernon (reciting an S. Omar Barker poem), and Smoke Wade.


Vintage and contemporary photos from featured poets' families are a part of each year’s CD. This year's striking cover features Perry Preston ("P.P.") Dickinson, circa 1912, Texas cowboy, rough-string rider, Marshall, Texas Ranger special agent, grandfather of fifth-generation rancher, poet, and writer Deanna McCall, and great grandfather of poets and reciters Rusty McCall and Katie McCall-Owens. Inside, there's a contemporary photo of South Dakota rancher Glen Hollenbeck, husband of poet Yvonne Hollenbeck, on their ranch near Clearfield, South Dakota.

 

Past editions of The BAR-D Roundup have enjoyed wide radio airplay, and the new edition will also be distributed to hundreds of Western radio stations, thanks to Joe Baker of New Mexico's Backforty Bunkhouse. The CD includes a radio public service announcement by Francie Ganje, radio host and director of South Dakota's Heritage of the American West show. Wyoming's Andy Nelson, poet, humorist, popular emcee and co-host of the award-winning Clear Out West (C. O. W.) Radio show is the CD's co-producer.

 

The BAR-D Roundup (available in April, 2008) is offered for sale, with proceeds supporting CowboyPoetry.com ($20 postpaid from CowboyPoetry.com, PO Box 330444, San Francisco, CA 94133 and on line at CowboyPoetry.com).

The CD's focus
and that of the Center and CowboyPoetry.comis to present stories from the real working West. Alberta poet Doris Daley exemplifies that aim in her popular poem, "Bones":


Bones

Three cowboys sit on a split rail fence,
Long on bruises, short on sense.
Put 'em together and what do you get—
Besides three pairs of jeans and a pile of debt.

Add 'em all up and the sum of their parts
Is 27 fingers and three broken hearts.
30 pretty toes, only 2 of them broke,
Hide more scarred than the bark of an oak.

Five good eyes, one made of glass,
Three bum knees and a bad case of gas.
Three strong backs—but all of them achin,
And three mustached smiles filled with Copenhagen.

A bottle of pills for a bad tick-tocker
And a half-full prescription from Dr. Johnny Walker.
A surgeon's nightmare sits on that rail,
But they're married to the range and bonded to the trail.

They'll never be famous, they'll never be wealthy
But they love the life—cause it's so darn healthy!

 

© Doris Daley, All rights reserved

The poem is included on Doris Daley's recent CD, Good for What Ails You, available postpaid $18 (US), $20 (Canadian) from: Doris Daley, Fiddle DD Enterprises, Box 103, Turner Valley, AB TOL 2A0; (403) 933-4434; www.DorisDaley.com.    

 

Take part in Cowboy Poetry Week: Get your schools, libraries, and community involved!  Perform your poetry, donate a book, share your knowledge, get yourself a copy of The BAR-D Roundup.  Read more about it all at CowboyPoetry.com.

 

There's more poetry and information about hundreds of classic and contemporary cowboy poets, Western musicians, and others at CowboyPoetry.com's BAR-D Ranch.  It's an on-going gathering, with continuous news, features, event calendars, gathering reports, the best in classic and contemporary cowboy poetry and Western music lyrics, and a free email newsletter. 


CowboyPoetry.com is a project of the non-profit Center for Western and Cowboy Poetry. People like you make the site and other Center programs such as Cowboy Poetry Week and the Rural Library Project possible through their tax-deductible contributions.  Please join us and be a part of it all. Celebrate the West!

                                                                                                                                                                        


 

January/February, 2008

                                                                                                                                                                                                          

 

A number of top gatherings are held in January and February, including the event that spawned all others: The Western Folklife Center's National Cowboy Poetry Gathering in Elko, Nevada (www.WesternFolklife.org).
 
This year, the Elko gathering celebrates its twenty-fourth year, January 26 - February 2, 2008. It's an ever-expanding event with workshops, seminars, and a rich bounty of poets and musicians—most with solid roots in the ranching and cowboy culture—in more great shows and sessions than any one person could attend.
 
Ranch-raised Texas poet Linda Kirkpatrick is making her first appearance at Elko this year. This poem comes from her childhood memories of being left behind, unwillingly, when her father and his ranch hands headed out for round up, and from her respect for those men and their way of life:

When Round Up Time Comes Around

The wood floor creaks in the old bunkhouse

No other sound or voice is heard,

Soon the rattle of plates on the table

As every cowboy is served.

 

The jingle of spurs, bumping of boots

And the creak of the bunkhouse door,

These are the early sounds of the dawning

Just as in the days of yore.

 

The gray gelding snorts and paws the ground,

Then tosses his head in the air,

The bay in the corner trots round the pen,

They call her the Mustang Mare.

 

Then the rest in the pen start to stir,

A whinny, a prick of the ear,

The familiar sounds of the early morn

Tells them saddling time is near.

 

The feel of the Levi jacket worn,

As it turns back the morning chill.

A soft glow of pink in an eastern sky,

The sun wakes behind the hill.

 

The strike of a match for one last smoke,

The last coffee hitting the ground,

These wonderful sounds of the early morn,

When round up time comes around.

 

Then the buckling of his leather chaps,

The ones that his dad used to own,

He shakes out his legs, steps from the old porch,

This is the only life he has known.

 

He walks to the barn in the darkness.

His steps crunch the cold frost bit ground.

These wonderful sounds at the break of day,

When round up time comes around.

 

The cold leather creaks of his saddle,

The chime of the hackamore bit,

These are the sounds of a working cowboy,

These sounds of toil and grit.

 

He smiles riding out from the ranch house,

Embracing this life he has found,

He lives for this day and he always has,

The day round up time comes ‘round.

© 2004, Linda Kirkpatrick, All rights reserved

Linda Kirkpatrick's recent CD, Beneath a Western Sky, is available for $15.50 from Linda Kirkpatrick, P.O. Box 128, Leakey, Texas 78873  www.LindaKirkpatrick.net.
 
 
Oklahoma rancher and poet Jay Snider, an Elko veteran, is headed to the 16th Annual Cochise Cowboy Poetry and Music Gathering, February 1-3, 2008; (www.CowboyPoets.com). The popular gathering draws thousands of people to its weekend of top poetry and music performances by more than 50 poets and musicians, and also has a proud focus on its work with area student poets. Each year, over 2,000 students from grades 3 through 12 compete for awards and scholarships, with the winners appearing on the gathering stage. The organizers describe the event as “the ‘real thing,’ a gathering reminiscent of times around the campfire where wild tales are told or sung.”

Jay's poem below was inspired by a painting by award-winning Kansas artist Don Dane (www.DonDaneStudio.com
), whose work is also known for his gathering posters for Pigeon Forge's Saddle Up!, Silver Dollar City's "A Salute to the Great American Cowboy," Cal Farley's Boys Ranch Youth Gathering, and other events.
 

Burning Daylight
For Don Dane

Though we saddle in the darkness
That’s just the way it’s done
We hear no bell or whistle call
Just the rising of the sun

The colors in the canyon
Paint pictures in my mind
Of the days that Charlie Russell rode
Of the tales he left behind

Vermillion cliffs of grandeur
Climb to plateaus up on high
Sunrise paints a mural
In an early mornin’ sky

Between sunrise and the sunset
Freedom courses through our veins
It’s the smell and the creak of the leather
The touch of our hands on the reins

Fleeting moments just at sunrise
And as sun sets in the west
Revered by men on horseback
From plain to mountain crest

Is the saddlin’ in the darkness
Just unwritten cowboy law
Or is it for the chance to see
What Charlie Russell saw

© 2005, Jay Snider, All Rights Reserved
 

Jay Snider's recent CD, Of Horses and Men, is available for $19 postpaid from: Jay Snider, Route 1, Box 167, Cyril, Oklahoma 73029  www.JaySnider.net.
 

There's more poetry and information about hundreds of classic and contemporary cowboy poets, Western musicians, and others at CowboyPoetry.com's BAR-D Ranch.  It's an on-going gathering, with continuous news, features, event calendars, gathering reports, the best in classic and contemporary cowboy poetry and Western music lyrics, and a free email newsletter. 

The BAR-D Roundup: Volume II CD includes poems recited by Badger Clark, Randy Rieman, Joel Nelson, J. B. Allen, Sunny Hancock, Buck Ramsey, Jerry "Brooksie" Brooks, Virginia Bennett, Elizabeth Ebert, Paul Zarzyski, Doris Daley, Yvonne Hollenbeck, DW Groethe, Pat Richardson, Jay Snider, Darrell Arnold, Smoke Wade, Jo Lynne Kirkwood, Peggy Godfrey, Ken Cook, Don Kennington, Kent Rollins,  Janice Gilbertson, Rod Nichols, Diane Tribitt, and Jim Thompson, with a PSA by Andy Nelson, the CD's co-producer. Learn more here at CowboyPoetry.com.

CowboyPoetry.com is a project of the non-profit Center for Western and Cowboy Poetry. People like you make the site and other Center programs such as Cowboy Poetry Week and the Rural Library Project possible through their tax-deductible contributions.  Please join us and be a part of it all. Celebrate the West!

                                                                                                                                                                        

 


 

November/December, 2007

                                                                                                                                                                                                          

 

The Monterey Cowboy Poetry & Music Festival and Western Art and Gear Show—known for attracting the best of the best poets, musicians, artists, and gear makers—celebrates its ninth year, December 7-9 in Monterey, California. This year's event upholds the standard, from the gathering poster, graced with the late Joelle Smith's painting, "Randy and Jeremiah" (depicting cowboy, horseman, poet, and master reciter Randy Rieman and respected saddlemaker Jeremiah Watt) to the stellar lineup that includes Ian Tyson, Tom Russell, Wylie & the Wild West, R.W. Hampton, Ernie Sites, Paul Zarzyski, Joel Nelson, Randy Rieman, Yvonne Hollenbeck, Joni Harms, Pat Richardson, Gary Robertson, Mike Beck, Sandy Seaton, and Mick Vernon (the gathering's artist director).

Montana outfitter
Sandy Seaton is making her first appearance at the Monterey festival before heading to Elko, Nevada where she’s a veteran of the Western Folklife Center's National Cowboy Poetry Gathering (January 26 - February 2, 2008). This poem is from her book, The Yellowstone Poet:

 

Truth 

"Why must you ride that horse?!"
My good friend cocks her head
"You know the last time he spooked with you
We all thought you were dead."

 

"Why team rope?" asks my brother.
"You'll just get in a wreck.
Thirteen years ago July
That's how you broke your neck."

 

"You're going to ride that racehorse?"
My mother cries in fear.
"That green horse that you tried last spring
Sure set you on your ear!"

 

"You split your hip last year, you know!
My sister heaves a sigh.
You've broke so many bones right now
Your body's held awry."

 

"A packtrip in the wilderness?"
My grandma can't believe.
"That grizzly bear that showed last year
Just flat refused to leave."

 

"That crazy mule will get you hurt!"
My neighbor's mad at me.

"That spotted fool is spoiled bad,
But you can't leave him be."

 

A good horse can be just as cheap
As canner bargain buys
With added doctor's fees and casts
It seems you would get wise."

 

They say I'm macho. Aw, come on
That's just idle talk.
The truth of why I'll ride that horse
Is this:

                         I HATE TO WALK!

 

© 1998, Sandy Seaton, All rights reserved


Sandy Seaton's new Montana Legacy CD includes 13 original poems, some accompanied by her vocals. It's available for  $17 postpaid from her at: P.O. Box 117, Emigrant, MT 59027, (406) 222-7455; www.blackmountainoutfitters.com.

 

 

South Dakota's Slim McNaught shares Sandy’s devotion to horses, and his poem is a perfect fit for the season:

 

Cold Weather Feedin'

          the snow crunches
          the herd bunches
And the mares nicker in the cold,
          their rumps facin'
          to the wind, bracin'
As winter's forces take hold.
          from the hay stack
          I take a look back,
The horses are standin', heads low,
          wind is whippin',
          manes a' flippin'
As they bunch to ward off the blow.
          as I pitch out hay
          at the start of day
I marvel at these creatures I love,
          as they wait for feed
          for their body's need
I feel blessed by the Lord up above.
          in this cold weather
          they bunch together
By an instinct that's centuries old,
          and the snow crunches
          as the herd bunches
And the mares nicker in the cold.

© 2006, Slim McNaught, All rights reserved

 

Slim comments, "You know, it don't make any difference what time of year it is or what kind of weather you're in, if you just watch a bunch of horses for a few minutes doin' what horses do, you will feel blest."

 

Slim was raised on a ranch in the Badlands country on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation and later ran his own Buzzard Basin Ranch. For many years, his leather business has thrived. Slim is a frequent performer at gatherings across the Upper Great Plains. He has a recent book, Reflections of a Cowboy Poet  ($7.50 postpaid) and a recent CD, A Life of Rhyme ($15 postpaid) available from him at: P.O. Box 274, New Underwood, SD 57761, (605) 754-6103;  www.slimscustomleather.com.

 

 


There's more poetry and information about hundreds of classic and contemporary cowboy poets, Western musicians, and others at CowboyPoetry.com's BAR-D Ranch.  It's an on-going gathering, with continuous news, features, event calendars, gathering reports, the best in classic and contemporary cowboy poetry and Western music lyrics, and a free email newsletter. 

The 2007 edition of The BAR-D Roundup: Volume II CD includes poems recited by Badger Clark, Randy Rieman, Joel Nelson, J. B. Allen, Sunny Hancock, Buck Ramsey, Jerry "Brooksie" Brooks, Virginia Bennett, Elizabeth Ebert, Paul Zarzyski, Doris Daley, Yvonne Hollenbeck, DW Groethe, Pat Richardson, Jay Snider, Darrell Arnold, Smoke Wade, Jo Lynne Kirkwood, Peggy Godfrey, Ken Cook, Don Kennington, Kent Rollins,  Janice Gilbertson, Rod Nichols, Diane Tribitt, and Jim Thompson, with a PSA by Andy Nelson, the CD's co-producer. Learn more here at CowboyPoetry.com.

CowboyPoetry.com is a project of the non-profit Center for Western and Cowboy Poetry. People like you make the site and other Center programs such as Cowboy Poetry Week and the Rural Library Project possible through their tax-deductible contributions.  Please join us and be a part of it all. Celebrate the West!

                                                                                                                                                                        

 


September/October, 2007

 

                                                                                                                                                                                                          

 

The Tenth Annual National Cowboy Poetry Rodeo (www.CowboyPoetryRodeo.com) takes place in Hot Springs, South Dakota, September 28-29, 2007, in conjunction with the Badger Clark Hometown Cowboy Poetry and Music Gathering. Poet Sam Jackson conceived the unique National Cowboy Poetry Rodeo based on his belief in "excellence through competition." 
 
Minnesota rancher and poet Diane Tribitt is making a return visit to the Rodeo. She's also headed for the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering in Elko, Nevada, in January, 2008, as a first-time invited performer. Diane's poem below was written for a special National Day of the Cowboy "Art Spur" competition at CowboyPoetry.com. The subject of her poem is a painting by noted Kansas artist Don Dane (www.DonDaneStudio.com). Don Dane's work is featured in the official posters for the Cal Farley's Boys Ranch Youth Cowboy Poetry Gathering, Saddle Up!, and Silver Dollar City's "A Salute to the Great American Cowboy."
 

Great Day to be a Cowboy

Holding his end of Texas-cross cows

the cowboy leaned back with a sigh

His young sun-dyed face

held just a small trace

of fun in his dark, daring eye

 

Riding through canyons thick with mesquite

in scrub oak thickets—and cedars

his best sorrel horse

kept the herd on course

with no breakers or stampeders

 

He pondered on modern-day ranchin'

—with choppers and laptops and such—

but there ain't much change

out here on the range

where gadgets don't mean all that much

 

He had ridden in Texas Northers;

Seen horns lit by St. Elmo's fire;

And raced eerie gales

that chased his coat-tails

but cowboyin' was his desire

 

He had ridden where there was no shade

'cept the shadow under his hat

and oft' he would swear

that Hade's hot air

was corralled and penned under that

 

And he rode in some worst stampedes ever

to happen while out on a drive

He hazed at the ear

Rode flank at the rear

The wonder is that he's alive

 

But ever so often it happens

the weather for gatherin' beeves

is sunny and bright,

ain't a cow on the fight

and a cowboy can roll back his sleeves
 

© 2007, Diane Tribitt , All rights reserved

Diane has a new book and a new CD, both titled Trail Mix, and available from her at: 38034 193rd Street, Hillman, MN, 56338; www.dianetribitt.com.

 

Popular poet, emcee, and radio co-host Andy Nelson will also be a part of the National Cowboy Poetry Rodeo, and before heading there, he's featured at the September 26, 2007 Heritage of the American West show, produced by radio broadcasters Francie Ganje and Jim Thompson of Creative Broadcast Services in Spearfish, South Dakota. 

 

Andy's best known for his raucous humor, but this poem reflects another side of Andy, inspired by his brother, Jim. Andy and Jim Nelson host the top-rated Clear Out West (C. O. W.) radio show, and were named Top Radio Disk Jockeys in 2006 by the Western Music Association (WMA). The WMA also chose Andy Nelson as Male Poet of the Year in 2006. Like Diane Tribitt, Andy Nelson is headed to the 2008 National Cowboy Poetry Gathering as a first-time invited performer.

 

The Old Crockett Spurs

As long as I can remember,
The Crockett spurs belonged to Jim;
They’re modest, yet very complex,
And remind me a lot of him.

Tempered through hard work and labor,
Engraved with years of bad weather;
Forged from the iron of turmoil,
Thick in the skin and the leather.

Perfectly balanced in function,
Dependable when called on to work;
Precise when applied to the trade,
Dangerous when used by a jerk.

Both may appear harsh at first sight,
But are subtle when put into use;
The hard edges have worn down some,
Polished by the years of abuse.

Not very flashy to look at,
Don’t make a whole lot of noise;
Often overlooked by most folks,
Except for real working cowboys.

As progress replaces tradition,
An emotion within me stirs;
My heritage is a priceless gift,
Like Jim...and those old Crockett spurs. 

© 2007, Andy Nelson, All rights reserved
 

Andy Nelson has a new CD, Full Nelson Shoeing, available from him at: PO Box 1547, Pinedale, WY 82941, www.cowpokepoet.com.

Both Diane Tribitt and Andy Nelson are featured on the 2008 edition of The BAR-D Roundup, a compilation CD of classic and contemporary cowboy poetry from CowboyPoetry.com.


There's more poetry and information about hundreds of classic and contemporary cowboy poets, Western musicians, and others at CowboyPoetry.com's BAR-D Ranch.  It's an on-going gathering, with continuous news, features, event calendars, gathering reports, the best in classic and contemporary cowboy poetry and Western music lyrics, and a free email newsletter. 

The 2007 edition of The BAR-D Roundup: Volume II CD includes poems recited by Badger Clark, Randy Rieman, Joel Nelson, J. B. Allen, Sunny Hancock, Buck Ramsey, Jerry "Brooksie" Brooks, Virginia Bennett, Elizabeth Ebert, Paul Zarzyski, Doris Daley, Yvonne Hollenbeck, DW Groethe, Pat Richardson, Jay Snider, Darrell Arnold, Smoke Wade, Jo Lynne Kirkwood, Peggy Godfrey, Ken Cook, Don Kennington, Kent Rollins,  Janice Gilbertson, Rod Nichols, Diane Tribitt, and Jim Thompson, with a PSA by Andy Nelson, the CD's co-producer. Learn more here at CowboyPoetry.com.

CowboyPoetry.com is a project of the non-profit Center for Western and Cowboy Poetry. People like you make the site and other Center programs such as Cowboy Poetry Week and the Rural Library Project possible through their tax-deductible contributions.  Please join us and be a part of it all. Celebrate the West!

                                                                                                                                                                        

 


July/August, 2007

 

                                                                                                                                                                                                          

 

Two respected gatherings mark twentieth anniversaries this summer: The California Rodeo Cowboy Poetry Gathering in Salinas (July 19) and the Arizona Cowboy Poets Gathering in Prescott (August 16-18).

In 1988, poet Audrey Hankins attended her first gathering, which was also the Arizona Cowboy Poets' first gathering. Ten years later, she received the gathering's prestigious Gail I. Gardner Award. This year, she's a featured performer on the twentieth anniversary stage. Audrey Hankins has also received the Will Rogers Top Female Poet Award from the Academy of Western Artists.

Her poem, “First Light,” is the title poem on her new CD:

FIRST LIGHT

First light to sunup—
Best time of day.
Dogs run to greet me,
Coffee's on the way.

Nickers for morrals
Waiting horse herd.
Tentative twitters,
Treeful of birds.

Mountains inky blue
Against a lighting sky.
Morning star, pale moon,
Clean slate, natural high.
 
The jump on the world,
A minute to pray.
First light to sunup—
Best time of day.

© 2004, Audrey Hankins, All rights reserved
 

The First Light CD is available for $17 postpaid, from Audrey Hankins, P.O. Box 688, Congress, AZ 85332.

Audrey Hankins' work is included in a number of anthologies, including a new collection, Thanks for the Poems; a Commemorative Collection for the 20th Arizona Cowboy Poets Gathering. Edited by Sally Harper Bates, Nika Nordbrock, and Mary Abbott, the book contains nearly 100 poems chosen from the impressive list of poets who have been featured at the gathering. It is available for $20 postpaid from the Sharlot Hall Museum, 415 West Gurley Street, Prescott, Arizona 86301928-445-3122, www.sharlot.org.

The California Rodeo Cowboy Poetry Gathering in Salinas is held in  conjunction with the venerable Salinas California Rodeo-always pronounced "ro-day-o" in that vaquero country. For its twentieth anniversary, in recognition of another valued local distinction, the program is called "Cowboys and Cabernet." Performers include Red Steagall; Belinda Gail and Curly Musgrave; Pat Richardson; and Susan Parker, a standout from the 2006 open mike performers. It's a gathering tradition to choose a poet or musician from the event's popular open performances (delivered from the main stage to the full event audience) to be featured the following year. Last year's chosen performer, J Parsons, was invited to the 2007 National Cowboy Poetry Gathering in Elko, Nevada.

Susan Parker is no stranger to the stage; she performs at many California venues and looks forward to taking part in the National Cowboy Poetry Rodeo in Hot Springs, South Dakota (September 28-29). Her new CD, She Rode a Wild Horse, includes her poem, "Late Born Foal":

LATE BORN FOAL

Weather beaten earth turned to mud
     awaits the birth of a late born foal
     as a mare sweats and struggles
     to give life to a newborn soul.

No dry barn shelters her misery,
     no sweet-smelling bed of clean straw,
     only rain on a lava rock pillow
     in a harsh mountain draw.

Finally from her womb emerges
     four spindly legs, a lifeless head.
     She nickers to her babe
     with no response.  The babe is dead.

Exhausted from her struggle
     swollen body racked with pain,
     she knows within her heart
     she'll not join the herd again.

Winter winds whisper
     echo the coyote's cry;
     dreams of heavenly meadows
     drift in the breath of her final sigh.

The scent of death is in the air
     as one bird of prey circles, then another.
     Weather beaten earth turned to mud—
     a bed of death for the foal and mother.

© 2005, Susan Parker, All rights reserved

 

Susan Parker has a serious interest in early Western women's poetry, and has a project in the works to showcase such works. Her new CD, She Rode a Wild Horse, is available for $18 postpaid from Susan Parker, PO Box 865, Benicia, CA 94510
(707) 745-3768, www.susanparkerpoet.com.
 


There's more poetry and information about hundreds of classic and contemporary cowboy poets, Western musicians, and others at CowboyPoetry.com's BAR-D Ranch.  It's an on-going gathering, with continuous news, features, event calendars, gathering reports, the best in classic and contemporary cowboy poetry and Western music lyrics, and a free email newsletter. 

The 2007 edition of The BAR-D Roundup: Volume II CD includes poems recited by Badger Clark, Randy Rieman, Joel Nelson, J. B. Allen, Sunny Hancock, Buck Ramsey, Jerry "Brooksie" Brooks, Virginia Bennett, Elizabeth Ebert, Paul Zarzyski, Doris Daley, Yvonne Hollenbeck, DW Groethe, Pat Richardson, Jay Snider, Darrell Arnold, Smoke Wade, Jo Lynne Kirkwood, Peggy Godfrey, Ken Cook, Don Kennington, Kent Rollins,  Janice Gilbertson, Rod Nichols, Diane Tribitt, and Jim Thompson, with a PSA by Andy Nelson, the CD's co-producer. Learn more here at CowboyPoetry.com.

CowboyPoetry.com is a project of the non-profit Center for Western and Cowboy Poetry. People like you make the site and other Center programs such as Cowboy Poetry Week and the Rural Library Project possible through their tax-deductible contributions.  Please join us and be a part of it all. Celebrate the West!

                                                                                                                                                                        

 


 

May/June 2007

                                                                                                                                                                                                          

Poems by Bruce Kiskaddon  (1878-1950) are favorites among cowboys and cowboy poetry fans. You’ll hear them delivered frequently from gathering stages by today's top reciters, such as Randy Rieman, Joel Nelson, Jerry "Brooksie" Brooks, Ross Knox, Linda Kirkpatrick, Jim Ross, and others.

 

Kiskaddon worked as a cowboy from the time he was 19 until a serious accident put an end to his riding about ten years later. Among his most well known and often-recited poems are "When They've Finished  Shipping Cattle in the Fall," "The Broncho Twister's Prayer," "The Old Night Hawk, " "The Time to Decide," "An Old Western Town," and "Alone."

 

Kiskaddon wrote nearly 500 poems, and an impressive new limited-edition book compiled and edited by Bill Siems, Open Range; Collected Poems of Bruce Kiskaddon—perhaps the most important cowboy poetry book published in recent times—includes Kiskaddon's entire poetic output.

This poem is a good example of Kiskaddon's style:

THE WRANGLER

Oh yes he's the wrangler, a big lanky kid,
That started to work 'bout the same time you did.
He ain't got chaps and boots like the rest of you hands.
He wears tattered old pants and a pair of brogans.

He rides an old saddle that's got a long tree,
With some gunny sack blankets in onder, maybe.
He has only one spur that he ties to his shoe,
And a limber old rope that he has to make do.

 

He sometimes gets lonesome while watchin' his herd,
But he keeps a tight mouth and he don't say a word.
He takes out the remuda, and brings 'em back in
When it's time fer the boys to change hosses ag'in.

 

Now you and me, pardner, has done had our day,
We cain't make a real hand, but I'm willin' to say,
If they give us a chance we would really enjoy,
Jest to wrangle a bunch, like we did when a boy.

 

by Bruce Kiskaddon, from the Western Livestock Journal, 1937


(Randy Rieman recites Kiskaddon’s "When They've Finished Shipping Cattle in the Fall" on the new compilation CD from CowboyPoetry.com,
The BAR-D Roundup: Volume Two.)


Open Range includes 481 poems, extensive illustrations, biographical and historical introductions, rare photographs, and more. Learn more and find order information at http://www.oldnighthawkpress.com
or write to Old Nighthawk Press, 2521 S.  Hatch St., Spokane, WA 99203.

Texas poet
Rod Nichols has something to say about cowboys and their talents, too.

TALENT

  Lord knows why the boss ever hired him,
  he wuzn't what you'd call a hand,
  he stayed in our way or in trouble,
  not much of a cowboy that man.

  I think that the boss would've fired him,
  just waited to find the right way,
  til after our supper one  evenin'
  he took a mouth-organ and played.

  It might have been "Red River Valley"
  or "Down In The Valley So Low"
  or "Kathleen" or "Come To The Bower,"
  to this day I don't rightly know.

  But that doesn't really much matter
  cause whatever tune that he played,
  when that rascal pup started playin'
  we all wuz right glad that he'd stayed.

  Have you felt the warm wind on the prairie,
  the soft mourning call of a dove,
  then you may have some sort of feelin'
  for what we wuz all thinkin' of.

  The cares of the day soon forgotten,
  they vanished without any trace,
  there wuzn't an hombre among us
  without a big smile on his face.

  The Lord gives to each man a talent
  to use or to hide as he may,
  there wuzn't no doubt 'bout his talent
  whenever that feller had played.

  Lord grant me just one little favor,
  please help me a bit now and then,
  to call on just half of such talent
  to shine as a light before men.

  © 2002, Rod Nichols, All rights reserved


Rod Nichols recites this poem on The BAR-D Roundup: Volume II, and it is included with 75 other poems in his second, recent book, Drover Diaries, which is available for $16.95 postpaid from Rod Nichols, P.O. Box 215, 6140 Hwy 6, Missouri City, TX 77459 and from his web site, www.cowboyrod.com
.
 

 


There's more poetry and information about hundreds of classic and contemporary cowboy poets, Western musicians, and others at CowboyPoetry.com's BAR-D Ranch.  It's an on-going gathering, with continuous news, features, event calendars, gathering reports, the best in classic and contemporary cowboy poetry and Western music lyrics, and a free email newsletter. 

The 2007 edition of The BAR-D Roundup: Volume II CD includes poems recited by Badger Clark, Randy Rieman, Joel Nelson, J. B. Allen, Sunny Hancock, Buck Ramsey, Jerry "Brooksie" Brooks, Virginia Bennett, Elizabeth Ebert, Paul Zarzyski, Doris Daley, Yvonne Hollenbeck, DW Groethe, Pat Richardson, Jay Snider, Darrell Arnold, Smoke Wade, Jo Lynne Kirkwood, Peggy Godfrey, Ken Cook, Don Kennington, Kent Rollins,  Janice Gilbertson, Rod Nichols, Diane Tribitt, and Jim Thompson, with a PSA by Andy Nelson, the CD's co-producer. Learn more here at CowboyPoetry.com.

CowboyPoetry.com is a project of the non-profit Center for Western and Cowboy Poetry. People like you make the site and other Center programs such as Cowboy Poetry Week and the Rural Library Project possible through their tax-deductible contributions.  Please join us and be a part of it all. Celebrate the West!

                                                                                                                                                                        

 


 

March/April 2007

                                                                                                                                                                                                          

 

This year's Cowboy Poetry Week is celebrated April 15-21. Inaugurated by CowboyPoetry.com—a project of the Center for Western and Cowboy Poetry—the celebration was recognized by unanimous resolution of the United States Senate. In 2006, sixteen states' governors officially  proclaimed Cowboy Poetry Week and there were activities across the West and beyond. This year promises to be even bigger.

"At His Own Pace" a painting by top Western artist Tim Cox (www.TimCox.com) is this year's Cowboy Poetry Week poster art. Posters go out to libraries as a part of the Center's Rural Library Project and to Center supporters.

For 2007, there's a new edition of The BAR-D Roundup, a compilation recording of the best in classic and current cowboy poetry. The BAR-D Roundup is offered to libraries and available  for purchase; proceeds help fund the Center's programs. This year's stunning cover is a photo of poet Virginia Bennett's father-in-law, Orville Bennett, Texas cowboy, 1920. Inside, there's a photo of South Dakota rancher and poet Ken Cook and his sons.

This second annual edition of The BAR-D Roundup includes Charles Badger Clark Jr.'s vintage recording of his first published poem, "Ridin'"; recent poems considered modern classics, recited by their authors, including "Breaker in the Pen" by Joel  Nelson and "The Horse Trade" by the late Sunny Hancock; noted reciters Randy Rieman and Jerry "Brooksie" Brooks performing classic poems by Bruce Kiskaddon and Katherine  Fall Pettey; Gail I. Gardner's famous "The Sierry Petes" recited by the late J. B. Allen, and "Hail and Farewell," by Delia Gist Gardner, delivered by Gail Steiger, songwriter, filmmaker, rancher, and the Gardners' grandson; and a second selection of poetry from "Grass," cowboy poetry's masterwork by the late Buck Ramsey, a National Endowment for the Arts Fellow, recognized as the modern spiritual leader of the genre.
 
There are many additional tracks (27 total), most from poets who frequently delight audiences from contemporary gathering stages, including: Doris Daley, Elizabeth EbertPaul Zarzyski (reciting S. Omar Barker's "Hosses vs. Horses"), Jay Snider, Smoke Wade, Jo Lynne Kirkwood, Peggy Godfrey, Ken Cook, Darrell Arnold, Pat Richardson, DW Groethe, Don Kennington, Kent Rollins, Virginia BennettJanice GilbertsonRod NicholsDiane TribittYvonne Hollenbeck, and Jim Thompson (reciting Arthur Chapman's classic, "Out Where the West Begins").

The CD's focus, and that of the Center and CowboyPoetry.com, is to present stories from the real working West. In one selection, Colorado rancher and  poet
Peggy Godfrey recites her "Country Graft":

Country Graft

Babies needing Mamas or the longing for a child
It happens here in Moffat, it happens in the wild.

Animal adoption on a ranch is called a graft
There's not a baby shower for the little lamb or calf.

For the best in bovine chemistry, take a cow whose calf has died
If she stands around and moos, you skin the little hide.

Then take an orphan baby or a lonesome starving tyke
You drape the skin and tie it snug, so the calves will smell alike.

I've hung black skins on red calves, a tiny red skin on a tan
Hereford's red and white on black, you do the best you can.

Some legs fit through like jackets, and I tie with baling twine—
Those orange knots hanging front and back on this bovine Frankenstein.

The cow sniffs out this critter sporting funny wisps of twine
That little hide will help decide both futures on the line.

Sometimes it won't seem worth it, 'cause this grafting makes a mess
But when those mother instincts win, it's mighty sweet success.

The mother gets a grateful child, the baby gets a mother
And this rancher won't have to bottle-feed, unless she gets another.

© Peggy Godfrey, All rights reserved

The poem is from a recent film about Peggy Godfrey, Cowboy Poetry: A Woman Ranching the Rockies. She has a new CD, Peggy Godfrey Live: Write 'Em Cowboy ($17 postpaid) and you can contact her about the DVD, the CD, and her books at: 19157 County Road 60, Moffat, CO 81143-9708.

The 2006 edition of The BAR-D Roundup enjoyed wide radio airplay, and the new edition will also be distributed to Western radio stations, thanks to Joe Baker of the Backforty Bunkhouse. The CD includes a radio public service announcement by Andy Nelson, poet, humorist, co-producer of the CD and co-host of the award-winning Clear Out West C. O. W. radio. It is offered for sale, with proceeds supporting CowboyPoetry.com ($20 postpaid from CowboyPoetry.com, PO Box 330444, San Francisco, CA 94133 and on line at CowboyPoetry.com). The 2007 edition starts shipping during Cowboy Poetry Week, April 15-21, 2007.

Get involved in Cowboy Poetry Week: get your schools, libraries, and community involved!  Perform your poetry, donate a book, share your knowledge, get yourself a copy of The BAR-D Roundup.  Read more about it all at CowboyPoetry.com.


There's more poetry and information about this poet and hundreds of other cowboy poets and Western musicians at CowboyPoetry.com's BAR-D Ranch.  It's an on-going gathering, with continuous news, features, event calendars, the best in classic and contemporary cowboy poetry and Western music lyrics, and a free email newsletter. 

CowboyPoetry.com is a project of the non-profit Center for Western and Cowboy Poetry. Your contributions are tax-deductible. We're supported by people like you.  Please join us!

                

                                                                                                                                                                        

(This on-line version of the Rope Burns column is slightly expanded.)


January/February 2007

 

                                                                                                                                                                                                          

 

California poet Pat Richardson makes his eighth appearance at the Western Folklife Center's 23rd Annual National Cowboy Poetry Gathering, January 27-February 3, 2007 in Elko, Nevada. Pat, always in demand for his dangerously humorous and inventive poetry—delivered in his unique deadpan style—is also a gifted artist. His Will Rogers Medallion Award-winning book, Pat Richardson Unhobbled, Cowboy Poetry, Stories, and Outright Lies, includes his original art, vintage personal and rodeo photos, and over 50 stories and poems, including "Cowboy Banker":

Cowboy Banker

"I wanna be a cowboy," said the banker Larry Brown
"an' work out in the country, 'steada cooped up here in town."
When his wife got wind of this she nearly went berserk
he made a hundred grand a year, doin' banker work.

She said," You can't ride a horse, you can barely drive a Jeep
the whole idea's dumber than a hundred head of sheep."
"Ben said he'd teach me everything I need to know
an' how long can that take? There's just giddyup an' whoa."

He went thumbin' through a catalog of "Western wear an' feed"
with his calculator hummin', addin' up the things he'd need
"A thousand for a saddle? There must be some mistake
a misprint he reckoned, a grand for heaven's sake?"

A hat an' vest, boots an' spurs, an' naturally a rope
a bridle, reins, an' silver bit, an' a bar of saddle soap
a pickup an' a trailer, an' assorted odds an' ends
"It's pretty dang expensive now, I'll tell you that my friend

Saddle blankets, underclothes, an' oh yes a pair of chinks.
When he hit the total button, took an hour just to blink.
So he gave up that cowboy scheme an' sez with some dismay,
"I can't afford to be a cowboy on a lousy banker's pay."

© 2001, Pat Richardson, All rights reserved

"Cowboy Banker" is also included on the 2006 edition of The BAR-D Roundup CD from CowboyPoetry.com and on Pat's CD, B.Y.O.S. (Bring Your Own Sheep). His CD and his book are available for $15 each, postpaid, from Pat Richardson, 562 Breeze Avenue, Merced, California 95348; 209/722-4612.

Third-generation South Dakota rancher Ken Cook will be making his first appearance at Elko in 2007. He often writes about his family, from his grandfather to his "crew" (his wife Nanc and his daughter and three sons).

Grandpa

This tale's about my Grandpa sittin' tall up in the saddle.
He's a tough old bird, a cattleman, dang he's hard to rattle.

I've seen him stand his ground with men who had the upper hand,
He'll prove his point, make them think, and then they'll feel their stand

Was off a bit, perhaps he's right.  The words he says are true.
The gate will close, the trucks will leave, Grandpa's gained a dime or two.

Don't get me wrong, he's family, the first to visit for a spell.
But he's constantly a thinkin' 'bout the cattle and the sale.

Money in the bank to Gramps is money layin' dead.
Buy some stock, a cow, some calves, then work to get 'em fed.

Be it winter, spring, or summer, don't fret the grass will grow.
If it's short, we'll sell 'em early, gotta buy back 'fore the snow.

The snows come each year to Dakota Territory.
Calves are weaned, the trucks are here, the boughten calves are all the story.

Grandpa says treat 'em right, get 'em on that feed real fast,
Perhaps a bale, or maybe not, gotta make that baled hay last.

The cows will need the hay 'fore the grass begins to grow.
Cows and calves, steers and feed, round and round we go.

© 2006, Ken Cook, All rights reserved.

This poem is included on Ken's CD, I'm Gonna Be a Cowboy, available for $12 postpaid from Ken Cook, 23154 Teal Lane, Martin, SD 57551-6601; (605) 685-6749. "Grandpa" will be included on the next edition of The BAR-D Roundup, to be released during the sixth annual Cowboy Poetry Week, in April, 2007.


There's more poetry and information about these poets and hundreds of other cowboy poets and Western musicians at CowboyPoetry.com's BAR-D Ranch.  It's an on-going gathering, with continuous news, features, event calendars, the best in classic and contemporary cowboy poetry and Western music lyrics, and a free email newsletter. 

The 2006 edition of The BAR-D Roundup is a cowboy poetry compilation CD from CowboyPoetry.com, which includes selections by Buck Ramsey, Red Steagall, Virginia Bennett, Larry McWhorter, Chris Isaacs, Yvonne Hollenbeck, Pat Richardson, and 20 others.

CowboyPoetry.com is a project of the non-profit Center for Western and Cowboy Poetry. Your contributions are tax-deductible. We're supported by people like you.  Please join us!

                                                                                                                                                                        

(This on-line version of the Rope Burns column is slightly expanded.)


November/December 2006

 

                                                                                                                                                                                                          

 

Readers everywhere are familiar with Smoke Wade's name; he writes gathering reports and reviews for Rope Burns, Cowboy Troubadour, CowboyEntertainer.com, CowboyPoetry.com, and other publications and web sites. Smoke is also an award-winning poet, and his cowboy roots run deep.

His family had vast ranch holdings in Oregon's Hells Canyon area, forced from the area by government edict in the 1970s in a way not unlike that of a hundred years earlier, when the Nez Perce Indians were forced from the canyon. Those histories inspired his poem, "A Change of Season."

  A Change of Season

    We don't summer at Chesnim' these days,
    Not since the For' Service shut 'er down;
    They took away our permit to graze,
    Now we pasture on the edge of town.

    We don't fall ride at Cold Springs anymore,
    In the teeth of an early winter storm;
    Or hitch our boots by the cow camp door,
    And play cribbage inside where it's warm.

    We no longer winter by the Snake,
    On benches carved below the rim;
    The land was sold for the public's sake,
    To the For' Service and to the BLM.

    No, we don't spring calve on Cactus Flat,
    Since it sold to the State Fish and Game;
    They say the Chinook ain't comin' back,
    And the cowman must carry the blame.

    So, we gather now, at Third and Grand,
    A beer garden after the parade;
    And, here we'll make one final stand,
    Until this season begins to fade.

    © 1994, Smoke Wade, All rights reserved

This poem is included on Smoke Wade's CD, Smoke Wade, a Legend in His Own Mind. The CD is available for $15.00 postpaid from: Smoke Wade, 716 Pear Tree Lane, Mesquite, NV 89027.

Oregon's
Van Criddle calls Smoke Wade a friend and mentor. Both perform at gatherings across the West. Van grew up in rural Utah and later worked on cattle ranches in Pinedale, Boulder and Big Piney, Wyoming. His poem, "Sixteen Horses," is another reflection on a vanishing way of life:

Sixteen Horses

  The source of power on the ranch
  Used to be the mighty horse.
  Belgian, Shire, or Clydesdale
  Did the heavy work of course.

  Adorned with hames and harness
  Hitched to the doubletree
  They spared the backs and muscle
  Of men like you and me.

  You'd hook 'em to the cycle bar
  To mow the new grown hay.
  They'd work from dawn to dusk
  Give their all, each and every day.

  They'd pull the rake and push the sweep,
  Push the plunger up the slide,
  Pull the wagon out to feed
  With harness straining at their hide.

  They asked little of the rancher,
  Their needs really weren't that much,
  A little feed and water
  Treat 'em right and use a gentle touch.

  We'd put 'em out on Horse Creek,
  That was their summer range.
  They'd know that it was hayin' time
  When the weather took a change.

  They'd show up at South Pasture
  How they knew we didn't know.
  We never had to worry none
  'Cause we knew that they would show.

  We'd drive down to let 'em in,
  We never had to wait.
  Sixteen faithful, needed horses
  Were a standin' at the gate.

  Well, things have changed this year,
  Now that Buddy runs the place.
  He thinks  the horses way too slow.
  I never know'd that we was in a race.

  New swathers, rakes and balers
  Have now replaced those working teams
  Bud's father, Carl, sheds a tear
  This wasn't the future of his dreams

  I went out to swath the hay
  I was thinkin' this is great!
  Then I saw sixteen horses
  a standin' at the gate.

  They was lookin' kinda dazed,
  Seemed to wonder what was goin' on.
  They'd been there to go to work
  Since way before the daylights dawn.

  I swear they looked dejected,
  Hurt, and with some broken pride.
  Somethin' broke inside of me.
  I hurt and I just cried.

  I'll not forget that sullen day
  Nor will I forget the date
  When sixteen horses, feelin' useless
  Was left a standin' at the gate.

  © 2005, Van A. Criddle, All rights reserved


"Sixteen Horses" is the title poem of Van Criddle's CD, available for $12 postpaid from Van Criddle, Rafter C Productions, 2034 Laurelhurst Dr., Eugene, OR 97402.


There's more poetry and information about these poets and hundreds of other cowboy poets and Western musicians at CowboyPoetry.com's BAR-D Ranch.  It's an on-going gathering, with continuous news, features, event calendars, the best in classic and contemporary cowboy poetry and Western music lyrics, and a free email newsletter. 

The BAR-D Roundup is a new cowboy poetry compilation CD from CowboyPoetry.com, which includes selections by Buck Ramsey, Red Steagall, Virginia Bennett, Larry McWhorter, Chris Isaacs, Yvonne Hollenbeck, Pat Richardson, and 20 others.

CowboyPoetry.com is a project of the non-profit Center for Western and Cowboy Poetry. Your contributions are tax-deductible. We're supported by people like you.  Please join us!

                

                                                                                                                                                                        

(This on-line version of the Rope Burns column is slightly altered.)


September/October 2006

 

                                                                                                                                                                                                          

 

Many of today's good Western songs come from collaborations by poets and songwriters.

Texas singer and songwriter
Jean Prescott has a keen eye for poetic talent, and her new CD, Sweethearts in Carhartts, has collaborations that celebrate ranching women of the West. Most of the songs are co-written with top female poets, including Carole Jarvis, Yvonne Hollenbeck, and Doris Daley. The title comes from a song by DW Groethe ("The Carhartt Song"); he's the "token male" with work in the collection. Here's Carole Jarvis' poem, which stars as a song in an exceptional track that opens with Georgie Sicking reciting her own poem, "Just One More Rain":

When the Rains Came

It began so softly in the hours before dawn,
   half asleep, I strained to hear.
Quietly, like cat paws on the metal roof,
    or house-slippered feet coming near.

Then suddenly the volume intensifies,
   becomes a roar in the night,
And I know I'm not dreaming, the rains have come—
   the sound, a rancher's delight.

How many long months have we waiting for rain,
    watching dirt stock tanks go dry?
Seeing "dust devils" dance over bare pastures,
   where grass should be eight inches high.

Hauling our water by truck to our cattle,
   hoping the old feed will last,
'Til the rains finally come and transform this land
   to what it's been in the past.

For water is the measure of life in the West,
   more precious than diamonds or gold,
And unlike the land and the cattle we own,
   rain can't be bought nor sold.

A lightning flash brightens our room like day,
   then the echo of thunder rolls,
And the rhythm of rain, so long awaited,
   soothes our hearts and our souls.

For with it comes hope that the dry years will end,
   and dirt tanks once more overflow,
But whatever happens, we'll have to make do—
   it's the only way we know.

© 2004, Carole Jarvis, All rights reserved

(This poem was also was chosen for the 2005 Western Horseman Cowboy Calendar.)

Red Steagall calls Jean Prescott's new CD "A brilliant collection of songs" and Rich O'Brien comments that it is "Jean's finest work so far." Sweethearts in Carhartts is available for $17 postpaid (add $5 postage for international orders) from Prescott Music, P. O. Box 194, Ovalo, TX  79541, 325-583-2551 www.jeanprescott.com.

Poet and songwriter
Les Buffham has worked with the best singers and songwriters, including Jean Prescott,  Mike Fleming, Dave Stamey, Belinda Gail, and others. Les's new CD, Writes and Co-Writes, showcases many of his successful collaborations in cuts from the recordings of those and other top artists. Les collaborated with Mike Ley to turn his poem, "The Hour Before Dawn," into a song that is done by Riders of the Purple Sage on the new CD:

The Hour Before Dawn

There's a pocket full of mem'ries,
lookin' back and facin' on,
but the ones that linger longest
are from that hour before dawn.

When you're down to your last swaller,
cup hangin' from your fingers,
sittin' quiet without no light
'n the smell of wood smoke lingers.

The clink of spur and bit chain,
a horse's nicker driftin' light,
and the shuffle of the cavvy,
as it waits the lasso's flight.

Those grunts and mumbled curses,
never loud and never clear,
that are a foregone signal
that dawn is almost here.

Then through that early quiet,
the voice of a creakin' gate,
says the boss is 'bout to rope a hoss,
n' if you don't hurry you'll be late.

Then that line of silhouette's,
against an early sky of grey,
as you ride out behind the boys,
to greet the brand new day.

Soon sun will strike the mountains,
then those moments will fly on --
The ones I most remember,
from that hour before dawn.

© 1999,  Les Buffham, All rights reserved


Les Buffham's contribution to Western music will be recognized at the 2006 Tombstone Western Music Festival (November 2-5, 2006), where the program will be dedicated to him. Writes & Co-Writes is available for $17 postpaid, from Les Buffham, 28278 Alaminos Dr., Saugus CA 91350.


There's more poetry and information about these poets and hundreds of other cowboy poets and Western musicians at CowboyPoetry.com's BAR-D Ranch.  It's an on-going gathering, with continuous news, features, event calendars, the best in classic and contemporary cowboy poetry and Western music lyrics, and a free email newsletter. 

The BAR-D Roundup is a new cowboy poetry compilation CD from CowboyPoetry.com, which includes selections by Buck Ramsey, Red Steagall, Virginia Bennett, Larry McWhorter, Chris Isaacs, Yvonne Hollenbeck, Pat Richardson, and 20 others.

CowboyPoetry.com is a project of the non-profit Center for Western and Cowboy Poetry. Your contributions are tax-deductible. We're supported by people like you.  Please join us!

               

                                                                                                                                                                        

(This on-line version of the Rope Burns column is slightly expanded.)


July/August 2006

 

                                                                                                                                                                                                          

 

Popular Utah top reciter Jerry "Brooksie" Brooks has appeared at the Texas Cowboy Poetry Gathering (Alpine), the Colorado Cowboy Poetry Gathering (Arvada), the Arizona Cowboy Poets Gathering (Prescott) and many other regional gatherings. Her appearance with master reciters Joel Nelson and Randy Rieman at the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering in Elko, Nevada, earlier this year made for one of that event's most memorable sessions. Brooksie is known for performing others' classic and contemporary poems, and she's a writer as well. She often draws on her mining work for material, and this poem was written in part in a workshop at Elko with well-known Colorado poet, author, and teacher Laurie Wagner Buyer:

First at the Face

The smell of fresh-cut coal
Rolling off the working face like a dark dream.
Cut and roll, cut and roll,
Steel gathering arms scooping and slinging
Black nuggets to the conveyor
Running at a staccato beat,
Like a jack hammer, almost hypnotic.
Breaking the beat, the seam's counterpoint
Of crack as it surrenders
To the cutting bits.
I carve these pathways
No one else has traveled.

©  2005, Jerry A. Brooks, All rights reserved

Montana ranch hand, poet, songwriter, singer and musician DW Groethe sees similarities in his work and his friend Brooksie's. He says, "She relates to the earth the way that ranchers and farmers relate to it, not as a thing, but as a living entity with give and take."  This one by DW leaves no question about his relationship to the land:

Midnight, Somewheres in August

I have camped out on this prairie
A thousand summer nights
And gazed deep in the faceless eyes of God
As they stared down hard upon me
From some lonesome stretch in time
An' finally found their rest upon my shroud.

(Welcome home)  I hear them whisper.
(Welcome home)  the prairie calls.
Seems like nothin's stirrin' for miles around.
I draw my thoughts in deep
As I drift my soul to sleep      and smile    
Knowin' here's where I belong.

© 2006, DW Groethe, All rights reserved

The poem is from his recent notable book, West River Waltz, published by Cowboy Miner Productions (available for $24.50 postpaid from DW Groethe, Box 144, Bainville, MT 59212).  DW's been featured at the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering and many others, and last year he was invited to perform at the Library of Congress, The Kennedy Center, and the National Folk Festival. He says he particularly likes to perform at regional gatherings for audiences from ranching communities, "small crowds of my own kind of people." Coming up, he's featured at the Heritage of the American West show in Spearfish, South Dakota (July 19) and the Western Legends Roundup (August 24-27), which takes place along with the Cowboy Poetry Rodeo in Kanab, Utah.

Look for Brooksie at the Grand Canyon's Western Arts Day (North Rim, August 12) along with poet Sam Jackson, the Cowboy Poetry Rodeo founder and organizer, poet Doug Keller, and the Symphony of the Canyons. She'll also be at the 19th Annual Arizona Cowboy Poets Gathering in Prescott (August 17-19) and at other regional events.

Both Brooksie and DW will be featured performers at the 2007 National Cowboy Poetry Gathering (January 27 - February 3).


There's more poetry and information about these poets and hundreds of other Cowboy Poets and Western musicians at CowboyPoetry.com's BAR-D Ranch.  It's an on-going gathering, with continuous news, features, event calendars, the best in classic and contemporary Cowboy Poetry and Western Music lyrics, and a free email newsletter. 

The BAR-D Roundup is a new cowboy poetry compilation CD from CowboyPoetry.com, which includes selections by Buck Ramsey, Red Steagall, Virginia Bennett, Larry McWhorter, Chris Isaacs, Yvonne Hollenbeck, Pat Richardson, and 20 others.

CowboyPoetry.com is a project of the non-profit Center for Western and Cowboy Poetry. Your contributions are tax-deductible. We're supported by people like you.  Please join us!

     

                                                                                                                                                                        


 

May/June 2006

                                                                                                                                                                                                          

 

The popular Kamloops Cowboy Festival marked its tenth year in March, 2006. Mike Puhallo and other members of the active British Columbia Cowboy Heritage Society (BCCHS) (www.bcchs.com) organize that event and many others in their region. 
 
Mike's well known for his weekly Meadow Muffins verses that appear in a number of newspapers and other publications. The Meadow Muffins and his other poetry include observations on his ranch life; commentaries on current events; and reflections on historical subjects, with a diversity that includes, among other topics, legendary 1930's native hockey players of the Cariboo, rodeo greats, famous poets, and regional pioneers. This poem tells of the cowboy history shared across the West:
 
Dog Creek, Where Our Traditions Began

Where Dog Creek meets the Fraser,
there's good grass and not much snow.
So Raphael started wintering his horses here,
about a hundred and fifty years ago.

It was here he staked his homestead,
the first ranch in the Cariboo.
He built a little roadhouse,
for strangers passing through.

My father came to cowboy here,
when World War Two was still ablaze.
He learned their style of horsemanship,
those old California ways.

For Raphael Valenzuela,
along with the Tressierras and old Jesus,
left their mark on the style and methods,
that most BC horsemen use!

The English came with money,
the Scots might know a cow.
But, when it came to handling horses,
those old vaqueros taught us how!

© 2003, Mike Puhallo, All rights reserved

This poem and others are included in Mike Puhallo's new book, Rhymes and Damn Lies, another great collaboration with top cartoonist Wendy Liddle (they've produced four books together).  Rhymes and Damn Lies, (softcover) is available for $11.95 postpaid (US or Canada) from Mike's web site, www.twilightranch.com; by mail from Mike Puhallo, 8584 Westsyde Rd, Kamloops, BC, V2B 8S3; and from the publisher, Hancock House, http://www.hancockhouse.com.

Arizona poet Dee Strickland Johnson, "Buckshot Dot", is another writer who captures history and brings it to life through her words.  Her new book, Arizona Women--Weird, Wild and Wonderful, tells the stories of Josie Earp, Big Nose Kate, Nellie Cashman, Pearl Hart, and other, lesser known women. It includes this poem, which draws on the story of a controversial hanging of three cowboys in 1888, suspected of stealing horses -- two known well by the vengeful mob, and "another," Jeff "Billy" Wilson:

The Other Mother

And what of the other cowboy?
     The one that they called "unknown"?
He had to have come from somewhere,
     To have been some mother's own.
He had to have been a child once,
     Though tall and calloused grown.

Did she die as he came into being?
     Was the baby's first gasp of breath
The mother's last? Did she whisper,
     As she lay in the arms of death,
"See that my child is christened,
     For my father -- name him Jeff."

Or did she die when he was a child?
    Did he flee to the woods half grown,
So no one could see a "big boy" cry,
    And to mourn his loss alone?
Or did he break his mother's heart
    As young people often do
By heading for Arizona
    To become a buckaroo?
 
Then doubtless she never heard the truth
     And likely she never knew
What became of him she loves so well;
     Of the stately pine which grew
On the rim of a far off canyon,
     As a wild wind, wailing, blew,
Stirring the limp and lifeless forms
     Of three young buckaroo.
 
Did she pray each day for her missing son?
     Did she sing by the lamp light's glow
"O Where is My Wandering Boy Tonight"?
     Did she whisper it soft and slow,
And wonder why the wind sang back
     "It is best that you do not know."

© 2003,  Dee Strickland Johnson, All rights reserved.

Dee Strickland Johnson's previous book, Arizona Herstory, Tales from Her Storied Past, recipient of the  AWA's Will Rogers Medallion Award, includes the background of this tale, in a poem called "The Hangin' Tree."  Both books include her striking illustrations that have the uncanny ability to draw you into some other time, with the depicted characters seeming to nearly step off the page to meet up with you in that dusty past created by the wizardry of her words and pictures. The new Arizona Women--Weird, Wild and Wonderful (softcover) is available for $22.45 postpaid. (Arizona Herstory (hardcover) is $24.45 postpaid). Both handsome books are available from her website, www.buckshotdot.com; by mail from Dee Strickland Johnson, HC 3 Box 593-F, Payson, AZ 85541; and from the publisher, the respected Cowboy Miner Productions, www.cowboyminer.com.

There's more poetry and information about these poets and hundreds of other Cowboy Poets and Western musicians at CowboyPoetry.com's BAR-D Ranch.  It's an on-going gathering, with continuous news, features, event calendars, the best in classic and contemporary Cowboy Poetry and Western Music lyrics, and a free email newsletter. 

The BAR-D Roundup is a new cowboy poetry compilation CD from CowboyPoetry.com, which includes selections by the poets above and more by Buck Ramsey, Red Steagall, Virginia Bennett, Larry McWhorter, Chris Isaacs, Yvonne Hollenbeck, Pat Richardson, and 20 others.

CowboyPoetry.com is a project of the non-profit Center for Western and Cowboy Poetry. Your contributions are tax-deductible. We're supported by people like you.  Please join us!

           

                                                                                                                                                                        

(This on-line version of the Rope Burns column is expanded.)


March/April 2006

                                                                                                                                                                                                          

 

Cowboy Poetry Week is celebrated April 16-22, 2006. Inaugurated by CowboyPoetry.com in 2002, Cowboy Poetry Week has been recognized by unanimous resolution of the United States Senate.
 
"Heading Home," a painting by Joelle Smith (1957-2005) is this year's poster art and the cover art for The BAR-D Roundup, a compilation recording of top classic and contemporary poetry.  Both the poster and CD will be offered to rural libraries across the West, as a part of the mission of CowboyPoetry.com and the Center for Western and Cowboy Poetry to preserve and promote cowboy poetry and our western heritage.
 
The BAR-D Roundup is a treasury of outstanding examples of cowboy poetry, including the first recording of Buck Ramsey's "Anthem," from Grass (the new Texas Tech book and CD), a recording made many years ago at the urging of Ramblin' Jack Elliott and recorded at John Hartford's studio; "What's Become of the Punchers?," by Jack Thorp, the first collector of cowboy music and poetry, from Jack Thorp's Songs of the Cowboys, recited by Mark L. Gardner (from the new New Mexico Museum Press book and CD of the same name); "Johnny Clare," by the late Larry McWhorter; "Change on the  Range," by the late Sunny Hancock, recited by Chris Isaacs; and poems from two of our respected octogenarian poets: "The Greatest Sport," by Georgie Sicking, from the new documentary about her, Ridin' 'n Rhymin', and Colen Sweeten's "Cow on the Fight." 
 
Additional popular contemporary selections include Texas Poet Laureate Red Steagall's "Born to this Land"; Yvonne Hollenbeck's often-requested "What Would Martha Do?";  Dennis Gaines' hilarious windy saga of the adventures of the "Spandex Cowboy"; Pat Richardson's "The Cowboy Banker"; Doris Daley's "French Fries"; and additional selections by poets reciting their original works and classics, including  DW Groethe, A. K. Moss, Jane Morton,  Mike Puhallo, Virginia Bennett, Mick Vernon, Linda Kirkpatrick, Jay Snider, Andy Hedges, Rod Nichols, Trey Allen, Dick Morton, Buckshot Dot (Dee Strickland Johnson), Deanna McCall, and Andy Nelson. 
 
The BAR-D Roundup will also be distributed to radio stations (it includes a radio public service announcement by radio personality and announcer Jim Thompson) and is offered for sale, with proceeds supporting CowboyPoetry.com ($20 postpaid from CowboyPoetry.com, PO Box 330444, San Francisco, CA 94133 and on line at CowboyPoetry.com).
 
Cowboy and poet Trey Allen recites Bruce Kiskaddon's classic, "Alone," on the new CD:
 
Alone

The hills git awful quiet, when you have to camp alone.
It's mighty apt to set a feller thinkin'.
You always half way waken when a hoss shoe hits a stone,
Or you hear the sound of hobble chains a clinkin'.

It is then you know the idees that you really have in mind.
You think about the things you've done and said.
And you sometimes change the records that you nearly always find
In the back of almost every cow boy's head.

It gives a man a sorter different feelin' in his heart.
And he sometimes gits a little touch of shame,
When he minds the times and places that he didn't act so smart,
And he knows himself he played a sorry game.

It kinda makes you see yourself through other people's eyes.
And mebby so yore pride gits quite a fall.
When yore all alone and thinkin', well, you come to realize
You're a mighty common feller after all.

By Bruce Kiskaddon, from Rhymes of the Ranges and Other Poems, 1947
 
"Alone" is on Trey Allen's Cowpoke CD, available for $18.50 postpaid from Trey Allen, 1601 Knox Lane, Manhattan, KS 66502.
 
The final poem on The BAR-D Roundup, by Andy Nelson, the popular poet, emcee, announcer, and co-host of the Clear Out West (C. O. W.) radio show (www.ClearOutWest.com) speaks to the spirit of the cowboy poet:

Cowboy Poet

A Cowboy Poet is a different sod
Some might even think him odd,
He loves to battle, with words and cattle,
And converses frequently with God.
He'd rather write than read,
A difficult and rare sort of breed,
He rode the range, fabled and strange,
And his first love is always his steed.
He paints murals with words,
Of life with family and herds,
His poetic prose, don't bloom like a rose,
Nor take flight with winged birds.
He writes of the cowboy way,
Fading, but always here to stay,
As tradition dwindles, his poetry kindles,
The flame in a new generation's day.
Sometimes dying but never dead,
Old cowboys still live in his head,
With paper and pen, keeps alive the men,
Their folklore and what has been said.

© 2005, Andy Nelson, All rights reserved

"Cowboy Poet" is included on Andy Nelson's Harvey's Moon CD (available for $18 postpaid from PO Box 1547, Pinedale, WY 82941) and is included in the anthology, Wyoming's Cowboy Poets, edited by Jean Henry-Mead (ISBN 1-931415-00-5).  For more about Andy Nelson and his recordings and publications, visit his web site, www.CowpokePoet.com.

Get involved in Cowboy Poetry Week:  get your schools, libraries, and community involved!  Perform your poetry, donate a book, share your knowledge, get yourself a copy of The BAR-D Roundup.  Read more about it all at CowboyPoetry.com.

There's more poetry and information about these poets and hundreds of other Cowboy Poets and Western musicians at CowboyPoetry.com's BAR-D Ranch.  It's an on-going gathering, with continuous news, features, event calendars, the best in classic and contemporary Cowboy Poetry and Western Music lyrics, and a free email newsletter.

CowboyPoetry.com is a project of the non-profit Center for Western and Cowboy Poetry. Your contributions are tax-deductible. We're supported by people like you.  Please join us!

      

                                                                                                                                                                        

 


 

January/February 2006

 

                                                                                                                                                                                                          

 

The Western Folklife Center’s  22nd National Cowboy Poetry Gathering takes place in Elko, Nevada, January 28 – February 4, 2006 and Utah poet Colen Sweeten will be on stage – he was invited to the first gathering, and has returned twenty times since. His poem, "Elko," written early in the gathering's history, is full of his characteristic wisdom and humor:

Elko

They came to the mid-winter gath'ring,
Leaving haystacks and dehorning chutes.
Dressed true to old west tradition,
Levis, Stetsons, and high heeled boots.

A few were in casts or on crutches,
Some looked like I'd seen them before.
Each wore the hat no one touches
And had high polished boots on the floor.

The faces were brown as a saddle.
Some mustaches wide as a door.
And they walked with a half cocked straddle,
Like the part that they sit on was sore.

Their poetry, sprinkled with sagebrush,
Was not meant for the city galoots.
And there each one sat in his ten gallon hat,
And a cow and a half worth of boots.

© 1987, Colen Sweeten, all rights reserved

Colen Sweeten has two recent CD’s, Pick of the Litter ($13 postpaid) and Writin’ for the Brand (a double-CD, $17 postpaid), and accompanying books for each should be available in time for Elko. (Contact Colen for orders and information at: 286 S. 1700 E., Springville UT  84663; the CDs are also available from www.SilverCreekMusic.com.)

A number of poets, reciters, and musicians will perform at Elko this year for the first time, including Jean Prescott, Jerry Brooks, Curly Musgrave, Gail T. Burton, Tammy Gislason, Jay Snider, Brooke Ryan Turner, and Ray Owens.   

January’s a big month for Ray Owens, a popular poet from New Mexico. In addition to his appearance at Elko, he and his wife Verna will celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary. “Tracks That Won’t Blow Out” is one of his most frequently-requested poems.  

Tracks That Won't Blow Out

I didn't know him all that long 
And maybe not that well
'Cause how good we really know someone 
Is sometimes hard to tell.

But on this one thing I'm certain,
There ain't the slightest doubt
He made some footprints in my mem'ry
And left some tracks that won't blow out.

She was someone extra special
When I met her way back then
Over forty years has passed now
But I can still remember when

She was young and shy and smilin'
The prettiest thing for miles about
That mem'ry still walks through my mind,
Leavin' tracks that won't blow out.

There's been a lot of happ'nin's
I remember through the years
Times my cup was runnin' over
And some times that brought some tears

It's gettin' on toward evenin' now;
The sunset could be soon
But somehow I'm still feelin'
Like it's early afternoon.

I guess that's 'cause of bein' blessed
With havin' lots of friends
And some understandin' family
On whose love I can depend.

If I was gonna make the trip again
And travel the same route;
I'd maybe try a little harder
To leave some tracks that won't blow out.                                                    

© 1996, Ray Owens, all rights reserved            

Ray Owens has two recordings, Reflections and Some Boots Are Made for Keepin’, available from his web site, www.RayOwens.net.


There's more poetry and information about these poets and hundreds of other Cowboy Poets and Western musicians at CowboyPoetry.com's BAR-D Ranch.  It's an on-going gathering, with continuous news, features, event calendars, the best in classic and contemporary Cowboy Poetry and Western Music lyrics, and a free email newsletter.

CowboyPoetry.com is a project of the non-profit Center for Western and Cowboy Poetry. Your contributions are tax-deductible. We're supported by people like you.  Please join us!

                

                                                                                                                                                                        

 


 

November/December 2005

 

                                                                                                                                                                                                          

 

Top Western singer/songwriter Jean Prescott took home the AWA's 2005 Will Rogers Award for Best Western Music Song for "Fair Blows the Wind," written with her husband, Gary Prescott, and recorded on her Embers of Time album:

Fair Blows the Wind

  Fair blows the wind across these wide plains
  Dear Lord how he misses sweet Rose
  The love of his life from fair Dublin town
  This bonnie young lass he loves so

  He's lonesome tonight out on the long trail
  Thinking of home and sweet Rose
  The cattle are resting, the moon's sinking low
  But his mind is on Ireland and Rose

       CHORUS
       He's singing,  "Irish Rose, my sweet Irish Rose
       Across the ocean of blue
       Fair blows the wind across these wide plains
       Blowing my love back to you"

  Fair blows the wind across these wide plains
  Thousands of miles from sweet Rose
  She cried when he left,  "I'll be waiting for you."
  Then she kissed him and gave him a rose

       CHORUS

  BRIDGE
  Fair blows the wind across these wide plains
  He's thinking tonight of sweet Rose
  The love of his life from fair Dublin town
  This bonnie young lass he loves so...

       CHORUS

   My wild Irish Rose...

  © 1998, Gary Prescott, Line Camp Music, BMI, All rights reserved.

Jean is on her way to Elko in 2006, where she's featured at the 22nd National Cowboy Poetry Gathering. Jean values her collaborations with poets, including  Doris Daley, "Buckshot Dot" (Dee Strickland Johnson), Yvonne Hollenbeck,the late Larry McWhorter, Debra Coppinger Hill, and others.  

Her forthcoming "ranch women tribute" album will include additional collaborations. She says, "Most of the songs on the album are written by and/or about ranch women, and I'm hopeful  they will bring about a better understanding and appreciation for the sometimes quiet but always supportive pardner of the rancher."  You'll find more about Jean and her recordings at her web site, www.JeanPrescott.com.

One of Jean's regular writing partners is
Yvonne Hollenbeck, who reigns as this year's AWA Top Female Poet, also on her way to Elko, returning for her third appearance there.  Though she may be best known for her humorous poems such as "What Would Martha Do?," her poem, "Nature's Church," is a perfect for leading into the holiday season and the new year -- a real reminder to "count your blessings":

Nature's Church

Did you ever see the mountains that are covered up with snow,
or watch a setting sun and see its purple afterglow?

Have you ever seen a newborn calf a-wobbling to its feet,
and though it's only minutes old it knows just where to eat?

You can't climb upon a saddle horse and cross the prairie sod,
or see an eagle on the wing and not believe in God.

A cowboy doesn't worship in a building made of stone,
but worships with his Maker out with nature all alone.

His church is in the great outdoors; the valley, heaven's gate,
his favorite hymn's a coyote that is calling to its mate.

And he never does his tithing dropping money in a hand,
it's by being a good caretaker to the creatures and the land.

He makes his own communion as a choir of songbirds sing,
as he cups his hands and drinks the fresh cold water from a spring.

With the budding of the springtime and with autumn's goldenrod
a cowboy lives with nature and the wonders of his God.

So, when you hear a meadowlark that's singing from his perch,
he's inviting you to worship with him there at Nature's Church.

© 2004, Yvonne Hollenbeck, All rights reserved

"Nature's Church" will be included in Yvonne's forthcoming book, From My Window and Other Poems.  See her web site, www.YvonneHollenbeck.com for details.


There's more poetry and information about these poets and hundreds of other Cowboy Poets and Western musicians at CowboyPoetry.com's BAR-D Ranch.  It's an on-going gathering, with continuous news, features, event calendars, the best in classic and contemporary Cowboy Poetry and Western Music lyrics, and a free email newsletter.

CowboyPoetry.com is a project of the non-profit Center for Western and Cowboy Poetry. Your contributions are tax-deductible. We're supported by people like you.  Please join us!

                

                                                                                                                                                                        

 

 


September/October 2005

 

                                                                                                                                                                                                          

 

Noted poet, editor, and horsewoman Virginia Bennett has written many memorable poems, and the images she creates in this poem remain as clear to the reader as the reflection described in the final lines:

As You Ride

As you ride the high sierras
with your packstring and your pony
and your heart beats strong and lonely,
as the waves upon the sea,
does that eerie pull which drew us
into this moth-like dance,
cause your musings `neath the moonrise
to ever stop and think of me?

Do you ever take my picture
from your saddlebag of mem'ries,
hold it backlit by the campfire,
view its facets in the flame?
And when the coyotes' music
rings out over lonesome ridges
on a starry eve, I wonder,
do they ever sing my name?

When the breezes comb the treetops
of a spruce and aspen forest,
and the stones of unforgotten longing
make you toss upon your bed,
do you lie awake and listen
to wind sweeping through the valley
wishing you could somehow capture
whispered words of what I've said?

I will watch, with glances lingering,
the rimrock trail above my cabin,
and strain to see your silhouette
against a twilight sky.
I will bide, in expectation,
to hear your bit-chains jingling,
and hope to soon see northern lights
reflected in your horse's eye.

© 1994, Virginia Bennett, All rights reserved
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

Virginia Bennett has edited some of the most popular Cowboy Poetry anthologies for Gibbs Smith Publishing, Cowgirl Poetry and Cowboy Poetry: The Reunion (winner of the 2005 Will Rogers Medallion Award). "As You Ride" is from her recent collection of her own work, In the Company of Horses. The book's introduction has been quoted by many reviewers, and almost all repeated her comment, "... A lot more fame and glory can be found doing something else other than being on the back of a horse out of sight of any house or person.  A lot more money can be made, too.  But for me, the horses are enough."  In the Company of Horses is available for $18.95 postpaid from Virginia Bennett, PO Box 216, Paso Robles, California 93447 and at Red Steagall's General Store www.RedSteagall.com and Silvercreek Music & Books www.SilverCreekMusic.com.

Virginia's friend and "fellow" horsewoman Janice Gilbertson's poem is a great companion piece. Written to mark the new year, it sings from the page with its celebration:

Night Time's Promise

Let's ride at night through a blue-shadowed canyon under a night-light sky.
Let's choose a trail that is North star bound under a high moon's watchful eye.

Ride your best horse and I'll ride mine too, and we'll trust them to travel a surefooted trail.
Let's use fancy spurs we've been saving for someday and silver bridle that hangs from a nail.

Let's laugh at old stories sing old cowboy songs and share hopes for time still ahead.
We'll shed daylight worries, sad thoughts and bad thoughts and wrong things that somebody said.

Let's take this ride together, giddy on fancy and freedom and dreams.
Let's shoot for the stars up that silver-lit trail, track promise by the light of moon-beams.

We'll ride a good ride through the night time air t'ward the renewing dawn
With reinchains swingin' and spur rowels jinglin', let's meet the new day head-on.

© 2004, Janice Gilbertson All rights reserved
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.



Janice Gilbertson was invited to Elko to perform at the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering in 2004, is a frequent competitor at the Kanab Cowboy Poetry Rodeo, and a regular participant in gatherings in California and the surrounding areas. Her poetry CD, My Western Point of View, is available for $17 postpaid from: Janice Gilbertson, 43345 Canyon Creek Rd., King City, CA
93930.


There's more poetry and information about these poets and hundreds of other Cowboy Poets and Western musicians at CowboyPoetry.com's BAR-D Ranch.  It's an on-going gathering, with continuous news, features, event calendars, the best in classic and contemporary Cowboy Poetry and Western Music lyrics, and a free email newsletter.

CowboyPoetry.com is a project of the non-profit Center for Western and Cowboy Poetry. Your contributions are tax-deductible. We're supported by people like you.  Please join us!

                

                                                                                                                                                                        

 


July/August 2005

 

                                                                                                                                                                                                          

July and August are months where you can't help but wish that you could be in two places at the same time.  There's the AWA's Will Rogers Cowboy Awards, Prescott's Arizona Cowboy Poets Gathering, Kanab's Western Legends Roundup, Lewistown's Montana Cowboy Poetry Gathering, Salinas' California Rodeo Cowboy Poetry Gathering, Cheyenne Frontier Days, the Calgary Stampede, Big Bear, and so many more events. Two of the top gatherings take place in Utah in August: the Sevier Valley Roundup and the Cowboy Poetry Rodeo.

Michael and Jo Lynne Kirkwood organize Utah's Sevier Valley Roundup, a four-day celebration that this year (August 11-14) features Don Edwards, Dave Stamey, D. W. Groethe, and a host of other Cowboy Poets and Western musicians.  Jo Lynne Kirkwood heads up the Cowboy Poets of Utah, and her own poetry is filled with careful observations.  One impressive four-part poem, "A Cowboy Season," captures the passing of a year in her part of the country.  This excerpt reflects the season:

Part II
(Summer-West Desert Range)

In July, the muck turns to powder.
Waterin' holes crackle like shards
of ceramic, the grass shrivels up,
and livin' just downright gets hard.

You're haulin' water sometimes sixty miles,
buyin' feed when the prices are high,
cursin' the heat and chewin' on devils
spinnin' dust 'cross a cobalt blue sky.

But at night your world fills with shadows,
and the splendor of moonlight and wind.
And evenin's coyotes pass you like ghosts,
and when they hear you singin', join in.

And together your voices will chorus,
low and mournful into that night sky,
like a dirge, or an anthem, with memories entwined
of the words to a child's lullaby.

And it's there, with the starlight and music,
and the clean smell of sage on the wind,
You remember, again, just who you are.
And you know there's  no way you'd cash in.

© 2001, Jo Lynne Kirkwood
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

Jay Snider walked away with a championship buckle and impressive prize money at the 2004 Kanab Cowboy Poetry Rodeo. The rodeo is produced by poet Sam Jackson, who conceived the unique event. It takes place  in association with the Western Legends Roundup, which this year (August 25-28) features Baxter Black, the Sons of the San Joaquin, Curly Musgrave, Belinda Gail, Don Kennington, and the rodeo winners.  Jay Snider returns to the rodeo  to defend his position, along with Cowboy Poets from at least 13 states who will compete for "$5000 in prize money, trophies, and bragging rights for the coming year."  Jay is known for his commanding performances and for his strong writing about his Oklahoma ranching  life. He's on his way to Elko next year.  This poem fits the current season:

Rainy Day Prayer

I'd like to thank ya kindly Lord
For sendin' this good rain
It'll quench the thirst of a drought we cursed
Ease heartache, fear, and pain

It'll bring the grass on early
Paint the slopes a velvet green
There's no more precious sight than a drought in flight
No sweeter smell than air washed clean

It's sure a welcome sight to see
Stock tanks full and runnin' 'round
And cool winds blowin' and creeks aflowin'
Is a truly joyful sound

The drought seemed never endin'
Each day we knelt to pray
But dern the luck, the spigot stuck
It's rained three weeks now every day

Excuse me, Lord, don't get me wrong
We're not gripin' nor complainin'
Cause crops'll sew and grass'll grow
Lots better when it's rainin'

I fear the water gaps will all be out
But we'll patch 'em when we can
These precious rains revive these plains
It's the lifeblood of this land

Lord, if you've a mind, just let 'er rain
Cause in You we put our trust
We'd sooner trudge the mud and the sludge
Than to choke on blowin' dust

But the boys are getting' antsy, Lord
We've been cooped up here for days
There's fencin' needs doin' and hosses needs shoein'
Lord, we know, you know cowboy ways

If we stray, as cowboys might
I hope a guiding hand you'll lend
Thanks again for the rains and these wide open plains
Ride point for these punchers
                                                Amen

© 2002, Jay Snider, All rights reserved
These words may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

There's more poetry and information about these poets and hundreds of other Cowboy Poets and Western musicians at CowboyPoetry.com's BAR-D Ranch.  It's an on-going gathering, with continuous news, features, event calendars, the best in classic and contemporary Cowboy Poetry and Western Music lyrics, and a free email newsletter.  We're supported by Westerners like you.  We hope you'll come by, and stay a while when you can.

            

                                                                                                                                                                        

 


May/June 2005

                                                                                                                                                                                                          

Andy Hedges and Doris Daley, recipients of the AWA's 2004 Will Rogers Awards Top Male Poet and Top Female Poet honors, are also both successful songwriters.  The breadth of their talents comes as no surprise to their
many fans.

Andy Hedges' new all-music CD, City Boys, produced by Andy Wilkinson, has met with wide acclaim. Don Edwards' reaction was, "...Andy could very well carry on the traditions when all us old guys are gone..."  Andy wrote the title track:

City Boys

On a big spread in Wyoming
Before the break of day
That's where you'll find him
Ridin' for his pay
He loves the life he's livin'
And he knows no other way
And, he'll be punchin' cattle
Until his dyin' day

     I'll sing for the cowboy
     Ridin' on the range
     I'll sing for the traditions
     That aint never gonna change
     I'll sing for the top hands
     Who've stood the test
     And, I'll sing for the city boys
     Who'd love to head out west

In a office down on main street
In his suit and tie
He works hard all week
Puttin' in his nine to fives
You know he loves them cowboy movies
It's all that gets him by
Cause he longs to be a cowboy
And leave that city life behind

Tonight I'm up here singin'
An old cowboy tune
But I wish I was out there ridin'
Underneath that prairie moon
But I play this guitar
Day after day
Singin' songs and tellin' stories
About the old time ways

© 2004, Andy Hedges, All Rights Reserved
These words may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

City Boys is available for $17 postpaid from Andy Hedges' web site, www.AndyHedges.com, www.SilverCreekMusic.com, or by mail from Andy Hedges, Rt. 5 Box 29, Brownfield, TX 79316.

Doris Daley's words have been recorded by Jean Prescott, Eli Barsi, and other top singers.  Jack Hannah of the Sons of the San Joaquin has said, "...Doris' verbal paintbrush is as captivating and as visual as the paintings of Russell and Remington. If you want to know the West, listen to Doris Daley..." These recent lyrics echo the "City Boys" theme:

One Good Horse

We were kids together all those years ago
Each Sunday night we rode with Hoss and Little Joe.
Smoking cigarettes we stole from Daddy's truck,
Riding high with Lady Luck.

  One good horse.
  One pretty day.
  Just enough luck to keep the wolves at bay.
  One fine dream to chase the blues away.
  Just give me one good horse
  And one pretty day.

Seventeen, long and lean, they had dreams to chase
Stuff to prove, had to move from this dusty place.
Guess my dreams were simple and I stayed a simple man
I stuck with the Cowboy Plan.

Jim has got an office on the 18th floor.
Lonnie's big in banking and  Billy's keeping score.
Gary's in Toronto with a new and younger wife
And I'm riding out the Cowboy Life.

I have not fortune, fame or power
No dazzle in my day but there's no rush in my hour.
Following the wind, freedom is my pay
Riding in the Cowboy Way.

We were kids together all those years ago
Each Sunday night we rode with Hoss and Little Joe
Guess I'll be a cowboy till my last sun sets
Riding high with no regrets.

© 2004, Doris Daley, All Rights Reserved
These words may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

Doris Daley's most recent CD, Poetry in Motion ( $17 postpaid) and book, Rhyme and Reason ($14 postpaid) are available from Fiddle DD Enterprises, Box 4427, Station C, Calgary, AB  T2T 5N2.


There's more poetry and information about these poets and hundreds of other Cowboy Poets and Western musicians at CowboyPoetry.com's BAR-D Ranch.  It's an on-going gathering, with continuous news, features, event calendars, the best in classic and contemporary Cowboy Poetry and Western Music lyrics, and a free email newsletter.  We're supported by Westerners like you.  We hope you'll come by, and stay a while when you can.

                

                                                                                                                                                                        

 


March / April 2005

                                                                                                                                                                                                          

It's hard to fit DW Groethe's talent on a page. He is meant to be heard. His singular delivery—whether reciting or singing—is an integral part of his considerable gift. A hard-working cowboy, DW writes in a blazingly original way about what he knows, and that might be fixing fence, heartbreak, or roadkill.  In a flash, he can switch effortlessly from a sincere ballad to a silly song to a serious poem, and then put his audience into helpless hysteria with the likes of "A Bunny Poem."

His latest CD of poetry and music, What Ever it Takes, has it all (available for $15 postpaid from DW Groethe, PO Box 144, Bainville, MT  59212).  The liner note for a song called "Summer" says, "Every recording needs at least one off-the-waller just to keep the pigeon holers from pigeon holing."  Pigeon holes are no real or present danger for DW.

"Yearlin' Heifers" comes from a day on the range, and while the page can't contain the full effect of his quirky intonations and exclamations, his words alone are full of wizardry:

Yearlin' Heifers

How they love to go a neighborin'
and seek more scenic bits of range.
I think, perhaps, they've joined
some kind of herbivore exchange.
No matter

Every clip had better be in place
and hangin' tight and true.
Best tap them staples exter good
so the girls ain't slippin' thru.

Their whole reason for existence,
till you get that yearlin' bull,
is to poke an' test and stretch your wire
an' patience to the full.
I beat 'em once to a saggin' line
before they made their break,
I know,  that sounds outrageous
but it's the truth for heaven's sake.
I was snuggin' up the wire
'bout to tie that little loop
When I gets this eerie feelin'
I just joined a bigger group.
So, I kinda ease my eyes around
to get a better glance
and what I see are strainin' necks and heads
all in a bovine trance.
Starin' like no tomorrow
their mouths a slowly chewin'
And I swear a listenin' close
I heard a voice say, "Whatcha doin'?"
"Hah,"  I cried "Get outa here!
Yer givin' me the willies!"
And "Poof!" recedin' heifer butts,
I'm feelin' pretty silly.
'Cause here I'm thinkin' "holy moly"
"Where've they got to now?"
There's nothin' worse on this whole earth
than tendin' future cows.
Houdini in his prime could never
disappear as swift
As a herd of yearlin' heifers
who decide it's time to drift.
Vacatin' pens you got 'em in
for places quite unknown
to themselves, or even heaven,
when they get that urge to roam.
I do not know exactly why
they're made that way, but lord,
I do know this, if you keep heifers,
you are never, ever bored.

© 2004,  DW Groethe, All rights reserved
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

DW walked away from the 2004 Kanab Cowboy Poetry Rodeo with a buckle, and so did Texas poet Linda Kirkpatrick.  Her book, Somewhere in the West concentrates on "Texas women who left a legacy" and her own family, and of course those cows figure in a few of them, too.  She wrote this one for her friends Ginger and W. B. Patterson. They, like Linda, are from long-time Texas ranching families:

The Cuttin' Chute

As the cowboy works the cuttin' gate
There's a few things he's gotta know.
The first and foremost of these things
Is what must stay and what must go.

Now take that ole cow over there
The black with mottled face,
Why she ain't calved in more than a year;
She's got no business on this place.

So I'll just cut her to the left
When she hits the cuttin' gate,
So far of all the cows to go,
She'll be number eight.

But when it comes to friends I know
And life is kinda in a tight
There is one thing fer darn sure,
I'll cut you to the right.

© 2002,  Linda Kirkpatrick, All rights reserved
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

Somewhere in the West is published by Cowboy Miner Productions, and is available for $15.95 postpaid from Linda Kirkpatrick, P.O. Box 128, Leakey, Texas 78873, from www.cowboyminer.com and from Silver Creek Books and Music www.Silvercreekmusic.com  Look for her new poetry CD in August, 2005.


There's more poetry and information about these poets and hundreds of other Cowboy Poets and Western musicians at CowboyPoetry.com's BAR-D Ranch.  It's an on-going gathering, with continuous news, features, event calendars, the best in classic and contemporary Cowboy Poetry and Western Music lyrics, and a free email newsletter.  We're supported by Westerners like you.  We hope you'll come by, and stay a while when you can.

                

                                                                                                                                                                        


January/ February 2005

                                                                                                                                                                                                          

Poet Jane Morton will share some of her family's ranching history with audiences at the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering in January, at the twenty-first annual celebration in Elko, Nevada.  The poems in her recent
book,  Cowboy Poetry: Turning to Face the Wind (winner of the Will Rogers Medallion Award) tell the stories of her pioneering family, and the title poem pays tribute to their strength:

Turning To Face The Wind

  I hear the windmills creak and squeak
  As wheels turned toward the wind.
  Those mills pumped water for the stock
  On which our hopes were pinned.

  The sucker rods moved up and down
  While wheels spun round and round.
  They sucked the fossil water up
  For use above the ground.

  The windmills made life possible
  On flat and dry terrain.
  They kept the stock tanks well-supplied
  Despite infrequent rain.

  To us those wooden windmills were
  The pyramids of the plains
  More monumental than the ones
  That held pharos' remains.

  My family, too, faced winds head on--
  The winds of chance and change,
  The winds that blew with blizzard force
  And howled across the range.

  And like the windmill derricks,
  They stayed anchored to that place,
  And turned along with windmill wheels
  To face what they must face.

  © 2003, Jane Morton, All Rights Reserved
  This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

Cowboy Poetry: Turning to Face the Wind, with Jane's own windmill illustration on its striking cover, is published in hardcover by the respected Cowboy Miner Productions, is available from $19.95 plus $4.50 shipping and handling from Jane Morton, 12710 Abert Way, Colorado Springs, CO 80908

It will be a sort of "Beauty and the Beast" pairing if popular poet Pat Richardson, 2003 AWA Male Poet of the Year, shares the stage with Jane Morton at Elko.  Pat has appeared many times on the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering stage, and more than one poem from his recent book, Pat Richardson, Unhobbled is inspired by the time his friend, poet Ed Brown,
collapsed on stage there. In this one Pat and his brother, poet Jess Howard, figure largely in the irreverent tale:

Ed in Elko

Well, Ed Brown was in his glory, each time he told a poem,
and there was great anticipation, as he took the microphone.
They were packed into the rafters, every show, the critics said,
in direct correlation of performances, by Ed.

His credentials were impeccable, his euphemisms great
until that fateful afternoon in Nineteen ninety-eight.
He was reeling off his classics, the crowd clamoring for more,
when Ed turned peculiar colors, and he crumpled to the floor.

There were several paramedics, that responded in a flash
said, "I hope he's got insurance, 'cause he sure ain't got much cash."
Now t'shorten up this story, the ambulance arrived,
and God bless the paramedics, they had kept old Ed alive.

The crowd was stunned to silence, their jaws were hanging slack
'cause this had all the earmarks, of a massive heart attack.
Just as luck'd have it, Pat and Jess were on the show;
They told the crowd, "Don't panic...stay calm an' take it slow."

"We'll stay with the bugger, 'till they get him past th' hump,"
then held up some jumper cables, "But we're gonna need a jump."
Ed's vital signs were smoothing out, he'd sorta stabilized;
the doctor said, "He'll make it," just as Pat an' Jess arrived.

Pat took his wallet out of habit, from his jeans;
Jess tried on Ed's jacket, Jess sure liked gabardine.
They were eyeing up his boots, Ed starts bubbling at the nose,
seems they hadn't even noticed they were standing on his hose!

Convulsions wracked Ed's body, Pat sez, "By God this is great!
It's the only I ever seen, a human levitate."
Jess was unimpressed, he kept trying on Ed's clothes;
a nurse comes running in, an' screams: "YER STANDIN' ON HIS HOSE!"

Ed was nearly incoherent, as he rode home on the train;
it seems the lack of oxygen, had killed off half his brain,
Most folks didn't notice the slight slurring of his speech,
and his job was unaffected, 'cause all he did was teach.

© 2003, Pat Richardson, All Rights Reserved
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

Pat Richardson, Unhobbled, a Will Rogers Medallion Award winner, includes Pat's impressive original art, vintage personal and rodeo photos, and over 50 hilarious poems and stories without equal.  The paperback is available for $15, postpaid from Pat Richardson; 562 Breeze Avenue; Merced, California 95348.

Both poets' books are also available from www.SilverCreekBooks.com.

There's more poetry and information about these poets and hundreds of other Cowboy Poets and Western musicians at CowboyPoetry.com's BAR-D Ranch.  It's an on-going gathering, with continuous news, features, event calendars, the best in classic and contemporary Cowboy Poetry and Western Music lyrics, and a free email newsletter.  We're supported by Westerners like you.  We hope you'll come by, and stay a while when you can.

             

                                                                                                                                                                        

 

 

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