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Below are track descriptions, an introduction to the CD, and additional references for the poems included in The BAR-D Roundup (2006).

The BAR-D Roundup (2006) is a compilation of contemporary recordings of some of today's best classic and contemporary cowboy poetry.  It includes Texas Poet Laureate Red Steagall's "Born to this Land"; Buck Ramsey’s first recording of "Anthem"; “What’s Become of the Punchers?” by Jack Thorp, America’s first collector of cowboy music and poetry, recited by Mark L. Gardner; "The Greatest Sport," by the well-loved octogenarian poet and working cowboy, Cowgirl Hall of Fame inductee Georgie Sicking; "What Would Martha Do?," by Yvonne Hollenbeck, named "the most popular cowboy poem of 2005"; treasures from two masters, lost recently, and too soon: "Johnny Clare," by Larry McWhorter and "Change on the Range," by Sunny Hancock, recited by Chris Isaacs; and many other selections from contemporary poets reciting their own works and the classics.

Read more about the The BAR-D Roundup (2006) on the previous page, here.  

On the previous page:

About The BAR-D Roundup (2006)

Order Information


About The BAR-D Roundup (2006) and Cowboy Poetry Week (2006)

About the cover art, "Heading Home," by Joelle Smith

How to submit a poem for consideration for future compilations 

Support CowboyPoetry.com





Introduction

Cowboy poetry has been telling the stories of cowboying and ranching life for over a century. It's a vibrant folk form, shared among the people of the working West and those interested in that life and its heritage.

The BAR-D Roundup represents some of the best examples of cowboy poetry's oral tradition, from its earliest days through today. The past is often present in the contemporary poems: in tribute, in contemplation, and in the poets' firm roots. The specter of the future sometimes comes into view, where "progress" is an ever-increasing threat to ranching life. Throughout, there is characteristic humor, philosophy, and a strong attachment to a proud way of life.

The BAR-D Roundup opens with Jack Thorp's "What's Become of the Punchers?," a poem first published in 1920, more than a quarter century after the end of the great trail drives that spawned the American cowboy profession. It is a lament, a "last of the breed" story, a theme that endures in cowboy poetry tens of decades later. Thorp was America's first collector of cowboy music and poetry. He traveled among working cowboys, and a little book he first published in 1908 grew to be a standard reference for cowboy poetry and song. "What's Become of the Punchers" is recited by Mark L. Gardner, a musician, historian and writer who recently researched and edited a landmark volume, Jack Thorp's Song of the Cowboys
(The Press at the Palace of the Governors, Museum of New Mexico, 2005). The track is from the book's accompanying CD that includes performances of the poems and songs by Gardner and Rex Rideout, with music played in the style of the period, on instruments from Thorp's time.

Texas Poet Laureate Red Steagall's "Born to This Land" follows, a heartfelt anthem with a dignity grown from generations of hard work and unwavering principle. Words from working ranch hands come next. DW Groethe is a proud representative of the "last of the breed," a Montana cowhand who introduces listeners to his charges with his humorous poem, engagingly performed, "Yearlin' Heifers." A. Kathy Moss acknowledges the working women of the West, in "The Truth," a tribute to her friend and fellow ranch hand Billie Flick.  Dennis Gaines, who long drew wages as a cowboy, contributes his zany flight of fancy, "The Spandex Cowboy," where his acrobatic wordsmithing rivals the spectacles at Colonel Potter's Big Top Tent and Wrestling Rodeo, the poem's colorful setting.

The auction and the banker are ever-present parts of ranching life. Ranch-raised Jane Morton tells of her mother's dangerous greeting at the auction, in "Yoo-Hoo." Pat Richardson, who has lived and worked around cattle all his life, takes a wry look at reality in "Cowboy Banker." When the banker is at South Dakota rancher Yvonne Hollenbeck's door, she wonders "What Would Martha Do?," in one of today's most popular poems on the cowboy poetry gathering circuit.

From north of the Medicine Line, top poet Doris Daley introduces the visiting Pierre to ranch delicacies, in "French Fries," with her trademark humor and panache.  Packer and cowboy Chris Isaacs recites "Change on the Range," a comic commentary by his good friend, a widely respected cowboy, the late Sunny Hancock.  Beloved poet Colen Sweeten, born on an Idaho ranch over 85 years ago, gives his perspective on "wrecks," in "Cow on the Fight."

British Columbia rancher Mike Puhallo looks back to a historic day, witnessed by cowboys from a remote camp, in "Man in the Moon."  Working ranch hand and horsewoman Virginia Bennett speaks to her roots in a stirring piece, "Dad Was Like a Colt."  Working cowboy Georgie Sicking captures the lure of "mustanging" in "The Greatest Sport."  The track is from an award-winning documentary about the tough and admirable 80-plus-year-old Cowgirl Hall of Fame inductee, "Ridin' & Rhymin'" (Far Away Films, 2005).

The late Larry McWhorter's eloquent piece about an Oklahoma cowboy, "Johnny Clare," is informed by his own long cowboying experience. He mesmerizes the listener with his artful telling and lyrical verse, "In north central Oklahoma, in the land known  as the Osage, the spring and early summer rest so easy on the eye. Where the lush, green, rolling carpet marks the passing of Mariah, as she dances, sometimes gently with the clouds which dot the sky..."

Mick Vernon's own music backs up a pensive poem that came from a day gathering cattle, "Picayune Valley."  Also wistful, Linda Kirkpatrick looks back to the days on the Texas ranch where she grew up, a time when she was too young to make a hand, but not too young to want to, in her poem, "When Roundup Time Comes 'Round."

Oklahoma rancher Jay Snider, who says he's always thought he was "born a hundred years too late, as do most cowboys," leads listeners into a vivid past with "300 Miles to Go."  Andy Hedges recites a classic poem about those times, Henry Herbert Knibbs' humorous "Boomer Johnson," about a surly camp cook who gets his comeuppance from a fed-up cowboy.  Rod Nichols' "Yep" is a timeless portrait of cowboys. Cowboy Trey Allen recites another master's classic poetry, the thoughtful poem, "Alone," by Bruce Kiskaddon, also timeless in its theme.

Buck Ramsey, a National Endowment for the Arts Fellow, known as "the spiritual leader of cowboy poetry," left an important legacy when he died in 1998. Hal Cannon, founding director of the Western Folklife Center, home of the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering, has commented that "His work 'Anthem' is probably thought of as the finest contemporary piece of writing in this tradition..."  The "Anthem" recording on The BAR-D Roundup is the first recording ever made of the poem. The track is from a CD that accompanies the book, Buck Ramsey's Grass, with essays on his life and work (Texas Tech University Press, 2005). "Anthem" is the prologue to the book-length poem, Grass, which follows the life and experiences of Billy Deaver, who leaves the farm at 15 to pursue a cowboy's life. Poet Joel Nelson describes the poem, "From the leaving of home and kin, through the stirrings of adolescence, to the making of a hand in a tribe of men who 'the gods had chosen well,' there is nothing a cowboy could ever want to say that Buck hasn't covered in Grass."

Reciter Dick Morton's reverent delivery of Charles Badger Clark Jr.'s "A Cowboy's Prayer," backed by the music of Rex Rideout, leads into the last part of The BAR-D Roundup. The poem is familiar to many, "Oh Lord, I've never lived where churches grow..." Clark was a South Dakota native and he became that state's poet laureate. As a young man, he spent time in the southwest, and his cow-tending experiences there informed much of his poetry. Dee Strickland Johnson ("Buckshot Dot") likewise celebrates "the designer of nature" in her graceful poem, "The End of the Day."

But ranchers don't ride off into a Technicolor sunset. Fifth-generation rancher Deanna Dickinson McCall addresses the precarious state of ranching in her poem, "Endangered."  As The BAR-D Roundup comes to end, there is no question about who will tell the stories of the working West. Andy Nelson's poem, "The Cowboy Poet," holds that answer.

                                                                                                                                 Margo Metegrano, April 2006


Track Descriptions

 

  1.  Mark Gardner,  "What's Become of the Punchers?" (Jack Thorp)  
  2.  Red Steagall
,  "Born to This Land"  
  3.  DW Groethe,  "Yearlin' Heifers—Part 1"  
  4.  A. K. Moss
,  "The Truth" 
  5. 
Dennis Gaines, "The Spandex Cowboy"

  6.  Jane Morton,  "Yoo-hoo" 
  7.  Pat Richardson,  "Cowboy Banker" 
  8.  Yvonne Hollenbeck
,  "What Would Martha Do?" 
  9.  Doris Daley,  "French Fries"
10.  Chris Isaacs,  "Change on the Range" (Sunny Hancock)   

11.  Colen Sweeten,  "Cow on the Fight"   
12.  Mike Puhallo
,  "Man in the Moon"
13.  Virginia Bennett
,  "Dad Was Like a Colt"   
14.  Georgie Sicking
,  "The Greatest Sport"   
15.  Larry McWhorter
,  "Johnny Clare"

16.  Mick Vernon,  "Picayune Valley"
17.  Linda Kirkpatrick,  "When Roundup Time Comes 'Round"  
 
18.  Jay Snider,  "300 Miles to Go"   
19.  Andy Hedges
,  "Boomer Johnson" (Henry Herbert Knibbs)  
20.  Rod Nichols
,  "Yep"  

21.  Trey Allen,  "Alone"  (Bruce Kiskaddon)  
22.  Buck Ramsey
,  "Anthem"  
 
23.  Dick Morton
,  "A Cowboy's Prayer" (Badger Clark)   
24.  Dee Strickland Johnson - Buckshot Dot,  "The End of the Day"   
25.  Deanna Dickinson McCall,  "Endangered"   

26.  Andy Nelson,  "Cowboy Poet"
27.  Jim Thompson,
  Center for Western and Cowboy Poetry radio public service announcement

Poems and permissions were generously donated by poets, musicians, families, publishers, and filmmakers.

Most biographical information was supplied by poets and reciters


Track 1:  Mark Gardner,  "What's Become of the Punchers?" by Jack Thorp 

 

Below:

About the track, "What's Become of the Punchers?"
About the poet, Jack Thorp
About the reciter, Mark L. Gardner
About the music
The poem, "What's Become of the Punchers"
About the poem
Additional links 

About the track, "What's Become of the Punchers?"

"What's Become of the Punchers?," a poem by Jack Thorp and recited by Mark L. Gardner, is from Jack Thorp's Songs of the Cowboys (The Press at the Palace of the Governors, Museum of New Mexico, 2005), a book edited by Mark L. Gardner, with an accompanying CD with performances of Thorp's poems and songs by Mark L. Gardner and Rex Rideout.

Permission for inclusion of this track was kindly granted by The Press at the Palace of the Governors, Museum of New Mexico. 


About the poet, Jack Thorp


"Jack" Thorp (N. Howard Thorp, 1867-1940) collected cowboy songs and poems across the West for nearly 20 years, starting in the late 1800's. He first published them in 1908, in a small book called Songs of the Cowboys. Thorp also wrote poems and songs; "Little Joe the Wrangler" is  perhaps the most well known.  There have been several editions of Songs of the Cowboys. Read more in our feature about Jack Thorp's Songs of the Cowboys here.

 

    

[photo of Jack Thorp, c. 1930, courtesy John and Joyce Stauffer from Jack Thorp's Songs of the Cowboys, used with permission]


About the reciter, Mark L. Gardner


 

 


Mark Gardner and Rex Rideout, photo by Steve Butler

Mark L. Gardner is a professional historian, author, and musician with a broad range of publications—both popular and scholarly—focusing on the American West. He has published numerous books with several university presses and has authored six interpretive guides for National Park Service historic sites, including Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument, Washita Battlefield National Historic Site, Fort Union National Monument, and Bent’s Old Fort National Historic Site. Most recently, he has written two biographies of Western figures for the NPS: George Armstrong Custer: A Biography (2005) and Geronimo: A Biography (2006). As a public historian, Mark has served as a consultant for many history-related projects, from documentary films to museum exhibitions.  He has worked as a consultant with PBS Television, National Geographic Magazine, the National Park Service, and a number of museums and historic sites across the West.

In addition to his historical research and writing, Mark studies and performs the popular music of the 19th and early 20th-century West.  He uses only vintage or reproduction musical instruments and authentic lyrics and melodies. Mark has entertained and educated audiences with his period music at numerous venues, from the Gateway Arch in St. Louis, Missouri, to the Palace of the Governors in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Mark's first CD, Songs of the Santa Fe Trail and the Far West (Native Ground Music), received critical acclaim as an accurate portrayal of the music of the 19th-century American Southwest. It has been featured on the soundtracks of several television documentaries, most notably the PBS documentary "The U.S.-Mexican War, 1846-1848."  Mark’s second CD, Frontier Favorites: Old-Time Music of the Wild West, a collaborative effort with Rex Rideout, is featured on the soundtracks of two National Park Service visitor center films.

Mark’s musical instrument of choice is the open-back 5-string banjo, although he is also a master of the bones and jawbone!  Mark lives with his family in Cascade, Colorado.


About the music

Mark L. Gardner plays the banjo during the recitation of the poem. On the original recording, Rex Rideout joins in at the end on the fiddle. Rex Rideout, the proprietor of Time Travel Music, is a long-time student of the music and songs of the 19th-century American West.  Read more about him here in our feature about Jack Thorp's Songs of the Cowboys.


The poem

What's Become of the Punchers

What's become of the punchers
We rode with long ago?
The hundreds and hundreds of cowboys
We all of us used to know?

Sure, some were killed by lightning,
Some when the cattle run,
Others were killed by horses,
And some with the old six-gun.

Those that worked on the round-up,
Those of the branding-pen,
Those who went out on the long trail drive
And never returned again.

We know of some who have prospered,
We hear of some who are broke,
My old pardner made millions in Tampa,
While I've got my saddle in soak!

Sleeping and working together,
Eatin' old "Cussie's good chuck,"
Riding in all kinds of weather,
Playing in all kinds of luck;

Bragging about our top-hosses,
Each puncher ready to bet
His horse could outrun the boss's,
Or any old horse you could get!

Scott lies in Tularosa,
Elmer Price lies near Santa Fe,
While Randolph sits here by the fireside
With a "flat-face" on his knee.

'Gene Rhodes is among the high-brows,
A-writin' up the West,
But I know a lot of doin's
That he never has confessed!

He used to ride 'em keerless
In the good old days
When we both worked together
In the San Andres!

Building big loops we called "blockers,"
Spinning the rope in the air,
Never a cent in our pockets,
But what did a cow-puncher care?

I'm tired of riding this trail, boys,
Dead tired of riding alone

B'lieve I'll head old Button for Texas,
Toward my old Palo Pinto home!

by Jack Thorp from Songs of the Cowboys, 1921 and included in Jack Thorp's Songs of the Cowboys


About the poem

"What's Become of the Punchers?"  was first published in the August 1920 issue of Poetry: A Magazine of Verse.  

"What's Become of the Punchers?" is also included in the 1928 book, The Turquoise Trail: An Anthology of New Mexico Poetry, compiled by Alice Corbin Henderson.  Henderson wrote the introduction to the 1921 edition of Jack Thorp's Songs of the Cowboys, which also includes "What's Become of the Punchers?"  She was instrumental in the founding of Poetry: A Magazine of Verse.

The "'Gene Rhodes" referred to in the poem was Thorp's old friend Eugene Manlove Rhodes (1869-1934), cowboy, Western writer and novelist.  Rhodes' is widely known for his poem, "Hired Man on Horseback."  His best knownand critically acclaimedshort story is "Paso Por Aqui," which was serialized in The Saturday Evening Post in 1926. Correspondence from Rhodes to Thorp is preserved in the Thorp Collection at the Huntington Library.

Thanks to Mark L. Gardner for much of the above information.


Additional links

Jack Thorp's Songs of the Cowboys feature at CowboyPoetry.com
More about Eugene Manlove Rhodes at CowboyPoetry.com

Mark L. Gardner's Songs of the West web site  
The Press at the Palace of the Governors, Museum of New Mexico 
Rex Rideout's Time Travel Music web site

Poetry Magazine


Track 2:  Red Steagall,  "Born to This Land"

 

BorntoRS.jpg (7685 bytes)

Below:

About the track, "Born to This Land"
About the poet, Red Steagall
The poem, "Born to This Land"
Additional links

About the track, "Born To This Land"

"Born to This Land" was recorded for The BAR-D Roundup. This poem is also included on Red Steagall's recording, Born to This Land, winner of the Western Heritage Wrangler Award from the National Cowboy and Western Museum. The poem is also included in his book, Born to This Land, winner of the Will Rogers Medallion Award and the Buck Ramsey Best Poetry Book Award from the Academy of Western Artists.

About the poet, Red Steagall

Red Steagall, photo used with permission

Red Steagall is the 2006 Texas State Poet Laureate.

His entertainment career has covered a period of 35 years and has spanned the globe. Over 200 of his compositions have been recorded, and he has recorded nearly 30 consecutive records on the national charts and released more than twenty albums.  He has published four books, and is a six-time winner of the Wrangler Award for original music from the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City.  His most recent Wrangler, awarded in 2006, is for his song with Rich O'Brien, "How Green Was The Grazin' Back Then," from his recent CD, The Wind, The Wire And The Rail.

Since 1991, he has hosted The Red Steagall Cowboy Gathering in the Stockyards National Historic District of Fort Worth, Texas. This  authentic western event, which draws thousands each year, features a ranch rodeo, chuck wagon cookoff, children's poetry contest, western swing dances, cowboy music and poetry, a trappings show, and horsemanship clinics.

Red Steagall's one-hour syndicated weekly radio show, Cowboy Corner, has aired for over a decade on nearly 200 stations. Cowboy Corner celebrates the lifestyle of the American West through the poems, songs and stories of the American cowboy. Past featured guests have included Reba McEntire, Charlie Daniels, Don Edwards, Waddie Mitchell, Baxter Black and the late Buck Ramsey, as well as ranching and agricultural notables.

In 1991, the Texas State Legislature named Red Steagall "The Official Cowboy Poet of  Texas." In recognition of his significant contribution to the Western way of life, he was inducted into the Texas Trail of Fame in October 1999, joining other inductees including Gene Autry, Charles Goodnight, Quanah Parker, and Roy Rogers.

In April of 2003, he was officially inducted into the Hall of Great Westerners at the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City.  This ultimate acknowledgement of Red Steagall's lifetime of commitment to the preservation of the western lifestyle is his most cherished honor.

This is an abbreviated version of Red Steagall's official biography. Read the entire biography here.

  BorntoRS.jpg (7685 bytes) 


The poem, "Born to This Land"

Born to This Land

I've kicked up the hidden mesquite roots and rocks
From the place where I spread out my bed.
I'm layin' here under a sky full of stars
With my hands folded up 'neath my head.

Tonight there's a terrible pain in my heart
Like a knife, it cuts jagged and deep.
This evening the windmiller brought me the word
That my granddaddy died in his sleep.

I saddled my gray horse and rode to a hill
Where when I was a youngster of nine,
My granddaddy said to me, "Son this is ours,
All of it, yours, your daddy's and mine.

Son, my daddy settled here after the war       
That new tank's where his house used to be.
He wanted to cowboy and live in the west
Came to Texas from east Tennessee.

The longhorns were wild as the deer in them breaks.
With a long rope he caught him a few.
With the money he made from trailin' em north,
Son, he proved up this homestead for you.

The railroad got closer, they built the first fence
Where the river runs through the east side.
When I was a button we built these corrals
Then that winter my granddaddy died.

My father took over and bought up more range
With good purebreds he improved our stock.
It seemed that the windmills grew out of the ground
Then the land got as hard as a rock.

Then during the dust bowl we barely hung on,
The north wind tried to blow us away.
It seemed that the Lord took a likin' to us
He kept turnin' up ways we could stay. 

My daddy grew older and gave me more rein,
We'd paid for most all of the land.
By the time he went on I was running more cows
And your daddy was my right hand man."

His eyes got real cloudy, took off in a trot,
And I watched as he rode out of sight.
Tho I was a child, I knew I was special
And I'm feelin' that same way tonight

Not many years later my daddy was killed
On a ship in the South China Sea.
For twenty odd years now we've made this ranch work
Just two cowboys, my granddad and me.

And now that he's gone, things are certain to change
And I reckon that's how it should be.
But five generations have called this ranch home
And I promise it won't end with me.

'Cause I've got a little one home in a crib
When he's old enough he'll understand,
From the top of that hill I'll show him his ranch
Cause like me, he was Born To This Land.

© 1989, Red Steagall, reprinted with permission
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.


Additional links

Red Steagall feature at CowboyPoetry.com
Red Steagall's Ranch Headquarters web site
The Red Steagall Cowboy Gathering and Western Swing Festival web site
Red Steagall's Cowboy Corner web site


Track 3:  DW Groethe, "Yearlin' HeifersPart 1"

Below:

About the track, "Yearlin' HeifersPart 1"
About the poet, DW Groethe
The poem, "Yearlin' HeifersPart 1"
About the poem
Additional links

About the track, "Yearlin' HeifersPart 1"

"Yearlin' HeifersPart 1" is from DW Groethe's CD, What Ever it Takes. It is also included in his book, West River Waltz.


About the poet, DW Groethe

DW Groethe, grandson of Norwegian pioneers and homesteaders, was raised on the Northern Great Plains by parents who instilled in him a deep appreciation for place and heritage. A University of North Dakota alumnus, he holds a fine arts degree in theatre.

Since 1991, Groethe has called Bainville, Montana (population 139) home. He doesn't own a television, reads with a voracious appetite and happily spends his days associating with cows.

He is also a poet and a songwriterand a rare one....He has appeared as an invited guest at the Western Folklife Center's National Cowboy Poetry Gathering, the Library of Congress and The Kennedy Center in Washington, D. C., and the National Folk Festival.

Above excerpted from the dust jacket of DW Groethe's 2006 book, "Western Poetry: West River Waltz." Read a more complete biography here.

DW Groethe's recordings include Tales from West River, and What Ever it Takes, and he has a book of collected poems and lyrics, Western Poetry: West River Waltz.

   

[Photo of DW Groethe by Jeri L. Dobrowski]


The poem, "Yearlin' HeifersPart 1"

Yearlin' Heifers—Part 1

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.

About the poem

DW Groethe comments:

The Complete and Unabridged Story Behind the Writing of "Yearlin' HeifersPart 1" As Vaguely Remembered by the Author...Poemist DW Groethe

 

If you've ever been around yearlin's you'll know that the poem is true from one end to the other. The genesis of this little bit of verse is the part where I'm fixin' the fence and this "eerie feelin'..." I can show you the exact spot the whole scenario took place including the part where I said "Git outa here! Yer givin' me the willies!"  I didn't get around to jotting it down on paper for a couple of years after. I guess I was too busy doing something else. (Click here to get back to Pat Richardson).


photo by DW Groethe


photo by DW Groethe


Additional links

DW Groethe feature at CowboyPoetry.com
DW Groethe's appearance at The Kennedy Center, archived video broadcast

 


Track 4:  A. K. Moss, "The Truth"

Below:

About the track, "The Truth"
About the poet, A. K. Moss
The poem, "The Truth"
About the poem
Additional links

About the track, "The Truth"

"The Truth" is from A. K. Moss's CD, Dear Charlie.


About the author, A. K. Moss

Putting heart and soul in words of rhythm and rhyme, A. K. Moss is a noted performer around the Western states. Kathy's poetry has been published in North American Hunter, The Big Roundup, Cowgirl Poetry, and various other publications and she has published limited editions of cowboy poetry books, audio cassette and CDs. Kathy has contributed to Happy Trails and Cascade Horseman. She began performing her work in the summer of 1998, and has worked with many top performers through the years, including Baxter Black, Wyllie Gustafson, Joni Harms, and many others.

Kathy's, CD, Dear Charlie, was among the top ten poetry CD nominations in the Academy of Western Artists' Will Rogers Awards. Expanding her poetry to a new area of outdoor life, Kathy's CD, Of Elk and Men, brings to life the true values of the hunt and the thrill of elk up close. 

Her passion for Western history has brought her to study and write poems from the diaries of the Oregon Trail, which she has performed at the Oregon Tail Interpretive Center in Baker City. Her photographs, taken to preserve western lifestyles of today, were exhibited at the Western Folklife Center in Elko, Nevada in 2001. Not one to sit idle for any length of time, Kathy coordinates the Elkhorn Western Arts Gathering, a cowboy gathering held in Baker City Oregon each September, where over 20 cowboy poets and singers, along with craftsmen and artists, gather for a weekend to show off their wares and preserve our western heritage. 

She and Billie Flick present a "Women of the Range" seminar, filled with the trials of women working in the cowboy world, with music, video, and and pictures of some of the women they've worked with. Kathy and Billie received the Authentic Working Cowgirl, Red Sash award from the Western Heritage Association in Lewiston, Idaho, in 2005.

Making her home in Grant County Oregon with her husband Tracy of nineteen years, Kathy writes of the people around her that influence a way of living that other folks think is gone. When on on stage, starting a few colts, helping kids learn how to ride and handle horses, and helping friends work cattle and horses keep her busy. Her work continues to fuel her imagination with history, and stories that still need to be written.

 

[Photo of A. K. Moss by Kevin Martini-Fuller]


The poem, "The Truth"

The Truth

From a distance I watched their language, her hands had a lot to say,
Though calloused they softly spoke of her life in a subtle silent way.
How they molded her life into a treasure, how they survived the heat and cold,
How they helped her build her fires and at their prayers they gently fold.
A thousand times they've saddled horses, of the hundreds that she's had,
How they helped her laugh through all the crazy wrecks that she's had.
And that calvey cow pushing hard, how gentle yet firm they were.
The strength in her grip assured no slip as she helped a new baby stir.
And that rope in her hand it's natural, for she has swung it a time or two,
Not to catch every time it was thrown, but just to keep swinging till the job was through.
And the strokes they give her filly, to calm her troubled mind,
That guide, teach and calm her until confidence she'd find.
And after dark when we get home, her hands have more to do,
Making dinner and peeling apples to bake a pie or two,
And when all is quiet around the house and night has settled in,
Her hands are busy one more time with horse hair hitching again.
And easy rhythm to settle their day, for they have done their part,
They have created a life, shaped and molded by two, they have created a piece of art.
And as I watch from a distance, she has trusted them since her youth,
Though their language is never spoken, her hands tell the truth.

© 2000, A. Kathy Moss, All rights reserved
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.


About the poem

A. K. Moss comments:

"The Truth" was written for a good friend of mine, who I respect and admire, Billie Flick. In spending some time down in the high desert of Southern Oregon in the small town of Plush, I watched Billie work throughout the day and these are the things that I saw. It makes one stop and think for a moment of all the things we do in a day and what kind of life our hands create.


photo by Tracy Moss
A. K. Moss and Billie Flick


Additional links

A. K. Moss feature at CowboyPoetry.com
A. K. Moss' web site


Track 5:  Dennis Gaines, "The Spandex Cowboy"

Below:

About the track, "The Spandex Cowboy"
About the poet, Dennis Gaines
The poem, "The Spandex Cowboy"
About the music
About the poem
Additional links

About the track, "The Spandex Cowboy"

"The Spandex Cowboy" is from Dennis Gaines' CD, Son-of-a-Gun-Stew: A Texas Cowboy's Gather, recipient of the Academy of Western Artists' Will Rogers Award for Best Cowboy Poetry CD.


About the poet, Dennis Gaines

dg06.jpg (6529 bytes)

Dennis Gaines calls himself a cowboy poet, humorist and storyteller, a vocation that rates with bawdy house piano player in terms of prestige and respectability. Nevertheless, having survived an epic childhood which found his parents playing hide-and-seek all over the world, and Dennis always finding them, he was allowed to matriculate to the seventh grade, after which he found himself seeking ungainful employment in the oilfields of the world and ranches of the West.

He frequents assorted gatherings and may be spotted at conventions, private parties, banquets, gunfights, chili cookoffs, hangin's, hitchin's, trail drives, campfires, rodeos, soup kitchens, dude ranches, horse sales, casinos and dogfights. He has never been seen in the company of lawyers, politicians or other such outlaws.

Through all of it, he has tried to preserve some of what is good about cowboy culture and its heritage, with an emphasis on humor, tradition and perhaps even a little bit of nostalgia.

Dennis Gaines has been a featured performer at many gatherings across the West, including the Western Folklife Center's National Cowboy Poetry Gathering, the Monterey Cowboy Poetry and Music Gathering, the Cochise Cowboy Poetry and Music Gathering, the Texas Cowboy Reunion, and the Arizona Cowboy Poets Gathering. He's been awarded the Academy of Western Artists' Will Rogers Award award for Cowboy Humor

Son-of-a-Gun-Stew: A Texas Cowboy's Gather is Dennis Gaines' most recent CD. He has a book, New Tradition, Western Verse, and an award-winning video, Hapless Trails to You. 

    Dennis Gaines, TeePee City Productions, Hapless Trails to You


The poem, "The Spandex Cowboy"

The Spandex Cowboy

"Hey, Gaines, you're up. We paid yer fee; the first man in the chute."
As I dribbled chili on my pants and mustard on my boot,
From the hot dog I was scarfin' at the travelin' circus show
Known as Colonel Potter's Big Top Tent and Wrestlin' Rodeo.

Ol' Slim Bodine, the Chisos Kid and Ikie Bob and me
Had left the ranch and gone to town to see what we could see.
We had come to ride the elephant and watch the dancin' bear,
But such a tribe of freaks could melt yer bones and curl yer hair!

There was oddities and marvels that most eyes have never seen.
He had giants, midgets, leprechauns and Martians, blue and green.
There was ladies sproutin' whiskers and a gent with twenty toes,
And a man who gapped his gulper wide and gobbled his own nose!

The Turtle Boy was in his shell; the Human Crocodile
Was swallerin' live chickens with their feathers, all the while
That the bear was swattin' baseballs, and the Flyin' Cossack Boys
Was jugglin' bowlin' balls and flamin' swords and livin' toys,

Like bunnies, kittens, puppy dogs and circulatin' saws,
As the lion tamer stuck his head between the mighty jaws.
There was fortune tellers guessin' weights and calculatin' luck,
And Ikie paid four bits to see a seven-legged duck.

A feller set himself on fire and jumped into a trunk
With poison Gila monsters and a hydrophoby skunk.
A monkey in a kiltie jigged a Highland country dance,
Then showed the crowd that Scottish monks don't wear no underpants!

The hoochie-koochie gals was squirmin' in another tent,
And the barker told me, "Cowboy, you look like the kind of gent
That would 'preciate the finer things, so have a peek inside."
If the preacher seen what I could see, he'd shorely tan my hide!

They was wearin' mostly nothin', down to here and up to there,
So I give 'em each a dollar and said, "Buy some underwear."
When I told the other fellers what I'd seen and what I'd done,
They all agreed the circus show was shorely lots of fun.

I ate my weight in circus grub, from cones to car'mel corn,
Cotton candy, roastin' ears and shore as I was born,
When I'd had my share of chuck, from beans to chocolate goo,
The boys said, "Gaines, it's time to go and show what you can do."

For months and months we'd heard the brag from Colonel Potter's camp,
'Bout a wrestlin' phenomenon he claimed to be the champ.
A thousand bucks went to the gent who'd stay three rounds or more,
So natcherly the boys had drafted me to beat the score,

In tribute to my title as the Champeen of the Land,
For rasslin' bawlin' calves in dusty pens to wear the brand.
I could flip four hundred pounds of hide and hair and slingin' snot,
Serve him up for shish-kebobs or tie him in a knot.

"There's only three tough hombres in this world," I told my pards.
"And them other two, I'll guarantee ya, send me Christmas cards.
We'll take their money first and then we'll run 'em out of town.
The big galoot will rue the day he tried to take me down."

The poster said the victim of my wrath was named Attila,
The mutant offspring of a man and African gorilla.
A whisper circled through the crowd and stirred up quite a whirl.
"Good Lord," said Slim Bodine, "it seems Attila . . . is a girl!"

"Ha, ha, my boys, we're rich, we're rich. I'll take this gal to school.
Gallant, though, my cowboy ways, I'll be nobody's fool.
I'll bounce her like a sucklin' calf; hooray for womens' lib!
She'll curse the day she thought to stray away from Adam's rib."

 The band struck up the drums and pipes, and folks had gathered 'round,
When a total solar eclipse cast its shadow on the ground.
The earth begun to rumble with an awesome, crackin' noise.
The hair stood straight up on my neck, and on the other boys.

The Chisos Kid was paralyzed, his vocal cords was broke.
Ikie Bob had wet his pants, and Slim begun to choke
At the fearsome female specimen displayed before our eyes.
A gal should have a zip code when she gets to be that size!

 Her mammoth girth wrapped 'round the Earth as far as I could point!
A smarter man than me would say, "It's time to blow this joint."
Ikie said, "There's bigger gals; at least that's what I hear,
But all of them are pullin' plows or wagons full of beer."

Colonel Potter told me, "Son, them duds has got to go.
There's rules that we must follow at the Wrestlin' Rodeo.
You keep your hat, you keep your boots; a cowboy's got his pride,
You'll have to wear a diff'rent outfit there upon your hide."

They stripped me down, they togged me up, they turned me inside out.
They took my shirt, my britches, too; the crowd begun to shout.
They brought me out a wrestlin' rig that really made me blink.
It was tight and it was shiny; it was spandex, it was pink.

Attila loomed above me with a glaring, evil eye.
A voice more like a hippo's belch said, "Cowboy, now ya die!"
"No holds barred, and to the death," the ref was heard to say.
The buzzards started circlin', and I begun to pray.

My plan, it was to psyche her out, and that would save the day.
I flexed my pecs, I struck a pose, I leaped the grand jetè.
Croisè devant, the arabesque, I limbered down and up.
I drank my fill of Gatorade and crushed the Dixie cup!

I circled in, I circled out, I feinted left and right.
 I darted in and grabbed a leg and heaved with all my might.
 My strategy worked mighty well; she landed with a thud.
 A ton of lard in a leotard squashed me in the mud!

 My ears was full of gumbo and my mouth was full of sod.
She heaved me high enough for me to pay respects to God.
She had a grip in places where she shouldn't oughtta grab.
If I should ever walk again, I'd waddle like a crab!

She tightened up her grip until my voice begun to soar.
I'd shorely sing soprano if she'd squeeze a little more!
She whirled me like a helicopter revvin' up to fly.
Snot flew from my nostrils as the world went sailin' by.

She changed the game to basketball; she dunked me in the goo.
She bounced me to the hippo pen and chunked me in the poo.
She mopped me through the mud and muck 'til I begun to squish;
Grabbed my ankles, snatched me up and told me, "Make a wish."

She tied my legs behind my head; it was an awful scene.
My eyeballs spun like cherries in a Vegas slot machine.
I saw stars and little birdies as she cracked me like a nut.
'Twas then I realized that I was starin' at my butt!

Colonel Potter offered me a job he had in mind.
He'd bill me as "The Cowboy Who Could Kiss His Own Behind."
I figgered there was safer ways to earn a thousand bucks,
Like standin' up to cannonballs or tractor-trailer trucks!

I lay there in the slime and slop, with not much cause for glee.
My bones was broke, my joints was popped; I'd lost the entry fee.
At least I had my cowboy pards, no better could I choose.
"Don't worry 'bout it, Gaines," they said. "We bet on you to lose."

© 2000, Dennis Gaines
, All rights reserved
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission. 

 


photo by Lori Faith Merritt, www.PhotographyByFaith.com
Dennis Gaines performing "The Spandex Cowboy" at the 
2006 Cochise Cowboy Poetry and Music Gathering


About the poem

Celebrated as a top storyteller and poet, Dennis Gaines has a kind of disclaimer about his singing style, as he explains in his Son-of-a-Gun-Stew: A Texas Cowboy's Gather liner notes (titled "Ponderin's"): "...my authentic singing style, which is pure cowboy and done in the 'Acapulco' Style.  Some folks have claimed that the correct term is a cappella, which is Latin and means 'to sing without benefit of musical accompaniment.'  That may be true, but no cowboy of my acquaintance ever took any of his workin' vocabulary from the Latin language.  Most all of our gear, workin' methods and language was taken from the old Mexican vaqueros and Californios.  When old Sid told me that he liked my singing Acapulco, he actually meant that he wanted me to do my singing in Acapulco, or anywhere else besides the bunkhouse.  He told me that true cowboy singing is only done by 'them fellers that's swallered too much campfire smoke and trail dust,' and that 'Acapulco' is a corrupted version of a cappella and means 'to sing off-key and out of tune.' I am generally acknowledged as the finest 'Acapulco' singer in the world." 


About the music

This track is backed up by Dallas/Ft.Worth-area guitarist Danny Hubbard, who, along with producer and musician Ron DiIulio, also provided the music for Dennis Gaines' earlier recording,  Live From Hotel Turkey.


Additional links

Dennis Gaines feature at CowboyPoetry.com
Dennis Gaines at the Texas Commission on the Arts web site 


Track 6:  Jane Morton, "Yoo-hoo"

jmturningcd.JPG (23146 bytes)

Below:

About the track, "Yoo-hoo"
About the poet, Jane Morton
The poem, "Yoo-hoo"
About the poem
Additional links

About the track, "Yoo-hoo"

"Yoo-hoo" is included on Jane Morton's CD Turning to Face the Wind and on a two-disc CD that also includes her husband Dick Morton's recitations, Turning to Face the Wind and Cowboy Classics.  On the Turning to Face the Wind CD, background music is composed and played by Wayne Richardson.

The poem is also included in her book, Cowboy Poetry:Turning to Face the Wind, recipient of the Will Rogers Medallion Award and the Fred Olds Poetry Award from Westerners International. The book was a Willa Literary Award finalist.


About the poet, Jane Morton

Jane Morton comments:

I grew up on the plains of northeastern Colorado in the midst of the drought and the Depression.  My father taught school and helped his father with the family farm near Fort Morgan.  This farm had been in the family since 1911 when my great-grandfather bought the original 320 acres.  They owed the bank, and there was little money coming in, so the whole family had to pitch in and help if we were to keep our land.

During the '40s the debt was almost paid off, and the family went into the cattle business. As the financial situation improved we bought more land.  By the late sixties we had acquired 14,000 acres, the herd had grown to 800 head of Herefords, and the "farm" had become a ranch.

When I married, my husband and I, besides being educators were involved in the ranch and ranch activities including branding, round-ups, and cattle sales.  Dad had one man on the payroll and farmed out some of the big jobs, such as cutting corn for silage.  Otherwise the family did it all.

After attending my first cowboy poetry gathering in Colorado Springs in 1998, I began to write and recite poems about the family and the ranch. Since that time I have performed at the Western Folklife Center's National Cowboy Poetry Gathering and other gatherings throughout the West.

Now retired, Jane and her husband live near Colorado Springs on the edge of the Black Forest part of the year and in Mesa, Arizona the other part.

Jane Morton's book, Cowboy Poetry:Turning to Face the Wind, was the recipient of the Will Rogers Medallion Award and the Fred Olds Poetry Award from Westerners International. The book was a Willa Literary Award finalist.  Jane Morton also has two CDs,Turning to Face the Wind, and a two-disc CD that includes her husband Dick Morton's recitations, Turning to Face the Wind and Cowboy Classics

jmturningcd.JPG (23146 bytes) 


The poem, "Yoo-hoo"

Yoo-hoo

My mother always called, "Yoo-hoo," so we would look her way.
She did it at the sale barn one cattle auction day.

Dad brought his cows to market there, as he did every spring.
He liked to watch the auction and his cattle in the ring.

Some Hereford cows were milling round, and others bawling loud.
The auctioneer was trying hard to stir the morning crowd.

My folks were in their usual seat where they had said they'd be,
And I had started toward them when my mother spotted me.

She jumped up quick and called, "You-hoo," and then she waved her hand.
She'd bid on thirty Herefords with our own CU brand.

The auctioneer looked toward my mom and gave a little nod.
A feedlot buyer raised her bid, and I was thanking God.

I didn't dare to signal her for fear they'd think I'd bid,
And Mom had no idea at all of what she almost did.

So needing to get down there fast, I headed for the stair.
Then came another, "You-hoo Yo-ooooo," that caught me unaware.

I'd almost closed the distance when my mother waved once more.
The auctioneer acknowledged her, the way he had before.

I watched the feedlot buyer as I slipped into my seat,
And when the fellow didn't bid, my heart near ceased to beat.

My dad sat focused on the ring completely unaware
Of all the action going on right there beside his chair.

From up in back there came a bid, and I could breathe again.
I prayed the field had narrowed down to real cattle men.

I took Mom's hand soon as I could and held it tight in mine.
I said, "How are you doin', Mom?"  She said, "I'm doin' fine."

Now Mom had been to auctions, and she knew what not to do. 
Of course a real no no would have been to call, "Yoo-hoo."

But Mom forgot herself that day and learned to her chagrin
How close she came to buyin' back the cows that Dad brought in.
 
© Jane Morton
, All rights reserved
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.


photo from Cowboy Poetry: Turning to Face the Wind
Jane Ambrose Morton's family at the cattle sale. 
Back row, Annabelle Ambrose and Jane. 
Front row, Jane's mother, aunt, father, and brother Bill.


About the poem

Jane Morton comments:

My mother at auction inspired this poem. She always enjoyed the days at the Brush Livestock auction when most of the family got together and celebrated the sale as the culmination of the year's work. We came down from Denver and Mom watched the door more than than the auction until we got there. She wanted to be sure we knew where they were sitting, although they almost
always sat in the same place, so she waved and called to get our attention. This particular time I guess she didn't think we saw her so she waved and called more than usual. As I recite this poem, I have to think she is looking down on us from above, happy to see that people are laughing at her story and enjoying it.


Additional links

Jane Morton feature at CowboyPoetry.com


Track 7:  Pat Richardson, "Cowboy Banker"

Below:

About the track, "Cowboy Banker"
About the poet, Pat Richardson
The poem, "Cowboy Banker"
About the poem
Additional links


 

About the track, "Cowboy Banker"

"Cowboy Banker" is from Pat Richardson's CD, B. Y. O. S. (Bring Your Own Sheep).  


About the poet, Pat Richardson

PatRichardsonsm04aj.jpg (11055 bytes)

Pat Richardson was born and raised with livestock, he's rode colts, rodeoed and cartooned for The Pro Rodeo Sports News, besides working on ranches in several different states.  He and his brother Jess Howard are frequently-invited performers at the Western Folklife Center's National Cowboy Poetry Gathering and other gatherings across the West.

Baxter Black once said about Pat's poetry, "If you boiled cowboy poetry down to what's worth savin', this is what the stew would smell like."

Pat Richardson has a number of recordings, including Pull My Finger and B. Y. O. S. (Bring Your Own Sheep). His book of poetry, Pat Richardson Unhobbled, received the 2004 Will Rogers Medallion Award. He was named Male Cowboy Poet of the Year by the Academy of Western Artists.

   


The poem, "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
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.


About the poem

Pat Richardson comments:

On one of my Dad's "get rich quick" schemes, a banker from Sacramento came out to look at the cows my Dad had bought with the bank's money. The banker had on a pair of shiny cowboy boots and he was mighty careful not to step in, or step even close to any cow pie. He was obviously scared to death of cows, and made the remark that he always wished he could go back to "punching cows" for a living. The only thing that kept Jess (my brother, Jess Howard) and me from laughing in his face was a stern look from Dad. 

Jess and I raced around behind the granary and had a magnificent laugh at the banker's expense, which, our Dad informed us later, was plainly audible to both him and the banker. And one day years later, as I was staring blankly into space, the poem "Cowboy Banker" came to me, and thus
another "classic" was born.


brothers Jess Howard and Pat Richardson


Additional links

Pat Richardson feature at CowboyPoetry.com
Pat Richardson's web site


Track 8:  Yvonne Hollenbeck, "What Would Martha Do?"

Below:

About the track, "What Would Martha Do?"
About the poet, Yvonne Hollenbeck
About the poem
Additional links

About the track, "What Would Martha Do?"

"What Would Martha Do" is from the CD, Where the Buffalo Rhyme, which was recorded live in October, 2003 at the Boss Cowman Cowboy Opry in Lemmon, South Dakota. The CD features three other top poets as well, Jess Howard, Rodney Nelson and Elizabeth EbertJim Thompson, of Live With Jim Thompson! and Heritage of the West was the emcee.  

The Western Music Association declared "What Would Martha Do" the Most Requested Cowboy Poem in 2005.

"What Would Martha Do" is also included in Yvonne Hollenbeck's 2005 book, From My Window and other poems.


About the poet, Yvonne Hollenbeck

Yvonne Hollenbeck writes about her life as a Clearfield, South Dakota rancher's wife. While helping her husband Glen tend to the cattle and the registered quarter horses they raise, she often finds humor in the everyday duties of being a rancher's wife and quite often writes poetry or stories on the subject. As the daughter of a National Champion Old-Time Fiddler, she grew up in an environment that encouraged her to become an accomplished musician. She's a champion quilter, having won many state and national awards. Her favorite pastime, however, is writing and performing poetry.

A native of Gordon, Nebraska, she likes calling South Dakota cattle country her home. She feels very much a part of the state, as the great-granddaughter of Ben Arnold, a wellknown old-time Dakota cowhand who came to the state with the Texas trail herds and led quite an adventuresome life as a South Dakota pioneer. 

She has been a featured poet at many gatherings, including the Western Folklife Center's National Cowboy Poetry Gathering. Her poetry is included in several anthologies and a part of the four-poet CD, Where the Buffalo Rhyme.  She has published three books of poetry: Blossoms Beneath the Snow, a Tribute to the Pioneer Ranchwomen; Where Prairie Flowers Bloom, which received the Will Rogers Medallion Award; and From My Window. She has three CDs, My Home on the Range, Prairie Patchwork, and Winter on the Range, and has a new recording forthcoming in 2006.

Yvonne Hollenbeck was named the Top Female Poet in 2005 by the Academy of Western Artists.

 

     


About the poem

Yvonne Hollenbeck comments:

It was an extremely hot, dry Sunday in August. I was home alone on our South Dakota ranch, as the men had gone to a rodeo.  I planned to stay in my air-conditioned house and can peaches.  As I was getting the canning project ready, the telephone rang. It was a dispatcher at the Sheriff's office in Winner (our nearest town, 30 miles away) who told me there was a prairie fire several miles south of our ranch and they needed help. I immediately got into our pickup truck, which was loaded with fire-fighting equipment, and drove down to the fire. To make a long story short, I spent approximately 7 hours on the gunny sack crew, where you walk behind the fire line putting out small spot fires by beating them with wet gunny sacks. Before sundown, the wind switched blowing the fire back into itself and putting it under control so I returned home filthy dirty, hot, tired, thirsty, hungry and crabby. I immediately turned on TV to catch the weather report and see if there was any chance of rain in the forecast. Much to my chagrin, there was Martha Stewart, showing how to properly iron table linens. As tired as I was, I wrote the poem, "What Would Martha Do?," before I went to bed that night.


Additional links

Yvonne Hollenbeck's feature at CowboyPoetry.com
Yvonne Hollenbeck's web site


Track 9:  Doris Daley, "French Fries"

Below:

About the track, "French Fries"
About the poet, Doris Daley
The poem, "French Fries"
About the poem
Additional links

About the track, "French Fries"

"French Fries" is from Doris Daley's CD, Poetry in Motion.  It is also included in her book, Rhyme and Reason, where it is titled "Pierre."


About the poet, Doris Daley

Doris Daley has been an emcee and featured performer at every cowboy festival in Canada as well as several in the United States, including Texas, California, Colorado, Nevada, Utah, Montana and Oregon. In 2004 she was named Best Female Cowboy Poet in North America by the Academy of Western Artists, the first time any Canadian, male or female, has won the cowboy poetry category. In 2001 she was among a small group of cowboy entertainers chosen to perform at a command performance for Canada’s Governor General, and during Alberta’s centennial year, she was one of the artists selected to represent Alberta cowboy culture in Ottawa.

Born and raised in Southern Alberta ranch country, Doris Daley writes cowboy poetry that celebrates the humour, history and way of life of the west. Her great grandfather came west with the North West Mounted Police in the 1870s; her family has been ranching in the Alberta foothills for five generations.

Doris comes from a gene pool that includes ranchers, cowboys, Mounties, good cooks, sorry team ropers, Irish stowaways, bushwhackers, liars, two-steppers and saskatoon pickers.

“You’ll soon forget she’s a performer,” says Gary Brown of Monterey, California, “and feel like she’s one of the family.” While she is chasing rhymes and building poems, her husband Bob Haysom, a fly-fishing guide and outfitter, snags brown and rainbow trout out of Alberta’s world-renowned Bow River.

Doris Daley has been invited to Washington, D. C. to take part in the Smithsonian Institute's Folklife Festival program in the summer of 2006.

Doris Daley has three recordings, Three Babes on a Bale, Poetry in Motion, and Good for What Ails You. She has published two books, No Bum Steer, and Rhyme and Reason.

   


The poem, "French Fries"

French Fries

A French Canadian cowboy came out west to work on a big ranch in BC. He was gregarious, likeable and a good worker, but he didn't last through the spring. This poem tells why.

I remember the year we hired Pierre,
A dashing French cowboy from Old Trois Rivieres.
A ten-gallon chapeau and a dashing mustache,
He rode with élan and he roped with panache.
A stouthearted fellow with je ne sais quoi,
A hybrid of cowboy and coureur du bois.
He'd laugh and he'd sing, he'd joke and he'd babble,
Never mind the emphasis was on the wrong syllable.
He was well loved by all and we wished he would stay,
So the mystery remains why he left us that day.

It was early in spring, the lambs had done great.
Time to bob off their tails and alter the fate
Of little Fleecy and Snowflake, so with surgery done
The nuggets were broiled, served up on a ;bun.
"Ooh la la!" sang Pierre, "This lunch is delish!
What do you call such a marvelous dish?"
"Lamb fries," said Cookie, "Here, help yourself,
They don't last too long on the old cookhouse shelf."
Later in May the scene was repeated,
Branding was done, the cowboys were treated
To oysters, a culinary first for Pierre,
"Magnifique!" he called out, "Why they taste like tourtiere."
Cookie explained how he breaded and fried 'em,
"Calf fries," he said, "You haven't lived till you tried 'em."

It was new to Pierre, this cuisine de la range:
Lamb fries, then calf fries-it was all a bit strange.
But he had to admit, the taste was first-rate.
What wonderful morsels would next grace his plate?
Well, he didn't wait long, the very next day
A wonderful fragrance was wafting his way.
Would it be a ragout or an airy soufflé?
The smell from the stove foretold something gourmet.
"What's for lunch?" Pierre called out, and what he heard made him wince.
"French fries!" said Cookie. Pierre hasn't been seen or heard of since.

© Doris Daley, from Rhyme & Reason and Poetry in Motion
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.


About the poem

My brother told this little story around a campfire one night-to much guffawing and backslapping and hee hawing. I wanted to re-tell it in a poem, but why make it easy and use only English? Luckily for me, at least six of the 20 words I remembered from Grade 9 French rhymed. And (also luckily) I speak French so badly that the words that don't technically rhyme can be mangled and mis-pronounced to make them rhyme with something. Mesdames et monsieurs: l'histoire de Pierre La Vache Sauvage. Bon appetite!


Additional links

Doris Daley's feature at CowboyPoetry.com
Doris Daley's web site


Track 10: Chris Isaacs, "Change on the Range" (by Sunny Hancock)

 

Below:

About the track, "Change on the Range"
About the poet, Sunny Hancock
About the reciter, Chris Isaacs
The poem, "Change on the Range"
About the poem
About the music
Additional links

About the track, "Change on the Range"

"Change of the Range," by the late Sunny Hancock, is recited by Chris Isaacs on his CD, A Pair of Aces

The poem is included in Sunny Hancock's book, Horse Tracks Through the Sage, which also includes poetry by Jesse Smith. The book received the Will Rogers Medallion Award and the Buck Ramsey Best Poetry Book Award from the Academy of Western Artists.


About the poet, Sunny Hancock

SunnyHancocksmj.jpg (7513 bytes)

Sunny Hancock was in the vanguard of the cowboy poetry movement, starting with the first gathering in Elko in 1985 (now the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering, sponsored by the Western Folklife Center). He performed poetry all over the United States, including at the Library of Congress and at the Smithsonian. He received several awards, including the Gail Gardner Award, presented at the Arizona Cowboy Poets Gathering in Prescott, Arizona, and the Cowboy Poet of the Year award in 2001 from the Academy of Western Artists.

Sunny Hancock was known mostly for his humorous poetry, but did an occasional tearjerker as well. He cowboyed all over the western U. S. and settled, in retirement, with his wife Alice on a little place outside Lakeview, Oregon with a house and five acres where they raised a few beef steers in the summer to supply meat for the table and to help pay the taxes.

Sunny Hancock had several recordings, and he and poet Jesse Smith published a book, Horse Tracks Through the Sage, which received the Will Rogers Medallion Award and the Buck Ramsey Best Poetry Book Award from the Academy of Western Artists.

Sunny Hancock died May 15, 2003.


About the reciter, Chris Isaacs

A three-time winner of the Academy of Western Artists Will Rogers Award, Chris Isaacs is a poet and storyteller who has lived the life that he writes about. He has seen life from a cowboy's point of view for all of his 60-plus years, and his poems and stories are alive with the heart and humor of that life. 

Chris Isaacs has worked at many different aspects of the cowboy life from being a full time working cowboy, to rodeoing, to many years as a packer. In between jobs you could usually find him making a living as a horseshoer. He has a passion for good horses and mules, and has even owned a good dog or two. He currently day-works for area ranches, travels the country with his poetry, and conducts creative writing workshops for Creative Classrooms West.  He lives in the beautiful White Mountains of eastern Arizona with his wife of over 30 years, Helen.

Chris Isaacs has been published in numerous magazines, including American Cowboy and Western Horseman. He has two books, Bringing it Home, and Rhymes, Reasons & Packsaddle Proverbs, which received the Will Rogers Medallion Award from the Academy of Western Artists. He also has five recordings, including two Both Sides and Out With the Crew, which received the Best Poetry Recording Award in 1997 and 2002 respectively, from the Academy of Western Artists.

His CD, A Pair of Aces, honors the memories and celebrates the talents of his friends, cowboy poetry greats Sunny Hancock and Larry McWhorter

 

Click for Cowboy Miner   


The poem, "Change on the Range"

Change on the Range

The way the times and customs change
   these days is sure a fright.
If you want to sell a product then
   you've got to name it right.
Today's he-man still shuns perfume
   but change the name I'll bet,
And they'd buy it by the gallon
   if you called it "Stud Horse Sweat."

I see one guy wearin' earrings
   as he minced across the floor,
And another with some hair spray,
   fluffin' up his pompadour.
I thought cowboys was exceptions
   but we're all the same, I guess
If you go back, say, fifteen summers,
   note the changes in our dress.

Where did this new dress code come from?
   Hell, nobody's sure, I s'pose,
But I think a lot of it was culled
   from cowboy TV shows.
Remember one back in the sixties?
   Hero's name was Marshal Dillon.
Rode a switch tailed buckskin workhorse,
   always did a lot of killin'.

The bad guys all wore floppy hats,
   no creases in the crown,
Lace-up boots and lots of whiskers
   and they'd terrorize the town.
Marshal Dillon brought 'em in, though,
   to the hoosegow in Dodge City
Then he'd stroll down to the Long Branch
   for a drink with Doc and Kitty.

Kids a-watchin' them old TV shows
   them days was some impressed.
And they probably figured that's the way
   those old-time cowboys dressed.
So then when they'd growed up some
   and no longer was a boy,
Why, they'd buy them kind of clothes
   so they'd look the real McCoy.

I go clear back to the thirties
   gosh, it seems like yesterday.
On Saturday us kids
   would get to watch the matinee.
Remember those old heroines?
   They sure was pretty things.
They'd let their hats hang down their backs
   on big long leather strings.

To keep their hair from looking like
   they'd just been in a scrap,
And the cowboys promptly
   named that rig a "Cinderalla Strap."
No cowboy ever wore one dangling
   down across his face.
They'd have branded him a "gunsel"
   and then laughed him off the place.

Not long ago some swingin' bad man
   rigged up one of them things,
And told the boys somebody'd
   named the buggers "Stampede Strings."
So now days most young fellers wear 'em
   and I guess they have their place.
If you keep your head a-bobbin'
   blowflies won't land on your face.

Those neckerchiefs we used to don
   when winter hit the hills
And you put on all the clothes you had
   to ward off cold and chills.
Them Navy surplus was the kind
   that always got my vote
Take two tight wraps and tie it off;
   it beat another coat.

They was strictly worn for comfort,
   then along came "Cowboys Lib."
So now they call them wild rags
   and they wear 'em like a bib.
But hats was always special
   and they had to be just right.
It might take a week to get one creased,
   but if you want to start a fight,

Why, just reach up and grab some cowboy's hat,
   and it was fight or run,
'Cuz he was gonna come a-swingin'
   or a-goin' for his gun.
These days they don't have much for crease
   and the brim are mostly flat
Like Mennonites or Amish folks,
   they're all topped off like that.

Or them big old lace-up brogans
   like the farmers used to put
On because they had a lot of work
   to do afoot.
Now the buckaroos all wear 'em
   chargin' up and down the chutes.
They swear they're "cowboy riggin,"
   and they call 'em "packer boots."

So you just think about the future
   as you watch those TV shows.
One day you'll hear a conversation;
   this'll be the way it goes.
A bunch of modern buckaroos,
   all tough as shingle nails,
In the cookhouse over breakfast
   tellin' salty cowboy tales.

One says, I thought I was a goner
   and I'm sure I would be gone
If I hadn't had my brand new
   little Buckin' Britches on.
Did you see her when she took her head
   and blowed by that big tree?
I knew the wreck was comin';'
   she was runnin' off with me.

"She went down across the pasture
   then she hit that row of ditches.
Boy! I sure was glad
   I had put on my little Buckin' Britches.
'Cuz if I hadn't had 'em on
   there'd by a different tale to tell
You know, a runaway three wheeler
   is just pure and simple hell.

"But them Buckin' Britches saved me;
   I ain't got no cause to doubt 'em
If I live to be a hundred,
   I won't never be without 'em."
Now the cook's an old-time buckaroo;
   he gives his microwave a kick,
Says, "You gunsels and your stupid Buckin' Britches
   make me sick.

"Way back yonder in the eighties,
   buckaroos wore manly things.
Flat-brimmed hats, brogan shoes,
   wild rags, and stampede strings.
They had Buckin' Britches back then, too,"
   he muttered through his nose.
"But back in those days
   folks all called them damn things PANTY HOSE."

© 2002, Sunny Hancock, reprinted with permission from Horse Tracks Through the Sage
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.


About the poem

Sunny Hancock wrote, in his book Horse Tracks Through the Sage:

While going to these poetry gatherings I was impressed by all the hippie cowboy gear that was showing up around the country. Lots of fellows my age were amazed that they would take a kerchief and call it a wild rag. These little strings that go under the chin were strictly taken from the movies and worn mostly by the heroines. When I was younger those rigs were called Cinderella Straps!  Seems like you can wear any kind of garb you can imagine and if you give it a macho name it will be accepted and widely copied. Hence the poem.

(reprinted with permission from Horse Tracks Through the Sage)


About the music

Rich O'Brien's guitar music plays at the beginning of this track. He has been called "....the house guitarist for the cowboy music revival."  Western Heritage Wrangler Award winner from the National Cowboy and Western Museum and frequent performer at gatherings across the West, he has played on and produced  recordings for Don Edwards, Riders in the Sky, Waddie Mitchell, Stephanie Davis, Red Steagall, the Sons of the San Joaquin, and many others.


Additional links

Chris Isaacs' feature at CowboyPoetry.com
Chris Isaacs' web site 

Sunny Hancock's feature at CowboyPoetry.com

Rich O'Brien at the Western Jubilee Recording Company web site


Track 11:  Colen Sweeten, "Cow on the Fight"

Below:

About the track, "Cow on the Fight"
About the poet, Colen Sweeten
The poem, "Cow on the Fight"
Additional links

About the track, "Cow on the Fight"

"Cow on the Fight" is from Colen Sweeten's CD, Writin' for the Brand.  It is also included on his CD, Pick of the Litter and in his 1987 book, Cowboy Poetry.


About the poet, Colen Sweeten

Colen Sweeten has been called "Western America's Will Rogers," and truly deserves the compliment.  He is a "been-there-done-that" poet/philosopher who was raised on a ranch in southern Idaho over eighty five years ago. Colen Sweeten was writing Cowboy Poetry long before the genre ever became popular and known by that name. He has performed in hundreds of Cowboy Poetry gatherings across the U.S. and Canada, receiving just about every honor that can be bestowed on somebody his size.

Colen Sweeten has appeared at the Western Folklife Center's National Cowboy Poetry Gathering every year, except one, since its inception in 1985. He has has appeared frequently on radio and television, and was a guest on the NBC Tonight Show with Johnny Carson in 1991. He received a Fellowship in Literature from The Idaho Commission on the Arts. He is now retired and presently lives in Springville, Utah with his wife, Ruth.

Colen Sweeten has written four books of poetry, Cowboy Poetry, Hoofprints and Heartbeats, Back at the Ranch, and Father & Son. He has recorded two CDs, Pick of the Litter and Writin' for the Brand.

   

[Photo of Colen Sweeten by Kevin Martini-Fuller]


The poem, "Cow on the Fight"

Cow on the Fight

This happens a lot to a cowman,
You can nod if I'm tellin' it right.
You're never ignored, and surely not bored,
When you get an old cow on the fight.

Some people may think it funny,
And cowboys on the fence always laugh.
But it's never a joke, when you are the poke,
Caught between the cow and her calf.

Oh, a cowboy is brave when he's mounted,
On a good horse with his rope and his spurs.
But when he's dancin' in the dust, with a cow he can't trust,
The advantage is definitely hers.

You dismount to play Doctor out on the range,
And you kindness turns into fight.
Then you start lookin' 'round, from there on the ground,
And your horse is nowhere in sight.

Your legs know what to do and they do it too!
With her hot breath on the back of your neck.
Do you know how it feels, to have spurs on your heals,
And racin' downhill to a wreck?
 
Cowboys get jitters when workin' those critters,
Without a horse to keep him up in the air.
And if your luck is like mine, it's just a matter of time,
'Till she's wipin' her nose on your hair.
 
Someone has to step down when there's work on the ground,
But to volunteer doesn't make any sense.
The worst part of the job, is the grinnin' faced mob,
Lined up on the top pole of the fence.
 
While I'm takin' a lickin' from hookin` and kickin',
They yell, and the cheer for the cow!
I've limped and I've bled and got kicked in the head,
And they're not even satisfied now.
 
That old brockled-faced roan is very well known,
And I tell you she's nobody's pet.
So I told the boys, who make all the noise,
I'd introduce her to the new Vet.
 
While the Vet put on his apron, she ripped off my shirt,
And we both went around and around.
I just couldn't see, with both eyes full of dirt,
And I wound up huggin' the ground.
 
Bein' pressed into the dirt didn't much hurt,
And then my ribs caved in with a pop.
It's no fun at all, when you're the first one to fall,
And that ornery old cow is on top!
 
Then she went on by and left me to die,
I could feel warm bold comin' out of my ear.
I reached up and touched it with the arm that still worked,
As the heifer dust started to clear.
 
But the blood wasn't red, it was more of a brown,
And the smell I could never forget.
Them fence sittin' cowboys, and that brockled-faced roan,
Are going to be the death of me yet!
 
© 1987, Colen H. Sweeten, Jr., All rights reserved
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.


Additional links

Colen Sweeten's feature at CowboyPoetry.com


Track 12:  Mike Puhallo, "Man in the Moon"

 

Below:

About the track, "Man in the Moon"
About the poet, Mike Puhallo
The poem, "Man in the Moon"
About the poem
Additional links

 

About the track, "Man in the Moon"

"The Man in the Moon" is from Mike Puhallo's CD, The Smell of Sage and Pine, and it is also in his book, Rhymes on the Range.


About the poet, Mike Puhallo

Mike Puhallo, photo rustled from his web site

Mike has been a working cowboy, a saddle bronc rider, a packer and horse trainer. He currently ranches in partnership with his younger brother, as well as writing and painting western oils. Mike's poetry will reach out and touch western people where they live, through the experiences and feelings that are shared by those who live close to the land. The reason his poetry is so "real" is simple; this cowboy has "bin there an' done that."

Mike Puhallo is one of the most widely-published cowboy poets in Canada. He has co-authored three books of cowboy poetry and cartoons with Wendy Liddle and Brian Brannon, and recently completed his sixth book with Wendy Liddle, Rhymes and Damn Lies. Mike's poems have been published in numerous magazines and also found their way into his weekly newspaper column Mike's Meadow Muffins.  

Mike Puhallo is the president of the British Columbia Cowboy Heritage Society (BCCHS), the home of the Kamloops Cowboy Festival.

    Click to order from Amazon


The poem, "Man in the Moon"

Man in the Moon

I laid on my back in the cool damp grass
about an hour or more.
Just beyond the light of a coal oil lamp
that shone from the bunkhouse door. 
Old Drake came by
nearly tripped on me and asked,
"Mikey, what are you doin'?" 
I said, "Hush up, Jack, and sit a spell
I'm waiting for the man on the moon!"
You see I had the radio there
an' history was in the makin'. 
There was things going on in the clear night sky
that's set your head to shakin'.
A few at a time
the rest of the crew came out to join us there.
Til' ten cowboys lay in the cool damp grass
and stared up through the clear night air. 
 
Now that old transistor crackled with static
at times it was damned hard to hear. 
But the rising moon was so big and bright
I'd never seen it so near. 
 
Now them folks on the radio chattered on so
about this lunar landing.
An' most of it was technical junk,
far beyond my understanding. 
Then, we heard that spaceman say something
about one small step for man.
We all hung close to the radio
to listen as best we can. 
Now a lot of that broadcast was lost to us
between static and the coyotes tune.
But we caught enough to know darn well
a man was on the moon. 
 
Now a cowboy can't stay up late,
the morning comes too soon.
So we drank to his health and each in turn
said "good night" to the man in the moon. 
But it must have been late when I found my bunk.
I slept in til nearly four.
And it was my turn to jingle the horses
and knock on the old cook's door. 
By the time I had the morning chores done
and ran those ponies in,
Dawn was breakin' in the eastern sky,
and that moon was pale and thin. 
No time to think of space men now,
just grab breakfast and leave on a trot.
There's a gather to make and cows to move
before the sun gets hot. 
 
A lot of summers have come and gone
since that one at Douglas Lake.
But none that did so much to mold
the kind of man I'd make.
It was a season full of adventure,
there's lots of memories there.
Like when Darwin's horse pitched him in the creek
or the time Red roped the bear.
But by far my fondest memory
of a summer that ended too soon,
Was ten cowboys, laying in the cool damp grass
jes' watchin' the man in the moon. 

© 1993, Mike Puhallo, All rights reserved
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

About the poem

Mike Puhallo comments:

I wrote this poem in early fall of 1993. Somebody had mentioned that the 25th anniversary of the moon landing was coming up. 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 very first place I recited the poem was in Edmonton at the Canadian Finals Rodeo. There was a public relations consultant from NASA  there, R. W. Smith, who took a copy of the poem back with him to California. He recited my poem at the launch of the Clementine Mission in January of 1994. The Clementine Mission was a photographic mission and the only lunar project during the 25th anniversary year.


Additional links

Mike Puhallo's feature at CowboyPoetry.com
Mike Puhallo's web site

British Columbia Cowboy Heritage Society (BCCHS) web site


Track 13:  Virginia Bennett,  "Dad Was Like a Colt"  

Below:

About the track, "Dad Was Like a Colt"
About the poet, Virginia Bennett
The poem, "Dad Was Like a Colt"
About the poem
Additional links

About the track, "Dad Was Like a Colt"

"Dad Was Like a Colt"  is from Virginia Bennett's recording, Canyon of the Forgotten. The poem is also included in her books, Canyon of the Forgotten and In the Company of Horses.

About the poet, Virginia Bennett

Virginia Bennett has been performing cowboy poetry since 1988. Regularly featured at the Western Folklife Center's National Cowboy Poetry Gathering in Elko, Nevada, Virginia has also shared her work at the Smithsonian Institute, and has been featured many times on PBS  and NPR specials. She has been working on Western ranches since 1971, alongside her ranch manager husband, Pete. She started colts for the public for 20 years,  has shown hunter/jumpers, driven draft teams for a living, and drawn cowboy wages on big outfits. She continues to write for many publications as well as reciting original, traditional verse.

Virginia Bennett edited Cowgirl Poetry, One Hundred Years of Ridin' and Rhymin' (Gibbs Smith Publishing); and Cowboy Poetry: The Reunion (Gibbs Smith Publishing), which was printed in celebration of the 20th Annual National Cowboy Poetry Gathering. Her work is included in many anthologies. She has published volumes of her poetry, including Canyon of the Forgotten, Legacy of the Land, and her newest collection, In the Company of Horses. She also has a recording entitled Canyon of the Forgotten.

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The poem, "Dad Was Like a Colt"

Dad Was Like a Colt

Dad was like a colt to me
His spirit fought to be let free.
I tried like hell to hold him tight
I tied 'im fast, and tied 'im right.
I invested more than I ever should.
I hobbled him down (as if I could!)
He kicked against my ropes and reins
I tried new bits with new curb chains.
'Til finally, I learned, since he struggled so,
I might just well as let him go.

© 1997, Virginia Bennett
 This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.


About the poem

Virginia Bennett comments:  

I lived alone with my dad while I was growing up, and he and I had a special closeness. Later, even thousands of miles did not separate us in spirit, and we called each other every Saturday night, when I'd tell him of horse-training predicaments or challenges I was having. He delighted in putting himself mentally into those situations and giving me ideas and pointers. When he died unexpectedly, it was darn hard for me to let go of that relationship with a guy who was my champion and cheerleader for all of my life. I was blessed to have such a dad, and this poem is for him.


Virginia Bennett and her father, New Mexico, 1970s


Additional links

Virginia Bennett feature at CowboyPoetry.com
Cowgirl Poetry feature at CowboyPoetry.com
Cowboy Poetry: The Reunion feature at CowboyPoetry.com


Track 14:  Georgie Sicking,  "The Greatest Sport"  

 

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Below:

About the track, "The Greatest Sport"
About the poet, Georgie Sicking
The poem, "The Greatest Sport"
About the poem
Additional links 

About the track, "The Greatest Sport"

"The Greatest Sport" recording, by Georgie Sicking, is from Ridin' & Rhymin', an award-winning documentary about Georgie Sicking by Dawn Smallman and Greg Snider of Far Away Films, LLC.


About the poet, Georgie Sicking

A real cowboy, Georgie Sicking earned the title and the respect with hard work and unflagging determination.  Born on an Arizona ranch in 1921, she was riding on her own by age two, breaking horses before she was ten. She has cowboyed, ranched, and worked cattle on many different types of ranges in Arizona, Nevada, and California, before, during, and after she raised a family with a her husband of 34 years.

She was invited to the first Cowboy Poetry Gathering at Elko and has returned many times, is a frequent featured guest at the Arizona Cowboy Poets Gathering, and is a Cowgirl Hall of Fame Honoree. Georgie is renowned for her colorful stories of her full life, and she tells about her earliest days in her most recent book of poetry, Just More Thinking (read an excerpt here).

Georgie Sicking's poetry is included in many anthologies, and in addition to her most recent book of poetry, Just More Thinking (which includes her previous book, More Thinking), a current biography includes poems and stories, A Mare Among Geldings by Glorianne Weigand.  See more about the books and order details here.

Ridin' & Rhymin', a documentary about Georgie Sicking from Far Away Films, LLC, received the Big Sky Award (Best Film about the American West). Read more about the documentary and find order details at the Far Away Films' web site.  

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The poem, "The Greatest Sport"

The Greatest Sport

An old Nevada mustang,
As wild as she could be,
I'll tell you all for sure,
She made a gambler out of me.

I forgot I was a mother,
I forgot I was a wife,
I bet it all in the horse I rode,
On him I bet my life.

The thrill of the chase with my roan,
Horse trying to give me a throw.
The smells of the rocks and the sagebrush,
The rattle of rocks as we go.

Blood running hot with excitement,
Mouth getting dry from the same,
In this world, ain't nothin' but the mustang,
Roan horse me and the game.

Mustang is getting winded
It slows down to a lope.
Roan horse is starting to weaken,
Mustang gets caught in a rope.

Roan horse's sides are a heavin',
And I am all out of breath.
Mustang faces rope a tremblin',
It would have run to its death.

Sanity returns and I'm lookin',
At the wild horse I just caught,
My prize of the chase,
Good looking or pretty it's not.

A hammer head, crooked leg,
It's awful short on the hip.
Little pig eyes, a scrawny U neck,
And it's really long on the lip.

No, she sure ain't worth much,
For sure she ain't no pearl.
But she took me away from a humdrum life,
Right to the edge of the world.

Now mustanging is a fever like,
Alchohol, gamblin' and such.
I guess it don't really matter if what you catch,
Ain't worth all that much.

This was before the laws passed,
That feed the city people's dreams.
I was lucky to enjoy the greatest sport,
Of cowboys and of kings.

© Georgie Sicking, from Just More Thinking 
 This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.


About the poem

Georgie Sicking says this poem is the result of many "mustanging" experiences, experiences that "take you to the edge of the world...we caught a lot of horses and there were many runs."  She tells of one instance stands out, a six-mile downhill run she made after a horse she thought was a mare, but was a stallion ("Mares tend to break down, but a stud will keep going").  Riding through pinyon and sagebrush, she finally roped the mustang. She says it was facing her horse, both horses were "gasping," and that she fell off her horse, also gasping.

Georgie often mustanged with her friend Leonard Stephens, and the documentary about her, Ridin' & Rhymin' includes scenes of them recounting their experiences.


Additional links

Georgie Sicking feature at CowboyPoetry.com
Ridin' & Rhymin' feature at CowboyPoetry.com
Ridin' & Rhymin' at Far Away Films' web site 


Track 15: Larry McWhorter, "Johnny Clare"

Below:

About the track, "Johnny Clare"
About the poet, Larry McWhorter
The poem, "Johnny Clare"
About the poem
Additional links

About the track, "Johnny Clare"

"Johnny Clare" is from Larry McWhorter's CD, The Most Requested Poetry of Larry McWhorter.  It is also included in his book, Cowboy Poetry: Contemporary Verse by Larry McWhorter, which was the recipient of the Fred Olds Poetry Award from Westerners International.


About the poet, Larry McWhorter

Reared on ranches in the Texas Panhandle, Larry McWhorter learned the cowboy way of life from his father and other men like him.  Like most young cowboys, he had his ideals of cowboy life cemented into his being by the written works of Will James, Ed Lemmon, Andy Adams, and others.

After finishing high school and graduating from a ranch and feedlot operations course at Clarendon College in Clarendon, Texas, McWhorter pursued his dream of working for big outfits and living the pure cowboy life.  These experiences provided a rich treasury of memories that found their way into his writings, which tell about the life from a cowpuncher's point of view... A cowboy's respect for the individuality of people, horses and cattle, and the bond formed with them, is at the heart of each story and poem. 

In 1998, Larry McWhorter was named Cowboy Poet of the Year by the Academy of Western Artists

Larry McWhorter died March 19, 2003. At the time of his death, he ran a small outfit in Weatherford, Texas, where he lived with his wife Andrea and their daughter Abigail. He was a favorite performer at many cowboy and Western heritage events all over the United States.

Larry McWhorter made two recordings, The Open Gate, which received the Will Rogers Award as Best Cowboy Poetry Recording, and The Most Requested Poetry of Larry McWhorter. His poetry is included in many anthologies, and he published a book, Cowboy Poetry: Contemporary Verse by Larry McWhorter.

 

   


The poem, "Johnny Clare"

Johnny Clare

In north central Oklahoma
In the land known as the Osage,
The spring and early summer
Rest so easy on the eye.
Where the lush, green, rolling carpet
Marks the passing of Mariah
As she dances, sometimes gently
With the clouds which dot the sky.

Much like a ballerina
She pirouettes and leaps
Across her stage of prairie
And she seems to never pause
While high above the scenery
A hawk critiques the drama
While voicing his approval
Flapping wings in mute applause.

The deer, the birds, the woodchuck
Bear witness from their browsing
As they share their home with cattle,
The stewards of this land,
Who took the place of buffalo
In harvesting the bluestem
After they themselves were reaped
When progress dealt death's hand.

Should you travel through this country
Heading west toward Ponca City,
Fifteen miles out of Pawhuska
On the highway state funds pave,
Some fifty yards or so due south
Of tar and asphalt ribbon
Amid the grass wild roses grow
And there you'll find a grave.

It once lay on the open plain
Surrounded by tall bluestem.
There's now a trap with shorter grass,
Well kept, devoid of weeds.
It seems so humble at first glance,
Steel fence, a cross of concrete.
'Til close examination shows
A cast-iron plaque which reads:

"Johnny Clare
May 1890—May 1910
Cowboy employed by Dr. Hall
Thrown from his horse and
Killed at this spot
Courtesy, Continental Oil Company."

To be a cowboy was the call
This young man gladly answered.
He'd not trade lots with anyone.
In life he'd found his pearl.
He loved to ride and rope rough stock
To test his skill and courage,
To polish up the dance floor
With a smiling blue eyed girl.

Young Johnny lived the cowboy's life
And lived it to the fullest.
His pride would let no brute escape
As long as he drew breath.
So he thought not of consequence,
And outlaw steer his quarry,
And on the warm, spring, Osage day
He died a cowboy's death.

Dwight Barnard was the man who found
Young Johnny's prostrate body,
He'd tried to crawl but soon succumbed
To sun and broken bone.
From pulling grass out by the roots
His hands were torn and bloody.
Wild with pain he'd pawed the ground,
Afraid to die alone.

The horse he'd rode still stood nearby,
The outlaw steer stood with him.
A stout length of manila hemp
Was stretched between the pair.
There were no human witnesses
To relay what had happened.
The truth now lives with God above
And died with Johnny Clare.

A tinker happened by the way,
And saw a small crowd gathered.
The group was friends and comrades
Of this young man who'd been slain.
He reached into his wagon box,
Produced a tarp of canvas,
With wagon sheet for coffin,
To rest the lad was lain.

A short time later, lore maintains,
A buckboard journeyed out there.
It carried Johnny's mother
To his final resting place.
Her black dress blowing in the wind,
It's said she stood for hours,
Praying and remembering,
As tears streamed down her face.

Beneath the rich, black Osage sod
Her precious son was buried.
The one to whom she'd given life
And nourished from her breast.
And though her sorrow knew no bounds,
There was one consolation,
At least she could die knowing
Where her Johnny lay at rest.

How many young men like her son
Have gone to seek their fortune?
Their siren call a lowing herd,
The whispering prairie wind,
Which beckoned to the spirit
Of the ones who tamed the West.
Who left their loved ones wondering
If they'd ever meet again.

How many young men like her son
Met death upon the prairie?
Their flesh preceding bleaching bone
In melding with the sod.
So let us think of Johnny's grave
As everlasting tribute
To those unfound whose dying gasps
Were heard by none but God.

In north central Oklahoma
In the land known as the Osage,
The spring and early summer
Rest so easy on the eye.
The lush, green rolling carpet
Covers Johnny Clare, young cowboy.
But his spirit's free and dancing
With Mariah in the sky.

          © Larry McWhorter, reprinted by permission from Cowboy Poetry: Contemporary Verse


About the poem

Larry McWhorter wrote about his inspiration for Johnny Clare in his book, Cowboy Poetry: Contemporary Verse, where these words are accompanied by the photo below of Larry at Johnny Clare's gravesite:

Having been in numerous wrecks and tight spots I have to give thanks to God for protecting me through all of them.  Through His grace there was always someone close by the times I was badly hurt.

Anyone who has ever had an angry cowbrute on the end of the their rope knows how fast things can get out of hand.  A wreck can occur so quickly you don't even have time to be scared until it's over.

Don Wells of Pawhuska, Oklahoma gave me a rough outline of this story and told me where the grave was.  Having found the spot, I stood there scanning the surrounding area trying to picture how it might have looked nearly 80 years before.


reprinted with permission from Cowboy Poetry: Contemporary Verse

A genuine chill went through my body as I thought of how Johnny must have felt; unable to move and knowing he might not be found or even missed for days.

I visited with an old Osage Indian who was ten years old when the tinker in the poem came to town with the story.  His information was invaluable.


After the poem in his book, Larry McWhorter wrote:

This is one of my favorite pieces of work.  When I finished it I was emotionally drained from the research of trying to piece together something with so many missing parts.  Also, Johnny's story itself began to haunt me.  Was it right?  Was it even close?

Perhaps the greatest moment of my writing career came one day in Ruidoso, New Mexico when, after performing this poem, an elderly lady approached me and said, "Young man, I don't know where you got your information for that story, but it's just the way my uncle told it to me.  My uncle was Dwight Barnard, the man who found Johnny Clare."  


In July, 2003, Joe E. Barnard wrote to us:

So sorry to hear of the passing of Larry. Caused me to look for the website as I have long wanted to obtain a tape containing the Johnny Clare poem. My aunt brought it to me to hear quite some time ago because it was my granddad, Dwight Barnard, who found Clare. I live in Fairfax, Oklahoma, not far from Clare's gravesite. A cousin of mine who worked for Conoco was the person responsible for getting the plaque for the grave. I remember for years seeing a lone white cross on the grave not knowing the story behind the death of the cowboy. Every time I went by there with my dad he would always point out the gravesite, but I barely remember him mentioning that his father was a small part of the story of Johnnie Clare. 

Recently, a tornado tore across Osage County and demolished the ranch house to the west of the grave. Three horses were killed by the twister and the horses were buried very near Clare's grave. I took a picture while the hole was being dug by a backhoe for the horses. The reason for the picture was the three horses had been laid nearby and a cowboy was sitting on one of the dead horses waiting for the grave to be completed. It was a very sad sight and I couldn't help but think of the cowboy that would soon have 3 new horses to add to his string. I'm sure the sad cowboy atop one his dead horses had the same thoughts when the decision was made to lay his horses within a rope's throw of Johnny Clare.


Additional links

Larry McWhorter feature at CowboyPoetry.com


Track 16:  Mick Vernon,  "Picayune Valley"  

 

Below:

About the track, "Picayune Valley"
About the poet, Mick Vernon
The poem, "Picayune Valley"
About the poem
About the music
Additional links 

About the track, "Picayune Valley"

The "Picayune Valley" recording, by Mick Vernon, is from The Lyrical Lawman Rides!, a CD released in 2003.


About the poet, Mick Vernon

Mick Vernon pens poems about his time spent in the saddle working cattle with the Dobbas outfit in the Sierra's near Auburn, California, and about other reflections of western life. 

He is also a trained farrier, although he's known as the "Lyrical Lawman" because of his two decades with the Seaside (California) Police Department.  

Mick is the director of the Monterey Cowboy Poetry & Music Festival and has performed there, the California Rodeo Cowboy Poetry Gathering, The Red Mule Ranch Cowboy Campfire, and at numerous other venues. He is also the host of Radio Ranch, which airs each Sunday from 5pm to 7pm on KNRY radio in Santa Cruz, Salinas, and Monterey, California. 

Mick Vernon has recorded The Lyrical Lawman Rides! and published a book by the same name.

 


The poem, "Picayune Valley"


Picayune Valley

I was ridin' for the Dobbas outfit,
must've been the fall of '93,
when we rode up to the snow-line,
my pardner Don an' me.

We was headed to a little spot I'd never been before
had to pick up whatever stock we could find.
Y'see, winter was a'creepin' up quick
an' we didn't want no stragglers left behind.

Well, we crossed a little crick, topped a small rise,
rounded a bend or two,
when we opened upon a glorious sight,
this little valley they call Picayune.

With snow-capped mountains loomin' tall on three sides
an' a valley floor covered in greens an' golds,
pardner, you'd a'been hard-pressed to stop the warmth an' awe
t'was bubblin' in my soul!

It took a few hours to reach the snow-line,
but the time flew like wild geese migratin'
'cause the slick shale crossin's from meadow to meadow
kept my heart more than properly functuatin'!

But we fin'lly reached the end of that little box canyon
after spottin' a handful of pairs,
then we combed the high timber for the loners
an' turnt 'em for the trip back down the stairs.

An' as we started back down I had a quick thought
that it'd taken several hours to collect a herd quite thin.
An' calculatin' the time it'd take to return
I realized it'd be well past chuck when we straggled in.

But a smile cut the grit when I recalled all that wonder
an' suddenly I didn't mind comin' back with the moon.
Y'see, we're herdin 'em back the same way we came in,
through that little valley they call Picayune.

© Mick Vernon, from The Lyrical Lawman Rides! 
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.


About the poem

Mick Vernon comments: 

Everyone who's ever worked a'horseback or otherwise spent long hours in the saddle can recall some one place that, upon cresting a hill or rounding a bend, touched his or her soul and forever gained itself a prominent place in their heart.  Picayune Valley is that place for me. 


About the music

The music behind "Picayune Valley" is the traditional song, "Whoopee-ti-yi-o, Git Along Little Dogies," arranged and performed by Mick Vernon.


Additional links

Mick Vernon feature at CowboyPoetry.com
Radio Ranch feature at CowboyPoetry.com
Monterey Cowboy Poetry & Music Festival feature at CowboyPoetry.com
Monterey Cowboy Poetry and Music Festival web site


Track 17:  Linda Kirkpatrick, "When Roundup Time Comes 'Round"

Below:

About the track, "When Roundup Time Comes 'Round"
About the poet, Linda Kirkpatrick
The poem, "When Roundup Time Comes 'Round"
About the poem
About the music
Additional links

 

About the track, "When Roundup Time Comes 'Round"

"When Roundup Time Comes 'Round" is from Linda Kirkpatrick's CD, Beneath a Western Sky.


About the poet, Linda Kirkpatrick

Linda Kirkpatrick comments:

I was born and raised on a ranch in South Central Texas and that ranch life experience gave me the foundation and desire to research and write about cowboys, cowgirls and life in the west.

I have performed at major cowboy gatherings throughout the states of Texas, New Mexico, Louisiana, Nevada and Utah, individually and as a member of the group, Cowboy Sunset Serenade (which includes Frank Roberts and Joe Wells). Cowboy Sunset Serenade is part of the Texas Touring Arts Program, funded by the Texas Commission on the Arts.

Individually I have been invited to perform the Texas Cowboy Poetry Gathering at Alpine; The National Cowboy Symposium in Lubbock; the Colorado Cowboy Poetry Gathering at Arvada; the Cowboy Symposium in Camp Wood, Texas; George West Storyfest in George West, Texas; and other gatherings, and have have performed at state parks, schools festivals and for business and private groups. I was a double Silver Buckle winner at the Western Legends Roundup and Cowboy Poetry Rodeo in Kanab, Utah in 2004.

The stories and poems in my book, Somewhere in the West, celebrate some notable women of the west and my pioneering family. I'm proud to  descend from a long line of cowboys and ranchers, and it is a privilege, as well as a deeply felt responsibility, to pay tribute to these people who were the backbone of the settlement of the west.  My poetry CD, Beneath a Western Sky, was released in 2005.  


 

[Photo of Linda Kirkpatrick by Jeri L. Dobrowski]


The poem, "When Roundup Time Comes 'Round"

When Round Up Time Comes Around

The wood floor creaks in the bunkhouse
But never a voice is heard.
There is the rattle of plates on the table
As every cowboy is served.

The jingle of spurs, the bumping of boots,
And the creak of the bunkhouse door,
These are the 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 begin to stir,
With a whinny and a prick of the ear.
The familiar sounds of the morning
Tells them saddling time is near.

The feel of the Levi jacket he wears,
To turn back the morning chill.
A soft glow of pink in an eastern sky,
As the sun wakes from behind the hill.

The strike of a match for one last smoke,
The last of his coffee hitting the ground,
These are the sounds of early morn
As 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 porch,
This is the only life he has known.

He walks to the barn in the darkness.
His steps crunch the frost bit ground.
These wonderful sounds of the break of day,
As round up time comes around.

The cold leather creaks of his saddle,
The jingle of the hackamore bit,
These are the sounds of a cowboy
The sounds of toil and grit.

He smiles as they ride from the ranch house.
He cherishes this life he has found.
He lives for this day and always has,
The day round up time comes around.

© 2004, Linda Kirkpatrick
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.


About the poem

Linda Kirkpatrick comments:

When I was five or six, I was big enough to have my own horse but not big enough to realize that I was allowed to spend so many hours on that horse just to keep me out of the way while my dad and uncles were working in the pens.  So I really could not understand, when roundup time came 'round,  why I could not go with them for the morning circle. On those early mornings I was always sent back to bed.  Well, I reluctantly went back to bed but would crack the window so that I could see and hear the "goings on" as Daddy, Uncle Joe D. and Uncle Lloyd would leave in the mornings without me. "When Round Up Time Comes ‘Round" was inspired by the sounds I heard as I lay in my bed. 


Linda Kirkpatrick


About the music

Frank Roberts, part of the Cowboy Sunset Serenade with Linda Kirkpatrick and Joe Wells, performs the piano music in the background of this track. On the original recording, Frank Roberts also sings the traditional song, "I'd Like to Be in Texas," and Joe Wells creates the sound effects of "The jingle of spurs, the bumping of boots, and the creak of the bunkhouse door."


Additional links

Linda Kirkpatrick's feature at CowboyPoetry.com

Cowboy Sunset Serenade at the Texas Commission on the Arts web site


Track 18:  Jay Snider, "300 Miles to Go"

 

Below:

About the track, "300 Miles to Go"
About the poet, Jay Snider
The poem, "300 Miles to Go"
About the poem
About the music
Additional links

About the track, "300 Miles to Go"

Jay Snider's "300 Miles to Go" is from his CD, Of Horses and Men.


About the poet, Jay Snider

Jay Snider was born and raised in the southwest Oklahoma and calls Cyril, Oklahoma home. Born to a ranching and rodeo family, his dad a top roper and rodeo cowboy and his grandad a brand inspector for the Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association. He rodeoed throughout most of his early years and now stays busy raising ranch horses, cattle, and team roping. Jay continues to judge a few amateur rodeos around home and hosts the annual Invitational Rafter S Ranch Cowboy Reunion.

Some of his recent performances include the Western Folklife Center's National Cowboy Poetry Gathering; the Chisholm Trail Stampede in Duncan, Oklahoma; the Western Heritage Classic in Abilene, Texas; and the National Cowboy Symposium in Lubbock, Texas. Jay is a six-time nominee for male poet of the year by the Academy of Western Artists. His album Cowboyin', Horses and Friends was nominated for best poetry album for 2001. 

Jay recently appeared on Country Music Television's, Christmas in Cowboy Country hosted by Clint Black. He was a Silver Buckle winner at Kanab, Utah's Cowboy Poetry Rodeo in 2004 and was a featured cowboy poet at the Ozarks Fall Roundup Cowboy Gathering hosted by Shepherd of the Hills Outdoor Theater in Branson, Missouri. Jay also was a featured cowboy poet in 2005 at the Kamloops Cowboy Festival in Kamloops, British Columbia and at Cal Farley's Youth Poetry Gathering near Amarillo, Texas. Recently, Jay was awarded the "Best of the Best" trophy at Kanab, Utah's Cowboy Poetry Rodeo. Jay released his second cowboy poetry recording, Of Horses and Men, in 2006.

  Jay Snider's "Cowboyin', Horses and Friends"


The poem, "300 Miles to Go"

Three Hundred Miles To Go

Three hundred miles behind us
'Bout the same still lay ahead
Trail boss says in three more days
We'll reach the "Mighty Red"

He says the Red's a bad one
When it's deep and on the rise
A dozen boys all prayin'
We'll just make it through alive

If the river smiles upon us
And we dodge it's deathly lair
Will we make it through the "Nations"
With our lives and with our hair

The ghostly sounds of evening
In a land that's wild and mean
Are sounds that make your blood run cold
To a boy of seventeen

It makes you long for mornin' light
And though you're not alone
Your mind will take you back again
To fond memories of home

The trail boss is a mean ole' cuss
It seems he's always mad
But he's the closest thing we've got
To bein' like a dad

Ole' "Cookie" told us straight and true
Without no reason and no rhyme
Do what the "Old Man" tells you
Do it each and every time

He's made it six and sixty years
By bein' no man's fool
The lessons he can teach you
Won't be taught in grammar school

So study hard your lessons
Make note the dangers that you've seen
With God's grace and that old man
Chances are you'll make eighteen

The herd is restin' easy now
That's sure a welcome sight
They ran for four and half a mile
In the lightnin' storm last night

The canyon helped us turn 'em
The lightnin' helped us see
The canyon walls were sharp and steep
We saved 'em all but three

A dozen boys rode out last night
We rode just like the wind
Young Billy turned the leading steers
All the boys but him rode in

We found him there next mornin'
Near the rim he'd made his stance
Two thousand hooves, a thousand horns
Billy never had a chance

His grave's a simple mound of stones
A marker near it stands
It reads: This boy of seventeen
Would have been a right fine man

The "Old Man" quoted scripture
From the Bible that he knew
Said "his momma's gonna miss him
I know these MEN will miss him too

Then he told us, "daylights burnin'
Best get these beefsteaks to the rail
Saddle up your ponies, boys
Throw the herd out on the trail"

© 2003, Jay Snider
These words may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.


About the poem

Jay Snider comments:

I've always thought I was born a hundred years too late, as do most cowboys. Having been raised in southwest Oklahoma, right between the Chisholm Trail and the Western Trail, the history of the old cattle trails is quite vivid in our part of the country. Therefore, had I been born in 1853 instead of 1953, I would have been just a teenager during the peak years of the cattle drives. I have no doubt that had I lived in those days, I would have been a drover pushing Longhorn cattle up to the railheads in Kansas. This poem is merely an attempt to paint the picture that hangs in my mind.


About the music

Matt Keith's dramatic music accompanies this track.


Additional links

Jay Snider's feature at CowboyPoetry.com
Jay Snider's web site


Track 19: Andy Hedges, "Boomer Johnson," by Henry Herbert Knibbs

 

Below:

About the track, "Boomer Johnson"
About the poet, Henry Herbert Knibbs
About the reciter, Andy Hedges
The poem, "Boomer Johnson"
About the poem
About the music
Additional links

 

About the track, "Boomer Johnson"

"Boomer Johnson" is from Andy Hedges' CD, Days and Nights in the Saddle. The poem is by Henry Herbert Knibbs (1874-1945), included in his 1930 book, Songs of the Lost Frontier.


About the poet, Henry Herbert Knibbs

The poems of Henry Herbert Knibbs (1874-1945) are frequently recited at cowboy poetry gatherings. He held a love for horses from boyhood, but he had no ranching experience.  He was a serious student of literature and the West and was as respected by other Western writers of his time as he is by contemporary writers, readers, and listeners.

He wrote articles and novels, and published five books of poetry, First poems (1908), Songs of the Outlands: Ballads of the Hoboes and Other Verse (1914), Riders of the Stars: A Book of Western Verse (1916), Songs of the Trail (1920), Saddle Songs and Other Verse (1922), and Songs of the Lost Frontier (1930).


About the reciter, Andy Hedges

Andy Hedges is a cowboy poet and reciter, a singer and songwriter, and a guitarist.

Hailing from Lubbock, Texas, he has entertained audiences all over the West with his classic cowboy recitations, clean guitar work, and cowboy folk music.  He has been invited to perform at the Western Folklife Center's National Cowboy Poetry Gathering, the National Cowboy Symposium, and at countless cowboy gatherings, theaters, schools, and concerts around the West.

Andy Hedges has a CD of cowboy poetry, Days and Nights in the Saddle, and an album of music released in 2005, City Boys.  Produced by Andy Wilkinson, City Boys is a collection of "eclectic cowboy folk" music. It includes new songs by Andy Hedges, Rod Taylor, and Andy Wilkinson; old obscure songs from the cowboy, Scottish, bluegrass, and folk traditions; as well as songs by Bob Dylan and Don McLean. Producer Andy Wilkinson writes: "cowboy music was always like the cowboy: unsuitable for fencing, impossible to corral, unwilling to go any way but its own. Which pretty well describes the music of Andy Hedges."

 

 


The poem, "Boomer Johnson"

Boomer Johnson

Now Mr. Boomer Johnson was a gettin' old in spots,
But you don't expect a bad man to go wrastlin' pans and pots;
But he'd done his share of killin' and his draw was gettin' slow,
So he quits a-punchin' cattle and he takes to punchin' dough.

Our foreman up and hires him, figurin' age had rode him tame,
But a snake don't get no sweeter just by changin' of its name.
Well, Old Boomer knowed his businesshe could cook to make you smile,
But say, he wrangled fodder in a most peculiar style.

He never used no matchesleft em layin' on the shelf,
Just some kerosene and cussin' and the kindlin' lit itself.
And, pardner, I'm allowin' it would give a man a jolt
To see him stir frijoles with the barrel of his Colt.

Now killin' folks and cookin' ain't so awful far apart,
That musta been why Boomer kept a-practicin' his art;
With the front sight of his pistol he would cut a pie-lid slick,
And he'd crimp her with the muzzle for to make the edges stick.

He built his doughnuts solid, and it sure would curl your hair
To see him plug a doughnut as he tossed it in the air.
He bored the holes plum center every time his pistol spoke,
Till the can was full of doughnuts and the shack was full of smoke.

We all was gettin' jumpy, but he couldn't understand
Why his shootin' made us nervous when his cookin' was so grand.
He kept right on performin', and it weren't no big surprise
When he took to markin' tombstones on the covers of his pies.

They didn't taste no better and they didn't taste no worse,
But a-settin' at the table was like ridin' in a hearse;
You didn't do no talkin' and you took just what you got,
So we et till we was foundered just to keep from gettin' shot.

When at breakfast one bright mornin', I was feelin' kind of low,
Old Boomer passed the doughnuts and I tells him plenty:
"No, All I takes this trip is coffee, for my stomach is a wreck."
I could see the itch for killin' swell the wattle on his neck.

Scorn his grub? He strings some doughnuts on the muzzle of his gun,
And he shoves her in my gizzard and he says, "You're takin' one!"
He was set to start a graveyard, but for once he was mistook;
Me not wantin' any doughnuts, I just up and salts the cook.

Did they fire him? Listen, pardner, there was nothin' left to fire,
Just a row of smilin' faces and another cook to hire.
If he joined some other outfit and is cookin', what I mean,
It's where they ain't no matches and they don't need kerosene.

by Henry Herbert Knibbs
reprinted with permission from Classic Rhymes by Henry Herbert Knibbs, 1999, Cowboy Miner Productions


About the poem

"Boomer Johnson" is widely recited, was put to music by Katie Lee, and is sung by Glenn Orhlin and others.


About the music

The music on this track is the traditional tune, "Sweet Betsy from Pike," performed by Andy Hedges.


Additional links

Andy Hedges' feature at CowboyPoetry.com
Henry Herbert Knibbs' feature at CowboyPoetry.com

Andy Hedges' web site


Track 20:  Rod Nichols, "Yep"

Below:

About the track, "Yep"
About the poet, Rod Nichols
The poem, "Yep"
 Additional links

About the track, "Yep"

"Yep" is from Rod Nichols' CD, Yep, A Little Bit More of Texas.


About the poet, Rod Nichols

Rod Nichols, a native Texan born in Nacogdoches, resides in Missouri City, Texas.  

His poetry has been published in anthologies and publications. His poem, "Heading Out," was included in former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor's memoir, The Lazy B.

Rod Nichols has several recordings, including Yep, A Little Bit More of Texas, Cowboy Christmas Mem'ries, and In God's Hands. His book of poetry, A Little Bit of Texas, received the Will Rogers Medallion Award from the Academy of Western Artists.

 


The poem, "Yep"

Yep

"It's been awhile," the cowboy said.
"Yep," replied his friend.
"It must be nearly fifteen years."
"Yep," he said again.

"I guess you been a driftin' some?"
"Yep," his friend replied.
"I guess I've done about the same."
"Yep," the old friend sighed.

"Remember Shorty Winkleman?"
"Yep," friend answered slow.
"I hear he up and passed away."
"Yep," he answered low.

"Sure looks like we may have some rain."
"Yep," his friend allow'd.
"Lord knows that we can stand relief."
"Yep," the other scowled.

"I guess you need to head on out?"
"yep," his friend intoned.
"I sure am glad we got to chat."
"Yep," the old hand droned.

The cowboy, after supper, said
he'd run into Ray.
The other boys now gathered 'round.
"What'd he have to say?"

"He said that it had been awhile,
nearly fifteen years.
he said that he had drifted some
workin'  with them steers."

"He said he knowed 'bout Shorty's death,
 that it made him sad.
He figured we was in fer rain,
fer relief was glad."

"He said he was a headin' out,
glad we got to jaw.
Ol' Ray is quite a talker, boys.
Beats all I ever saw."

© 2003, Rod Nichols
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.


 Additional links

Rod Nichols' feature at CowboyPoetry.com

Rod Nichols' web site


Track 21: Trey Allen "Alone" by Bruce Kiskaddon

Below:

About the track, "Alone"
About the poet, Bruce Kiskaddon
About the reciter, Trey Allen
The poem, "Alone"
Additional links

About the track, "Alone"

"Alone" is from Trey Allen's CD, Cowpoke.  The poem was written by Bruce Kiskaddon (1878-1950) and appeared in his 1947 book, Rhymes of the Ranges and Other Poems. 


About the poet, Bruce Kiskaddon

The poems of Bruce Kiskaddon (1878-1950) are widely recited. A writer with cowboying experience, his poems have retained their popularity since they were first published, many of them appearing in the Western Livestock Journal during the 1930s and 1940s.

Kiskaddon wrote over 400 poems and published four books of poetry: Just As Is (1928), Rhymes of the Ranges (1924), Western Poems (1935), and Rhymes of the Ranges and Other Poems (1947).

Two modern editions of his poetry are valuable resources: Rhymes of the Ranges: A New Collection of Poems of Bruce Kiskaddon (1987) and Cowboy Poetry: Classic Rhymes by Bruce Kiskaddon (1997).  Shorty's YarnsWestern Stories and poems of Bruce Kiskaddon, edited by Bill Siems, was published in 2004.

See our features on Bruce Kiskaddon for more biographical information and for information on his books and the modern collections.


About the reciter, Trey Allen

Trey Allen has been writing and reciting cowboy poetry for years, first memorizing and reciting poems as a means to entertain himself.

Trey rodeoed and day-worked in high school and college and gained a few "truths" to share in his writing.  He prefers poems to tell a story but says that the term storyteller may imply that a feller might tell outside of the truth so he engineered the phrase "Quality Truth Improvement" to better describe any work that may seem far-fetched.  

Cowboy poetry has given Trey the opportunity to do the one thing he enjoys most; meet people.  From the gulf coast of Alabama to Salt Lake City, he has attended many gatherings and made many friends and it is his hope that perhaps he has made an impression on some them as well.

Currently, Trey Allen does ranch work near Manhattan, Kansas.

Trey Allen has two recordings, Bits and Spurs of Cowboy Poetry and Cowpoke.

 


The poem, "Alone"

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
 

Additional links

Trey Allen feature at CowboyPoetry.com
Bruce Kiskaddon feature at CowboyPoetry.com
Bruce Kiskaddon Shorty's Yarns feature at CowboyPoetry.com


Track 22:  Buck Ramsey, "Anthem"

Below:

About the track, "Anthem"
About the poet, Buck Ramsey
The poem, "Anthem"
About the poem
Additional links


About the track, "Anthem"

The "Anthem" recording, by Buck Ramsey, is included on a CD that accompanies the book, Buck Ramsey's Grass, with essays on his life and work, published by Texas Tech University Press, 2005.

In an introduction to the recording, Andy Wilkinson tells how this recording was made, not long after Buck Ramsey had finished the first draft of the poem, and after Buck "... had made a new friend of his long-time idol, folk singer Ramblin' Jack Elliott. They'd met at the Elko Cowboy Poetry gathering in one of those famous after-hours jam sessions at the Stockman's Hotel where Buck and Jack swapped poems and songs into the small hours of the morning... Ramblin' Jack was especially taken with one of the poems he'd heard Buck recite and suggested that Buck get it down on tape, mentioning that he had a friend in Nashville, musician John Hartford, who had a nicely-appointed home studio...."  Wilkinson comments that this track is from that tape, "the first ever made of the modern cowboy classic 'Grass.'"  

Wilkinson adds, "There's one more small, but important, part of the story.  When Texas Tech University Press came to reissue the poem, Buck's widow Bette suggested that they use this recording, the one that Buck had always thought of as his best, his favorite.  But the only copy she had was damaged, and as John Hartford had also since died, there was little hope of reclaiming it. Luckily, Buck's long-time friend Eddie Reeves had saved the original and was able to track down a studio with the machinery to transfer it into a contemporary format from which the engineer was then able to restore the damaged parts.  So as you listen to this piece of history, remember that it's one that would have been lost but for the circle of friendship.  And that's pure Buck Ramsey."

Read the entire introduction here, in our feature about Buck Ramsey's Grass, with essays on his life and work.

Permission for inclusion of this track was kindly granted by Texas Tech University Press.


About the poet, Buck Ramsey

BuckPortraitWeb.jpg (36314 bytes)

Buck Ramsey is recognized as the “spiritual leader” of cowboy poetry, a National Endowment for the Arts Fellow, who died in 1998.  Hal Cannon, founding director of the Western Folklife Center, home of the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering, has commented on Buck Ramsey's writing and music, "His work 'Anthem' is probably thought of as the finest contemporary piece of writing in this tradition..."

See much biographical information about Buck Ramsey, with many comments about him from contemporary poets and others in our feature here

Buck Ramsey made two recordings that received the Western Heritage Wrangler Award from the National Cowboy and Western Museum, Rolling Uphill from Texas and My Home it Was in Texas. In 2003, Smithsonian Folkways Recordings released Buck Ramsey ~ Hittin' the Trail, and that recording also received the Western Heritage Wrangler Award.  Buck Ramsey was the author of two books, And As I Rode Out on the Morning (1993) and Christmas Waltz (1996). In 2005, Texas Tech University Press published Buck Ramsey's Grass, with essays on his life and work. His work has been recorded by many others and is included in many anthologies.

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[Photo of Buck Ramsey by Scott Braucher, used with permission]


The poem, "Anthem"

Anthem

And in the morning I was riding
Out through the breaks of that long plain,
And leather creaking on the quieting
Would sound with trot and trot again.
I lived in time with horse hoof falling;
I listened well and heard the calling
The earth, my mother, bade to me,
Though I would still ride wild and free.
And as I flew out in the morning,
Before the bird, before the dawn,
I was the poem, I was the song.
My heart would beat the world a warning—
Those horsemen now rode all with me,
And we were good, and we were free.

We were not told, but ours the knowing
We were the native strangers there
Among the things the land was growing—
To know this gave us more the care
To let the grass keep at its growing
And let the streams keep at their flowing.
We knew the land would not be ours,
That no one has the awful pow'rs
To claim the vast and common nesting,
To own the life that gave him birth,
Much less to rape his mother earth
And ask her for a mother's blessing
And ever live in peace with her,
And, dying, come to rest with her.

Oh, we would ride and we would listen
And hear the message on the wind.
The grass in morning dew would glisten
Until the sun would dry and blend
The grass to ground and air to skying.
We'd know by bird or insect flying
Or by their mood or by their song
If time and moon were right or wrong
For fitting works and rounds to weather.
The critter coats and leaves of trees
Might flash some signal with a breeze—
Or wind and sun on flow'r or feather.
We knew our way from dawn to dawn,
And far beyond, and far beyond.

It was the old ones with me riding
Out through the fog fall of the dawn,
And they would press me to deciding
If we were right or we were wrong.
For time came we were punching cattle
For men who knew not spur nor saddle,
Who came with locusts in their purse
To scatter loose upon the earth.
The savage had not found this prairie
Till some who hired us came this way
To make the grasses pay and pay
For some raw greed no wise or wary
Regard for grass could satisfy.
The old ones wept and so did I.
Do you remember? We'd come jogging
To town with jingle in our jeans,
And in the wild night we'd be bogging
Up to our hats in last month's dreams.
It seemed the night could barely hold us
With all those spirits to embold' us
While, horses waiting on three legs,
We'd drain the night down to the dregs.
And just before beyond redemption
We'd gather back to what we were.
We'd leave the money left us there
And head our horses for the wagon.
But in the ruckus, in the whirl,
We were the wolves of all the world.

The grass was growing scarce for grazing,
Would soon turn sod or soon turn bare.
The money men set to replacing
The good and true in spirit there.
We could not say, there was no knowing,
How ill the future winds were blowing.
Some cowboys even shunned the ways
Of cowboys in the trail herd days
(But where's the gift not turned for plunder?),
Forgot that we are what we do
And not the stuff we lay claim to.
I dream the spell that we were under;
I throw in with a cowboy band
And go out horseback through the land.

So mornings now I'll go out riding
Through pastures of my solemn plain,
And leather creaking in the quieting
Will sound with trot and trot again.
I'll live in time with horse hoof falling;
I'll listen well and hear the calling
The earth, my mother, bids to me,
Though I will still ride wild and free.
And as I ride out on the morning
Before the bird, before the dawn,
I'll be this poem, I'll be this song.
My heart will beat the world a warning—
Those horsemen will ride all with me,
And we'll be good, and we'll be free.

© 1993, Buck Ramsey, all rights reserved
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without written permission.


About the poem

"Anthem" is the prologue of Buck Ramsey's book-length poem, Grass

In her introduction to Buck Ramsey's Grass, with essays on his life and work, Bette Ramsey writes, "Buck Ramsey's epic poem Grass began as a short story called 'A Beginning.' Later he rewrote it for a magazine and named it 'The Wagon Incident.'  The poem [was] originally published in 1993 as And As I Rode Out in the Morning..."  Read the entire introduction here.

Buck Ramsey has written, "I took the stanza scheme from Pushkin and the plot from a short story I wrote, called 'A Beginning.' The poem is meant to be the beginning and a very small part of a story of cowboys on the plains."  

Grass follows the life and experiences of Billy Deaver, who leaves the farm at 15 to pursue a cowboy's life. Poet Joel Nelson describes the poem, "From the leaving of home and kin, through the stirrings of adolescence, to the making of a hand in a tribe of men who 'the gods had chosen well,' there is nothing a cowboy could ever want to say that Buck hasn't covered in Grass."


Additional links

Buck Ramsey feature at CowboyPoetry.com
Buck Ramsey's Grass feature at CowboyPoetry.com

Texas Tech University Press web site
Andy Wilkinson's web site

see additional links in our feature here


Track 23:  Dick Morton, "A Cowboy's Prayer" by Badger Clark

Below:

About the track, "A Cowboy's Prayer"
About the poet, Badger Clark
About the reciter, Dick Morton
The poem, "A Cowboy's Prayer"
About the poem
About the reciter's inspiration
About the music
Additional links

About the track, "A Cowboy's Prayer"

"A Cowboy's Prayer" is from Dick Morton's CD, Cowboy Classics.  The poem is by Charles Badger Clark, Jr. (1883-1957). It first appeared in Pacific Monthly magazine in 1906 and was included in his first poetry collection, Sun and Saddle Leather, in 1915.


About the poet, Badger Clark

Charles Badger Clark, Jr. (1883-1957) was a South Dakota native. He lived there most of his life and he became that state's poet laureate. He spent time as a young man in the southwest, and his cow-tending experiences there informed much of his poetry. Many of Clark's poems have been put to music, including "A Border Affair (Spanish is a Loving Tongue)."

Clark first collected his poetry in Sun and Saddle Leather in 1915, which has remained in print, some nine editions later. Later editions of Sun and Saddle Leather include Clark's second book of poetry, Grass Grown Trails. He published Sky Lines and Wood Smoke in 1935. Some of his short stories were collected in a "novel" called Spike, the Biography of an Arizona Cowboy, published in 1925. A number of reprints and some posthumous collections of his work have been published by the Badger Clark Memorial Society. 

Several contemporary biographies have been written about Clark, including one by Jessie Y. Sundstrom of the Badger Clark Memorial Society in 2004, and another by Helen F. Morganti in 1960, commissioned by the South Dakota State Historical Society. In 2005, Arizona historian Greg Scott edited Cowboy Poetry, Classic Poems & Prose by Badger Clark, a book that includes all of Badger Clark's short stories and some of his poetry, including more than two dozen previously unpublished or long out-of-print poems.

 

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[photo of Badger Clark from Cowboy Poetry, Classic Poems & Prose by Badger Clark, used with permission]


About the reciter, Dick Morton

dickmorton06bwj.JPG (9177 bytes)

Dick is a Colorado native whose grandparents settled in Denver in the 1870'sthe era of cattle drives and the cowboy West. He was assigned to the 8th Cavalry at the end of WW II and says, "I rode many a horse on weekends." After college he married a rancher's daughter (Jane Morton) and "got broke in" fixing fence, windmills, shoveling silage, feeding cattle, round-up and branding. By learning the classics he passes on the "cowboy heritage" of the great early days' poets. Dick has participated in gatherings throughout Arizona and Colorado.  Now retired, he lives in the Black Forest near Colorado Springs, Colorado.  Dick Morton won the championship buckle as the top serious reciter at the 2005 Cowboy Poetry Rodeo.

Dick Morton has two CDs, Cowboy Classics, with his recitations, and a two-disc CD that includes his wife Jane Morton's poetry, Turning to Face the Wind and Cowboy Classics

[photo of Dick and Jane Morton by Teddie Daley]


The poem, "A Cowboy's Prayer"

A Cowboy's Prayer
(Written for Mother)

Oh Lord, I've never lived where churches grow.
    I love creation better as it stood
That day You finished it so long ago
    And looked upon Your work and called it good.
I know that others find You in the light
    That's sifted down through tinted window panes,
And yet I seem to feel You near tonight
    In this dim, quiet starlight on the plains.

I thank You, Lord, that I am placed so well,
    That You have made my freedom so complete;
That I'm no slave of whistle, clock or bell,
    Nor weak-eyed prisoner of wall and street.
Just let me live my life as I've begun
    And give me work that's open to the sky;
Make me a pardner of the wind and sun,
    And I won't ask a life that's soft or high.

Let me be easy on the man that's down;
    Let me be square and generous with all.
I'm careless sometimes, Lord, when I'm in town,
    But never let 'em say I'm mean or small!
Make me as big and open as the plains,
    As honest as the hawse between my knees,
Clean as the wind that blows behind the rains,
    Free as the hawk that circles down the breeze!

Forgive me, Lord, if sometimes I forget.
    You know about the reasons that are hid.
You understand the things that gall and fret;
    You know me better than my mother did.
Just keep an eye on all that's done and said
    And right me, sometimes, when I turn aside,
And guide me on the long, dim, trail ahead
    That stretches upward toward the Great Divide.

by Charles Badger Clark Jr.


About the poem

"A Cowboy's Prayer" first appeared in Pacific Monthly magazine in 1906 and was included in Badger Clark's first poetry collection, Sun and Saddle Leather, in 1915.   

In her 2004 book, Badger Clark, Cowboy Poet with Universal Appeal, Jessie Y. Sundstrom tells how Badger Clark's mother encouraged him to write a poem reflecting the cowboy's religion. She writes, "He told her that he had heard cowboys use biblical expressions but not in the context of a religious nature."  The resulting poem was "A Cowboy's Prayer," which, Sundstrom writes, "...almost immediately became a part of southwestern folklore and was widely quoted and  reprinted. In the Badger Hole, his last home, are over forty postcards from indignant fans letting him know that his poem appeared with 'Author Unknown' or 'Anonymous' at the end."

In Katie Lee's classic book, Ten Thousand Goddam Cattle, A History of the American Cowboy in Song, Story, and Verse, she writes. "Of the hundreds of poems written about cowboys praying to the stars, this is probably the best.  I've heard any number of cowboys recite it, but have never heard one sing it. The language is true to his free-roving spirit and gives insight to the code he lived bythe things he expected of himself."


About the reciter's inspiration

Dick Morton comments:

I first wanted to learn the poem, "A Cowboys Prayer," by Charles Badger Clark Jr., because it gave me a model to live by.  Clark put into words what I have always felt.

Most of all that poem became very special to me when I was spending six weeks in the hospital being treated for leukemia. One evening, in the lounge, another cancer patient and I were sharing our thoughts about our faith. I told her that I knew a poem that gave me a lot of faith and hope—"A Cowboys Prayer."  I then recited it for her. Several nurses overheard and asked if I had a copy so they could post it on the bulletin board—I did have one.

The next day a representative from the Spiritual Services Office came to my room and asked about cowboy poetry and that poem—she also, wanted a copy. The next evening, during the nightly prayer time, "A Cowboys Prayer" was read over the intercom throughout the hospital. That prayer became extra special to me because I had received so much care and love from others that I wanted, somehow, to return something. I felt that sharing that poem did that.

(Jane Morton tells her husband's story in verse, in Dick's Story.) 


About the music

Dick Morton comments:

Rex Rideout plays the background music for this poem. Mark Gardner and Rex Rideout provided the background music for all the tracks on my Cowboy Classics CD. That is special because the instruments they use are from the period that Charles Badger Clark wrote "A Cowboy's Prayer" (1906). 


Additional links

Dick Morton feature at CowboyPoetry.com
Badger Clark feature at CowboyPoetry.com 
Cowboy Poetry, Classic Poems & Prose by Badger Clark feature at CowboyPoetry.com

The Badger Clark Memorial Society web site

Rex Rideout's Time Travel Music web site
Mark L. Gardner's Songs of the West web site  

see additional links for Badger Clark in our features here


Track 24:  Dee Strickland JohnsonBuckshot Dot, "The End of the Day"

Below:

About the track, "The End of the Day"
About the poet, Dee Strickland Johnson, "Buckshot Dot"
The poem, "The End of the Day"
Additional links

About the track, "The End of the Day"

"The End of the Day" is from the First Round Up CD by Dee Strickland Johnson (Buckshot Dot). It is also included in her book, First Roundup, Western Ballads.


About the poet, Dee Strickland Johnson, "Buckshot Dot"

Dee Strickland Johnson, "Buckshot Dot," has been featured at cowboy poetry gatherings and concerts all over Arizona as well as New Mexico, Texas, Colorado, Montana, California, and Arkansas.  In addition, she has appeared in concert in Alabama, Virginia and Vermont and at Festival of the West and the Western Music Association Festival.

The Academy of Western Artists' 1997 Female Cowboy Poet of the Year, she is a native Arizonan who grew up on the Navajo and Hualapai reservations and at the Petrified Forest.  (She insists she did NOT have picnics in the shade of those trees!)   She has also lived on a farm in Idaho and she and her husband had a ranch in Arkansas.  While there she performed regularly at the Ozark Folk Center and wrote heritage articles for a local newspaper.

She has taught at small schools in the Ozarks and in the largest inner city high school in Arizona. Dee is happily married to John (Ol' Buck) Johnson. They have three grown children and two grandchildren.

Dee Strickland Johnson has a number of recordings, including First Round Up; Buckaroo Bonanza; and The Unquiet Grave and other British Ballads, originally made in about 1976 when her husband John was working at the Ozark Folk Center and she and her children were appearing there nightly. She has written and illustrated collections of her poetry, including Cowman's Wife; Arizona Herstory, recipient of the Will Rogers Medallion Award; and, most recently, Arizona WomenWeird, Wild and Wonderful.


    bdazwomenj.jpg (15684 bytes)


The poem, "The End of the Day"

The End of the Day

Well, I see that the sun is setting,
     and quite soon the day will be gone,
But it doesn't much disturb me,
     'cause there'll sure be another dawn.

See, a cowboy lives in the country
     where he watches the seasons change.
One just comes after the other,
     and away out here on the range
It's roundup and brand in the springtime,
     haul water in June and and July.

In fall, it's roundup and shipping;
     then gather in a supply or firewood and feed for the cattle,
For winter is harsh beyond doubt;
     but always, there's greenup in springtime
'Cause somebody planned it all out.

Drought may well bring disaster;
     Yet I know sometime it will rain.
A cloudburst can mean misfortune;
     But the sun will shine someday again.

My sunset is quickly approaching;
     my evening star's brightening up there;
But I'm sure the designer of nature,
     is preparing a dawning—somewhere.

© 1997, Dee Strickland Johnson, All rights reserved
These words may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.


Additional links

Dee Strickland Johnson ("Buckshot Dot") feature at CowboyPoetry.com
Dee Strickland Johnsons web site 

 


Track 25:  Deanna Dickinson McCall, "Endangered"

Below:

About the track, "Endangered"
About the poet, Deanna Dickinson McCall
The poem, "Endangered"
Additional links

About the track, "Endangered"

"Endangered" is from Deanna McCall's CD, Hot Iron.


About the poet, Deanna Dickinson McCall

deannamccallj.jpg (32147 bytes)

Deanna Dickinson McCall is a fifth-generation rancher who was raised in the northern California foothills.  She spent 22 years ranching and raising her family on a remote Nevada ranch and is currently ranching in New Mexico. She writes from the view of daughter, hand, wife and mother.  

Poet Audrey Hankins has compared her writing to "to jerky, fat dried out by the land leaving lean lines dried to the essence of verbal nutrition."

She has been featured at the Western Folklife Center's National Cowboy Poetry Gathering, the Arizona Cowboy Poets Gathering, and at other gatherings and events throughout the West. Her poems and prose are included in anthologies, including Cowgirl Poetry and CowboyPoetry: The Reunion, and she has a recording, Hot Iron.

cpreunionbk.jpg (25377 bytes)   


The poem, "Endangered"

Endangered

How do we make people see that ranching is a lifestyle
Not just a business, but a way of life well worthwhile?
Family ranches mean just that...
Ranches run by families, not a corporate bureaucrat.
Understanding the land is ours just to use
An inheritance loved and never abused.
 
We try our best to practice what we preach
And our children do learn the lessons we teach.
Lives based on old-fashioned values and beliefs
Celebrating our neighbors joy, sharing in his grief.
 
We grow weary of accusations flung at us
And our future often appears ominous.
The very essence of our way of life
Is beyond their conception
And I sometimes wonder
When we will become endangered enough
To warrant the public's protection.
 
© Deanna Dickinson McCall, All rights reserved
These words may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.


Additional links

Deanna Dickinson McCall feature at CowboyPoetry.com


Track 26:  Andy Nelson, "Cowboy Poet" 

Below:

About the track, "Cowboy Poet"
About the poet, Andy Nelson
The poem, "Cowboy Poet"
About the music
Additional links

About the track, "Cowboy Poet"

"Cowboy Poet" is from Andy Nelson's CD, Harvey's Moon.  It is also included in the anthology, Wyoming Poets and Their Poetry.


About the poet, Andy Nelson

Andy Nelson is a modern day cowboy with a somewhat twisted funny bone. His original writings combined with his unusual facial expressions and body language leave audiences holding their sides and trying to catch their collective breath. Andy Nelson travels the west goofing off for everyone from poetry gatherings, to old west celebrations, to lunch room lady conventions. He is in great demand as an emcee.

Nelson grew up in the small town of Oakley, Idaho, where he spent most of his formative years learning to shoe horses at the hand of his father, Jim. Traveling all over southern Idaho, northern Nevada, and northern Utah plying the farrier trade with his father allowed Andy the best education possible in the cowboy school of hard knocks. Now living in Pinedale, Wyoming with his wife Jaclyn and their children, he no longer makes his living as a farrier, but the cowboy way of life is forever branded on his hide.

Andy Nelson and his brother Jim Nelson  broadcast their weekly radio program, Clear Out West (C. O. W.), throughout the West, bringing "news and entertainment of the cowboy culture" to a wide audience.  

Andy Nelson has two recordings, Harvey's Moon and Land Mines, and a book of his poetry and illustrations, RU Lazy 2?, includes a companion CD. 

    anlandminessmj.jpg (14200 bytes)

[photo of Andy Nelson by Stuart Johnson]


The poem, "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
These words may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.


About the music

The background music on this track is by Steve Laster of Pinedale, Wyoming.


Additional links

Andy Nelson feature at CowboyPoetry.com
Clear Out West feature at CowboyPoetry.com

Andy Nelson's web site
Clear Out West web site


Andy Nelson generously donated his time and talents as the engineer and co-producer of 
The BAR-D Roundup
.


Track 27:  Center for Western and Cowboy Poetry 
               radio Public Service Announcement, Jim Thompson  


Below:

About the PSA
The PSA text
About the announcer, Jim Thompson
Additional links 

About the PSA

Jim Thompson of Creative Broadcasting Services, Spearfish, South Dakota recorded a 30-second radio PSA for this project.  The BAR-D Roundup has been distributed to a number of radio stations that feature cowboy poetry and western music.

The PSA text

Hi everybody, this is Jim Thompson, a professional rodeo announcer since 1975 and involved in the radio industry since 1965. Cowboy poets' stories that I have learned are as alive, engaging, and important today as they were a hundred and twenty five years ago. They celebrate our unique American working west and preserve our western heritage.

Learn more about cowboy poetry at CowboyPoetry.com, a project of  the nonprofit Center for Western and Cowboy Poetry, www.CowboyPoetry.com.

About the announcer, Jim Thompson

Jim Thompson is the popular host of the daily Live! with Jim Thompson radio show and the executive producer of the monthly Heritage of the American West, a live show whose appreciative audience is treated to performances by the top cowboy poets and western musicians.  Both programs frequently feature cowboy poets.

Jim Thompson is a two-term South Dakota State Senator, has been named Sports Broadcaster of the Year three times, is a nationally recognized rodeo announcer, motivational/entertainer presenter and host of top radio shows and television productions.

In 2005, Jim Thompson and Heritage of the American West co-producer Francie Ganje were instrumental in having South Dakota Governor Mike Rounds proclaim Cowboy Poetry Week in South Dakota, and in having Spearfish, South Dakota Mayor Jerry Krambeck recognize Cowboy Poetry Week in their city.

Additional links

Live! with Jim Thompson feature at CowboyPoetry.com
Heritage of the American West feature at CowboyPoetry.com
Creative Broadcasting Services web site   
Live! with Jim Thompson web site 
Heritage of the American West web site



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www.cowboypoetry.com

 

HOME

 What's New | Poems

 Features | Events  

The BAR-D Roundup | Cowboy Poetry Week

Poetry Submissions 

Subscribe | Newsletter | Contact Us

  Join Us!

 

Authors retain copyright to their work; obtain an author's
permission before using a poem in any form.

 

CowboyPoetry.com is a project of the Center for Western and Cowboy Poetry, Inc., a Federal and California tax-exempt non-profit 501 (c) (3) organization.  

 

Site copyright information