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

About C. W. Bell



Young Cowboy Learns a Lesson

I'm goin'to tell you all a tale,
I swear it's the honest truth.
It happened a lotta years ago
When I was a cocky youth.

One day the boss says, "Saddle up
And git them cows to pasture,
Then git yourself back here again,
Don't take no time for rapture."

So, bein' young and in a rush,
I grabbed and bridled old Judy.
Now Judy had a mind of her own,
And she was very moody.

We drove the cows to the northern range,
Started back to the old home place.
Was ridin' along the highway fence
Singin', a smile on my face.

Now Judy had a sensitive butt.
If you poked her there she'd jump
And lift you up in the air a bit,
To come down again with a bump.

Ev'ry time a car passed by
I'd give Judy's butt a poke,
Showin' off to the folks on the road.
Too her it wasn't a joke.

Once I  poked her a bit too hard
And then ran out of luck,
'Cause moody Judy got very mad,
Came up with a healthy buck.

I flew in the air much higher this time,
So when I hit her frame
On the ten'drest part of my sittin' spot,
I'd played a foolish game.

I rolled off her back and hit the ground
In agonizing pain.
I firmly resolved right there and then,
I'd not do that again.

Judy stopped and turned around,
Looked back as if to say,
"It serves you right you foolish boy,
You might be a man someday."

The moral of this tale could be,
If you're with woman or horse,
Always treat them kindly so they'll
Treat you for better, not worse.

© 2005, Charles W. Bell, All Rights Reserved. 
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

Old Cowboy's Last Drive

I  was sittin' there in my easy chair
Just a wonderin' what next to do
When all at once the telephone rang,
Someone calling me? I wondered who.

T'was my cousin Ronnie the foreman
Of the gigantic  old Y-Cross spread.
We exchanged the normal pleasantries,
When suddenly this is what he said:

"Now, old buckaroo. I know that you
Are claiming to be getting so old,
But I need some cowboyin' from you
And codger, I know you ain't stone cold.

It's the time of year to make the drive
Of the cows and newborns to pasture,
To get them up to the summer range,
It's some help from you that we're after

For some of those doggone little calves
Have been born only a week or two,
And trailin 'em six miles up that hill
Is quite a bit more than they can do.

So if you'll consent to drive the truck
And pull the trailer along beside,
The cowboys can pick up those tired calves
And bring 'em to you to give 'em a ride."

Now, you may think this tale is grim,
But I was grateful to cousin Ron,
He gave me a small, but welcome chance
To relive those trailin' days long gone.

So I revved up my gasoline bronc.
And hustled my way out to the ranch.
To be out on the range for a day,
I figgered it would be my last chance.

All day the cows bawled and the calves howled,
As they got sep 'rated from each other.
But I knew when we got up the hill,
They would soon have a chance to mother.

When we had about a mile to go,
Cousin Ron came a ridin' over,
And said, "old codger let's make a swap,
I'll drive, mount up and be a drover."

I climbed up on old Buck, an old pal
I had ridden man-y times before.
And gallopin' went after the herd,
Song in my heart, happy to the core.

At last the drive was over, too soon.
We rounded up and pastured the bunch.
The cows and calves got all mothered up
And we sat down to have a late lunch.

Then down the mountain we all went,
And I was very happy and proud,
'Cause once more I did some cowboyin',
For sure I was ridin' on a cloud.

Now as I ride my gas bronc around
I thank the Lord that I'm still alive
To think of cousin Ron and old Buck,
And the day of my last cattle drive.

© 2004, C. W. Bell, All Rights Reserved. 
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.


Charley sent us the photo above of himself on his "next-to-last drive" and told us: I wrote the poem because I wrote the first one. I got to thinkin that another poem about the last drive would sort of complete the circle of my cowboyin' days. 

The story is also true, if embellished a little. I do have a cousin Ron and he was the foreman of the Y-Cross ranch out of Cheyenne and he did invite me to drive the truck on the drive. But it wasn't Ron who came over to give me a chance to ride. It was our other cousin, Lisa, who was also on the drive. This all took place in 1995.  


Line Cabin Night

When the winds of winter freeze
The surface of hill and plain,
And with frozen icy weapons
Beat upon the window pane,
When the ground is deep covered
With drifts of the whitest snow,
And the air so clear I see
The ranch, way down there below.
That's when I sit and listen
To the north wind's mighty roar.
The fire in the fireplace throws
Crazy shadows on the floor.
Outside it's cold and darkness,
While inside it's warm and bright,
Settled down in solid comfort,
I call it-- Line Cabin Night.

© 1995, C. W. Bell, All Rights Reserved. 
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

Charley told us this poem was inspired by the writings of his grandfather. Charley wrote: My granddad was a freight conductor on the U. P. railroad for many years, making the Cheyenne "over the hill" to Laramie run. This 65 mile run is the steepest grade on the whole U.P. line. In those days he had a caboose where he rode while on the run. This is where he wrote most of his poems--while he was still working. Many of them he wrote on U.P. freight manifests and telegram forms... 


Here is a favorite photo of myself in the arms of my granddad, Charles E. Ridley, sitting upon the back steps of his caboose. I was six at the time, 1937. 


When My Ranching Days Are Over

Since my ranching days are over,
Eyes grow dim, and steps are slow,
My thoughts go rushing backward
To those days of long ago..
I remember sunlit prairies,
Woodland lake, and scented pine,
And in mem'ry I re-live
Those old ranching days of mine.

I can see the cattle grazing,
Getting fat on rangeland grass,
And the horses running freely
While through my mind they pass.
I see the snowy white clouds
Turning red at day's decline,
They float by as I recall
Those old ranching days of mine.

I ride again through sagebrush,
With a smell so sweet and fine,
Hear the meadowlarks singing
As they greet the day's sunshine.
And feel the wind on my face,
With a touch so soft and fine.
Happy days long remembered,
Those old ranching days of mine.

© 2005, C. W. Bell, All Rights Reserved. 
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.


A Day in the Lar'mie Range

The other day a friend of mine
Called me on the telephone line:
"Come on out to the ranch today
And we'll take some time off to play.
I gotta take a few salt blocks
To the licks by the Lar'mie rocks.
Bring your fish gear and I'll bring mine,
And when we're done we'll wet a line.
There's beaver ponds on Lodgepole creek,
And shucks, we just might stay a week."

So I tossed my gear in my truck,
Just a hopin' we'd have some luck
And ketch a brook trout or six,
And also fill up those salt licks.
At the ranch I looked at the sky;
"Might be thunderheads bye and bye,
But not enough to spoil our fun,
We'll have a good day in the sun."

Blocks loaded, up the trail we went
Lookin' to have a day well spent.
We dropped off the salt here and there
And then we drove over to where
Those Lodgepole trout waited for us.
And we set up without a fuss
Our fishin' gear with line and lure.
We were gonna ketch 'em for sure.

And ketch 'em we did, he and I
Under that blue Wyoming sky.
Then we cut some willow switches,
Built a fire, sat on our britches
And we cooked those lovely brook trout
Indian style, 'cause we were without
Any fancy cookin' things and stuff;
Then we ate 'til we'd had enough.

Full as ticks on any old sheep,
We laid back, had a little sleep.
Then we talked awhile about things,
'Bout days like this that tug heart strings.
We talked about the Lar'mie Range,
And  how it never seems to change;
Not like us as we get older
And have pains in back and shoulder.

Drivin' down to the ranch again
We reminisced some more, and then
We had a drink, said a "goodbye,"
And I headed home with a sigh.
I thought about that glorious day,
Heard a small voice in my head say,
"There're durn few things I would exchange
For a day in the Lar'mie Range."

© 2005, C. W. Bell, All Rights Reserved. 
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

Charley told us: If you travel on I-80 westward from Cheyenne to Laramie (locals call it Lar'mie, with the "Lar" pronounced like "lard") you will cross the first bastion of the Rocky Mountains, as you leave the Great Plains. This little mountain range is the Laramie Range, the subject of this poem. Just before entering Telephone Canyon down to Laramie you will go over the highest point coast to coast of I-80 (which was once the Lincoln Highway, U. S. 30) at about 8700 feet elevation. In the poem I called these mountains "rocks."  That is because they consist of huge granite outcrops with giant boulders, many of them balanced on tiny pedestals. The Laramie Range is small but spectacular.

Here is a photo of Turtle Rock, one of those giant granite boulders in the Veedawoo Rocks, which are easily visible from I-80 as you pass over the Laramie Range. You can actually hike behind Turtle Rock and come out the other side.

A piece of Wyoming trivia for you:  Every graded/paved road leading out of the State of Wyoming, even those going into Colorado, is heading downhill! 


A Perfect Day

Some may love the city with its endless flow of life,
With its turmoil and its hurry, and its never-ending strife.
But let me take my saddle bronc and a blanket roll and go
Where mountain streams are running swift, flecked with foam like snow,
Where the sun sinks slowly downward to the bosom of the West, 
Sending forth its colorful rays o'er the land I love the best.

I may try to solve my troubles by the swiftly flowing stream,
But those cares slip from my shoulders and they seem to be a dream.
As the campfire flickers brightly while the moon lights up the sky,
And the stream nearby is singing a sweet evening lullaby,
As the sparks float slowly upward like tiny stars at play,
I can tally up another wonderful and perfect day.

Then I can lie down in comfort on soft boughs of balsam fir,
Recalling the past day's pleasure, I settle without a stir
While the mountains in lofty grandeur their silent watches keep,
With the trees stretched out above me I will drift on down to sleep.
© 2005, C. W. Bell, All Rights Reserved. 
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.


Cowboy's Revenge

Two cocky cowboys, Jim and Joe
Were havin' fun one day;
The boss came by and caught 'em cold
And he had this to say:

"I see you guys are goofin' off.
Without so much to do.
Well, I've a chore that needs to be done
By just the likes of you.

The brandin's done, corral's a mess,
There's cowpies all over the place.
The flies are thick, the smell is bad,
The place is a doggone disgrace.

While I go get the spreader rig
And tow it back to the yard,
You two go find some shovels 'n forks,
And I'll have you workin' hard."

Now Jim and Joe weren't happy at all
At this ugly turn of events;
 'Cause they tho't this job was much too low
For a couple of cowboy gents.

Now Jim came up with a crazy plan:
They'd have a competition,
And see which one could win a prize
At cowpie deposition.

And Joe, he joined right in the fun,
And cowpies began to fly;
Those cowboys decided this cowpie fling
Would never end in a tie.

But Jim became a bit to enthused,
As he continued the race.
He flung a cowpie by mistake
Smack dab into poor Joe's face!

Poor Joe, he sputtered and gagged and spit,
And then became very grim,
Because he vowed that no cowpoke
Would get the best of him.

Jim tho't it funny and laffed it up;
Joe bided his time a bit,
'Til Jim bent down for another load-
It was time to make the hit.

He looked around all over the ground
'Till he found a pie so fresh,
'Twas sloppy and shiny and oh! so green;
It  would really make a mess.

So when ole Jim lifted up his head
Just over the spreader's side,
He saw that cowpie missle come-
He had no place to hide.

As that cowpie flew, Joe opened his mouth
In a gesture of surprise,
And the sloppy cowpie filled it up,
And even covered his eyes!

Now you may call this a nasty tale
Of cowboy retribution.
It sure was not a fine display
Of cowpie disposition!

© 2005, C. W. Bell, All Rights Reserved. 
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.


Cheyenne Weather

When winter comes to old Cheyenne the wind, it starts to blow.
It fills the air with everything from real estate to snow.
It blows the branches from the trees, the fence posts from the ground.
An acre bought in old Cheyenne, in Kansas will be found.

When spring decides to come around on some chilly April day,
You just might have to shovel snow, so you can draw your pay.
Because in old Cheyenne the flow'rs, they just refuse to grow
Until at least the month of June, believe me pards, I know.

I recall a fateful day in June of nineteen forty-four
When the sky filled up with thunderheads and rain began to pour.
And soon the rain, it turned to hail, the stones as big as eggs,
I ran for shelter, broke a record for cowboys on bowed legs.

One summer day outside of town I was ridin' on the range,
I looked out west at mountain peaks and saw the weather change.
It wasn't long before a flood came raging down the draw.
Old Babe and I ran for our lives--biggest flood I ever saw.

One windy day, was walkin' in town, just doin' what I please,
And when I rounded a building a gust of Cheyenne breeze
Just knocked me over on my butt; was throwed by Cheyenne air pow'r,
I swear, it was only blowin'--eighty-seven miles an hour!

In other places ev'rywhere there's summer, spring, and fall,
But we don't call those times as seasons around these parts at all.
It's true that here in old Cheyenne we may have funny ways,
Two seasons here make up the year, there's winter-- and Frontier Days!

© 2005, C. W. Bell, All Rights Reserved. 
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

Charley told us: About all I can say about this poem is that one has to have lived in Cheyenne for a year or so to really appreciate it. One winter the wind blew at least 40 mph day and night for six weeks! There was a significant rise in the crime and divorce rate in Cheyenne that winter. (Shucks, I shoulda put that one in the poem!) This poem was also inspired by my grandfather, a Cheyenne resident for 24 years. The line about Cheyenne soil being found in Kansas was his.


Horses I Have Known and Loved

Sittin' here in my easy chair, watchin' Western TV,
I think about my cowboy days, those days that used to be.
When I was workin' on the ranch, the horses I used to ride.
Of all the mounts that I have loved, in two I'd like to confide:

Judy was a dapple grey who wanted to have her way,
An independent mare she was and I had little to say,
Like where we'd go and what we'd do when we were out and about
Till she made up her mind each day-if I disagreed she'd pout.
The heads of Russian Thistle weeds were things she couldn't resist.
No matter where we had to go, each thistle she saw she'd persist.
With lips pulled back she'd neatly bite the flower heads away
And chew 'em up and look for more before we'd be on our way.

I've saved for last to tell the tale of the horse I loved the best.
A big black mare of sixteen hands, a workin' horse of the West.
She knew her job and worked the cows without a prod from me,
Though she was blind in her right eye--half the world she couldn't see.
Because of that, when workin' the herd she always stayed to the right
So she could do her job the best by keepin' the cows in sight.
And when it was time to return to the ranch, oh how she loved to run,
She'd stop for nothin' on this earth until her run was done
I'm sure she loved me back; for when I called, she always came.
I'll always cherish the mem'ry of Babe, for that was her given name.

Some say that his horse is the cowboy's best friend
But as time goes on by that friendship must end
So it's good to sit back and remember those mounts
It isn't the loss, but the mem'ry that counts.

© 2005, C. W. Bell, All Rights Reserved. 
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.



There are times when I wish I might travel
To countries so foreign and old,
Far away from the heat of the summer,
Away from the wintery cold,
To a land where the breezes are balmy,
Where elements never will rage.
But there's something I love and I'd miss it,
The smell of the sweet prairie sage.

There are times when I long for the ocean,
To hear as it pounds on the shore,
For a land that is peopled by fancy
And sprinkled by romance galore,
But I know I would miss, when I got there,
What rangeland has held for an age:
The meadowlark's song in the morning,
The smell of the sweet prairie sage.

In the East they may boast of their culture,
The buildings so stately and tall,
Of the hills covered thick with those forests
Turned red by the season of Fall.
But there's something, I find, that is lacking,
A palace would just be a cage.
I'll stay here where God's perfume refreshes
The land of the sweet prairie sage.
© 1995, C. W. Bell, All Rights Reserved. 
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.





I was riding the range one day, out searching for any strays
And I came upon a homestead, one that had seen better days.
I saw a silent old ranch house with a sagging open door
Where the storms and snows of winter drift across the rotted floor.
Tangled weeds grow in the threshold where no footstep ever falls;
No sounds of family laughter echo from the lonely walls.
Once, hope looked out from windows of this cabin on the range,
Saw the green of distant prairie turn to gold of season's change.
When I saw this lonely cabin I thought of the toil and pain,
Of men's hopes and women's beauty that have perished here in vain,

But then I began to wonder how it would have turned out
If there hadn't been so many years of heartless western drought.
Now I see the cabin neat and clean, the door well-hinged and strong
And children playing on the floor, their mother singing a song.
The men are working on the chores, happy for these better days.
Out on the healthy rangeland grass the horses and cattle graze,
At last I start to ride along, ready to finish my chore,
And in my heart I feel the love for those days long-gone before
This is the thing that old cabin reminded me of the best,
That sturdy men and women came and they claimed and tamed the West.

© 2005, C. W. Bell, All Rights Reserved. 
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.


Writin' and Recitin'

Now I'm no stranger to performin', been doin' it most alla my life.
Been singin' it seems since my teens with the girl who became my wife.
When we were young I courted her with an occasional rhyme,
And after a bump in the road or two she hired me on full time.

The years passed by, we continued to sing, performing now and then
And besides makin' a livin,--and babies-- I still had some time to pen.
Then after retiring from my work, I joined a male quartet,
And the singin' and performin' continued, t'was the best performin' yet.

At a gig a couple of years ago we sang in the Western style,
And I wrote a cowboy poem, to give the folks a smile.
The poem was about my cowboy days when I was a cocky youth,
And although somewhat embellished, it had a ring of truth.

Writin' that poem set me a thinkin' I'd like to write some more
And I began to enjoy the writin' more than ever before
Some of my poems got published on the internet.
'N that turned out to be fer me the biggest thrill as yet.

Back a while I had a chance to use my performin' skill
But the idea of recitin' poems sorta made me ill,
For I was invited to compete in the Poetry Rodeo.
So I hitched up my jeans 'n courage 'n told 'em I would go.

Well, I looked at my cowboy duds and they were pretty rough,
So I went out and bought new jeans 'n boots 'n shirts 'n stuff
Then I decided which poem to do and tried to memorize,
I tried and tried but all I could do was set and agonize,

A thinkin' that writin' these poems was lots easier to do
Than standin' up and sayin' the words and actin' them out too.
I wondered why 'twas easier to learn and sing a song?
What was there 'bout recitin' made everythin' go wrong?

Well, August came and wife and I took off in our S-U-V,
And drove to Kanab so I could meet my poetry destiny.
I loved rubbin' shoulders and jawin' with the cowboy poet Elite
But when it came time to recite my stuff --I got a case of cold feet!

Me! The seasoned performer of sixty odd years or more,
I fumbled and froze and forgot some words, like I'd never performed before.
Of course I didn't win the prize, but I really learned a lot--
I learned that I can write 'em, but-- a reciter of poems I'm not!

Well, after I wrote and worked this poem, I looked it over a bit,
And right away it occurred to me, that day when I took the hit,
It was my own durn fault, you see, why the problem came to be,
'Cause I turned out to be a self-fulfillin' prophecy!

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


Charley told us: I wrote this poem after having read an essay by Rod Miller, "Five Ways Cowboy Poetry Fades in the Footlights." Rod lists different kinds of writers of cowboy poetry. I like to think I fit into this one: 'Some people simply love language and like to play with it. 

This poem is in our collection of poems about cowboy poetry.



Ridin' Bull (7-1/2 Seconds)

Now I've been busy most all my life,
A ridin and wranglin and avoidin' strife,
And I've had my chance at the rodeo
To do my best to put on a show.

But silver buckles and me aint met
And not much cash did I ever get,
Now months and years have come 'n gone,
While ribs been broke and toes stepped on.

I aint complainin' much these days,
My life's been good in many ways,
But I've been told my life aint full
Until I've tried to ride a bull.

And so one day I told my pard
That ridin' bulls don't look so hard.
The pard, he said I'd never know
Until I put up my entry dough.

O.K., last year at Frontier Days
I paid the fee and set my ways.
I borrowed a rig and surcingle too,
Showed up at the chutes to have my do.

I waited and watched as other 'pokes tried
To stay on the bulls and finish their ride.
Eight seconds didn't seem so long to me,
But most of those boys did not agree.

At last my ride came down the chute
And he was an orn'ry loookin' brute.
They said that "Precious" was his name,
But he was randy just the same.

I got on his back and settled in,
My historic ride was about to begin.
I finished my wrap with a final tuck,
The cowboys there all wished me luck.

I raised my hand, they opened the gate.
I knew right then it was too late
To change my mind; out Precious went,
And the next few seconds was well spent

By Precious, that is, I was dead meat;
It didn't take long to lose my seat.
He bucked and whirled and kicked ev'rywhere,
And pretty soon I flew in the air.

While I was headin' fer the ground,
I suddenly heard the buzzer sound.
Had I made it? I didn't know,
But made it or not, I gave 'em a show.

At last I landed on the dirt,
And up till then I was unhurt,
But Precious stopped and turned his track
And lifted me up and gored my back.

This second time when I came down,
I was rescued by the clown;
But before the clown could make him go
Old Precious promptly stomped my toe!

That is when the man announced,
"Folks this boy's been truly trounced,
But I want you all to know he tried,
And this was his very first bull ride."

The crowd, they yelled and stomped and screamed,
Went on forever, to me, it seemed.
But now I've had my chance to see
That ridin' bull just aint fer me.

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


Charley told us:  When my son, Matt, was 18 years old he up and joined the U.S. Marine Corps.
Semper Fi! While he was stationed at Camp Pendleton, California, he served as a motor pool instructor. He was teaching recruits how to drive military vehicles. The Camp decided to hold a rodeo and let the marines take part. Matt decided he wanted to try ridin' a bull.  He tried it--once!  This poem is dedicated to Matt Bell, former Marine, one-time Bull Rider.


The Greenhorn

The tenderfoot arrived on the scene
Of the brandin' corral that day.
He'd been invited by one of the 'pokes,
A cousin, he said, by the way.

That fancy dude was dressed to the nines,
New boots 'n Wranglers'n such.
An' most a the crew decided right then,
He wouldn't be helpin' too much.

The boys put 'im to work in the pen
Where the calves were millin' around.
They figgered those calves would dirty him up
And mebbe they'd drive him to ground.

All mornin' that greenhorn rassled those calves
An' shoved them on to the boys.
'N now 'n then he'd stop 'n watch
While they did what they do with their toys.

He'd sneak a peek while they clipped the ears
And shot those poor calves in the side,
'N watched the hand with the brandin' iron
As he burned the brand in their hide.

The tenderfoot seemed really surprised
When the guy with a really sharp knife
Commenced to relieve the little bull calves
Of their reproductive life.

'N then about noon the coosie yelled out,
O.K. you boys, come 'n get it.
Then ever one stopped and washed off the grime,
Set down to lunch and et it.

Now the tuckered greenhorn dude,
As they passed around the grub,
Hesitated a bit when they handed him
The things he saw in that tub.

The boys tho't he was in for a shock
When he realized what they were.
But surprisingly he dug right in
'N helped hisself fer sure.

He piled those orsters on his plate,
Much to the cowboy's surprise.
Dug right in and tasted a few
'N then he widened his eyes.

"Now coosie, I don't mean to complain,
But I ain't from New York City.
In old Wyoming where I come from,
These orsters would cause some pity.

While they're cooked up O.K.,I guess,
They taste just doggone bland.
Back home I'd dress 'em up with salsa,
'N then they'd taste just grand!"

The not so greenhorn cowboy earned
Respect from the hands that day.
Not only did he pull his load,
He earned his share of the pay.

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


Charley told us, "Most cowboy poets write at least one poem about Rocky Mountain Oysters. This one is my one and only. BTW, the greenhorn wasn't me."


Being Prepared

Old Tom, the rancher, drove to town
To pass the word along:
Said he needed help at the ranch
By someone young and strong.

"Twasn't long, the word got out
And boys began to show
Up at the ranch to go to work,
But Tom, he wanted to know

How hard they'd work and reliable
They'd be while workin' for him:
Interviewed and questioned them,
But to most it was just a whim.

But one young guy, he caught Tom's eye,
He was thin and looked kinda tough;
Whiskered face, he looked out of place,
And Tom tho't he was rough.

So Tom asked him what was his name,
He said, "It's Jack Pardieu."
Tom asked this Jack about his work:
"I'm good at what I do."

Well Tom then asked the scruffy kid
How he would earn his keep.
Jack's reply was sorta weird:
"When the storm winds blow, I sleep."

On a hunch Tom hired him to the brand
And gave Young Jack his chance.
He worked hard and did the chores
Without complaint or side-glance.

Some time passed on and then one night
As Tom returned from town,
Clouds began build out west,
And darkness coming down.

As Tom approached the cattle guard
The wind began to blow:
Darkened the sky as the storm blew by
With sleet and blinding snow.

When Tom saw the bunkhouse was dark,
His heart began to race:
Tho't that Jack should be at work
Protectin' the old home place.

Tom ran up to the bunkhouse door
To have a little peep:
There was Jack all tucked in bed
And he was sound asleep.

At first old Tom became real mad,
But turned and looked about:
Stock was gathered safe in the barn.
The corrals were all cleared out.

A tarp was tied down o'er the stack
Of summer's new mown  hay:
Shutters were closed up on the house,
'N things had been put away.

And suddenly old Tom recalled
What Jack had said that day:
Then he knew what Jack had meant
When he had had his say,

'Bout when a storm comes roarin' by
You don't just fall in a heap:
Get prepared and then you can
Just weather the storm—asleep.

© 2007, C. W. Bell, All Rights Reserved. 
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.


Jake and the Grulla Mare

Now Jake was a cowboy in trouble; he'd never been locked up before,
But now he was serving a sentence so he could just even the score.
One day he was called by the warden to see him about a new plan;
He said "See here , Jake, is an idea for you to try out, if you can.

The honor ranch wrangler is lookin' for cowboys like you to help out
With trainin' a bunch of wild horses, and you'd fit the bill, I've no doubt."
So Jake said that he'd like a chance to be tryin' this new way to serve
His time bein' useful this way. And he sure had the time and the nerve.

Not long after that Jake got transferred. The wrangler said, "here at the ranch
We've just got a load of wild horses, so soon you'll be given your chance.
You see, at the ranch it's the horses who pick out the cowboy they'll mind,
So you'll have to wait for your time to be picked by a horse of your kind."

At last came the day for the choosin', the wrangler picked ten of the men;
They went to the place where the horses were waitin' for them in a pen..
The cowboys perched on the top rail of the circular horse trainin' ring,
One horse at a time was let in, and it trotted and circled the thing.

The horses would eyeball the cowboys and givin' each inmate a look,
If sometimes the horse made eye contact, the wrangler would yell, "that's the hook!"
The horse and the cowboy were chosen to spend lots of time together,
The man trainin' horse and vice versa, through good and bad weather.

As horses passed by, Jake would wonder, while all of the nags moved along,
They all kept on goin', not stoppin', till Jake began wondrin, what's wrong?
Then entered a mare, a dun grulla, 'n Jake hoped that she was the one.
She pranced and she circled and snorted, then stared in his eye—choice was done.

So Jake and the dun came together, and slowly they started to learn
To trust and rely on each other, the horse and the cowboy in turn.
One day, it was quite a while later, the warden came over to say,
"Jake, you and the mare, you are finished, you're due to get out today."

The horse and the cowboy were released, but not until Jake had his say.
"I've saved up the cash to adopt her; the grulla and I want to stay
Together while ridin' to freedom, so please let us go our own way."—
The warden and wrangler were glad to release the two friends that day.

© 2007, C. W. Bell, All Rights Reserved. 
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.


Horse Liniment

The hole of a badger in the prairie so wide
Was the cause of our downfall, for me and my ride.
Old Babe, who was blind in her right side eye,
Didn't see the burrow and neither did I.
So down we went in a boy 'n horse pile,
And winded, we lay there a little while.
Now Babe got up first, an' was favorin' a knee,
And when I got up, 'twas a shoulder fer me.
So back to the ranch we rode slowly 'n sore,
The both of us watchin' the ground a lot more.
I put Babe in the barn to rest up a bit,
'N I sacked out too, to get over the hit.
Old Red came in an' asked "What's wrong?"
So I told him our story--it didn't take long.
"I got just the thing, yer cure is imminent,
Jest go to the barn 'n fetch the horse liniment.
'N rub it real good on Babe's hurtin' knee,
Then rub it on yer shoulder too, an' you'll see,
No sooner than anythin' you 'n yore horse
Will be feelin' much better, an' not a bit worse."
Well, I scratched my head and tho't "what the hell,
Couldn't do no harm and we'd likely git well."
So off to the barn I went on out there
To look for the bottle, but I didn't know where
I'd find it, I searched and I searched 'til hopes sunk,
But there in the tack room under some junk
I spied that dang bottle of wonderful stuff
An' rubbed it on Babe an' me well enough.
Old Babe an' I were smellin' real good
But, guess what? Babe an' I understood
What Red was a jawin' about that day,
We both got much better, an' right away!

© 2007, C. W. Bell, All Rights Reserved. 
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.


Cowboy Dance

One Saturday night the folks 'round these parts, they held an old Western dance.
The ranchers and hands, together and lone, they came from all over the range.
The boys and the girls were hoping that they, just maybe they might have a chance
To find some sweet someone whom they could court, that night at the Little Bear Grange.

Each pretty young girl was pinching her cheeks and biting her lips a bright pink.
With cornstarch she powdered her shiny nose and flounced her skirt with a sashay.
The boys slicked their hair and shined up their boots, while hoping that they didn't stink.
As folks reached the hall they greeted and talked until the band started to play.

The women and girls brought cookies and punch, the men brought some bottles of booze.
And so, 'twasn't  long the punch had been spiked, an act that was strictly routine.
The girls were like busy bees as they danced while looking for someone to choose,
And some of the men were drinking too much, until they began to get mean.

The couples paired up, the band played until the dancers had started to yawn,
The cookies and punch had long since been gone, the drunks took their fighting outside.
'Til finally the band had had it and quit, as night was soon turning to dawn.
The folks with new friends and sweethearts hitched up, beginning another home ride.

'Twas at a barn dance at Little Bear Grange that I met my only true love.
And so she and I, we courted and then, Jean Younglove became my sweet wife.
We loved and we worked the land there beneath those Wyoming stars up above,
Rememb'ring the time we met at the dance, beginning a wonderful life.

© 2007, C. W. Bell, All Rights Reserved. 
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

Charley told us this poem is "somewhat autobiographical. I did meet Jean Younglove at a Little Bear Grange dance, but she isn't the one I married."



Rachel's Quest

Rachel was a school marm, way out on the Little Bear.
She was loving and kind to all the rancher's kids out there.
She had to rotate now and then, living from ranch to ranch.
She never knew just when, she'd ever have a chance
To meet some single man who might take her for his bride.
So ever time she had a chance she'd borrow a horse and ride
Out to ev'ry Saturday dance that was held in the countryside.

Elvie Gillespie saw her one night at the Little Bear Grange Hall,
And soon he was sweet on her, but she didn't like him at all.
Then one night Roy Duvall came along and she tho't him quite nice
But when W. J. Bell showed up she now began to think twice.
The two boys decided to have a pipe and packed their bowls real tight
And off to the kitchen they both went to try to find a light.
Soon Roy came on back with a bunch of matches in his fist
And he lit and sucked and lit and sucked but couldn't get the gist.
After wasting a dozen matches or so, old Roy fin'ly got a burn,
But then W. J. took just one match, was ready for his turn.
He sat right down, took up the match, scratched it on his pants
And when it lit he gently drew as if it was just by chance.

Now Rachel had been watching this silly macho scene,
Saw Roy as he fussed and cussed and began to get mean.
And W. J. just sat there like a cat beginning to purr.
'Twas then and there that Rachel decided, he was the man for her.
And so, the ending of this tale one can probably guess.
Did they marry and have a family? The answer is "yes."
They loved and worked together and their sons they numbered three.
There was little Gene and middle Jim and the oldest, that's me.

© 2007, C. W. Bell, All Rights Reserved. 
This poem may not b reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.


Charley told us: "This poem was a labor of love for me. It is a tribute to my mother, who was the most important of many influences upon my life and character. The story is essentially true, She was a school marm at the Little Bear country school. She did meet my dad at an old fashioned barn dance. The names, except for hers and Dad's, have been mixed up a bit. The pipe lighting event really took place."

This photo was taken at one of my mother's most favorite sites in the world, the Snowy Range of southern Wyoming:

Rachel Rothada Ridley Bell


Cowboy Pretense

I've never liked to fool folks,
I strikes me as not bein' honest,
But there was once when I did it
'Cause I just wasn't feelin' my best.

I'd gone to the Cheyenne rodeo
An' got myself banged up a bit.
Come time to go to the airport,
'Twas when I made the hit.

I'd borried a cane from my daddy,
Put on some old Wranglers and boots.
When I got to the airport I looked
Like I'd just come out of the chutes,

I limped to the ticket counter
A leanin' hard on that cane.
The agent saw me and booked me
First to get on the plane.

Time to board: on I hobbled,
With my carry-on cane and bag.
Took a seat by the exit window
So's to let my "bad" leg drag.

Flew my way to Californny
Still pretendin' to be a gimp,
But, when I went up the jetway,
I plumb fergot to limp!

© 2008, C. W. Bell, All Rights Reserved. 
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.


Charley told told us, "This is about a true event. I really did this one time."

Big Jake's Christmas

Big Jake was a tough and mighty man, 'till an accident struck him down.
He was badly injured in his head; he was hospitalized in town.
The ranch was in serious straits, for the cattle sale hadn't brought
Much money to support the family, Jake was a lot distraught.

To save the money they brought him home, set him up in a hospital bed.
He needed time to recuperate, so to keep his family fed.
Some time later it was Christmastime, but the outlook for the kids was grim,
Hospital bills had taken their toll, the holiday prospects were slim.

On Christmas Eve the family came and gathered by Big Jake's bed.
Together they tried to be cheerful, but for some, 'twas a night of dread.
Big Jake was feelin' pretty bad; 'tweren't no presents nor a tree.
How could they and the kids celebrate with all this adversity?

Young Jim had brought his old guitar, so he played while the family sang
All the Christmas songs and hymns they knew; of a sudden the door bell rang.
Momma Jo and Jim got up quick and went to answer the door.
To their surprise the yard was filled with friends and neighbors galore.

They all came in, bringing gifts and food and folks to fill a room.
They crowded in and greeted Big Jake--they began to dispel the gloom.
The Schlecters said, "Hey, Big Jake, we’re doin' yore chores fer a while.
You jest get well and concentrate on getting back yore friendly smile."

Then the Jones' piped up and told him, "Don't worry about feedin' the stock,
We'll be a takin' care of that, and we'll treat that roan's fetlock.
Then the friends and neighbors brought a great big sack and a tree
All decorated and lighted up, as pretty as can be.
The sack was full of lots of gifts for the kids and Momma Jo too,
And even Big Jake, he wasn't forgot, they gave him one or two.

Well, the folks, they returned to home but they left Big Jake a stash,
They had taken up a collection of a considerable amount of cash.
Big Jake and Momma tiredly sat down and the kids sat quietly by.
Now Big Jake was a tough old bird, but a tear or two filled his eye.

Momma and the kids went to bed, leaving Big Jake to stay
And this big old cowboy cried and quietly began to pray.
"Now, Lord, I ain't much fer prayin, but tonight, this I gotta do;
I'm thankin' you for givin' me friends who've been kind to us and true
To the teachin's of your Son, 'bout unselfishness and love,
'Bout carin, for yer fellow-man, and followin' You up above.
So, bless me, Lord, so I can heal, and bless me that I might
Return the love and thoughtful carin', I received this Christmas night."

© 2010, C. W. Bell, All Rights Reserved. 
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.


Cowboy Swim

I’ll tell you a tale of a roundup one day, way out on the Western Slope.
We’d gathered the cows in a swale by a creek and the men were full of hope
For a tasty lunch back at the camp just over yonder hill.
They left us four, myself and Dave and Shorty and Little Bill.

We were charged to watch the cows as they drank and settled down to rest.
The day was hotter than Hell itself and I’m not one to jest.
As time went on the sun pressed down so we came up with a whim,
It was so hot we had a thought the time was right for a swim.

We tied our mounts in the shade of a tree and headed for the creek,
We planned to take turns now and then to go up the bank for a peek
To make sure the herd was settled down and quietly chewing cud.
We stripped off our hats and boots and clothes, and jumped on over the mud,

Where the creek was wide about twenty feet and four or five feet deep.
We laughed and yelled as we hit the water after a mighty leap.
While splashing and dunking over and over the time was moving on.
Little Bill took a look and then he screamed, “Hey boys, the herd is gone!”

So, naked and wet we climbed the bank to see the last of the bunch
As they headed south at a gentle trot—and the men were still at lunch!
No time to put on our duds, we mounted the horses, and to our surprise,
On the hottest saddles there ever was! The steam began to rise!

To relieve our burning butts we tried to stand in the stirrups too,
But they were as hot as the saddle seats, so what were we to do?
Between standing and sitting we chased the herd, and got them turned around.
The horses were spent and so were we, but the herd was bunched on the ground.

We barely got dressed before the men came over the rise again.
The boss saw the cows just milling around; he gave us an eye and then
He noticed the sweating horses and us, with wet hair and our eyes brimming.
“Well boys, ride over and get some lunch. I reckon you’ve been swimming!”

P.S. We ate lunch standing up!

© 2011, C.W. Bell, All Rights Reserved. 
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.


Charley told us that he was inspired by a story in "... a special cowboy issue of The American West magazine, Nov/Dec 1977. In it was an article by H. Beecher with a tale told to him by an old former cowboy. It was entitled 'Scorched Cowboys,' and it was about four teenaged cowboys (real 'boys') way back when in western Colorado. It is a true story. I got a kick out of it since I was a teen cowboy once myself."

The article also included a great drawing by a Cowboy Artists of America founder, the late John Hampton. (Find more about him here at the Cowboy Artists of America site.) The magazine describes the article's author, "H. Beecher of Canon City, Colorado, recently completed one career as a federal civil servant and is currently embarking upon a new one as a budding free-lance writer."

We haven't been able to determine the current copyright status for the magazine, which is no longer being printed, so we can't post the drawing or article. Charley kindly shared a copy and you can email us us if you'd like to view a copy of the article.




Old Charley was a settin’ in the Bide ‘n Bite
An’ jawin’ with a few of his pals.
Of course lotta lies were told
‘Bout the times they’d had with the gals.

Then Frenchie came in, an’ dressed fit to kill;
White Stetson hat, tight fitted jeans.
His boots the fanciest the boys ever seen,
He looked like a cowboy of means.

“Some boots ya got there,” old Charley said,
“They’s doggone purty, what’s the make?”
“Aw, they’s Dan Post’s,” fancy Frenchie replied,
“And made from the skin of a snake.”

Wal, that got the subject of discussion changed,
The boys started talkin’ ‘bout boots,
Tryin’ to top each other with comparin’
Like a bunch of silly galoots.

“Mine are made of elephant hide,”
Old Willie the Gimp declaimed.
“But mine are ostrich, Jasper bragged.
“Caribou,” Gustavus named.

Old Charley just sat there and listened,
An’ didn’t say nothin’ at all,
‘Til one of the boys looked him over and said.
“So, you gonna raise or call?”

Charley stood up and walked ‘round and ‘round
So ever’body could see.
“You’ve bragged and showed off all yore boots,
But they ain’t so fancy to me.

It’s true that many boots are made
Outa leathers and skins exotic,
But compared to these you see on me,
They seem to be downright necrotic.”

“So, tell us, old son,” fancy Frenchie exclaimed,
“From whence came those fancy shoes?”
Then Charley said, “You’ll be surprised.
They’re from the hide of kangaroos!”

Right then and there the crowd decided
That Charley had won the day.
None had ever seen kangaroo boots, an’
They had nothin’ more to say.

© 2011, C.W. Bell, All Rights Reserved. 
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

Charley told us, "Some years ago while I was in Cheyenne for a visit I noticed that  Western Ranchman Outfitters was going out of business, so I dropped in for a looksee. I bought a pair of Tony Lama boots for only $99 that were purported to be made of kangaroo hide. I think they really are because the leather is very soft and pliable and the boots are for "dress" use only. They wouldn't hold up under any hard duty."

He also says that Hal Swift's "Waco Walmsley" character inspired this poem.



Rosie's Western Christmas

'Twas the middle of October when Rosie came to town;
Single, with four kids in tow, and car about broke down.
Broke and needin' to find some work and a decent place to stay,
Rosie and kids were desperate to get settled down some way.

She'd covered the whole dang town for a job without a bit of luck.
'Twasn't long before poor Rosie was down to her last buck.
Then a gal at the Bide 'n Bite got sick and had to quit.
Rosie asked and got the job--her plight improved a bit.

She was hired for the graveyard shift, which gave her another plight—
Had to hire a local girl to sleep with the kids through the night.
Late at night the truckers came to have a cup of joe,
When at last the sun came up the ranchers would often show.

Finally Rosie was payin' her way, an' puttin' a little by,
But, the tires on her battered car were just about to die.
Nighttime, the truckers could see her as she filled those tires, and then
Mornings, the ranchers could also see her pumpin' them up again.

After a while, along came December and Christmas on the way,
Rosie tried and tried to think of something that she could say
To her kids to let them know that Santa wouldn't come
To bring them toys and treats and stuff—it made her awfully glum.

Then one morning as she went to her car and she was pretty beat,
To her surprise, there were four new tires sitting on the car's back seat!
Tears of gratitude filled her eyes for her unknown tire buyers,
The gas station kid said he'd help out and mount and fill the tires.

Christmas Eve she had to work, but business was very slow,
Deputy sheriffs came around—no other place to go.
Truckers were absent so she supposed that they were all on the road,
Headin' home to family before it up and snowed.

Christmas morning arrived at last and the ranchers were absent too;
No one showed up for breakfast, Rosie had nothin' to do.
So, when quittin' time arrived, she closed and locked the café.
When she opened the door of her car, there was somethin' in the way.

Disbelief filled up her mind as she saw what was lying there—
The car was filled to the top with gifts, packed everywhere!
Amazed and dazed at what she saw, but soon she had a pause,
Realized those truckers and ranchers had been her Santa Claus!

Rushed on home on her Christmas tires with Christmas gifts galore,
Woke up the kids to unload the car to see what might be in store:
Boxes of clothes and lots of toys and candy and other sweet stuff.
They modeled and played and ate and ate until theyd 'had enough.

Hours passed and the kids got tired, and soon they fell asleep.
Rosie sat back to ponder a bit and then she started to weep
Tears of thanks for unknown friends who thought of her that day.
Far from home and family, just tryin' to make her own way.

"This is what Christmas is all about," she said out loud to herself.
"Doin' for those that need the help, not just spendin' one's wealth
Buyin' stuff to salve a conscience, n' not 'cause you really care.
Jesus was a true example, to all of us everywhere—
He came one starry Christmas night, by way of a holy birth
To give us all the ultimate gift, atoning for all on earth."

© 2011, C.W. Bell, All Rights Reserved. 
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.



The Unwanted Christmas Tree

Big Jake and Momma Jo were sitting by the fireplace that day.
'Twas early in December, and Christmas was on the way.

And soon Big Jake said, "Momma Jo, let's load up the kids and go
On over to the Richards' place before it starts to snow.

"It's time to find and cut our Christmas tree today."
So Jake hitched up the team to the wagon full of hay.

At the Richard's farm they searched and searched for just the perfect tree,
But, for the best of all the trees, no one could agree.

But just as the kids were getting tired they found a little tree
That someone else had already cut and then just left it be.

The kids felt really bad about that, and Johnny began to cry.
Then Mary said, "Let's pick this tree, we can't just let it lie."

So Jake and Tom picked up the tree and turned it round about.
"'Twas spindly and straggly and kinda ugly, with branches sticking out.

But the kids didn't care, they didn't want to leave it lying there.
When Tom and Johnny picked it up, one side of the tree was bare.

At home Momma Jo cut some branches off and saved them for a while.
She took some branches and filled in the bare spots. It made the family smile.

So the straggly little Christmas tree fulfilled its destiny,
The family was filled with Christmas spirit—by an unwanted, ugly tree.

© 2012, C.W. Bell, All Rights Reserved. 
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.


The Ballad of the Old Kitchen Stove

After many years of heavy use
The door on our kitchen stove came loose.
We’d put it up and it’d come back down,
So wife and I took off for town
To buy another of the modern kind.
We looked and looked and tried to find
The one she wanted to make her glad
To get rid of the old one and not be sad.
Fin’ly we found the one she’d pick
And I paid out the money really quick,
‘Fore she had a chance to change her mind
And put my wallet in a bigger bind.
We took the stove home and plugged it in
The new stove’s life was about to begin;

But I digress, this tale is about
The fate of the stove we were throwing out.
I tied the stove on a trailer with care
To take to a place that I knew where
It was proper to leave it, a local landfill,
But to get there I had go down a steep hill.
The road was rough with potholes, and how!
In some of those holes you could drown a cow.
I was turning around a horseshoe curve,
Trailer hit a bump and started to swerve.
It tipped right over and the stove came loose.
It rolled down the hill, but there was no use
In trying to catch it, I just watched it go
Till almost to the highway it stopped below.
I drove down the hill as fast as I could;
Where the road met the highway there the stove stood;
It sagged on a broke leg. the door was askance.
When I got there I happened by chance
To see a road sign, a few feet away.
I laughed when I saw what it had to say.
My plans for the stove, they had to change,
For the message was simple, it said, “Open Range.”

© 2012, C.W. Bell, All Rights Reserved. 
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.


photo by Jim Bell


Trompin' the Wool

One day my dad came to my room, and then he said to me:
“Just now your uncle Alton called, for help ASAP.
It’s shearing time out at the ranch, he sez he’s goin’ to need
Some help from you and Jim and me, and quickly I agreed.”

Now I’d been spending lots of time on Uncle Harry’s ranch,
Ridin’ range and punchin’ cows each time I had the chance.
And I had learned that cattle folks don’t see eye to eye
With anyone who raises sheep, and so, I guess, did I.

But loyalty to family made me say O.K.
And so it wasn’t very long ‘til we were on our way
To sheepmen’s range a ways up north out on the Little Bear,
And I was filled with wonder ‘bout what I’d be doin’ there.

The sheep men from the area were at the Webster spread,
Where pens of wooly sheep were gathered by the shearing shed.
As we arrived all ready to work, then Alton took my hand
And led me to a funny thing I didn’t understand.

It looked like a wooden tower, a- leanin’ with a sag,
And hangin’ from a hole on top, there was a giant bag.
He pointed to a ladder clingin’ to the tower’s side.
“Now here’s what you’re supposed to do--climb up and get inside.

"Then ev’ry time a sheep gets sheared, the boys will toss the wool
Up and in for you to tromp until the bag is full.”
At first I didn’t think too much ‘bout what was soon to commence
I climbed on up and jumped right down, so full of innocence.

That doggone bag was twelve feet long, I tho’t I was in a well,
But very soon I’d realize I’d jumped right in to Hell.
The shearing began and right away the fleeces began to arrive.
Fallin down right on my head—I tried to take a dive

Away from those filthy things so full of ticks an’ grease and s---t.
The men outside, they yelled at me, “Start trompin, and don’t quit!”
So tromp I did and tromped and tromped until the bag was full,
At last I thought the job was done, no more trompin’ wool.

Those doggone sheepmen changed my mind, they brought another bag!
And then just like the tower, my hopes began to sag.
All day I tromped that dirty wool ‘til the shearin’ was done
By then I ached from head to toe, one tired son-of-a-gun.

While Dad drove home I crawled in back and had a little nap.
I had a dream about those ticks and all that grease and crap.
Those doggone sheep, that ugly bag, disturbed my little sleep.
Right then and there I made a vow, to never deal with sheep!

© 2013, C.W. Bell, All Rights Reserved. 
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.



Christmas For Folks Down the Road

It was Christmas time when Big Jake said
To his grandson that snowy day.
He’d taken him out to the barn to chat,
And this he decided to say.

“Now son, there’s some folks living down the road,
In adversity this year,
And I know what it’s like to be like that,
For once I felt their fear.

I was hospitalized and hurting bad;
It had been a bad year at the ranch.
And when Christmas time arrived on the scene,
For a joyous time, no chance.

But then some folks showed up and then
Our times improved a bunch.
They brought all sorts of Christmas stuff,
And that's given me a hunch.

So son, we’re going to go out and shop
And do what’s called, ’paying forward.’
We’ll really cheer up those folks down the road,
And the giving will be our reward.

Well take Jack and Jean and Grandma too,
And load them all in the van.
We’ll head for town and buy up the place
And return as soon as we can.

I’ll get a tree and put on the lights
While the rest of you wrap each gift
And tonight we’ll take them down the road.
It’ll give those folks a lift.

So Big Jake and fam’ly accomplished their task;
The folks down the road were glad.
Of course we were filled with the spirit too.
On our road, no one was sad.

© 2014, C.W. Bell, All Rights Reserved. 
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.


Remembering Dave at Christmas

Now Dave, an old rancher owned a spread.
He had lots white hair on his body and head.
He wore on his face a beautiful full beard;
Some folks hereabouts thought he was weird.

He was a big man, about six feet two,
Had a big round belly, a size fifty-two.
Every year at Christmas he’d hire himself out
To play the part of Santa in parts hereabout.

He’d appear at stores and parties here and there,
He would come to almost any affair.
With his big bass voice he’d yell, “Ho! Ho! Ho!
Merry Christmas to all!” wherever he’d go.

But this Christmas season, things had to change,
There was lots of sorrow out on our range.
The folks hereabouts were fit-to-be-tied,
‘Cause our Santa Claus had up and died.

Yes, Dave took sick way back in September,
And then he left us in early December.
The community had a spell of grief,
But holiday spirit helped with relief.

So, who would be Santa for our Christmas fun?
The town looked around to find the one.
No one around looked the least bit like him
All of our hopes began to dim.
Then one day Pat Simms looked over at me,
Said, “Old Charley here is six foot three!”

“Me?” I said, “I’m thin as a rail!
To pretend to be Santa, I’d surely fail!”
“We’ll borrow Dave’s Santa suit from his wife Sheryl,
And with you and some pillows, you’ll look like a barrel!

“But,” I said, “Dave’s voice made the best Ho’ Ho’s.
My tenor voice wouldn’t do for those.”
“Oh come on!” people said, “that don’t matter much.
You in that suit will have the right touch.”

So, Christmas Eve came and at the Town Hall
All the people came and "had a ball!"
And before my debut as Santa I prayed
The Lord—and Dave—to not be afraid.

Soon a hay rig arrived with lots of noise
And me as Santa with a bag of toys.
In the hall I came, big enough to be seen,
Surrounded by kids from two to ‘teen.

When all was said and all was done,
I was happy that I came to be one
Who partook in the blessed event to save
The mem’ry of our friend, our Santa—Dave.

© 2015, C.W. Bell, All Rights Reserved. 
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.



Read C. W. (Charles) Bell's 

Cowboy Reflection on a Spring Morning in our Art Spur project


"Heading West" © Molly Morrow,; reproduction prohibited

Dry Pasture in our Art Spur project


Autumn Days posted with other Art Spur poems


Dust posted with other Art Spur poems


After the Gather posted with 2011 National Day of the Cowboy Art Spur poems


Headin' Home, posted with 2010 Cowboy Poetry Week Art Spur poems


Bad Winter, Good Spring, posted with 2009 Cowboy Poetry Week Art Spur poems


Cowboy Christmas Play posted with 2008 Christmas poems


Moving at My Own Pace, posted with 2007 Cowboy Poetry Week Art Spur poems


Two Burros posted with 2006 Christmas poems




Two Gifts for Christmas posted with 2005 Christmas poems.




  About C. W. (Charles) Bell:

I am living a life of hectic retirement in the Salt Lake City, Utah area. After spending my youth cowboying in the Cheyenne, Wyoming area, I went on to college at the U. of Wyo. (more "Cowboying"). I spent 30 years of my life working for a living as a college professor in San Jose, California (not much cowboying then).  After I retired I had more cowboying opportunities back in Wyoming and in Utah.  I cherish those memories.

Charley on his first horse, age 4


Member of the
Cowboy Poets of Utah



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