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About Darin Brookman
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About Darin Brookman:

Darin Brookman lives on the Oklahoma and Texas border near Hollis, Oklahoma. Along with his wife Jeanette and children Seth and Katy, he runs a fourth generation cattle and farming operation.

Darin began writing poetry in 1992. Although his duties at home keep him busy most of the time, he regularly attends the gathering in Nara Visa, New Mexico. He was also an invited participant at Elko in 1995 and 2000.


Poems

Some Men

The Gather

Instinct

Goldie

Gifts

Paradise

 

Some Men

Some men aspire to fame and wealth
To find that in the end
The things they've left will turn to dust
And scatter in the wind.

Some men set out to prowl the brush
Consumed by power and greed,
Then find too late they rode right past
The thing their souls most need.

Some yearn to see their name in lights
Or set in steel or stone.
While others carve their legacies
In heart and mind and bone.

Some men might measure their success
By place or worth or gains,
And some content to know they left
A soft hand on the reins.

When it comes time to loose the cinch
And let a tired horse blow,
If what we've touched is better off
It's then true peace we'll know.

So whether in a marbled vault
Or pauper's hill I rest,
I pray some puncher there can say
He just gave us his best.

© 1995, Darin Brookman
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

Written after the funeral of a friend.


The Gather
(For Nara Visa)

As moonlight washes sagebrushed hills
You feel the riders near.
With songs of life and words of truth
For those a'mind to hear.

Their trappings hung on ever' verse,
Their plunder stored in rhyme.
To celebrate a way of life
And mark their place in time.

The ghosts of old ones mingle there.
The words keep them alive.
They've finished shippin' in the fall,
The Red Roan makes his dive.

And gathered not with starry eyes
To grab some gilded ring,
Those fork-ed souls who just need time
To laugh and mourn and sing.

© 1994, Darin Brookman
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.



Instinct

What is it makes your old yard dog
Bay all night at the moon,
In chorus with the wild coyote's
Archaic clannish tune?

By daylight he's content enough
To lay around and nap.
Domesticated by his look
A ward of table scrap.

But nightfall wakens something deep
Where mind and soul convene.
Some age old longing locked away
Embedded in his genes.

The same thing makes a fella
Who is both steadfast and sane,
Jerk down a rope and join the chase
With slack pitched in his rein.

His slight regard for consequence
Attests to what's inside.
A banner unfurled honestly,
Impossible to hide.

Some know it on the ocean's waves.
Some dig it out of mines.
It finds us on the city streets
Or high up in the pines.

It's played out in the stadiums
For all the multitude,
Or realized in the cedar breaks
In perfect solitude.

That we fool others and ourselves
It matters not at all.
We're ruled by what's inside us
When we hear the coyote call.

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



 

Goldie

One day come trottin' down the trail
A sorrel colt with flaxen tail
At first I paid him little mind
A sorrel colt ain't hard to find
Then slowly I began to see
Marks left by wiser hands than me
He loped across the tops of trees
He rolled the rocks he split the breeze
At times so clear in his reflection
I saw the most refined perfection
And set to learn his kind refrain
This sorrel colt with flaxen mane
Each day I searched his coffee eye
The way was there if I'd just try
But often in young sorrel's book
I only got a hasty look
Before I had a chance to learn
The page he'd almost rudely turn
And I'd be lost in ignorance
To cut for sign and make some sense
Of what had brought us to the verge
That point where understandings merge
Seems while I searched by sorrel's cue
The more I learned the less I knew
A horseman now I've yet to be
But there are things he taught to me

That we are prone to take by force
And leave the best part of the horse
In arrogance we bang and pound
Until the circle's out of round
We fail to see the subtle hue
We plunder treasures pure and true
Can't understand the power we wield
Just knowing when to push or yield

That actions all breed consequence
Regardless of their innocence
Each word we speak each step we take
Spreads out and out along time's wake
And as the ripples grow and grow
We reap the seeds that others sow

That wisdom age don't guarantee
But just the opportunity
To find the tracks that mark the trail
However faint however pale
Ecclesiastes states it true
In this whole world ain't nothing new
Each breath we take was breathed before
Each burden felt already bore
Some old one long before our time
Has sang the song and felt the rhyme
Left little signs along the way
But sadly who am I to say
Perhaps there always will remain
A sorrel colt with flaxen mane
As revelations tend to hide
It's nice sometimes to have a guide

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

 

Gifts

We work to make a living till
     We can forget to live.
We try so hard to win it that
     We lose what life will give.

Until some little token
     Puts the meter in the rhyme,
A simple thing plumb hidden out
     In plain sight all the time.

A little calf a buckin’ out
     Across the morning dew,
The orange, green and purple of
     A sunset painted hue.

The morning’ star a shinin’
     Up above a horse’s ears,
Some mem’ry of a loved one that’s
     Been tucked away for years.

A day spent with the family or
     A phone call from a friend,
A dog so glad to see ya
     It wags its whole rear end.

I think these gifts He gives us just
     To make the rest worthwhile,
All the worry and the frettin’
     The rope burns and the miles.

Some make you stop and chuckle,
     Some take your breath away,
Some one in a million
     Others happen every day.

So if you’re young and reckless or
     You’re wise and stiff and old,
If you’re sharpenin’ your pencil or
     You think your story told.

These gifts appear like magic
     I’m standin’ here to say,
Like a little blue eyed button
     Whisperin’, “Pappy...wanna play?”

© 2011, Darin Brookman
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

Darin comments, "My little granddaughter Hadyn inspired that poem. It seems a two-year-old has ways of reminding you of what is really important and how much fun it is to play."

 

 

Truth

Did we arrive here on our own
Or have we each been led
By all the lines of shift and sham
That’s thrown around our head?

We’re crowded t’wards the pens
Of what to wear and eat and drink
Then prodded down the chute
Of how to act and feel and think.

We’re fed perverse morality
Until it seems the norm
Then drenched with sly vulgarities
Of ev’ry shape and form.

We crave originality
And stampede to its fold
While we trample tromp and stomp it
So it fits the mass’s mold.

We are sorted marked and branded
Tallied sold and bought.
Can never find the answer
When the question’s been forgot.

But lost in all the frenzy
And the ruckus and the dust,
When we brush away our notions
And scrape away the rust.

Beneath the world’s corrosion
We may find its highest prize
Laid clear and clean and honest
Once peeled of graft and guise.

So Lord please bless the simple fools
They’re gettin’ hard to find,
The ones who stop to think a bit
Then make up their own mind.

© 2012, Darin Brookman
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

Darin comments, "Those thoughts had been rattling around for quite a while but came together after a discussion with a preacher friend. I have come to appreciate his position that instead of just accepting what we are taught or told, we have the responsibility to understand. I think whether we are talking about religion, politics or life in general, there are perfect truths that we should be looking for instead of getting so caught up in which side or persuasion is winning. It almost seems that proving someone wrong has become more important than being right?"


 

Paradise
 

The gyp rocks whisper age old tales
With voice as old as time
The sagebrush sing soliloquies
In perfect pitch and rhyme
 
Mesquite thorns punctuate each verse
That floats across the cedar
Accents each precious syllable
In sacred beat and meter
 
Then sprinkled with some prickly pear
The twinkle of God’s eyes
Is left a simple honest soul’s
Sweet glimpse of paradise
 
 
  
Granny and Ray live in my earliest memories
My mother’s parents
They lived in a snug little house next to ours
Granny worked in town at the True Value
Ray and his partner Floyd patched the town’s streets
I reckoned Ray had an important job
He drove the City Dump Truck home each night
 
While a button under the women’s care
Mother took Granny and me on our regular jaunts across Buck Creek
Down the white caliche road to a place called Olympus
This was the place of Granny and Ray’s youth
Where their children were born
Where their kin had died
Where hope and joy were neighbor to sorrow and fear
 
We started at the little cemetery surrounded by prickly pear and mesquite
Granny and Mother fussed with the graves and pulled weeds
With admonitions concerning rattlesnakes
I played at the gate and chunked rocks in the Schoolhouse Cellar
That done we drove around the corner to the end of the road
Through the last gate on the left was the piece of ground that belonged to Granny and Ray
Once part of Gustavus Swift’s vast empire
Pa Mitchell had wound up with a few hundred acres along the Red
As it was passed and divided through the years
Ray had managed to hold on to his part
Each time we pulled through the gate
Granny marveled at the green grass and fat cows
Even a kid could see
The grass looked dry and the cows looked thin
 
It was on these regular visits that I began to know Olympus
At times Granny rattled incessantly
Pointing out the baptizing hole and the old Buck Creek Bridge
She told of hog killings tent meetings and square dances
Box lunches on the grounds and Christmas Programs in the School
Ice cream socials and picnics on Settler’s Creek
The names floated from her memory
Birdie and Anderson
Toad and Clifford
The Kindles
The Crooks
I learned of floods of droughts and the Depression
The government killed their cows
Ray couldn’t get a hundred dollar loan and took a job in Chilldress
Through it all they held on to their little stretch of country along the Red River
 
On other visits Granny rolled down the car window and sat in silence
She seemed to see things where there was nothing to be seen
Hear things where there was nothing to be heard
 
 
At some point Granny and Ray both retired from their town jobs
In his seventies by then Ray began to help my Dad
Granny was content to just be a Granny
A large friendly woman she baked bread and canned chow chow and black eyed peas
She talked on the phone and watched Ralph Emory on TV
Granny kept her Bible handy and when the Saints met she was there
She sang us You Are My Sunshine
Tried to teach us to be good Democrats
We still made our regular visits to Olympus
She still told the same stories
To the best of my knowledge Granny never knew an enemy
But had little use for a Republican
 
Older now my care was entrusted more to the men
Most of my visits to Olympus were with Ray
We partnered on some cows so our trips included work
I learned to patch a brittle barb wire fence
Rusty wire strung by long dead kin
How to kill a rattlesnake with a short stick
Pump a slush bucket and bail a windmill
We ate gourmet meals under a Bois d’ark Tree
Ray’s favorite of Viennas and crackers
Slivers of cheese shaved from the chunk by a razor sharp Old Timer
I began to understand Olympus
To appreciate its importance
It gave what it had but at times it had little
Ray was wiry and wrinkled the entire time I knew him
If he was ever in a bad mood it didn’t show
Except for a bout with pneumonia as a teenager
Ray never spent a night in a hospital
He wore pressed khaki work clothes
Brown cowboy boots and a short brimmed silver belly
He smoked a pipe on occasion
Dipped Honest Snuff like he breathed
He cussed when the occasion called for it
But always the situation never the man
He could sit on his heels and play mumbly peg
Whittle a tree limb to a toothpick
His Great Grandkids called him Ray Boy
 
In his eighties now he lived to work
He planted crops and sorted cattle
Built corrals and hauled hay
Whatever the job the first one in the truck and ready to go
 
We all thought he needed to slow down
The work was dangerous and he was old
Something bad might happen
Ray’s quick reply
I hope so
Better than wearin’ a diaper in some nursin’ home
Each morning he was up and ready to go
Eventually something did happen
On a bright spring morning with the sun in his face
Ray’s work was done
My Dad found him beneath the tractor wheel and read the signs
I found Mother and Granny in the Hospital Chapel
Guilt found me
I should have been with him or insisted he stay home
Wished he’d been satisfied playin’ dominoes with the other old men
 
Ray was still in the ambulance in the back parking lot
Too late for any help inside
Empty faces echoed from hospital beds
Hopeless eyes followed down hospital halls and out the back door 
Diapers and nursing homes came to mind
 
The Coroner was still with Ray behind the closed doors of the ambulance
Making the time and cause official
As she opened the doors to step out
I saw the one thing I still remember clearly
One thing that brought me peace that day
One of things that gives me hope now
 
Ray Boy lay on a gurney in the ambulance
Wearin’ his khaki work clothes
The toes of his Tony Lama’s pointed straight to Heaven
Probl’y the richest man I ever knew
 
For the rest of us Granny continued to do the things Granny did
She talked on the phone and watched Ralph Emory on TV
She baked bread and sang You Are My Sunshine to her Great Grandkids
Kept a Bible handy and a weather eye on the Republicans
We still made our trips across Buck Creek and down the white caliche road
One extra grave to tend before we drove around the corner to the last gate on the left
 
She marveled at the green grass and fat cows
She told the same stories but seemed more occupied with whatever she saw out the window
Oddly I began to catch glimpses
Heard whispers
 
Slowly she simply lost interest in things of this world
Ralph Emory became a bore and she seldom made a phone call
The last few weeks we tried to make conversation
She mostly sat and listened
I think the voices from the other side spoke louder
One evening something inside of her gave out
Dr. Norman did the things a doctor could
Bless his heart he did the things a friend should
The last time I saw Granny she had the look of a little girl on Christmas Eve
A little anxious at what was ahead but ready to find out
 
Granny made one last trip across Buck Creek
Down the caliche road
White dust looked out of place on black Cadillacs
She stopped next to Ray in the plot Pa Mitchell had donated for the cemetery
That small lot among the pear and mesquite she had watched over so well
All of her Grandkids sang You Are My Sunshine
To the best of my knowledge Granny knew no enemies
I suspect there were Republicans present
 
The little stretch of ground passed to another generation and then another
I still made the trip across Buck Creek
 But stirred more than dust on the white caliche road
Now I saw clearly what Granny had seen
The voices of kin I never knew
Mixed with voices I knew well
The grass was green
The cows were fat
 
Ecclesiastes says there is a time for everything
Change finds all
Hunting land is at a premium
It is too valuable to keep
It would be better for everyone
Words meant to justify ring hollow and taste bitter
I think my Sister summed it up best
It is time to pull the trigger
One of those times you dread
A time faced by all of those charged with the care of something special
Something that has given much and asked little
The time a faithful friend is led to the backside of the pasture
A spot picked so that it might always be found
A place never returned to
It is a task no one asks for
A job easily delegated to others
But that would be cruel
It is an obligation that must be met
A debt that must be acknowledged and paid
A friend says it is the price we pay for the privilege of loving
 
I drove the Real Estate Agent across Buck Creek and down the white caliche road
I pointed out the baptizing hole
Showed him where the Crooks had lived
I don’t think he could see
Soon offers were made and a deal was struck
With the swipe of a pen in a lawyer’s office the trigger was pulled
I wondered if the new owner could understand the true value of his purchase
 
In the end I am left with a realization and a hope
 
The realization….. this place didn’t need me or Granny or Ray
Didn’t need the Comanche or the ones before them
It is what the Creator made it
In the measure of rock and river
The marks we left on it
Will hardly be noticed
In the measure of heartbeat and being
The marks it left on us will last forever
No matter the distance
We still smell the white dust raised on the road
Still see the bridge in the willows
Wherever we go the voices follow
 
The hope….. perhaps some fresh fall morning
On a bluff carved by ancient floods
Some honest soul will watch the sun rise a rifle sight down the River’s notch
Feel God’s breathe melt the frost from the grama grass
Or a sticky spring afternoon
Hear the lightning bounce off the prickly pear
Smell the wet Salt Cedars and the River rolling red and foamy  
That during their time in this place
Might add their voice
Begin to understand paradise
 
Once you’ve seen it
 
It is hard to forget 
                                                                        
© 2015, Darin Brookman
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

Darin comments, "I would say about 'Paradise' that I feel very fortunate to have been brought up working and living beside both sets of my Grandparents, Ray and Flora Mitchell and Vannie and Opal Brookman. I didn't realize it at the time but their examples taught me a lot about life and the things important in life."


 

Book

Winner of the Will Rogers Medallion Award.




Where Sagebrush Grows

Includes:

The Gather
Archives
Some Men
Said Scorpion to the T'rantula
Tempered Souls
Boogers in the Bushes
Lookin' Back
Instinct
Fine Art
Mad Cows
Just Say No
Parkay
Sally
The Ballad of Skeeter Boyd

and the impressive art of working cowboy Brian Asher throughout (see his web site)

Introduction by Phil Martin
"About the Artist" by Red Steagall

Available for $23 postpaid from:

Pair'a Spurs Press
16001 E. 1600 Rd.
Hollis, OK 73550

email

 

 

See our book review here.

 

There is a special, limited (50) hardcover edition, signed by Darin Brookman and Brian Asher:

Available for $95 from:

Pair'a Spurs Press
16001 E. 1600 Rd.
Hollis, OK 73550

email

 

 


 

Darin Brookman's "Tempered Souls" is included in Cowboy Poetry, The Reunion.  See our feature about the book here.

cpreunionbk.jpg (25377 bytes)

 

 

Read Darin Brookman's tribute to Buck Ramsey here.

 

 

Contact Information

 

Darin Brookman
16001 E. 1600 Rd.
Hollis, OK 73550

email

 

 

 

www.cowboypoetry.com

 

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