Honored Guest

Debra Coppinger Hill

Named
Academy of Western Artists' (AWA)
Best Female Poet
2002


Featured in "The Big Roundup," an anthology of the best of CowboyPoetry.com.

 

About Debra Coppinger Hill
Poems
Awards and Publications
Recordings

Contacting Debra Coppinger Hill

 

This is Page 1 of Debra Coppinger Hill's poetry

Page 2 with more poetry is here

Page 3, with the title track and track list with links to other poems from her CD, 
Common Sense, Men and Horses is here.

 

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About Debra Coppinger Hill

Debra Coppinger Hill describes herself as "Cowboy Poet, Humorist, Columnist and Puppeteer." 

Debra Coppinger Hill lives in rural Rogers Co. Oklahoma, just north of Chelsea on the border of Catale. She is the ranch manager for the family operation, the 4DH Ranch, where they raise Cutting and Ranch Bred Horses, hay and Brahman cross cattle. She draws from her daily experiences, giving her writing a "been there, done that" quality that people identify with. Her column, "Ridin' Drag" features stories about her life on the ranch, as well as stories about Western History, culture, events, family and friends.

Her love of Western Literature and writing was fostered by her Grandfathers and Great Grandfathers. From them she heard the tales of Texas and of being a Cowboy, and the stories of the Cherokees. She also attributes her love of stories of the past to the rest of her family, who all love to tell and re-tell family and Indian lore. 

Her writing includes Cowboy Poetry, Western song lyrics for various performers, promotions and publicity materials and several regular columns for various publications. Her work is included in several two books, "Cowboys Are Part Human" (by Southwest Whispers) and the Gibbs-Smith book, Cowgirl Poetry.

Debra Performs at public and private functions across the U.S., often with one of her Outrider, COPAS or Nighthawk partners, Casey Allen, Doc Stovall, Jerry Warren, Jay Snider, Kevin Davis or Tim Graham. She and her associates present an educational program (that features the Buckaroo puppets) for school and children's groups, that has a Western theme and and anti-drug/alcohol message.

Having lived in various parts of the country before returning to Oklahoma, Debra has found most people will respond to a piece of writing if it reminds them of home or family. She believes all families should share their histories, "Because in looking back, we can see more clearly where to go. A common history is what defines family and country. After-all, we make the world we live in. For good things to survive, we have to take on the responsibility of promoting their positive aspects. It is our duty and our sacred trust."

Debra is affiliated with several groups who are Dedicated to the Preservation of the Spirit of the West.


Outriders

COPAS (Cowboy Performing Arts Society)

The Charley Russell Western Heritage Association

                (Charter Mem./ Regular contributing writer Cowboy Gazette,
                Current National Director of Publicity and Promotions)

Academy of Western Artists (Charter Member)

Western Music Association

Cowtown Opry

Texas Cowboy Poets Association

Southwest Nighthawks Association


Debra & her partners are happy to tailor a show to fit your budget.

They can provide you with a one person show or a group of performers.
(Chuckwagons available.)

Poems

Yellow Slicker
Mustangs
Listen
The Money for Her Diamond
The Stud?
Waiting
Jake
Buffalo Dance
Regret
Outlaw?
The Truth
Wild Stickhorse Remuda
Melancholy Cowboy
The Stranger (posted with Holiday 2000 poems)
12 Days of Cowboy Christmas (posted with Holiday 2000 poems)
Bitten
The Edge
Best Ride I Ever Had
Dirt Road
Waiting for the Light
Barn Therapy
New Mexico

A Mother's Broken Heart
The American Cowboy
Through the Dust
Echoes of the Canyon
Udoda (Father)
A Place in the Heart
Spirits of Truth

Common Sense, Men And Horses 

 

 

Yellow Slicker
(To "Miss Oleta" Nichols, Pioneer, Lady, Texan) 

                          
She wore his yellow slicker,
Though it almost drug the ground,
It seemed to make things easier,
As if He was still around.

He’d left her some big boots,
She was gonna’ have to fill,
But his old yellow slicker,
It seemed to give her the Will.

The Will to keep on going,
The Will to be wise and strong,
The Will to make their dreams come true,
And remember, where she belonged.

She wore it to feed the cattle,
And when she cleaned the stalls,
She hung it on that high nail by the door,
And remembered He was tall.

She wore it every time,
Storm clouds came rushing in,
She even wore it sometimes,
Just so the tears would not begin.

She wore it to keep the wet out,
And to hold the cold at bay,
It eased the hardness of the ground,
Each time she knelt to pray.

She wore it to chop the tanks,
And when she mended fence,
She wore it on the best of days,
And on the ones that made no sense.

She wore it when it was ragged,
And had completely lost it’s charm,
Because, if she was inside of it,
She was back inside his arms.

It’s just an old yellow slicker,
But it made her life complete,
It reminded her what’s important,
And it kept her on her feet.

She wore it across a lifetime,
And she never felt alone,
She raised their kids, she raised their cows,
And she made their farm a home.

And when she’s gone, she tells the kids,
Just hang it on that nail in the barn,
Then look at it, and in your hearts know,
His yellow slicker, saved the farm.

 
© 1996 Debra Coppinger Hill, All Rights Reserved

Mustangs

     I went to work for him that year,
early on, in the fall,
It was my job to help feed,
water, and clean the stalls.
 
    The quarter horses that he raised,
were among the finest to be seen.
Then there were the mustangs,
rough and rank and mean.
 
    From time to time, the mustangs,
would somehow make an escape,
No matter how carefully it was chained,
they seemed to be able to open the gate.

     Then we’d saddle-up and chase ‘em,
and push ‘em back to the pens,
When it came to the mustangs,
trouble knew no end.

     He never really answered,
when I asked him why,
He kept these three, who were dangerous,
with such wildness in their eyes.

     Once, he said,”They’re the last of our kind,
a rare and special breed,
Spirits, not of this earth,
waiting to be freed.”

     This didn’t help me understand,
the mustangs or this man,
Who seemed to keep them at all costs,
though they didn’t wear his brand.

     Then , one day as we fed, I saw him...
as He took loose the chain...
Softly, he said, “Come with me”,
and we walked to the truck in the rain.

     We rode the truck to the hill,
where we could see for miles.
Motioning to the tailgate, he bade me sit,
and gave me a knowing smile.

     Below, the mustangs had finished their feed,
and, as if they had good sense,
They began their morning journey,
around their pasture, checking fence.

     When they came to the gate,
for a moment, they did pause,
And gave a glance towards the hill,
as if they knew the cause.

     I will remember the next few moments,
Forever, they are etched into my mind,
And the emotion I felt, as we sat in silence,
never again, shall I find.

     We watched them bolt from the gate,
Running for all they were worth,
All four feet up off the ground,
Flying, between Heaven and Earth.

     The explanation that he gave,
he didn’t have to give.
But, his words ring in my memory,
all the days, that I live.
 
    He said, “ I let them go sometimes,
so I can remember, when I see,
What it’s like to break loose,
and truly, be Free.

     For awhile I’m allowed, by Grace of God,
to be a part of wondrous, unseen forces...
And that, my fine young friend,
is why I keep wild horses."

© 1997 Debra Coppinger Hill, All Rights Reserved.

Listen

When the horses talk to me,
They tell me many things,
Whats and hows of yesterday,
Why the nighthawk sings.

I learn the meaning of the dance.
Between animals and men,
They inspire me to take the chance,
To look back on where I’ve been.

On this plain where we live,
In the circle at the center,
You receive more than you give,
When privileged to enter.

So I close my eyes in trust and walk,
And listen, to the horses talk.


© Debra Coppinger Hill 1998, All Rights Reserved

The Money for Her Diamond


     In the heat of July,
While bringing in the hay,
He gave her a baling wire ring, And this is what he had to say...

     “Someday I’ll put a diamond,
Here on your hand.
A diamond pure and perfect,
As sure as I’m your man.

     But, you know, a diamond,
It won’t ever shine,
As long or as bright,
As this love of yours and mine.”

     So they saved for her diamond, 
By putting little bits away,
Money for the diamond,
He would buy for her one day.

     But the money for her diamond,
Fixed the tractor and bought a plow,
And in the dead of winter,
Paid the vet. bill for the cow.

     The money for her diamond,
Put the water to the barn,
And paid the increased taxes,
The county levied on the farm.

     The money for her diamond,
Paid the doctor in town,
And when their daughters were all grown,
It bought the wedding gowns.

      It paid for the new roof,
When the big wind came through.
Then it it paid off the mortgage,
Before it was due.

     The money for her diamond,
Was always well spent,
She never even asked him,
Just where the money went.

     The money for her diamond,
Helped them to survive,
The money for her diamond,
Kept their hopes and dreams alive.

    Today it’s been sixty-three years,
And the diamond is on her hand.
But, as usual, in her pocket,
Lies her original wedding band.

     A twist of baling wire, 
Bent and covered up in rust,
A symbol of the greatest of loves,
His Promise and Her Trust.


© 1996 Debra Coppinger Hill, All Rights Reserved


The Stud?


     He reminded me of Peter Ustinov,
In “We’re No Angels,” with Bogie and Aldo Ray,
Each time he looked at me he was repeating that one line,
“Oh, it’s that delicious fat woman from yesterday!”

     One thing that I don’t tolerate,
In children or a horse,
Is excessive use of one’s teeth,
It’s the rule I strictly enforce.

     But he would lurk behind the tool shed,
Laying in wait for his chance,
To take a hefty nip or two,
From the seat of my ample pants.

     He always took his nibbles,
When my husband didn’t see,
And like a fool I let my husband
Lull me into a false sense of security.

     He said the Stud was full of spirit,
And I was just misunderstanding,
The horse only wanted my attention,
He was just a little demanding.

     And like a MORON I listened,
And I learned a lesson hard, 
On why you trust your gut instincts,
And never drop your guard.

     A month went by and he kept in check,
His over-sized pearly-whites,
So confidently I went about
My feeding chores one night.

     That day, The Demon decided,
I’d make a tasty snack,
And while I was unlocking the corral gate,
He bit me, in the back.

     I’ve been in a bad car wreck and had two kids,
And I cringe when I remember the pain of those nights,
But I plumb forgot all about childbirth,
From the searing pain of that bite.

     I’m not real sure what happened next,
I just know I was totally un-composed,
‘Cause all of a sudden I was standing there,
With a handful of that Stud’s nose.

     I had my thumb and fingers in his nostrils,
And I was squeezing with all my might,
And it must have had the desired effect,
‘Cause his eyes were filled with fright,
I backed him across the corral,
And right on in to a stall,
I figured it was my moment,
So, I began to squall...

     I yelled at him like a wayward child,
I brought his legitimacy into question,
And all the while I shook his head,
Back and forth, like a piston.

     I told him he’d be sorry,
And that I’d get even good,
Then one more time, just for good measure,
I disparaged his parent-hood.

     At this point, my husband’s convinced,
I went entirely insane,
But that’s not true, or there’d have been
A changing of that horse’s name...

     He would have become Alpo,
Or possibly Old Roy,
But I realized I had too much invested,
In the training of the old boy.

     You see, I can be down right reasonable,
When given the time to calm down,
Especially when I remember I make all the decisions,
When my husband is not around.

     So, now the Stud’s a Gelding,
And his whole attitude has changed,
‘Cause that same afternoon I called the Vet.,
And had his anatomy re-arranged.

     Now on our place, there are a few rules,
But they’re just not that hard to follow,
Number one, is only make promises you will keep,
Don’t speak words that are hollow...

     Number two, is clean your room,
And hang up your pajamas...
And number three, is use your head,
And never, for any reason, ever bite Mamma.

 
© 1996 Debra Coppinger Hill, All Rights Reserved


Waiting


Sweat-stained Stetson,
On the wall,
Muddy boots,
In the hall,
Stand and wait,
Sometimes they call,
Saddle-up and ride.

Spurs left hanging,
On a chair,
Saddle, oiled,
Over there,
Sit and wait,
With patient care,
Saddle-up and ride.

Slow and quiet,
Horses walk,
Softly nicker,
Hear them talk,
Endure and wait,
But never mock,
Saddle-up and ride.

Cowboy spirits,
In the night,
A haunting dance,
A lonesome sight,
Sway and wait,
For day’s first light,
Saddle-up and ride.


© 1997 Debra Coppinger Hill, All Rights Reserved

 
Jake

He was just a stove-up old cowboy,
Who only drank to ease the pain,
And he really didn’t need it,
Except when it was cold or gonna’ rain.

He’d spent his life bull-ridin’ ,
Until he had that wreck,
The bull threw him high, he came down hard,
And busted his legs all to heck.

He’d been my Daddy’s best friend, 
Up until the day my Daddy died,
They rodeo’ed together,
At the funeral, he cried.

I’d see him every now and again,
At one or another rodeo,
He always had kind words for me,
Acted like he hated to see me go.

He gave me my first pony,
And a saddle with a dally horn,
They say he drove my  Mamma to town,
The icy night that I was born.

I heard he’d talk about me,
And only had good things to say,
He never told me to my face,
But I knew that was just his way.

It came as a surprise to me,
When I heard that he was dead,
I couldn’t forget the last time I saw him,
Or the last thing he ever said...

“I wish you’d been my own son,
I’m proud to know ya’ as a man,
I wanted to say ‘I love ya’,
While I’m sober, and I can.”

Then he turned and strode off,
And his back seemed straight and strong,
I’m not real sure, but I’d have sworn
That limp of his was gone.

So, on those nights when I’m alone, 
And hurt gets in my way,
I think of him and the guts it took,
To say what he had to say.

And now, when I see an old Cowboy,
A little drunk and broken down,
I stop and listen to the stories he tells,
‘Cause I know he’s been around.

And Somewhere, Jake is bull-ridin’,
Hittin’ in the eighties on every ride,
Young , and Free, and Wild again,
In that place, called The Other Side.

© 1997 Debra Coppinger Hill, All Rights Reserved.

Buffalo Dance

Rough, Untamed
Rush the draw
Primal energy
Passionate, Raw

Painted face
Feathered lance
So begins 
The Buffalo Dance

Race the Thunder
Over the hill
Take the world
By sheer will

Free and Wild
Without care
Fearless screams
Split the air

Call it Destiny
Call it Chance
Drums beat out 
The Buffalo Dance

Rise and Fall
The Liar’s Moon
Death and Existance 
Come too soon

Earth is made
Of Give and Take
Past and Future
Are at stake

Lightning strikes
Evil askance
Spirits of Fire 
Join the Buffalo Dance

Caution tossed
To the Wind
Now is a place
To begin

Turn the herd
Lead the pack
Valiant hearts
Blaze new tracks

Dreams are real
This is no trance
Life lived Full
Is the Buffalo Dance

 
© 1999 Debra Coppinger Hill, All Rights Reserved

Regret

     I’ve seen their spirits ride at night,
In total darkness and clear moonlight,
Souls that search for what is right,
These men that they call Cowboys.

     With open heart, determined face,
Eyes that see a far away place,
No eternal rest, 'til they run the race,
These men that they call Cowboys.

    They search across history,
To return our civil gentility,
And the way  things ought to be,
These men that they call Cowboys.

     Nothing gets in their way,
Honor bound by what they say,
They pledge to bring it back one day,
These men that they call Cowboys.

     Promise made, I over-hear,
From their mission, they’ll not veer,
It’s their duty to find, the Lost Frontier,
These men that they call Cowboys.

     I know their voices from my dreams,
Calling me to come upstream,
Perhaps, my life, to redeem,
These men that they call Cowboys.

     I must make haste and decide,
If on this quest, I will ride,
With them, I know, I can’t backslide,
These men that they call Cowboys.

     I pause...consider...hesitate...
They ride on. It is too late.
They leave me with my own mistake,
These men that they call Cowboys.

     Waking, as if, from a trance,
I cry out for one more chance,
But they have gone without a glance,
These men that they call Cowboys.

     I realize they have come before,
Blazing trails, opening doors,
To Freedom, Salvation even more,
These men that they call Cowboys.

I know these men, I owe a debt,
I should have gone.  It’s my regret.
To this day I seek them yet,
These men that they call Cowboys.

    So I search for their spirits, late at night,
In total darkness and clear moonlight,
And pray for the chance to set things right,
With these men that they call Cowboys.                                                                      

© 1999 Debra Coppinger Hill, All Rights Reserved/Music © 1999 Gerry "Casey " Allen, All Rights Reserved / " It’s Just Cowboy Music"

 

 

OUTLAW?

I knew his face from a poster,
That said he was wanted by the law,
It had little affect on me,
For I went by what I saw.

Two eyes of blue looked up at me,
So thin they looked like steel,
And a moustache so thick and bushy,
I wasn't sure if it was real.

Out on the plains of Kansas,
It is a hard and fast rule,
That to take in and hide a wanted man,
Are the actions of a fool.

But I'm not known for  my reason,
Common sense is my only art,
And it told me I was safe,
Go on and follow my heart.

I took him to the old dugout,
Beside little creek,
Tended to his bullet wounds,
Nursed him while he was weak.

And I kept him there...a secret,
Made him strong and well,
An listened to the stories,
That he began to tell...

Of his life as a farmer,
Becoming a raider after the war,
He'd had a good reason once,
But couldn't remember "why" anymore.

When he tried to walk away,
The band refused to let him go,
They shot him and left him to die,
Where I found him in the cold.

I considered the sins of this man,
Waged them against my own,
Knew that for the right reasons,
My life would have taken a different tone.

And I knew there was no judging,
His past actions, or mine,
For his taking life, and my saving his,
Were both considered a crime.

So I hid him, and I'm not sorry,
For a time he was my own,
He told me once he loved me,
I was the closest he had to a home.

I procured a horse and a rifle,
Once he was mended enough to ride,
And politely refused his offer,
To join him by his side.

My last glimpse was the back of his hat,
As he dropped into the draw,
And I knew I'd not been wrong,
About the things I saw.

Deep inside those steel-blue eyes,
Lay a soul that had changed it's ways,
And his punishment would be in running,
Wanted...for the rest of his days.

And me, I'm still not repentant,
I'd do it all over again,
For sometimes Outlaws ain't evil,
Sometimes they're just men,

Who started out with good intentions,
And no matter what they may be,
The final call to judgement,
Won't come from you or me.

Because all of us are sinners,
By bad luck or circumstance,
And the only way out is common sense,
Prayer and a second chance.

So, pray with me for the Outlaw,
Cheer him on in his second try,
And start your prayer with the words,
"But for the Grace of God, there go I..."

© 2000 Debra Coppinger Hill, All Rights Reserved

Debra Hill wrote:   I based this latest piece on a line from a conversation with Texas Outlaw Poet TR Stephenson. He sent me a poem about an outlaw listening to his children say their prayers. I contacted him to tell him how wonderful and profound the sentiments of his poem were.  In our conversation he said "Sometimes outlaws ain't evil men.  Sometimes they're just men whose ideals went astray."   I asked TR if I could use those words and he said to go for it.  This is the result. 

TR Stephenson, before he was an Honored Guest here, was kind enough to let us reprint the poem that inspired Debra Hill:

LISTENIN' TO THEIR PRAYERS

                                          
Prayers
I remember back when I was young, a long long time ago,
The many things that used to bring, me tears, or maybe joy,
The one example that I hold, the one I lovge the most,
Was listenin' every bedtime, to the prayin' of my boys.

"Daddy listen to me, I'm gonna talk to God,
And tell Him 'thanks' for givin' me these things",
They'd kneel on the cabin floor, things would quieten down,
In the softness of the twilight, their little voices ring.

"God please bless my Mama, she's in my sister's room,
And look out for my Pa, in the work he does for pay,"
Inside my heart would quiver, my little boys don't know,
I am a wanted outlaw, a bandit cold and grey.

It's funny how a man can be, two men at one time,
It makes a feller wonder, whats happenin' to his soul?
I was one man with my family, they sure knew me best,
I tried to give them love, and keep them from the cold.

The other man who rode alone, was sinister and dark,
There's no place in a bandit's heart, for anything but sin,
I kept my one face hidden, when dark deeds I did do,
The eyes that looked out at the world, hid the man within.

Time slid by like butter, came the day I had enough,
I packed away my bandit's mask, and my pistol too,
The people in the little town, never learned the truth,
They only knew the man, they'd often spoken to.

Now I am old, I live alone, my wife has gone away,
My children are all grown up now, and gone,
In thee twilight's gloamin', I watch the fireflies play,
And try to find the strength, to carry on.

The one thing that sustains me, a simple memory,
Of a time back in the past when life was fair,
The way my heart would swell with pride, a sweet soliloquy,
When I listened to my children, say their prayers.


TR Stephenson, The Texas Outlaw Poet
© TR Stephenson, All Rights Reserved

The Truth


You pushed us down that dark cold trail,
Where the old and young ones cried,
And said the land was forever ours,
But that was only lies.

You slew us at the Washita, 
Sand Creek and Wounded Knee,
Then gave us talking leaf promises,
That never came to be.

You tried to silence our Shamans,
But our Visions were worth the chance,
You chased us till we could not walk,
But you could not stop the dance.

You cannot kill the Power, the Earth,
No truer words were ever spoken,
For we know if we are the Center,
The Circle of life will not be broken.

So, when you come in search of us,
The sacred hills is where we are found,
Among the voices in the wind,
On this, our Holy Ground.

For you can slaughter our shadow-bodies,
Bind our wings so we can’t fly,
But you can’t capture our Spirit,
And you can’t make us die.

© 2000 Debra Coppinger Hill, All Rights Reserved

Debra tells us that though this poem is not strictly based on Cherokee incidents, it was written in honor of the Cherokee National Holiday.


Wild Stickhorse Remuda


   Ponytails and blue jeans
Sat at Papaw's knee,
Watching as he whittled
On old branches from a tree.
    And while he talked of cowboys
And big old Texas ranches,
He trimmed away the rough spots,
While I dreamed of pony dances.

     A wild stick horse remuda
Began to run and play,
With every loving stroke, 
As he peeled the bark away.
     Using his "Old Timer" 
And carving in my brand,
The best that he could find
And cut and shape with his own hand.

     Now, each one of them was special,
And I felt I was too,
As they kicked up dust behind
This cowgirl buckaroo.
     With reins of pink hair ribbon,
Shoe strings and baling twine,
There was "Buckin' Birch" and "Oakie,"
And "Ole Sticky" made of pine,

     "Sassafras," and "Blackjack,"
"Willow," "Blaze," and "Scat,"
I never did corral 'em --
I just left 'em where they sat.
     But next mornin', on the front porch,
'stead of roamin' wild and free,
They'd found their hitchin' rail,
‘cause Papaw lined 'em up for me.
 
     Along our trails together
There were many lessons learned,
Like bein' a cowboy through and through
Is something that you earn
     We'd partner up together,
And team up in cahoots,
Once he defied my Mama,

Bought me red cowboy boots.

     And often, when I wondered
What to do on down the road,
He'd always tell me, "little girl,
When you get there you will know,"
     Sometimes you have to let things go,
Sometimes you stand and fight,
And anything worth doin',
Is still worth doin' right.

     With my wild stick horse remuda,
We rode the range for miles,
I knew I'd won my Papaw's heart
By the way he'd laugh and smile,
     I still have his sweat-stained Stetson,
His boots, and his old knife,
Sometimes I take them out
Just to measure up my life.
     
     And hold him closer to my heart,
And know I have to try,
To live up to the honor
Of the wonder-days gone by.
     On my stick horse remuda,
I learned the cowboy way,
I’d give up everything I own
To ride with him today.

    My wild stick horse remuda
Was quite the varied band,
Born and bred with me in mind
And trained by his own hand.
     I’m longing for the legends,
And the way we used to roam,
With my wild stick horse remuda,
And the man that we called "Home."

Copyright© 2000 Debra Coppinger Hill, with editing and music by Devon Dawson
Based on the © 2000 poem “My Stick Horse Remuda” by Debra Coppinger Hill

In loving memory of Ralph W. Gass...Papaw...who taught me who I was and gave me my love of the West.

My good buddy Devon Dawson the voice of Cowgirl Jesse on the Disney/Riders in the Sky Toy Story II music CD "Woody's Round-up" read it, liked it, and has adapted it as a song.

(In February, 2001 a Grammy was awarded to "Riders In the Sky" for their Disney recording, which also featured Debra Hill's good buddy and  Fort Worth's own singin' yodelin' cowgirl, Devon Dawson, known as "Miss Devon" of "The Texas Trailhands," a popular cowboy swing band based in Fort Worth.)

This poem is included in our collection of 
poems about Cowboy Dads and Granddads



Melancholy Cowboy


   I’m calling the Suicide Hotline,
This sad Cowboy poetry is getting me down,
I’m looking for a happy thought,
But one just can’t be found.

   I’ve got a case of Cowboy Melancholy,
Depression of the deepest kind,
A malady that causes Cowboy Poets,
To think only in disparaging rhyme.

   Perhaps you’ve not heard of it,
It’s a little talked about affliction,
That sneaks up rather slowly,
And attacks a Cowboy’s diction.

   It starts with Cowboys talking,
About having to shoot their horse,
Or the death of the very last Longhorn,
And  Cowboy life having run it’s course.

   They tell about being stomped by a bronc,
About how women will break your heart,
Don’t say there won’t be no more Cowboys,
Please, just leave out that part.

   Death, dismemberment, getting gored,
It makes me sorrowful and morose,
I tell you these gloomy Cowboy poems,
Boarder upon the verbose.

   Is there nothing to say that’s amusing?
Or perhaps a bit light-hearted? 
Is Cowboy life, nothing but strife,
And all about the dearly departed?
   Does any one remember,
When Cowboy poetry was fun?
I tell you we got us a Crisis !
Quick ! Someone call COW-1-1 !!!

   We need some recitation resuscitation,
If Cowboy poetry we are to save,
Go easy on that couplet verse,
About Cowboys in unmarked graves.

   Hook those paddles to our pencils,
And everyone stand clear,
Shock the daylights out of us,
Till we write Cowboy poetry delightful to hear.

   I vote we form a support group,
With a name somewhat synonymous,
A two-step Western program of sorts,
And call it Cowboy Poets Anonymous.

   I suppose I could surrender to the urge,
Do just one poem of despondent refrain,
But I took the oath, and from this day on,
From this Cowboy Curse I’ll try to abstain.

  
   " Hi, my name is ________, (fill in the blank!)
and I’m a  Cowboy Poet... "

 
Copyright © 1999 Debra Coppinger Hill & Casey Allen All Rights Reserved

 


This one is about a trip back to the "old home place."  Everything had
changed, but then, nothing had...because the memories were still the same,
no matter what.


Dirt Road


     The traffic flies by
At a fast-paced clip
They say on a warm day
It's a nice little trip
The county came in
And smoothed out the road
Past the porch where we sat
And learned of "The Code"

     In my mind I still see him
Though he is long gone
And I still hear the words
To his old Cowboy songs
He spoke of the cow trails
And called them by name
Said the dust all around us
Was one and the same.

     He told us the stories
Of the days that were past
We looked to the future
Swore we'd make them last
We rode our stick ponies
And we rounded up strays
And we knew we'd be Cowboys
For all of our days.

     The buildings stand empty
A testimony to time
But they're filled with the dreams
That I still call mine
You can blacktop a road
But they will always be there
Those dust covered memories
That hang in the air.

     They've paved the dirt road
That rolls by the farm
Where we laughed and played Cowboy
In the fields and the barn
And we learned where we came from
And who we could be
And the dust of that dirt road
Is still part of me.

Copyright © 2001 Debra Coppinger Hill All Rights Reserved

Sometimes, if we are very lucky, we get to work with someone who mirrors our own thoughts so well that when a piece is finished, we are not sure who
wrote what line.  Casey Allen has a great talent for ideas for poems. He
sent this to me as a story.  By noon, it was a poem.  By the end of the day
it was a song.  The lyric form is very bluegrass. I am honored to share this
piece with him.

Waiting for the Light


     It's quiet as he rises,
Makes his way to the kitchen,
Builds a pot of coffee,
In the dark before the morn.
Stands on the back porch,
Looks upon his Cowboy Kingdom,
And savors the perfect Stillness
As a brand new day is born.

     He moves out to the corral,
To his throne upon the top rail,
Seats himself to where
He can look off towards the east.
He contemplates the North Star,
Circled by the big dipper,
Cowboy clock, keeping track
While all the world's asleep

     He can see the shapes of cattle,
In the tallgrass of the pasture,
A sliver of a moon
Casting shadows on the ground.
Hears the nightbird call,
As the wind begins to stir,
And the soft talking of horses
As they begin to move around.

     He'll watch the stars awhile,
Pick out the constellations,
Wonders what it's like
To ride the Milky Way.
And bear a silent witness,
To this solitary moment,
Say a thankful prayer
As the East begins to gray.

     Streaks of light are moving,
Dancing bright across the sky,
He feels a little sadness
At the dimming of the stars.
There's Something holy in the darkness,
That reveals a sacred promise,
That binds us to the earth,
And reminds us who we are.

     His cup of coffee finished,
He slides down from the top rail,
Feels fortunate and privileged
To be part of the dawn.
He smiles into the fading night
And walks back to the cabin,
Without a doubt he knows
This is just where he belongs.

     It's the best part of the day,
Sitting in the darkness,
Knowing in your heart
That all is right.
The best part of the day,
Sitting in the darkness,
Waiting for the morning
And the light.

Copyright © Casey Allen and Debra Coppinger Hill,

May 23, 2001, All Rights Reserved


I started this one in 1998 and never finished it.  I guess I never really
understood it until recently.  I've spent a lot of time lately, "hidin' out
in the barn", and I fully intend to spend a lot more!

Barn Therapy


     I go hide out in the barn sometimes,
Just to take a small vacation,
From the telephone and the fax machine,
And my all too close relations.

     Hiding out in the barn,
Sets my mind at ease.
I watch the chickens, sit on the hay,
And listen to the breeze.

     I learn a lot just sitting there,
Observing the things I see.
And hiding out in the barn,
I cheaper than therapy.

     I can psycho-analyze my id,
Get in touch with my inner self,
Meditate and mediate,
And improve my mental health.

     There are times,
(I'm not ashamed to say),
I go hide out there,
For the better part of the day.

     There's much to be said,
For hiding out,
I suddenly understand,
What life's all about.

     I leave the barn,
Refreshed and renewed,
My problems are minimal,
And my tensions subdued.
     I know that I am lucky,
To have found the key,
To putting my world in order,
And finding perfect tranquility.

     So if you come looking for me,
I'll be where simple things hold real charm,
Getting a dose of therapy,
Hiding out, in the barn.

Copyright © 1998 Debra Coppinger Hill, All Rights Reserved


Bitten

Cowboys don't fear the coyote,
He just yips and yowls.
But the wolf is another story,
Your blood chills when he howls.
And a panther, will stalk you,
Even in the dark.
And a bear, when he catches you,
Will tear you clear apart.
The best thing about a snake bite,
Is it kills you pretty quick.
And those "under a rock critters,
Their bite will make you deathly sick.
But the most vicious of the critters,
The one every Cowboy fears,
Inflicts a type of torture.
That can leave grown men in tears.
With a bite so excruciating,
It will make you wish you was dead,
And there's nothing more terrifying,
Than when it raises it's ugly head.
It attacks without a warning,
It's cold-hearted and just plain mean.
It considers all men prey,
And will bite any one that seen.
The suffering, is lingering,
And to this very day,
There's no cure or medication,
That can take the pain away.
It's just the size of a pin point,
And it don't get much bigger,
But I've seen Cowboys brought to their knees,
By the savage bite, of the Chigger.

Copyright © Debra Coppinger Hill 1996 All Rights Reserved.

David always tells me I don't write about the things that Cowboys are afraid
of.  So, I dedicate this to him and his one real fear.  ("Nothing worse than
an enemy you can't see.")  Anyone who has spent any time in an Oklahoma hay field will appreciate it.

 

The Edge


"It will be a Long-day.",
You would say, as you checked the chinch,
And with that, I would know,
Not to expect you,
Until darkness had begun.
Into the tall grass
You would ride.
And I, left here,
Set the cabin straight,
And fed and watered and gathered eggs.
On the Long-days,
We lived in two worlds.
Yours, an open prairie covered in cattle.
Mine, a homestead covered in dust.
I often wondered,
If the same wind that so tormented me,
Was the same wind
That you spoke of as magical.
I did not love this world then,
I only loved you,
And it was you,
And you alone,
Who made it bearable.
On the Long-days,
Knowing you would come back
Tired, yet satisfied and pleased,
I wrote the letters to the family,
And lied about the love
I had for this place.
Then, you did not ride in.
They found the broken shell of you,
The horse dead too,
Where you shot it to save it's suffering,
Never mind that you suffered also.
Family and friends tell me
That this place id too much for me alone.
But, I cannot...and will not leave.

This place owes me your spirit.
And I will wait here,
Until it comes in the wind
And pushes the dust away.
Until it picks me up,
And dances me across the prairie,
And into your arms...
At the Edge of the darkness,
Where you ride,
At the end,
Of a Long-day.


Copyright© 1998 Debra Coppinger Hill All Rights Reserved

 


Best Ride I Ever Had


   The story starts with
"The Best Ride I ever had..."
And comes from a fellow,
Who is working-cowboy clad.

   And the story he will tell you,
Is of a ride he considered a test,
A challenge between man and beast,
When a man has to do his best.

   "Cause any less would find him,
Broken or dead on the arena floor,
And sometimes the point ain't about winning,
the final time, or judge's score.

   And the ride that he talks about,
From time to time may not be the same,
For each one has it's bits of glory,
Satisfaction, or moment of fame.

   The fact that he's done it,
Will be the source of pride,
And what it all boils down to,
Is the simple thrill of the ride.

   It's about the joy of the moment,
And how it has to be earned,
By giving all you've got,
Even if you get burned.

   So, when a Cowboy starts a story with,
"The best ride I ever had..."
Understand this is a part of him,
Not some craze or fleeting fad.

   "Cause it's not the winning or losing,
It's a thing we can't do without,
It's the best ride any of us ever get,
It's Living we're talking about!

Copyright © 2000 Debra Coppinger Hill All Rights Reserved

For my buddies Jay Snider & Kevin Davis.

Written while sitting in the studio listening to them swap tales and
laughter. May 3, 2000



It's an awe-inspiring experience, the White Sands of New Mexico.  I wish
everyone could stand in this magical place at least once.  The photos were all taken within a one hour drive.  Amazing place, New Mexico.

Photo courtesy Debra Hill, New Mexico

New Mexico

 

A Mother's Broken Heart

We weaned and I have a pen full of cry-babies on my hands right now.  But they will get over it...I just hope I do. I called home from town one day and was several minutes into the conversation before I realized I was talking to my son instead of my husband. I could hear the cows and calves crying in the background and suddenly felt total empathy with them. This first poem is dedicated to my son...Dalan turned fifteen this year and is a fine hand with horses and cattle.  While I have been ill and his Dad off-shore working, Dalan has done his own chores, his Dad's and split mine with sister Dara. He does a man's share of work around here and we are very proud of him.

She broke right down and cried,
as they led her boy away,
He looked at her with sadness,
but had not a word to say.
And the men who came to get him,
showed no remorse for their part,
No pity or concern,
for a Mother's broken heart.
She bawled all night with such passion,
I thought she would lose her mind,
Her grief was inconsolable,
all but deaf to words soft and kind.
I don't mean to sound unfeeling,
I understand love this deep,
But she always knew this would happen,
so why does she mourn and weep?
The bond between Mother and Son,
goes beyond all earthly meaning,
Woman or cow, we all feel the same,
when it comes the time for weaning.

© 2001, Debra Coppinger Hill  


Dalan

 


The American Cowboy

Ride the sagebrush trail,
Saddle-up and ride along,
The great American Cowboy,
Will hold the legends strong.
Feel the wagons rumble,
Hear the cattle bawl,
The sounds of spurs and horses,
At a roundup in the fall.
So join us at the campfire,
For the tales of yesteryear,
Of the present and the future,
Of America's frontier.
Ride the mountain trails, scout the prairie wide,
Saddle up and join us, as we ride, ride, ride!

There are voices in the wind,
That beg to tell their tales,
Of Cowboys and Mountaineers,
And those who worked the rails.
From Texas to Montana,
Across the Great Divide,
History lives on,
In all the rivers wide.
Hear the Native drum beats,
Echo from the Sacred Hills,
The Spirits of the West,
Hold their secrets still.
Saddle-up for glory, saddle-up for pride,
Saddle-up and join us, as we ride, ride, ride!

© 2001, Debra Coppinger Hill  

Debra writes: This poem had been in the works for awhile.  Inspired by the Cowboy Colorguard we present each year at the Chisholm Trail Heritage Center, in Duncan, OK, I was able to finish it.  Sometimes you just have to wait for the right words.  This year's Cowboy Colorguard  Members are:  Carrying the American Flag - D.L.Frazier, Oklahoma Flag - Jay Snider, Honorguards - Luke Paul and David Salge

 


I am very fortunate to be allowed to work with some of the best Cowboy and Western Musicians of today.  Jean Prescott, of Abilene, Texas, is the most awarded Contemporary Female Cowboy Singer, with several Academy of Western Artists Awards, as well as WMA and holds the title of the Official Songbird of the State of Texas, as designated by the legislature.  The following piece was a story Jean sent to me that I put into poetry form and then she put into song.  It is on her new album, Tapestry of the West along with the song version of Yellow Slicker" (music by Kevin Davis). 

 

Through the Dust


Waking to the sound of voices in the kitchen,
the wind was sifting grit underneath my window sill,
Choking from the dust, I was driven from my covers,
to the safety and the warmth, of my Mamma's arms.
Daddy reached across the table and rubbed my little hand,
Drinking down his coffee to that little bit of sand,
He said, "This storm's a bad one, it's gonna' howl all day."
Then he asked my Mamma, "Reckon God can hear us pray?"
She told him, "Prayer like dust, rises ever high, on wings of Hope into the sky,
Through the darkness and despair, when we think no one is there,
God hears our every prayer...through the dust."

The dust boiled thick and heavy, and covered up our dreams,
Invading nooks and crannies, filling all the seams,
As it whistled 'round the windows, and sang a sad refrain,
To hold her fear at bay, Mamma sighed a prayer for rain.
She wiped her brow and wet a sheet, and hung it at the door,
I cleaned off the table, and then she swept the floor.
In a never-ending battle, she fought the cruel drought,
And her spirit never wavered, and I never heard her doubt;
That a prayer like dust, rises ever high, on wings of Hope, into the sky,
Through the darkness and despair, when we think no one is there,
God hears our every prayer...through the dust.

Lost in the raging darkness, Daddy struggled down the rope,
As the wind cut right through him, crushing all his hope,
He said, "Lord, I'm your servant,  but I just don't understand,
Why you would let your endless wind, blow away our land.
There's a land of milk and honey, further to the west,
Do we surrender now, or stay and stand the test,
I try to comprehend, I don't mean to complain,
Lord, I'm looking for a sign, do we go or yet remain?"
And his prayer, like dust, rose ever high,
On wings of hope into the sky, through the darkness and despair,
When we think no one is there,
God hears our every prayer...through the dust.

And when the dust quit blowing, our lives were not the same,
We clasped our hands together, and thanked the Lord for rain,
Because dreams only die when they're buried for too long,
And hopes and dreams are what sustain, our love and make it strong.
Beneath the dusty layers, we found a brighter day,
We'd survived the tribulation, hard times and dismay.
Renewed by God's own Mercy, as He washed away the dust,
We leaned on each other, in Faith, Belief and Trust;
That a prayer said in faith only knows how to fly,
Up above the dust into a clear blue sky,
It cuts through the darkness and despair,
To the One who's always there,
God hears our every prayer...through the dust...


© 2001,  Debra Coppinger Hill and Jean Prescott


Jean and Debra with "Baxter Black" at the Chisholm Trail Heritage Center in
Duncan, Ok.

You can read more about Jean Prescott, and order her music at her web site
or contact her at Prescott Music, PO Box 194,
Ovalo, Texas 79541 or call 915-583-2553



When TR Stephenson first sent me his Crimson Creek, I was so taken back by the strength and emotion of it,  that I immediately began to write Echoes of the Canyon in response. It all came except the last verse.  Thanks to my good friends John Old Horse and Eddie Three Eagles, I was able to finish it at WestFest in Steamboat Springs, Co. I mailed it to TR and he approved.  It is an honor for me, his biggest fan, to have won his blessing.  I can only hope that this piece can live up to his praise.  All of these men are incredible and inspiring.  They all make me think and grow, and I am deeply indebted to them always.

Echoes of the Canyon

They say that she is crazy,
talking to the canyon,
Listening to the voices,
that echo from the rocks.
She knows that they are out there,
the spirits of the Ancients,
And the moon, it makes her restless,
as it lights the path she walks.

The Storykeeper told her
the water there flows crimson,
That the grass for the ponies,
is lush and green and tall.
Among the stalks of sky-blue corn,
medicine drums are calling,
The Old Ones shadow-dancing,
as the twilight starts to fall.

So she burns a little sage,
on a fire made of cedar,
Sending prayers out to them,
in a shower of sparks and smoke.
The flames bid her welcome,
into the Sacred Circle,
Her flute repeating softly,
the promises that he spoke.

For her sacrifice and faith,
the Old Ones send a message,
A hawk dips down and beckons,
to follow ever high.
The path is steep and rocky,
but she just keeps on climbing,
Waiting for the moment,
when she'll be allowed to fly.

One day, she simply disappeared,
I like to think she found it,
That emerald endless valley,
where the Spirit Dancers dwell.
The only question left...
do we deserve to go there?
I guess that's just a story,
that only time can tell.

So, will they think I'm crazy,
talking to the canyon?
Listening for her voice,
to echo from the stones...
Their thoughts do not concern me,
in my quest for the Great Forever,
Wandering the Crimson Canyon trails,
searching for my home.

© 2001,  Debra Coppinger Hill and Jean Prescott

With love to TR...who set my feet back upon the good road.

And to Eddie Three Eagles and John Old Horse, who help me remember who I am. Wa-do...Tawodi.


John Old Horse, Debra Coppinger Hill and Eddie Three Eagles at WestFest in
Steamboat Springs, Colorado

 


Texas Outlaw Poet TR Stephenson and Debra Coppinger Hill during a radio show in Oklahoma.


Udoda (Father)

My Father wears a coat of many colors
for all the world to see,
that deep inside his soul
beats the heart of a Cherokee.

What have I learned from his spirit,
and his laughing, loving ways?
I learned the past belongs to the present.
Not to waste my younger days.

The stories of my ancestors
are his legacy to me.
That honoring them and who they were
determines who I will be.

I am my Father's daughter
and I can only hope,
that one day I will be worthy
to wear my Father's coat.

© 2002 Debra Coppinger Hill


Debra Coppinger Hill and her father Sham Coppinger
Photo by Dara Hill


Debra writes about her father: "He is a great man. A real Dad who has taught us pride in our Cherokee ancestry and family ties. He has many talents. If I were to sum him up for you I would write; Sham Coppinger: Husband, Father, Grandfather, Surveyor, Poet, Artist and Cherokee. The title to the poem is the Cherokee word for Father."

This poem is included in our collection of 
poems about Cowboy Dads and Granddads

 

A Place in the Heart

"Where is this place they call The West?,"
   a stranger asked of me;
"Where does it begin, where does it end,
   where are the boundaries?"

I gave this question lots of thought,
   I considered it quite carefully;
For everything from the Atlantic coast is West,
   all the way to the Pacific sea.

Cowboy is a often an mis-used term,
   open to interpretation,
And so it is, with The West,
   it becomes a generalization.

The answer seemed too simple,
   though it gave me cause to ponder;
The ways and life of the Cowboy
   and how he is bound to wander.

I smiled as I gave my answer,
   and please don't think it odd,
But the words I spoke, I truly believe,
   were given to me by God.

"Everyone has a different definition,
   and no single one is right;
It's like trying to define the Universe,
   or freedom or faith or sunlight.

The West is like the sky above,
   endless and wrapped around us all;
It's anywhere there's the soul of man,
   or the sound of this Earth's call.

It's the place where we're going,
   all the places we have been,
The past, the present and the future;
   where-ever you find a friend.

Where is The West?
   You're standing there;
It's no one location,
   it's everywhere.

It's no place in particular,
   it's anywhere living is an art;
It's any place a Cowboy is,
   it's A Place in the Heart."

© May 2, 2003, Debra Coppinger Hill ARR

Dedicated in love and laughter to Jen Hilts, a Cowgirl to the bone. Thanks for giving Cowboy and Cowgirl Poets a voice on Cowboys-n-Cowgirls.com


Spirits of Truth

Others often inspire us to write in a direction different than we have before. Jen informed me she wrote "Mustangs-Spirits of Truth" after reading my piece "Mustangs". Jen is a poet of (dare I say it?) free verse. I love her writing; the open raw emotion in many of her pieces is incredible. But traditional Cowboy Poetry, as a rule is rhymed. While talking she asked me
if I could make any of her poems rhyme. This is a collaboration between us...we took her best lines, added a few here and there and worked up the rhyme-scheme. I think it is a good piece and I hope everyone will read the originals, my Mustangs, her Mustangs-Spirits of Truth and this and enjoy the progression. Thanks Jen, for letting me play with your words!



Spirits of Truth

I could not see them, but I knew they were there,
   the ground filled with thunder, shaking my soul.
From my safe place in hiding, up on the ridge,
   strange, whispered callings told me to go.

At the edge, the whole valley, stretched out below me;
   I watched, enchanted...my blood raced with the wind.
My breath became theirs as they dashed into sight;
   Wild Hearts and hoof-beats charged around the bend.

I could smell the sweat as it ran off their bodies,
   sun glistening on muscle as they ran towards the sun;
Knew without words their message and meaning,
   they were Freedom, Truth and Love on the run.

The earth rose to meet me as they ran at full power,
   their hooves sent dirt sailing, in clouds towards the sky;
My heart pounded wildly in time with their thunder;
   it filled me with joy...for with them, I could fly!

I still feel all around me, the wondrous splendor,
   that took my breath as they came into sight.
The vision I witnessed, that day in the valley,
   is the dream that I dream as I drift off each night.

Forever engraved on my heart and my memory;
   Spirits so pure they were one with the earth;
They set me free in those magical moments,
   their strength became mine in a glorious rebirth.

They say to touch Heaven, your soul must go higher,
   to streets that are paved with gold and with pearls;
But for me, it's a ridge, high above an endless valley,
   being one with the horses, at the top of the world.


© 2003, Jen Hilts / Debra Coppinger Hill, All Rights Reserved.
Adapted from Jen Hilts' free verse "Mustangs - Spirits of Truth.

 

Eagles in the Trees

I have stood in the Holy Place
   looking down on what God sees;
The mountains, grass and water
   and the Eagles in the trees.

I've listened to the sacred songs
   of Earth and Wind and Sky;
Opened my heart to it all
   and never questioned why.

Some call it Blessings
   Some call it Grace
Some call it Destiny
   to look upon God's face

To earn the heart we're given
   we must freely give it away
In the name of one much greater,
   we receive the gifts for which we pray.

To stand with His creations
   to know we are His creations too;
Is a humbling revelation,
   through which our souls are renewed.

Come stand with me in the Holy Place
   look down on what God sees;
The mountains, grass and water
   and the Eagles in the trees.

© 2003, Debra Coppinger Hill, All Rights Reserved.





Awards and Publications

Academy of Western Artists Top Five
Best Cowboy Poet (Female) 2001
Best Cowboy Poetry Cassettes 1998

Academy of Western Artists Top Ten
Best Female Poet 1999, 2000, 2001

International Charley Russell Western Heritage Assn.
Commission of Director Promotions & Publicity '99, 2000, 2001
Board member 2001

JEDA Production for PBS "Cowboy Corral"
Episodes #104 & #108

Gibbs-Smith Elko Companion Series Book
"Cowgirl Poetry One Hundred Years of Ridin' and Rhymin'"

Southwest Whispers
"Cowboys Are Part Human"

Love of the West (loveofthewest.com)
Appointment to the Advisory Board as Western Culture Consultant.

Honored Guest on CowboyPoetry.com 
(www.cowboypoetry.com)

Canadian Cowboy Country
( Regular Featured Editorial Column)

American Cowboy Magazine (Poetry Feature)

Recordings

 

About Common Sense, Men and Horses 

  Just released! Honored Guest Debra Coppinger Hill's new CD, Common Sense, Men and Horses, a collection of her Western poetry and songs, with pieces co-written with Marvin Southards and G. Casey Allen. Recorded at Bethel Sound in Graham, Alabama, it includes performances by Debra, as well as Doc Stovall (co-writer on two songs), Jerry Warren, Jean Prescott (Western Singer of the State of Texas) and Devon Dawson (the singing voice of Cowgirl Jesse of Disney's Toy Story II music CD). With background music by Daniel Addison, Doc Stovall, Rich O'Brien (courtesy of Western Jubilee Recording Co.) and the Cowtown Opry Buckaroos, this pleasant mix of music and poetry has already captured the attention of radio stations in Canada, Italy and the United States.

The album is available through Old Yellow Slicker Productions at 25552 E. 320 Road, Chelsea, Oklahoma 74016, 918-789-5288. CDs retail for $15.00 and cassettes for $10, with wholesale pricing available to retail outlets. Also available is Debra's AWA Top Five album "Cattle Calls...", which has been re-mastered on CD and features music by Tim Graham and Gina DeLaune, Cowboys Forever and yodeling by Devon Dawson.

 

 

Tracks include:

Stir The Campfire (listen to a sample at SilverCreek)
Waiting  (on Page 1)
Listen  (on Page 1)
Mustangs (listen to a sample at SilverCreek) (on Page 1)
The Edge (on Page 1)
Yellow Slicker  (on Page 1)
Jake  (on Page 1)
Standing At The Doans
The Money For Her Diamond (on Page 1)
That Moment
Regret (on Page 1)
Waiting For The Light  (on Page 1)
Udoda (Father)  (on Page 2)
Common Sense, Men And Horses  (below)
Wild Stickhorse Remuda (listen to a sample at SilverCreek) (on Page 1

 

See the track list above for links to other poems and links to audio samples.

 

Common Sense, Men And Horses


This tribute is actually a compilation of all my Grandfathers and Great-Grandfathers. I pulled all of their traits together into this one piece, because it seemed to make more sense that way. They all had common traits and habits. I suppose all great men are like that: compassionate, wise and strong. Common Sense, Men and Horses combines all the guidance and wisdom each of them passed on to me. The things they taught me, each memory and each moment, is their gift of life well lived to me. I attribute me own love of horses and the men who train them and do it well, to them. To this day I measure all men by their standard and image. I admire them, I respect them, and I love and miss them; those Cowboys, one and all, whose lessons stand the test of time.


Common Sense and Men and Horses


We perched atop the corral,
   as he read the men and horses,
And he told me about common sense
   and it's amazing, magical forces.

We watched the men choose their mounts,
   some were firm, but kind;
While others used plain brute force,
   to make their horses mind.

He said, "Dealing with horses and people
   is a special kind of art.
If you watch 'em work, you will learn
   what is truly in a man's heart.

For though it once was common place,
   common sense ain't common any more
And many of the basic rules of life,
   some folks will choose to ignore.

The bad ones will make excuses,
   tell you the Old Cowboy ways have died.
But anyone with common sense
   will know that's a lie.

The truth is just as obvious
   as these fellows working the pens.
There will always be Cowboys
   as long as there are horses and men.

And just as it takes all kinds of horses,
   from renegades to leaders to make a herd;
There will also always be outlaws
   as well as men true to their word.

You see, a man who can't,
   will often bully his way through,
And how a man treats his horse
   is how he'll end up treating you.

But the man who can, simply will,
   he won't have to prove a thing.
He'll have the courage and the sand
   to face whatever life brings.

He never will desert you;
   even in the darkest hour
and he'll have the sense to know
   when to turn to a Higher Power.

The phrase, "a soft hand with horses,"
   applies to human beings too,
A man who is one with his horse
   will likewise be one with you.

You see, the decisions that we make
   should be rooted in our common sense.
Like horses, we should use our instincts,
   or be prepared to accept the consequence.

For no matter what we do in life,
   no matter where we roam,
We all are part of a family herd,
   and we can always come home.

So we watched 'em work for hours,
   as I hung on every word he had to say;
About life and love and horses;
   how God hears us when we pray.

I simply took it for granted
   that he would always be,
Sitting on that fence rail,
   talking and laughing with me.

Time makes changes as it passes by;
   I grew up and followed my star.
But in times of trouble I'd hear his voice,
   saying "Remember whose child you are."

He taught me to read the world
   though I didn't know it at the time.
I learned about strength and self-respect;
   how to recognize the best in mankind.

Oh, I made mistakes, but have no regrets,
   for each is valuable in its own way.
Combined with his words and an education,
   they are a part of who I am today.

And nothing ever really gets me down,
   because of these things I can be sure;
That home is where the heart is,
   and that love will forever endure.

So I honor this Cowboy philosopher,
   who taught me to follow my heart's voice;
To see things exactly for what they are
   and that happiness is a choice.

I've come to realize all those things I learned,
   from books and college courses,
Will never hold a candle to his lesson,
   on common sense, and men and horses.

© 2002 Debra Coppinger Hill, All Rights Reserved

Contacting Debra Coppinger Hill

Debra and her partners are happy to tailor a show to fit your budget.  She, the Outriders, Yellow Slicker Productions & their Associate groups can provide you with a two person show or a group of performers.

For tapes, bookings or information:


Debra Coppinger Hill
Old Yellow Slicker Productions
25552 E. 320 Rd., Chelsea, Ok. 74016-9802
Ph/Fax 918-789-5288
E-mail: dhillcowboypoet@yahoo.com

 

Debra Hill's ranch site features the horses they have for sale and has other links of interest:  http://www.4dhranch.com/


Read Debra Hill's tribute to T. R. Stephenson, Gone to the Mountains 
and her prose tribute to Larry McWhorter, A Blessing in the Heat


 

 

 

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