Folks' Poems

Back to Lariat Laureate Contest
Back on home
Back to the list of Folks' Poems

Holladay, Utah
About Doug Brewer




We had tried many canyons down
                Desolate Molen Reef.
There is a trail yet to be found-
                Or so was my belief.

Today we'd set out to find it.
                We'll ride up from below.
'Least with all those cliffs all lined up,
                We'll learn where we can't go.

A pleasure ride, or so we thought,
                My boy and our two friends.
Halfway through desert, scorching hot,
                To where the Muddy bends,

A rusted two-cow water trough,
                Silt had plugged up the pipe.
'Likely a water-hole up the draw...
                There'd is, over that dyke.

Holy Mackerel, a cow!  Up to her brand
                In muck and mud that's thickened;
Only thing worse than quicksand--
                Is quicksand that's already quickened!

She'd been there, oh, more than a day;
                Long ceased her futile tries.
Water a cruel two-feet away,
                Only thing moved was her eyes.

A cows face shows no emotion.
                'Just hafta guess what they think.
Too tired to care--was my notion,
                As we poured her down a good drink.

The four of us couldn't budge her.
                A thousand pounds o' stuck beef!
Maybe with ropes we could nudge her
                To help us give her relief.

Tyler jumped in without flinchin'.
                'Finagled a loop 'round her leg
But even with Cam and Jace and me winchin',
                Couldn't uncork even one peg!

Through manure and corral water and
                All different classes of crud,
Soon we're all diggin' and scoopin' and
                Up to our...own brands in mud.

By foldin' each leg up under her,
                Workin' 'em one at a time,
Somehow we performed no small wonder
                And rolled her up out of that grime.

That struggle'd took us all morning.
                'Coated with muck and dead tired!
Then sadly, we rode back that evening
                To find the poor girl expired.

No, ol' Bessie never made it
                Tho' a lesson softened the sad,
That was each of us knowin'
                We'd given 'er all that we had.

In the Fall, a year or so later,
                Ridin' again on that range,
I and the boys thought we'd go pay
                Respect for ol' Bessie's remains.

But comin' up over that berm,
                A sight only Heaven could make,
Bessie had gotten her buryin'
                In the form of a cool desert lake!

The water spread out through the willows,
                Unused to so much desert gold,
Purples, greens, some changin' yellow,
                A floral spray to behold!

As we pondered poor Bessie's troubles
                And Nature's unusual embalm,
From right where she'd be, belched some bubbles!
                The pond otherwise eerily calm.

Now, bubbles show no emotion.
                You can only guess what they tell.
No words emerged of that potion,
                But a message, clear as a bell...

She was lettin' us know she was happy!
        'Cause we'd learned what all o' this taught-
That a surefire way to be happy,
                Is to give it all that you got!

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


Ol' Charley

Conservation o' water and words.
A Texan will say a paragraph in a sentence,
a sentence in 3 words and 3 words in one.
Why say seven words, "He was born in an old cabin..." when three'll do?

Plus, everything to a Texan's old.

  (Don't listen to your English teachers on this'n, kids.)

Ol' Charley
(in Texan)

Born nol cabin
Long sol stream.
Worked thol ranch
Tilles O, seb'mteen.

Came nol bull rider,
Wrect up thol chute;
Ol' Brahman sider,
Meanest stole glute.

Lillo spring chicken
Thol church dance,
Popped thol question
Bought nol ranch.

Rode mol hills,
Punched mol cattle,
Branded mol steers
Wore out zol saddle.

Shot nol mountain lion,
Roped sold bear.
Loss zol lasso
Get nell outa there.

Cornered nol skunk,
Huntin sold deer;
Zol horse nim stunk
Most thol year.

Sold bronc letter rip,
Throwed mover sol corral.
Done sol back flip,
Lit on sold cow.

Broke sol nose, ee
Crashed sol back.
Got nol limp sozee
Walks outa whack.

Now thold boy's cared for
Nol rockin' chair
On nol front porch
Nol folks home nare,

Borin zol friends
Thol yarns eez told.
Nats sow sold story ends
Thol Charley grow nold.

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

Doug told us: How I came to write "Charley:"  JB Allen is a Texan who recites regularly in Elko.  He's short, bow-legged, generally serious, wears his hat down over his eyes to keep out the spotlight and talks with a Texan accent so strong, it makes a Nothe Calina native comparatively easy to understand.  Thus the
motivation.  A little spoof on the Texans.  Reminds me of what the Coloradoan said, "I used to think the most dangerous thing on Earth was a Texan with a high-powered rifle.  It's not.  It's a Californian with a U-Haul trailer."


Dollar Short

The boys they called him Shorty,
Bein' "four-foot-twelve," y'see,
Plus, wherever Shorty was .
Spelled catastrophe!

Why, if it weren't for bad luck,
He'd have none at all.
If he wasn't throwed or kicked or bucked,
He'd trip or slip or fall.

Poor guy was always shorted,
Startin' with his height.
First ride on a horse he bought
Shot him higher than a kite,

An abbreviated stint, o' course,
But that was Shorty's luck.
Shoulda got the hint,
The horse's name was Buck.

He lost his only lasso
When the bear he roped took off.
(Woulda been a hassle .
Had he not.  You'd think.  B' gosh!)

Well, the boys rigged a bogus raffle
(Him too proud to take a gift),
Then to clinch he'd get his lasso
They wrote seven on each slip.

As each'd reach into the hat,
And see the number 'at they took,
They'd roll their eyes or wince at it
And fake a twisted look.

"OK, Shorty, what's your number?"
Glum look on his face,
He kicks the dirt and mumbles,
"Bummer.  Six and seven-eighths."

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

Doug says, "Often on the ranch, the boys just come up with ideas--to solve problems that they also seem to "just come up with!"  This was an idea that was supposed to solve Shorty's problem but is a spoof of how some cowboys just seem to manage to keep the little black cloud over their heads (or are found a day late and a "dollar short") no matter what!



Before Sun-up

Found by memory, not light, sun-roughed and work-twisted hand caps alarm, not yet rung.
Each foot thumps tight in drawn-up boot bottoms.
Suspender slaps ranch-toned muscle
     covered by button-up underwear and worn-thin Pendleton shirt.
Hand slips through other bedroom door
     and snaps light switch on, and off, for littler ones of pre-chore age to sleep.
Calm voice tells, "Get up, Son."
Sweatstained Stetson is firmed to find familiar fit
     while screen door is caught by left boot to quiet slam.
Biting chill slithers through each lap and fold of flannel-lined coat and clothes.
Sheepskin gloves slap together to pop minor surges of warmth
     before letting levered-stick gate latch loose.
Barbed wire falls, dragged aside,
     cows herded through by yelps of one-eye-white, one-eye-blue cowdog,
     sheepdog, kid's dog, who's done this before, also.
Black, white, red and brown cows-all or part-clop lazily into barn,
     needing no guidance to find stall and begin morning munching of freshly forked hay, 
     lad-dropped from loft above.
Worn-round stall board tips against neck holding cow's head in place for milking.
First syncopated sprays of nutritious white vibrate bucket bottom
     like brushed cymbals amplified in dull echo across two-lightbulb lit barn.
Faces and foreheads nuzzling soft warm bulging bovine bellies,
     father and son, teetering on stubby one-legged stools, squeeze thousands of squirts
     into two galvanized buckets, polished lapidary-shiny by years of splashings.
Boy wonders if such head rubbings brought on Father's balding.
Each cow with own name and nature offers different conversations to routine chore of milking.
Dog winces, then licks wild white spray dripping from snout, shot thrice by boy's bored whim.
     And once again, dead throat.
Slowly filled pail is carefully slightly swung alongside bowlegs down tail-sided cement aisle to
     tall milk can and poured through freshly washed cloth, clothespinned loose over rim.
Four ten-gallon cans, in two trips, roll to roadside on bicycle-tired cart,
     specially designed to hook hold of, lever up and lean tight two cans at a time
     to be placed ready for creamery truck to pick up soon.
Mom counts sounds of twelve stretches of steel sliding against concrete, lubed by foul green,
     and taps toe to two final whacks of down-turned shovel out the door
     on far edge of barn floor, before hosing.
Lad and stick and dog and cows are silhouetted by rose clouds slowly forming from darkness and glowing more 
     brilliantly at each glancing
     as herd, not needing herding, plods down lane toward bottoms for raw material refills
     of alfalfa and timothy to be miraculously processed for tonight's milking.
Lad and Dad, smaller kids and Mom bow heads to bless breakfast of ham and eggs and mush.

After which, day's work can begin.

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


Skeeter's Taters

A toughened bunch o' cowmen
Comprised the Slug Crik crew.
Ropin', smithin', punchin', brandin',
Playin' midwife, too?

Never was a task they'd shirk,
Each one, determined eye.
They lived and et and breathed and worked
And boasted fer the try.

'Way to have it happen?
Scoff, "It can't be done!"
They'd wrestle fer the task, and . . .
We-e-l-l . . . that is 'cept fer one. . .

What with bitter cold'n scorchin' heat
O' ranchwork and the likes,
The boys was all fer eatin',
Came with ragin' appetites?

But here there was a downside,
They'd ruther read a book!
O how these brazened broncsters shied
The lowly chore to COOK!

Now, Skeeter'd drawn and landed on
This task that all distained.
Rule was to pass it on
To he who first complained!

But it was goin' on day six!
And Skeeter's wearin' thin,
A squirmin', schemin' in this fix,
And then he starts to grin . . .

For Lo! An idea came
That had 'im downright giddy?
He'd thunk a way to bump this game:
He'd sorta "salt the kitty!"

Which is zactly what he done
When the boys come in fer noon.
He's back there shakin' fer the fun
When Digger dug a hefty spoon . . .

About to die o' Skeeter's crafty
Little joke to spike 'em,
"Whoa!!" he croaks, "Them spuds is salty!
Ahhh . . . Jussa way I like 'em!"

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


Talkin' Secret Lake Blues

When I's a kid, I rode m' horse,
   well, all over the place, it seems o' course,
But Dad and I rode to a high mountain lake,
   a prettier place The Lord couldn't make!
Oh, yeah!
One o' those dreams y' dream all the time
   learnin' Shakespeare or math or iambic rhyme
And y' long and y' hope and y' yearn and y' wish
   you was up there instead, peerin' down on the fish
In that crystal clear, glacier-fed water and all,
   the peaks shootin' from it reachin' skyward so tall,
With an arch amid the crags of the cliffs
   and billowy clouds rollin' over and kiss
That ridge up high...see that hawk in the sky,
   with a mouse in his was I?
Oh, yeah.
Well, since that time, Oh, 10-years-old,
   I've searched the world for a Pot o' Gold
Even half as nice to ride with my friends,
   searched the wide earth, that's right, to all ends,
But I've never found any place, that'd place,
   any higher- 'least for my taste,
Talk about defining majesty-
  be worth the climb just to see this tree
Leaning o'er the edge o' that deep blue lake,
   a giant Limber Pine with a swing you can take
And grab that rope from the side up high
   and push off and soar way out through the sky
On a hot August day, sweat pourin', and Hey!
   anticipate what's comin' and say
To yourself it's...gonna be cold, 'cause
   you've done it before (not just been told)
And still you let go o' that glorious rope,
   Free fall a mile and a half down and hope
You got 'nuff guts to look calm and cool
   And not come up like the panicky fool
That for sure you can bet you would be
   if you just reacted naturally
Cause you just got stabbed to the core
   with a hundred-fifty icicles or more
And you're gaspin' for breath and grabbin' for sky
   and second guessin' and askin' yourself why
In the world you spent half a year
   a dreamin' and hopin' and wishin' you here
And for the next 10 seconds-or minutes-
   Your  heart's  on  hold...Good Lord!  That's cold!!
Oh, yeah!
And that begins the ecstatic day
   of hoots and hollers, a whimsical fray
Of contests and out-bests and jesting astute
   and "assisting" the whimp claims he "fergot his suit."
Doin' flips 'n twists 'n gainers 'n flops
   And un-named scatter-brainers'd tie you in knots!
Oh, yeah!
But for every good thing, two sides of the story-
   there's skeptics who sing, "This could be gory!"
Picklesuckers who do not like fun,
   in every crowd, you're gonna find some
And they don't like that swing on the lake:
   A hazard!  A nuisance!  And lawsuits 'll make!
And kids breakin' arms and legs ain't so neat,
   the hospital claimin', "Two of 'em per week!"
So the gover'ment thence stuck their nose in,
   put up a buck and pole fence, yup, and then
They cut down the rope and put up a sign,
   quotin' Fed'ral Register Code and a cryin'
Chapter and verse of "Rope Swings Prohibited"
   but that just made the public, inhibited,
Retaliate and got a bit more'n irked,
   Bein' shocked at how the bureaucracy worked,
Burned all the poles and rigged the swing back,
   which the Forest Service, not takin' to that!-
Believe it or not, in this political dance,
  sent a guy up and cut   down   the   branch!!
Foot thick!  Still green!  20 feet long!  Horrible scene!
   A despicable,   mean,   unthinkable   thing!
Environists'ud caught um, they'd a paddled his bottom!
Shame!  Shame!  Some game!! 
Oh, yeah!
Now I'd eyed that branch first time years ago
   and dismissed the thought,  not me!  Heavens No!
Why - I could never go...cut it down, even though.
   there's a better branch up higher.a way taller spire!
Jes sittin' there waitin' for an arrow to shoot over't
   with a fish line tied to pull a clothesline rope over't
To which could be tied (by a strange quirk of fate!)
   an even bigger rope to handle the weight!
Now, height is a factor o' how far you fly...
N'atted be sooo high!  A hook to the sky!

Oh, yeah!
Now, hidden up high in the mountains out there,
   (sorry, folks, can't tell you just where),
There's a cache by a lake
                            with a bow
                            and some rope,
   fishin' line, and with a little hope
We'll string up a swing, (I humbly promote-
    rangers don't frequent this place so remote) 
And we'll do all those tricks that we did as kids,
   (it's some handbook, y'know, not Heaven, forbids),
For pray when I die and my kids think of me,
   I hope a part of the vision they see
Will be of the ride to that lake up so high,
   the adventure, the courage to fly through the sky,
Let go and then splash, each one after one
   In that freezin' cold lake and havin' such fun!
If they don't cut the whole dang tree down.
Sacred thing.  String that swing!
Tell 'em me and The Lord saidja could!
Oh, yeah!

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



Cowgirl Chorister

In a little country chapel, in a little country town,
the little gal was grapplin' with a task that had her down.
Tho' the preacher'd asked she lead the hymns, her talents weren't in tune--
He'd stuck himself out on a limb, he found out all too soon.

She'd struggle, mess the words all up and mutilate the beats,
the congregation, all mixed up, was squirmin' in their seats.
She lead three-four what read two-two, she'd start and stop and stall,
She'd stumble, stressed, and squint and guess at keepin' time and all.

Her arms were shootin' all around, a goin' every which way.
The organist to rebound found just close his eyes and play!
We watched her fight her inner war (looked like half a sword fight)--
Shoot!  Try some moves'n then some more?you might get somethin' right!

But here the story took a turn, a lesson starts to cook.
Determined something she could learn--she studied up the book.
And slowly gets the gist of it.  And slowly gets it down.
And soon the folks is into it.  And soon she's comin' round

With all the spark and fire it takes to really get 'em goin'
and knowin' what she's doin' makes for gettin' juices flowin'?
Now when she leads us in a song, vibrant voices ring?
No mumblin' or hummin' along, why, you can't help but sing!
There's a sober congregation in this little country town
as they enjoy the recollection how this thing'd had her down
And when we watch her wield her wand, a masters magic touch,
none can help but ponder on the way she fought and such
and every song's a sermon taught that musters you with grit,
assured the Lord rewards a lot if we just try a bit.
And cowboys tend to foretell trends...and I've just got to say--
I knew just how she'd ride this bronc--her boots gave her away.

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



The Killing of Ol' Whitey

Bam!  Right between the eyes.

It didn't require much aim.  Nor a high-powered rifle.
Just a .22, octagon barrel,
     wooden pump handle a dead-ringer for a dime tootsie roll.

Me bein' wide-eyed nine puts it at 1952.
I was a visiting not-often-enough city-slicker,
     but you hadn't a better called me that, then,
     cause them's a been fightin' words!

Her legs buckle and fold under in a snap.
Her half-ton mass drops as quick with a soft whump!
Dust whooshes out through straw
     around the whole oval of her two-second-old carcass.

Terry, old enough to drive in Idaho,
ropes hind legs to the block and tackle
     skyhooked to overhanging timber high above red loft doors.
The rifle's shot, still echoing, segues to the screech and squeals
     of dry iron pulleys under mounting tension.
Whole barn's skeleton cracks and creaks.
Broad nose a bucket's height above dusty straw,
     wrenchings halt as hefty hemp is hitched tight
     around sturdy railroad tie corral post.

Newly-honed knife, wielded by weathered hand,
     swings slightly with Whitey to find the jugular,
     pierces and slices quickly across the upended throat.
Warm red gushes to fill galvanized milk bucket.
What is blood pudding?

Now, two razor knives begin hour labor of skinning,
     pulling, tearing, slicing, stretching, ripping.
One, more skilled than the other.
"Shoot!  I went through it, Dad.  I made a hole."
Father-thinking mind cuts on, knowing of son's lesson learned.
No words needed.

Aproned Aunt Dayle, arms folded,
     seldom seen still this long, stands near corral post.
Kids look ready to help for watching rights
     as knife blades dance like fishing spinners.

Through each engrossed mind, visions pass.
How many thousands of days did we herd her back and forth
     from the pastures in the bottoms
     or the fields on the western hillside?
Times two, morning and eve, Sabbaths included.

How many thousand gallons of her nutritious white
    have we milked out of this living, breathing blessing
    of a machine God gave us to survive with.
And hauled out to the road
    on that two-can, two-bicycle-wheeled milk cart
    for the creamery to pick end up...
    for kids' cereal, "bread 'n milk,"
    "wipcream," cheese, curds,
    chocolate milk and half'n half for breakfast pears?

How many names could some cosmic accountant write
    of human bodies built with her molecules?
How many has this sacred soul served in her score of years?

This living, giving tree.  She'll give till there's nothing left.

Which there soon isn't, as four ranch-toned muscles heft and drop
    the final hindquarter onto the canvas-lined wagon rack.

Just another day for seasoned rancher Eldon?
No.  No, it isn't.

Aunt Dayle lets us kids help salt, roll up
    and tie the white hide for tanning.
Cousin-buddy Reed and I, ranch-tough but wet-eyed,
    lean it, twice our height, against the barn.

    And we thought a lot.

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


Doug comments: Occasionally you find yourself in an experience that you know will become an oft remembered part of your life. Partly because of its new and perhaps shocking nature. And partly because you know you should never forget it. Putting one like this to verse, so to speak, better etches it to weather years of memory as well as helps better share it with others who you hope will see why you felt it so profound.



Die O’ Drought

            ingenious southern Idaho invention,
            made from stripped car to run in reverse,
            form of giant upturned hand on wheels,
            fingers, pointed tines, forking forward where trunk was,
            and levered to lift slightly off ground when loaded,
            scurries along, combing up acres of carefully-raked windrows. 

Contraption full, it zips to empty load into similar “hand” on 

            ingenious invention of pulleys, poles and cable,
            not unlike giant outstretched hand-and-elbow.

Lad of 9, playing 19, on two seat pillows,
            peering though pick-up steering wheel,
            stretches toes to slowly clutch reverse and backs 50 feet,
            pulling cable to lift, stopping in perfect timing,
            to throw in high arc
            load of freshly cut alfalfa, over and down on to rising haystack
            where human stackers, “hands,” will fork to corners
            at angles to shed rain.

Ozone in air.  Out corners of eyes, clouds loom.  Pressure’s on.
            Each bullrake, like pollen-laden bees homing to hive,
            zooms busily at reckless speeds
            to scoop and empty,
            bouncing wildly over windrow, rock, gopher hole, and irrigation ditch.       

High in sky, thunder rolls and lightning cracks
            in form of Aunt and Mother,
            hands on hips, standing over and staccatos,

“You boys have been at this for two days.  This lawn’s gonna die o’ drought.
            Finish it up, now!”

At which, begins hardest task
            of untying strings from toy truck bumpers
            and further dismantling
            ingenious Smithsonian-worthy Tinker Toy miniaturizations
            and finish mowing the lawn. 

© 2007, Doug Brewer
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

Doug comments:
“Mowing the lawn was dreaded drudgery for us 8 year olds, until Cousin Reed and I in St. Charles, Idaho, with creative kid minds, transformed the task into running a ranch, just like the ones our dads ran. Now that was exciting, serious business. Sadly, we were 30 years too young and miniature alfalfa fields netted no equivalent of profit to empower us to cope with the fact that Aunt Dayle wanted that lawn mowed and NOT tomorrow. True story. Just the way it happened. Isn’t that right Reed (and Dayle) Mattson?”



Bum Lamb

All earth was white or gray it seemed,
                A charcoal line or two—
The rows of trees along the streams
                Way off where mountains grew.

Bitter cold, this ten-year-old
                Was wont to go back in.
Oh No!  Gotta stay out here ‘n feed these sheep
                With “m’ partner,” Uncle Jim!

“Rein the team out ‘round that draw,
                Hold ‘em loose,” he said.
‘Jumped up to fork the hay from off
                That rockin’ wagon bed.

Behind, a trail of breakfast made,
                Scattered o’er the snow,
The sheep’d soon be where it laid,
                A thousand head or so.

Why the Lord made lambin’ season
                So cold I’ll never know,
But I’ve found He’s got His reasons.
                You learn ‘em as you grow.

“That skinny lamb there’s all alone—
                He doesn’t have a mother.”
“Well, sometimes their mothers leave ’em
                For some reason or another...”

 “So’s that mean he’ll just die out there
                All alone and bawlin’?”
“Sad, but…there just isn’t time where
                We can care for all of ‘em.”

“Well, I got time!  ‘Dju sell me that sheep?
                …That’d make good sense!”
“Oh…I dunno.  Bum lambs don’t come cheap.
                He’d cost ya...fifteen cents.”

Why, I could handle that, I thought,
                Ponderin’ my answer.
‘Be worth that just to say that
                I’s a full-fledged rancher!

A one-sheep outfit I could tend!
                The math worked in my head.
Since I only owned one horse...till then,
                I’d just doubled my spread!

 And in a garbage can, a bed
                Of straw I made for ’im.
There inside the lambing shed,
                A light globe kept him warm.

A nipple from a finger of a
                Worn-out rubber glove,
A Seven-Up bottle of milk...
                Some little cowboy love...

You ever had a lamb suck on
                 Your finger or your thumb?
Strangest feelin’!  They just keep a suckin’
                Till your thumb goes numb!

 Well, soon the little tyke was runnin’ ‘round
                And prancin’ to and fro.
He’d follow just like Mary’s lamb,
                Wherever I would go!

But life goes on.  I went back home.
                ‘Forgot about my sheep.
A year or so later, I got a letter—
                One memory that I’ll keep.

“Bar None Ranch,” was on the top,
                “Nounan, Idaho.”
How some folks just think thoughtful,
                I guess I’ll never know.

He said he’d sold my “yearling”
                At the auction this last week
That it had brought top dollar—
                Among his finest sheep!

“The auction was the best in years—
                Pray for more like that.
There’s been s’many lean years,
                It’s nice to have one fat.”

He said without my help,
                That lamb’d surely died.
With neither of us benefitin’
                If I hadn’t tried.

Of course there were expenses,
                Feed and shots and all,
Grazin’ and auction fees, fences,
                Little bit to haul.

He’d worked it there in columns
                With deductions in parenth’s,
My share: a hundred thirty dollars
                And forty-seven cents!

I grant in all my business dealin’s
                Strivin’ wise intent,
It’s a downright lovely feelin’
                To yield a thousand percent!—

But of all the dreams I sigh for,
                The hope that seems most dim,
Is  t’ever find  another partner
                Like “m’ partner” Uncle Jim!

© 2007, Doug Brewer
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

Doug comments:
 "The Jim Wallentine Ranch in Slug Creek, up Georgetown Canyon, is still on the Forest Service maps. Jim was a cowboy. And so was my Dad. They loved being cowboys. That brotherhood was frosting on the cake when Dad married Mom, Jim’s sister. And when Jim’s genes produced only girls, I was the lucky benefactor—his li’l 'partner'—a son he never had. I think you’ll understand how that mutual admiration—partnership, I guess—made a cowboy out of this little guy for life."




Each Monday ‘fore the crack o’ dawn, Dad’s high-pitched voice’d ring,
“Day after tomorrow’s Wednesday,
                  the week’ll be half gone—C’mon! We haven’t done a thing!”

But O today! A cattle drive! And with the big boys I’ll ride!
I was et and saddled up by five, not bad for teenage stride!

They’d bought a herd up Randolph way, Dad, Uncle Stan and Jim.
Hundred-fifty head, they say, n’ today we trail ‘em in.

That’s why the Lord created that ol’ wide, blue open sky…
For a man to herd his cattle, I swear I know that’s why!

We’d stopped for noon over on Poverty flat and plinkin’ while they ate,
Stan said, “Here, Max. Try’n hit that. That pie plate on the gate.”

He handed me his twenty-two, tho’ I was just fourteen.
I beaded in and shot a few but never hit the thing.

I’d soon shot up the whole half box o’ shells he’d tossed to me—
And I ’as gettin’ tied in knots, all eyes a watchin’ me,

And that’s when Jim yelled, “Stan, throw out your brand new hat!
‘Way it’s goin’, it’s prob’ly safer there’n where it’s at!”

Well, Stan he laughed and zinged that hat out twenty yards or so,
Tho’ Dad warned, “Don’t you even think of that!” they egged me on to go!

It rested on a sagebrush top as though he’d set it there.
I zeroed in my one last shot…Hot Dang!—I hit it square!

Right through the rim and then the crown and out the other side!
Uncle Jim was on the ground, a laughin’, nearly died!

VanNess said, “Stan, it serves you right!” He was a bit subdued—
As he held his hat up to the light, a few new stars he viewed!

He rolled his eyes and shook his head and then he pinched a grin,
So’s I’d know he released me from the fix that I ’as in.

And from that day, at work or play, a reputation I had won,
For word got out and folks’d say, “Hey! There’s ol’ Three-in-one!”

And Stan’s been gone for many years but knowin’ where he’s at,
I got a hunch he thinks of me and of his Stetson hat...

I see him climbin’ off his horse, by some Celestial stream
And dip his hat to quench his thirst in water crystal clean,

But liftin’ up that leaky cup, he’ll think o’ all the fun,
The day I shot that hat all up...One shot! — Ol’ Three-in-one!

© 2008, Doug Brewer
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

Doug comments, "My dad, Stan Brewer was the essence of everything 'cowboy good.' Praise be to my cousin Max Wallentine who shared this true Bear Lake story of how Dad treated him as a kid when it all happened. It’s an honest to goodness 'true hero cowboy story' without a whit of embellishment—a joy to write up in rhyme about two of my favorite cowboy heroes."


The Cowboy Hat

“Roy Rogers’ style! It’s a dandy! Loose, but...only by a quarter.
Little Kleenex in the headband’ll make it made to order!”
So Dad bought me that hat at that tack shop in St. Anthony,
And I ’as on a cloud a floatin’, ‘bout as high as I could be! 

We were ridin’ cross the mountains, Utah to Jackson Hole.
Dad was in a Sheriff’s Mounted Posse—Precision Riding Show.
They’d planned their trail along the way to perform at Rodeos.
‘Seemed plenty early this day, as they groomed for one of their shows.

But that’s hours from now.  And I’m bored! Ten years old and antsy!
Sonny’s combed down, I’m ridin’ around, new hat and feelin’ fancy...
And I ride up side the grandstand to check out their brand new track—
Chutes and arena in the middle and think, Boy! These folks know where it’s at! 

And I mosey’s up to a startin’ line, one imagined in m’ head—
Fame and glory come to mind as I stare at that sand, rich and red...
My hand strains the reins nice and tight. I reach for the ends hangin’ down.
Sonny somehow senses I might soon lash ‘em high and around,

Crack!  He lunges like lightning—gigantic thrusting leap!
I admit.  Was a titch frightening but now we’re galloping fleet,
And I play like there’s others behind us, and he’d jumped s’ far and s’high,
Thru the dust, they’ll never find us, we’re flyin’, ridin’ the sky!

And thunder hooves push boy and horse around that oval track.
I can’t resist, I check my course to see how far they’s back.
But when I turns to look behind, the wind blows off my hat!
But worse!  I look beyond and find the grandstands are jam-packed!

Morning... rodeos... in Idaho? I thot I’s alone out here!
There’s a million people there or so! Lord! Make me disappear!
I look down the rails for an opening.  I ain’t a limelight man.
There are two long solid white lines clear around to the stand!

And I am alone out here, just me—halfway around the track.
Not too good at math but, don’t look shorter goin’ back!
N’ folks is wond’rin,  what’s happ’nin’? Ha.  Not half as much as me!
And that was when they started...clappin!  O My Goodness Me!

It took twelve days and fourteen hours to finish that half lap,
And when I reached the op’ning, I figures, aw, to heck with that!
And I just kept on ridin’ past that crowd there in the stand…
They was hootin’n,  hollarin’n shoutin’, and clappin’ to beat the band!

Well, I turned and left the track the same place I’d come in
And went around to get m’ hat the end o’ that first bend.
I crawled beneath the railing there, I tried not to be seen.
Ha!  Sure! They knew I’d soon be there. They stood! And cheered! And screamed!

And I’ve done lotta things with flair, and long since lost my fears—
But doggone, it just ain’t fair that happenin’ so young in years
To try and out-do one like that!  I still ain’t figgered how—
That day I...dusted off m’ hat...and smiled...and took a bow!

© 2008, Doug Brewer
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

Doug comments, "How many 10-year-olds can say they 'rode across the mountains 200 miles with a sheriff’s posse?' I confess I have milked that line a few times since 1953. And that ride has affected me nearly every day of my life since. I love and live for trail rides and this little serendipitous incident along the way helps me remember one little innocent wide-eyed kid realizing he was being watched and cheered on by a whole town of cattle country folks who love to see kids on horses!"





        He’ll give you the shirt off his back
        It’s just the Cowboy Way
        But when a friend borrows your tack,
        Well, whatcha gonna say?

May the road rise up to meet you,
            May the wind be at your back.
May the warmest people greet you,
            May your wallet never lack.

 May your loop stay wide and open,
            May your slicker keep you dry.
May God grant your every hope, and
            That you win at all you try.

May you never lose your glasses,
            May your trails not be too steep.
May the softest bed of grasses
            Keep you comfy as you sleep.

May jerky, grits and sourdough
            Always fill your pack—
And by the way, before you go,
            Mind. . .givin’ m’. . .saddle back?

© 2008, Doug Brewer
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.


Doug comments, "Ah! The typical goodness of a cowboy’s heart. He may be a bit bashful and awkward when it comes to asking for something back. However, at certain times (like when a favored loaned saddle is at stake), after coating with every pleasantry he can muster, he simply must somehow remind the departing borrower whose is what."




     Just 8 seconds!
     Hang on that long.  That’s all.

Awright ... I’m no bullrider;
We ain’t all had that chance.
Still, I’ve rid my share o’ livestock,
I’ve did the Devil’s Dance—

My heart’s been all a throbbin’,
Wrenchin’ wrist to go the length,
Prayin’ grit to do the job’n
Clenchin’ fist with all my strength.

My eyes a rattled in my head,
My chest has felt mashed flat.
I’ve shook with fear o’ landin’ dead
Throwed off the critter’s back.

My boots a been shot skyward,
Bones been drug through hell,
I’ve spun them twirly somersaults,
Et dirt and pride as well!

They say to tell a bullrider,
Drop a marble in his ear—
‘F it falls out his mouth or other ear,
He’s a bullrider, it’s clear!

Now, I admit, those tales I told
Were of…me a…ridin’…sheep!
Ripe old age o’ nine-years-old
And mutton-bustin’ is a leap...

So, I’m no bullrider, I confess.
‘ain’t exactly  in that class,
But as for that bullridin’ test—
Ha!  M’ kids think I could pass.

Plus, all this proves I learn a lot
Real fast, I reckons,
Cause all that experience I got…
In less’n seven seconds!

© 2008, Doug Brewer
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.



The Sheep Dog and the Salesman

Years ago in seventy-two,
     We used to have a dog.
An Australian Sheep Dog who
     “Herded” neighbors as they’d jog.

 Across the street, it went too far,
     A lady called one day.
He’d kept her “well penned” in her car—
     We gave the dog away.

 So we’ve not took to dogs too much,
     Plus, “town moved out to us.”
Tho’ the kids’d always coax and such,
     We’d straight-armed all the fuss...

 Till Camron, now, our little “caboose,”
     He got to wantin’ one.
And Mom, poor Mom, couldn’t refuse
     Her little toe-headed son.

 “He’d have to look like Rusty, tho’,”
     She said, to slow him down.
Ten minutes on “the net,” or so,
     And he had his sheep dog found!

 He had a job as paperboy,
     Made 10 bucks a time.
Seldom bought a candy or toy,
     Hardly spent a dime—

 “It’s only 30 paper routes, Dad!”
     “What!  Three Hundred bucks?!”
“Look!  For a good sheep dawg like YOU had,
     I don’t mind payin’ that much!”

 But this sheep dawg was in Cheyenne!
     How that puppy beckoned.
So we all packed up and crossed the land
     To pick up “Rusty–The Second.”

 Now, motorcycles is our fun,
     We ride the mountain trails.
“Please, Dad, can Rusty come?”
     The kid should be in sales!

 He’d ride there on his knees,
     He trained him pretty well—
‘Ears a flappin’ in the breeze,
     And we thought that was swell,

 Until he bailed and hit a log,
     Just like Mumbly Peg!
Now, that three-hundred dollar sheep dog’s
     Got a thousand dollar leg!

 “That’s a hundred paper routes, kid”—
      I thought I’d tease a bit.
He quips, not to be out-did,
     “And shucks, Dad, (tsk) n’ I just quit!”

 I admit it’s fun to watch him
     Train ‘im how to fetch
And “sit” and “stay” and play a lot
     And teach him Frisbee ketch...

 Still I ponder all these tales
     And sometimes I can’t sleep—
For fear this little salesman’s
     Gonna also want the sheep.

© 2008, Doug Brewer
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.


Sagacious Saul

Now, some are bright and, well, some aren’t,
most are in between,
but some can get the truck to start
or calm a horse that’s mean.

Some can sense a storm a brewin’
or when the snow’ll fly
or prophesy on market doin’s
or when’ll be too dry.

The boys saw Saul as all of these,
crediting name or age,
but today they surround his deathbed—
to learn from this old sage.

He’d pushed away a glass of milk
they hoped might stretch his stay.
Maybe he’d have some wise advice
before he slipped away.

Then Pete he sees a whiskey flask,
pours in a hefty nip.
When once again Saul he’s asked,
he tries a little sip.

Then another’n, and then agin
until the milk was gone.
“Any last words,” Pete asked him,
“we should be ponderin’ on?”

On edge of death and fading blue,
aul forced these words somehow,
his dying breath, “Whatever you do,
don’t never sell that cow!”

© 2009, Doug Brewer
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.


Doug comments, "I’ve watched plenty a cowboy old timer slip by and often wished there were a way to latch on to more of their wit and wisdom. This idea was just a little fantasy that for sure one of them would have quipped had they had the chance."



Cowboy's Lament

What is it in me that stirs my mind,
            That makes me wish I’s back in cowboy times?
‘Always said it was a glitch of fate,
            And that I’s born a hundred years late. 

Why do I seem to be drawn to...cattle?
            What seems so right o’ sittin’ in a saddle?
The feel of reins over the saddle horn,
            Stetson hat and chaps and boots well worn,

Slicker and a bedroll cinched on back,
            A few days grub in my saddle pack,
Ridin’ herd and roundin’ up strays—
            Bitter winter nights, scorchin’ desert days...

 Sleepin’ on the range to the coyote’s call,
            Smell o’sagebrush, campfire smoke and all—
Wolves’n mountain lions out there, why  am I...enamored?
            ‘Course I’d have m’ 30-30 right there in m’ scabbard...

Ropin’ them dogies and throwin’ them calves—
            Takes more bone’n muscle‘n  most men have—
Brandin’ iron’s red, he’s roped and down
            Hundreds more like him ‘fore winter comes round.

Why is it when I think of these things, I  get so wistful?
            Why, I could blast a shot-glass in the air with m’ pistol—
Ha.  Left handed!  I just can’t stand it!
            Dag nab it, I could handle it!

I  could break them broncs who was  “born to buck”—
            I could stay on ‘em,  I’m tough!  It’s grit!, not luck!...
Why, I could ride fer miles through rain and mud and muck


            I don’t even have air conditioning in my pickup truck!

© 2009, Doug Brewer
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.




Read Doug Brewer's Little Pot-bellied Stove posted with other Christmas 2004 poems



About Doug Brewer:

I cain't write a bio like somebody else wrote it.  I'll just tell you I was a full time cowboy growin' up.

I confess to a degree o' thrill seekin'.  I was ten when I rode ol' Sonny across 200 miles of high mountain trails from Utah to Jackson Hole with a sheriff's posse.  I raced him around a mile track before a rodeo, not knowin ' the stands were full until they started cheering louder than I've ever heard since.  I helped build a corral in the middle of winter and got hornswaggled by a bull in it that summer. I got bucked off by livestock (Ok, sheep,) and dodged half a mountain of falling boulders.  I've speared carp in the slough and almost my cousin with a pitchfork and stomped wool by the ton to waterproof my boots.  I got my face smacked with a stirrup.  Got a new gold tooth out of the deal and probably a better face.   I yielded a 1000% on a sheep deal one year, buyin' a bum lamb for 15 cents.  Doubled my spread in one transaction.  I rolled a thousand pound heifer out of a mudhole in the desert with one rope and three skinny kids.

And I'm just gettin' started except for now I'm out of space.  'Cept to say I love to write.  I've always been fascinated by the ranch hands' wiry philosophies, cogitations and yarns, some even "pushed a titch" for effect. (Imagine that!)

I'm on my 6th book I guess since I'm a cowboy and a poet, I'm a cowboy poet. And I've forgotten lines at gathering all over Utah and Nevada.  Linda and I live in Holladay, Utah trying to raise our 8 kids, "all girls but seven" to appreciate the revered cowboy way of life.

Member of the
Cowboy Poets of Utah



 What's New | Poems | Search

 Features | Events  

The BAR-D Roundup | Cowboy Poetry Week

Poetry Submissions 

Subscribe | Newsletter | Contact Us

  Join Us!


Authors retain copyright to their work; obtain an author's
permission before using a poem in any form. is a project of the Center for Western and Cowboy Poetry, Inc., a Federal and California tax-exempt non-profit 501 (c) (3) organization.  


Site copyright information