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We started the Favorite Cowboy and Western Poems Project in conjunction with Cowboy Poetry Week, which we celebrate the third full week of April each year, during National Poetry Month.  

We welcome your comments all year.

In part, the inspiration for this project came from The Favorite Poem Project by former United States Poet Laureate Robert Pinsky.  In its first year, over 18,000 Americans responded.  A selection of those responses have been recorded on audio and videotape.

As the introduction to his project describes, Pinsky sees poetry as a "vocal art," saying "If a poem is written well, it was written with the poet's voice and for a voice. Reading a poem silently instead of saying a poem is like the difference between staring at sheet music and actually humming or playing the music on an instrument."

This truth is at the heart of Cowboy Poetry tradition.  

Their project continues to welcome submissions, and we encourage you to  submit Cowboy and Western poems for their consideration.  We have adopted one of their few guidelines in our own project:

"You cannot choose a poem that you yourself have written. We also discourage sending poems by friends, neighbors, relatives. Such entries are not relevant to the particular purposes of this project."

We invite you to tell us about your favorite classic or contemporary Western or Cowboy poem.  

Simply send an email and tell us:

  • the name of your favorite Western or Cowboy poem

  • the author's name

  • why it's a favorite

Be sure to include your name and email address. 

We're particularly interested in knowing why the poem is your favorite.

We welcome corrections and additions to our follow-up notes.  Email us.

 

This is Page 1 of 5 pages.  


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The most recent comments are posted on Page 5.

 


 

Index of Poets and Poems

Contributors

Comments

 

Index of Favorite Poets (and Reciters) and Their Poems

G. Casey Allen 
   "Grass and Water--The Life of John Paul Slavens"
Carlos Ashley
   "Epilogue
   "The Widder"
   "Bob Sears' Chili Joint"
    mentioned by Achim Gutbrod
S. Omar Barker
   mentioned by Virginia Bennett
   mentioned by Achim Gutbrod
   "The Chuck Wagon"
   "Granger's Daughter"
   "Purt Near!"
        mentioned by Byrd Woodward
        mentioned by Buckshot Dot      
        mentioned by Mike Dunn
JW Beeson
    "Rosie's Eagle"
        mentioned by Jo Lynne Kirkwood 
        mentioned by Pat Trembley 
Baxter Black 
    "Vegetarian's Nightmare," "One More Year,"
         "Selling Prewitt's Cow" and others
          mentioned by Virginia Bennett
    "The Buckskin Mare" 
          mentioned by George Bourbeau
          mentioned by Achim Gutbrod
    "Good Bye, Old Man"
          mentioned by Jeri Dobrowski
          mentioned by Dave P. Fisher
     "He Sang Little Joe The Wrangler"
    "The Hired Man"
    "Legacy of the Rodeo Cowboy"
    "The Oyster
E. A. Brininstrool 
     "A Cattle Range at Night"
Jerry Brooks
     mentioned by Jo Lynne Kirkwood
     mentioned by Byrd Woodward
Buckshot Dot (Dee Strickland Johnson)
     "Dancing with Dad"
     "Herd A Passin
     "Fredonia"
Les Buffham
     "Sayin' Goodbye"
Lanny Joe Burnett 
     "Going to See the Elephant"
Arthur Chapman
     "Out Where the West Begins"
Charles Badger Clark
      mentioned by Virginia Bennett
      
"A Bad Half Hour"
      "The Glory Trail (High-Chin Bob)"
       "The Lost Pardner
Dean Cook 
     mentioned by Byrd Woodward
Allen Wayne Damron & Tim Henderson
     "The Gringo Pistolero"
Mike Dawson 
    "Fifty Dollars"
Frank Desprez
    "Lasca" 
          mentioned by Margie Parko
          mentioned by Bill Mecham
Jack DeWerff 
   
  "Old Buck"
Elizabeth Ebert 
   mentioned by Baxter Black
   mentioned by Buckshot Dot      
Richard Elloyan 
     "The Coffee Shop"
Curley Fletcher 
   "The Strawberry Roan"
          mentioned by Janice Mitich
          mentioned by Joyce Mitich Taylor
          mentioned by Byrd Woodward
          mentioned by Howard D. Mallison
          mentioned by Ted E. Dennison
          mentioned by June Faddis
Robert Frost
    "A Mood Apart"
    "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening"
Dennis Gaines
 
   mentioned by Byrd Woodward
    "Palpitation Altercation" and others mentioned by
     Ted E. Dennison
Gail Gardner 

   "The Sierry Petes"
Sharlot Hall
    "Smell of Rain"; "The Old Ranch Mother"; 
    "When Maw Turned the Stampede," 
          mentioned by Jane Morton
Sunny Hancock 
   "The Horse Trade"
Donna Hatton 
   
"Canyon Journey and The Return"
Jim Hawkins
   "The Jag"
Tim Henderson &  Allen Wayne Damron 
     "The Gringo Pistolero"
Debra Coppinger Hill 
    "Yellow Slicker" 
           mentioned by Hawk Lessard
           mentioned by Linda Kirkpatrick
Yvonne Hollenbeck 
    mentioned by Achim Gutbrod
Linda Hussa 
    "Love Letters"
Chris Isaacs 
   "Dying Breed"
           mentioned by Debra Coppinger Hill
           mentioned by Gene O'Quinn
Bill Jones 
    mentioned by Byrd Woodward
David Kelley 
   "Looking Down on Eagles"
Paul Kern
   "At Codding's Place"
Rudyard Kipling 
   "If...."
Linda Kirkpatrick
   
"Conflict in the Frio Canyon"
Bruce Kiskaddon   
   mentioned by Virginia Bennett
   mentioned by Achim Gutbrod
   "The Bronco Twister's Prayer"
         mentioned by S. J. Passamonte
         mentioned by Debra Coppinger Hill
         mentioned by Linda Kirkpatrick
         mentioned by Michael Henley
   "The Creak of the Leather"
   "The Ghosts at the Diamond Bar"
   "The Gray Wolf"
   "The Old Night Hawk"
         mentioned by Byrd Woodward
         mentioned by Buckshot Dot     
   "When They've Finished Shipping Cattle in the Fall"
         mentioned by Andy Hedges
         mentioned by Chris Isaacs
         mentioned by Jay Snider
         mentioned by Don Gregory 
         mentioned by George Bourbeau
         mentioned by Glen Enloe
Henry Herbert Knibbs 
    mentioned by Virginia Bennett
     "The Long Road West"
    "Make Me No Grave"
    "The Shallows of the Ford"
     "Where the Ponies Come to Drink"
         mentioned by Buckshot Dot
         mentioned by Frances Wolfenden
Gary McMahan 
     "
The Old Double Diamond
Wallace McRae  
    mentioned by Achim Gutbrod
   "Reincarnation" 
         mentioned by Steve Dirksen
         mentioned by Virginia Bennett
         mentioned by Mike Dunn
         mentioned by Janet Montgomery
Rod McQueary
    
"Chicken Outfit"
    "For Woody"
Larry McWhorter
   "Johnny Clare"
      
   mentioned by Chris Isaacs
         mentioned by Debra Coppinger Hill
Waddie Mitchell 
   mentioned by Gwen Smith
   "Belle of the Ball"
   "Story with a Moral"
George P. Morris
 
   "Life in the West"
Joel Nelson
   "Breaker in the Pen" and others mentioned by Baxter Black
    mentioned by Byrd Woodward
    "The Men Who Ride No More
Wayne Nelson
    "Snowville"
Rod Nichols 
   "Autumn Cowboy"
    "Cowboy Service"
D. J. O'Malley 
   "The D-2 Horse Wrangler"
Ken Overcast 
   "The Mist of the Wild Rose"
A. B. "Banjo" Paterson 
    "Clancy of the Overflow"
          mentioned by Baxter Black
          mentioned by Rod Miller
    "The Man from Snowy River"
          mentioned by Gene O'Quinn
          mentioned by Gary Crum
          mentioned by Sammarah Kilmurray
          mentioned by Craig Archer
   "Old Pardon, the Son of Reprieve"
          mentioned by Gene O'Quinn
          mentioned by Jeff Streeby
Mike Puhallo 

   "Sacred Orb"
Buck Ramsey 
   "As I Rode Out on the Morning" and
    its prologue, "Anthem"
         mentioned by Rod Miller
         mentioned by Debra Coppinger Hill
Thomas Buchanan Read 
    "The Emigrant's Song"
Duane Reece 
     "Cowboy Sign"
Eugene Manlove Rhodes
 
     "The Hired Man on Horseback"  
Randy Rieman 
   mentioned by Chris Isaacs
Robert Service 
 
  mentioned by Virginia Bennett
   "The Ballad of the Ice Worm Cocktail"
   "Clancy of the Mounted Police"
   "The Cremation of Sam McGee"
   "The Men Who Don't Fit In"
   "The Quitter"
   "The Parson's Son"
Jim Shelton
   
"Bullhide Chaps and Memories"
Jay Snider 
    "Of Horses and Men"
    "The Pearly Gate"
    mentioned by Hawk Lessard
Red Steagall
    "Born to This Land"
    "The Fence That Me and Shorty Built"
   
"McCorkle And The Wire"
Doc Stovall
   "The Soul of Ireland"
Jeff Streeby 
   "The Wild Crew" 
         mentioned by Don Gregory
         mentioned by Debra Coppinger Hill
Bayard Taylor 
  
"The Bison Track
N. Howard "Jack" Thorp 

   "Little Joe the Wrangler"
       mentioned by Janice Mitich
       mentioned by Mike Puhallo
       mentioned by Byrd Woodward
Jerry Warren
    "The Price of Change"
    "The Painting"


Contributors

Craig Archer

Cindy Baker
Virginia Bennett
Kyla Bishop 
Baxter Black
George Bourbeau
Clark Crouch
 Janice Chapman 
Mason Coggin

Gary Crum

Buckshot Dot (Dee Strickland Johnson)
Ted E. Dennison
 Steve Dirksen
Jeri Dobrowski

Bobbi Donnell
Bette Wolf Duncan
Mike Dunn

Glen Enloe

June Faddis
Dave P. Fisher

Dennis Gaines
Larry Gibson
Tim Graham
Don Gregory
Achim Gutbrod

Evan Hamblin
Mal Hardy
Andy Hedges
Michael Henley
Debra Coppinger Hill
Yvonne Hollenbeck  

Chris Isaacs

Sammarah Kilmurray
Linda Kirkpatrick
Jo Lynne Kirkwood

Hawk Lessard

Elliot "Bug" McGowan
Howard D. Mallison
Jean Mathisen
Bill Mecham
Rod Miller
Janice Mitich
Janet Montgomery
Dick Morton
Jane Morton
Bob Munro

Gene O'Quinn
Ray Owens

Margie Parko
S. J. Passamonte
Mike Puhallo

Charlene Schilling
Pam Sellers
Susan Sevilla
Gwen Smith
Jay Snider
Jeff Streeby
Michelle Strickland
Hal Swift

Joyce Mitich Taylor
Pat Trembley

Frances Wolfenden
Brian Woodrome
Byrd Woodward

Thank you all for participating.

 

Take part!

Simply send an email and tell us

  • the name of your favorite Western or Cowboy poem

  • the author's name

  • why it's a favorite

Be sure to include your name and email address.

We're particularly interested in knowing why the poem is your favorite.

 

 


As we put this project together, two popular contemporary poets helped us get started by telling us about their favorite poems: 

 

Baxter Black

Baxterelko.jpg (12857 bytes)  In an interview at Elko in 2002 and later by telephone, Baxter Black shared some comments about his favorite classic and contemporary poems and poets. 

Baxter began his own writing career as a songwriter. He said that until he was about 30, he didn't know anything about Cowboy Poetry.  Then his friend Red Steagall introduced him to the work of Carlos Ashley, and Ashley's Epilogue changed his writing life:

Ambition feeds a thousand fires
Whose ashes leave no ember;
I pray to pen a rustic rhyme
That someone will remember
    
   From "That Spotted Sow," © 1941, Carlos Ashley

Baxter Black also admires Ashley's "Bob Sears' Chili Joint" and "The Widder." 

Baxter praises contemporary poet Elizabeth Ebert, saying that she is "one of the few poets who has that 'old style.'"  In a short bio for a recent Elko appearance, Baxter Black says "she writes from inspiration with such graceful force it's like her pen has power steering."  

His highest praise goes to the contemporary CD Breaker in the Pen, with most of the poetry by Joel Nelson and produced by Gail Steiger, which Baxter says "raised the bar for Cowboy Poetry for 1000 years."

Baxter Black also mentioned that two of his other favorite poems are "The Parson's Son" by  Robert Service, and "Clancy of the Overflow" by A. B. "Banjo" Paterson.  

  • Elizabeth Ebert was named Female Poet of the year in 2001 by the Academy of Western Artists, and received the Gail Gardner Award at Prescott in 2001.  See our feature about Elizabeth Ebert here.

  • Breaker in the Pen by Joel Nelson was the only Cowboy Poetry recording ever nominated for a Grammy Award.  You can read more about it at RealWest Records and a bit more about Joel Nelson here in our report on the 2001 Prescott Gathering and here in a report from the 2002 Elko Gathering.  Joel Nelson is also mentioned below in Rod Miller's contribution.

  • Carlos Ashley was the Texas Poet Laureate from 1949-1951. His book, That Spotted Sow and Other Texas Hill Country Ballads, now out of print, was first published in 1941.

  • You can read more about Baxter Black here at CowboyPoetry.com and you can visit his web site.

 

Andy Hedges

Andy3elko.jpg (22358 bytes)  Honored Guest Andy Hedges (also interviewed at Elko in 2002) says that his favorite classic poem is Bruce Kiskaddon's, "When They've Finished Shipping Cattle in the Fall." Andy says "It is pure cowboy, but folks of all walks of life can relate to it."

 

When They've Finished Shipping Cattle in the Fall

Though you're not exactly blue,
Yet you don't feel like you do
In the winter, or the long hot summer days.
For your feelin's and the weather
Seem to sort of go together,
And you're quiet in the dreamy autumn haze.
When the last big steer is goaded
Down the chute, and safely loaded;
And the summer crew has ceased to hit the ball;
When a fellow starts to draggin'
To the home ranch with  the wagon --
When they've finished shipping cattle in the fall.

Only two men left a standin'
On the job for winter brandin',
And your pardner, he's a loafing by your side.
With a bran-new saddle creakin',
But you never hear him speakin',
And you feel it's goin' to be a quiet ride.
But you savvy one another
For you know him like a brother--
He is friendly but he's quiet, that is all;
For he' thinkin' while he's draggin'
To the home ranch with the wagon--
When they've finished shippin' cattle in the fall.

And the saddle hosses stringin'
At an easy walk a swingin'
In behind the old chuck wagon movin' slow.
They are weary gaunt and jaded
With the mud and brush they've waded,
And they settled down to business long ago.
Not a hoss is feelin' sporty,
Not a hoss is actin' snorty;
In the spring the brutes was full of buck and bawl;
But they 're gentle, when they're draggin'
To the home ranch with the wagon --
When they've finished shippin' cattle in the fall.

And the cook leads the retreat
Perched high upon his wagon seat,
With his hat pulled 'way down furr'wd on his head.
Used to make that old team hustle,
Now he hardly moves a muscle,
And a feller might imagine he was dead,
'Cept his old cob pipe is smokin'
As he lets his team go pokin',
Hittin' all the humps and hollers in the road.
No, the cook has not been drinkin'--
He's just settin' there and thinkin'
'Bout the places and the people that he knowed
And you watch the dust a trailin'
And two little clouds a sailin',
And a big mirage like lakes and timber tall.
And you're lonesome when you're draggin'
To the home ranch with the wagon--
When they've finished shippin' cattle in the fall.

When you make the camp that night,
Though the fire is burnin' bright,
Yet nobody seems to have a lot to say,
In the spring you sung and hollered,
Now you git your supper swallered
And you crawl into your blankets right away.
Then you watch the stars a shinin'
Up there in the soft blue linin'
And you sniff the frosty night air clear and cool.
You can hear the night hoss shiftin'
As your memory starts driftin'
To the little village where you went to school.
With its narrow gravel streets
And the kids you used to meet,
And the common where you used to play baseball.
Now you're far away and draggin'
To the home ranch with the wagon
For they've finished shippin' cattle in the fall.

And your school-boy sweetheart too,
With her eyes of honest blue--
Best performer in the old home talent show.
You were nothin' but a kid
But you liked her, sure you did--
Lord! And that was over thirty years ago.
Then your memory starts to roam
From Old Mexico to Nome.
From the Rio Grande to the Powder River,
Of the things you seen and done--
Some of them was lots of fun
And a lot of other things they make you shiver.
'Bout that boy by name of Reid
That was killed in a stampede--
'Twas away up north, you helped 'em dig his grave,
And your old friend Jim the boss
That got tangled with a hoss,
And the fellers couldn't reach in time to save.

You was there when Ed got his'n--
Boy that killed him's still in prison,
And old Lucky George, he's rich and livin' high.
Poor old Tom, he come off worst,
Got his leg broke, died of thirst
Lord but that must be an awful way to die.

Then them winters at the ranches,
And the old time country dances--
Everybody there was sociable and gay.
Used to lead 'em down the middle
Jest a prancin' to the fiddle--
Never thought of goin' home till the break of day.
No! there ain't no chance for sleepin',
For the memories come a creepin',
And sometimes you think you hear the voices call;
When a feller starts a draggin'
To the home ranch with the wagon--
When they've finished shippin' cattle in the fall.

From Kiskaddon's 1924 version in Rhymes of the Ranges.  Reprinted with permission from Classic Rhymes by Bruce Kiskaddon, Cowboy Miner Productions, 1998

 

  • You can read more about Honored Guest Andy Hedges here at CowboyPoetry.com.  Andy does a striking recitation of "When They've Finished Shipping Cattle in the Fall" on his CD, Days and Nights in the Saddle:

 

  • We have a feature about Bruce Kiskaddon with more of his poetry here.

 

Janice Mitich contributed the following:

My favorite cowboy poem has to be "Little Joe the Wrangler" (by Jack Thorp).

Growin' up in Wyoming, on small ranches in the '50s, we often had long, long drives to get to town.  Radio reception was usually non-existent or static-filled at best.  Our Dad, George Prell, couldn't "carry a tune in a bucket," even though us kids liked to sing.  So he would often recite poems to us to help pass the time. I remember him reciting "The Strawberry Roan" (by Curley Fletcher) and "Little Joe, the Wrangler" among others.

I was particularly touched by Little Joe, because he had a stepmother, where as my twin sister, Joyce, and I had a stepfather--George.  I thought it so sad that this kid had to run away from a mean stepmother and felt so fortunate that our stepdad was a true father to us and loved us as much as his own children--our half sister, Janette, and half-brother, Jerry.

Dad recited poems to us as the whole family took a tour one summer day, on dirt county roads along the foothills of the Big Horn Mountains west of Sheridan and Buffalo, Wyoming.  Dad pointed out the site of the Wagon Box Fight, Fort Fetterman, Fetterman's Massacre, Crazy Woman Creek, and the old trail along Lake DeSmet while telling us the history.  It was slow traveling in those days, and the trip took all day. Luckily we'd packed a lunch.  I recall asking Dad the meaning of the word 'knell' in the last line of "Little Joe" where it says, "..his spurs had rung the knell."  I didn't know what that word meant.  Dad told me it was like a church bell tolling at a funeral and explained that Little Joe's spinning rowel was the only sound after Blue Rocket and Little Joe died at the bottom of a draw.  I thought that extremely sad and hoped that my horse would never fall with me like that.

I guess that's when I fell in love with poetry, the images, and the rhythm of words, and that's why I write it today.

April 1, 2002

  • Here at CowboyPoetry.com, you can read more about Janice Mitich and read some of her poetry (and a poem by her stepfather, George Prell) here.

Janice Mitich is:  

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

  • Jack Thorp published a small book of Cowboy songs in 1908, Songs of the Cowboys, one of the first-ever such compilations.  In the 1966 expanded edition of the book edited by Austin and Alta Fife, they write "Thorp says he wrote 'Little Joe, the Wrangler' 'on trail of herd of cattle from Chimney Lake, New Mexico to Higgins, Texas, 1898.'  There being no evidence to the contrary, we accept Thorp's claim....he wrote it 'on a paper bag beside the campfire...'"  

Little Joe, the Wrangler

Little Joe, the wrangler, will never wrangle more;
His days with the "Remuda" -- they are done.
'Twas a year ago last April he joined the outfit here,
A little "Texas Stray" and all alone.

'Twas long late in the evening he rode up to the herd
On a little old brown pony he called Chaw;
With his brogan shoes and overalls a harder looking kid
You never in your life had seen before.

His saddle 'twas a southern kack built many years ago,
An O.K. spur on one foot idly hung,
While his "hot roll" in a cotton sack was loosely tied behind
And a canteen from the saddle horn he'd slung.

He said he'd had to leave his home, his daddy'd married twice
And his new ma beat him every day or two;
So he saddled up old Chaw one night and "Lit a shuck" this way
Thought he'd try and paddle now his own canoe.

Said he'd try and do the best he could if we'd only give him work
Though he didn't know "straight" up about a cow,
So the boss he cut him out a mount and kinder put him on
For he sorter liked the little stray somehow.

Taught him how to herd the horses and to learn to know them all
To round 'em up by daylight; if he could
To follow the chuck-wagon and to always hitch the team
And help the "cosinero" rustle wood.

We'd driven to red river and the weather had been fine;
We were camped down on the south side in a bend
When a norther commenced to blowing and we doubled up our guards
For it took all hands to hold the cattle then.

Little Joe the wrangler was called out with the rest
And scarcely had the kid got to the herd
When the cattle they stampeded; like a hail storm, long they flew
And all of us were riding for the lead.

"Tween the streaks of lightning we could see a horse far out ahead
'Twas little Joe the wrangler in the lead;
He was riding old "Blue Rocket" with his slicker 'bove his head
Trying to check the leaders in their speed.

At last we got them milling and kinder quieted down
And the extra guard back to the camp did go 
But one of them was missin' and we all knew at a glance
'Twas our little Texas stray, poor wrangler Joe.

Next morning just at sunup we found where Rocket fell
Down in a washout twenty feet below
Beneath his horse mashed to a pulp, his horse* had rung the knell
For our little Texas stray -- poor wrangler Joe.

1908

*the word in the original book is "horse," though it is "spur" in later versions and in many other printed versions.

  • Curley Fletcher's "The Strawberry Roan," written in 1915, had 15 verses.  The popular 1930’s songwriters and radio personalities Fred Howard and Nat Vincent (“The Happy Chappies”) reworked the lyrics and the song quickly became one of the most often recorded cowboy songs.  See our feature on Curley Fletcher here. "The Strawberry Roan" is included in The Big Roundup from CowboyPoetry.com and New West Library:

The Strawberry Roan

I was laying round town just spending my time
Out of a job and not makin' a dime
When up steps a feller and he says, "I suppose
That you're a bronc rider by the looks of your clothes?"

He guesses me right. "And a good one I'll claim
Do you happen to have any bad ones to tame?"
He says he's got one that's a good one to buck
And at throwing good riders he's had lots of luck.

He says this old pony has never been rode
And the man that gets on him is bound to be throwed
I gets all excited and I ask what he pays
To ride this old pony a couple of days.

He says, "Ten dollars." I says, "I'm your man
The bronc never lived that I cannot fan
The bronc never tried nor never drew breath
That I cannot ride till he starves plumb to death."

He says, "Get your saddle.  I'll give you a chance."
We got in the buggy and went to the ranch
We waited till morning, right after chuck
I went out to see if that outlaw could buck.

Down in the corral, a-standin' alone
Was this little old caballo, a strawberry roan
He had little pin ears that touched at the tip
And a big forty-four brand was on his left hip.

He was spavined all round and he had pidgeon toes
Little pig eyes and a big Roman nose
He was U-necked and old with a long lower jaw
You could tell at a glance he was a regular outlaw.

I buckled on my spurs, I was feeling plumb fine
I pulled down my hat and I curls up my twine
I threw the loop at him, right well I knew then
Before I had rode him I'd sure earn my ten.

I got the blind on him with a terrible fight
Cinched on the saddle and girdled it tight
Then I steps up on him and pulled down the blind
And sat there in the saddle to see him unwind.

He bowed his old neck and I'll say he unwound
He seemed to quit living down there on the ground
He went up to the east and came down to the west
With me in the saddle, a-doing my best.

He sure was frog-walkin', I heaved a big sigh
He only lacked wings for to be on the fly
He turned his old belly right up to the sun
For he was a sun-fishin' son of a gun.

He was the worst bronco I've seen on the range
He could turn on a nickel and leave you some change
While he was buckin' he squalled like a shoat
I tell you that outlaw, he sure got my goat.

I tell all the people that pony could step
And I was still on him a-buildin' a rep
He came down on all fours and turned up on his side
I don't see how he kept from losing his hide.

I lost my stirrups, I lost my hat,
I was pullin' at leather as blind as a bat
With a phenomenal jump he made a high dive
And set me a-winding up there through the sky.

I turned forty flips and came down to the earth
And sit there a-cussing the day of his birth

I know there's some ponies that I cannot ride
Some of them living, they haven't all died.
But I bet all money there's no man alive
That can ride Old Strawberry when he makes that high dive.

"The Strawberry Roan" is:  

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

Joyce Mitich Taylor 

Janice Mitich shared her thoughts with her twin sister and poet Joyce Mitich Taylor, and Joyce added these comments:

I, too, remember my Dad, George Prell, reciting cowboy poems to us.  One year Dad got two extra jobs in Sheridan, Wyoming, cleaning up the Sandwich Shop and The Mint Bar which meant he had to leave the ranch before daylight, to drive over 20 miles into town.  Being the oldest, I would go with him on Saturday and Sunday mornings to help out.  My twin, Janice, who is six minutes younger, would usually fall asleep when she came along. That left just Dad and me to pass the time. Dad would recite poems like "The Old Chisholm Trail" allowing us to make up new verses which gave us practice in rhyming. "The Strawberry Roan" by Curly Fletcher, was my favorite.

It wasn't until 30 years later, when I finally read the original poem and discovered that Dad had recited a slightly different version.  The original reads:

"Down in the corral, a-standin' alone
Was this little old caballo, a strawberry roan
He had little pin ears that touched at the tip
And a big forty-four brand was on his left hip."

Whereas Dad's version in the last line was:  "And the map of Chihuahua all over his hip."

I remember asking Dad what that last line meant.  He told me that Chihuahua was a town in Old Mexico, and that the Strawberry Roan was so rank, that he was sold over and over and over again, with each new owner re-branding him. Therefore, these numerous brands looked like a road map.

I've heard this poem recited numerous times at various Cowboy Poet Gatherings, but have never heard Dad's version of that line. I liked Dad's version better because it was much more descriptive and enhanced Ol' Strawberry's reputation.  Plus we didn't know much Spanish that far north in those days, and I was impressed with knowing this Spanish word, although it took me a long time to learn how to spell it.

April 2, 2002

  • "The Old Chisholm Trail" was written by the great "anonymous," and is one of those works that is said to have hundreds of verses.  Here is Jack Thorp's version from his 1921 Songs of the Cowboys:

The Old Chisholm Trail  

The origin of this song is unknown. There are several
thousand verses to it -- the more whiskey the more 
verses. Every puncher knows a few more verses. Sung 
from the Canadian line to Mexico.

Come along, boys, and listen to my tale
I'll tell you of my trouble on the old Chisholm trail.

Com a ti yi youpy, youpy ya, youpy ya,
Coma ti yi youpy, youpy ya.

I started up the trail October twenty-third,
I started up the trail with the 2-U herd.

Oh, a ten-dollar hoss and a forty-dollar saddle, --
And I'm goin' to punchin' Texas cattle

I woke up one mornin' afore daylight
And afore I sleep the moon shines bright

Old Ben Bolt was a blamed good boss,
But he went to see the girls on a sore-backed hoss. 

Old Ben Bolt was a fine old man
And you'd know there was whiskey wherever he would land. 

My hoss throwed me off at the creek called Mud,
My hoss throwed me off round the 2-U herd.

Last time I saw him he was going 'cross the level,
A-kickin' up his heels and a-runnin' like the devil.

It's cloudy in the west, a-lookin' like rain,
And my damned old slicker's in the wagon again.

Crippled my hoss, I don't know how,
Ropin' at the horns of a 2-U cow.

We hit Caldwell and we hit her on the fly,
We bedded down the cattle on the hill close by.

No chaps, no slicker, and it's pourin' down rain
And I swear, by God,  I'll never night-herd again

Feet in the stirrups and seat in the saddle,
I hung and rattled with them long-horn cattle.

Last night I was on guard and the leader broke the ranks,
I hit my horse down the shoulders and I spurred him in the flanks.

The wind commenced to blow and the rain began to fall,
Hit looked, by grab, like we was goin' to lose 'em all.

I jumped in the saddle and grabbed holt of the horn,
Best blamed cow-puncher ever was born.

I popped my foot in the stirrup and gave a little yell,
The tail cattle broke and the leaders went as well.

I don't give a damn if they never do stop;
I'll ride as long as an eight-day clock.

Foot in the stirrup and hand on the horn,
Best damnded cowboy ever was born.

I herded and hollered and I done very well,
Till the boss said, "Boys, just let 'em go to hell."

Stray in the herd, and the boss said kill it,
So I shot him in the rump with the handle of the skillet.

We rounded 'em up and put 'em on the cars,
And that was the last of the old Two Bars.

Oh it's bacon and beans ' most every day, --
I'd as soon be eatin' prairie hay.

I'm on my horse and I'm goin' at a run,
I'm the quickest shootin' cowboy that ever pulled a gun.

I went to the wagon to get my roll,
To come back to Texas, dad-burn my soul.

I went to the boss to draw my roll,
He had it figgered out I was nine dollars in the hole.

I'll sell my outfit just as soon as I can,
I won't punch cattle for no damned man.

Goin' back to town to draw my money,
Goin' back home to see my honey.

With my knees in the saddle and my seat in the sky,
I'll quit punchin' cows in the sweet by and by.
 
Com a ti yi youpy, youpy ya, youpy ya,
Coma ti yi youpy, youpy ya.

traditional, from Songs of the Cowboys, 1921

 See our feature and selections from this book here.

 

Gene O'Quinn contributed the following:

Gene O'Quinn

geneoq4.jpg (13674 bytes)

"Old Pardon, the Son of Reprieve," by Andrew Barton "Banjo" Paterson.  I like "The Man from Snowy River" and in that poem, Banjo mentions Pardon, Harrison's horse. I found this poem and really liked the meter, I have been trying to memorize it for about a month now, but five page poems are tough when you didn't write it.  Hmmm, maybe I should re-write it and then ....

Chris Isaac's "A Dying Breed" is my favorite contemporary poem.  A "few" words of WHY is a tall order. There are so many of Chris Isaacs poems that I like, it is hard to select just one.  I purchased his book "Cowboy Poetry; Rhymes, Reasons and Pack Saddle Proverbs" by mail and when I received it, I read half of it the first evening. Then finished the other half the following day, but "The Dying Breed" latched onto me and I have read and re-read it about a dozen times.  I knew some men just like those that Chris wrote about, and I have known some of those "done-in" by the Corporate Dragon.  One of the sorrows of living as long as I have, is to drive by some of the farms and ranches that I was familiar with as a youngster and to see some decimated by decay and others that gave way to rising property values and sold out to the land developers.  I understand why some sold due to increased tax evaluations, etc., and those that sold because of property values that made them wealthy overnight. But it sure saddens me to remember the days when I'd see, or sometimes would be one of a half dozen horsemen with a pack of four or five "cowdogs" pushing mixed breed herds of river bottom cattle across those pastures, where today stands, Walmart, Lowes, and 24 Hour Supermarkets. 

  • You can read more about Gene O'Quinn and his poetry here at the BAR-D. 

 

S. J. Passamonte contributed the following:

S. J. Passamonte

My vote goes to "The Bronco Twister's Prayer" by Bruce Kiskaddon. I especially like the way Waddie Mitchell does it.  His voice inflection, facial expression and mannerisms blend in so beautifully and make you believe you are there. I think we all hope for a final prayer from somebody and who better than an old cowboy.  There's a sense of hopelessness, drudgery and loss, but also a chance for hope from an unexpected  person. Someone out of place and different, but with the ability to "talk" to The Maker from a common, earthly person's perspective; not preachin', or shamin', but talking quietly to God. I've told my wife I want it read when I ride on. I think when we write a cowboy poem, or song we all hope for a touch of being remembered for something we've done, said, or written. It's not "immortality" ,as some make claim to , but a  fond sense of remembrance. I only hope one of my feeble attempts is regarded half as well in times to come. I'll keep pluggin' away, talkin' to The Lord, and hopin' for the best.

  • You can read more about S. J. Passamonte and his poetry here at the BAR-D. 


"California Steve" Dirksen contributed the following:

"California Steve" Dirksen

My favorite is "Reincarnation" by Wallace McRae.  I first read it in an anthology book of cowboy poetry put together by Hal Cannon.  And after some hard work I have learned it well enough to recite.  I have heard it done a couple of times and it just continues to make me laugh.  The poet shows us with this poem that we just shouldn't take anything too seriously.  Because if we do we have just missed the point of life.

  • You can read more about "California Steve" Dirksen and his poetry here at the BAR-D. 

Steve Dirksen is:  

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

 

The poem can be found in the anthology edited by Hal Cannon, Cowboy Poetry, a Gathering, which grew from the Elko gatherings (click the image for an Amazon link, which includes more description):

Click to view at Amazon.com

and the poem is also included in Wallace McRae's own book from Gibbs Smith Publishing (click the image for an Amazon link and full table of contents):


Hal Swift contributed the following:

Hal Swift 

My favorite western poem is "The Ballad of the Ice Worm Cocktail" by the great Canadian poet, Robert Service.

My friend, the late Don Messick, was a voice actor, meaning he made his living providing the voices for many cartoon characters. This was one of his favorite poems, and he gave me a fantastic
recording he made of it.  Listening to Don's recording of "The Ice Worm Cocktail" not only is extremely entertaining, but it's a still-available source for my being able to enjoy the talents of a great actor, and a friend whose presence I miss.

  • You can read more about Hal Swift and his poetry here at the BAR-D.

  • We have a feature with poetry here about Robert Service.  "The Ballad of the Ice Worm Cocktail" is from Service's Bar-Room Ballads (1909) and there are numerous versions on the internet.  


Rod Miller contributed the following:

Rod Miller

Self Portrait by Rod Miller
Self-portrait by Rod Miller

A project such as this would not be complete without Buck Ramsey's remarkable epic poem, "And As I Rode Out on the Morning" and its introductory portion, "Anthem."  Reading this work is both inspirational and intimidating -- inspirational, because it makes one realize how beautiful and powerful words can be when lashed together in the proper order; intimidating because it points up just how puny my efforts are in comparison. The fact that it utilizes a sophisticated and complex form also appeals, as does the thought-provoking subject matter. And, beyond the beauty of its words on the page, what recitation could possibly be finer than Joel Nelson's rendition of "Anthem"?

I was pleased to see Baxter Black mention "Banjo" Paterson's "Clancy of the Overflow" (see above).  It is my favorite of his poems and one of my favorites of all Cowboy/Western/Bush poems and think it doesn't get the attention it deserves. Then again, he wrote so many good ones...

  • See our expanded feature about Buck Ramsey here. It includes poetry (selections from his masterpiece, And As I Rode Out on the Morning: "Prologue: Anthem";"The Story: One"; and "Epilogue: Ponder" and his classic "Christmas Waltz") and biographical and bibliographic information, recollections, and many references to books and recordings.

  • Smithsonian Folkways released a 2-CD set, Buck Ramsey ~ Hittin' the Trail in 2003.  The 2-CD set is accompanied by a 17-page booklet with an excellent article written by Bette Ramsey and Charlie Seemann, the Executive Director of the Western Folklife Center. Personal photographs, track notes, and a list of suggested reading are included.  Read a review of the CD set here. You can read more about the CD at the Smithsonian Folkways site.

     

  • "As I Rode Out on the Morning" was published in 1993 by Texas Tech Press, and the book is now rare and out of print.  SilverCreek Books & Music loaned us this cover image from their personal collection:


"Anthem" and three other poems by Buck Ramsey are included in New Cowboy Poetry, which was the second anthology of poems from the Elko Gathering, edited by Hal Cannon (click the image for an Amazon link, which includes a complete table of contents):

Click to view at Amazon.com

"Anthem" is recited by Joel Nelson on his Grammy-nominated CD, Breaker in the Pen. Above, Baxter Black cites this CD as having "raised the bar for Cowboy Poetry for 1000 years." You can read more about the CD at RealWest Records and a bit more about Joel Nelson here in our report on the 2001 Prescott Gathering and here in a report from the 2002 Elko Gathering.

A Joel Nelson recitation is also on Smithsonian Folkways' Cowboy Poetry Classics (2003). See the cross-referenced index of poets, poems and reciters on this CD in our anthology index and read a review here. You can read more about the CD at the Smithsonian Folkways site.

See our feature about the Buck Ramsey Award for Cowboy Book of the Year (our anthology, The Big Roundup, is the 2002 winner).  The feature includes more information about Buck Ramsey and his poetry, with some additional book and recording information.

  • You can read more about Rod Miller and his poetry here at the BAR-D. Rod Miller is a Lariat Laureate

Rod Miller is:  

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

 


Chris Isaacs contributed the following:

Chris Isaacs

I've said many times on stage that my favorite cowboy poem is that great old piece by Bruce Kiskaddon, When They've Finished Shipping Cattle in the Fall.  I think it captures the heart and soul of the old time cowboy life as well as it can be done. I admire a lot of the old classic writers, but Kiskaddon is my favorite.  

It is much harder to pick a favorite contemporary cowboy poet,  so much good stuff is being turned out today, and I think the good writers are turning out some of the best ever!  Also the folks who perform it are making recitation a true art form.  Baxter Black and Waddie Mitchell raised the bar for all of us and there are a handful of folks out there who keep bumping that bar all the time. With that said, my favorite contemporary cowboy poetry picks are that wonderful poem by Larry McWhorter, "Johnny Clare" (serious), and Sunny Hancock's "The Horse Trade" (funny), and if I had to pick just one fellow to see on stage it would be Randy Rieman.  He is the finest pure reciter I have ever seen perform.  

     

  • Larry McWhorter's new book, Contemporary Verse, from Cowboy Miner, includes "Johnny Clare."  Larry McWhorter is an Honored Guest here and you can read Johnny Clare and a selection of other poems right here.

The poem is also included on his recording, "Wheat Pasture Dreamin'."

  • Sunny Hancock is an Honored Guest here at CowboyPoetry.com and you can read his poetry and more about him here.

The Horse Trade

I traded for a horse one time,
   he wouldn't take no beauty prize;
A great big long-eared, blue roan gelding,
   not too bad for weight or size.
I had to make some tough old circles
   and this trader guaranteed
This horse would show me lots of country
   and not need too much rest or feed.

He said "Now this here ain't no kids' horse
   but he'll pack you up the crick,
He will bump up on some occasions
   and he has been known to kick.
I wouldn't trade him to just anyone
   without having some remorse
But if you're a sure enough cow puncher,
   mister, he's your kind of horse.

I stepped on that horse next mornin';
   he began to buck and bawl.
That trader maybe hadn't lied none,
   but he hadn't told it all.
Because we sure tore up the country
   where he throwed that equine fit
And I almost ran out of hand holds
   by the time he finally quit.

I guess that musta' set the pattern;
   things just never seemed to change,
Although I showed him lots of country,
   every corner of the range.
But every time I'd ride that booger,
   why, he'd keep me sittin' tight.
I knew I'd make at least three bronc rides
   'fore he'd pack me home that night.

Which woulda been OK
   with lots of horses that I knowed.
But that old pony had my number;
   I'd just barely got him rode.
And the thing that really spooked me
   and put a damper on my pride
Was he was learning how to buck
   faster than I was learnin' how to ride.

I pulled into camp one evening;
   it was gettin' pretty late.
I see this grey horse in the corral
   and there's a saddle by the gate.
I looked that grey horse over
   and I sure liked what I seen,
Then this kid showed up around the barn;
   he musta been about sixteen.

He said he'd lamed that grey that morning
   coming down off the granite grade,
And he wondered if I had a horse
   I'd maybe like to trade.
He said he didn't have the time to stop
  and rest and let him heal,
And since that beggars can't be choosers,
   he'd make most any kind of deal.

When a feller's tradin' horses,
   why, most anything is fair,
So I traded him that blue roan
   for his grey horse then and there.
But them my conscience started hurtin'
   When I thought of what I did,
To trade a "fly blown" dink like that
   off to some little wet-nosed kid.

So next mornin' after breakfast,
   why, I tells him, "Listen lad,
If you want to know the truth,
   that trade you made last night was bad.
That old blue horse is a tough one,
   bad as any one you'll see.
He'll kick you, strike you, stampede.
   He's a sorry SOB.

"It's all I can do to ride him
   and I'll tell it to you straight,
I think you'll be awfully lucky
   just to ride him past the gate.
There's two or three old horses
   out there in the saddle bunch.
They ain't got too much going for 'em
   but I kinda got a hunch

"They'll probably get you where you're going
   if you just don't crowd 'em none,
But damn, I hate to see you ride
   that blue roan booger, son!"
He said, "I told you there last night
   I'd make most any kind of trade,
And I appreciation your tellin'
   what a bad mistake I made.

"But my old daddy told me when you're tradin'
   that no matter how you feel,
Even if you take a whippin'
   that a deal is still a deal.
That horse, you say has lots of travel,
   and he's not too bad for speed.
Well, sir, I'm kinda' in a tight
   and that's exactly what I need.

"I traded for him fair and square
   and damn his blue roan hide,
When I pull outta' here this morning,
   that's the horse I'm gonna ride."
I watched him cinching up his saddle
   and he pulled his hat way down,
Stepped right up into the riggin'
   like he's headed straight for town.

Stuck both spurs up in his shoulders,
   got the blue roan hair a-flyin'
Tipped his head straight back and screamed
   just like a hungry mountain lion.
You know, I've heard a lot of stories
   'bout the bucking horse ballet.
I've heard of poetry in motion,
   but the ride I saw that day

Just plumb complete defied description
   though I can see it plain,
Like it had happened in slow motion
   and was branded on my brain.
I don't suppose I could explain it
   to you even if I tried.
The only thing that I can say is,
   by the saints, that kid could ride.

He sat there plumb relaxed
   like he was laying home in bed,
And every jump that pony made,
   that kid's a-half a jump ahead.
When it was over I decided
   I could learn a few things still,
And I said, "Son, I'm awfully sorry
   I misjudged your ridin' skill."

He just said, "Shucks, that's OK, mister,"
   as he started on his way,
"But if you think this horse can buck,
   don't put your saddle on that grey."

© 2002, Sunny Hancock, reprinted with permission from Horse Tracks Through the Sage

Sunny Hancock is an Honored Guest here at CowboyPoetry.com and you can read his poetry and more about him here.

 


Mike Puhallo contributed the following:

Mike Puhallo

Mike Puhallo, photo rustled from his web site

I guess my all time favorite cowboy poem is still "Little Joe the Wrangler" by Jack Thorp; it is the first one I can remember hearing, back when I was 6 or 7 years old.  Harold taught me the words... but I was all grown up before I could get through it without having to stop and wipe a tear or two.

If I think ol' Harold sitting on a bale on the shady side of the barn pickin' his guitar and softly singing "Little Joe"  I still get a tear in my eye and it is well over 40 years since that day ....

Mike Puhallo is:  

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

 


Jo Lynne Kirkwood contributed the following:

Jo Lynne Kirkwood

My favorite poem is, and has been for about the past year, "Rosie's Eagle" by JW Beeson.   A gal named Jerry Brooks performs it at gatherings in Utah, and each time I hear it I'm floored.  It's a great poem, destined to become a classic, all good things.  Could be because it is a love story and I suppose I'm typically female that way - but actually, it's just a heck of a story all the way through.  Faith, loyalty, the mysteries of life - maybe a little of something like magic.

Jo Lynne Kirkwood is:  

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

Rosie's Eagle

Rosie was a widow
Who lived up north of town.
If you cross Wolf Creek about a mile
And circle back around,
You'd find a big ol' ranch house
Made from sandstone, rock and sweat
And Rosie raised her family there
Her grandson lives there yet.

Now, I became acquainted
With this grand ol' pioneer
When I was just a youngster,
Nearly in my fourteenth year.
I'd go out and feed her cattle
While Rosie went to stay and
Visit with her children
Who had grown and moved away.

And once, while I was feedin'
I saw a wondrous sight,
A big ol' Golden Eagle
Just soarin' like a kite.
So high above the wagon
He would circle all around
Like he was on a search for
Something down there on the ground.

I watched him for a minute,
Hangin' silent in the sky
But the silence soon was broken
By the echo of his cry,
As he screamed his disapproval
Of the place I chose to rest,
Then I spotted the remainder
Of what once had been a nest.

The nest was old and brittle,
The aftermath of age,
And it laid beside a marker
Nearly covered by the sage.
My youthful curiosity
Had grabbed me by the shirt,
I knew that I had work to do
But five minutes wouldn't hurt.
So I got down off the wagon,
Kicked the tumbleweeds away
Revealing an inscription
In a stone of granite gray.

"Return to me in Springtime with love
   forever new
And dance with me upon the wind, the way
   the eagles do."
I stood there kind a puzzled
Tryin' hard to figure out
Just what these words engraved in stone
Were really all about.
So, when Rose returned from visitin',
I told her what I'd seen
And how when I got near the stone
That bird would start to scream.

With eyes reflecting memories
Through the traces of a tear,
She took me by the hand and said,
"There's something you should hear.
I'll share with you a secret
That up till now's been known
By only me and God above
Of the eagle and the stone.

"The Caliche hills that weave their way
Through what once was Box-T range
Was once the home of eagles
That nested on the plains.
And the Indians had a legend
That they believe is true,
That for every man who lived out here,
An eagle lived here too.

"And if the eagles nested
When a man would take a wife
Then the spirits of the lovers
Claimed the nesting ground for life.
And when their life was over,
Their spirit would ascend
And gather with the eagles,
To dance upon the wind.

"And that was how it happened,
As if decreed by fate,
For the day that I became a wife
The eagle took a mate.
And as he made for her a nest of
Willow branch and silt,
I was borne across the threshold
Of a ranch house not yet built.

"And so we spent our wedding night
Beneath the prairie moon,
In a Studebaker wagon
In the early part of June.
As he held me in his arms
And pledged to me his love,
He said, "If we should ever part,
I swear by God above,
That in Springtime I'll return to you, as
   when our love began,
And with the eagles we will go, and dance
   upon the wind.

"The year my husband passed away,
The lady-bird was killed.
They're buried side by side,
Beneath the stone upon the hill.
And every year in early June,
I watch the morning sky
And listen for the sound of wings,
Like angels passin' by.

"And when I see that old eagle,
My heart begins to glow
And I think about a promise
Made so many years ago.
The words are carved in granite, our love
   will never end
And my heart goes up to meet him, and we
   dance upon the wind."

© 1991, J. W. Beeson

 

"Rosie's Eagle" also appears in Cowboy Love Poetry (click the image for the full index at Amazon):

Click to view at Amazon.com

We mentioned Sunny Hancock's recitation of the poem at Prescott, 2001 here.


Byrd Woodward contributed the following:

Byrd Woodward

Having learned only fifteen or so years ago that there was an acknowledged "cowboy poetry" art form and having written in that style most all my life, I'm way behind in reading and learning about cow poets and their work...which means I tend to have a new favorite poem and/or poet about
once a week...

I recently purchased a copy of Warren Miller's anthology titled Cattle, Horses, Sky and Grass, and found some contemporary poetry I'd never read before....

Mike Dawson lives in Prescott and is a guest every year at the AZ State Gathering ...he's eighty plus years old and has a grin that knocks my socks off every time I see him...the poem is called "Fifty Dollars" and it's about as good a story regarding retribution as I've read.

I like just about anything I've read or heard by Bill Jones, Joel Nelson and Dennis Gaines...and I like Dean Cook's' work.  

I also love S. Omar Barker's "Purt Near!," especially Waddie Mitchell's recitation, and "The Old  Night Hawk" by Bruce Kiskaddon: "I am up tonight in the Pinnacles bold..."

But when it comes to the real classics, "The Strawberry Roan" and "Little Joe the Wrangler" are the ones I grew up on and are the ones that inspire me still ...they were sung to me rather than recited...on certain days, that little wrangler can still bring tears...

Byrd later mentioned that she started corresponding with Jo Lynne Kirkwood when she read what she wrote about Jerry Brooks above.  She wrote "I know her, too...she has recited at open mike at the Prescott gathering the last two years...she moves me as much or more than any other reciter I've ever heard and she's starting to let the light out from under her basket!!  I heard her do JW Beeson's "Rosie's Eagle" and "Scully's Bucket" last year...she has a completely unique quality to her voice and just moves me so...she's a coal miner (has been for nearly 25 years) from Joseph, Utah.

  • You can read more about Lariat Laureate runner up Byrd Woodward and some of her poetry here at CowboyPoetry.com.  

  • The book edited by Warren Miller, Cattle, Horses, Sky, and Grass: Cowboy Poetry of the Late Twentieth Century, is in our Anthologies Index. Warren Miller is the Education Director of Sharlot Hall Museum.  He founded the Prescott Arizona Cowboy Poets Gathering in 1998 and was involved in the first Cowboy Poetry Gathering at Elko and many subsequent gatherings. 

  • See our feature about reciter Jerry Brooks here.

  • The above book includes three poems by Mike Dawson, "Cowboy Common Sense," "Fifty Dollars," and "The Young Cowboy." We learned from several award bios that Mike Dawson is a WWII combat veteran and a former stuntman and character actor who was in films with Hoot Gibson, Gabby Hayes, Tex Ritter, John Wayne and Errol Flynn. He started writing Cowboy Poetry after he retired at age 74, and he was the winner of the 1995 Gail I. Gardner Award from the Arizona Cowboy Poets Gathering in Prescott.

  • Bill Jones is also represented in Cattle, Horses, Sky, and Grass: Cowboy Poetry of the Late Twentieth Century with "Answered Prayer," "Bert," "Lover, Fighter, Wild Horse Rider," and "Roundup At The Bar B Bar." His work appears in other anthologies, and he and poet Rod McQueary (mentioned below) published a book of Vietnam War poetry, Blood Trails

  • See information about Joel Nelson above.

  • Dennis Gaines is an Honored Guest here at CowboyPoetry.com and is featured in The Big Roundup.  You can read more about him and some of his poetry here.

  • Dean Cook is an Arizona poet and songwriter.  You can read more about him and his poetry here at CowboyPoetry.com.

  • S. Omar Barker was born in New Mexico in 1894, and is said to have written over 2000 poems. A selection of his poetry is published in an excellent book from Cowboy Miner:

    Click to view at Amazon.com

    You can read "Purt Near" here at the BAR-D, posted on our Who Knows page. 

    Waddie Mitchell recorded "Purt Near" on The Bard and the Balladeer and you can listen to a part of it at AmazonAnother notable rendition appears on Andy Hedges' Days and Nights in the Saddle.

    Click for Amazon    

    Peggy Godfrey recites "Purt Near!" on Smithsonian Folkways' Cowboy Poetry Classics (2003).  See the cross-referenced index of poets, poems and reciters on this CD in our anthology index and read a review here. You can read more about the CD at the Smithsonian Folkways site.


We have several Christmas poems by S. Omar Barker, reprinted with permission from the Cowboy Miner book.


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