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

Stella and Jim Cathey 

Marlin, Texas
About Jim Cathey
Jim Cathey's web site



Headin' to the Dublin Rodeo

The day had shore been tough an’ if that weren’t enough
jest to make a feller want to spit.
I laid out my duds, then I lathered up in suds,
but found that the hot water had quit!

Now a cold water bath will shore cool off yore wrath,
an’ it don’t take you long to git clean.
But as you ponder yore plight, you git awful quiet,
an’ your thoughts tend to wander unseen.

I planned to take this ride, with my wife by my side,
headin’ to a far off rodeo.
Now she knows that her man always has a good plan,
an’ with me she intended to go.

So we loaded the ol’ truck an’ trusted to luck,
as we pulled out on that gravel road.
We had packed sorta light, got things stuck out of sight.
Best try to follow the cowboy code!

Shucks, yore lookin’ fer fun, an’ the trips just begun,
with nary a worry to dread.
Jest ridin’ along it seems, daydreamin’ our dreams,
of how fame an’ fortune would be spread.

By winnin’ first place, I’d shore set such a pace,
other hands would be a-shoutin’“ calf rope!”
‘Fore the end could draw nigh, contestants would shore sigh,
“There ain’t a chance!” an’ give up their hope.

So we headed on out with nary a doubt
that this trip would certainly be great!
Adventures we would share without even one care,
jest send others a-haulin’ their freight!

Now that seems a bit brash, tho I had made a splash,
as a rookie I had lots to learn.
So I jumps in with both feet, the champ to unseat.
‘Cuz this year the prize cup I will earn!

I settled to my task, no mercy will I ask,
workin’ hard to develop my skill.
Many long hours it will take to win the sweepstake,
but I know how to handle the drill.

So for hours I would work, not one job will I shirk.
An’ I toiled to bring it to perfection
this new self taught gift, that would for shore cause a rift,
seen pert near in every direction.

They just wouldn’t believe, tho some would shore ‘nuff grieve
when they heard that ol’ score read out loud.
When I prance in front of them, things will shore look grim.
But my wife will cheer and be proud.

Then the sky brighted up, as they brought out that cup,
polished to shine like a golden globe.
It was three foot tall, made the arena look small,
bright lights were flickerin’ like a strobe!

I know it will be soon, they are singin’ my tune!
Yet …I feel as if somethin’ ain’t square.
Then my wife calls to me an’… I wake up to see…???
I’m holdin’ my spittoon in the air!!

© 2010, Jim Cathey
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.


Jim told us:

“Headin’ to the Dublin Rodeo” was inspired from two different scenarios.

1. I grew up on a ranch near Dublin, Texas. The annual Dublin rodeo was the last major rodeo on the RCA rodeo circuit in the 1950s before the National Finals that were then held in New York City at Madison Square Garden. Young men from all around tried to make the Dublin rodeo because it was so important for their overall points. It was produced by the Lightning C Ranch that was co-owned by Everitt Colburn and the legendary movie cowboy Gene Autry.

2. The National Cowboy Poetry Rodeo, produced by Sam Jackson, was my 2nd inspiration. I found that the poetry rodeo requires a lot of the same kind of mental preparation and training that a stock rodeo requires.




My Ol' Daddy Always Sez

The ranch is calm ‘til end of night,
when daybreak's soon to come.
Then all will wake from dreamy sleep,
to sound of kettles' drum.

Then my Ol’ Daddy always sez,
“Boys, day lights a-burnin!”
We kick the covers an’ hit the floor
…our legs jest a churnin’.

There’s chores to do, ‘tho morn is cold,
an’ soon we get ‘em done.
By then the coffee pot is hot
an’ chow is soon begun.

Side meat, hot biscuits, an’ coffee
…you fight to get yore share.
‘Cuz this day will be long an’ tuff
an’ grub will shore be rare.

An’ then my Ol’ Daddy up an’ sez,
“We gotta hit the trail!.”
So ever’ man jack grabs a hoss
an’ through the dark we sail.

At daylight we are on the ridge,
shore ready fer our chance.
Then my Ol’ Daddy always sez,
“Boys, time to start the dance!”

As one we shout and urge our pony
to dash into the brush.
There’s critters there that plan to stay,
but soon they’ll have to flush.

Then we descend upon their lair
with shout an’ wave of hat.
They’ll turn an’ run ‘cuz now they’re spooked
an’ runnin’ to the flat.

Then my Ol’ Daddy up an sez,
“Boys, hold ‘em in a group!.”
We bunched ‘em up an’ moved ‘em down
that trail with shout an’ whoop.

Then my Ol’ Daddy pointed out
some hands to come with him.
Sez he, “we’re going back up there
to get them on the rim!”

‘Cuz some had stuck in thicker brush,
an’ would be hard to find.
So we scattered out an’ rode in
with ketchin’ on our mind.

We planned to drag ‘em outta there
an’ head ‘em down the trail.
We caught a few, but some would stay
that scattered like the quail.

Then my Ol’ Daddy up an’ sez,
“Them wormy hides can go!”
We took our catch an’ headed down
to workin’ pens below.

To coffee pot an’ chuck at last.
We did not say a word,
but piled right in an’ made a hand,
complanin’ jest warn’t heard.

with bellies full an’ coffee hot,
we lolled around the fire.
Slim picked a tune, made coyotes howl
…a regular outlaw choir.

Stories got told, an’ then a yawn
that spread to everyone.
Then my ol’ Daddy up an’ sez,
“Hit the sack, day is done.”

We crawled between them warm blankets
an’ soon were settled in.
To sleep the sleep of innocence,
a weary bunch of men.

The ranch is calm ‘til end of night,
when daybreak's soon to come.
Then all will wake from dreamy sleep
to sound of kettles' drum.

Then my Ol’ Daddy always sez,
“Boys, day lights a-burnin!”
We kick the covers an’ hit the floor
…our legs jest a churnin’!

© 2010, Jim Cathey
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

Jim told us:

It was a fun poem to write and brought back a lot of memories of growing up in a simpler time. A time when you got all important news when you went to the barber shop or the sale barn. The trivia news was learned by accidently picking up the telephone, which was a party line, and hearing Gertrude talking to someone, usually about someone.

My Ol’ Daddy was quite a talkative feller. He lived to argue politics and knew a little bit about every subject. He also considered his opinions to be a notch above the average bear, and sometimes they were. He was authoritarian and believed in delegating jobs to whoever his hands might be at the time. Many of my conversations with others would often start out, "my Ol’ Daddy always sez..."

With this in mind and memories of yesteryear, the poem emerged.




Dang it, Charlie!

The cook house was dark and quiet

at the early break  o’ day.

Clyde’s words were very clear,

an’ Charlie could hear him say,


"Dang it, Charlie, listen to me!

You can’t aggravate the cook.

Now cool off an’ leave it alone,

don’t even give him a dirty look!


"If you name him, don’t let him know.

Look here! Don’t put him in a snit,

‘cuz  I’m tellin’ you right now

that cook will jest up an’ quit!”


…They’d shore ‘nuff had a hard day,

an’ it jest warn’t the bad weather,

ner them wild unruly critters

that kept them grabbin’ fer leather.


Nope, dang signs must have been wrong.

Started out first thang this mornin’

when they had got to the cookhouse an'

found the cook had quit without warnin’.


Clyde knew Charlie had done somthin’

‘cuz Ezra Burke wuz solid stock.

But Charlie had it in for him

an’ had a mind to wind his clock.


Wal, a cowboy has gotta eat

‘cuz work is hard an’ days is long.

So each one pitched in to help,

doin’ somethin’, even if it’s wrong.


What a sight them cowboys made

as each one of them gave a try,

heatin’ up that ol’ coffee pot,

slicin’ up some sidemeat to fry.


But somehow they got it done.

Then caught up their broncs to ride,

knowin’ them hosses would shore act sporty,

but them cowboys up an’ tried.


Cold mornin’s an’ them green broncs

can cause a cowboy plenty grief,

beat his innards to a pulp,

an’ clean his saddle like a thief.


But soon they had them bad boys rode.

An’ the cold mornin’ had warmed up.

They headed fer the Haynes pasture

with two cowdogs an’  a young pup.


All day they wuz workin’  them beeves,

catchin’, draggin’, an’ burnin’ hide.

Their ponies were pert near wore out,

when the boss sez,”That’s it. Let’s ride.”


Wal, Charlie gathers up the irons

to put on that ol’ pack mule,

ties ‘em tight  then grabs the lead rope

...with that ol’ mule actin’ the fool.


Wal sir, Charlie gets a good holt an'

sings out, “Whoa you dumb Ezra Burke.”

Then he sees Clyde lookin’ at him.

…He knew…Charlie had been the jerk.


Yeah, he’d named that mule for the cook!

Heck, their temperament was the same,

an’ it  jest seemed the thang to do…

The mule an’ the cook share the name.


Clyde sez, “You up an’ named it what?

I shore ‘nuff don’t quite get yore drift.

I’d hoped fer once you’d use yore head,

guess you see how you caused  a rift.


"Now look here, Charlie, at what you’ve done!

But I ‘spect you already knew.

How’ll  we ever work this out?

Dang it, Charlie, what you gonna do?”


Charlie had a bewildered look,

an' his eyes were open wide.

He shook his head in disbelief,

scratched  his jaw, an’ sighed,


“Wal, what the heck did I do wrong?

You said it was a shore ‘nuff plan.

So, I figgers it was all right.

Besides, I never did like that man.”


He slapped his thigh to show disgust

at a plan that had gone awry.

But there was still a slight hope;

at least he could up an’ try!


So Charlie took a big apple

to make amends… to that mule.

Figgered that wuz the least he could do.

No sir, he warn’t  nobody’s  fool.


Clyde looked at him an’ shook his head;

this wuz turnin’ out quite poorly.

So he looks up towards the sky,

an’ all he said was, "Dang it!  Charlie!"

© 2010, Jim Cathey
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

Jim told us:

Growing up in the early 1950s wasn’t easy, but lookin’ back, life allowed us to pick up a chuckle now an’ then. Lord knows we needed all the chuckles we could get. We were a small outfit that struggled to make ends meet. Clyde an’ Charlie were a couple of hands that worked for my Ol’ Daddy when he needed extra help.

Charlie was a bumbler and would rather climb a tree to do something wrong instead of stayin’ on the ground to do it right, but Clyde always did his best to keep him out off trouble. My Ol’ Daddy always said, “Both of those ol’ boys was a pain in the rear, but you always knew where they were on a Saturday night, an’ you could count on ‘em to get the job done!”

I wrote this poem to bring back memories of yesteryear when life was a bit simpler an’ just about everyone was a character in one way or another.





Mammy an' the Black Baldy

As we sit around this campfire,
I’ve got this tale fer you.
It is a bit unusual,
an’ maybe puzzlin’ too.

See, Pap had been to Thursday sale
an’ bought a pen of pairs.
Amongst ‘em, was a black baldy
mean as a dozen bears.

She was some partial to her calf,
kept eye on everyone.
An’ when ‘twas time to work that calf,
here she’d come on the run!

He’d bawl an’ she’d charge that ol’ fence,
which was shore ‘nuff hog tight.
But she still gives it a good bounce,
got madder at its bite.

The more he bawled an’ thrashed about,
the more she worked that pen.
She’d charge, slobberin’ in the dust,
jest raisin’ hell, an’ then…..

As life with sudden turns do change,
with fortunes won an’ lost.
Both man an’ beast, can be victims,
wherever fate is tossed.

The situation changed that day,
fer better or fer worse,
‘cuz fickle fate can ride the wind
an’ leave a morbid curse.

Ridin’ up, quite unaware,
rode Mammy on her hoss.
Ol’ Baldy seized her chance right now,
intent to show who’s boss.

Blind rage unleashed, she crossed the ground,
new target now to smash!
Her beller made a turrble sound…
shore ‘nuff a-talkin’ trash!

Mam’s hoss had heard that chargin’ cow,
an’ quickly jumped aside.
Left Mam a-sittin’ in the air,
came down upon that hide.

Ol’ Baldy overshot her mark
an’ skidded to a stop.
Mam jumped off, madder than that cow,
with her quirt, she gave a pop!

Jest made Ol’ Baldy madder.
Red eyed an’ breathin’ fast,
she wheeled around to charge again.
But Mam give her a blast

of cuss an’ quirt, so furious,
she changed her attitude.
Ol’ Baldy turned an’ ran away,
plumb finished with this feud.

‘Cuz Mam was good at learnin’ critters
how not to act a fool,
so, when Ol’ Baldy made her charge…
Mam jest sent her back to school!

© 2010, revised 2012, Jim Cathey
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.


Jim told us:

Writing this poem stirred a lot of memories of growing up during a time when life was not flashing by at a high rate of speed and we had time to reflect and maybe get a bit of humor from everyday occurrences. This poem is based on a true story from my youth. We were a small outfit and sometimes Mom, whom the grand kids call Mammy, would have to help wherever she could. Dad had bought a bunch of cattle that included a black baldy (black body, white face, no horns) that was a bit skittish and seemed to go hog wild if a lady wearing a skirt or dress was present. An’ all the ladies nearly always wore a skirt or dress. Very few would wear britches in those days. So, Mammy is my Mom, and yes, she is that tough.





A Bit Rambunctious

Sun jest glistened from the new snow
at headquarters that day.
An’ Pap sloshed through the holdin’ pen,
totin’ a bale of hay.

A crisp cold frost hung in the air,
Pap’s breath was quick an’ fogged.
This one last chore was his to do
an’ through the snow he bogged.

What memory wuz in his mind?
What trail did he go down?
He planned to finish this one job,
then get supplies in town.

No thought of danger lurkin’ there,
That might cause him dismay
These sheep would need this extra feed
To help them through the day.

Pap trudged on with bale in hand
Intent to do this job
But in the pen wuz grumpy ram
Pap’s safety soon to rob

I had jest stepped from the outhouse,
bad in need of fresh air.
Then I spots that sneaky ol’ ram
poised, eyes with steady stare.

In a flash I could see his plan
An’ knew Pap wuz his prey
Wal, it jest looked like pore ol’ Pap
wuz shore ‘nuff doomed this day.

His only hope wuz up to me!
I knew I had to shout.
An’ as I did through open mouth
ne’er sound I heard come out.

There warn’t much time to stop that ram,
with words froze in my throat.
I thought to run and wave my hat,
but legs would only float.

It seemed I had no speed at all.
That ol’ ram bowed his neck.
Pap set bale down with rear exposed,
that blow would shore play heck.

Then downward came the ram’s hard head.
An’ Pap’s rear-end wuz popped.
That dang ol’ ram jest had a grin,
as oe’r that bale Pap flopped…

with flailin’ legs an’ wavin’ arms,
it wuz shore ‘nuff a sight.
Pap plowed a furrow in the snow,
then jumped right up to fight.

Ram poised again, ever so sly,
to give ‘em one more clout.
But Pap so filled the frigid air
with cuss words slung about,

that winter air melted away.
Time stood still, tension built.
But wily ol’ ram was confused,
Battle zest seemed to wilt.

Not unlike a ballet dancer,
Ol’ Pap jest spun around.
But bale still sat upon the turf…
Head oe’r heels Pap hit the ground.

Ol’ ram sought safety ‘crost the pen,
hid behind the milk stall.
So, Pap stomped an’ kicked that bale
like it had made him fall.

But, Pap warn’t through, ‘cuz there I stood.
I’d seen what had transpired.
He let me know, without a doubt,
One word…an’ I’d be fired!

© 2010, revised 2012, Jim Cathey
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.


Jim told us:

A beautiful January morning, so cold and crisp, and with sun glistening from a fresh snow fall, it reminded me of days workin’ on our small Central Texas ranch when I was a young man.

These memories inspired me to scratch down this description. Times were tough; an’ we did most of the work ourselves. I wrote this poem based on a true experience. Pap was my Ol’ Daddy an’ he was harder than a flint rock. His presence demanded respect.




Of Christmas Past

Christmas had come to the Salt Fork range
an’ brought some shore ‘nuff cold weather.
He rode out, knowin’ how quick it could change.
Dang bronc had him grabbin’ fer leather!

He had checked on the salt licks and windmills,
an’ this day’s work was pert near done.
That north wind was blowin’ across the hills,
thick grey clouds hurried past the sun.

He tugged at his collar, pulled his hat down tight,
headed his ol’ hoss toward camp.
Afore he got there, it’d be comin’ on night.
Shore hoped the fellers had lit the lamp.

A hot cup of coffee was his first need,
as he wiped his eyes with his sleeve.
He’d give his hoss an extry bait of feed,
after all, it was Christmas Eve!

Suddenly, that snow was fallin’ so thick
he could not see which way to go.
Gave his hoss his head, fer he couldn’t see a lick,
an’ he hoped his hoss would know.

But with that wind blowin’ the snow so bad,
even his hoss seemed to be stuck.
Then, the moon showed an’ he was shore glad,
tho it would still be nip an’ tuck.

A bright star glowed from the heavens on high,
It’d help to guide him on his way.
The bright snow an’ harsh wind blinded his eye,
then his horse perked his ears an’ gave a short neigh.

He neared a ridge and heard a soft small squeal.
Startled at first, he looked around
to see an old wagon with broken wheel
that was layin’ there on the ground.

But that sound had come from the canyon wall,
so he moved closer for a look.
Shore ‘nuff, once again he heard a soft squall,
a baby’s cry came from that nook!

There in a cave, near flickerin’ fire light,
huddled a young mother an’ boy child,
protected from the harsh cold of the night.
Heck! They shore ‘nuff looked meek an’ mild.

He’d heard stories about this very thing!
But these folks seemed shore ‘nuff real.
Then from the clouds, he could hear someone sing,
he shivered, as if from the chill.

He hallooed the camp in his cowboy way,
but that fire seemed to just flicker out!
An’ he sensed that no one was there this day,
but still he gave one more shout.

He’d bet his eyes were shore ‘nuff trickin’ him!
But he had seen it…or did he?
He had heard that baby cry…tho dim,
or was it the wind bein’ tricky?

Wal, he could tell’em that they should not fear,
he’d help if he possibly could.
Then stepped from his horse to remove his gear,
an’ set about gatherin’ wood.

Over a warm fire he would hear her tale…
how the wheel broke an’ horses ran away,
now she was stranded on this mountain trail
‘til some cowpoke might come her way.

An’ how he had come on this snowy night,
guided by the light from that star,
to find a small child at this site,
just like the wise men from afar!

Dang it! He was, shore ‘nuff alone an’ lost!
He must have been just a dreamin’,
but he had found shelter fer him an’ his hoss.
Helped by that star light a beamin’.

Wal, he figgered this was just a vision.
How the Good Lord looked after him,
so he said thank you for the provision.
His eyes filled pert near to the brim.

This wondrous scene in firelight’s glow
created its very own joy.
An’he felt a tremble from head to toe
thinkin’ of the first Christmas Boy.

On that beautiful night so long ago,
born in a cave safe from danger,
where he was wrapped in warm swaddlin’ clothes
an’ laid on hay, in a manger.

Then that star, that shined so sparkly an’ bright,
seen by three wise men far away.
A heavenly sign to guide them through the night
to the Christ Child on Christmas Day.

The angels filled the night with their song,
puttin’ fear in shepherds nearby.
But the Christ Child slept through it all,
while a heavenly light lit the sky.

The warmth of the fire brought him a deep sleep,
an’ he rested there for a while.
Then he awoke with memories so deep,
they lingered to give him a smile.

Now, with the cold wind nippin’ at their flanks,
he pushed his pony down the trail.
An’ full of wonder, he quietly gave thanks
that the Good Lord had helped him prevail.

The cowboy still wondered at his good luck
at finding a safe place to stop.
But this vision he’d seen, shore left him awestruck,
an’ he blinked back a tiny teardrop.

He thanked the Lord fer providin’ a warm break
that helped him make it through the night.
An’ the vision of Holy Ones for his sake,
that brought shelter to his sight.

He knew the Good Lord helped him here in the wild…
an’ would always guide him on his way.
Then he gave thanks for the little Christ Child
God brought on a past Christmas Day!

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





What Were You Thinking?

He sat horseback hearin’ the cattle bawl,
good medicine…these days in early fall,
memories of old times he would recall.
Shore made him teary eyed!

The peaceful quiet at early break-o-day,
a winter’s morn when ponies tend to play,
sittin’ horseback, as the Lord guides your way.
Oh, what were you thinkin’?

The sudden crash of early spring time storms,
a warm day with honeybees in their swarms,
daybreak’s chill that hot cup of coffee warms.
Now, what were you thinkin’?

The beauty of the summer flowers that grow,
the clear crisp nights with twinklin’ stars all a-glow,
while cool, windin’ creeks tumble an’ flow.
Just what were you thinkin’?

Late summer’s dry an’ heat will scorch the land,
dry skys with gusty winds an’ hot blowin’ sand,
waterholes, stagnant an’ dry, taunt the cowhand.
Dang! What were you thinkin’?

The welcome crisp cool of an autumn night,
as you sit by the chuck wagon’s campfire light,
the fall gather an’ all seems to be right.
So, what were you thinkin’?

Cattle shipped an’ the wagon has come back,
Christmas time stars in skies of inky black,
jolly old Saint Nick with his loaded pack.
Whew! What were you thinkin’?

The Baby Jesus wrapped in swaddlin’ clothes,
and now, Mary’s sweet, radiant smile glows,
Angels sing praises as shepherds repose.
Wow! What were you thinkin’?

That day long ago when you took a wife,
The lovely smile as she birthed a new life,
kids an’ grandkids help you deal with all strife.
My, what were you thinkin’?

You stop an’ ponder back over the years,
how the Lord helped you overcome your fears,
as you remember, an’ blink back the tears.
Then, what were you thinkin’?

You worked an’ played in the open air,
both hard times an’ good times came to you there,
it was shore easy to live your life square.
But, what were you thinkin’?

It’s been a good life with wife by your side,
not everything got done, but you shore tried,
an’ now it’s dang hard to contain your pride.
Shucks, what were you thinkin’?

Why, I warn’t thinkin’ about nothin’ atall,
That’s how it is when you have got it all,
An’ life is too short to think of a fall.
Heck! I’ve just been enjoyin’ the RIDE!!

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

Jim comments:

This poem was inspired by a quote from Tom Blasingame. Tom was a cowboy on the JA ranch that is located in the Panhandle of Texas just off the cap rock in the Palo Dura Canyon. Tom married his wife Eleanor in 1933 and moved her to the Cherokee Camp on the JA. But Eleanor declined to stay at the remote camp without electricity or running water and Tom moved her to Claude, Texas. Tom rode some forty miles in to Claude for a visit and was later asked in an interview what he thought about when he made those trips? Tom’s reply was the inspiration for this poem. He said, “Why, I wasn’t thinkin’ about anything. I was just enjoyin’ the ride.”

This is Tom’s final chapter…An old cowboy on the JA ranch got on his horse at daybreak on December 27, 1989. He was born in 1898 and was 91 years old and he was recognized as the oldest living cowboy at the time. Tom Blasingame was living at the JA’s Cambell Creek Camp down in the Palo Dura Canyon. He rode out to do his regular daily tasks of checkin’ windmills and watergaps on Bullrun Creek. At some point, he stepped off his mount and lay down on a grassy knoll, crossed his arms over his chest and died. Now, that was how he lived, simply, and he was buried just the way he lived. His gray horse was saddled and his boots put in the stirrups backward to signify that ”his empty saddle would be a tough place to fill.” Then the procession rode to the JA Cemetery in full cowboy style for his burial.
My Ol’ Pard, Fred Dunham spent a lot of time growing up on the JA ranch and the McMurtry ranch with Tom’s brother, Nash Blasingame, another JA cowboy who lived with his wife, Aunt Ann, on the Cambell Creek Camp. Nash was killed in a windmill accident when he was 74 years of age. Fred and Nash rode numerous times to Tom’s camp, usually on green broke broncs.




A Shore 'Nuff Hoss

Fall gather in the Bee Hollow!
Yer hoss is rubbed an’ fed.
The wagon cook has quieted down,
yer blankets have been spread.

Mem’ries rush in to flood yore mind,
as moon lifts o’er the hills.
…Back home with Ma, an’ towns you’ve seen
with gals in lacy frills.

Some men you fought that meant you harm,
an’ ponies that you rode.
Then comes to mind thet blue roan hoss,
thet proved you could be thowed.

Yessir, that was a shore ‘nuff hoss,
we seemed to make a match.
Him, jest a tearin’ up the trail.
Me, stickin’ like a patch.

I wouldn’t of thought of doin’
some of the things we done
on any other dang hoss,
no sir, can’t think of one.

Shucks, I recollect a while back
we was hot on the tail
of a smart ol’ mossy back steer.
A-makin’ his own trail,

snakin’ through rocks an’ Cedar brush.
His horns opened a hole
that quickly closed when he went through
to hide him in that bole.

We hit the creek an’ swerved back north,
a clearin’ up ahead!
My loop was quick an’ snugged him tight
as o’er the ridge he fled.

I was tied fast, ol’ Blue set down,
we busted through that brush.
An’ smashed into a real surprise
that gave us want to rush.

A yeller jacket nest hung there,
I’m lookin’ fer to bale!.
When my twine snaps with pop an’ crack,
thet steer runs up the trail.

Then Blue blows up, them wasps are mad.
They’re dartin’ everywhere.
Not carin’ where they pop an’ sting,
his rump an’ in my hair.

It’s hard to ride a salty bronc
that thinks he’s really tough.
Them blessed wasps shore warped his mind,
they made the goin’ rough.

I’m a squallin’ an’ a slappin’
‘bout every other jump.
Them wasp jest kept on poppin’ us,
my head an’ his sore rump.

We top the ridge an’ hit the creek,
it seems that was our goal.
At last we’ve slipped that stingin’ horde,
an’ left them in that bole.

But Blue ain’t through, he blows again,
an’ gives a final pitch.
I lose my holt an’ kiss the dirt.
An’ say bad words an’ sich.

Ol’ Blue with head an’ tail straight up
looks as if he’s braggin’.
I slap my pants an’ cuss my luck,
….walkin’ to the wagon!

© 2010, Jim Cathey
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.


Jim told us, "This poem is based on true facts and real places and the finest piece of hoss flesh found anywhere. The 'Bee Hollow' was a six section pasture on the forty thousand acre March Ranch near San Angelo, Texas. My brother, Willie was the ranch manager for a number of years until old Jock March died and the ranch broke up. There were many a story told about broncs, rough stock, wrecks, and wild happenings that made up life on this arid west Texas ranch. Years ago it was a horse ranch, supplying the U.S. Calvary with mounts and was a stage stop for the old Butterfield Stage Line. Willie was a colorful Texas cowboy. This poem was inspired by the stories told at the end of the day while the cowboys sat around the beat-up old coffee pot and tried to best the previous tale."





Mesquite Thorns an' Gum Drops

Christmas time brings lots of mem'rys, of Jesus' birth, an' Christmas trees,
happy kids, an' Uncle T's jokes, family, friends an' "Howdy Folks."
What was the best Christmas glory? Dad, readin' the Christmas Story,
there on that West Texas plain.

Ne'er hint of snow there in the sky, as Christmas came on, cold an' dry.
Us kids hung our socks up with glee, in hopes St. Nick would shorely see.
Ol' Grandpa, he's jest a scowlin, as the cold wind kept on howlin'.
Fer he had the rheumitiz pain.

This was back in nineteen fifty, times was hard an' folks was thrifty,
'cuz money was in short supply; even Mom's coffee can was dry.
But all us kids were full of dreams, dolls, frills, an' rock candy it seems,
jack knives, carved guns an' a toy train.

See, Dad would work well after dark, an' somehow Mom's smile kept its spark.
Weather was dry an' crops were poor, just part of all she must endure,
but love an' faith in God was strong, kept her going all the day long.
She never was one to complain.

Our gifts were made with loving hand, 'cuz Mom an' Dad rode for the brand.
Our home had warmth an' lovin' care, tho times was hard way out there.
An' when Christmas time rolled around, excitement an' joy would be found.
Visions of St. Nick in our brain.

But what about a Christmas tree? No chance to buy one, don't you see!
So Dad rigged up a Mesquite branch, that thorny bush there on the ranch.
On each thorn, we stuck some gum drops, added popcorn an' lollipops,
at the top, a peppermint cane.

Time shore 'nuff passed awful slow, at least all of us kids thought so.
Workin' stock kept Dad plenty busy, Mom, it seems, was in a tizzy,
'cuz well, there wuz supper to fix, floors to sweep an' cookies to mix.
Excitement was hard to contain!

Us kids had our chores to get done, an' we reckoned that warn't much fun
'cuz we're thinkin' of Ol' St. Nick, an' we're tryin' to get done quick!
We keep a good lookout fer Dad. When he gets here, we'll shore be glad.
So, we kept our eye on the lane.

When he rides up, we'll head to church, there we'll sit like birds on a perch.
Preacher asks Dad to read that story, all about the Christmas glory,
of Jesus, on that wondrous night, lyin' in a manger 'neath star light.
The infant Christ Child there so plain.

Joseph an' Mary all aglow, shepherds nearby in the meadow,
while three Kings traveled from afar, guided by a bright shinin' star,
to see our Savior at his birth, bringin' frankincense, gold an' myrrh.
An' to worship the Lord in His reign.

The heavenly host, there on high, lifted their voices to the sky,
an' sang of this glory to be hold, there on that blessed night so cold.
It was shore a beautiful sight, on that long ago Christmas night,
with that glorious song's refrain.

At this point, the story was through, folks smiled 'cuz they believed it true.
Then the preacher finished his thought, an' asked the folks 'bout food they'd brought.
Wow! What a Christmas feast we had, even tho the crops had been bad.
The preacher gave thanks an' prayed for rain!

We rode home to crawl in our bed, thoughts of presents still in our head.
A plate of cookies by the tree, a snack for St. Nick, don't you see.
With eyes wide open, sleep came slow, while outside, it started to snow.
Christ's birthday on the Texas plain!

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





Big Talk

They knew this day would shore ‘nuff come,
each cowpoke filled with awe,
as the terror of Alazan
worked a large, snoosy chaw.

Fer it wuz knowed plumb far an’ wide,
thet soon he’d make his play.
An’ not one hand amongst them all
would shirk his job this day.

Then Arthur Mac steps through the gate,
an’ eyes this milling group
of wild an’ nervous Shetland Mules,
as he shakes out his loop.

Mac’s loop snakes in to make the ketch
an’ snugs around the neck.
With snubbin’ post securely wrapped,
there soon would be a wreck.

Yep, this’un will become the mount
fer cowboy by the gate.
Then one, with both his eyes squinched shut,
Steps up to meet his fate.

This Wild Bunch had shore ‘nuff talked big
an’ could no way back down.
They’d bilt a loop an’ made their claim
out here from edge of town.

Now Billy Ray wuz boogered some,
so he stayed deathly quiet.
But Bob thowed out his chest an’ said,
with jest a bit of spite.

Sez he, “They ain’t a hoss alive,
not one has drawed a breathe,
thet I could not ride until they
might near starved plumb to death!”

Russel grinned, and with dancin’ eye,
told Bob thet he should know
“Thet he could not ride a stick hoss.
So quiet down an’ jest watch the show.”

Now Arthur Mac stood in the shade
an calmly worked his chaw.
He knowed them critters wuz salty,
more’n these boys had ever saw.

So he jest listened to their guff.
As Ol’ Jim drawed the short stick.
Which gave the other hands a chance
to make a better pick.

They got the riggin’ on thet mule,
he’s givin’ plenty heat.
With shaky knees an’ sudden doubts,
Ol’ Jim takes a deep seat.

His eyes have a far away look,
like his necks in a noose.
His knuckles white, an’ jaw clamped tight,
he nods to turn him loose.

Ol’ Jim lost his seat the first jump,
thet salty mule was bad.
Why he jumped an’ brayed, bit an’ kicked,
an’ showed thet he was mad.

His rider sailed toward the clouds,
how high wuz hard to tell.
He came back to earth plenty fast.
hit his head, down he fell.

Now luck was with him there that day,
with Stetson, stout and tall.
Thet hat smashed down around his ears,
an’ cushioned his fast fall.

wobbly balance act for a spell,
at last he tumbled down.
His hat crushed flat, but head intact.
bounced up and looked aroun’.

The other hands were chasin’ mules,
it didn’t make much sense.
He grabbed his hat an’ hobbled out
to lean upon the fence.

Now jest to tell the honest truth,
this day stretched on a while.
An’ every cowboy had his chance
to show his ridin’ style.

None could master the ragin’ beasts,
as havoc wuz reaped far an’ wide.
Those Shetland mules bit, kicked, an’ brayed,
as each hand failed to ride.

They straggled in fer chuck thet night,
beat up an’ sorely maimed.
Jest warn’t much talk amongst these hands.
The Wild Bunch had been tamed.

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

Jim told us:  "Big Talk" was written about a time when my "talk" was bigger than my good sense! In the late 1960s, I was a new Texas A&M graduate and had been employed by Ralston Purina in Nacogdoches, Texas. My friend, Arthur Mac's father-in-law had bought some wild Shetland mules, and wanted them broke to ride. Arthur Mac and I talked our, "soon-to-be-exfriends " into doing this job. The mules had other ideas about this plan and treated us "purty" rough! Our experience grew that day and the Shetland mules went to
the sale barn.




Texas, our Texas…that’s how the song goes,
swells us with pride plumb down to our toes.

I reckon back yonder when God made the Earth,
He set aside Texas, ‘cuz He could see its worth

as a possible home for various things,
that could bite, claw, an’ kick you, an’ ply you with stings.

He made it hot an’ humid except out on the plain,
‘cuz that’s a spot He chose to never let it rain.

Then He made man an’ animals an’ plants,
some beautiful birds an’ lots of red ants.

There was scorpions an’ lizards there by the gross,
some noisy rattle snakes that make you say “adios.”

He put in a seashore, mountains, an’ trees.
Good fertile country with lakes big as seas.

Long windin’ rivers an’ desert land too,
pert near covered it all afore He was through.

As He neared the end of that marvelous job,
He knew that some creations would shore play hob.

So He stuffed ‘em in a tow sack plumb to the brim,
He lassoed the top an’ then on a whim…

He filled up another pert near to the top,
an’ wrapped ‘em together like they was the crop.

So now He had two bags full of bad’uns to toss,
an’ He knew there’d be more that He’d come across.

Wal, He set into thinkin’ jest what He could do,
about this here “Texas” an’ He thought it plumb through.

Then the idea came upon Him in a flash,
of jest what He could do with this contrary stash.

So he called Ol’ Lucifer… the Devil, you know,
an’ made him a deal that’d cost him no dough.

Sez, “I’ve got some country that’s almost like Hell,
an’ if you chose to take it, you’ll shore think it’s swell.

"Why, that ol’ country shore ought to suit you,
it’s hot an’ dry… an’ I’ll throw these bags in too!”

So He give him Texas an’ those two full bags,
such a deal the Devil got, an’ ‘cordin’ to his brags,

his favorite spot was near the Rio Grande,
but he shore had trouble when he made his stand.

Fer them ol’ bags busted an’ the critters got out,
an’ they bit ‘em an’ stung ‘em an’ shore made him shout.

The temperature got hotter with him in the shade,
an’ the water was gyppy an’ the food all decayed.

Now, the Texans threatened to yank on his tail,
an’ the last time they seen him, he’s burnin’ the trail.

“Why,” he sez, “I ain’t never had trouble this hard!”
So he cleared up his dealin’s he had with the Lord.

Then he sent back his title to this real estate…
after makin’ durn shore that he had shut the gate.

An’ he allowed as how Texas got rid of him fast.
Hell is his home, an’ shore glad to be there at last!

Now I can’t figger what’s wrong with that cuss,
‘cuz Texas shore seems to suit all of us.

An’ I shore thank the Lord, as I say my prayer,
that I’m here in Texas, an’ the devil’s down there!

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

Jim comments, "This poem is the result of an article that I submitted to the
Marlin Democrat for my column 'On the Back Porch.' I know that most of the world looks at Texans as being a bit 'windy' and I do love to be a part of that. So, I wrote this poem to accent our Texas heritage. After all, don't you think most of this info is true? I know that I am shore proud to be a Texan!"


Christmas Gift from God

Christmas in Texas was comin’ on fast,
…but not fast enough for us sprouts!
The old folks were just hopin’ they could last,
but for the most part, they shore had their doubts.
Livin’ could shore be tough durin’ the drouth,
the cattle were poor and the waterholes dry,
an’ the dang cattle price had shore 'nuff gone south.
Purt near enough to make a cowboy cry.

But not Mammy...'cuz she'd been through thick an' thin.
Pap had rode off awhile back to find day work,
‘cuz our note was due an’ he wouldn’t call on our kin.
But, payin’ his debts was something he wouldn’t shirk.
‘Course, that meant Christmas would shore ‘nuff be slim.
but for country folk that trusted in the Lord…
well, many times we would rely on Him,
an’ He would see us through when times were hard.

Ranch work would get done by Mammy an’ us,
since thar warn’t much to do this time of year,
’cept for feedin’ an’ tryin’ not to fuss,
so maybe Saint Nick might come way out here.
Papa Hop stayed with us, helpin’ with chores.
We loved to hear him tell his story,
an’ we dreamed of his adventures outdoors,
an’ his life in Indian Territory.

He was Mammy’s Dad an’ he’d been through tough times
An’ to us buttons, why he’d hung the moon
An’ oft times, he’d sit an’ just make up rhymes
An’ start singin’ as he put ‘em to tunes
Weather turned bad an’ it shore was a fright,
but we hauled in some wood an’ fed the stock.
A good fire would keep us warm through the night,
the critters sheltered behind that big rock.

Yet, Christmas Eve found the storm pushin’ through,
takin’ storm clouds away, but still dang cold!
The day drug on for us, as days will do
when yore just a kid not so very old.
Daybreak to days-end was mighty fleeting.
Papa Hop woke us with, “Christmas Eve Gift!”
He was always first to say this greeting,
which gave this holiday a special lift.

Heady aromas came from the cookstove,
where Mammy had got an earlier start.
She was fixin’ a shore ‘nuff treasure trove
of goodies that brought joy to her heart.
‘Bout mid-day, Pap rode in singin’ a song.
He was totin’ the makin’s fer a tree,
a big slab of beef his boss sent along,
an’ several bundles we could not see.

‘Bout dark, we warshed up for our supper meal,
an’ Papa Hop read the Christmas Story.
After supper there were gifts an’ Pap’s spiel,
remindin’ us of God’s love an’ glory.
Excitement was high as we opened the packs.
The old folks got shawls, bandannas, an’ a rope,
doodads for us kids, Pap got a new ax,
but I warn’t quite sure why we needed the soap!

Soon, bedtime came an’ we prayed,” Our soul to keep.”
Then, with toss an’ turns an’ a giggle or two,
one by one we gave in to a deep sleep.
Santa came with his pack as we slept through.
At first light we woke then sprang from our bed.
What wonders we found ‘neath that Christmas tree!
Wooden toys, a doll for Sis, caps for our heads,
jack knives, an’ peppermint candy you see.

But an unseen blessin’ came in the night,
an’ brought a lot of smiles, not hard to explain.
Well, the old folks laughed an’ danced with delight,
an’ thanked the Good Lord for bringin’ a rain!
The Lord brought good times for us to receive,
on a hardscrabble ranch down Texas way.
You can beat hard times, if you just believe.
Rain helped us celebrate the Christ Child’s birthday!
…as Christmas came to Texas

© 2014, Jim Cathey
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.



The Strength of the Oak

‘Twas a dark and stormy night,
so many years ago.
A young oak sapling’s roots held tight,
above the river’s flow.

Now today upon these lands
where settler dared to trod,
in grandeur, a mighty oak stands,
a monument to God.

The red man came to build his fires
upon this sheltered knoll,
as he sought his sacred desires…
the spirits of his soul.

The Spaniard’s rode on mighty steed
across the oak tree root.
Theirs, an elusive quest for greed,
rode on in hot pursuit.

Then settler came to turn the sod
to claim this fertile land.
He relied on the grace of God
an’ there, beside him stand.

The homestead cabin took its place.
The settler brought his bride,
trials and tribulations to face,
they had God for their guide.

The children came that filled their days
and brought their brand of love.
Then years slipped past with life’s bouquets,
blessed by our Lord above.

Times was hard an’ the goin’ rough,
but their love was heartfelt.
You knew each one was rock hard tough,
would play the hand they’re dealt!

They’d do to ride the river with!
An’ that was understood.
And accordin’ to Preacher Smith,
everyone knew they would.

Now years have passed, old folks are gone,
their histr’y has been made.
And you, my friend, must carry-on,
don’t let their memr’y fade.

On grand old oak, at rivers slope,
tie yellow ribbon there.
Stand tall and proud, renew your hope,
an’ say a heartfelt prayer.

The Lord has blest and set you free,
now you must do your part
to make this stand for family,
an’ hold them in your heart.

So today, when you chance to meet
an’ maybe blink a tear,
you know it will be no small feat
to relive yesteryear.

Yore task is set, yore job to do,
to weather death an’ birth.
Keep the faith an’ ever be true,
Yore the salt of the earth!

You have strength of that grand old oak,
an’ that will take you far.
The Lord gave you the masterstroke,
your final shining star!

© 2014, Jim Cathey
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.


Jim told us, "This poem applauds the pioneers that settled the West. I wrote it as a tribute those men and women that chose to live their life and raise their families as they came to Texas to pave the way for future generations. I was invited to do a program for a family reunion for the Cokers and the Barganiers. My friends, Rogers and Jean Craig, represented the Barganiers. These families were pioneer Falls County families. Their ancestors came to Falls county in the early 1800s and settled on the Brazos River. The oak sapling that I tell about in the poem survived the unrelenting floods of the mighty Brazos and stands today as a massive giant that has seen history unfold and is a testament to the stubborn tenacity and grit exhibited by those early settlers that settled the west as they sought an un-oppressed life with nothing more than a dream of freedom and an unwavering faith in their God! "


Old Timers an’ Good Years

The rickety ol’ barn stood stark an’ gray,
a monument of days gone by.
Papa Hop loved this western way.
I shake my head an’ give a sigh.

His saddle sits empty, covered in dust,
had been new a long time ago.
Spurs hang from the horn in their coat of rust,
an’ leathers with their fancy sew.

That ol’ horse hair rope coiled neat by the horn,
had shore caught its share of rough stock.
An’ them ol’ leggin’s was what he had worn
workin’ brush around Chimney Rock.

An’ there’s that ol’ Stetson, rumpled an’ crushed,
had shore ‘nuff seen it’s better day.
It’s the first thing he put on, as he rushed
out to catch an’ saddle that bay.

That fine sticthed shirt an’ that old leather vest
shore made him stand out in a crowd.
When he rode into town, he looked his best.
An icon, but he warn’t highbrowed.

I can just see him back in yesteryear,
sittin’ upon that salty hoss.
Ramrod straight, proud an’ strong, showin’ no fear.
He warn’t a feller you would cross.

A lotta years passed while he worked this range,
fightin’ heat an’ cold an’ dry years,
high winds an’ weather that often would change,
makin’ it hard to raise them steers.

But, he stood his ground an’ quietly fought back,
‘cuz that was what his breed would do.
They gave no quarter an’ shore cut no slack.
Love for their life an’ land held true.

Always thankful for what he had received,
life an’ home place here in the west,
his family, an’ things he had achieved.
Gave the Lord thanks, for he was blest.

Now he is old an’ gray, weathered an’ worn.
The years have shore been tough on him,
Yet, his eyes still show the strength of the horn!
Tho, his resolve slowly grows dim.

Time come when he went to be with the Lord
Its shore different now that he’s gone
Tho sometimes, the old ways you can’t discard
Days work will start at early dawn

I thought about the plight of these heroes
an’ realized their time was short.
Their way of life was coming to a close,
a final stop…a last resort.

End of an era that was ever so dear
and times they held to great esteem.
So for these memories, we blink a tear,
but keep a promise to share their dream.

Yes, the old saddles sit covered in dust,
just symbols of life at it’s best.
The old timers are gone, but not their trust
in youthful love of the Old West.

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


Jim told us, "This poem is a tribute to my Granddad, Papa Hop. He was one of a special breed of old timers. A house fire many years ago took most of the old pictures, but this barn west of Gun Barrel City, Texas is a close replica of Papa Hops old barn. My inspiration for this poem came from this barn site and early childhood memories with my Granddad and the many hours spent hearing his stories and “working” around that old barn. Mom and I lived with Mama Hop and Papa Hop when my Dad was a World War II Infantryman captured by the German army and held in Stalag 9 in Europe."







Also see Art Spur poems by Jim Cathey:


The Boss's Hand

Stewards of the Land

Beauty 'n Rhyme

Day Dreamin'

Thoughts of a Western Man

The Best Christmas Gift




  About Jim Cathey:
provided 2014

I am Ol’ Jim Cathey, a retired school teacher from deep in the Heart of Texas, currently living in Falls County, in Marlin, Texas. I grew up in the Erath County ranching country on a ranch near Dublin, Texas. I grew up involved with ranch life and ranch work and continued that after graduating from Texas A&M University where I earned both Bachelor and Master of Science degrees in agriculture. In 1964, I married my high school sweetheart, Stella. May 30, 2014 marked our 50th wedding anniversary! We have two children, seven grandchildren, and 2 great grandchildren.

I have always loved the stories and songs of the western cowboy. A lot of the stories that I grew up with, came from my Granddad, Papa Hop. Much of the inspiration for my writing comes from those experiences. I became more interested in Cowboy Poetry after I retired in 2007. The first poems that I learned were from the classic cowboy poets and then I started writing my own poems in 2008. I have performed for numerous civic, church, and school groups. My young bride, Stella and I have attended numerous gatherings in Texas and the Southwest, usually participating in some way. In 2009 I entered the National Cowboy Poetry Rodeo held in Montrose, CO. This event was an important turning point in my cowboy poetry experience! I evolved from an interest in cowboy poetry to becoming educated about cowboy poetry. That enabled me to win the National Cowboy Poetry Rodeo’s Silver Buckle and All Around Championship in 2012.

To date, this has resulted in a vast improvement in my writing and reciting capabilities. And this has allowed me to have poems accepted by and published in other venues. I have published a CD of my original poetry and have two more CDs in process. I also have had poems accepted and published in Arizona Western Artist Marless Fellows new book, A Handshake is Enough. For all of this, I thank the Good Lord for allowing me to enjoy this talent.





Thar Jest Ain't No Accountin' Fer A Pig
My Ol' Daddy Always Sez
Headin' To The Dublin Rodeo
The Campfire An' The Bard
Dang It! Charlie!
My Doctor Made A Wino Outta Me
The Fright Of The Night
Big Talk
A Bit Rambunctious
Mammy An' The Black Baldy
A Shore 'Nuff Hoss
This Cowboy's Prayer
When Grandpa Said A Prayer


Jim comments:

The Ramblin’s CD contains a few of the poems that I have written about some of my memories from yesteryear; a time that allowed people to enjoy a life that was simple and carefree; yet real,  as life can sure be demanding.

I look at my ability to develop a story with rhyme and meter as a God given talent, a gift that waits to surface when the time is right! My poems are always written to be God honoring, with the intent to visualize and preserve our western heritage…as it was meant to be, through poems, storytelling,  and song just as it has been done since the beginning of time.

I want you to enjoy them… so here it is out of chute #1…Ramblin’s!

Find more at 

The Ramblin’s CD is $15.00 plus $2.50 for shipping and handling.

Order 3 or more for $15.00 each and I will pay the shipping and handling.

Send orders with payment to;

Ol’ Jim Cathey
420 W. Anders St.
Marlin, TX 76661



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