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Crosby, Texas
  About Lloyd Shelby
Lloyd Shelby's web site

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


One of

Lariat Laureate Runner Up

Recognized for his poem, Twenty One Today


About Lloyd Shelby

I earned my way all the way from junior high through college shoeing horses and working with cutting horses.  Although I got a job in the city, I found my way back to the "cowboy way," and have never looked back.  My love of writing and performing goes back to when I was watching the Greats in the cowboy world:   Dale and Roy, Gene Autry, Hoppy; then Casey Tibbs, Jim Shoulders, Donnie Gay and, a personal friend, Dale Robertson. Today, I have had the privilege of performing at the National Cowboy Hall of Fame, Luckenbach, Crosby, and many other less well known, but equally fun venues. I was encouraged with my early work when I was told I should be on a stage. That was before I learned that they meant the one that was leaving there in twenty minutes!  Since then, I will speak about the "cowboy way" anywhere the platform isn't moving.  I am a Director with The American Jack Rabbit Horse Association and the Chairman of The National Bullshooter's Hall of Fame.  I authored a Resolution passed by the Texas Legislature in 2001, declaring Texas Country Musicians, Cowboy Poets, Storytellers, and Artists, natural resources of the State of Texas and designating them as "Texas Treasures." I am the proud owner of the infamous Texas ranch, Rancho Poquito, located in Crosby, Texas.

Lloyd Shelby stars in and produces a two-act cowboy stage show, "A Cowboy True." Read a report of the show's debut here.

"Cowboy True" stars
Linda Kirkpatrick, Lloyd Shelby, Jim "Curly" Musgrave
photo by Lennie Brown

Lloyd Shelby is the author of two books, including Rainman, winner of the AWA Will Rogers Medallion Award.  A CD is also available. Each is available for $15 plus $2.50 shipping per order from Painted Word Studios, PO Box 1606, Crosby, TX 77532

and it is:


I Remember is Lloyd Shelby's newest book and CD of over 30 original poems.  Includes:

I Remember
The Other Side of the Dawn
Cowboy at Rest
Cowboy's Prayer
Not Forgotten
I Should Have Been Born Rich
Diamond Jim Coyle
Big Sky
Answered Prayer
Diamonds and Pearls
For Love
Rabbit Ropin'
Lone Star Legacy
Lost Love
My Love
Ol Pop
Cowboy and the Lawyer
Texas Ladies
The Journey
From the Shadows
The Visit
River Oaks Honky Tonk
Long Road Home
The Hand
Just Call Me "W"
The Silver Screen
A Wedding Promise

Each is available for $15 plus $2.50 shipping per order from Painted Word Studios, PO Box 1606, Crosby, TX 77532 

Twenty One Today
A Trilogy

Part One - The Kid

The kid had a look in his eyes, a haunted kind of stare, that made him try anything, as if he
    didn't care.
Few knew of his younger years, but stories were often told, of how he got so doggone
    mean, and his heart so freezin' cold.

But no one could get close to him, he never let no one in.  He had a fiery hatred inside, so
    hot it burned the skin.
Things hadn't always been so bad, for this kid, so mean.  At one time he had a family, the
    best you've ever seen.

A mother who adored him, a father bold and strong, until the day his mother died, and
    everything else went wrong.
His father had loved his Ma, more than life, and that's for sure.  And when she died so
    suddenly, for his grief, there was no cure.

His son looked so much like his mom, his father couldn't bear, the sight of the boy, his
    voice, or face, or the curls in his chestnut hair.
So he rode away without goodbye, his grief consumin' his life, and left his twelve year old
    son alone, with no mother, and him, no wife.

So this young one had to learn, to get along as best he could.  If there'd been some help
    along the way, he might have turned out good.
But, alas, it wasn't meant to be, this one was, lost for true.  With all that hatred eatin' him,
    there was nothin' left to do.

So he rode alone from town to town, a driftin' with the wind, playin' cards, punchin' cows,
    tryin' to kill the pain within.
Everywhere he went he left a trail, a bloody one at best.  And as each year was passin', his
    reputation grew in the West.

Three in Salinas and Wichita, one on a bar room stair.  Each time he killed to dull the pain,
    almost too much to bear.
Until one day he heard of a man, a marshal of reputation, keen.  Supposed to be the fastest
    gun, the West had ever seen.

A thought did cross his blood stained mind, a bitter smile creased his lips, he'd not yet
    killed a lawman, with the Colt strapped to his hip.
So he began another journey, to try and end the pain, he had nothin' left to loose, and
    everything to gain.

With his twenty first birthday approaching, he had to get it done, the only way he knew
    how, with the bullets in his gun.
And somethin' really deep inside, made his heart jump with his plan.  He must find the one
    he'd heard about, this legendary man.

What was so important, that he couldn't seem to wait?  With the way his life was goin', it
    had to be his fate.
And with this thought on his weary mind, he closed his eyes to sleep, as the spirits that
     tormented him, made plans, so dark and deep.

Part Two - The Marshal

He once had been a traveler, the world he loved to see, till he came upon a beauty,
    in western Tennessee.
She was from a family, well mannered and well bred.  Respected by everyone, 'the
    finest', it was said.

But she had captured his wandering heart, he had to win her hand.  So he bought the
    place next to hers, a pretty piece of land.
It took a while, but he got it done, finally they were wed.  They made the perfect couple,
    by everyone, it was said.

She was indeed a beauty, the apple of his eye; the one who made him feel so free, like an
    eagle in the sky.
Always supporting him, a partner by his side, she kept the home fires burning warm,
    as he did his job outside.

And folks respected this quiet man, always so firm and strong.  He had a wealth of
    patience, his temper, it was long.
Then they had their first born, a son so fine and fair, with a smiling face, a dimpled chin
    and curly chestnut hair.

The boy seemed to be everywhere, a 'young buck' you could say, as he did his chores
    and occasionally, found some time to play.
Until one day, he came home from school, the doc's buggy in front of the place.
    What was goin' on he thought, the blood drained from his face?

He ran inside but was stopped, by doc at the bedroom door.  His Ma had just passed
    away, her loving touch, his, no more.
Stumblin' outside cryin', with tears upon his face, he saw his Pa sittin' there, a blank look
    on his face.

They both stared at the sky, not knowing what to say, until Pa went to the barn, at the
    end of that too long day.
And saddled up his horse, and with his gear rode out, never even looking back, as his
    son, his name did shout.

He rode down to New Orleans, a ship he took round the 'Horn', those who saw his
    hollow look, knew he wished he wasn't born.
In Frisco, drinkin' in a bar, a rough one picked a fight, and with one quick
    bullet, he ended a life that night.

He tried to get anyone to end the pain inside, by takin' every chance he could, with the
    gun strapped to his side.
But no one was fast enough, and luck was his worst friend, as he continued to push and
    try, to bring about his end.

He headed to the east, where towns were rough and mean, yet he remained the fastest
    gun, anyone had ever seen.
So when the town called Deadwood, asked him to be their law, he took the job with no
    regrets, a quick death was all he saw.

But luck was still against him, and somewhere deep inside, he was not quite ready,
    to take that final ride.
He knew, or rather, felt it, a number it was, for sure, would provide the final answer,
    it would be the cure.

But what was so important, about ol' twenty one, that gave him such a peace inside,
    he knew it would be done.
Could it be that twenty men, had felt his hurt so deep?  Or was it a dark secret,
    that haunted his restless sleep?

But one thing he knew for sure, time was almost done, when he could finally lay down,
    his burden and his gun.
So he calmly waited, as sand in the hour glass ran out, he'd know with a new morning,
    what this feelin' was all about.

Part Three - The Meeting

The day dawned bright and hot, as it did most every day, with folks movin' round early,
    hurryin' on their way.
For most, this was no different, another day like the rest, workin' hard and stayin'
    alive, tryin' to do their best.

But two in this town called Deadwood, felt it in their heart.  Today was simply meant to
    be, and they would play their part.
Neither knew the other, at least not for quite a while.  They'd both traveled far and wide,
    over many a lonely mile.

The kid squinted against the sun, that beat down on his head, awakened from a restless
    sleep, by what the spirits said.
This was another birthday, twenty one, now he was a man.  Somehow he knew that this
    day was special, it all fit in a plan.

He felt a chill inside, despite the heat of the day.  He recognized that feeling, there was
    nothin' left to say.
So he headed for the bar across the street, not certain of exactly why.  All he knew
    was, it just seemed right, it was a good day to die.

The marshal woke up early, on his cot down at the jail, he headed to the coffee pot, and
     found it cold and stale.
And as he glanced out the window, a stranger caught his eye.  There was something
    familiar about him, though he couldn't say just why.

He watched him as he crossed the street, in front of the general store, and noticed the
    kid hesitate as he parted the bar room doors.
Slowly he set the coffee down, weren't no good anyway, and reached for his pistol
    belt, as he did most every day.

He felt a funny tinglin', from somewhere deep inside, as if a far off memory, through
    his mind was tryin' to ride.
Might as well check out the town, and eat somethin' real soon.  But he couldn't shake
    that feelin' inside, it must close to noon.

An easy stroll down Main Street, showed everything was just fine, so he walked back
    down a side street, it didn't take much time.
He was getting' a little thirsty, must be this dusty heat.  Besides he knew a gal at the bar,
    he'd been really anxious to meet.

Another chill ran down his back, where did that come from?  As he thought about it for a
    second, his hand reached for his gun.
It was then he knew for certain, today might be his last, an end to all the torment that
    followed him from the past.

Twenty had dared test his anger, and fallen to his gun, 
Would this here stranger, turn out to be twenty one?

His footsteps seemed to echo, as he walked thru the bar room door.  When his gaze met
    that of the stranger, he knew it would lead to more.
He memory was cloudy, like fog on a mornin' cold, but he knew this kid, this stranger,
    from a time in the past, so old.

A quick look around, few in the place today, mostly the stranger and the bar keep,
    who never had much to say.
"How about a whiskey, and a beer would be good, too, with all this doggone heat, there
    isn't that much to do."

The stranger was watching him, and making it pretty plain.  If he came here lookin' for
    trouble, he must surely be insane!
The marshal turned and looked at this kid, so young, but strongly built,
    he reminded him of someone long ago, in his heart he felt the guilt.

"Are you the lawman, I hear so much about?  Or are you just another coward, who's
    parentage is in doubt?"
The marshal took a long drink, as fire flashed in his face.  If this kid was lookin' for
    trouble, he'd come to the right place.

"I seem to know you, boy, but I really don't give a care, for your attitude or the words
    you use, or the grudge you seem to bear."
"I'll ignore your remark, stranger, and let it ride today, but I'd be real careful of the
    words I chose to say."

The kid slammed his glass down, it made a hollow sound.  He was ready to end this
    thing, and put this lawman down.
The marshal breathed a sigh, he'd been this place before, but as he turned and faced this
    kid, a chill ran to his core.

The kid felt somethin', too, he saw it in his eyes.  They both suddenly knew where, it
    came as a complete surprise.
This was his Pa who left him, so very long ago.  The boy's chestnut hair and deep
    blue eyes, from the marshal's wife, you know.

But time had done nothin', to erase the pain they felt.  They were both ready to play,
    the hand that fate had dealt.
The place went dead silent, as they looked in the other's eyes.  And when their guns fired
    together, they were both surprised,

To see each other standing, no way could they have missed.  They were the best guns
    around. Death, they knew her kiss.
But now they saw each other, in a new, much clearer light.  And as they looked around
    they were greeted, by an even stranger sight.

For right there between them, two bodies lay on the floor, and they heard a sound of
    music, as someone came in the door.
They looked to see who entered, but were startled with what they saw, for standing there
    most radiant, was his wife and the young boy's Ma.

She had a smile upon her face, with her arms both open wide, and she spoke the words
    they'd longed to hear, during many a long hard ride.

"It's time to come home now, boys, and lay your burdens down, and let those that remain
    behind, put those bodies in the ground."
"This time has long been coming, that's what those on earth will say."  "But the strangest
    part of all is, you're both, Twenty One today!"

© 5/2000 Lloyd Shelby 
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.



The ground was harder than he remembered it, from his youth as a young ranch
When he gathered cows and checked the fence and rode across the land.
Yes, the years had seemed to rush on by, now he really felt them, too.
His cowboyin’ years were part of his past, he’d chosen other things to do.

Now he rode a car to work each day, steel and glass canyons boxed him in.
But the creases on his face he’d earned, a reminder of where he’d been.
As he looked out the cool glass window, of this building so tall and high,
He remembered those days of his ramblin’ youth, with nothin’ above but sky.

And the thought had crossed his busy mind, could he go back just once again?
To feel those wide open spaces, far from the cities loud din.
So he’d made a quick decision, an escape for a day or two.
No need to change his mind now, it was the right thing to do.

So he gathered up his ‘roll, his jeans, and spurs and boots and hat,
And headed for the country, where his heart was really at.
And renewed a long lost friendship, a rancher friend of old.
They exchanged many fond memories, when both were young and bold.

He rode across the rancher’s land, the memories flooded back, so strong.
The sights, the smells, the grass and trees, where the wind played her own
sweet song.
That night he made his camp, beneath an old oak tree,
And decided he’d really missed all this, ‘twas here that he should be.

As he closed his eyes that night, his mind tried to find a way,
That he could come back out here, to work and live and stay.
But he knew it was only a pipe-dream, somethin’ he’d never do,
So he went on off to sleep, where his memories, at least, were true.

And when he woke in the mornin’, the ground was hard and cold.
His body was sure achin’, and remindin’ him he was getting’ old.
So he said adios to his pardner, the rancher, his friend to this day.
But that night on the ground had convinced him, a soft bed was where
he wanted to stay!

© 2000 Lloyd Shelby
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

A Cowboy’s Prayer

A cowboy rode alone one day, a roundin’up some strays.
When he paused atop a gentle rise, where he could see for quite a ways.

There was hills and valleys, and trees and clouds, as far as the eye could
And he began to quietly contemplate, just how this came to be.

It didn’t look like no accident, like some folks tried to teach.
To believe that would take believin’, against what his mom had always

So he listened to the gentle wind, that rustled through the trees,
And watched a deer go runnin’ by, as pretty as you please.

He marveled at the hawk up high, a ridin’ in the air.
Removin’ his hat, he bowed his head, and spoke this simple prayer:

“Sir, I don’t know much about, how this ol’ world came to be,
I just know you made a place, for cowboys just like me.

“So thank you, Sir, for givin’ me, a place to work and ride,
Where I can see your handiwork, with you right by my side.

“And thank you for that simple book, that tells us of your Son,
You must be really proud of Him, and what He went and done.

“I’m really proud and humble, ‘bout what your Book does say,
About how I can also be your son, yours showed us the way.

I know how much you love this place, I really love it, too.
So I’ll do my best to care for it, in everything I do.

“Thanks is not near enough, to say how I truly feel.
But I know you can see my heart, and know these words is real.

“I gotta go now, Sir, and finish out my day.
Thanks again for all you’ve done, and givin’ me this day!”

© 2000 Lloyd Shelby
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.


Young Buck

It came out of nowhere, the word, like a volley, loud.
Everyone grew silent, they saw him straighten up, proud.

No one had ever dared call him ‘coward’, but this one said it out.
Did he know the man he spoke to, his sanity was in doubt?!

The young one stood straight and proud, like a peacock struttin’ tall.
The older leaned on the bar, didn’t say nothin’ at all.

Young Buck against Experience, the confrontation did brew.
No one could guess the outcome, unless the future, they knew.

“I’ll ignore your remark, amigo, and let it ride today”.
“But I’d be real careful, of the words I chose to say”.

Young Buck began to bristle, fire flashed across his face.
He wouldn’t be talked to like this, anywhere, much less in this place!

He turned and faced the ‘coward’, as he’d branded him in front of them all.
His hand close by his pistol, he was ready to make the call.

But Experience continued to face the bar, and listen to this Young Buck.
He knew it was better to be silent, than a bullet to try and duck.

Another ‘volley’ rang out, “a coward I say you are,
and now everyone’s heard it, in this broken down excuse for a bar”.

Well, you knew it had to happen, Young Buck brought it to a head.
Before this thing was over, one was gonna wind up dead.

So time had finally run out, no more talkin’ was goin’ to fit.
It couldn’t be avoided, “in his teeth he had the bit”.

Experience turned and faced the ‘Buck’, twas time to end this thing.
And before the ‘Buck could clear leather, a shot from the other gun, did

And a single red spot grew, from Young Buck’s’ shirt, so white.
He’d finally breathed his last, on this cold winter’s night.

A lesson again, went unlearned, by a young one, so green.
He wasn’t the first, nor the last, Experience had ever seen.

But it remains a mystery, of why he came to town.
And became just another ‘Young Buck’, to lay his body down.

And Experience again did triumph, but tried to walk away,
From another cross and another grave, thirty six, after today.

The town still calls him “Marshall”, a name he’s earned for years.
Let’s hope the next ‘Young Buck’, will listen with his ears!

© 2000 Lloyd Shelby
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

Young Buck by Curtis Horne   Click for Lloyd Shelby's web site for the entire image and more art
Detail from "Young Buck" by Curtis Horne

Visit Lloyd Shelby's web site for the entire "Young Buck"
image and more art, words, and music

Desert Angel

The day was hot and dry, the temperature out of sight.
Not a breath of wind, a puff or wisp, relief might come with night.

But as he looked out over the land, so bright it hurt his eyes,
He saw a movement a good ways off, atop a rocky rise.

Now this was not on the "beaten path," who could be moving out here?
But with the distance and shimmering heat, he couldn't see quite clear.

If this were native creature, he wouldn't see them from this far.
They usually stayed well hidden, that's just how they always are.

So he took a ride in that direction, to see what was goin' on.
Cause whatever he'd seen out there, must be sufferin' in this sun.

Well, it took a little time to get, to the place where the thing had been.
And he came up on a sight, that brought goose bumps to his skin.

For there leaning against a rock, a woman looking like she was dead.
Her eyes didn't seem to see, they just stared straight ahead.

Quickly he jumped down from his horse, canteen in his hand,
This wasn't what he'd expected, from this hostile, brutal land.

The woman was close to death, he saw it in her eyes.
If she was to make it now, he'd be more than a little surprised.

But he put some water on her head, and a sip on her lips and face,
The effect of the water came real slow, almost too slow a pace.

But a light finally came into her eyes, a movement of her lips,
Provided some encouragement, as he gave her another sip.

Her eyes finally focused, she looked into his eyes,
The look was one of recognition, but now he was surprised.

For she spoke his name, though weakly, where did she know him from?
He was new to these parts, to Texas he'd just come.

But as she slowly gained her strength, she began to tell him more.
Of how her family had all been killed, she'd seen it from the door.

And the Commancheros took their time, as they led her on the way,
To someplace, she didn't know just where, after several blistering days.

Until she fell and hit her head, upon the desert trail,
The Commancheros thought her dead, and left her where she fell.

But when she came awake at night, with the desert chill,
She felt a little more alive, as she saw the light on a nearby hill.

And when she finally got to the top, a woman was standing there,
She was clothed all in white, and light shone from her hair.

The woman spoke in words so soft, her heart was at peace again.
It had been years since she'd felt like that, she couldn't remember when.

Her journey wasn't over, the woman said, she must travel through this land,
Until she was at a certain place, where she'd meet a special man.

His manner would be gentle, but strong and self-assured.
And when she looked into his eyes, she'd know without a word.

For this would be the one man, she'd thought she'd never meet,
What a strange place to find him, in all this dust and heat.

He listened to her strange tale, his mind beginning to reel.
This reminded him of a dream he'd had, he didn't know what to feel.

But he knew he must get her out, of this sun where she could rest,
And maybe solve the mystery, his heart jumped in his chest.

His dream had seemed so very real, now it was here again.
But this time he was wide awake, the hair stood on his skin.

In his dream a woman had spoken his name, and led him to this place.
Her clothes were a pearly white, the light shown from her face.

But nothing had happened, and with time, he forgot the woman in white,
Until this very moment and this strange, yet familiar sight.

He helped her onto his horse, and led them toward a town.
Where there was a little safety, he kept watch all around.

The time was as a moment, yet it took two more days.
Water and food were almost gone, they'd traveled quite a ways.

The people in the town were good folks, and helped him settle in.
They were concerned and most helpful, and asked him where he'd been.

Then one of the local ranchers, said he'd been lost out there one night,
When he'd just about given up, he, too, had seen a light.

And the woman had looked the same, as the one the two had seen.
With shining hair and white clothes, her voice with a familiar ring.

She told him he would meet a man, with a woman almost dead.
And he was provide for their needs, that was part of what she had said.

They all remained silent and listened to the man.
The story he told made sense, as if part of a plan.

The rancher had one more part, he hesitated here.
They watched his face closely, in his eyes they say the tears.

For what he said was painful, and cut him to the heart.
But he must finish the story, for he had played a part.

The man who saved the woman, was his son from long ago.
He'd left when the boy was only two, his dad he wouldn't know,

The woman the man had rescued, was from a family, strong.
And now she had met the one man, for whom her heart had longed.

And all of those there gathered, saw the meaning, now so clear.
It was their Desert Angel, who'd brought them all to here.

© 11/2000 Lloyd Shelby
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.


The Stranger

He was headed to the next town, wherever that might be.
On a long winding journey, which began in Tennessee.

When three outlaws stopped him on the road, and took his horse and gun
And beat him up really bad, left to die out in the sun.

It was not much later, when a priest down the road, did ride,
When he saw the cowboy on the ground, passed by on the other side.

Now this was not a good thing, that the priest did on that day.
His Maker would ask for answers, but he'd have nothing to say.

It wasn't such a long time, when a judge was ridin' by,
He, too, moved to the other side, and all he did was sigh.

Now things were lookin' pretty bad for this cowboy for true,
Was there no one to help him, there was nothin' he could do.

When a single, dusty Indian, traveling through the land.
Saw the wounded cowboy, and stopped to lend a hand.

He washed the blood from the cowboy's head and covered up the hurt,
And put him up on his horse, and brushed away the dirt.

The hotel in the nearby town, was where he took the man,
The Indian paid for the cowboy's care, with gold taken from the land.

And he paid for the cowboy's care, for several days to come.
With money left to buy a horse, a saddle and a gun.

Now this tale is not a fiction, but true as God spoke the Words.
He takes care of all of us, cattle, men and birds.

But the lesson is one of caring, for our neighbor is every man.
That the way I see it, a part of God's master plan.

© 2/18/2001 Lloyd Shelby
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.


The Gift

He'd ridden all day and half the night, through the miles of snow and cold,
To get to that far off, tiny town, for a treasure more precious than gold.

His wages had been saved for many years, to purchase a little piece of land,
So he could finally start his own place, and not work for the other man.

But all the plans were only a part, of his final, ultimate goal.
There was one, and only one thing, that would make his spirit whole.

In the distance he saw the yellow lights, of that tiny Texas town,
A smile began to crease his face, as the snow drifted all around.

He dropped his horse off at the livery, and headed for the lights down the street.
A hot cup of coffee, a steak, and some pie, and friends he was anxious to meet.

But one other thing interested him, in the cafť so warm and small.
Twas a pretty, gold haired lass, who brought food for those who called.

She was surprised to see him, but a sparkle lit her eye,
This was one cowboy she was glad to see, but she never knew just why.

It might have been his dark blue eyes, or the way he wore his hat.
What was she thinkin' about, lettin' her mind wander like that!

She poured his coffee and said hello, and gave him a little wink.
There she went again, what was he goin' to think?!

But over the many times, he'd come in to eat a meal,
She'd always kept her head on straight, she kept her heart in heel.

Tonight, though, he had a look in his eye, she hadn't seen before.
She noticed it right at first, when he came in through the door.

The crowd began to leave, now they were all alone.
He motioned her for more coffee, his voice, a different tone.

He asked her if she could spare, a minute and sit with him?
She said it would be alright, and filled his cup to the brim.

As she sat down she noticed, his hand shook a little bit.
The he took a sip of coffee, and sucked in his lower lip.

But when he looked up at her, she saw the look in his eyes,
And when he spoke his voice was soft and took her by surprise.

He told her of his younger days, when he was startin' out,
And life was a constant struggle, while learning what it was about.

And how he had worked so hard, to make his dreams come true.
But there was one dream left, and he knew what he must do.

He had worked so very hard, but something was missing still.
And there was a big ole spot, in his heart that nothing seemed to fill.

He had thought long and hard about, what would fill that space.
And every time he was thinking that, he saw a picture of her face.

And a voice somewhere deep inside, told him she was lonely, too.
But he was a little confused at first, didn't know what he should do.

But as time slowly passed, his mind began to clear,
And he felt a deep down peace, whenever she was near.

He looked down at his coffee, not sure if she understood.
Now he wanted to tell her more, not certain if he should.

But when he looked back up at her, there were tears in her light blue eyes.
And she reached out and touched his hand, which took him by surprise.

Her touch was so gentle, it sent quivers to his heart,
He knew that they were meant to be, they shouldn't ever part.

Then she spoke the very words, he thought he'd never hear,
He was always on her mind, whether he was far away or near.

She had told her lonely heart, not to think that way.
But whenever he came to town, she hoped that he would stay.

Now, her face turned red, and she looked down at her hand.
Had she said a little too much, and embarrassed this quiet, proud man?

He gently took her hand, they both looked into each others eyes.
The he said he loved her, from the table he began to rise,

And came around to her chair, and bent down on one knee,
Reached into his coat pocket, through tears, she could hardly see,

That the ring he placed on her hand, was a diamond, sparkling bright,
And he asked her to be his love, on that cold, clear, starry night.

That was fifty years ago, yet she loved him now even more,
He had a smile on his face, as he came in from the store.

A tiny sparkle was in his eye, a smile creased his weathered face.
As he sat down in the chair next to hers, a box on the table, placed.

He motioned for her to open it, with a twinkle in his eye,
He could surprise her still, she smiled as she did sigh.

When the tiny box she opened, it gave her quite a start,
For there amid dark blue silk, was a beautiful golden heart.

And the simple message written inside, took her breath away,
"I will always love you Belle, forever and a day."

© 12/18/2000 Lloyd Shelby
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.


The Old Colt


In Texas, there are many untold and unfinished stories.  While working on the Noelke ranch in Mertzon, Texas, the owner, a fourth generation rancher, Mr. Hal Noelke (strong on the Mister, he says!) showed me an old Colt Navy Model percussion pistol that had been found on his ranch.

Reportedly, one of the hands had seen part of it sticking out of the ground in a seldom traveled part of the ranch and brought it to the headquarters. While rusty, the old gun cleaned up pretty well.  The Colt was a .36 caliber, at "half cock", with all cylinders loaded and percussion caps still in place.  Of particular note was a German silver buttstrap with the initials, "JS" or "JWS".  Mr. Noelke tried to find out any information about anyone having those initials, with no success.

With equal amounts of research at The Texas Ranger Museum Library (and help from Miss Christina, the librarian), and my "poetic license", you will know a little more about - The Old Colt. 

He'd seen the gun at the store, in the glass case in the back.
It's barrel was blue, the handle wood and bright silver on the 'strap'.
The cost was high for a young buck, but twelve dollars more and he'd be there.
Until that time, all he could do, was sit and plan and stare.

John Starling was his name, "Johnny" to all his friends.
A strapping young lad at six feet two, with an infectious silly grin.
The Republic of Texas was a wild ole place, in the summer of forty four.
There was a war goin'on, desperados, and such, and Indians by the score.

So Johnny finally got the Colt, with powder, bullets and all,
And headed for San Antonio de Bexar, to answer the Ranger call.
But one stop he made before he left, at the gunsmith in the town,
His initials, JWS, he wanted carved, on the buttstrap to be found.

Now Captain Hays was in charge, respected by all his men,
And the Commanches feared the group he led, they remembered when,
"Devil Yack" and fifteen Rangers, had met them on the plain,
And with the Patterson pistols, fought them like men insane.

So the Indians learned the hard way, about the new Colt gun,
But they were mighty warriors, and from battle would not run.
Now Johnny was no stranger, to ridin' and shootin' a gun,
He could take a quarter off the ground, with his horse at a dead run.

Hays was impressed by this strapping lad, and his skill with gun and horse,
Just the kind to serve ole Texas, so he was accepted, of course.
The Rangers were all that stood between, the towns and Indians wild.
They were charged with patrolling that lawless land, for many a weary mile.

Johnny was known by all the men, to be bold as he was strong,
And when Hays went into action, he always took Johnny along.
The run-ins with Commanches were a regular thing, they never were afraid,
To attack old San Antonio de Bexar, and the surrounding country to raid.

Well, the Captain took twenty of his very best men, and with Johnny they headed West.
And gave chase to the Commanche Buffalo Hump, the Rangers would do their best,
To bring this ole chief to heel, and stop his warrin' ways.
They were in the upper Nueces Strip, after several hard ridin' days.

Captain Hays sent Johnny out, with Gillespie to search out the land,
And find the trail of Buffalo Hump and the Indians in his band.
The two were well mounted and armed, for they knew what they must do,
When they found where the Indians had gone, they were sure to be pursued.

It was near the head of Collander Creek, that a raiding party found their trail,
And let out a whoop that the Rangers could hear, the Commanches now hot on their tail.
Johnny and Gillespie spurred their mounts, as fast as they could run,
Each was ready for a desperate fight, but they trusted the new Colt guns.

The Indian ponies were fast as the wind, and closed on the Rangers two.
To both it was looking mighty grim, there was only one thing they could do.
They both pulled their horses up quick, at the crest of a boulder strewn hill.
And prepared for the outnumbered fight, yet hope remained in them still.

Now the Commanches were the bravest horsemen, the West had ever known.
They charged up the hill with whoops and yells, and lances ready to be thrown.
But the two Rangers were ready for this charge, and they had their trusty Colt guns.
The Indians just kept right on comin', the Rangers shot them one by one.

This slowed the rush by the Commanches, they had never seen such courage before.
But they were the Rulers of the Plains, so they charged the two Rangers once more.
The Rangers Colt guns spoke loudly, as the braves came rushin' back.
Both Rangers knew these warriors, in courage did not lack.

But eight more now lay dying, on the rock strewn ground at their feet.
So the Rangers jumped on their horses, the Indians now knew defeat.
But one brave still had the fire, and came after the Rangers full tilt.
He was a leader you could see it, in the powerful way he was built.

His horse was fast and caught up to Johnny, the brave knocked the Colt from his hand.
The gun fell behind the thundering hooves, and buried itself in the sand.
Gillespie saw what was happening, but Johnny had another Colt gun.
So he turned again in his saddle, his horse still at a dead run.

He dodged the thrust of the lance, from the Commanche at his side,
And fired one shot at his foes chest, its effect opened him wide.
And the last one fell from his pony, as the Rangers headed back to their friends.
You'd think this is the last of the story, but it's not how it finally ends.

For you see the story continues, as Mr. Noelke now treasures the gun,
And keeps it in his collection, its story will never be done.
For no matter who is the holder, of this piece of Texas, proud,
The JWS on the buttstrap will still stand out in a crowd,

So we now know the story of The Old Colt pistol, found on that far Texas land,
As it helped save the two Rangers, then fell into history, in the sand.

© 9/2001 Lloyd Shelby
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

Ole Blue

He weren't the pretty one, from the litter he was last.
But with each passin' day, his fate seemed to be cast.

The kids took all the rest, he was left to me.
What did I need him for? No use could I possibly see.

For this red healer was small, and a little bit this side of shy.
But to him I became his "man," by my chair he liked to lie.

As time went by he followed me, everywhere I went.
It seemed that we became one, the more time, together, we spent.

He worked the cows and sheep and goats, all day till the sun was down.
We both got home so doggone tired, ours butts were draggin' ground.

We did our chores together, day in and day out, too.
It was really a pretty good life, for me and my red healer, Ole Blue.

The years went by much too fast, Ole Blue was growin' older,
The weather didn't cooperate that year, winter was much colder.

But he still did his best, as we moved the herd each day.
He didn't seem to consider it work, to him it was just play.

But Ole Blue was movin' slower, each day that cold winter long.
He gave it his best every time, as he moved his cows along.

But early one Sunday mornin', in December as I recall,
Ole Blue wasn't at the back door, t'weren't like him at all.

I stuck by head out the door and hollered his name once or twice,
But it was so doggone cold out there, my words just froze like ice.

Puttin' on my boots and jeans, my chore coat and my hat,
I headed on out to the barn, to find where my bud was at.

Not to worry, he was in the barn, but somethin' was surely wrong,
Cause my buddy of so many years, could hardly get along.

He tried his best to get on up, from the hay that was his bed.
But all he could seem to do, was barely lift his head.

I closed the door to keep the cold, a little more at bay,
And tried to make him comfortable, by bringin' in fresh hay.

And a saddle blanket over him, seemed just what was needed.
But as I looked down at him, his eyes with me, they pleaded.

I sat right there beside him, and spoke to him, my friend.
His eyes were growing dimmer, I knew he was near the end.

I told him how much I loved him, and would miss his smilin' face.
We'd keep a warm bed open for him, here in his favorite place.

He breathed a sigh and closed his eyes, he was gone, my buddy true.
I know I'll never find another one, like my red healer, Ole Blue.

© 3/31/2000 Lloyd Shelby
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.


My admiration of the Texas Rangers comes naturally, what with four generations of Texas in my background.  Couple that with a close identification with their lifestyle and spirit of adventure and right and wrong and it's easy to see why those who know me well say I was born in the wrong century.

You would have to have been living in a cave not to have at least heard of the Texas Rangers.  Their deeds, and the myths surrounding them, are legendary.  Among the many famous Texas Rangers, there is one who set the standard for those who followed.  His quiet, unassuming manner belied the warrior within.

The early Rangers were the first to show the advantage of a new weapon from Samuel Colt, a five shot revolver called "Colt's Patent Revolver." Until that time, everyone carried single shot, muzzleloaders, which were slow and difficult to reload.

This story is true, taken from actual accounts of the battle by those who fought alongside the famous captain, known to the Comanches as "Devil Yack."

Devil Jack

The sound of the silence, was deafening in the sun.
The Rangers stood their ground, each with his knife and gun.

Comanches had attacked all day, over three hundred, maybe more.
Hays' men numbered forty, the Paterson pistols evened the score.

Courage shown on both sides, Rangers and Comanches bold.
The stuff was made for history books, many stories would be told,

Of how the fearless Texians, had taken the field with no fear,
Knowing they stood for ole Texas, and families they held so dear.

Now they were in a struggle, outnumbered, resolute , bold and strong.
Knowing they must whip these savages, and right the terrible wrong.

The Comanches charged one time, then two, and three and more.
When one warrior hit the ground, there were always more.

But the new Colt pistols, helped the Rangers make a wall of lead.
You could see the success they had, by the number of Indian dead.

For two days the battle raged, a desperate fight for all.
The Rangers and Comanche braves, each gave it his all.

The Indians made one last desperate charge, to try and end the battle.
A Ranger took a long rifle shot, that knocked their chief from his saddle.

The brave warriors charged on in, to retrieve their chief that day.
But the Rangers lay down a withering fire, their chief's body was there to stay.

But one young Ranger jumped onto his horse, and charged onto the field.
And dragged back that dead Indian chief, he roped him by the heels.

And when the Comanches saw, their leader's body taken away,
They charged like angry hornets, but this was their last day.

The Comanches left the Rangers, and headed back to the plain.
With over two hundred brave warriors, by Texas Rangers, slain

And this battle, gave the Ranger Captain a name not taken back,
Forevermore the Comanches, called him "Devil Yack."

© 8/23/2001 Lloyd Shelby
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.


Mother Nature seems to throw her best at man as he tries to settle the land. Insects, cold, windstorms, flood, drought, all challenged the early settlerís attempts at taming the frontier.  Yet the worst was the drought, for without water, nothing can survive.  Anyone who could help bring rain was tolerated, and oft times revered.  They referred to that special person simply as ďRainman.Ē  This is a story I know from personal experience.






He walked out from the rain cloud, yet he was dry as the desert heat.

Clothed in buckskin and beads, and nothing on his feet.


People called him Rainman, a name thatís a natural fit,

But his gaze could stop you in your tracks, like a horse with a long shank bit.


If he spoke, you just listened, for thunder was in his tongue,

I can still see him now that Iím old, just like when I was young.


His long hair was like the ravenís, black as midnight, deep.

Hands as hard as iron, yet soft as a long nightís sleep.


He came into town, unexpected, no one else looked that way.

So he was immediately noticed by everyone, a Ďcharacterí in lifeís long play.


The drought had gone on for three years, and was stretchiní on into four,

What was it about this stranger, who said nothing, but chilled your core?


Well, he said little or nothing, at least thatís what some did say,

When some of the local folk decided, to approach him together one day.


The conversation was one sided, as they asked him what he was about.

Could he help bring back the rain, and maybe end the drought?


He listened to the townsfolk, and heard their earnest cry.

For if we didnít have rain real soon, our town was gonna die.  


Many times heíd been in places, where the rain had refused to fall.

The withering grass and dying land, were a story that told it all.


Yes, he could help them, and call down the living rain.

That provides that vital life-blood, for cattle, men and grain


When could he get started, they all wanted to know?

Now that he had said yes, he seemed to move so slow!


But the Rainman just looked up to the sky, and back down at the ground.

Then he stood and slowly walked away, never uttering a sound.


The people were a little confused, on that you can surely bet!

If he was supposed to bring back the rain, why hadnít he started yet?


Well, we didnít see the Rainman, for two days, or maybe three?

When some of us kids came upon him, the strangest sight we ever did see.


He was standing in his buckskins, with feathers in his hair.

But his eyes were the strangest color, at the sky they seemed to glare!


The sounds he made werenít human, they scared us kids to death!

Cause as he uttered every one, smoke came from his breath!


We watched in pure amazement, we never questioned why,

We could see he was locked in a battle, the earth versus the sky!


And then we saw it happen, lightning on a cloudless day.

Followed by rolling thunder, and only then did the sky turn gray.


The Rainman stood there silent, black hair blowiní in the wind,

It seemed that he had found the rain, and brought it back again.


But that donít end this story, for the strangest part was to come.

He stretched his arm to the sky, and lifted up his thumb.


And then the rain engulfed him, as it blew on toward our town.

But the Rainman had just disappeared, with no warning or a sound.


We told them what had happened, they told us not to lie.

But Iím telling you, we saw the Rainman disappear into the sky.


That was in 1950, when I was still a lad,

But itís still the single most amazing time, I think I ever had!


© 3/2001 Lloyd Shelby  
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.



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