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Patricia Frolander’s tough and tender poems introduce us to the history of a community and a loving family. She portrays the labors of ranch life in exquisite and sometimes bone-chilling detail, explaining why both "Commitment" and "Denial" mean so much. Her "Attitude" makes the difference between success and failure, and she finds joy in every day.”
                                                                        Linda M. Hasselstrom


Wyoming Poet Laureate, rancher Patricia Frolander pulls you into her world through her powerful poetry's intense realities and imagery, often in words as spare and honest as bleached bones.

In the introduction to her impressive second poetry collection, Married Into It, she tells how she came to ranch life. Born and raised in the city, she writes, "...after seven years of marriage, my husband, Robert, and I left our comfortable home in Denver and headed for his family's cattle ranch in northeastern Wyoming." The Black Hills ranch was homesteaded by her husband's great grandfather in 1885. Confronted immediately with the forces of weather, isolation, the critical scrutiny of neighbors, sheep and cattle work, chores, and extreme "making do," she comments, "Robert had his hands full running the ranch and had no time to mop my tears." She makes her own way.

The title poem, "
Married Into It," echoes throughout and it lines are sometimes used to introduce other poems. ("She'll never lasttoo much city"; "I heard she was running the baler"; "He ought to keep her home where she belongs"). In "Between Fences," a lifeless doe in a fence leads to, "I quickly look away/as I have done so often/from graphic images of other innocents/snared in life's fences/I focus on the next exit." It's a tough road, and she is seeking beyond "a woman's place," for her place.

In time
much time: "I hope after forty-two years I've earned my spurs," she writes in the introductionshe and the tough-to-enter community and the likewise unforgiving landscape come together. She toughens up, finds immeasurable blessings and rewards, thrives. In "Why I Stay," she offers, "I stay for the rhythm of the season, for the land, always the land..." Lines in "Sisterhood" encapsulate her journey and its lessons, "Those who are not challenged by the seasons/the need to give back a portion of what they have used/to give value to hard work, bring honor to friendship,/cannot understand our need for extremes in life."

She and the reader reap the hard-won rewards of a life well-lived with purpose and meaning.

We're pleased to feature a selection of Patricia Frolander's poems.


Married Into It is the recipient of the 2012 Western Heritage Wrangler Award from the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum.

Read more about Patricia Frolander below.




About Patricia Frolander



Links and more





  About Patricia Frolander
excerpted from Married Into It

Patricia Frolander tries to balance family, ranching, and writing and has a passion for each of them. She and her husband, Robert, own his family ranch in the Black Hills of Wyoming. Their family includes three children, seven grandchildren, two great-grandchildren, all of whom live close to the ranch. Still actively ranching, you may find her on a tractor or horse, but at this stage of her life she prefers the padded office chair at her writing desk.

Patricia’s first book, Grassland Genealogy, was published in 2009. Her poetry has been widely published in numerous anthologies...and featured in journals, magazines and newspapers.

You can email Patricia Frolander.




Ropin' the Stars

Married Into It

Requiem in Lace

480 Seconds


with American Life in Poetry poems, separate page


Ropin' the Stars

He loosens the coil and shakes out a loop,
placing the rope in small hands.
He steps in behind his four‑year‑old son
and watches the rope as it lands. 

Dad gathers again, blue eyes watch each move
once more he hands him the rope.
Little boy muscles release in the wind
his face an expression of hope.

Dad watches this time as son gathers the rope,
small boots making prints in the dirt.
Many throws later he falls, tangled up,
jumps up quickly to show he's not hurt.

Watching her cowboys, a catch in her throat,
mom peers through the window with pride,
as heritage passes from large hands to small
generations stand close side by side.

Tonight in his sleep, he'll be ropin' the stars,
catchin’ each one with his throw.
He's ridin' fast now as he straddles the moon
and waves to his folks far below.

Years have a habit of slipping away,
the boy has become a young man.
Dad's dreams are realized, mom's hopes fulfilled,
their son wants to stay with the land.

With each winter past, spring rite begins,
the rope settles over each calf.
Father and son feel sweat in their eyes
but they often find reasons to laugh.

One summer the rope catches flashing green eyes
and the young man brings home his bride.
Six years later he loosens the coil in the rope,
for his son who stands by his side.

The years smile upon the fathers and sons,
fat cattle, good hay crops, warm rain.
Then a bull on the fight destroys all their dreams,
and leaves only anger and pain.

Grandfather, grandson watch as the rope
is laid at the head of the grave.
They listen in wonder to Grandma's soft words
that come swiftly, steady and brave.

He's ridin' with God and ropin' the stars
catchin' each one that he throws.
He's ridin' fast now as he straddles the moon
and keeps watch on his loved ones below.

© 1999, Patricia Frolander
These words may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's permission.



Married Into It

She’ll never last—too much city,
Don’t know how he stands it.
Imagine! She don’t know a heifer from a Hereford.

Oh my, did you hear about her first branding?
Fed them twelve men a four-pound roast
and two burnt apple pies—she'll never make it.

Taught her to milk the cow, did he?
S'pose that's a sight worth seeing;
that old Holstein will kick her plumb to hell.

Those kids of hers, not enough tendin'.
By the way, did you see her garden?
Rows crooked as a dog's hind leg.

I hear she got some chickens.
Bet she turns green dressing them roosters.
She'll need help.

I never! Who ever head of naming cows and pigs?
Well them pigs rooted up her garden yesterday
and I'll be she don't call them by pet names now.

She's had it easy
He built that house right off, ahead of the machine shed.
Hasn't had to do without like us.

That oldest of theirs is turning out all right,
just like his dad, good breeding.
Those girls will be another story; she'll have her hands full.

I heard she was running the baler.
Now if that don't beat all.
Next thing you know, she'll be running the cows.

He ought to keep her home where she belongs.
She's got no business meddling in menfolk things.
If he hadn't got sick, she'd be tendin' the stove.

Her husband had surgery again,
she and her boy are puttin' up the hay.
I ought to take a hot dish over; she's got her hands full.

Good God, she was over her yesterday
talkin' to my man about semen-testing bulls!
That poor husband of hers—how does he stand it?

She brought a pie to church supper;
s'pose she don't bake too often though.
I'll bet her house is a sight.

Heard she got a computer.
Don't take no machine to run a ranch
just common sense, you gotta be raised with it.

Their fortieth wedding anniversary—
Kids are throwin’ a party. Guess we’ll go.
Good chance to see how the place is holding up.

He and his kin kept that ranch going all these years.
I never! She acts like she owns it or something.
Married into it, she did.

© 2011, Patricia Frolander, from Married Into It
These words may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's permission.



Requiem in Lace

She lies with eyes closed to the afternoon sun
a peaceful smile on her face
her hands rest upon the worn knitted spread
she’d fashioned to look just like lace.

I gaze at her fingers gnarled with time
and labors too many, too long.
Her gold wedding band, once heavy and wide,
is worn thin, and like her, almost gone.

She was just a child when she came to the West.
Her diary spoke volumes to me
of a mother dead early from birthing a son
and a sister who barely could see.

A sod one-room house opposed blizzard wind
that howled at the door, and her fear
small pox and snakebite, she dealt with them all,
with courage and many a tear.

A quiet man brought her to settle the ranch
she lovingly came to call home.
Four sons and a daughter fulfilled many dreams,
but her husband retreated to roam.

She buried him after she’d nursed him a year
with lungs that were black from the mines.
She added two sons to the burial plot
she’d fenced off up in the pines.

I was her very first grandchild to hold,
her namesake, she wrote on the page.
It seems I was headstrong and given to sass
but outgrew those notions with age.

I suspected a firm hand and no-nonsense look
from a grandmother given to teach
rescued a youngster from all kinds of trouble
that waited within easy reach.

She patched all my jeans, as well as my knees,
and a heartache or two by the way,
and gave me her locket for my “something old”
to wear on my wedding day.

She rocked my sweet girl in the chair by her bed
as she’d rocked many others before.
She recorded the scene in her diary that night
arthritic hands tired and sore.

This morning no coffee brews on the stove
no bread dough rises in pans.
The hardest to bear in this parting of ours
is the stillness of her gentle hands.

The afternoon sun has slipped into night
and silent my vigil I keep.
“You are the woman I want to become,”
I whisper to her in her sleep.

And just before dawn we say our good-byes,
my hands and hers in embrace,
on top of the worn, well-loved knitted spread
she’d fashioned to look just like lace.

© 1997, Patricia Frolander
These words may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's permission.


480 Seconds

The hayfield is an oven, humid for Wyoming.
All afternoon low-hanging clouds obscure the horizon.
Rhythm of baler, drone of tractor
lull my senses, lure me to slumber.

Suddenly, sixth sense uneasiness,

I watch a dark green cloud on the move.
Fourth gear, I head for home.

Horses race down the ridge into pine trees.
Cows bawl for unseen calves.
Our dog howls as I park the tractor,
as the first icy pellets hit my back.

Children, dog, and I meet at the back door,
hurry to close windows and curtains.
Staccato hail deafens,
windows explode in shards of glass.

Eight minutes of terror.

I open the door to a moonscape.
Fields of hay are flattened,
ripened acres of grain, crushed.
Two-thirds of our income gone
in 480 seconds.

© 2011, Patricia Frolander, from Married Into It
These words may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's permission.





Married Into It

High Plains Press (2011)
ISBN: 0931271967

Recipient of 2012 Western Heritage Wrangler Award
 from the
National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum


Patricia Frolander’s tough and tender poems introduce us to the history of a community and a loving family. She portrays the labors of ranch life in exquisite and sometimes bone-chilling detail, explaining why both "Commitment" and "Denial" mean so much. Her "Attitude" makes the difference between success and failure, and she finds joy in every day.”                                                                         Linda M. Hasselstrom

Includes the poems:

Married Into It
Wringer Washer
Houston Creek
Barbed Wire Coming and Going
Second Table
Mothered Up
New York to Deadwood
First Labor
Just Another Day at the Ranch
Between Fences
Four Miles to the Belshe Mine
Watching the Coyote Dance
The Notice
Goose Down
Old Reliable
Between West Pasture and Home
Fresh Pasture
Hired Hand
Grassland Genealogy
480 Seconds
Three Graves by the River
Bandaging Love
Spring Training
Neighborhood Watch
Why I Stay
Boys Don't Cry
Johnny Van
Bit by Bit
On a Bitter Day
Army of Innocence
Long-Term Education
To Africa
Life Flight
Red Hat Society
Approaching Hibernation
Grass-Held Dreams
Father When You Call

Married Into It is available from High Plains Press

Also available from Amazon


Grassland Genealogy

Finishing Line Press (2009)
ISBN: 1599244713

"The poetry in Grassland Genealogy draws heavily and effectively on Patricia Frolander’s authentic knowledge of ranch life. But these moving poems about family ranching in Wyoming also develop a reader’s appreciation for her understanding of the subtle strands of heart and mind that tie humans and animals to each other and the grasslands they share."

                                Robert Roripaugh, Wyoming Poet Laureate 1995-2002

Includes the poems:

Water Song
Wringer Washer
Ties That Bind
I Whispered Love
Ten Below
Requiem in Lace
Coming of Age
Old Reliable
Morning Watch
Making Hay
Left Behind
Approaching Hibernation
Red Hat Society
Who Would I Be if I Didn't Have a Name?
Prairie Reclamation
Winter Solstice
Mark My Path


Available from Amazon



Links and more...


(Wyoming Governor Matt Mead appoints Patricia Frolander as Poet Laureate of Wyoming—announcement and photo)

 Married Into It is the recipient of the 2012 Western Heritage Wrangler Award from the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum.

  In a March, 2012 video
from an appearance at the Poetry Out Loud ( in Cheyenne, Patricia Frolander speaks to the contestants and reads "Barbed Wire Coming and Going" from Married Into It, and a poem about the "Orphan Train."

The Winter, 2012 issue of the Wyoming State Library's  Wyoming Library Roundup includes an announcement about Patricia Frolander becoming the state's Poet Laureate and reviews Married Into It ("...Frolander’s images and language evoke an intimate knowledge of ranch work, wildlife, and weather. Her keen-eyed observations capture the moments that, stitched together, make a life: sweat bee swarms in the hayfield, green-black clouds that warn of coming hail, vees of Canada geese that usher in winter’s chill....").

  Patricia Frolander receives the 2011 Wyoming Arts Council Neltje Blanchan Memorial Writing Award  

  Video of Patricia Frolander reading "Johnny Van" from Married Into It

  "Denial," from
Married Into It is featured in American Life in Poetry, a project of former United States Poet Laureate Ted Kooser, sponsored by The Poetry Foundation, The Library of Congress, and University of Nebraska at Lincoln.  (Find all American Life in Poetry poems here at

  Patricia Frolander at Bearlodge Writers, where you'll find more of her poetry, some anthology citations, awards and recognitions, and more

  High Plains Press, publisher of Married Into It and other fine books about Wyoming and the West; recognized by Western Writers of America with the 2012 Lariat Award

  Wyoming artist
Sarah Rogers' web site; her painting, "
Caballos Pintados" is on the cover of Married Into It



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