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

Photo by Jeri L. Dobrowski

Catalina, Arizona
About Susan Parker
Susan Parker's web site



Cowboy Kinda Girl

I like a man in Wranglers 'n boots.                   
They're not for me those Armani suits              
in high-polished wing tips or loafers with tassels,           
'n rings on their pinkies, who live in glass castles.          

I wanna a guy who's rugged 'n tall,                              
speaks words of love with a Tennessee drawl,  
swaggers beside me with a bowlegged stride,               
yet has no fear of his feminine side.       

I need a man that's toughened with muscle,
sports at his navel a PRCA buckle,
a rodeo champ who rides a bare-back bronc,
then dances the two-step at the honky-tonk.     

He smells of old leather 'n fresh mown hay,
rides a fine pony, a quarter horse bay.
Together they work to bring home the herd;
the job gets done with nary a word.

His home's not the city, why he'd go insane;
it's nights under stars on an open plain.             
A well-worn saddle cradles his head                            
as prairie grass becomes his bed.                     

Tequila kisses melt me to the core                                
when jinglin' spurs walk through the door.        
The spark in his eyes ignites me like fire;           
my body quivers with naked desire.
A wide-brimmed Stetson sits low on his brow
as he plays his g'itar and tells me how
he'll love me forever, just wait 'n see,
if  a cowboy's girl I'm willin' to be.
His fingertips feather my sensitive skin,
send me to heaven again 'n again
as hot passion flows in pure poetry.
Yeah!  A cowboy's girl I'm gonna be!
© 2004, Susan Parker
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.


This poem is included in our Cowboy Love Poetry collection


Painted Pony

When I was a lad out ridin' the range
I came upon the magnificent sight
of a frisky young colt colored so strange
in shadows of black on silvery white.

The finest painted pony I'd ever seen
was runnin' wild, playin' tag with the wind,
a rowdy and restless buckin' machine.
With a snap of his tail he turned and grinned.

His challenging eyes met mine, stared me down
'n pondered whether I was friend or foe.
Would I dare rope him and lead him to town?
What did his life hold?  He wanted to know.

Then he was off with a kick of a heel,
flexed muscles ripplin' as he tossed his mane.
I made a vow then that he'd never feel
the weight of a saddle, broken and tame.

Each year I'd return to that backwoods site
hopin' to find him unbridled and free.
As if on cue when the time was just right
he'd leap through the scrub oak in front of me.

He'd come a bit closer, never to stray
far from his herd of new babes with their mare.
Though sensin' my need, my wantin' to stay,
he kept me at bay with a wall-eyed glare.

He'd stand there, proud and tall, pawin' the ground,
the rebel, a stallion now in his prime,
his keen ears listenin' for any odd sound,
seemin' to know this was our special time.

I'm an old man now but still love to ride
to that mountain each spring hopin' to find
he, too, has taken old age in his stride,
still kicks up his heels, plays tag with the wind.

America's Mustang's a dyin' breed.
Man covets their land to build a new home
to quench his hunger and his endless greed,
lustin' for mansions where horses now roam.

Should they vanish, man will no longer see
the innocence, courage, feelin' of pride
born to these horses runnin' wild and free.
The mountains will echo with tears he's cried.

© 2005, Susan Parker
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

Susan told us this poem was "Inspired by my adventures at the Wild Horse Sanctuary, Shingletown, California, an extraordinary place to get away from it all while enjoying wild horses in their natural environment."


Late Born Foal

Weather beaten earth turned to mud
     awaits the birth of a late born foal
     as a mare sweats and struggles
     to give life to a newborn soul.

No dry barn shelters her misery,
     no sweet-smelling bed of clean straw,
     only rain on a lava rock pillow
     in a harsh mountain draw.

Finally from her womb emerges
     four spindly legs, a lifeless head.
     She nickers to her babe
     with no response.  The babe is dead.

Exhausted from her struggle
     swollen body racked with pain,
     she knows within her heart
     she'll not join the herd again.

Winter winds whisper
     echo the coyote's cry;
     dreams of heavenly meadows
     drift in the breath of her final sigh.

The scent of death is in the air
     as one bird of prey circles, then another.
     Weather beaten earth turned to mud—
     a bed of death for the foal and mother.

© 2005, Susan Parker
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

Susan told us:  When I heard the words "Weather beaten earth turned to mud" in a writing workshop, I immediately thought of the Wild Horse Sanctuary in Shingletown, California, the inspiration for much of my poetry.  Winters there can be harsh.  I imagined what it would be like to be a wild mare, alone, attempting a difficult birth in this hostile, volcanic rock laden land.  I love this poem.  But it is difficult to recite without getting overcome by emotions.  


Spiritual Source

My stomach churns at the smell of burning hide
so couldn't tell ya' how to hog-tie and brand,
how to move a herd, pair a cow and a calf,
how to lay a campfire and live off the land.

I never learned to dally or build a loop,
couldn't fire a Winchester to save my life,
never canned peaches or made biscuits from scratch
so it's clear I wouldn't make a rancher's wife.

I admire the women who embrace these pursuits,
work beside their mate and more than hold their own,
with skillful hands gently tame both man and beast,
and those, who by choice or chance, go it alone.

It wasn't my job tending cattle or sheep
so I hadn't a need to know all that much.
It's no wonder folks ask why a city girl
would write poems about horses, cowboys 'n such.

Well, a fearless cowgirl within me resides.
This kid rode stick ponies hell-bent-for-leather,
western hat flying at the end of a string,
in jacket and chaps, no matter the weather.

I'd run through the school yard and whinny 'n snort.
My friends thought me weird, just a little bit strange,
but I didn't mind for at night in my dreams
I ran wild with horses in a high mountain range.

I traded those sticks for a hot-blooded horse,
a flashy grey Arab with energy galore.
We'd lope river trails in his rocking-horse gait
in a silver trimmed saddle and hackamore.

Now I'm old.  My knees creak and pop when I walk,
my git-a-long's got a hitch come end of day,
I only sit horseback on rare occasions
and my ride's named Blazer, built by Chevrolet.

I summon memories of alfalfa's sweet smell;
playful nuzzles from a sweaty Arab horse.
I write to honor the American West
and call on the cowgirl, my spiritual source.

© 2005, Susan Parker
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.


Final Ride

Calling home a strapping cowboy, a man gentle and kind,

I questioned exactly what it was that God had on his mind

passing over that lonesome geezer living beyond his prime

sitting in a rocker, chewing snuff, just… marking time.


Saying goodbye in the chill of winter’s purple dawn

I wondered where I’d find the strength to carry on.

Ashes floating in the current of a golden eagle’s soar

falling, clinging to the coat of sadness  that I wore.


Kneeling on the dew-dampened ground I began to pray.

I heard the voice of God in the shadows of the day,

felt the warmth of his hand on my shoulder there  

speaking to the sorrow and the pain that I bear.


Ma’am, I’ve a plan for every man

though you might’nt always see.

You must have faith for since his death

he walks in grace with me.


Not a day goes by on my ranch in the sky

he don’t miss his loved ones at home.

I’ve a big job ya’  see ‘n he’s helpin’ me

pertectin’ the land where ya’ roam.


There’s fences ta’ mend ‘n livestock ta’ tend,

chores ta’ perform all day long.

I’ll persist in the fight ta’ do what’s right,

 takin’ the blame when it  goes wrong.


If more folks’d listen ‘fore makin’ decisions

I’d give ‘em the answers right quick.

I’d feed the poor ‘n banish the war,                                                      

help ‘em heal ‘n cure the sick.


But alas it seems it’s only in dreams

that yer earthly world is right.

Yet as long as a few believe as you

I’ll endure ‘til all nations unite.


So be assured, ya’ have my word

when ya’ take yer final ride,

I’ll be at that gate, don’t ya’ hesitate,

‘cuz yer cowboy’ll be at my side.


Words like holy water soothed and washed the pain aside.

I asked for courage ‘til my day comes to make that final ride,

told Him, Lord, you’re my shepherd so I’ll have faith in thee

‘til I’m bathed in the smile on  my cowboy’s face embracind me.


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


For Janice Gilbertson—in memory of her brother, Don Norwood


Susan Parker writes: Often, I ask myself why some people die young and others just linger on, seemingly without purpose.  In January, 2006, I received an email from my friend and fellow poet, Janice Gilbertson, telling me her brother passed away just before Christmas, a man who recently retired and was looking forward to new adventures in life. Again I asked myself, “Why does this happen?”  As I was reading her email, words drifted in from somewhere, taking up residence in my brain, working their way through my creative process.  The result is this poem I call “Final Ride.” I dedicate it to Janice and her brother.


The Last Coyote

Eucalyptus trees dappled the first blush
of yesterday's light
as I traveled Interstate 780.  On the shoulder,
in a bed of star thistle and California poppies,
left foreleg outstretched
as if to take one more step,
the coyote lay mangled, in pieces,
only his head untouched by a car
speeding at 75 miles per hour,
too fast
for his 40 mile-per-hour stride
as he sprinted to cross the asphalt river.

Sandy, my ranger friend, knew him well,
fears he was the last coyote.
She tells me he once ran free
in oak-covered hills above Blue Rock Park.
Home builders bulldozed his den
hidden in a scrub oak thicket
tucked in an earth buckle
between massive boulder outcroppings—
sentries to wildness.

Homeless, he moved to Benicia's State Park,
enlarging a jackrabbit hole beneath a lone pine tree,
believing it was safe.
Sandy watched him hunt voles,
scampering in circles through fields, pouncing
just as they leaped into their ground hole.

Side-by-sinewy-lean-side he loped with joggers
who mistook his toothy smile for a threatening snarl.
They didn't speak the language of genus Canis,
couldn't know he was lonesome,
longed to romp and play as he'd done with a mate.
They wanted him caught, relocated or killed.
I decided the joggers got their wish,
wondered if ever again I would hear the coyote
sing his song of the West.

Sandy called today.
Drifting off to sleep last night,
above the ribit, ribit of bull frogs,
the screeeee of night hawk,
she heard the high pitched yip of coyote pup.

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

Susan told us: Driving along a short stretch of I-780 between Benicia and Vallejo, I came upon the third coyote road-kill in less than two weeks.  The wooded hills and old ranches in this area are being bulldozed under to build huge homes, running out the wild critters that once hunted and took shelter there.  I was heartbroken to see these beautiful animals in pieces alongside the road. Upon arriving at home, I called my friend who is a California Park Ranger at Benicia State Park and told her about the coyote.  She replied, "I know. Others have told me.  I'm afraid he is the last one."  And I thought, "There is the poem to honor the coyote."  And so I wrote, "The Last Coyote."


She Rode a Wild Horse

Whisper thin and parchment pale, Mama waits

at the threshold of heaven’s golden door.  

Eyes glazed with pain glisten as she relates                        

a childhood tale I’ll recall evermore.            


Girl of Karuk blood was orphaned at ten,

hustled to Stewart ‘neath Nevada’s sky.  

She dreamed of being an equestrienne,

to canter the valley where eagles fly.    


Crossing an ancient patchwork mountain range  

capped in fossil cinders of red and black,                             

she traveled the mustang trail to exchange  

cotton dresses for jeans— to sit horseback.      


Through the hot, sage-scented desert she’d ride

shadowed by The Old Ones who haunt this place,  

with pal Rosy on a Paint at her side,

ebony-brown braids flying from her face. 


One day the grey she mounted at the rail 

commenced to buck and to pitch in surprise.  

She feared as he fled full speed down the trail   

this unbroken colt would be her demise. 


Sidestepping left he took hold of the bit,

tried to unseat the “spooky” from his back,

then spun full circle, reared up in a fit. 

This feisty Cayuse was on the attack!


Grabbing the horn she clung to the saddle,  

lost her new shoes, followed then by her socks. 

She was bent on winning this hellish battle, 

not dying stretched out on the sage and rocks.


Sliding on his hocks he came to a stop,  

figured he would launch her over the fence.   

But to his round rump she gave a hard pop

for this head-strong girl had more pride than sense.


Tossing his mane, he jigged a crow-hop dance,

snorted and whinnied to the mustang band,                                                  

then headed home in a high-stepping prance.

The colt had been gentled by her brave hand.


Midst the room of shared memories appears

nirvana’s shrouded glow in monochrome.

Unfocused eyes turn skyward as she hears

voices of The Old Ones calling her home. 


Mama now rides across a starlit sky,

her essence an inspirational source. 

Native flutes sing as loved ones bid good bye

to Betty, the girl who rode the wild horse. 


                                                for Betty Robinson Stillwell ~

                                                and those she left behind

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


Susan told us: "She Rode a Wild Horse" comes from the life-story pages of Betty Robinson Stillwell, mother of my friend and poetry pal, Sandra Lee Stillwell.  Betty was confined to a hospital bed during the last days of her life.  Tears of joy fell on hands entwined as mother and daughter reminisced through 75 years of memories. A tribal member of the Karuk Indians, Betty’s favorite childhood story was about the day she mounted the wrong horse tied to the rail on the Reservation and her wild ride on that unbroken colt.  Sandy shared the story with me and said throughout the years her mom was remembered as 'the girl who rode the wild horse.' I told Sandy that there was a poem in the tale.  She replied, “Yes, there is…. and I told mom you would write it.”  So I did.



Poet's Lament

I am just a poet of simple words,
dreaming of horses in vanishing herds.
I pick no gi'tar; strum no mandolin.
Sing like Juni? Ha!  I couldn't begin.
To hit the pitch of high notes in key
while crooning a tune is a stretch for me.
But this yodeling thing's now all the rage;
Wylie assures me it's better with age.
When life's troubles get me down in my boots,
I'll cast off my cares with hollers and hoots.
I'll rip out a yodel odle ay hee tee, odle ay hee tee, odle ay hee tee,
I'll just belt out a yodel odle ay hee tee, odle ay hee tee, odle ay hee tee.

© 2008, Susan Parker
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's permission.

This poem was inspired by the "Whip Out a Yodel" workshop given by Wylie Gustafson of Wylie and the Wild West at the 2008 National Cowboy Poetry Gathering.  Sue wrote about the workshop in an article, "So You Think You Want to Yodel or 'Yodeling– 101'," posted here with other reports from the 2008 National Cowboy Poetry Gathering.



The Mustang Mare

In feathered edges of twilight,
like an old Indian woman near death
seeking solitude, the mustang mare
in a lusterless coat of roan-red,
rib-thin and swayback,
heaves a ragged breath,
leans into an oak tree,
rear leg resting on hoof toe.

Eyes at half-lid, clouded
by darkening shadow, she relives
days long past when unshod feet pounded
in full gallop across mountain meadows,
flinging clods and rock skyward,
flared nostrils
inhaling essence of the wild –
Mountain Aster and Ponderosa Pine;
cougar and bear scat;
and the sweet smell of sweat
from the palomino filly at her flank.

Water grass grows in the creek bed
hollow where snow-melt pools.
Hooves pressed like molds into clay
imprint the herd’s departure,
as if they paused a moment
to nicker and huff in farewell.

Spirit guides hover,
waiting to walk beside her,
through the gossamer curtain
that conceals the otherworld from earthly trail.

Songbird serenade amidst the rustle of leaves,
a lullaby for transition
as earthbound tether s t r e t c h e s,
      a single strand
         of silver mane
            clinging to Manzanita.

© 2011, revised 2013, Susan Parker
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's permission.

Susan comments, "Several years ago I was riding at the Wild Horse Sanctuary in Shingletown, California with Dianne Nelson, co-founder of the sanctuary. We came upon a mare standing beneath the oak tree near a watering hole where we had stopped to let our horses drink and take a break. Dianne made the comment, 'Just like an old Indian woman wandered off to die alone.' I was so struck by those words and this mare that I knew I had to write a poem about her."


Read Susan Parker's article, A Time to Heal, about her experience teaching poetry at a drug and alcohol recovery center. 

Read Susan Parker's article, "So You Think You Want to Yodel or 'Yodeling– 101'," posted here with other reports from the 2008 National Cowboy Poetry Gathering


About Susan Parker:

Susan Parker grew up in Northern California with a love for horses, cowboys, rodeos, and all things Western. She rode stick ponies and played with plastic horses while her friends played with dolls. When her legs were long enough, Susan would sneak off through the woods to rendezvous with a neighbor’s horse. Bareback, she lived out her Western fantasies—until the owner caught her! At the age of 40, she realized her dream of horse ownership, buying a gray Arabian gelding.

Susan began writing contemporary poetry and prose in 1995. Her passion for cowboy poetry was sparked in 2003, after attending the Monterey Cowboy Poetry and Music Festival. It burst into full flame shortly thereafter.

"I felt I'd come home when I heard cowboy poetry for the first time," Susan says. "I reveled in the stories honoring man and beast, in tales of hardships presented by the lifestyle, of strong family ties—all the while finding humor in the mundane. It’s poetry of our American heritage—poetry that cannot be forgotten. I like the challenge of traditional cowboy poetry with its rhyme and meter, yet I like pushing the creative muse with free verse."

Susan taught poetry at a drug and alcohol recovery center. She explains: "We read Shakespeare, Robert Service, Tupac Shakur and wrote pantoums, haiku and cowboy poetry. I used Spurrin’ the Words, a Montana 4-H project manual. The participants came to see the storytelling of poetry, saw the honesty in Wallace McRae and Virginia Bennett, the tenderness in Laurie Wagner Buyer, the unique Indian voice within Henry Real Bird, and the magical music in the words of Paul Zarzyski."

Intrigued by pioneering women of the West, Susan has become a student of their writings: "I hear their words echo loneliness and frustration. Their courage and determination beg me to share their work, to appreciate the freedoms I enjoy as a result of their perseverance and sacrifice."

Following her pursuit of the old west, Susan currently resides near Tucson, Arizona, where she continues to write poetry and prose, and has recently completed a nonfiction book, Angel on My Doorstep. When she’s not writing or performing, she enjoys traveling.




Susan Parker's essay, A Time to Heal, and two of her poems are included in Unbound, a 2007 anthology from Las Positas College in Livermore, California. The annual compilation includes fiction, short stories, poetry, non-fiction essays and art work submitted by students and the community each year. Read more about the anthology at the Los Positas College web site


"A Time to Heal" is an essay about teaching poetry at a local drug and alcohol recovery facility, where Susan introduces students to cowboy poetry as well as other forms. You can read the essay here at  







She Rode a Wild Horse


Spiritual Source by Susan Parker
Tapestry of Knots
by Virginia Bennett
Ranch Mother by
S. Omar Barker
Tomboy by
Dee Strickland Johnson ("Buckshot Dot")
Cowboy Kinda Girl
by Susan Parker
Winter Fashions by
Elizabeth Ebert
Generic Titles by
Sally Bates
Final Ride by
Susan Parker
Late Born Foal by
Susan Parker
The Truth of the Matter by
Virginia Bennett
Where the Ponies Come to Drink by
Henry Herbert Knibbs
Painted Pony by
Susan Parker
The Hooves of the Horses by
Will Ogilvie
She Rode a Wild Horse by
Susan Parker

Susan Parker comments about the title track, "She Rode a Wild Horse," “I was in the process of compiling the works for a CD when my friend and poetry pal Sandy Stillwell shared her mother’s favorite childhood story with me.  I told Sandy that there was a poem in the story to which she replied, ‘Yes, and I told Mom you would write it.’ So I did.  When the poem was completed I knew it was a perfect fit for the CD and that it would be the title track.  No doubt about it!”

The CD was produced by Open Path Music, and each track is accompanied by their inspired music. Performers include Renata Bratt, Jason Lewis, Charles Littleleaf, Tim Volpicella, Scott Sorkin, and Gordon Stevens.


The CD's photography and stunning design is by Jeri L. Dobrowski.


She Rode a Wild Horse is available for $18.00 postpaid from 15270 N. Oracle Rd., Ste. 124, PMB 303, Catalina, AZ 85739;


Praise for She Rode a Wild Horse:

Susan's recitations ring with such clarity and spirit, it feels as though she's riding along in the back seat of my’71 Viper Red Monte Carlo—as though she's on stage in the living room here and I’m front-row center. A bunch of heart and soul behind the mike. It’s all strong, STRONG, STRONG! So wonderful that she included a couple classics, as well as work by contemporary women poets. An extremely successful choreography.          Paul Zarzyski

Hey!  Don’t miss Susan Parker’s terrific new poetry CD, She Rode a Wild Horse. Susan sure did herself proud on this her very first recording!  Not only does she recite the poems extremely well (and with precise diction), but she has included exquisite musical passages between numbers, and the jacket is outstanding as well. This will be a valuable addition to any cowboy poetry collection.         Dee Strickland Johnson ("Buckshot Dot")

Looking through Susan Parker's window to the West provides a view that is refreshing and new. Her smooth delivery is like a breath of spring.          Yvonne Hollenbeck




Angel on My Doorstep


Author Susan Parker's spiritual adventures began at the age of three and evolved as she matured. In this book she chronicles her husband's illness and eventual passing."

Angel on My Doorstep: An Ordinary Woman's Journey with Those from The Other Side, is available as an e-book and in softcover at Amazon; for autographed softcover copies, please send $21 (postpaid) to Susan Parker, Suite 124, PMB 303, 15270 N. Oracle Rd, Catalina, AZ 85739;



Lady By The Bay


Lady By The Bay, 50 pages of poems and prose, includes a section entitled, Connections, about family and relationships; a section entitled All Things Natural, about nature and animals; and a section entitled Laughing At Myself, about finding humor in every day events.  Available for $10.00, plus $1.50 shipping and handling from Susan Parker, 15270 N. Oracle Rd., Ste. 124, PMB 303, Catalina, AZ 85739;




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