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1st Annual Cowboy Poetry/Songwriting
Team Roping Challenge
Academy of Western Artists
Trade Show and Convention

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The 1st Annual Cowboy Poetry/Songwriting Team Roping Challenge was one of the most popular events at the  2004 Academy of Western Artists Trade Show and Convention in Fort Worth. 

A theme, "Only a Cowboy Knows," was announced a month before the competition.  

The teams' resulting poems and songs were impressive; the talent displayed during the competition was amazing, and the packed house couldn't have been more entertained. A panel of judges chose the top four teams in each division:


First place: Pat Richardson and Yvonne Hollenbeck
Second place: Andy Nelson and Don Kennington
Third place: Charles Williams and Doc Stovall
Fourth place: Rod Nichols and Scott Hill Bumgardner


First place: Pat Richardson and Kip Calahan
Second place: Curly Musgrave and Belinda Gail
Third place: Rod Nichols and Misslette the Singing Cowgirl
Fourth place:  Rick Huff and Jim Jones

Prizes included champion hand made buckles for first place teams, silver scarf slides/belt pins for second place winners, and a cash purse.


Winners' poems

Winners' songs

Participating Teams

Additional poems and songs

Emcee and Judges


Score Sheet


See the 2005 information here

(Read about other events and activities in Ft. Worth here and at the AWA web site.)

Winners Rick Huff, Jim Jones, Misslette the Singing Cowgirl, Rod Nichols, Belinda Gail, Curly Musgrave, Kip Calahan, Pat Richardson and Supervising Judge Larry Maurice on microphone.
photo by Yvonne Hollenbeck (also a winner)

(The winners are standing in front of the AWA Cowboys and Artists Crisis Fund Quilt, a design collaboration between Pat Richardson and Yvonne Hollenbeck. The center of the quilt features Pat's drawing of the late Wallace Brooks riding "Blue Bonnet."  The quilt was designed and sewn by Yvonne, an award-winning quilter.



Winners' poems

Benny's Funeral, Pat Richardson and Yvonne Hollenbeck, First Place
Only a Cowboy Knows, by Don Kennington and Andy Nelson, Second Place
A Cowboy Knows, by Doc Stovall and Charles Williams, Third Place
Saddle Knowledge (Only A Cowboy Knows), by Scott Bumgardner and Rod Nichols, Fourth Place

(bios were furnished by the poets for the event announcer)


Benny's Funeral

There's a bone of contention from Fargo to Dallas
pertains to the wisdom that cowboys possess
No two agree what a cowboy should know
it depends on which region you hail from I guess

Ben was my Guru, my Mentor, my Hero
he practically raised me since I was a teen
Taught me to ride, and rope with the best of 'em
here's Benny's story - you'll see what I mean

Ben was a cowboy, lived south of Sonoma
he lived with no visible means of support
He taught me what only a cowboy would know
then nearin' ninety, his life was cut short

Benny bucked off of his favorite cowhorse
the buck off was fatal, he didn't survive
We loaded him up in the mortician's outfit
with the services held at his favorite dive

They couldn't embalm him 'cause he was too pickled
but they dressed him up in his good suit an' tie
He looked mighty lifelike laid out in his coffin
An' folks paid respect to the ornery ol' guy

We hired some strippers to work Benny's funeral
in hopes of attracting a sizeable mob
The preacher, distracted, made several lewd comments
an' excused it by sayin', "Just doin' my job."

Nobody wanted to be a pallbearer
"Too bulky, too heavy, too hot." we all whined
The widow, though crippled, gave us all a good cussin'
usin' such language the bar had her fined

She rode in the hearse, up front with the driver
an' played with the levers, the buttons, an' knobs
The back doors opened, an' out dumped ol' Benny
the minute she pulled the wrong thing-a-muh-bob

The strippers were strippin', the mourners were mournin'
an' nobody noticed ol' Ben had fell out
Several cars hit him in rapid succession
his "Corpus Delecti" was battered about

We got him re-loaded, (at least the big pieces)
an' soon got things rollin' an' lined out again
The parts that we missed left stains on the roadway
an' the city paved over the rest of ol' Ben

So here's to ol' Benny, a cowboyin' legend
he taught me what only a cowboy would know
Even in death - ol' Ben was flamboyant
he "Cadavered Up" an' went on with the show

2004, Pat Richardson and Yvonne Hollenbeck
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the authors' written permission.


Pat Richardson, Merced , California

The 2003 AWA Cowboy Poet of the Year, Pat Richardson, is no stranger to the rodeo arena, however, this is his first experience at the roping box end.  Many many years ago, in his younger days, he frequented the bucking chute side at the nation's top rodeo arenas, riding bucking horses and bulls.  As happens to many an old cowboy, Pat has turned to telling stories of his younger days as a cowboy (and stories of many of his friends, some true, some not) mostly in poetic form, and performing them at many of the top cowboy poetry gatherings in the country.
Read more of Pat Richardson's poetry here.

Yvonne Hollenbeck, Clearfield , South Dakota

How this nice, innocent, creative individual ever got conned into writing poetry with Pat Richardson, nobody knows, but it happened.  Living a mere 1200 miles Northeast of Pat, near the tiny ranching community of Clearfield, South Dakota, the two have teamed up on several ventures in the past year, and have become a popular duo at poetry sessions at a number of top Cowboy Poetry Gatherings.   If any of you have met her cowboy husband, Glen, you will know she is quite capable to handling her own around some of these ornery old coots. Read more of Yvonne Hollenbeck's poetry here.



Only A Cowboy Knows

It's been pourin' rain for days,
Like heaven's punched full of holes,
Your cold, wet and miserable
From checkin' calves and foals.

You're finally headed to the barn,
Home's just over the distant hills,
Then you spot a hungry doggie,
With a nose full of porcupine quills.

The bunkhouse is dry and warm,
Supper's probably ready to eat;
A full belly sure would feel good,
And you can almost feel the heat.

No one would know the difference,
If you just passed that doggie by.
But if you don't pull the quills out,
You know that little feller'll die.

So your cowboy instincts take over,
And remind you of the reasons why,
You'll stop and help that critter,
'Cause real cowboys can't live a lie,

Cowboyin' isn't just a paycheck,
Until something better comes along;
It's integrity in a way of living,
Wrapped in an old cowboy song.

So you dob a loop on him,
Grab your knife and fencin' pliers,
Go to work, get the job done,
Then head back to the home fires.

And when you sit around the table
You can smile in silent pride
Thugh you didn't tell the others,
You know you saved that doggie's hide.

And that night in the bunkhouse
There'll be some who toss and turn
But you sleep in peace and comfort
Cuz your conscience doesn't burn.

And you feel good in the morning
Knowing that you did your best,
Your chest swells with satisfaction,
Like buttons poppin' off your vest.

There's a comfort that you're feeling
Knowin' a cowboy reaps what he sows.
There's another tally in your daybook,
That only a cowboy knows.

2004, Don Kennington and Andy Nelson
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the authors' written permission.


Andy Nelson, Pinedale, Wyoming

Andy and Don have been performing at the same gatherings for some time now and the west will never be the same. Andy looks to Don as a father figure and like any good Dad, Don has to take Andy over his knee from time to time!  Read more of Andy's poetry

Don Kennington, Ogden, Utah

Don Kennington cowboyed for 20 years in Idaho and Wyoming and has has put shoes on over 30,000 horses.  He's the author of a number of books of poetry, and has been a featured performer at gatherings across the West, including the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering at Elko. Read more of Don's poetry here.


A Cowboy Knows

There's another beat up saddle on a peg behind the door,
Hanging in an empty barn with those that went on before.
Years and years of working cattle are worn on that old kack,
But it won't make the roundup because a rider it will lack.

It's been traded for a new one, on that porch over there,
That one comes in the form of an old rocking chair.
The seat is softly cushioned, the stirrups are the floor.
I knew the day would come when I'd ride the range no more.

I used to rope and tie and brand 'em, shoot, I did it all,
And I'm going to miss all that at the roundup in the fall.
I knew the time would come when I'd have to hang it up,
Didn't know I'd feel like a blind man begging with his cup.

Time's quirt is beating my pride and skill with it's bitter lash,
My mind keeps writing checks that this old body just can't cash.
Sure, I'll hang on to the memories - I can still work cattle in my mind,
And when some other old broken-down pard comes by he'll find

I still know where the water is, and where the cattle lurk,
But no matter how much you know, stopping time just won't work.
It's hard to watch it happening when it's happening to you,
But a cowboy knows when his working days are through.
Still, don't be feeling sorry when I'm not with you when you go,

I've had my day, and it don't matter what you know.
Your day is coming, you're going to hate it when your saddle's hanging there,
And you're sitting on this porch with me, riding a damned old rocking chair.

2004, Doc Stovall and Charles Williams
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the authors' written permission.



Charles Williams, Dallas, Texas

Charles' passion is cowboy poetry and storytelling.  He has been telling stories for nearly forty years, the last half of it professionally.  He has achieved a surprising degree of notoriety with his poetry and has published in an anthology and has a tape, Up the Trail.  He is much in demand at various Cowboy poetry gatherings, usually when it's time to clean up.  He has been seen hanging around the Texas State Fair and the Ft. Worth Stock Show, and there's a rumor he handles the gatherings at both those venues. His fellow poets thought so much of him they elected him president of the Texas Cowboy Poet's Association, a post he held until he could rig another election and pass it off.  He has been hooked up with the Academy of Western Artists since its inception - he holds membership card #2.  By virtue of dedication, hard work, and bein' the next to last one standing, he has been elevated to the rank of Executive Vice President of that august group. Course, it also helps that he lives where the Award Show is held.   So cinch 'er down tight, because you're in for a wild ride when he takes the microphone.  Read more of his poetry

Doc Stovall, Lithia Springs, Georgia

I'm from Lithia Springs, Georgia.  I am a songwriter and a poet performing mostly original material.  Last year (2003) I did 150  shows throughout the country.  I have a member of AWA for three years.  My day job is Manager of Entertainment at the Booth Western Art  Museum in Cartersville, Georgia where I am responsible for staging  the Georgia Cowboy Gathering each March and the Southeastern Cowboy  Symposium each October.  I also plan and implement the Douglasville  Cowboy Gathering each February.  The Georgia Senate named me Georgia's Official Cowboy Balladeer in 2002, the first cowboy singer to be so
honored.  My original work has been nominated many times for various awards.  My latest CD is Live at the Booth, done in conjunction with my pardner, Jerry Warren; it was released this past March and has been well received.  Read more of his work


Saddle Knowledge
(Only A Cowboy Knows)

There are things past understandin',
the Good Book tells us so.
There are questions without answers
though men might long to know.

There are things beyond the heavens,
the myst'ries that they pose..
and lots of things right here on earth       
only a cowboy knows.       

Like a new day slowly breakin'
o'er the bawlin' of some steer,
where a saddle, rope and pony
are an hombre's workin' gear.

Like chasin' down that orn'ry stray,
no matter where it goes                                           
and the sound of poundin' hoof beats
only a cowboy knows.

There's the roundup in the springtime
and another one in fall,
There's the calvin' and the brandin',
a nighthawk's lonesome call.

Havin' meals around a campfire,
hot beans and sourdough,
creatin' gastronomic things
only cowboys know.

Ridin' scrub-brush land through  mesquite
neath a sun too hot for words,
a-sweating in a Stetson hat
eatin' dust from trailin' herds.

There's the creak of well-worn saddle
and the clink of spurs below,
a sense of pride from doin' what
only a cowboy knows.

Though the ranchin' life has changed a bit:
new trucks and squeezin' chutes.
the cowhand has remained the same
as the ol' boys in tall boots.

And he ain't forgotten, either
when the prairie fairly glows,
how blessed he is to live the life.
only a cowboy knows.

In a world of strife and conflict,
where peace can scarce exist,
a man has need for simpler times
far away from all of this.

And it seems as though he's found it
down the trail that he has chose,
and he thanks the Lord for showin' him,
what only a cowboy knows.

2004, Scott Bumgardner and Rod Nichols
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the authors' written permission.


Scott Hill Bumgardner, Houston, Texas

Scott is the past President and founder of the Cowboy Historical And Performing Society (CHAPS) of Houston, Texas. He is a noted cowboy storyteller and the author of Texas Legacies.  Read more of his poetry here.

Rod Nichols, Missouri City, Texas

Rod Nichols is a cowboy poet and performer who resides in Missouri City, Texas. He was the First Lariat Laureate of CowboyPoetry. He is the author of A Little Bit Of Texas which won a Will Rogers Medallion Award.  Read more of his poetry here.


Winners' songs


Things a Cowboy Knows, Pat Richardson and Kip Calahan, First Place
Only a Cowboy Knows, Curly Musgrave and Belinda Gail, Second Place
Crimson Prairie Rose, Rod Nichols and Misslette the Singing Cowgirl, Third Place
Only a Cowboy Knows, Rick Huff and Jim Jones, Fourth Place

(bios were furnished by the songwriters for the event announcer)


Things a Cowboy Knows

(Verse 1)

In his rat infested cabin near the California line
Curly pulled his boots off n' he poured a glass of $2 wine
 He dug out that crumbly stuff that grew between his toes
makin' mental calculations of the things a cowboy knows

 (Verse 2)

To ride a horse, doctor cows an' rope one now'n then
he reckoned he was 'bout a nine on a scale of one to ten
 Don't tuck his pant legs in his boots it lets in dirt an' hay
An' don't wear fringes on his clothes that ain't the cowboy way

But tell me this, if he's so smart how come he'll smoke an' drink?
I've seen this man in action an' it sure don't help him think
So in essence what I'm sayin' is in his portfolio
it's gonna make a damn short list- - - the things a cowboy knows."

(Verse 3)

To try to cure each rare disease that his cows might get
An' when it fails, call fer help an' blame it on the Vet
 If anyone should disagree he'll react in disbelief
an' never thin his own herd always eat the neighbors beef

So tell me this, if he's so smart how come he'll smoke an' drink?
I've seen this man in action an' it sure don't help him think
So in essence what I'm sayin' is in his portfolio
it's gonna make a damn short list- - - the things a cowboy knows."

2004, Pat Richardson and Kip Calahan
This song may not be reprinted or reposted without the authors' written permission.

Song division winners Pat Richardson and Kip Callahan
photo by Yvonne Hollenbeck



Kip Calahan, Animas, New Mexico

Kip Calahan is a western singer/songwriter from the Diamond A Ranch where her husband is ranch foreman in the far southwest corner of New Mexico.  She was awarded the Academy of Western Artists Female Vocalist of the Year for 2003.  She is again nominated for 2004 Female Vocalist of the Year.  Her highly acclaimed CD, Cowboys, Cowgirls, Roundups & Rodeos is up for album of the year and her song co-written with her aunt Susan, "What Cowboy Means" is in the top five for song of the year.  Visit her web site: http://www.kipcalahan.com/

Pat Richardson, Merced, California

AWA Cowboy Poet of the Year 2003, his book, Pat Richardson, Unhobbled, is a Will Rogers Medallion Award winner and nominated for the AWA's Buck Ramsey Best Book Award. 
Read more of Pat Richardson's poetry here.


Only a Cowboy Knows


Only a Cowboy Knows

There is a murmur like a prayer
That whispers to the heart of every
Cowboy in the mornin's peaceful glow
That beckons him to saddle up
And ride out in the dawn
Embraced all the things a cowboy knows

The morning wraps around him
So alive and yet so still with sights and
Sounds to take him down the trail he goes
While fall of hoof brings cadence to his peaceful cowboy heart
That beats with joy only a cowboy knows

And the creakin' of the leather
With the ringing of the spur
Gets 'im hummin' while his pony softly blows
An' he's thinkin' of his Maker
An' smiles a thankful prayer
For the life only a cowboy knows


In the solitude of night the cowboy knows he's not alone
Neath moon and stars he prays then lays in sweet repose
Till the morning brings that whisper which beckons to the heart
To heed the call only a cowboy knows

And the creakin' of the leather
With the ringing of the spur
Gets 'im hummin' while his pony softly blows
An' he's thinkin' of his Maker
An' smiles a thankful prayer
For the life only a cowboy knows

(YODEL with a two-line lyric under the yodel phrase...)

He's one with horse and one with land from dawn 'til break of day
Brings honor to the cowboy life   he's feelin' rich on cowboy's pay

There is a murmur like a prayer
That whispers to the heart of every
Cowboy in the mornin's peaceful glow

words and music by Curly Musgrave and Belinda Gail
2004, Curly J Productions, All Rights Reserved
This song may not be reprinted or reposted without the authors' written permission.


Belinda Gail, Visalia, California

Belinda Gail resides in Visalia, California with her manager/husband Frederic Fridborg.  See her web site: http://www.belindagailsings.com

Belinda Gail was named the 2004 AWA Female Performer of the Year.

Curly Musgrave, Lake Arrowhead, California

Curly Musgrave and his wife Kathleen live in Lake Arrowhead in the mountains of Southern California.  Read more of his work here.

Belinda Gail and Curly Musgrave teamed up about two years ago combining their two, very successful individual careers.  They are now making their presence known with nominations in Duo/Group category as well as individual performer and album nominations for this year.  Belinda has been the WMA Female Performer of the Year, an unprecedented four years running and Curly has songwriter and performer awards from both the AWA and WMA including last year's AWA Entertainer of the Year.  They have co-written and performed with some of the finest writers in Western Music and now have collaborated with each other on several critically acclaimed songs featured on recent albums. 


Crimson Prairie Rose 

There's a small adobe mission,
near the town of San Antone.
The chapel, now, is silent,
and the weeds have overgrown.

In a corner of the courtyard,
grows a crimson, prairie rose,
it's a story, now a legend
that only a cowboy knows.

REFRAIN: As the day was slowly fading,
             they said their vows of love,
             the cowboy and the maiden,
             the mission bells above.

             As a pledge of love they planted
             a crimson, prairie rose,
             a bond of love, forever,
             that only a cowboy knows.

Then the cowboy had to leave her,
on the trail to Abilene.
The maiden watched him leaving
by the mission door, unseen.

She had lit a tiny candle,
said a prayer as evenin' closed,
to keep him safe within the life
that only a cowboy knows.

Ev'ry night upon the prairie
'fore he closed his eyes to sleep,
the could almost see the maiden
at her lonely, vigil keep.

For the cowboy loved his sweetheart
as he loved the life he cjose.
It's a dream within a drover's heart
that only a cowboy knows.


When the drive was fin'lly over,
the summer months had flown.
Now the autumn wind was blowin'
as he rode to San Antone.

"My son," the padre told him,
"She was one the angels chose."
A lonliness now filled the life
that only a cowboy knows.

             (REFRAIN )

2004, Misslette the Singing Cowgirl and Rod Nichols
This song may not be reprinted or reposted without the authors' written permission.

Misslette, The Singing Cowgirl, Alvin, Texas

"I am the owner of 'Rivers of Living Water Stables,' a Quarter horse and Thoroughbred racing-stock breeding farm.  I am a professional musician by trade, celebrating 35 years this year in the music industry.  God, my husband, music and horses... I'm a mighty blessed Texas girl!"

Rod Nichols, Missouri City, Texas

Rod Nichols is a cowboy poet and performer who resides in Missouri City, Texas. He was the First Lariat Laureate of CowboyPoetry. He is the author of A Little Bit Of Texas which won a Will Rogers Medallion Award.  Read more of his poetry here.

Missette the Singing Cowgirl and Rod Nichols
photo by Linda Kirkpatrick


Only a Cowboy Knows

To learn about cowboys, better plan to spend hours hearin' Buffham & Musgrave, Steagall & Jowers
Readin' Wister til you blister, L'Amour til you're sore, my friend, you could spend an eternity and more
Tryin' to see like a hand of a Remington or Russell, maybe hear with an eye toward the Fletchers or Thorps
They all spend their lives tryin' to capture the moment, the meaning, the magic of a man on a horse


Down through history, we've chased the mystery that only a cowboy knows
To come even close to knowin' the ropes, you've gotta go where a cowboy goes
On a trail, cross a stream, down a draw, up a dream, somewhere his ear hears a call
Lord only knows what a cowboy knows & maybe that's the point, after all

You can read, you can listen, you can learn from the best but nobody ever gets done with the West
Read Zane til you're grey or Teddy til you're blue, the stories could last you a lifetime or two
And the experts may measure, let'em look for their treasure, the essence they search for, no one can teach
It's a song on the wind, it's the spirit of cowboy, to him--simple instinct, to us--out of reach

CHORUS (with tag)

2004, Rick Huff and Jim Jones
This song may not be reprinted or reposted without the authors' written permission.


Jim Jones, Corrales, New Mexico

Jim Jones is a native Texan who has lived in New Mexico since 1991.  He is a two time finalist in the prestigious Kerrville Folk Festival New Folk Songwriter Competition and has produced 13 albums of his own and others music as well as the award-winning children's character education music video, You're Always Welcome.  Although he has written Western songs for many years, Jim had played in a country band for many years until he finally got fed up with the smoky bar scene in 2002 and decided to focus on writing,
recording and performing his first love, Western music.  In late 2002, he released his first Western CD, Breakin' Even and he followed this in late 2003 with his second Western CD, Western Takes.  Jim's teammate, Rick Huff, co-produced the CD with him and co-wrote the title tune, "The Western Take."  Jim lives in Corrales, NM with his wife, daughter and dog, Waylon.  See his web site: http://www.jimjonesmusic.com

Rick Huff, Albuquerque, New Mexico

Rick Huff has produced radio and TV ads and done TV hosting and DJ work for nearly 35 years.  He's had his own production company in Albuquerque, New Mexico since 1978.  His working interest in Western music began in 1983, promoting and creating with Western Music Hall-of-Famer Hi Busse.  In 1986, they developed the radio featurette "Song and Story with Hi Busse" and Huff subsequently released two albums of Hi Busse & the Frontiersmen material. He has co-produced CDs for Sons of the Rio Grande and Jim Jones.  In 1999,
he and Sidekick Productions' Mary Ryland formed Frontiersmen 2 to co-produce their radio show, "The Best of the West Digest."  They will soon release a double CD set "The Best of New Mexico Western: Big Surprises From Behind the Chile Curtain!"   Huff's "Western Air" column appears regularly in the Western Music Association's magazine, "The Western Way."

Participating Teams

Participating teams were:


Tom Hatton and Donna Hatton
Andy Nelson and Don Kennington
Pat Richardson and Yvonne Hollenbeck
Charles Williams and Doc Stovall
Jane Morton and Dick Morton
Scott Hill Bumgardner and Rod Nichols
Linda Kirkpatrick and Grady Lee
Rusty Feathers and T. J. Casey
Lanny Joe Burnett and Carl Condray
Jim R. Anderson and Cody Anderson


Scott R. Taylor and Woody Woodruff
T. J. Casey and Andy Nelson 
Ken Raba and Yvonne Hollenbeck 
Pat Richardson and Kip Calahan
Doc Stovall and Charles Williams
Curly Musgrave and Belinda Gail
Jim Jones and Rick Huff
Grady Lee and Linda Kirkpatrick
Paul Kelly and Melissa Kelly
Jim R. Anderson and Cody Anderson
Rod Nichols and Misslette

Additional poems and songs


All participants were invited to share their poems and songs for this feature.  We're pleased to have the following (more will be added as received):

Only a Cowboy Knows, Scott Taylor and Woody Woodruff (song)
Things Only a Cowboy Knows, by Carl Condray and Lanny Joe Burnett (poem)
They Call Him a Cowboy, by Cody Anderson and Jim Anderson (song)
In a Way, by Cody Anderson and Jim Anderson (poem)

(bios were furnished by the poets and songwriters for the event announcer)


Only A Cowboy Knows (What Makes A Man A Hand)

Summers hot as a brandin' iron; winters freeze yer toes
The cowboy works days too long for pay that comes and goes
Some call themselves Vaqueros, some say they're buckaroos
But a life spent workin' cattle - that's what these cowboys do

Only a cowboy knows, I'm told, what makes a man a hand
Only a cowboy knows in his heart why he rides and works the land
Some say its 'cause they love that land; others say they love the stock
Makes little diff'rence if they work the plains or ride Utah's rocks

So what makes a man a hand
In this world of peril and woe
What guides his way every day
Through thunderstorms a-lone?
Only a cowboy knows, only a cowboy knows

Men of faith and men of pride these traits all cowboys share
Treats stock and man with respect; never breaking up the pair
You c'n take him at his word; a handshake and the deal's signed
Ohh, maybe there're exceptions, but they're few and hard to find

So what makes a man a hand
In this world of peril and woe
What guides his way every day
Through thunderstorms a-lone?
Only a cowboy knows, only a cowboy knows

And when the night falls and the whippoorwill calls
And the cowboy bows his head
Kneelin' in old Levi's, he'll recognize
It's God who built this spread

Yeah, the cowboy knows; only a cowboy knows
Yeah, the cowboy knows, only a cowboy knows

2004, Woody Woodruff and Scott Taylor
This song may not be reprinted or reposted without the authors' written permission.


Scott R. Taylor,  Bartlesville, Oklahoma

Scott R. Taylor started singing at the tender age of 3. At least, that's what his folks tell him! Starting out in children's choir and then school choirs, Scott learned to read music early and then progressed to playing drums through Junior High. Through the Folk music scene of the 50s and 60s into Rock 'n Roll through the 70s he learned banjo and guitar and wrote songs with several groups but a trip out west to Michael Martin Murphey's WestFest in the mid 90s really awakened Scott's original love of folk music including cowboy/western songs. As Dave Stamey says in "Riding the Sage,", "it took me many miles but I came back to what I am."

All of this culminated in the production of his first CD, Dreamin' I'm A Cowboy released in November 2000. O. J. Sikes, in the May-June issue of Rope Burns says, "This is Scott's first CD and he does a fine job with it. My favorite cut is the opener, the title song. It's an original, as are 6 of the 11 songs here."  He completed a CD of his spiritual and inspirational songs titled "Messengers" in early 2002 and is currently at work recording his second cowboy CD.

Scott continues to hone his craft by performing at local venues and various Festivals, Poetry Gatherings, Trade Days, etc. and writing more songs, naturally!  Visit Scott's web site here.

Woody Woodruff, Centerville, Tennessee

I call myself the World-Wide Unknown Poet...I reckon besides just loving the cowboy and western way of life I had no choice but to become a cowboy. I was born in the West...west part of Kentucky, later living in west Tennessee, then for a spell in East Texas and for the last 18 yrs have resided in the great southwest.. part of Middle Tennessee in Centerville. I've been married to the same wonderful woman ,Carla, for 30 yrs being blessed with 3 wonderful daughters and 3 beautiful granddaughters. Oh yeah there are 3 son-in-laws too.  
Read more of his poetry here.


Things Only a Cowboy Knows

Say partner, do ya mind if I ask you,
just when was it WE first began?
Sometimes the dally slips on my memories.
Now I'm struggling to hold all that I can.

I sure do miss your good counsel,
your walk and the cut of your clothes.
You knew all the secrets of living;
things only a cowboy knows

You were a hand that I could draw to,
a pard who would stick till the end.
Through blizzards, wild rivers and pestilence,
you've been my most faithful friend.

You were always a man I looked up to;
my mentor, my teacher, my soul
You had this calm peace all about you.
Your secret that few could behold.

But I think it's something much deeper
than lessons from the back of a horse.
The mountains, the rivers, the prairies,
weren't just your classroom, but more like your source.

I wondered why you kept a' troddin',
when the rest of us gave up the ghost.
Then I 'membered you'd smile and start noddin,'
at the mention of "HIS Heavenly Host"

I always try to be like you,
but I always seem at a loss.
Then I realized inside what is missing.
I didn't know the Lord as my boss.

Lately, people have been calling me crazy.
They say my life'l lead to regrets;
that there's too many irons in my work fire.
But ain't that what a cowboy's life begets?

I'd rather spend my years in the open
Beddin' down neath the moon and the stars.
Than be yoked to those worldly endeavors
And fight those emotional scars.

Now the winter of my life is upon me
and some people think that I'm strange.
To talk to a partner who's gone down the line
to ride that celestial range.

But I can always count on you partner.
No matter just how my life goes.
And I'm proud to have you to talk to
cause, some things only a cowboy knows.

Like the northern lights in their shimmering glory
or the dew from a spring meadow morn.
How the smell of sage on a rain fresh breeze
Kind' a makes a man feel reborn.

To face an icy blast 'cross a high mountain plain,
as a "Norther" rolls in with a rage.
Ride miles of fence in a dust storm.
Small price for my board and my wage.

Cause at least I will still have my freedom,
not bound by the "civilized" way.
Some critters you can't tie, lest they give up and die,
Unable to live out their days.

Some think this life seems a hard'un,
but to me the blessings don't show.
No way I'll ever convince them.
Some things only a cowboy knows.

Now pard, we're 'a having this discussion
Cause there's something I'm wondering about.
When my time comes to cross over,
Will this old cowhand get to turn out?

You said when ya ride to the "Pearly Gate",
the "Tophand" checks in a book,
to see if your brand has been listed.
Do you think you might take a look?

Cause when it comes to my "Last Roundup,"
I hope that they let me sign on,
To ride the Bar-J with my partner again,
cause I'm tired of goin' it alone.

Thanks for the talk, I feel better now.
Ya pick me up out of my woes.
It does my heart good to talk to a friend,
Bout the things only a cowboy knows.

2004, Carl Condray and Lanny Joe Burnett
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the authors' written permission.

Carl Condray, Big Spring, Texas

Carl Condray's poetry has come from his experiences under the West Texas skies of Big Spring where he has lived most of his life.   He has worked for the City of Big Spring Fire Department for over 22 years and is the City Fire Marshall.  Carl loves to shoot Black Powder, and make silver badges. Most of all he likes to visit with people who love life and that is reflected in his Cowboy Poetry.

Carl says, "I have always loved history and poetry and "Cowboy Poetry" just seems to be the best combination of both!  His poetry has been heard all around the West Texas area and is spreading quickly across the state. He has been featured on the syndicated radio talk show, "The Sounds of Texas,"
hosted by the well-known entertainer, author and acclaimed journalist, "Tumbleweed Smith".  He has also been the subject of the television documentary "Texas Tales," a feature series hosted by John Pronk of WFAA Channel 8 in Dallas.  Carl has  performed at many of the top poetry gatherings including the State Fair of Texas and the National Cowboy Symposium. He is a member of the Academy of Western Artists (AWA) and is a Lariat Laureate runner-up at Cowboy Poetry. Com. Carl loves to share his poetry and tales with any "captive" audience he meets. 
Read more of his poetry here.

Lanny Joe Burnett,  Bonham, Texas

Cowboy poet Lanny Joe Burnett was raised on ranch in Fannin County, Texas. The son of fourth generation Texans who were teachers and operated a cattle and crop operation, Lanny Joe learned at an early age the meaning and importance of being a steward of the land.  His dad taught him that women are smarter than men and his mother stressed to him the importance of being a scholar and making a good impression on folks he met.  Leadership skills were developed through the Future Farmers of America where he rose to the rank of Vice President of the Texas Association.  As a delegate to the National FFA convention, he was instrumental in securing a resolution prohibiting girls from becoming FFA members. He claims to have been forced into this.  Upon graduation from high school, he was offered a scholarship to East Texas State University where in 1968 he received his Bachelor of Science degree in Agricultural Education. Lanny Joe has been, at various times, a teacher, ski instructor, motorcycle racer, cook, sales trainer and motivator, and inspirational speaker.  He has been a cowboy all his life.  He doesn't have a choice in this matter - it's in his blood.  Lanny Joe performs at churches, schools, benefits, and cowboy gatherings across the country.  He has performed cowboy poetry in Europe, Central Asia and in the galley of a 777, high over the Atlantic Ocean. Currently he teaches a weekly Bible study and serves as adult singles leader in his church.  He is proud to drive a pickup truck that makes car wash employees run for cover. 
Read more of his poetry here.


They Call Him a Cowboy

The sun breaks the horizon and streaks the morning the sky,
As babies play with mommas in the glistening morning dew.
He tightens up his saddle and with keen and knowing eyes,
He's the crew.

St. Elmo's blue lights dance across a herd of fright,
As thunder rumbles on while the rain in torrents falls.
He pulls his slicker tight, its mighty ruff tonight,
But, duty calls

By the sweat of his brow, and the callus of his hand,
 It's been his call, but few can understand,
It has driven him since birth, his love for the earth,
and they call him a Cowboy,
Yes, he truly is the Cowboy.

The air is thick with dust and complaints of being moved,
No more a simple herdsman, he's a steward of the land,
The water is fresh they find and the pasture its improved.
By his hand.

Computers track performance as the trucks haul to market,
The range is cut by fences; unlike the days of old.
But in a partnership with God, he's the living example
Of the Code

2004, Cody Anderson & Jim Anderson
This song may not be reprinted or reposted without the authors' written permission.


In A Way

Well the wind quit blowin' 'bout two this mornin',
     Don't know when the fire went out.
But the coffee in the pot is hard as a rock and
     I can see my breath when I 'm about.

I need some wood from the pile outside,
     But, my boots are stuck to the floor.
In my bare feet I made the discovery
     Snow had drifted half way up the door.

Oh well, we need the moisture, and there's plenty of hay.
     And the snow is sort of pretty.. in a way!

My hands sure got numb, but the stove is now loaded,
     And heat's beginning to spread now that it's had a stokin'.
I figured to thaw my gloves by laying 'em on the stove
    But the fingers was gone by the time they quit smokin'.

Well the batteries are dead on the truck and tractor,
     And to charge 'em would sure be nice.
But since the electricity just went off,
     I might as well get started busting ice.

Oh well, we need the moisture, and there's plenty of hay.
     And the snow is sort of pretty.. in a way!

The stock appeared thirsty standing there on the tank,
     So I grabbed a big old sledge and walked to the middle.
My first "John Henry" effort ricocheted off my shin,
     So I took another swing, didn't break no ice, only the handle.

I tried to shake the bees from my throbbing hands,
     Then walked over to retrieve the hammer's head,
The ice had withstood the hammer's mighty blow,
     So of course my boots went through instead.

Oh well, we need the moisture, and there's plenty of hay.
     But, I sort-a wish this cold wind would go away!

I reached the shack all stiff and shivering,
     But feeling no pain in my shin,
From the knees down, my legs were numb,
     And something had froze to my chin.

I think I'll just lay on the floor 'til I can quit shakin';
     The stock's got water and hay and feed in the bin.
I could use dry cloths and something warm inside,
     Oh never mind, its time to start all over again!

Who cares about the moisture, and I stacked all this blasted hay.
     It's just now November, and its sure a long time 'til May!!??!

2004, Jim Anderson and Cody Anderson
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.


Cody Anderson, Texas

Cody was born into a farming and ranching family in a small rural community in West Texas. Attended his first Pro Rodeo at six weeks of age and has been associated with cowboys in one way or another ever since. He won awards for singing and poetry in high school, and for the
last five years, Cody has been employed by the Elkins Ranch in the Palo Duro Canyon south of Amarillo, Texas. He plays upright bass and does most of the lead singing for the western group Palo Duro.

Jim Anderson, Texas

Jim was born and raised in a farming and ranching family in West Texas and southern Colorado. Worked his way through college as a working cowboy and been involved with rodeo and horses most of his life. He has played in a band from the age of twelve and ran the family farming and
ranching business until thirty seven years old, then took a long break form music and the rural life by force not choice in 1986. Finally in 1997, Jim got the chance to return to Texas and the life style he loved and now plays guitar and writes songs and poetry for Palo Duro where he is blessed to be working with his son and sharing his experiences with audiences across the nation.  Read more of Jim Anderson's work here.


Emcee and Judges

Jim Nelson of Pinedale, Wyoming, was the able emcee.  Jim helped relieve the competitive tension with his jokes and stories, and drew on his rodeo announcing experience to keep things running smoothly.  Jim and his brother Andy (Jim calls himself "the better looking half of the full Nelson") are the hosts of the Clear Out West radio show. 

Marcie Casey  of Shepherd, Montana, was the flag judge.  Marcie is married to T. J. Casey, Montana's Singing Cowboy.

Voleta Hummel of Santa Clarita was the time judge.  Voletta is known to all as the force behind the Western Music Calendar.

Poet Larry Maurice of Truckee, California, was the Supervising Official, Rodeo Secretary, referee, fall guy, and a judge.  Read more about Larry and some of his poetry here.

Other judges were:

Poet Doris Daley of Calgary, Alberta -- named AWA Female Poet of the Year.  Read more about Doris here.

Kathy Reed of Ottawa, Kansas, president of the AWA Heartland Region.  Kathy oversees the Heartland Region Horizon Award competition for cowboy music and poetry.

Poet Tim Jobe of Amarillo, Texas and Cal Farley's Boys Ranch.  Read about the Cal Farley's Boys Ranch Youth Cowboy Poetry Gathering here.

DJ Graham Lees of Dewesbury, West Yorkshire (England) was a judge.  Graham's web site is: www.grahamlees.co.uk    



Yvonne Hollenbeck arranged for the event sponsors.

The buckles (made by Dorothy Nelson of Triangle Cross Silver of Carter, South Dakota) were sponsored by:

Tehrani Motor Co; Valentine, Nebraska
Triangle Cross Silver; Carter, South Dakota
Reimer's Well Drilling: Valentine, Nebraska
Colome Feed Service; Colome, South Dakota
Curtis Trucking; Winner, South Dakota

The scarf slides and belt pins (made by Triangle Cross Silver of Carter, South Dakota) were sponsored by:

Charles & Vee Williams;  Dallas, Texas
Rick Devin; Dillon, Colorado

Additional awards were sponsored by Assman Implement; Mission, South Dakota


Second place poem winner Andy Nelson (with scarf slide), 
first place poem winner Yvonne Hollenbeck (with buckle), 
and emcee Jim Nelson
photo courtesy Yvonne Hollenbeck


Score Sheet


Score Sheet
Theme: Only a Cowboy Knows

Team Number:_____



Quality of Form and Style.............................1-20_______

Effective Use of Theme................................1-20_______


Enunciation and Pronunciation.......................1-20_______


Uniqueness of Composition...........................1-20______


Professional Delivery...................................1-20______

Expressiveness and Poise ............................1-20______

Engaging Composition..... ............................1-20______

Evokes Intended Humor or Sentiment.............1-20______

Overall Presentation....................................1-40______

               TOTAL SCORE (maximum 200)_______________


JUDGE'S  SIGNATURE_____________________________________



Following are the 2004 rules:


Each team will consist of two people who will both participate in the writing and creation of a poem or song based on the theme provided.  Only one team member needs to be present.  That team member must be an AWA member and have paid the full registration fee for the AWA Convention and Trade Show.

There will be two judges; a flag judge and a barrier judge.  The judges will be responsible for enforcing the rules.

There will be one timer, who is in charge of starting and stopping the time clock and blowing the whistle when the five (5) minute time limit is up.

A team of score keepers will be selected to score the event according to specific guidelines set before them by the committee.  The top score and low score will be discarded, and the remaining scores will be averaged.

There will be two divisions, Poetry and Song.  The "Poetry Division" will consist of a poem written by the team and can be performed by one or both of the team members.  The "Song Division" will consist of a song, with words and melody written by the team and can be performed by one or both of the team members.

No entries will be taken after the deadline of June 15, 2004.  Entries received after 12 teams have signed up in a division will be put on a waiting list and teams will be added in the order signup was received in the event of another team's cancellation.

Individuals can enter twice, however, they must be entered with different partners and must switch ends (for example, Joe and Mavis enter as  a team and write a poem;  Mavis and Shorty enter as a team and write a song). Individuals can only perform one time (for example, Joe and Mavis write a poem; Mavis performs the poem.  Mavis and Shorty write a song, but Mavis has already performed so Shorty, who can't sing for sour apples, has to perform the song)

Positions will be drawn immediately prior to the beginning of the event, at 2:45 on Monday, July 12 at the Poets' Stage at the AWA meeting. 

Each team will have five (5) minutes to perform their poem or song.  Time will begin when the first word is uttered, at which time the flag judge will signal the timer to begin the time clock; and a whistle will blow when the five (5) minutes are up.  Using less than five minutes is all right, however, exceeding the time limit will result in a disqualification.

The Barrier Judge will assist in decisions pertaining to disqualifications.

Announcement of winners and awards presentation will be held at a time and place announced at a time and place designated by the committee.

Disqualification can happen based on the following reasons:
   a.  failure to comply with theme
   b. use of obscene or distasteful material
   c. exceeding time limit
   d. ropers cannot crossfire

Failure to perform by teams entered will be excused only in the case of a death in the family (and it is your own), or a proper Vet release.

Entry fee of $20.00 per team payable in cash at event.  (Payback will be made in cash)

Total jackpot will be paid back as follows:
     1st place team - 40%
     2nd place team - 30%
     3rd place team - 20%
     4th place team - 10%

Additional prizes, including championship buckles, will be awarded and will be on display.



The following information was posted before the 2004 event:

First Annual Cowboy Poetry/Songwriting Team Roping Challenge
(a unique team-writing competition)

A unique and exciting competition will take place at the AWA Convention and Trade Show in Fort Worth on Monday, July 12, 2004 at 3:00 PM on the Poets' Stage in the Rio Grande Room:  The 1st Annual Cowboy Poetry/Songwriting Team Roping Challenge, where teams of poets and songwriters will compete for the championship.

Positions will be drawn immediately prior to the beginning of the event, at 2:45.

The topic is "Only a Cowboy Knows." 

Only one team member needs to be in attendance to present the resulting poem or song.  The team members must both be AWA members.  Any team member at the event must have paid the full registration fee for the AWA Convention and Trade Show (see the AWA web site for a convention registration form: www.awa-awards.org)

Prizes include champion hand made buckles for first place teams, silver scarf slides/belt pins for second place winners, and a cash purse.

The topic was announced June 18 by email to those registered and also posted on the AWA site (www.awa-awards.org), www.Cowboypoetry.com, and at SilverCreek Books and Music (www.silvercreekmusic.com).  To ensure that no one knew the theme until the announcement, Brian Woodrome of SilverCreek Books and Music independently came up with three themes.  He sent
those to Margo Metegrano of CowboyPoetry.com the day before the topic was announced, and she choose one as the topic.

The short version of the procedure:

- Find a songwriting or poet partner
- Sign up
- The theme is announced June 18
- Create a song or poem (5 minute limit)
- Pay $20 cash per team at Ft. Worth
- Win big (prizes and cash) in Ft. Worth





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