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Best Famous Cowboy Poems

Here is a collection of the all-time best famous Cowboy poems. This is a select list of the best famous Cowboy poetry. Reading, writing, and enjoying famous Cowboy poetry (as well as classical and contemporary poems) is a great past time. These top poems are the best examples of cowboy poems.

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See also: Best Member Poems

by Margaret Atwood | |

Backdropp Addresses Cowboy

 Starspangled cowboy 
sauntering out of the almost-
silly West, on your face 
a porcelain grin, 
tugging a papier-mache cactus 
on wheels behind you with a string, 


you are innocent as a bathtub
full of bullets.
Your righteous eyes, your laconic trigger-fingers people the streets with villains: as you move, the air in front of you blossoms with targets and you leave behind you a heroic trail of desolation: beer bottles slaughtered by the side of the road, bird- skulls bleaching in the sunset.
I ought to be watching from behind a cliff or a cardboard storefront when the shooting starts, hands clasped in admiration, but I am elsewhere.
Then what about me what about the I confronting you on that border you are always trying to cross? I am the horizon you ride towards, the thing you can never lasso I am also what surrounds you: my brain scattered with your tincans, bones, empty shells, the litter of your invasions.
I am the space you desecrate as you pass through.


by Robert William Service | |

Kings Must Die

 Alphonso Rex who died in Rome
Was quite a fistful as a kid;
For when I visited his home,
That gorgeous palace in Madrid,
The grinning guide-chap showed me where
He rode his bronco up the stair.
That stairway grand of marbled might, The most majestic in the land, In statured splendour, flight on flight, He urged his steed with whip in hand.
No lackey could restrain him for He gained the gilded corridor.
He burst into the Royal suite, And like a cowboy whooped with glee; Dodging the charger's flying feet The Chamberlain was shocked to see: Imagine how it must have been a Grief to Mother Queen Christina! And so through sheer magnificence I roamed from stately room to room, Yet haunted ever by the sense Of tragical dynastic doom.
The walls were wailing: Kings must die, Being plain blokes like you and I.
Well, here's the moral to my rhyme: When memories more worthy fade We find that whimsically Time Conserves some crazy escapade.
So as I left I stood to stare With humorous enjoyment where Alphonso crashed the Palace stair.


by James Tate | |

Non-Stop

 It seemed as if the enormous journey 
was finally approaching its conclusion.
From the window of the train the last trees were dissipating, a child-like sailor waved once, a seal-like dog barked and died.
The conductor entered the lavatory and was not seen again, although his harmonica-playing was appreciated.
He was not without talent, some said.
A botanist with whom I had become acquainted actually suggested we form a group or something.
I was looking for a familiar signpost in his face, or a landmark that would indicate the true colors of his tribe.
But, alas, there was not a glass of water anywhere or even the remains of a trail.
I got a bewildered expression of my own and slinked to the back of the car where a nun started to tickle me.
She confided to me that it was her cowboy pride that got her through .
.
.
Through what? I thought, but drew my hand close to my imaginary vest.
"That's a beautiful vest," she said, as I began crawling down the aisle.
At last, I pressed my face against the window: A little fog was licking its chop, as was the stationmaster licking something.
We didn't stop.
We didn't appear to be arriving, and yet we were almost out of landscape.
No creeks or rivers.
Nothing even remotely reminding one of a mound.
O mound! Thou ain't around no more.
A heap of abstract geometrical symbols, that's what it's coming to, I thought.
A nothing you could sink your teeth into.
"Relief's on the way," a little know-nothing boy said to me.
"Imagine my surprise," I said and reached out to muss his hair.
But he had no hair and it felt unlucky touching his skull like that.
"Forget what I said," he said.
"What did you say?" I asked in automatic compliance.
And then it got very dark and quiet.
I closed my eyes and dreamed of an emu I once loved.


More great poems below...

by Edward Taylor | |

Non-Stop

 It seemed as if the enormous journey 
was finally approaching its conclusion.
From the window of the train the last trees were dissipating, a child-like sailor waved once, a seal-like dog barked and died.
The conductor entered the lavatory and was not seen again, although his harmonica-playing was appreciated.
He was not without talent, some said.
A botanist with whom I had become acquainted actually suggested we form a group or something.
I was looking for a familiar signpost in his face, or a landmark that would indicate the true colors of his tribe.
But, alas, there was not a glass of water anywhere or even the remains of a trail.
I got a bewildered expression of my own and slinked to the back of the car where a nun started to tickle me.
She confided to me that it was her cowboy pride that got her through .
.
.
Through what? I thought, but drew my hand close to my imaginary vest.
"That's a beautiful vest," she said, as I began crawling down the aisle.
At last, I pressed my face against the window: A little fog was licking its chop, as was the stationmaster licking something.
We didn't stop.
We didn't appear to be arriving, and yet we were almost out of landscape.
No creeks or rivers.
Nothing even remotely reminding one of a mound.
O mound! Thou ain't around no more.
A heap of abstract geometrical symbols, that's what it's coming to, I thought.
A nothing you could sink your teeth into.
"Relief's on the way," a little know-nothing boy said to me.
"Imagine my surprise," I said and reached out to muss his hair.
But he had no hair and it felt unlucky touching his skull like that.
"Forget what I said," he said.
"What did you say?" I asked in automatic compliance.
And then it got very dark and quiet.
I closed my eyes and dreamed of an emu I once loved.


by Ellis Parker Butler | |

When Ida Puts Her Armor On

 The Cowboy had a sterling heart,
The Maiden was from Boston,
The Rancher saw his wealth depart—
The Steers were what he lost on.
The Villain was a banker’s limb, His spats and cane were nifty; The Maiden needs must marry him— Her father was not thrifty.
The Sheepmen were as foul as pitch, The Cowboy was a hero, The gold mine made the hero rich, The Villain’s score was zero.
The Sheepmen tried to steal the maid, The Villain sought the attic, The Hero fifteen bad men slayed With his blue automatic.
The Hero kissed the willing lass, The final scene was snappy; The Villain went to Boston, Mass.
, And everyone was happy.


by Vachel Lindsay | |

To Mary Pickford

 MOVING-PICTURE ACTRESS

(On hearing she was leaving the moving-pictures for the stage.
) Mary Pickford, doll divine, Year by year, and every day At the movmg-picture play, You have been my valentine.
Once a free-limbed page in hose, Baby-Rosalind in flower, Cloakless, shrinking, in that hour How our reverent passion rose, How our fine desire you won.
Kitchen-wench another day, Shapeless, wooden every way.
Next, a fairy from the sun.
Once you walked a grown-up strand Fish-wife siren, full of lure, Snaring with devices sure Lads who murdered on the sand.
But on most days just a child Dimpled as no grown-folk are, Cold of kiss as some north star, Violet from the valleys wild.
Snared as innocence must be, Fleeing, prisoned, chained, half-dead— At the end of tortures dread Roaring Cowboys set you free.
Fly, O song, to her to-day, Like a cowboy cross the land.
Snatch her from Belasco's hand And that prison called Broadway.
All the village swains await One dear lily-girl demure, Saucy, dancing, cold and pure, Elf who must return in state.


by Lawrence Ferlinghetti | |

Bird With Two Right Wings

 And now our government
a bird with two right wings
flies on from zone to zone
while we go on having our little fun & games
at each election
as if it really mattered who the pilot is
of Air Force One
(They're interchangeable, stupid!)
While this bird with two right wings
flies right on with its corporate flight crew
And this year its the Great Movie Cowboy in the cockpit
And next year its the great Bush pilot
And now its the Chameleon Kid
and he keeps changing the logo on his captains cap
and now its a donkey and now an elephant
and now some kind of donkephant
And now we recognize two of the crew
who took out a contract on America
and one is a certain gringo wretch
who's busy monkeywrenching
crucial parts of the engine
and its life-support systems
and they got a big fat hose
to siphon off the fuel to privatized tanks
And all the while we just sit there
in the passenger seats
without parachutes
listening to all the news that's fit to air
over the one-way PA system
about how the contract on America
is really good for us etcetera
As all the while the plane lumbers on
into its postmodern
manifest destiny


by Anthony Hecht | |

The End Of The Weekend

 A dying firelight slides along the quirt
Of the cast iron cowboy where he leans
Against my father's books.
The lariat Whirls into darkness.
My girl in skin tight jeans Fingers a page of Captain Marriat Inviting insolent shadows to her shirt.
We rise together to the second floor.
Outside, across the lake, an endless wind Whips against the headstones of the dead and wails In the trees for all who have and have not sinned.
She rubs against me and I feel her nails.
Although we are alone, I lock the door.
The eventual shapes of all our formless prayers: This dark, this cabin of loose imaginings, Wind, lip, lake, everything awaits The slow unloosening of her underthings And then the noise.
Something is dropped.
It grates against the attic beams.
I climb the stairs Armed with a belt.
A long magnesium shaft Of moonlight from the dormer cuts a path Among the shattered skeletons of mice.
A great black presence beats its wings in wrath.
Above the boneyard burn its golden eyes.
Some small grey fur is pulsing in its grip.


by Carl Sandburg | |

Band Concert

 BAND concert public square Nebraska city.
Flowing and circling dresses, summer-white dresses.
Faces, flesh tints flung like sprays of cherry blossoms.
And gigglers, God knows, gigglers, rivaling the pony whinnies of the Livery Stable Blues.
Cowboy rags and nigger rags.
And boys driving sorrel horses hurl a cornfield laughter at the girls in dresses, summer-white dresses.
Amid the cornet staccato and the tuba oompa, gigglers, God knows, gigglers daffy with life’s razzle dazzle.
Slow good-night melodies and Home Sweet Home.
And the snare drummer bookkeeper in a hardware store nods hello to the daughter of a railroad conductor—a giggler, God knows, a giggler—and the summer-white dresses filter fanwise out of the public square.
The crushed strawberries of ice cream soda places, the night wind in cottonwoods and willows, the lattice shadows of doorsteps and porches, these know more of the story.


by Eugene Field | |

The limitations of youth

 I'd like to be a cowboy an' ride a fiery hoss
Way out into the big an' boundless west;
I'd kill the bears an' catamounts an' wolves I come across,
An' I'd pluck the bal' head eagle from his nest!
With my pistols at my side,
I would roam the prarers wide,
An' to scalp the savage Injun in his wigwam would I ride--
If I darst; but I darsen't!

I'd like to go to Afriky an' hunt the lions there,
An' the biggest ollyfunts you ever saw!
I would track the fierce gorilla to his equatorial lair,
An' beard the cannybull that eats folks raw!
I'd chase the pizen snakes
An' the 'pottimus that makes
His nest down at the bottom of unfathomable lakes--
If I darst; but I darsen't!

I would I were a pirut to sail the ocean blue,
With a big black flag aflyin' overhead;
I would scour the billowy main with my gallant pirut crew
An' dye the sea a gouty, gory red!
With my cutlass in my hand
On the quarterdeck I'd stand
And to deeds of heroism I'd incite my pirut band--
If I darst; but I darsen't!

And, if I darst, I'd lick my pa for the times that he's licked me!
I'd lick my brother an' my teacher, too!
I'd lick the fellers that call round on sister after tea,
An' I'd keep on lickin' folks till I got through!
You bet! I'd run away
From my lessons to my play,
An' I'd shoo the hens, an' tease the cat, an' kiss the girls all day--
If I darst; but I darsen't!