You think you’re alone out on the range
Sittin’ silent under starry sky,
Just a marvelin’ at the universe
And wonderin’ ‘bout that ol’ question: why?
You shake your head at worlds of worry,
Knowin’ it ain’t often that you’ll find,
All the answers to your queries
Beneath the clear black sky and pine.
You wonder if we rose up from mud
And walked straight and tall upon this earth—
Or was it all created in a moment—
A conception that gave us true birth.
Are we all no more than those monkeys
Evolvin’ slowly down life’s long line?
Or is there more to earth and heaven
Touched by something truly sublime?
We keep on punchin’ clocks and cattle
And tryin’ to get through each new morn—
But is there more to life than dyin’
And will we somehow be reborn?
All the cattle know my hard proddin’
As I lead them along time’s sad way—
We live for but a flashin’ moment,
As we watch life go by in one short day.
So make the best of trails you ride, cowboy—
Each tomorrow is both yours and mine—
And gaze long at stars in that vast sky
Placed there by intelligent design.
Those condo cowboys are clingin’ to things that used to be,
Starin’ out those city windows or sittin’ on balconies.
They can still smell the country, the ranch, the horses and the range—
At times they wear cowboy hats, though folks might think them strange.
And like those cowboys long ago, they’re roamin’ in their soul,
From Nevada, Arizona and old Colorado.
They’ve seen and done so many things that most can only dream,
Yet still they have the urge to cross one more mountain stream.
But now they’re just old cowboys, that’s all that they want to be,
They seek no big fortune, high status or fine pedigree.
They see the world too clearly, seldom hold or mince their speech,
They live the cowboy code and keep life’s truth within their reach.
Those condo cowboys are special, each one from a unique mold,
They just keep on ridin’ life’s long trail and never do grow old.
Wearing Daddy's boots & cowboy hat & not much in between
Why, Momma, ain't she just about the prettiest baby you've ever seen?
I'm sure wishing she was talking, reading her mind is quite a trick
And she's sure getting awful heavy, I hope she's walking quick
Whoa there, sassy, Momma look at her running wild
Why I am not sure there ever was a more rambunctious child
Life sure was a picnic when we could just bundle her up & go
Now I get tuckered just watching her, she's a pint size dynamo
Waist length braids, a gap tooth grin & freckled face
That's our girl, Momma, her calf just took first place
How old is she now, six? No, she can't possibly be eight
Seems she is growing up faster than I'd anticipate
Well I'll be, look at her standing on the stairs
in a fancy gown, heels & make up putting on womanly airs
this young girl looking back at me, yesterday she was only seven
Now there's a young buck staring at her like he's just seen heaven
Wearing a cap & gown, her diploma held high
Look, Momma, there's our girl, getting ready to give her wings a try
Wasn't it just yesterday she was afraid of the monsters under the bed?
Now she's off to college, her own path to tread
Wearing Grandma's pearls & a gown of antique white
Now, Momma, don't start fussing, everything will be all right
Wasn't it just yesterday, I was wishing she was talking?
Now the music is playing & down the aisle we're walking
Wearing Grandpa's boots & cowboy hat & nothing in between
Why Grandma ain't that the prettiest grandbaby you've ever seen?
Now listen, Sassy, don't go wishing for her to grow up so fast
Treasure each & every moment, create a memory to last
Be mindful of what you wish for when your babes are small
For in just the blink of an eye, they won't be small at all
You dream of turning back the clock & know you never will
For time flies, just as surely as you wish it would stand still
A thousand times I have heard,
“There but for the Grace of God...”
but until today that phrase,
struck me as somewhat odd.
The old Cowboy who staggered by,
was three sheets to the wind.
but he swept off his hat before me,
and at the waist did bend.
“Fair Lady, how goes your day?”,
he asked as he deeply bowed,
his face was flush, but his manner gentile,
and he spoke clearly, though not loud.
The politeness of his question,
had completely caught me off guard.
I looked into his wind-burned face,
and saw a look that was not hard.
“My day goes well, and thank you sir.”
was my own courteous reply.
As I gave a small curtsy and a smile,
I saw a twinkle in his eye.
“Oh surely, Lovely Lady,
you have truly made my day.”
He put on his hat, caught his bearings,
and sauntered on his way.
No one else along the street,
looked directly at him or spoke.
Some looked away, while others laughed,
and and made him the point of their joke.
I alone had been blessed,
only I knew what lay inside,
for it had been revealed to me,
what rumpled clothes and liquor hide.
I had seen a gentleman,
a Cowboy tried and true,
with manners most becoming,
a Real Man, through and through.
I was allowed to look past the fact,
that he was poorly dressed and shod,
I had seen the inside of a Heart,
and the Grace placed there by God.
In crackled tintypes bent with long ago,
Amid flaxen sunset and skies of cherry—
In worn leather-carved ancient scenario,
He dare not lie in milkweed prairie.
He rides resolute toward that sweat-tinged fame,
Always the heart’s hero of our once young eye,
As pale ivory range sighs softly his name
And we all know the real reason why.
It is high sage country that he will ride,
As that tin sun burns alabaster away—
And new birthed rains roll off his cow rancher hide,
So his soft summer’s mirage will stay.
Some see him crude – of but limited worth—
Lacking pure knowledge or certain savoir-faire—
But born of bone plain, he is of no fool’s birth—
A force of nature that’s always there.
From coat’s patina past years slide, of course,
As lines are spurred so deep into his Sphinx face—
But he’d rather be poised high atop his horse
In no other country, time or place.
His heritage is long – it’s here he’ll die—
He rides his own land in cruel spring rains and snows—
And like that wax jacket, he’ll keep his hopes dry,
Because ranching is all that he knows.
No one knows where the longhorn goes,
When his breed is scattered and few—
He once was king of the cattle ring,
But his time in this world is through.
We all must go where longhorns go,
When the bone moon falls from the sky—
We will not hide when we ride no more
And the longhorn goes off to die.
Our land must be where longhorns live—
Where we all seek our destiny—
This once was land still full of sand
With longhorns far as you could see.
We all must dream what cowboys dreamt
When they looked out upon the West—
We all should lead the life we need
As we follow the trail that’s best.
We all must go where longhorns grazed
On a ride through the green grass sea—
We all must lead and protect our creed—
But most of all, we should be free.
The path is hard, but we will climb
Up that hill where the longhorn goes—
Though the trail is long, it is not wrong,
When we know what the longhorn knows.
My roots run deep & strong here in this place you curse & scorn
I couldn’t think of a better place than here to have been born
you say this is a dead end town, where dreams whither & die
I know this town has nurtured my dreams, seen them soar & fly
You say the cowboy has left & gone, run off by urban sprawl
Yet every morning, I still hear the young calves bawl
you talk of crime run amok & people no one can trust
I choose my friends carefully & fight for the right & the just
You say this is no place to raise a child, that they’ll not learn respect
but its our job to raise them up, their course in life direct
You say that no one gives a damn about another’s plight
but I have seen this town come together to turn a wrong to right
You say this town holds you back & you will never gain success
I can feel her sing my praises as I aim to do my best
I will stay here in this valley & no matter where I roam
I know my roots run deep here & I will always come back home
Pack your bags & go on down the road in search of better grazing
One day you will come full circle & return here to your raising
For your roots run deep here too, though you may curse & shout
and roots, home & belonging are what life is all about
© October 2003
The wren hour drool within that
very day, When we were taken
on a forage trip, Beyond the
karfanchan dangling viaduct, In
our own vertigo, And was coll by
the alien sun of a day,
We passed-by, As enamor was
with her, Many was about, I
choose aftermath, As for aeon of
a time, Yes it was such a
wonderful voyeur, Had wish it
lingers us far too off, I puff
vrouw through my wife beak
nose, Their ears, eyes stand-out
like Coco-yam leaf, whilst her
frescata inhold my once
beholden self , Some whisker
pups prance across My vrouw,
Wanton in their
Omnishamblings, like a dumb
duck, Meanwhile like sorts of the
sky high, Behind their mounting
shack, And her scamps out
wrung the furthest spot, As we
bore off a bit pointing yet, Felt
we are on the hoof side.
Ben raised up a dern disappointment, Daddy, well, he wanted a boy.
Wasn’t nothing under the bleeding red sun Ma could do but keep on a tryin’
Ya’siree, she was one branded filly and dern iffin that filly didn’t birth a maverick.
Daddy, well he had him some hard times a com’n
and he didn’t ev’n try to hide his fallen face when Sis was born.
that un, well, she was maverick number two!
Daddy was the devil may care sort and him and his seed strayed far afield,
sowing his wild oats, praying for an heir, he himself was one
‘slick hairy dick’ so to speak [that’s cowboy lingo for a maverick himself]
and you know what they say, “The cow plop don’t fall far from its arse”
He kept on pokin’ Ma ‘till he got that boy, all nine caterwauling pounds!
Dynasty founded, one hell of a shindig was thrown, as luck would have it,
Dad strayed, but not before he taught his gal’s not to take guff from any man!
Out on the range, Dad rounded up a couple more Betty’s
“Yehaw, did that brand sizzle” got his self a couple more bucko’s
for the dynasty and another sweet filly, all of them mavericks to the core.
Funny thing is old Dad’s gal’s got more balls then most men.
So, I guess in the end [wink] he taught us well!
*This is a Cowboy Poem, it is a maverick to it's form because
Cowboy poetry is rhymed, metered verse written by someone who has lived a significant portion of his or her life in Western North American cattle culture. The verse reflects an intimate knowledge of that way of life, and the community.
[Never lived in the West, don't like anything that looks at me with one eye!
"...names have been changed to protect the innocent."
P.S. I'm the maverick!
Tears - Are As Old
… As East Of Eden
Pain - Is As Old
… As East Of Eden
Woes - Are As Old
… As East Of Eden …
That’s Why The Cowboy … Rides West
And Disappears, Into The Flaming Sunsets … ( Gen. 3: 23, 24 )
He must sit back and just smile at sunsets;
The colors and quiet must give him great joy—
As do the sweet sage and morning violets;
God must be a cowboy.
He breathes life in the wind on the prairie
And sustains the green earth with the soft rain;
And he grows all the fish in the vast sea;
It is an unbroken chain.
Oh, you can hear him creak that old saddle
As he rounds up the skies and the whole earth range;
His eyes are on us and he’s not idle.
The only constant is change.
Yes, He rides beside us in gold grasses
And He watches our bedroll every night;
He helps us over all the high passes
And teaches us to do right.
And meekly we speak of Him by His name
As we take great pains to please and not annoy;
Knowing when we ride off back where we came:
God must be a cowboy.
One time in the past, I saw a picture of me.
I was a child; I wore a cowboy suit with cowboy hat.
I don’t remember this, but it was still part of history.
There was only, one other time, other than that.
This time I wore, baseball cap and helmet at bat,
I knew early on, my head would be bare eternally.
For my head was too big and also to flat,
Believe me whoever I asked, would definitely agree.
The thing I would use a hat for, would be to swat a gnat.
So I really have no favorite, definitely not, a Top Hat.
Sponsor Carol Brown
Contest Name My Favorite Hat or Bonnet
Has America’s spirit strayed off the trail?
Have we found what’s in every canyon
Or have we failed?
Will we let the bad guys win and try no more?
See Lady Liberty as something
To just deplore?
Have we seen the elephant grow soft and weak
As the donkey only sits and brays,
But does not speak
Or see the wild anger in our horse’s eyes
As they promise us those gold cities
And tell more lies.
America has strayed too far off the trail—
We wait a great judgment from the West
Cloaked in black veil.
A Rose in full bloom,
such a beautiful sight to see.
In mornin' first dewy light,
lettin' it's pedals free.
Something to admire,
Only from a distance.
On the back of a good horse,
across a fence.
My life has been romanced,
and turned to some fantasy.
But the cowboy life is mine,
the dreams of it are for those in the city.
For bronc's can be flat mean,
and the dusty breeze is hot.
and if an ol' ladino gets a holt of ya,
you appreciate what you got.
But a mountain mornin'
can make a heart turn glad.
and get ya to thinkin'
of all you had.
With so much and so little,
beauty is ones life.
A cowboy has to stop and gaze,
just for a moment and a half.
So this ol' tumbleweed gets movin'
when the wind blows.
Takin' me away from,
from the garden of Rose.
Funny Story and unfortunately true. When I was in Prison at Pelican Bay State prison in Crescent City, Ca., one of the ways I made money or "cantene" as it was called was poetry of sorts.. I was more or less the hallmark kinda person. Writing stuff for anyone that asked and especially when they paid. I was asked to write a poem about having a pocket full of rocks. I had made the mistake of boasting that I could come up with something at least with a beginning, middle and end about anything.....anything ..........You read this and you will see how wrong I was.....or was I?
"Pocket Full of Rocks"
I had a brand new pick up truck.
A big wide screen T.V.
A house up on the hillside
beneath the shade of and old Oak Tree.
I once wore some fancy clothes.
All around the world I'd roam.
Now all I've got is what you see.
Flat broke and all alone.
I was known at every bank in town.
Had more cash than I thought I'd spend.
Both A Master Card and Visa
whose limits had no end.
I had women everywhere I turned.
More love than you could know.
Then I went and blew it all.
Where did it all go?
Now with patches on my blue jeans
and holes in both my socks,
I've a head thats full of empty dreams
and a pocket full of rocks.
No..I don't have a dog gone thing.
No car! No clothes! No house.
Hell even my best friend is gone.
Ran off with what was my spouse.
Yet I'm still fairly happy.
I can't dwell on what I had.
Cause' if I did; believe you me.
I'd be to Gaw Durn sad!
They were talking about drugs. I did not know they were talking about a drug. So you can imagine all the crap I got on this one. .... Prison sucked. I deserved to be there. (I never hurt anyone, stole or terrorized anyone) This was a very lighthearted moment in a time of my life that was anything but pleasant.
*I had no idea I was being so prophetic.........For Someone?
Oh, the leaves are liquid yellow
As we ride on through Custer Park,
In search of that old Badger Hole:
Home of the poet Badger Clark.
Yes, we come to step back in time—
It’s a historic rule of thumb—
Where the city does not crowd you,
And man can be scattered some.
The old cabin now sits empty—
A last poetic monument—
Proving that words can still live on
Where men have lived and come and went.
A handshake speaks volumes, keep it firm & strong
Learn from your mistakes & admit when you're wrong
Stand your ground when you know you're right
Never drop your guard or waver in a fight
Never give up & put your best in all you do
Follow your heart & to yourself stay true
May every word match every deed
Always lend a hand to those in need
Things turn out better when you take time to pray
A light heart & hard work keep the storm clouds at bay
Hold your friends close for each is a treasure
In your family, look always for solace & pleasure
A light touch on the reins is only half the battle
Make sure you set deep & tall in the saddle
Treat horse & man with equal respect
When asked for advice, be kind but direct
There's a bright side to even the darkest day
You'll gain more from life if a smile leads the way
A true friend is one who cannot be bought
These are a few of the lessons I've been taught
By those who have guided me throughout my life
My wellspring of wisdom to rely on in times of strife
© December 2003
Though you slipped
from this earth
so long ago
nigh on twenty years
I still feel you
here beside me
Hear your voice
within my soul
As I walk
behind the back chutes
at the Sonoita Rodeo
your ghost elusive
I guess it's true
what the old ones say
about gone but
For You're still here
in heart & spirit
every melody & tune
I dance in memory
(c) September 2002
our skills..talents..gifts,that we have..
these are our tools..weapons..instruments
and we just want to live..
put into a situation in wich we did not choose our roles..
some of us are the fans and the royalty
they watch people like me do what needs to be done...
people like me..we just want to live
so we use our weapons and do what we have to..
we didnt choose for it to be like this..
we watch the fortunate crowd the seats of this coliseum called life..
and they watch us jump back and forth through shades of color..
they judge us...
but we just want to live
comatose commas thought April too lenient;
birth was postponed until June,
provided preference for instant coffee
or selfless gratification,
minus the flack fouled narcolepsy,
however insistent …
as cardboard mansions collapsed under oath,
if under cardiac-arrest,
below if not adjacent to, the end,
regardless of means…
in a word,
in a moment,
without reason or hope,
saline through time…
Now, I find it kind of funny how quickly things change
Once was a time when everyone wanted a home on the range
A place where they had room to stretch & grow
Out where the cattle bawl & the west winds blow
The city folk have all gone country or so they’d like to think
Why, there are new houses going up faster than you can blink
You remember that prime grazing lease? Take another look
Its looking more & more like an architect’s pop-up book
They come out here to escape all the big city worries & trouble
They said they weren’t concerned if their commute doubled
Now they are talking of bringing a super market in
And an increase in crime spreads our deputies thin
They thought that grazing cattle made a picture quite quaint
Now those same cows holding up traffic is an oft heard complaint
They throw out words like eco-friendly & enviromental plan
then scrape the land as clean as momma’s griddle pan
Yes, everybody wants a home out on the range
And I am just a cowboy trying to reconcile the change
I watch the valley whittled down into an urban scene
and wish that I was back again in childhood fields of green
(c) Februaury 2004
Death rides a pale horse, it is often quoted
to resurrecting bitter memories it is devoted
But the killer of dreams is Brahma dark
and with a twist of its head, hits its mark
I’ve ridden the memories until I’ve about lost count
Sometimes I wonder which of us is actually keeping score
and I’d gladly welcome that pale mount
just to dare to dream once more
© July 2004
It slides softly in the night sky,
That pale moccasin of the moon—
It lights up a snow-bleached prairie—
Whispering summer comes too soon.
We trace the trail of coyotes—
Avoid the dark dens of the bear—
The full light of your white footprint
Lures us now to your fatal lair.
Oh, we chant into the black dome
Of all the things that used to be—
There’s no more Indian summer—
Long gone are Cree and Cherokee.
Yet, still the silky stealthy tread
Brings back images bright and keen—
Of lost Native Americans
Where so few are now seldom seen.
But moons do not let us forget
All the wild blood shed on both sides—
As we trace steps of moccasins
To where the dark of the moon hides.
Yes, it walks gently in tall sky,
That faint moccasin of new moon—
So gently it illuminates
As we dance mutely to its tune.
In that grey, quiet space between night & dawn
While the coyote sings a good morning song
A cowboy rides up to a spot high on the hill
to reflect on his blessings & the bounty of good will
For a hot cup of coffee & warm meals to eat
For the shade of a broad brim hat & the sturdy boots on his feet
For the comfort in the silence just before the rooster crows
Just why he was chosen to be this lucky, only the Creator knows
For this good horse between his knees, sure & steady at a lope
for those fat & sassy cattle & true aim when he ropes
For all his compadres just now stirring for the day
Each one of them in your likeness, so the preachers say
For living each & every day as Cowboy as he can
For unexpected kindness & the basic goodness of a man
The keening of the hawk draws his gaze up toward the sky
And he says another prayer for those who ride in the By & By
Yes, there are surely enough reasons to grump, cuss or shout
But taking stock of all your blessings is what that first morning cup is all about
So thank you once again sir, for giving us this life
May you ride along beside us, in good times & in strife
(for “Cody” Brunner 1986-2007)
Some said he was just a kid,
Then coming into his prime—
But he had those cowboy dreams
And he knew it was his time.
They said he’d made his mind up
And that some day he’d go far—
He roped, rode and dallied up
His dreams of the PBR.
He woke up on those mornings—
Rode off to the URA—
He was sixth in the money—
Had to ride that bull that day.
There were no words to stop him
That his ma or pa could say—
It was an 8-second fact
He’d ride that big bull that day.
And when the gate was opened,
No bull there could get his goat—
He blew off high and wicked—
The bull came down on his throat.
Oh, there’s little here to add
And not too much left to say—
But Cody went 8 seconds
And he rode that bull that day.
In all our life there’s sorrow—
Things don’t turn out so it seems—
But we hold that rope tighter
As we ride out all our dreams.
There’s an empty place by the campfire
That no one had noticed before—
Once filled with poems and old stories
About the Old West and its lore.
I can still hear the tin cups clanking,
The soft sipping of the hot joe—
All the tunes of the old Chisholm Trail—
Things only a cowboy would know.
The fire’s warm but somehow we’re still cold,
By what’s gone from our fire and heart—
We know the loneliness soon leaves us—
All the things of this earth will part.
But now all our voices are hollow
And there’s a void left by the flame—
New riders will soon fill that old place,
But somehow it won’t be the same.
There’s an empty place by the campfire
And all of us know that it’s there—
We know that ours will be empty, too,
When there’s no more stories to share.
I’ve ridden many a trail in my life & regrets I have few
For I lived the life I chose & to the Cowboy way stayed true
I will not ask for a mansion when I stand before God’s throne
I’ll be happy with a bedroll, a good herd & a sturdy roan
A cowboy’s dream is what I lived for so many happy years
I had my spread & family, made a good living from the calves & steers
So do not cry when you think of me, for I would rather see you smile
Rest easy in the knowing that because of you, my life was not a trial
Do not stand around & speak in hushed & hallowed tones
For there is nothing in this casket, except for husk & bones
My Spirit saddled up & hit the trail, heeding the Master’s call
And though I ride for him now, I’ll miss you one & all
In the creak of saddle leather & the jinglebobs you hear
I hope you think of me & know that I am ever near
I ride a range that knows no end, no stampede or rain
And I’ll keep one saddled for you until we meet again
I did not drive the roan that day,
Just saddled up my old dark bay,
To check out fences far afield
And breathe in life with all its yield.
Near border’s end I came upon
A fresh, dead cow down by the pond.
I wondered why it had died here
With water and spring grass so near.
I spurred my horse and reined away
But something said that I should stay—
I creaked down from my saddle’s reach
And saw the cow had died in breech.
I knew they should be buried soon,
By light of day or dark of moon.
I left them there, that calf and cow
And rode back home in thought somehow.
I had forgot that scene of death
Till summer quickly took my breath
And once again I passed that shell
Of twisted skin and faded smell.
The worms had done their work it seems
On frenzied flesh and faltered dreams.
Yet, still I stared like at a grave—
Thought how we took but seldom gave.
Then autumn came and tinted trees
With colors each low creature sees.
So on my horse I sought them out,
To answer what this life’s about.
A mute Madonna—sticks of bone,
Still nestled there so all alone.
We live and die, the season’s dawn,
We’re all breech born before we’re gone.
In winter’s wind the world turns cold
As cow and calf and man grow old.
Yet, now there’s no sinew or hide
To hint of life or what’s inside.
Death’s passion passed and so did I
To pay respects and say goodbye.
For man and beast all die as kin—
I will not ride this trail again.
“A Cowboy is born with a broken heart”
I once heard someone say
But it’s life’s travails
that make it seem that way
Just settle back & lend an ear
I will see if I can explain
Its every “good bye” left unspoken
every tear that’s never shed
It’s the pride you just can’t swallow
every apology left unsaid
It’s the emptiness & sorrow
you carry with you on life’s trails
It was in the way back years
must have been six or seven
I watched a strong man crumble
When I saw my Daddy cry
He’d just come from burying Grandpa
Never got to say Good Bye
We lost the ranch when I was eight
and though his dream had failed
I watched my Daddy shoulder on
Never buckling under the weight
He altered course & tried again
Heart worn & weary but he prevailed
When I was but a woman child
True love found, my forever friend
We’d talked of “Through Forever”
He rides in Heaven’s arena now
True love’s bonds the veil can’t sever
All to soon I lost him to a Brahma wild
A Cowboy’s heart isn’t broken at the very start
It’s the unspoken words and unshed tears
Its all those lonely midnight memories
that creates a Life Worn Heart
(c) January 2004