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Cowboy Death Poems | Cowboy Poems About Death

These Cowboy Death poems are examples of Cowboy poems about Death. These are the best examples of Cowboy Death poems written by international PoetrySoup poets

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Details | Cowboy | |

Compadre

We’ve shared the trail, kicked up some dust, An’ stood a storm or two. We’ve rode the plains, the wide frontier, The easy trails were few. You’ve listened like some wise old sage To ever thing I’ve said, An’ as a friend, supported me, No matter where it led. I wished I coulda carried you, The times you were in pain; Or rustled up some kinda shed To turn the blowin’ rain. I’ve come up shy with some your needs, You gave me more’n you got, But in your silence, seemed to know, I needed you a lot. Compadre, friend, amigo, pard; I called you all them things, But there’s been times, I swear to God, You musta had some wings, An’ He sent you to care for me Like no one had before. If you’as a man an’ not a horse, I couldn’t a-loved you more. We gave this ranch our sweat an’ blood, It’s yours as much as mine, An’ raised our young’uns through the years, An’ Lord they’re doin’ fine. They’re blazin’ trails an’ raisin’ dust, They’re off an’ runnin’ free. We’ve taught ‘em well an’ made ‘em strong; Compadre, you an’ me. I always knew the day would come When we would fine’ly ride, To join the Maker’s round-up time, Up on the Great Divide. I sorta hoped we’d share the trail But this was not to be, So, you go on, we’ll ride again; Compadre, you an’ me.


Details | Cowboy | |

Intelligent Design

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.


Details | Cowboy | |

A Cowboy's Last Dream

They had camped near a bubbling spring with one lone mesquite tree.  The day had been hot and dusty, and the respite from the glaring sun was welcome.  The large herd of cattle had quenched their thirst at the near-by river, and were now settled for the night.  The soft lowing of the animals added a melody to the quiet evening.
The old cowboy finished his supper and left the company of the other trail hands. 

Making his way to the shade of the mesquite, he leaned back against the tree and relaxed for a few minutes.  The sound of the spring made him sleepy, but he had no desire to give in to the impulse at the moment.  Removing his wide-brimmed hat, he brushed the dust from it and laid it on the ground.  He was dressed in faded jeans which had seen too many hours in the saddle.  His denim shirt was dirty and damp from the day’s long journey across the hot prairie.  A red bandana hung loosely around his leathery neck.
 
He could smell the leather and sweat from his saddle lying nearby.  Probably repulsive to some, but like a sweet perfume to his senses.  Reaching into the saddle bags, he removed a bundle wrapped in a heavy piece of mackinaw to protect its contents from the ever-present dust.  Unwrapping the bundle, he gently removed an old Bible, it’s brown leather cover beginning to show the wear of years, and the pages stained by soiled but gentle hands.

Tonight, he didn’t open its pages.  Instead he held it close to his chest, gripping it with both arms as though it might fly away.  He was tired from the long day, but something was different about tonight.  

He glanced up at the stars and thought of the God who was big enough to create the universe, and about the love of Christ which brought Him to this earth to die for sinners such as this old cowboy.    

His feet were tired, but he didn’t want to remove his boots.  He knew he had one more journey to make today, and he would make it with his boots on.  
As he continued staring at the sky, one of the stars began to grow brighter and larger.  It looked like it was coming closer, maybe coming just for him.  
And then, it wasn’t a star at all - it was Someone he had never seen before, but instinctively knew who it was.  His tiredness slipped away and he began to feel like a young man again.  He began to rise toward the Star-Person, knowing that everything was going to be all right.

As he began that last journey, he looked back and saw an old cowboy slumped against a mesquite tree.  He was still wearing his boots, and also a smile across his weathered face.  His journey was over and he was going home.


Details | Ballad | |

rolled Durham smoke - Ballad


It transferred like bequest's constrain;
the ghostly harbor - my sixth sense,
men's goals had died, on lives' expense,
- this notion bothered me again.

Had sent the mail - my filed advice -
the ghosts of gunmen who have died,
on moors they stood yonside old pride,
- the Rider asked his deathly price.

In air he thumped, his rhythm - gust waves;
demanding cruel new death toll;
in town each woman wore black stole,
the 'killed in duel' dwell in graves;

The Rider hummed - our vessel moored
inside this port on Nueces' edge,
much red was shed on cypress sedge
- my instincts sharpened and inured.

Tall stood he on the wharf - I knew
the wind whipped ropes upon head-mast,
- we drew the guns; he lifted fast;
my two guns bucked debt-law to ensue.

I felt the slug - he moved across,
already-a-ghost, on moors he stood;
I tasted blood - got up - I should,
with red drops staining grass and moss.

I saw her standing on the field
amid red poppies and tall trees,
her thought became my holy shield,
bestowed thenceforth, her grace in breeze.

She spread her arms and called me eft,
above the clouds to Astral Halls
athwart stood gunman - fast and deft
in Tombstone, Mobile and Sioux Falls.)

I rolled and lit a Durham smoke
with children watching me round-eyed;
that March, (I thought), a gunman died,
I heard bells' knell and two crows croak.

© G.V. 07-18-2013
(Ballad - Iambic tetrameter)

Sponsor: Poet Destroyer A
Contest Name: Ballad (old/new)
Deadline: 12/28/2013


Details | Cowboy | |

I'll Go a Ridin' No More

I’ll go a ridin’ no more through blue stem or chaparral,
Just lead my horse to pastures of green.
I’ll watch those rose ruby suns ease on past the ol’ corral—
Think back on the things I’ve done and seen.

Oh, you can’t go on a ridin’ for all your livelong days—
You’ve got to know when to settle down.
You’ll gently pet your ol’ horse as you put her out to graze
And soon life won’t seem so bad in town.

But when blue bonnets and the high plains send their callin’ card,
Your restless feet start to feel that itch.
Then it don’t matter if you’re stove-up or your butt is lard—
That feelin’ calls to the poor and rich.

Just once more I’ll go a ridin’ in the sorrel and sage—
Testin’ my ol’ horse for all it’s worth.
And I know that time cannot stop me, even at my age,
From ridin’ free of the reins of earth. 


Details | Cowboy | |

Billy Law

            Billy Law 

A simple man rode into harvest town
Tall, with sharp features, and a gun
No words were spoken when he walked by
Locale folk feared him and his kind
People here were evil
You could see it in their eyes
They despised the stranger
He had a badge, walked with a swagger
Chance and thirst brought him to the saloon
He placed a dollar down for a bottle of booze
No one moved
When he was done he turned and drew his gun
Two punks tried to shoot him in the back
They lacked the proper aptitude
And their attitude was warped
So they bled out quickly on the floor 
The law man moseyed out the door and said
I’m Billy Law
And never looked back


Created on 10/17/14 
By: Earl Schumacker
for “Sketch A Character” – Poetry Contest 


Details | Cowboy | |

Faces in the Night

When the campfire’s out and you try to sleep,
But things don’t seem just right—
You toss and turn on that ol’ hard bedroll
And see faces in the night.

It just may be dreams or a sense of guilt
That now keeps you wide awake—
It may be bad stew or a wrong you did--
A friend you had to forsake.

You shut your eyes tight and let darkness come—
Pray those faces don’t appear—
But they always come and silently speak
To your conscience and your fear.

You see father’s face like it was those days
And wish you’d both had more time—
To ease all the things that then stood between 
Before he died in his prime.

And then there’s the face of your bother Tom,
Who worshipped you like a God—
Till he had fever and you laughed if off—
Then buried him in the sod.

But night always brings another dim face
Of the girl that you loved first—
Before she went and married someone else, 
And how your heart about burst..

So when the dawn comes to strike you awake,
And with tired relief you rise—
You still see those faces in sun’s red glare
And know part of you yet dies.

Too soon again bright campfires now burn low, 
As the sunset still brings fright—
For you know that sleep is not a good friend
And brings faces in the night. 
  


Details | Triolet | |

Gunfighter walks


Dark angel of heartbeating pound,
sixth sense of premonition glide,
kin to his ways and scopes to bound,
steel spurs transmit the word around,
the deathwalk starts on dusty ground,
Smith-Wesson guns, tied down his side

Dark angel of heartbeating pound,
sixth sense of premonition glide.

On deathwalk's noon, with light increased,
the shelling slugs will serve the cause,
hands flash and men attend Death's feast,
(gunfighters tho' had ne'er believed,
that once will be 'mid the deceased);
atrocious are, the drawing laws,

On deathwalk's noon with light increased,
the shelling slugs will serve the cause.

Gunfighter walks on dust, midday,
where forty fours will blossom fire,
his eyes traverse the town's details,
a draw of bluff on deathwalk trail,
will have sixes' to beat, twin play,
black coat, gun belt - and dry briar.

Gunfighter walks on dust, midday,
where forty fours will blossom fire.

© G. V. 11/5/2012 All rights reserved
( Ballad - Triolet )


Details | Cowboy | |

TENDERFOOT

 

Sun Furnace desiccating.

Man and Beast moving,

In crazed circles of Corral Mirages

Seeking shade.

Moisture-less Sky and Land.

Buzzards, certain of,

Meat Jerky repasts. 

Timing air currents,

Until the Western Buffet

Is finally stocked.




Details | Cowboy | |

Chew

I'll cut you into little pieces, 
push you down underground. 
I'll let maggots feast on you, 
just to see broken flesh. 

I'm glad you understand my twisted self, 
and you take part of my daily bread. 
I'm going to hang you from 
the highest star in the heavens, 
burning your laughter from your lungs.

I'd be joyful, emotionless, 
wreckage not even God Himself can undo. 
Underground the maggots chew and chew, 
hey girl there I see you.


Details | Cowboy | |

The Confession of Dodge Martin

A lonely rider traversed the sand upon his sturdy mount, 
Beneath a sky so filled with stars that no man might ever count. 

A dangerous dash across open land on a night without a moon, 
A last ditch chance for absolution before his brother hangs at noon. 

He pushed on harder than he should until his pony found a rut, 
A broken leg and a bullet played it seemed fate had punched him in the gut. 

He went on by foot and prayed to God “Please let a stagecoach happen by, 
Or a cowboy with a horse to lend, Dear Lord don’t let my brother die.” 

“It weren’t he at the house that night that poor Lizzy got herself kilt, 
I knowed all too well because it were me, I alone bear up the guilt.” 

“I loved her all to sweetly Lord but my affections were each one spurned, 
So on that night I took her life and waited for her true love to return.” 

I laid in wait to bushwhack the varmit whoever the cur might be, 
Along the trail that led to her house behind a big oak tree. 

“It were my intention to shoot him down and lay him at her side, 
I then seen him on the dapple gray that only my brother’d ever ride.” 

“It struck me like a thunder bolt to think that I broke my brother’s heart, 
So I lit clean on outa Texas with my hope of making a brand new start.” 

“Her pa swore to the judge that my brother deprived dear Lizzy of her life, 
Because she told him the night before that she’d never be his wife.” 

“It t’were me that he’d heard talkin’ the night that Lizzy passed away, 
Now I got to get back to that town, Dear Lord, to have my final say.” 

“It seemed that my brother was luckier at love than ever he were at dice, 
But I had dashed his hopes each to the rocks and left him to pay the price.” 

But as he prayed and walked along a rattler took him by surprise, 
And as the poison run it’s course the murderer closed his eyes. 

And in his mind he could see his kin dangling from a rope, 
So as the snakebite did it’s work he took one last stab at hope. 

He drew his buck knife from his boot and opened up his shirt, 
To carve out his confession was his aim so with a cry he went to work. 

And when they found his body in the morning just a half-mile out of town, 
They found the note that he’d carved on his chest, “I shot Lizzy down.”


Details | Free verse | |

A Wooden Cross

~A Wooden Cross~


South of Lafayette on interstate 65
I saw a wooden cross.

The roadside monument,
weathered and grey,
was a tribute to a loved one
who lost his life in a car crash.

At 70 mph I only saw it for an instant,
yet it was time enough to see
the cowboy hat that proudly perched
on the weathered wooden cross.

I didn’t know the cowboy nor his wife.
I didn’t attend the funeral.
But for just an instant I felt
both the sorrow and the love that poured

from the weathered wooden cross
with cowboy hat on interstate 65.


Details | Cowboy | |

Heaven's Tick

Oh, the sun and moon are tickin’
In the nighttime western skies—
A man’s got a lot of ridin’
Till that final day he dies.

He rides his ranch a wonderin’
Just what all this days will bring—
Ponderin’ all his finances
Till he hears the lone wolf sing.

He reckons it’s been a good life
And he would have changed no part—
And remembers those before him
That brings sadness to his heart.

Oh, the sun and moon are tickin’
And he hears that earthly chime—
He only wishes he’d done more
With that thing that’s known as time.


Details | Cowboy | |

Still Here

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
follows me 

I guess it's true
what the old ones say
about gone but 
not forgotten 

For You're still here
in heart & spirit
every melody & tune
I dance in memory
with you

(c) September 2002


Details | Cowboy | |

Untitled

Tainted love 
or tired love?
Smug attitudes
and weak games
Look at you!
Your such a lame!
Me cry?! Ha! Not no more!
NOT EVER!
Five point five years
What a joke?!
All you do is lie
Keep smoking your life away!
Wake up before its too late!
Before this love turns into hate!
Your too old to act this way!
Your too comfortable
You cant stay!
In my life!
In my way!
Goodbye to you!!!


Details | Cowboy | |

WHEN THE DOGWOOD IS IN BLOOM

WHEN THE DOGWOOD IS IN BLOOM AND THE RANGE HAS TURNED TO GREEN
I WILL RIDE YOUR WAY AGAIN LIKE THE HAPPY VISION IN YOUR DREAM.
WITH THE SUN SHINING ON MY BACK ON THE TRAIL LEADING TO YOUR DOOR
I WILL COME BACK TO YOU ALWAYS IN YOUR HAPPY MEMORIES AS BEFORE.

YOU REMEMBER HOW I WORE MY HAT? SLIGHTLY TILTED TO THE SIDE?
AND HOW I ALWAYS SAT TALL IN THE SADDLE WHENEVER I WOULD RIDE?
I COULD SEE YOU WAITING THERE AND I WOULD SIT TALLER THAN A KING
MY PRIDE WOULD SWELL AND I HAD TO SMILE KNOWING YOU WORE MY RING.

WE SWAM IN THAT LITTLE BLUE HOLE BENEATH THE COTTONWOOD TREES
THEN LAY ON A BLANKET STARING AT THE STARS IN LOVE YOU AND ME.
THE HOURS WOULD PASS LIKE MINUTES AS YOU LAY THERE IN MY ARMS
I THANK GOD EACH AND EVERY DAY YOU GRACED ME WITH YOUR CHARMS.

WE TOOK LONG WALKS HAND IN HAND THROUGH THE FIELDS OF WILD FLOWERS
CHASING COTTONTAIL RABBITS AND RED SQUIRRELS TO THEIR HIGH TOWERS.
WE PUT UP THE CORN IN THE SUMMER AND GATHERED PECANS IN THE FALL
LIFE WITH YOU MY DARLING WAS WONDERFUL AS I ALWAYS WILL RECALL

DON’T WEEP FOR ME BUT REMEMBER THE GOOD TIMES THAT WE HAD TOGETHER
AND RECALL WHEN WE WALKED HAND IN HAND IT WAS ALWAYS FINE WEATHER
SO PUT ON MY COAT AND SIT ON THE PORCH AND CLOSE YOUR PRETTY EYES
I’LL COME RIDING TO YOU WHENEVER YOU WISH JUST WATCH OVER THE RISE.


Details | Cowboy | |

Visiting the Badger Hole

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.


Details | Cowboy | |

guitar band dementia

camera three is having 
an existential crisis; 
his long languid lens 
has suffered in silence, 
an impotent shard of 
quixotic resistance, 
for his vision won’t 
focus on faecal injustice, 

camera three is having 
an existential crisis; 
mascots, despots, 
or other devices,
just won’t solve the problem,
or even negate, 
this delicate time 
in his delicate state,

camera three is having 
an existential crisis; 
Osiris, Anubis, Oasis and Isis, 
have all shed the skin of 
guitar band dementia, 
wheeling out wisdom 
for the fear of inertia,
camera three is having 
an existential crisis…


Details | Cowboy | |

Brahma Dark

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



Details | Lyric | |

A Young Lad In El Paso

A Young Lad In El Paso

Out in the west Texas town of El Pao
Stood a young lad a waitin' for his beloved Rosario,
Onto the western front came running to him though
A prudent of a beauty of a damsel named Atheno
The young lad was bewitched by this beauty Indian maiden,
Alas he forgot his dearly beloved Rosario
Unknown to him he headed down the streets of El Paso,
Waiting for him was Rosario's brother named Alberto
Alberto was furious and called him to meet him in
the streets of El Paso,
There he gunned down the lass, his name was Ringo Gringo
This is the tale of a young lass who did not fear of
Rosario's brother Alberto.

Written: July 10, 2012
Eve T.M.Carter


Details | Cowboy | |

Cowboys

          -LAST DAYS OF OLD BEN-


    “See that man up there on the mountain, son?”
“Yeah Pop, why’s he a’jes sittin there starin’ out at nuthin?"
 Well, son it ain’t nothin’ he’s seein’…Just nuthin we can’t see, know what I ‘m sayin’?” confused the boy just agreed.
 '"He’s a legend, that there Ol’ Ben. From times long past before e’en when I was borned,” Now he just sit’s on his old nag waitin’ for sumthin, just not sure, and can only guess what. They sez Ol’ Ben was a rascal way back when, boozing up moon shine, not carin’ a world fer nuthin’ or no one. Well, Old Ben got caught one day he did, they throwed his sloppy drunk hide in the tank fer a long time.' 

'Bet he didn’t care none, he din’ have nuthin to do.
As time went on, Ben got ought’n jail ‘n’ went right back to his thievin’ ways. As we all expected, the law was jus’ bout ready to throw him in the canner and toss the key down inta a well furev'r, when Ol’ Ben he saw something that took the fight right outn’ him ‘n’ made his chest swell.'
   'Comin’ round the Sheriff’s desk were the prettiest Southern Bell you ev’r did see, an’ Old Ben dropped his jaw- from that day on…. Ol’ Ben turnt into a man…. He fell in love with sweet Lindsay Lane, banker’s daughter- And they ran off to the range- and lived on what they can'. That little Southern Bell did’t care Ben was a wrangler, she loved him for’ver. But Oh her Daddy’ did care, he put up a fight’ ‘n’ gave reward money if’n someone’d kill Old Ben, you see, but Old Ben was too wiley. He knew… he always knew her Papa wuld git 'em somehow. That Pappy o’ her’s was a pain in the ass, and so they couldn’t never really get away. Rumors ran ‘round town lika a nuthin’, there was gonna be a showdown! Firse light 'n ba’ween Ben ‘n; her Daddy., Soon as that li’ Southern Bell heard, she begged her daddy to leave Ben alone, her daddy wasn’t havin’ it, and Ben knowed that’d be the only way they would be rid of her father.'
   'So The mor’n came of the quick draw- I ‘membe, it were  misty, foggy that day, culdn' see nuthin'. Both men drew guns walked 100 paces and shot! BAM! N dat was the day Old Ben really did change. Turned a rascal fount love inta a sad sad shell o’ a man..His Southern Bell tied him up in the night, so she would be the one to draw- hopin’ as soon as her daddy saw’ it were her, mebbe he’d let them go. But the anger and fog hid her daddy’s senses, he was a red burstin’, he took’n his pistol he shot. Shot her right in the head, blew the hat off (she wor’d Ben’s clothes) and there in all her glory- blond hair dusted with red.'"
  " Welp, her daddy done took his own life, but Ben, Old Ben and that old nag just stayed up in them hills forever- and to this day they visit the place his beloved lost her life.” 
Don’t know, can’t fathom eve’, a love that strong, one day you’ll look up there on that mountain and Old Ben will be gone.”

4/18/2014


Details | Ballad | |

The Return To RotGut Part 1

They say he had three Mothers
The Earth, the Wind, and Water
And His father was the Sun
And the Moon was his daughter 
He wore a gun in his belt
With clothing made from hide
As He walked, He made no sound
And never broke his stride

Folks say he was part Cherokee
Others say, part Crow
There wasn't any clarity
There was no way to know
He wore a shiny locket
On the inside of his shirt
That he took out of the pocket
Of a dead Comanche’s' skirt 

The feather in his hat
Made the white folk all take notice
And on his belt a sack
With an ancient Aztec Poultice
The myth, was he knew magic
Taught by spirits raised by  Shamans
And because His birth was tragic
He was thought to be a Demon 

As he passed through our town
The People, looked away
Afraid of being cursed
They where glad he didn't stay
The sun sank in the East
As the wind blew from the West
And he walked in a straight line
Like a man bent on a quest

He climbed up to the foothills
Where the Injuns made their graves
There he raised them from the dead
As he made them all his slaves
No one knew his purpose 
For the dead upon that mound
Not at least, until that day
He came back to this town


Details | Cowboy | |

Two of Eight

Two of Eight

My back’s against the wall
Cold granite above me
Mountain stream to the right 
On the left a big ol’ spruce tree

Almost three hours back
I was holed by a shot
Given to me from a Ute rifle
And they want me a lot

My hoss caught one too
He got me to this place 
High among the peaks
His final breath to win the race

Once I cussed him
As not worth his feed
But when the chips where down
He proved a most noble steed

I am alone here now
My own personal Alamo
I know here I will die
Only a short time to go

It could be worse though
I have no wife to cry
No young-uns to carry on
No family to notify

All I can do now is 
Make them Ute’s earn it
If I have no family to mourn
Let the Ute’s sing of it

I hold no hate for them 
For this is their way of life
So I must not show cowardess
When they end my life

For if I must die
As I know I will
I will meet my maker
With my scalp belt full

I have not gone down to death 
With out counting my own score
Three of eight dead now
And I plan to take more

My Winchester is empty
That is now matter now
This wont be fought at range
They come for my scalp now

I draw my colts from their holsters
Let them come then!
To bring an end to me!
To bring me home again!

They come for me now
I can hear them now
Just over the ridge
And I know just how

My colts are ready in my hands
I will go as a wolf should 
Fighting with my last breath
As only a warrior could

Two of eight now stand looking
At the man who fought bravely
Three of bullet one of arrow have fallen
As two look on gravely

They will not take 
This white man’s scalp
Or the brave man’s weapons
It would be no help 

Tonight in the Ute lodges
There lifts a warriors song
A man wounded and dying
But still fought on.


Details | Cowboy | |

Dream Rider

(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.


Details | Cowboy | |

A Cowboy's Work

A cowboy’s work is never done, 
Like Sheppard’s among the sheep
No matter what, up with the sun,
Not really much time for sleep
You stay up all night to help out the weak
Even ones that won’t  make it through
Let’s face it, that’s what makes you unique
Without it, you wouldn’t be you
You may not cry when you lose a calf
But it’s not because you don’t care
You hold strong for other’s behalf
And inside you feel only despair
You know deep down you can’t save ‘em all
And it’s not really up to you
It’s never stopped you from hitting a wall
‘Cause that’s what helps pull you through
But instead of giving in you move to another cow
It’s how you know calving season is here
You just step by her side, furrow your brow
‘Cause that’s life out on the frontier
You will always be there for her
That’s what being a cowboy is all about
Stay by her side till her calf is astir
No matter your fears or doubts
And seeing the calves running around
 Was worth your all sleepless nights
You watch the play without making a sound
It’s what helps you keep fighting the good fight


Details | Cowboy | |

An Empty Place by the Campfire

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.  


Details | Cowboy | |

Facing the Change

I wake-up missing you
Last 10-10-07 feels like a dream
But it is so true
I cry until i cant cry anymore
Daddy God has finally open His door
We had you 
But we had to let you go
No more pain
No more sorrow
Oneday we will learn to understand 
You completed your journey
A boy to a man
A wife and a family
finally you can sleep
im still crying out but i know your soul is at peace.


Details | Cowboy | |

The Pox Man

Oh, he rides though forest, he rides now through the hills—
The Pox Man is coming and he kills and he kills…
He lays waste to the red man and the white man, too—
He brings that soft darkness to both me and to you.

It may come with blankets; it may come with his horse—
It marks and gives you fever to run out its course.
He’s a tall, solemn scarred man that fills you with dread—
He may spare you your life or he’ll leave you for dead.

Oh, turn from the Pox Man – to him you do not pray,
His mercy is random, he has little to say.
He will ride off now soon - touch the weak with his breath—
He’s giver and taker – yes, we know him as death.


Details | Cowboy | |

Border's End

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.

 




Details | Cowboy | |

Cherokee Summer

Paint ponies by the lodge
White manes

Turned silver in the moon’s glow
Taste of Mother Earth

Burden baskets hang at the door
They hold many seasons

Of worries & fears
The night owl comes

He sings the death song
Your time here has ended

The West door beckons you
Night Owl grows silent

© March 1984



In Memory of Jacob Michael MacCallister
March 18, 1957 ~ January 26, 1983


Details | Ballad | |

The Return To RotGut Part 3

A single soldier stayed
To guard against the animal
From digging up the grave
He felt awful for the Injuns
Disgusted by their plight
So from his bag he took a chalk
And upon a stone, did write

These Injuns lie beneath this land
Through no fault of their own
Their only crime, was to take  stand
And defend their rightful home 
1856

Part 3

It’s been 12 years since that day
Now the wind blew from the east
A strange scent in the air
Which frighten, all the beast
And with the wind came sickness
A plague upon the town
It left the people, weak and feeble
As the virus spread around

But I alone stayed well
And never once felt ill
But at the edge of town
What I saw gave me a chill
He wore feathers in his hat
And a cloak made of rawhide
But he didn't have his gun
Just a pouch tied to his side

He made his way, straight to me
As I stood there on the walk
Then using broken English
He began to talk
He said that in his sack
There contained an ancient cure 
That could make the town's folk free
From all that they've endured 

To be continued


Details | Rhyme | |

A June Night in Rotgut Saloon

A June Night in Rotgut Saloon


In walked Lefty Red behind him lay many dead
into this old dusty town his tired horse had tread
Well known his draw was quick as lightning 
his stare deadly cold and so very frightening

Stranger where is the nearest watering hole
getting drunk and riled up is my goal
Ahead 120 paces is our old Rotgut saloon
enter there and you'll get your wish soon

Lefty Red , cold, bitter and as hard as granite
entered and saw a scene like he had planned it
Crowd was loud, rowdy as hell and so very drunk
beer and whiskey flowing , an odor foully stunk

Give me a beer and two shots of your best redeye
send over that sweet blonde philly that I spy
Barkeep did exactly as he was very sternly told
That philly's man was none other than Billy Cold

Billy Cold that had 7 carved notches on his gun
even once cut a man slowly to death just for fun
The stare sent a hard and well understood reply
want this har' woman , get her , jest you try

Lefty Red knocked down whiskey shots and his beer
spun around to show a fastdraw rig , he had no fear
Billy wasted not a second to make his best play
drawed his 45 to make that insulting Lefty Red pay

As his hammer was so very quickly cocked back
his ears heard a loud booming pistol crack
A huge hole suddenly tore open in his chest
a mistake, for Lefty Red was always the very best

Body was calmly , swiftly and carefully taken away
nothing new, this was like just about any other day
Lefty told the piano man to shut up and play a tune
time for the pretty saloon girl and getting drunk soon

Townfolks remember so very well that hot June day
Lefty Red had tested Billy Cold and made him pay
Forty-five slug and justice had caught up with that man
as Lefty Red had for seven, long searching years planned

 07-08-2014


Details | Cowboy | |

The Cowboy from Cutter Bill's

(for Rod Nichols)

Oh, he rode in from Texas
On that sweet, high road trail—
His bright light was infectious—
His goodness did not fail.

He made us a warm campfire
And welcomed friend and foe—
Passed along gentle wisdom,
Drinkin’ a cup of joe.

He always had a poem
On any cowboy theme—
I’m glad I got to know him
And share that Old West dream.

He often was too modest
And hemmed and just said “yep”—
We cherish things he taught us—
Into our souls he crept.

But true cowboys always leave
Treasures we never see—
And for him we should not grieve
A life of memory.

He rides now on higher ground,
But we won’t soon forget—
His words leave a wondrous sound,
A soft glow in God’s sunset.


Details | Cowboy | |

Tucson to Texas

She says she feels the safest standing in the pouring rain
But it could rain for forty years and never wash away the pain
The bitter taste of grief will always be hers to swallow
Since she lost her heart's desire to that blessed curse called Rodeo

"Just one more ride & I'll be on my way, never more to roam"
now she wanders through an empty house that'll never be a home
how she longs to hear him whistling as he comes through the door
instead the silence is deafening & it tears her to the core

She wishes she could turn back time & stop the hand of fate
now he sleeps up on the hill & she will have to wait
to whisper soft "I love you" or one last "good bye"
she wonders if he hears her, as she silently asks "Why?"

That Brahma wasn't lined out for that chute that day
The rigging that he'd used was new, a present on Christmas Day
It wasn't anything down & dirty, just an exhibition ride
one quick show for the kids & he'd be back with his new bride

Now she sleeps in his old work shirt and dreams of his embrace
she fingers his battered Stetson & pictures his smiling face
No matter where she turns "He's gone" is all she hears
and stretching from Tucson to Texas, you'll find a trail of tears 

(c)August 2002









Details | Cowboy | |

The Cowboy Way

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


Details | Cowboy | |

Burlap & Barb Wire

That's why you have boot straps, she's heard the old vaqueros say
But she'd throw away all her tomorrows for one single yesterday 
She wishes deep down for a better day somewhere down the road
But for now the grief, loneliness & tears make a heavy load
She's much too young to carry the burden she's been thrown
But there is no other choice, she will push through on her own
She'll ride to hell & back again trying to outrun the pain
But no matter how far she rides, he'll not come home again
Her very own Cowboy Charming, a fairytale come true
Until a cruel twist of fate painted her world faded denim blue
How long will she replay that single moment in time?
A day & forever, she'll still find no reason or rhyme
She has tasted love's passion & felt its cruel sting
Felt both the elation & misery that only true love can bring
She once carried her heart like a balloon, bright & airy
Now she locks it away deep inside & is wary
She's sworn never again to give in to desire
Now, its covered with burlap 
& wrapped in barb wire 

(c) October 2003


Details | Cowboy | |

A Teardrop Away

I hear a hawk cry to its mate
Takes me back before "too late"
Lonesome lyric desert wind
Sings me into your arms again

How I wish that it could be
not just a dream but flesh & blood reality 
Gone but not forgotten, you will always be
just a teardrop away in my fondest memory

The whisper of the wind brings you back again
to dance among the shadows of my heart 
Thunder echoing down the hills
I hear your voice so close it chills

Lightening dances cross the sky
recalls the laughter in your eyes
Suddenly we're once again
Dizzy dancing in the rain 

Gone but not forgotten, you will always be
just a teardrop away in my fondest memory
The whisper of the wind brings you back again
to dance among the shadows of my heart 

Gone so swiftly without goodbyes
but I know true love never dies
As I kneel at this headstone
I know I will never walk alone

For you'll always live within my heart
guiding me from the deepest part 
Gone but not forgotten, you will always be
just a teardrop away in my fondest memory

The whisper of the wind brings you back again
to dance among the shadows of my heart

(c) January 2002


Details | Cowboy | |

'The Cowboy On The Battlefield ... ' (Cowboy Poem # 12)

Young Cowboy On The Battlefield
Remembered His Mama’s Words
‘Just Make It Home, Son …’
Her Voice Echoed, As He Heard …

Rapid-Fire and Revolution
Missiles, Right and Left
Bomb-Blasts and Confusion
… and Silent Tears, He’s Wept

… Every Day, A Minefield
Every Night, A Raid
Every Moment, A Terror
Trying to Make Him Afraid …

Any Second, A Horror
Of A Buddy, Laid To Rest
Every New Tomorrow
Wondering, What’s Next ?

The Cowboy On The Battlefield
Vigilant and Brave
Stood Ramrod Tall and Terse …
Looking At Her Grave …

‘Just Make It Home, Son … ‘
… Echoed Thru His Brain
‘Just Make It Home, Son …’
… Echoed Thru The Rain

And Just Before She Was Laid To Rest
She Said, ‘Just Make It Home, Son …’
And With Those Last Words, She Blessed,
And Said, ‘I’ll Be Waiting, When You Come …’

                    * * * *

… Old Cowboy, On The Battlefield
Remembers His Mama’s Words
‘Just Make It Home, Son … 
… and We’ll Celebrate Our Return …


Of  Note:  In The Words Of A Lady Rocker,
Pat Benatar:   ‘Love Is A Battlefield’
(but I Say, 'Life Is A Battlefield'


Details | Cowboy | |

Winter Western

We are far from the hum, but not far enough—
Worlds not of our making intrude – life is rough.

Winter birds are not wheeling in the steel gray sky—
Seems seasons bring questions, but no good day to die.

Unlike black and white westerns, there’s no good end—
We may beat back bad men but die without a friend.

Oh, we all wish that things did not turn out that way—
But God is not silent and has the final say. 


Details | Cowboy | |

Ghost Town Church In Snow

Guess it was ‘bout mid-December
And a winter storm was howlin’—
Was roundin’ up strays I remember
And my belly start to growlin’.
I come upon an ol’ ghost town
I’d rode through many times now past—
There were some ol’ buildin’s left round—
I reckon most things jest don’t last.
Yet there in whirlin’ snow and haze
Stood the remnants of an ol’ church,
That had once seen much better days—
Its cockeyed cross carved out of birch.
A coat of snow made it all clean,
Made it full of hope for mankind—
The whiteness gave it a new sheen
Now at the end of its long line.
No one remembered the town’s name
Or the people that once lived here—
Its history had been reclaimed
By time and heavy snows each year.
As I straightened up that ol’ cross
And thought of folks singin’ inside—
I remembered all that we’ve lost:
Those that lived and loved and then died.
If there’s a moral to this town
And this snowy church all alone—
It’s be content with what we’ve found
At the place we humbly call home.

  


Details | Cowboy | |

The Revelation

"I saw heaven standing open 
and there before me was a white horse…" 

Revelation 19:11 

I’ve talked to many a good man 
facing his own end 
And pretty much they all wonder 
about the same thing 
Will passing thru that final gate 
put an end to things we love 
Will we all hang up our cowboy rigging 
when we see the dove. 

And, well I’ve begun to wonder 
when I’m called before the throne 
And stand and face my deeds on earth 
and do my best to atone 
As I stand there in Stetson hat 
and rusty, bent spurs 
Will I be bunched with the righteous 
or will I be corralled with the curs. 

But, then I’m a wondering, 
what about my way of life? 
Will I still be a cowboy, 
will my way be filled with strife? 
Will I have to sell my saddle?   
Will I give up my puncher ways? 
If I can’t cowboy, 
how will I fill up my heavenly days? 

But, then I remember reading in Revelation, 
chapter 19, eleventh verse 
And my heart is filled with happiness, 
ain’t no reason now to curse. 
Cuz the good book tell us all, 
we’ll be cowboying up in paradise 
Riding herd for the real King Ranch, 
punching cows and doing right. 

Cus it’s written in the Bible, 
you all can now stay the course 
“I saw heaven standing open 
and there before me was a white horse” 
So, I’ll grab my old saddle 
and swing it up on that critter's back 
And ride that heavenly range forever, 
me, that white horse and my old kack. 

G.Casey Allen 
© July 25, ‘03


Details | Cowboy | |

Don't Ever Sell Your Saddle

It’s been ‘bout thirty years now, to this Christmas day
And I can still hear those wise words that Dad did say:
“Don’t ever sell your saddle, don’t quit balin’ hay—
When ya give your word, keep it—it’s a real man’s way.”

I wish that I could swear I’ve lived up to his words,
But like the truth sometimes, they’ve flown off with the birds.
It’s not to say I’ve tired, and mostly I’ve been true—
But if I could do things over, there’s some I’d undo.

Well, I’m still balin’ hay and my word I always keep,
I’ve got a good woman and I sing the kids to sleep.
We keep the ranch a goin’ and we’re doin’ just fine,
But I regret sellin’ Dad’s saddle back in ninety-nine.

Times were tough and we scraped every cent that year—
At a Christmas eve auction sold some cows, a steer—
Then it came down to Dad’s saddle and some ol’ tack—
‘Course that saddle brought the most cash and that’s a fact.

Couldn’t figure out who bought it—never seen ‘em before—
When he bought that saddle, he was quick out the door.
One year later, there came a knock on Christmas day—
There stood the stranger with Dad’s saddle and he did say:

“Fixed it up and brought it back—this is where it should be—
Your Dad, me and Zack, used to cowboy and they told me
A man shouldn’t sell his saddle, so here it is again—
Think of it as a gift from someone who was a friend.”

(continued)


Details | Narrative | |

A Blessing In The Heat (Part 2)

Johnny Clare is an example of many a young man who Cowboy'd in the truest sense of the word. He did a job. He did it well. Though he met an untimely end, his life did not go unnoticed. Continental Oil Company put up a monument to a young man who worked for them, but Larry McWhorter's words made him real. The essence of who he was is immortalized in that poem. It is more than a poem about one Cowboy...it is a poem about every Cowboy who ever rode for the Brand. It is a poem about the heart and soul of men who built our country through hard work and sacrifice. It is a poem about one man's basic belief that time may march on, but those everyday Cowboys like Johnny Clare will not be forgotten. The monument stands as a reminder of "where," but Larry McWhorter's words stand as a reminder of "why." His words, a tribute to the spirit of man and a lesson on how to live what you love.

I cried that day. Tears of joy for having shared this moment with Larry and Andrea; for having one of my heroes of Cowboy Poetry recognize me and for his gift of words to me. We have been friends since. I love and respect him and Andrea; because they are good, kind, strong people of the land with deep conviction in their faith and strong relationship with the Savior. They live each day with grace, they give that grace to others and they make all strangers friends. Proud am I that I know them. Lucky am I that I got to go to Weatherford, Texas that day.

I have learned that it's not the trail we ride, but the tracks we leave behind for others to follow that matters. Time may march on, but word and deed live on forever; as does the spirit of any person dedicated to living life to the fullest while serving their fellow man. The impression we leave is our memorial to this earthly life. Building a monument with words and telling the stories about others so they are never forgotten is our memorial
to those we love and admire. Johnny Clare, Larry McWhorter, all those men I grew up with and those I am privileged to call my friends; all living life their way by the Grace of God, all fighting the good fight and marching forward no matter the obstacles, all inspiring us to live life to its fullest. When it comes to great men of heart and spirit the memory never fades and the words of praise are endless. And that, my friends, is the greatest monument of all.


Details | Cowboy | |

Don't Ever Sell Your Saddle

(continued)

It had been over ten years since Dad passed away—
Stood lookin’ at the stranger, didn’t know what to say.
Dad never told us much ‘bout his life out on the range,
But he did mention his best pard, a man called Bob Strange.

We thanked Bob and asked him to join our Christmas feast,
He said no need for thanks, that this was just the least
He could do to help out the boy of his ol’ pal
And that he had to get back to the North Corral.

I was awful glad to see my Dad’s saddle back,
When a few weeks later I came across ol’ Zack.
Out of the blue I asked if he heard of Bob Strange—
He nodded and said yes, then his smile began to change.
He wondered why I asked ‘bout someone I never met—
I told him ‘bout Dad’s saddle and he began to fret.
“Ya understand,” Zack said, “Bob’s been dead twenty year.”
That’s when I turned grim and my smile did disappear.

“But I just talked to him,” I said, “back on Christmas day!”
“You’re wrong,” Zack said, “but I ‘member what he used to say:
Don’t ever sell your saddle, don’t quit balin’ hay—
When ya give your word, keep it—it’s a real man’s way!” 


Details | Free verse | |

The Rot Gut Incident

        The Rot Gut Incident

Tumbleweeds blew into Town
Rolling two bearded cowpokes with them
Looking for some action and the sheriff
The Bloody Mary is the only saloon in Rot Gut
I reckon this is a proper place for the ornery  
For a couple of horny no good clowns  
They didn't come to sing a song or read the bible
Revenge was on their mind 
Along with other assorted kinds of crime
They wanted ugly Molly for some nasty sport
And whiskey to wet their whistle
After a spell the drunken foe came down
From playing with their whore
Staggered on the stairs for lack of balance
Demanded me, Sheriff John, served up for their amusement 
I killed their brother Bob last year in this here very bar
For starting troubles with the patrons
And stealing from the tip jar
I happened to be there with hat in hand
When they called me out 
And made me take a stand
Then drew their guns to shoot me down
If they hadn't been such drunken boozers
Slower than molasses  
I’d be telling a different kind of tale about these losers 
And they wouldn't be planted six feet under ground
In the cemetery just outside of town
Used as fertilizer for the flowers
In Rot Gut that’s just how things go down

                               7/13/14 A Town Called “Rot Gut” contest
 



Details | Cowboy | |

Riding the Rim of Dreams

Oh, he shakes out his old blanket
And stirs that dying fire,
Watching dim embers star black sky
As wolves and snakes conspire

To make his sleeping uneasy
With thoughts of strays and streams,
As long restless sleep comes slowly
Riding the rim of dreams.

Low fire calls his name and crackles 
Like a girl in Broken Bow,
That he promised he would marry
Before he had to go.

Now coyotes croon his story—
Sing sad and lonely tales
Of that old cowboy’s far travels
Down mountainsides and trails.

And like his life, that old campfire
Burns low and then flares high,
As he drifts off in welcome sleep
Not dreaming that he’ll die.

They’ll find him in the orange dawn,
Stone still by ash mesquite,
The last remains of man’s efforts—
All stories told and complete.

Now soft sleep comes much more easy
Or to his friends it seems,
All his long trails have now lessened
As he rides the rim of dreams.     
 


Details | Cowboy | |

Face In the Snow

Sly had him no love for Christmas,
It was just another day—
When the devout celebrated
And weak-willed cowpokes did pray.

Old Sly, he weren’t all that bad—
No, by gosh, he sure was not—
He never did shoot him a man
That he didn’t think need shot. 

Sly Stern was just an old drover
Who outlived his friends and time—
That was headed nowhere that day
Without a care or a dime.

So it was Christmas that morning
As he crossed the Mummy Range—
Heading higher and still higher,
When he felt a little strange.

He’d crossed these old mountains before,
But never on Christmas day—
Yet now he felt a bit confused
And he couldn’t find his way.

The wind and the cold grew fiercer—
Snow hit his face with hard slaps,
Sly knew he needed some shelter
As one hand froze to his chaps.

But all he could find was a ledge,
A wind break with icy sage.
He unsaddled his horse gently—
For the first time felt his age.

Quickly, Sly gathered up damp wood—
Built a fire to heat his soul—
Christ seemed nothing in a blizzard
As the snow soon took its toll.

Hours passed and so did the fire
As white snow whirled and then screamed—
For a moment he saw a face
Or so that old drover dreamed.

The blizzard grew stronger that day,
The worst in thirty odd years—
Covering the whole Mummy Range:
A Christmas with joy and tears.

With numb hands and ice-cased whiskers,
Sly took bullets from his belt,
Gently arranged them in the snow
To spell out just how he felt.

For in those final dear moments,
One face appeared in the snow—
The face of the Lord of this earth,
A face that he would now know.

Two months later his friend found it,
Next to his rock-frozen hoss—
The old drover’s bullets laid out
In the rough shape of the cross.

Though his saddle and gun remained,
There was no trace of old Sly—
It was as if he’d been taken
Away, far up, in the sky. 


Details | Cowboy | |

The Dead Cowboy Poet's Society

Now, ol’ Twister Tom he was quite a cowboy find—
A real rock hard cowpoke, though the question begged—
Some say that he was a legend in his own mind,
He’d a been six foot six if he weren’t so bow-legged!

But standin’ five foot two he was a dryin’ breed,
So he took up wordin’ and became a poet!
At eighty-two years all the big world he had seed,
So he was a master bard before he knowed it!

So Tom the bronc twister he done went on a tour
And he read his poems at cowboy gatherin’s—
They liked his gravel voice and his odd looks for sure
And they loved all his colorful palatherin’s!

But there got to be so many versifiers,
That it started to seem lots of folks didn’t care—
So they all turned into cowboy verse deniers—
It was so dern crowded that nobody went there! 

Tom joined the ranks of Barker, Kiskaddon and Clark,
Chapman, Morant, Fletcher and his great Knibbs—
“It shore beats singin’ ta all them cows in the dark,
And I don’t like wearin’ those overalls with bibs!”

And rarely in recitin’ did Tom make a flub,
But there was a lot he lacked in propriety—
They said he was so dern good he should join a club,
Like the famed Dead Cowboy Poet’s Society!

But with Twister Tom that just didn’t set too right—
Said, “I don’t want ta be in no society,
What takes in any ol’ buzzard just on his sight
And would accept as a member that likes of me!”

But they swore that he’d be a perfect candidate,
Yet he then said, “It seems there’s somethin’ you ferget—
Before I is one of you cowboy poet’s, mate—
They’s just one thang you overlooked – I ain’t dead yet!” 

So ol’ Twister Tom he kept makin’ him a name,
He read his verse smooth and with no anxiety—
And when he was dead wound up in the hall of fame
And in the Dead Cowboy Poet’s Society!


Details | Cowboy | |

Deadwood Hill

(At Wild Bill Hickok’s Grave)

Those bold Black Hills of South Dakota,
Darkly murmur of all your Badlands—
You have left now like the Lakota—
On that hillside your monument stands.

Hills pulse under Ponderosa pines—
Strong night breezes have yet much to say—
Legends linger on lips and pale shrines—
They know that Wild Bill once passed this way.

You sleep long in this last resting place,
That now overlooks sinful Deadwood—
It is here that we still see your face,
Yet ponder if you were bad or good.

They moved your petrified form it’s said—
Casket opened, though some thought it wrong—
Your dark face yet perfect, though long dead—
Your fair hair still so flaxen and long.  

Jane Cannary lays mute beside you—
A calamity that is no more—
As you study those cards in the blue—
Play that dead man’s hand from a far shore.

Saffron leaves and stern winds shape your grave—
And your name’s one that we all know still—
As you raise dark death’s ante and save,
One last red ace to trump Deadwood hill.


Details | Cowboy | |

When He Visits

 He visits often 
I can feel him take my hand 
whether in the barn at daybreak 
or when with my ponies I stand
 
I hear his laughter on the wind 
and his voice fills my heart 
though he walks this earth no more 
in my memory we're never apart 

on shadow pony he comes riding 
each night to knock at my heart's door 
in dream time we share the stories 
old family secrets, the laughs & glories 

and in the sunrise hour waking 
I hear him whisper evermore 


Details | Cowboy | |

The Return of Dan McGrew

Some of the local thugs were tipping their mugs in the Malamute Saloon;
The music box sat still, as the keep slammed the till and wolves howled at the moon.
Then there appeared, right back of the bar, an apparition that no one knew;
Down in the dumps, that once Queen of the Trumps, sat the lady known as Lou.

It had been thirty years to the day it appears, that the famed shooting took place,
As Lou saw the scar on the man by the bar, she slowly recognized his face;
She quickly clutched at her throat for he had gotten her goat as she turned blue;
Because for all the world, playing a solo game, sat Dangerous Dan McGrew.
The now old man that plays the music box was starting a sad waltz song,
When in drifted a miner cold from the creeks that had prospected much too long.

Though most of the gold had long left the fold, a miner’s dust still had some joys,
He relished his women, booze and smokes, and bought drinks all around for the boys.
His eyes were the eyes of a man half-dead – a man that the world’s forgotten;
And Lou did think she’d seen him before, but lately her memory was rotten.
He toasted her health and counted his wealth, then drank long with that sodden crew;
And we wished him good cheer, then hoisted our beer to Dangerous Dan McGrew.

(cont.)


Details | Cowboy | |

Last Smoke

The cow herd’s not quite a stirrin’
On this dew-crusted western land,
There’s an orange-yellow sunrise
Above the dull green pinion’s stand.

The cowboy cups his match’s flame
And brings life to cigarette’s glow—
It warms his soul and soothes the ride
Down all the trails that they must go.

He can smell the biscuits bakin’,
He can hear the cookie cursin’—
The cattle’s wakin’ up it seems
And soon they’ll have to take nursin’.

And like one mighty animal
They’ll start a movin’ down the trail—
On their way clear to Wichita—
Sold off and loaded on the rail.

He cups the match again in hand
As the red blaze lights up his face—
He’ll linger now but a moment,
Then ride off to another place.

But that’s for but one brief moment
As he puffs smoke in mornin’ air—
He’ll grab some chuck then mount again
To feel the wind dance through his hair.  


Details | Cowboy | |

Grass and Water

His name was John Paul Slavens, an old time buckaroo 
when he was young, he’d made a hand, knew just what to do. 
He had a soft hand with horses, he knew the ways of cow 
He treated women like a lady, not like men do now. 

He was good with "youngins" and when the work was done 
he’d tell a story , spin a yarn, have a little fun. 
He was never mean or surly, because he’d come to know 
The good book’s always right, we’ll reap just what we sow. 

JP worked with us kids, he’d smile the times we’d fail 
He’d keep us working and learning, riding the cowboy trail. 
And sometimes during the lessons, one of us kids would slip 
into a place a cow had been and left her little... "chip". 

JP’d laugh when we made a "face" slap his knee a time or two 
He’d say, "It’s only grass and water!" as we tried to wipe off that "goo". 
Well time moved on, his winter came, I watched Old J.P. die 
I know he’s gone to Heaven, riding for the "Boss" in the sky. 

Up there the water’s always good, the grass is stirrup high 
He’s a happy cowhand, riding in the sweet by and by. 
As I’ve traveled down life’s trail, I’ve "slipped" a time or two 
And more than once I’ve found myself, "stepping’ in brown goo". 

I think back to my childhood with Old J.P. showing me the way 
of thinking and working like a cowboy, I can still hear him say; 
"It’s only grass and water!" I realize all ain’t lost, 
I pick up the pieces, try again, disregard the cost. 

The worst probably won’t kill you, tomorrow’s another day, 
just pick yourself up, dust yourself off, try different way. 
I’ve begun to realize what I wish would go to another 
Is just my little trail to ride... It’s all just Grass and Water!


Details | Cowboy | |

They Came

They came to us slowly 
          in ones and twos at first. 
They were men with good hearts 
and lived with earth as one; 
Lived as we live, one with the four legged, 
two legged – all the spirits of our world 

They brought many things to trade; 
knives of iron, that our women treasure, 
Thunder sticks that kill from 
further that an arrow can fly. 

They brought cloth of bright colors 
that our women sew into clothes for us. 
They brought sugar and tea to change 
our diet of buffalo and berries 

Then more came.   
They came with bad hearts. 

They brought firewater. 
Our minds were as dizzy as our steps 
and the earth danced before our eyes. 

The black robes came and gave us their religion. 
Strange since they do not practice his teachings. 

They brought the spotted sickness 
that kills our people. 
They came and killed the buffalo 
and left the bodies to rot on the earth. 

They came like a swarm of insects, 
devouring everything in their path. 
They came and took our land 
and gave us heartbreak. 

The sacred hoop is broken 
And I cannot go home… 


Copyright 2002


Details | Cowboy | |

Boot Hill Easter

The day did not mean much to him,
That’s why he did not know—
Just how he came there Easter morn
With Tombstone down below.

There’s a tumbleweed a blowin’,
Pushed by the breath of God—
That moves across the distant range
And marks where He has trod.

The golden sun rises again
And bathes each tattered cross—
And like that day so long ago,
There is a sense of loss.

So for a time that ol’ graveyard
Has been again reborn—
As sins and sinners do repent
And they outgrow the thorn.

There’s a tumbleweed a blowin’,
Pushed by the breath of God—
That moves across the distant range
And marks where He has trod.

And so a man walks down Boot Hill,
Touched by the robe He wore—
With Easter and the truth in him—
A doubter now no more.
 


Details | Cowboy | |

Rodeo Blues

Riding against the wind, merciless memories nipping at her heels
wearing a Pollyanna mask & a ready laugh to hide the hurt she feels
The stinging words she heard that day hammer her heart like driving rain
she sips thunder & lightning from a bottle  but she can’t escape the pain

Rodeo has held her in its spell for all of her nineteen years
Its taught her to make friends with danger & never shrink from fear
Gave her a healthy respect for a life well lived & showed her its rewards
She’s better off for the lessons learned in the back chutes & stockyards

She thought she was well prepared for any hand that Rodeo dealt
Until that fateful phone call, a worse pain she’s never felt
She’d given her heart to a wild Bullrider, a good man through & through
Family, friend or stranger, he gave the best to all he knew

Around midnight the night before, he’d left for an exhibition ride
one last promise to fulfill before starting a new life with his bride
she’d spoke to him early that morning, a quick “I love you” & “Good Luck”
By quarter past ten he was in the chute, shouting “throw the gate & let ‘em buck”

Three jumps & a crazy eight twist, the rigging split with a sickening snap
In seconds his life ended, silence roared through the arena like a thunderclap
The phone was ringing back in Tucson as she pulled up to the house
The caller spoke in monotone igniting a fire never to be doused

She still love’s the Rodeo, still answer its bittersweet call
and she keeps his rigging bag in the closet down the hall
She grew up quick in an eight second flash & paid her Rodeo dues
Now she’s riding hard against the wind & singing the Rodeo Blues

(c) August 2003



Details | Cowboy | |

JAKE

 He was just a stove-up old cowboy, 
Who only drank to ease the pain, 
And he really didn’t need it, 
Except when it was cold or gonna’ rain. 

He’d spent his life bull-ridin’ , 
Until he had that wreck, 
The bull threw him high, he came down hard, 
And busted his legs all to heck. 

He’d been my Daddy’s best friend,  
Up until the day my Daddy died, 
They rodeo’ed together, 
At the funeral, he cried. 

I’d see him every now and again, 
At one or another rodeo, 
He always had kind words for me, 
Acted like he hated to see me go. 

He gave me my first pony, 
And a saddle with a dally horn, 
They say he drove my  Mamma to town, 
The icy night that I was born. 

I heard he’d talk about me, 
And only had good things to say, 
He never told me to my face, 
But I knew that was just his way. 

It came as a surprise to me, 
When I heard that he was dead, 
I couldn’t forget the last time I saw him, 
Or the last thing he ever said... 

“I wish you’d been my own son, 
I’m proud to know ya’ as a man, 
I wanted to say ‘I love ya’, 
While I’m sober, and I can.” 

Then he turned and strode off, 
And his back seemed straight and strong, 
I’m not real sure, but I’d have sworn 
That limp of his was gone. 

So, on those nights when I’m alone,  
And hurt gets in my way, 
I think of him and the guts it took, 
To say what he had to say. 

And now, when I see an old Cowboy, 
A little drunk and broken down, 
I stop and listen to the stories he tells, 
‘Cause I know he’s been around. 

And Somewhere, Jake is bull-ridin’, 
Hittin’ in the eighties on every ride, 
Young , and Free, and Wild again, 
In that place, called The Other Side. 


Details | Cowboy | |

One Old Cowpoke Went Riding

One old cowpoke went ridin’ down the trail of dusty days,
Waitin’ on the all the test results, blood work and the X-rays.
They say his horse threw him, but the truth’s his knee gave out,
And all he could do was lay there, and yell and cuss and shout.

So he wound up in that clinic – couldn’t stand it longer—
He said if they didn’t kill him, it would make him stronger.   
But it just got him to thinkin’ of things that were profound—
The way life used to be before all the country turned to town.

He’s now in his nineties and call still recall the Old West—
When men were men and all them things just worked out for the best.
But times they changed and kids moved on and didn’t like ranch work—
But he held on, lived the dream and from chores never did shirk. 

Now the ranch is gone and he rode on, but did not give up—
As kids and life went their own way and they had their own pups.
And now even his grand kids have kids of their very own,
Yet as he lays in that bed, this life has left him alone.

In the hall a young boy stands, decked in cowboy hat and boots—
Waitin’ to see his great granddad and share family roots.
Doors open to his great grandson who greets him as he lays—
One young cowpoke comes ridin’ down his trail of reborn days.


Details | Cowboy | |

That Old Heartpine Gate

So cinch tight my shimmering dark sorrel
With fine hand-tooled saddle of silver inlay—
I’ll pull on my calfskin chaparajos
And through that old heartpine gate I’ll ride away.

I’ve been too long on this sagebrush prairie.
Through many a rancho gate welcome and not—
With some I stayed and herded and prospered,
While with some I gave up much more than I got.

But I’ve rode toward that last gate in my life
And next that rosadero I’ll sit for awhile—
Until that bright entryway swings open
And I ride in meek and accepting as a child.

So cinch tight my shimmering dark sorrel
With fine hand-tooled saddle of silver inlay—
I’ll pull on my calfskin chaparajos
And through that old heartpine gate I’ll ride away.


Details | Cowboy | |

The Mighty Longhorn Chair

Clayton King was a cattle baron
With ranges like far flowin’ seas,
And thousands of Texas longhorns
Roilin’ around like swarms of bees.

He built a huge cedar ranch house
With everything he needed there,
And oversaw his vast empire
Right from his mighty longhorn chair.

He had huge sets of longhorns,
Some more that eight feet of course,
On walls and over fireplaces
And he even stuffed his first horse.

He was the greatest of the great,
His fame was everywhere—
It seemed he ruled the entire world
Right from that mighty longhorn chair.

Still the money stampeded in
And that King Ranch just beat all—
They said it was the world’s biggest
As it quickly did grow and sprawl.

Some say he just wasted money
On things that mattered so little—
That he always had the finest
But like Nero he just fiddled.

“I am the noble Clayton King
And my wealth is everywhere!”
So read the engraved inscription
On his still mighty longhorn chair.

In those long years the dollars flowed
And it seemed like it would not end—
Till a first then second wife left
Without leavin’ an heir or friend.

Then the cattle business changed
And money dried up like the creeks,
This went on for years and years,
Not just a few months or weeks.

The vast King Ranch then did dwindle
Till the day ol’ Clayton King died—
What was left went up for auction—
It seemed no one now cared or cried.

They tore down the house and buildings
And built a shopping center there—
And after that final auction,
I own that mighty longhorn chair.


Details | Cowboy | |

The Cowboy That Never Rode Home

In the palo verde and black chaparral lies,
A cross by an empty grave where no one cries.
It notes the lonely death of a man named Chance Roam—
Just a proud young cowboy that never rode home.
 
Far on a sparse hill it cuts the sky like a lance—
That pale, nearly white cross with just the name ‘Chance.’
He used to ride those hills and echo each valley,
Before he rode to war to make us all free.

Yes, his country called, like it had many before,
And he gladly went off to fight in that war.
There were no questions asked, no concern for the cost—
If none volunteered, our country would be lost.

Then one day the dreaded letter came, edged in black—
And we knew then, that he would never come back.
Be it rancher or mere clerk – all went off to war—
And while most returned – some would be seen no more.  

And long before there was a Memorial Day—
Our young men died for our American way—
From wars of revolution to wars of the world—
All of our soldiers fought with our flag unfurled. 

There are bright jade prairies of gray and white crosses,
That recount endless wars and many losses—
Now in meadows bloom reminders on each plain,
Marking names of those who have not died in vain.

In the palo verde and black chaparral lies,
A cross by an empty grave where no one cries.
It notes the lonely death of a man named Chance Roam—
Just a proud young cowboy that never rode home.
  
.


Details | Cowboy | |

The Return of Dan McGrew

(cont.)

There grew some unrest, deep in her breast; a boding of dread in old Lou;
Like it happened before; again and again in some deadly déjà vu.
That miner from the creek started to speak, but stopped at sight of that stool;
The player was drinking so he got to thinking – sat down and played like a fool.
His music was of love, rewards up above, a prospector’s life gone too soon;
It came back to her, all in a blur; she stared at him in the dark of the moon.

How quickly time ages poets and sages, how awful she looked in her rouge;
The tune had now changed, and wasn’t it strange how ghosts appeared so huge?
“Now boys,” the miner says, “I’m a stranger in here, and I know you don’t give a fig.”
Then he glared at Dan and made him stand, and said, “It’s all up – this here jig!”
Then the lights went out, and there was a shout and two guns lit up the black;
But when the lights came on, the two men were gone and Lou was dead on her back.

That’s the true story in all of its glory, the boys to this day swear it’s so;
Some folks still choose to think it too much booze, and midnight sun afterglow.
But I saw the most of those double ghosts, yet now those mining days are through—
But they came back, it sure was a fact – to get revenge on a lady known as Lou.       


Details | Cowboy | |

The Fifty-Seven Brand

Through darkness three sons rode the land—
The father fallen like a tree—
They feared the fifty-seven brand.

That death mark made each one a man—
Age fifty-seven he died free—
Through darkness three sons rode the land.

Those years went by like snaking sand,
Their father’s death a memory—
They feared the fifty-seven brand.

As each year dappled face and hand,
His age at death still held the key—
Through darkness three sons rode the land.

The inner dread they could not stand,
When fifty-seven each would be—
They feared the fifty-seven brand.

But as each touched that fatal strand,
Their hearts would numb and spirit flee—
Through darkness three sons rode the land—
They feared the fifty-seven brand. 


Details | Cowboy | |

Gone to the Mountains

Sometimes the mountains call so strongly
   that I shall never know peace
Until I stand where Heaven begins
   and the bonds of this life cease.

I do not wish to leave you;
   I've not but words to leave behind.
I pray, when you read, you'll remember me,
   as strong and loyal an kind.

I rode the trail for which I was called,
   in my mind regrets have no place;
The adventure was there for the living,
   my heart says I ran a good race.

So listen for me in the laughter
   that comes easy among true friends;
In the sounds of men and horses
   beneath a sky that has no end.

And know that I loved you one and all,
   when you hear music or smell sage in the air,
Dance hard and live for the moment,
   my spirit will always be there.

Celebrate life and love and the West;
   be fearless and funny and bold;
Please take the time to finish
   any stories that I've left untold.

Past the meadow where blue bonnets grow,
   near the creek by the gate;
My horse stands rigged for an easy ride,
   and I can no longer wait.

So tell them I've gone to the mountains,
   to the land I loved and called my home;
That I ride with the wild Texas wind,
   somewhere west of San Antone.

© Debra Coppinger Hill
With love for TR, who gave me words and love and taught me how to be an outlaw.



Details | Cowboy | |

Ol' Spud

I'll be ridin' the trail alone these days,
The years have caught up with my bud,
No more will he be trottin' by our side--
That brown mutt I called Ol' Spud.

Red Roan, my hoss, will miss 'em I guess,
She keeps lookin' down at the ground--
It'll take us both a while I'll bet
To realize he's still not around.

Ol' Spud was a bird dog in his day--
He was ever since a pup,
But he lost his job of pointin' 'em out
When he et all the profits up.

I buried him deep on the land he loved,
Jest a soul that's lost to old age--
But he'll always trot right by our side
Along the whisperin' sienna sage.


Details | Cowboy | |

Faces In the Fire

On those cool summer evenings when coyotes haunt the night
And the campfire is dying—burning low, then flaring bright,
A cowboy plays harmonica while others sing and hum
While down by the chuck wagon a lonely guitar does strum.

A few pokes like Lon Stonecipher stare silent at the fire,
Imagining old friends and folks in times both dear and dire.
Lon sees and talks to faces that flicker in gold flames—
He asks them of the weather—remembers all their names.

“There’s Delton and Rosella, old Burlin and Rob Alcorn,
There’s that sweet Renata Robins that kissed me one June morn.
There’s Cal Shirlo and Spud Scanlon, that both died in the war,
And Addie Belle from Abilene that said she’d love no more.”

Cowpokes yawned and nodded—on this wild words did not dwell—
They knew the man he used to be, but this was just his shell.
The faces in the fire gave him comfort and offered hope,
They were his last salvation—without them he could not cope.

Lon stared into the fire for many hours before sleep—
His rest was fitful, frenzied—never calm, peaceful or deep.
And often he’d awake and gaze mournfully once again
Into those glowing embers in search of friend or kin.

“I can see my last saddle pal, young Mathew Leatherwood
And a Dodge City gambler that I shot right where he stood.
I see my dear grandmother and my sister Anna Lee—
My grandpa and brother Jim, who died at the age of three.”

The fire burned low and so did Lon out on that prairie bow,
But this was as it always was, at least until just now.
“I see you, ma—I see you, pa—your faces smile at me,”
So said old Lon one last time, drifting upon a prairie sea.

They buried Lon Stonecipher right out on that cold, dark land—
And right beside him built a blaze as hot as they could stand.
Then they watched the flames dance, and stared long into that pyre,
And to this day some still swear, Lon’s face was smiling in that fire.


 


  


Details | Cowboy | |

The Rider With No Face

It seems like in some dream or in some other place,
I first saw that image – the rider with no face.
It was no homemade mask, scarf or old flour sack,
Just newly scarred flesh with piercing eyes that stared back.

He wore a dark sombrero and rode a pale white horse—
Never said a word ‘cause he had no mouth of course.
I could see his black holster with silver inlay
As sun glinted on it and clouds all rolled away.

And though he had no lips, I swore he spoke my name:
“Turn to thyself,” I heard him say, “never know shame.”
Then he turned round and trotted off into the black,
As I quickly took aim and shot him in the back.

Then as I stood by him and watched him slowly die,
He began to then change and I did not know why.
I looked at that nameless face and there I did find,
A face I now recognized and that face was mine. 


Details | Cowboy | |

A Red Navajo Blanket

A red Navajo blanket
Shines in the setting sun—
Marking a cowboy’s final rest
When that long ride is done.

There will be no wood marker
Or stone to note his place—
We’ll just remember laughter
And long recall his face.

“Please boys,” he asked us softly,
“Do one last thing for me
And put that Navajo rug
High where the world will see.

“An old dying Indian
Passed that blanket to me—
After I tried to save him
From sure death meant to be. 

“Oh, it won’t last forever—
Like leaves it will soon fall—
But like a man’s life well-lived,   
Beauty’s what we recall.”

So high upon that green hill
We placed blanket and grave,
Then said what words that we knew
In hopes a soul we’d save.

A red Navajo blanket
Shines in the setting sun—
Marking a cowboy’s final rest
When that long ride is done.
 


Details | Cowboy | |

The Death of Prickly Pete

Ol’ Prickly was dead, shot down with hot lead, and all of his friends did grieve—
But so it now seems, they fell for his schemes – he owned money before he did leave.
“In that dern cuss, I put all my trust,” said Rod, “but he up and dies just like that—
He borrowed my horse and my saddle, of course, and now he’s still wearin’ my hat!”

“He promised to marry,” cried sweet little Sherry, “he told me I was the only one.
But at the wake hall as I started to bawl, in walks three wives, ten daughters and a 
son!”
Now I ain’t got no truck in yer bad luck,” said a tall man to all of Pete’s ex’s—
“But that dern dead ol’ Pete tied me up real neat by sellin’ me half of Texas!”

“Oh, please,” the pastor begged on his knees, “can we not speak ill of the dead?
Surely there was good in this misunderstood cowboy whose life has now fled?!”
But an hour was fleet as they spoke of ol’ Pete, who lived by the lie and the gun—
Hearin’ more tales of Pete’s travails, the preach screams, “Let’s burn this dirty ol’ 
son!”

Then just in a bit, as their torches were lit, sweet little Sherry faints in a swoon—
For sittin’ in the casket like fruit in a basket, Pete says, its jest a flesh wound!”
Then he done said, “All reports of me bein’ dead, has done been exaggerated—
I seen Saint Pete before, but he warn’t no cure and ol’ death is over-rated!”

They chased Pete alone from the funeral home and he’s never been seen again,
But no one did care, just so he wasn’t there – he claimed no kith, kin or friend.
So it goes to show if you’re dyin’ to go, its better you take enough lead—
‘Cause if your name’s Pete, life ain’t complete until they’re sure you’re stone dead! 


Details | Cowboy | |

Those Odessa Days

(A remembrance of driving to the auction in Odessa, Missouri.)

You’re bumpin’ down the highway in that ol’ pickup truck,
Just a kid slowly tunin’ in a radio that plays—
Headin’ for the stock auction with your dad and some luck—
A part of history, back in those Odessa days.

Dad will be biddin’ on some calves to haul way back home—
He fancies doin’ more farmin’ like in younger days—
He left the farm more than twenty years ago to roam,
To find a town job and turn his back on farmin’ ways.

But the land stays in your blood and someday you go back,
If not in bone and muscle, at least within your mind—
And you seek a part of youth—that’s just a natural fact,
For you’re always on the outlook for what you’ll never find.

You roll past green pastures and that churnin’ Mighty Mo,
Count the silos, barns and the cattle as you drive past—
Music fills the truck with songs of love and eatin’ crow—
Cowboys, beer, bar fights and pickups—things that never last. 

That ol’ black pickup rattles and bucks just like a bronc,
Its days, just like the horses, will soon come to an end—
And as we reach the auction, my dad pulls up to honk:
A ritual of completion for a son and now a friend.

And when we head on home with those calves all loaded up,
We’ll turn on that radio and sing in one sweet haze—
For in just a few years, there will sit dad’s empty cup
And there will just be memories of those Odessa days.        



Details | I do not know? | |

A Look Beyond The Gate

He rose at dawn to start each day,
And though the work brought little pay...
The cowboy loved his life!
To rustle cows and hit the hay
Beneath the moon...is what he'd say
Was perfect, with no strife.

The trail was long and dusty too,
But oh those ragged mountain views
Stirred music in his soul!
And by the campfire where the crew
Told tales around the dice and drew
Their luck with games not droll...

Comradery was thick and bold,
Where every story that was told
Became their common fate.
And when the dice lie still and cold,
Each cowboy knows he's growing old...
He looks beyond the gate.
 


Details | Cowboy | |

Riding Down the Decline

The plains have their moments of wild beauty
As you ride with morning wind in your hair---
The sage and wide open spaces thrill you
As you ride free on that celestial stair.

But the hill country is another thing,
Although you and your horse start out just fine—
You both have to carefully watch your step
As you ride down that steady old decline.

At first, you don’t really notice a change—
A misstep or a small ache in your back—
Then you sense you can’t do things you once did
And to your thinking there’s a certain lack.

Oh, you can still out ride all those young dudes
And you’re still relied on in a real pinch—
But your step’s a little slower these days
And you give slack when once you gave no inch.

Gone are the days of those endless trail rides—
Your tail bone ain’t the rock it used to be—
You’d rather be riding soft rocking chairs,
Than on the range where it’s rough and still free.

So you slow up your horse on that ride down
And look ahead to the clouds and sunshine—
As you steady your reigns and your old horse
And slowly ease down that long last decline.  


Details | Cowboy | |

Shadow Cowboy

Who was that tall cowboy I saw ridin’ by the door?
He seems just like some shadow that I’ve seen before.
He shimmers in the twilight – he was here and then gone—
Just a shadow cowboy like the horse he rides upon.

It seems we never saw him when things were at their best,
But things just don’t stay that way out here in the West.
Some say he’s a vaquero that died out on this land 
By way of some injustice that no one understands.

When maw came down with fever as hot as burnin’ Hell,
We heard spur chains outside and found water from the well.
And in a fleetin’ glance I saw him when maw died—
But I was just mistaken ‘cause cowboys never cried.

Who was that tall cowboy I saw ridin’ by the door?
He seems just like some shadow that I’ve seen before.
He shimmers in the twilight – he was here and then gone—
Just a shadow cowboy like the horse he rides upon.

I never saw him again till fall took paw away—
And in he came a ridin’ without a word to say.
Or was it just a shadow that flickered on the hill?
Or that dark shadow cowboy that came to sap our will?

He is gone now forever – of him I do not speak—
I do not see him at the door or down by the creek.
But pains and aches are heavy and life is just not fair—
Before I turn ‘round, I know his shadow will be there.

Who was that tall cowboy I saw ridin’ by the door?
He seems just like some shadow that I’ve seen before.
He shimmers in the twilight – he was here and then gone—
Just a shadow cowboy like the horse he rides upon.


Details | Cowboy | |

Old Cowboys Ride the Sunsets

Old cowboys ride the sunsets
And seize each day as their own—
They leave behind their regrets
And end up riding alone.

They’ll tell you there was a time
When each man made his own choice—
When being a man was no crime
And each man had his own voice.

Used to be men tipped their hats
And stood up for women folk—
Before men became door mats
And were thought of as a joke. 

Not all rode off in sunsets
Some still haunt the old corrals—
While the Old West still begets
New cowboys the Lord allows.

Still cowboys ride the sunsets
Off into red setting suns—
Still men in all their respects
Still sticking to their old guns.


Details | Cowboy | |

The Old Man Rode Forth

The old man rode forth once more like many a day before,
To ride this land that was all his until he could no more.

They say youth is wasted on the young and savored when old—
But you don’t see the truth till you’re too senile to be told.

So the old man rode forth that day with wind that tugged his hair—
Until he came to a mountain and rested his horse there.

He thought back on the things he’d seen and it sure had been fine—
Then knew his life was not done. Hell! He was just ninety-nine


Details | Cowboy | |

Grandpa's Shaving Mirror

On life’s sweet sage trail, there are many things we see:
Like grandfather’s ranch house where good times used to be.
There’s a ancient shaving mirror hung on a nail,
That he used to shave his face each day without fail.

You wonder as you gaze, what that mirror could tell—
Before time’s closing night darkened the light and fell.
Did he see an old man or what he used to be?
Or only wild roses when he was young and free?

Was he like us now, and remembered just the best?
Or did his scars go deeper to his final rest?
And as we look into that old shaving mirror—
Will we think on life’s doubts and then see them clearer?

For all the world’s a looking glass we stare into—
And what we see must please us before we are through.
Yes, I still have that mirror, but I seldom look—
In it I see gramps and he reads me like a book.

So now I hide it away like grandpa’s old spurs
And endure these modern times as this old world whirs.
Yet in darkest moments, I look into that glass
And know that like grandfathers – things we love must pass.
 


Details | Cowboy | |

All Alone

Walking up a sandy draw-
Out in the desert land...
An oddity is what I saw,
Have buried in the sand.

“Saddlebags!” is what I thought,
“Dried up, and nearly gone.”
I wondered how they came to be,
Here in the sage and stone.

I dug them up, but underneath,
I caught a glimpse of bone.
And realized that it was, here,
Some traveler died alone.

Rotted cloth, a rusted gun,
Among the grim remains.	
“He almost made it,” mocked the the wind,
“His payback for his pains.”

I peeled apart the rotten bags,
And in my search I found-
A journal wrapped in oilcloth,
And it was leather bound.
				
I opened it, began to turn,
The pages I did bend-
“Where to start?” I asked myself,
Then started toward the end.

“Phoenix, May, of eighty-one-
Charley Wade, and me-
And when we pick the Pima up,
Our total will be three.”

He wrote about the journey,
Southeast, toward Mexico...
He spoke of virgin silver...
Of which, the three did know.

Apaches did for Charley-
Not far from Kitchen’s Well.
Buried near a watershed,
They left him where he fell...



The Pima died of snakebite,
The man was left alone...
Yet still the silver beckoned,
The fortune lured him on.

“I broke my leg at sundown-
And now my horse has run.
If Apaches do not get me first,
I just might eat my gun!

“Thirsty!” was what he wrote next-
“Ah, God, the sun is hot!
And I keep seeing water-
In places that it’s not!

Buzzards keep a circling-
I guess my race is run...
A shame a Tennessean.
Has to die here ‘neath this sun!”

I left him as I found him,
Half buried by the sand-
And realized that men like him,
Had founded our great land.

The guts to saddle up and go,
Where no one else has gone,
And fortitude, if need be,
To die there all alone.


Details | Cowboy | |

Hold On To What You Got

You’re nineteen years old and fancy
That you’re fast as that Wild Bill—
You ride and shoot and go crazy—
Drink rye whiskey to your fill.

You bet that you’ll live forever
And never see a sick day,
Till some sense is knocked in your head 
That soon won’t go far away.

That buddy you said you’d kill for
Lays dead because he was shot—
And there was nothing you could do,
But hold on to what you got.

So you grow wrinkled and wiser
And think what you need is gold—
To buy your dreams and your lovers
As days and years make you old.

But the gold comes and then it’s gone
And only your kin stand by—
As you watch them die one by one
And all you can do is cry.

So you tighten up your cinches
And delight in God’s sad plot—
Then savor those you love the more
And hold on to what you got.


Details | Cowboy | |

Each Man Follows His Own Trail

“Each man follows his own trail, but he rides it all alone,”
Was what Free Will always said when he turned his horse toward home.
But none of us knew it then, just how true those words would be,
As we went about our business knee-deep in green grass sea.

Few knew his name was William Preston – we called him Free Will—
No cowboy was ever freer; no one quite fit the bill.
He only slept under stars; his pillow was a saddle—
His mattress was stone and earth; his alarm a snake rattle.

None of us boys saw deeply into things that cowboy sowed—
We saw a bent mustached gentleman with legs that were bowed.
He said few words but when he did, they all came from the heart—
And he always finished fist fights or feuds he did not start.

Free Will rode down his own path and he always took the lead—
Never afraid of nothing – be it bear or wild cat treed.
And when his pards would let him down, he would smile and just groan:
“Each man follows his own trail, but he rides it all alone.”

The years went by and it appeared Free Will never did age,
It seemed he kept his cowboy ways like mesquite and the sage.
Never did he wed or own a house – things that tied you down,
We called him “poke” and “ol’ cowboy,” but he still hung around.

But then one day some suits stopped by and asked about taxes
That Will, they say had never paid when he lived in Texas.
They say he owned the IRS and had to go to jail—
We knew it would just kill Free Will, so we all upped his bail.

But Will refused and shook his head and said it was his pride,
That long ago led him astray and no more would he hide.
He thought he could slight the feds and pocket all those green bills—
Then ride right out of Texas into the far distant hills.

But as they snapped the cuffs on Will, he gave a little wink—
“At my age they can’t cage me, I’ll be free before you think!”
And next day sure enough, we heard the news down at the bar—
How some old cowboy died en route while in a police car.

It made us sad to think Free Will had rode that last sunset,
Yet now we sit around the fire with words we can’t forget:
“Each man follows his own trail, but he rides it all alone,”
And that’s just what Free Will now did, riding that last trail home. 


Details | Cowboy | |

Heck, I Ain't No Cowboy

I’ve been known to buck a bale or two in my day
And I’ve loved a gal or a few and rode away.

I’ve dug up taters for just a dollar a day—
I’ve clerked in stores and let the boss man have his say.

There’s few ‘round here that ain’t had me in their employ—
But like I’ve always said: “Heck, I ain’t no cowboy!”

They say soldiers is heroes – I gave it a try—
I lost use of an arm and saw too many die.

But I ain’t no whiner and I never did quit—
I’m big and raw-boned and I don’t care one darned bit

What others may think on the range or back in town—
I’m just a simple ol’ soul that ain’t too profound.

I’ve busted some chops and broke me some wild broncs—
Bruised butts and cracked heads in some crazy honkytonks—

I’ve wrote me poems about the West and its joy—
But like I’ve always said: “Heck, I ain’t no cowboy.”

And though I’m downtrodden and may live in two worlds—
I savor a coon dog and still love all the girls.

I’ll leave with my ol’ hat and a pair of good boots—
A twelve-gauge shotgun and an ol’ Colt that still shoots.

You can bury me in town or out on the range—
‘Cause both of them is just fine and neither is strange—

Don’t belly-up to my pine box or act too coy—
Just tell the blamed ol’ truth: “Heck, he weren’t no cowboy.” 


Details | Cowboy | |

The Last Camp

As that new bunch drifted slowly into Deadwood,
Bill turned round in his saddle to Charley Utter—
Sadly told him something he’d always remember—
That which made the others smirk and weak hearts flutter:

“Charley, I feel this is going to be my last camp,”
Bill then softly said, “and I won’t leave it alive…”
Charley, Calam Jane and all the others just laughed—
But Wild Bill did not smile and he never replied. 

Even to that day, as Bill foretold his own doom
And wrote a letter to the wife he’d know no more: 
“Agnes… if such should be we never meet again…”  
Bill penned, “I will try to swim to the other shore.”

Next day, August second, eighteen seventy six,
Wild Bill Hickok went in that Saloon Number Ten—
And to this day, the rest they say is history—
Now that last Deadwood camp is still recalled by men. 

“Charley, I feel this is going to be my last camp,
And I won’t leave it alive….” Utter heard Bill say—
Or so he, Calam and Agnes long remembered
And his spirit grows all the stronger to this day.  
 


Details | Cowboy | |

Ain't It All Just One Long Ol' Ride?

Me and Ben were fresh-scrubbed farm boys
Come to Wyoming fer the thrill,
We had twenty dollars twixt us,
But knew we’d climb the highest hill.

Then Ben got suckered in card games
And I spent the rest on bar gals—
We was down and out in Cheyenne,
Then started hangin’ at corrals.

Jest ‘bout the time I sold my horse
And almost called this a bad joke,
A tall, dark trail boss then offered
Me and Ben jobs as new cowpokes.

Sam Nightshade showed us some respect,
He didn’t want to hurt our pride—
He knew we wren’t cowboys and said,
“Ain’t it all just one long ol’ ride?”

Then he took the time to train us
And ‘fore long we were ridin’ herd,
And we would have both killed or stole
If Sam had only said the word.

Well, the years stampeded by fast—
We knew Sam was on his last legs,
Then he told Ben ta be the boss
And live life to its final dregs.

And as Sam put his horse in a trot,
His body went limp and he died,
But we caught him ‘fore he hit ground,
“Ain’t it all just one long ol’ ride?”

Though sad, I was soon resentful
‘Bout Ben bein’ the new trail boss—
Wasn’t Sam eatin’ me inside,
Reckon it was the double-cross.

Never said a word ‘bout it for years
But it gnawed a hole deep in me—
And I oiled up my .44
And practiced on an ol’ ash tree.

Then one night alone on the trail,
I found Ben where he could not hide
And shot him once clean through the head,
“Ain’t it all just one long ol’ ride?”


Details | Cowboy | |

The Day Old Queenie Died

We were having a chivaree for Bob
And his brand new wife, little Laurie Lee,
When Betsy ran up from the barn and sobbed
That old Queenie was as sick as could be.

Old Queenie was a horse long past her prime
That we now just sort of kept as a pet—
We had quit riding her for quite some time
And her long life was full of no regret.

In her day she was our favorite horse,
Gentle, but spirited on a hard ride—
And it was just as if she knew your course
And moved with your thoughts before you’d decide.

Then there was a time she bucked for a snake—
Then reared up real high and stomped it to death,
As that rattler tried to make me ache
And take away my everlasting breath.

Then there was the time I yanked myself high
To her broad back after I broke my knee—
And I clung to her with a welcome sigh 
And rode back to town as quick as could be.

But now old Queenie was dying out there
And slowly I loaded my old gun—
Then walked on down the lane to that barn where
I had to do what no one wanted done.

Old Queenie’s big black eyes looked up at me
As I stood here with rifle pointing down—
But before I moved, her eyes couldn’t see
And she died from old age without a sound.


Details | Cowboy | |

Festus

He wore a floppy, chewed-up hat
And he came to replace Chester,
Who limped off to a better deal
And then let sad feelings fester.

On Gunsmoke they called him Festus,
But his real name was Ken Curtis—
At first no one knew what to think,
Because Chester’s leaving hurt us.  

His talk was high and real scratchy
And he spoke with a mountain twang—
Of course it was just put on thick,
For we all knew that he once sang. 

Seemed like he needed a close shave,
His whiskers were mangy and wild—
He screwed up his face like Popeye—
It was hard to tell if he smiled.

It just seemed that he was cranky—
Most times had loud words with old Doc—
Out of fun they always quarreled—
Guess we thought that they’d never stop.

There was Marshal Dillon, Newly,
Sam the barkeep and Miss Kitty—
And those jingling spurs of Festus,
Long silent now – it’s such a pity. 

Doc, Kitty and Sam are gone, too,
And Gunsmoke is long off the air—
Didn’t know how good Festus was,
Till we looked around and he wasn’t there.


Details | Cowboy | |

The Cowboy That Found Life's Creek

He'd searched those plains for many years until he had grown weak,
He had all but given up on ever findin' ol' Life's Creek.
But there it was before him 'twixt the butte they called Tin Cup,
He and his horse needed water but Life's Creek was all dried up.

With cattle herdin' and each man's life, we often do ask why,
When things at last start goin' good, we just grow old and die.
Seems when young, ol' death ain't somethin' that we think about,
Until our life just goes all wrong and we become devout.

We ride 'round final questions and it seems we don't even think--
We say that the only answer is to live life on the brink.
Yet we know the sad alternative of dyin' right in our prime--
There's much we don't accomplish when we go before our time.

Yet now that this agin' cowboy had found that fabled stream,
Had it all been worth the journey for a tumbleweed dream?
And do all of our life's answers simply trick and mock us,
Or is there some higher mountain in which to put our trust?

We just keep tryin' and it seems we always need a friend
To prod us into ridin' down that ol' trail to the end.
We know that we're just small specks in some eternal eye--
Yet we do the best we can, till we just grow old and die.


Details | Cowboy | |

The Way It Was In the West

He’d read all the dime novels ‘bout each famous old outlaw,
Their fancy shots and darin’ deeds in the West that was raw.
But now they’d shot a cowpoke robbin’ the bank that fine morn,
And he lay dead and stinkin’, face down in the dust all forlorn.

Some said he was a nobody, a tramp that needed cash,
Some said his folks lived ‘round these parts and were white trash.
Others said he once rode with the Youngers and Jesse James—
While some said he robbed with the Daltons and made other claims.

But there he was plum dead – all still and just a drawin’ flies,
As someone called the tintype man to photograph their prize.
And as they rearranged him, leanin’ stiff upon that board,
They took one final picture as he smiled and met the Lord.