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Cowboy Philosophy Poems | Cowboy Poems About Philosophy

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

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Details | Cowboy | |

Hard Times

When hard times come they sit a spell, Like kin folk come to stay A-packin' troubles, pets an' kids That always get ‘n your way. It's drought an' flood, an' flood an' drought, There ain't much in-between. You work like hell to make ’em good, But still they’re sorta lean. The ranch went under late last year, The drought got mighty tough. The boss held-out a long, long time, But finally said, "enough!" So here I am dispatchin’ cops An’ watchin’ felons sleep, In Junction, at the county jail, A job I’ll prob’ly keep. The wife, she works at Leisure Lodge, Where older people stay, A-makin’ beds an’ moppin’ floors To earn some ‘extra’ pay. Though “extra pay‘s” the term I used, It goes to payin’ rent, An’ after all the bills are paid, We wonder where it went. We hocked my saddle, guns an' chaps, An' then our weddin' rings; Then when we couldn't pay the loan, They sold the 'dad-blamed' things. We felt real bad a day or two But then we let it go, Cause it got Christmas for the kids When money got real slow. When hard times come they sit a spell, Don't matter who you are; They'll cost ya things you've set aside, An' clean your cookie jar. You'll loose some sleep an' worry some, Won't pay to moan an' groan; But hang on to your happiness, They'll finally leave ya 'lone.


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 | |

The Waxed Coat Man

In crackled tintypes bent with long ago,
Amid flaxen sunset and skies of cherry—
In worn leather-carved ancient scenario,
He dare not lie in milkweed prairie.

He rides resolute toward that sweat-tinged fame,
Always the heart’s hero of our once young eye,
As pale ivory range sighs softly his name
And we all know the real reason why.

It is high sage country that he will ride,
As that tin sun burns alabaster away—
And new birthed rains roll off his cow rancher hide,
So his soft summer’s mirage will stay.

Some see him crude – of but limited worth—
Lacking pure knowledge or certain savoir-faire—
But born of bone plain, he is of no fool’s birth—
A force of nature that’s always there. 

From coat’s patina past years slide, of course,
As lines are spurred so deep into his Sphinx face—
But he’d rather be poised high atop his horse
In no other country, time or place.

His heritage is long – it’s here he’ll die—
He rides his own land in cruel spring rains and snows—
And like that wax jacket, he’ll keep his hopes dry,
Because ranching is all that he knows.


Details | Cowboy | |

No One Knows Where the Longhorn Goes

No one knows where the longhorn goes,
When his breed is scattered and few—
He once was king of the cattle ring,
But his time in this world is through. 

We all must go where longhorns go,
When the bone moon falls from the sky—
We will not hide when we ride no more
And the longhorn goes off to die.

Our land must be where longhorns live—
Where we all seek our destiny—
This once was land still full of sand
With longhorns far as you could see. 

We all must dream what cowboys dreamt
When they looked out upon the West—
We all should lead the life we need
As we follow the trail that’s best.

We all must go where longhorns grazed
On a ride through the green grass sea—
We all must lead and protect our creed—
But most of all, we should be free.

The path is hard, but we will climb
Up that hill where the longhorn goes—
Though the trail is long, it is not wrong, 
When we know what the longhorn knows.   


Details | Cowboy | |

On Juno Ranch, A Cowboy's Day

If you'd have lived and worked on Juno Ranch, you’d have come away better for it. It 
may not have seemed like it at the time but Pancho (Uncle Frank) would put it to you, an’ it 
was for you to decide to do it, what to do with it, or to fight. The motto was, “You either work 
or fight, there ain’t no quittin’ on this-here ranch.”

     Pancho cultivated a reputation as a living legend in his fifty-some years in the Devil’s 
River country of the Texas frontier. He loved his life, family, work and felt plumb lucky to be 
livin’ it. He believed there was art in every undertakin’ an’ practiced the highest standards in 
dealin’ with any an’ all comers. He savvied horses, cattle an’ the land; and death was just the 
gate that opened into higher pastures.

     Ride 'em Pancho!


The cowboy wakes before each dawn With blurry eyes n'a mournful yawn; Gets breakfast down, just bacon'n eggs, An' biscuits dunked in coffee dregs. He feeds the stock some oats an' hay In growin' light of break o' day. Then Pancho comes an' rigs a hoss, An' chews his butt, 'cause he's the boss. “The sun is up, you little bride! We're loosin' light! We gotta ride!” So they ride out to make their rounds In echoed clops of hoof-beat sounds. The sun is high 'bout half-passed noon, An' dinnertime is none too soon. He eats his beans an' taters fast, Then rolls a smoke an' rests at last. He dreams of how he'll spend his pay When he's in town on Saturday, An' where he'll go to have some fun With gals who'll laugh and call him, "Hun..." He gets his hat an' pulls it down, Forgets the dream of gals in town, Cause if he ain't just damn near dead, The work comes first on Pancho's spread.


Details | Cowboy | |

Cowboy Legacy

There’s a legacy inside him,
As he sits upon his steed;
His heart is filled with honesty,
Not perjury or greed;

He rides the same old range,
That his father rode before;
And it’s been that way for forever,
A hundred years or more;

Pushin’ cattle, brandin’ calves,
That is a cowboy’s life;
Someday he may settle down,
And make some girl his wife;

He’s spent so many lonely nights,
Sleeping under the stars,
He hasn’t got a tattoo,
What he has are battle scars;

There’s a rip across his stomach,
From a rangy longhorn steer;
And even though it hurt like hell,
He never shed a tear;

He always outs on a brave face,
Emotions locked inside;
And for his cowboy heritage,
He feels only pride.


Details | Cowboy | |

A Cowboy Thanksgiving Toast

May you gather kin ‘round campfires
And give thanks to God on high—
May you feast and relish friendships
Before that round-up in the sky.


Details | Cowboy | |

LISTEN SHHHHHH

IF YOUR VERY VERY QUIET 
AND VERY VERY STILL
YOU CAN HEAR HIM TALKING
AND KNOW THAT HE IS REAL

WHISPERING THROUGH THE TREES
AND THE SONGS OF THE BIRDS
CHIRPING OF THE CRICKETS
MOVEMENT OF THE HERD

THE RUSTLING OF GRASS
SOFTLY PUSHED ASIDE
BY FEET STEPPING QUIETLY
PAUSING WHILE IN STRIDE

A MARE SOFTLY COAXING
A PRECIOUS NEWBORN FOAL
THE CREATION OF LIFE
WARMS YOU TO YOUR SOUL

IF YOU LISTEN YOU CAN HEAR
YOUR HEART SLOWLY BEATING
COUNTING OUT THE SECONDS
OF YOUR SHORT LIFE FLEETING

JUST CLOSE YOUR EYES AND LISTEN
TO ALL THE THINGS YOU MISS
WORRYING ABOUT DAY TO DAY
TOO LONG IS YOUR LIST

LISTEN TO WHAT IS IMPORTANT
LIFE GOES ON ALL AROUND
THINK NOW WHAT YOU’RE HEARING
AND THE TREASURES YOU FOUND

SO IF YOU’RE VERY VERY QUIET 
AND VERY VERY STILL
YOU’LL KNOW WHO IS TALKING
AND KNOW THAT GOD IS REAL






Details | Cowboy | |

Lessons I Have Learned

A handshake speaks volumes, keep it firm & strong
Learn from your mistakes & admit when you're wrong
Stand your ground when you know you're right
Never drop your guard or waver in a fight

Never give up & put your best in all you do
Follow your heart & to yourself stay true
May every word match every deed
Always lend a hand to those in need

Things turn out better when you take time to pray
A light heart & hard work keep the storm clouds at bay
Hold your friends close for each is a treasure
In your family, look always for solace & pleasure

A light touch on the reins is only half the battle
Make sure you set deep & tall in the saddle
Treat horse & man with equal respect
When asked for advice, be kind but direct

There's a bright side to even the darkest day
You'll gain more from life if a smile leads the way
A true friend is one who cannot be bought
These are a few of the lessons I've been taught

By those who have guided me throughout my life
My  wellspring of wisdom to rely on in times of strife

© December 2003



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 | |

saline through time-

social dishonesty, 
in a word, 
in a moment, 
without reason or hope, 
saline through time… 

  


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 | |

Life Worn Heart

“A Cowboy is born with a broken heart”
I once heard someone say
But it’s life’s travails
that make it seem that way
Just settle back & lend an ear 
I will see if I can explain

Its every “good bye” left unspoken
every tear that’s never shed
It’s the pride you just can’t swallow
every apology left unsaid
It’s the emptiness & sorrow
you carry with you on life’s trails

It was in the way back years
must have been six or seven
I watched a strong man crumble
When I saw my Daddy cry
He’d just come from burying Grandpa
Never got to say Good Bye

We lost the ranch when I was eight
and though his dream had failed
I watched my Daddy shoulder on
Never buckling under the weight
He altered course & tried again
Heart worn & weary but he prevailed

When I was but a woman child
True love found, my forever friend
We’d talked of “Through Forever”
He rides in Heaven’s arena now
True love’s bonds the veil can’t sever
All to soon I lost him to a Brahma wild

A Cowboy’s heart isn’t broken at the very start
It’s the unspoken words and unshed tears
Its all those lonely midnight memories
that creates a Life Worn Heart

(c) January 2004


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 | |

Once Upon a Time in the West

Now, I find it kind of funny how quickly things change
Once was a time when everyone wanted a home on the range
A place where they had room to stretch & grow
Out where the cattle bawl & the west winds blow

The city folk have all gone country or so they’d like to think
Why, there are new houses going up faster than you can blink
You remember that prime grazing lease? Take another look
It’s looking more & more like an architect’s pop-up book

They come out here to escape all the big city worries & trouble
They said they weren’t concerned if their commute doubled
Now they are talking of bringing a super market in
And an increase in crime spreads our deputies thin

They thought that grazing cattle made a picture quite quaint
Now those same cows holding up traffic is an oft heard complaint
They throw out words like eco-friendly & environmental plan
Then scrape the land as clean as momma’s griddle pan

Yes, everybody wants a home out on the range
And I am just a cowboy trying to reconcile the change
I watch the valley whittled down into an urban scene
And wish that I was back again in childhood fields of green


Details | Cowboy | |

Rhyme of the Ancient Rodeo Rider

Travel trailers, trophy buckles
And Blue Ribbon bottles,
Litter my ol’ lonely landscape
Of rodeo battles.

I lost a few and won a few
And traveled down the road—
I lived for that 8-second ride—
Thought town jobs were a load.

I cowboyed up and cowboyed down—
Touched too many a heart—
I never realized all those dreams—
Greet folks at the WalMart.

Trailers, trophies and stale warm beer—
Rodeo don’t seem real—
They’re all just empty as my life—
Now I know how cows feel. 


Details | Cowboy | |

Church Going Folk

I'm a religous man, but I don't go to church
I tried a few times,
They said I wasn't welcome in the clothes I wore,
I smelled of horse, my boots tracked mud.
The Good Lord, apparently, likes His church folk clean

I Smiled as sweet as can be, 
And told those folks that was just fine with me.
I rode everyday in the Lords house, 
The wide open range. 
I was welcome there, 
Wether I had showered that day or not.
And everyday, I felt the Lord whisper in my ear, 
Through a soft breeze.
I heard Him answer my prayers,
I saw what they had never seen,
Witnessed the Lord start life, 
Bring it forth,
And usher it back out again. 
I saw the wisdom in living the Lord gives,
and I saw beauty beyond compare.
I rode beside those who judged not,
And judged them not myself.
I told them clean church folk,
I respect the Lords house, 
But I doubted it was He who refused me for want of good clothes,
I saw Him everyday, 
and everyday He welcomed me,
beneath warm sun and endless sky.
But I would ask Him, 
when my time came, 
if His house was as clean as all that.
Perhaps I'd put in a good word for those who'd refused me,
in their ignorance.
The Lords house is everywhere,
I may not be indoors when I pray, 
But that just cuts the confusion, 
With no ceiling to muffle my prayers.

I'm a religous man, 
But no church do I call mine, 
But the Lords wide open spaces,
The beauty he created,
No man made structure cases my prayers, 
and to no man do I bow,
But everyday the Good Lord finds me in awe of his creation,
An appreciation many folks fail to find indoors.


Details | Cowboy | |

When a Cowboy Talks to God

Lord, you know that I’m one small seed
Blown across the fields of this world—
You could lose me in a moment
By the power you have unfurled.

But when I need to talk to you,
I know you’ll hear me and stand mute—
Then bless me with your vast knowledge
In green valley or lonely butte.

Yes, I’ve strayed down many wrong paths,
And it’s all my own fault, of course—
But now I just ask your blessing
When I’m too frail to ride my horse.
 
And though it seems I ask often,
It is not always just for me—
I can only gain forgiveness
In the eyes of eternity.

Lift me to your silver saddle
And we’ll ride that ivory cloud—
As I dally the light’s wisdom,
And make the big trail boss real proud.



Details | Cowboy | |

Circles Made of Stone

As we journey wide in life
On strange ranges far from home,
We often stop and ponder
Old burnt circles made of stone.

They are last meager remnants
Of some campfire long ago—
Where pards and tired travelers
Would share a hot cup of joe.

The fire would blaze but briefly
Then be just smoke as they’d part—
To rise again down the trail
Where another fire would start.

Yes, they’d slowly gather rocks
And form that new ring of stone—
Build a blaze to ease the night,
So they’d not be all alone.

But those days are mostly gone
With stone circles left behind—
Cowboys seldom come this way
And good pards are hard to find.

And while fires now seem to die
And a cold north wind does moan—
There’s always comfort in a fire
In our circle made of stone.

And so we all go our way,
Build rings all the farther—
Honor roots and family,
But most of all, our Father.

Yes, now we’ve come full circle—
Return to earth as it lays—
A circle of completion—
Like brief dust of earthly days.


Details | Couplet | |

Sown or Sewn

http://articles.latimes.com/2004/dec/25/nation/na-cowboy25

Either Sown or Sewn

or Flower or Flour

Either it is to be sewn or sown

Which one should be left alone?

Maybe small seeds or some stitching

Back and forth we are always switching.


Sown seeds will soon start to grow

Flexible fingers become when you sew

So if I should sew or start to embroider

With what will me brain have to reconnoiter? 


Into life itself some small seed will spring

And at all when we start to sew anything

A certain pattern will evolve and become

Like my many poems when you read some.


Are sewn and sown really, actually related

Both become building blocks of the educated

Still what you sew or sow will always reap

Even though bills have started piling steep.


James Thomas Horn

Retired Veteran


Details | Cowboy | |

He'll Do To Ride the River With

There is an old unwritten code out here that’s truly not a myth—
He that is loyal to his brand: “He’ll do to ride the river with.”

Some call it just a handshake – but it’s the thing that we all know best—
They say it’s a code of ethics – we call it the Code of the West.

It is known as integrity – being generous to a fault—
An ancient Golden Rule that we all try to live by and exalt. 

We love the land and treat it well and stir up no dust for others—
Fair play and close friendship are still dear, and we treat all like brothers.

We tip our hats to ladies, and know the true measure of a man—
We pay our debts and those of kin, and with our God know where we stand.

Yes, there is an old unwritten code out here that is not a myth—
He that is loyal to his brand: “He’ll do to ride the river with.”


Details | Cowboy | |

Partners With the Wind

It is an ancient ancestry;
A horse hoof and man’s hand —
A primal link back to the sea—
Blood brother to the land. 

It is spring’s end for brandin’ now,
You stop and take a break—
But are you master or the cow?
This life’s more give than take.

You lean back slow, now at your ease
To saddle leather squeak—
As lowing sun grazes the trees
To find the breeze you seek. 

You know that those who share the land
Now seem too far and few—
But one thing that you understand,
Is that you’re far from through.

You know stampedin’ years won’t dim
This life that so few chose—
Freedom’s just like a far off rim
That we too often lose.

Yet, still the range rides in your heart;
Your soul is what it steals—
And then you’re right back at the start—
With wind beneath your heels.

The world throws you and has its say—
It’s sadness mixed with joy—
But still you know it’s a great day
Just to be a cowboy.

Yes, horse and man live their seasons,
They know all things must end—
Yet they linger for those reasons—
Close partners with the wind.


Details | Cowboy | |

I'd Like to See Those Days Again

Oh, I’d like to see those days again
When our jeans were tight but not outgrown—
When there was no TV or internet
And you could really be alone.

Yes, I’d like to watch a B western
Where all the good guys wore those white hats—
When humor was funny and not obscene,
And congress was not full of rats.

I want back our days of innocence
When cowboy was not a four-letter word—
And we all rode for America’s brand
And discouraging words were not heard.

And I’d love to see us give respect
Once again to the presidency—
And there was no need to lock all our doors
Or worship cult celebrities. 

I want to relive those better times
When men were honest as their handshake—
And criminals didn’t get off scot-free—
And lips and bosoms were not fake.

Yes, I’d like to see those days again
Where heroes rode off into sunsets,
And all our stories ended happily
And all our lives had no regrets. 


Details | Cowboy | |

Life Is What You Don't Step In

Life is what you don’t step in—
It’s what you step around.
But if you’re always missin’ it,
It’s still there on the ground.

Sometimes you cannot miss it—
It goes up to your neck—
But now you know just what it is
And say “Now what the heck!”

But like cowpokes too close to fire—
We have to eat some soot.
If it ain’t all over your boots,
You’d just as well be barefoot! 


Details | Cowboy | |

It Used To Be An Open Range

In these dark days of war and death, in these days of turmoil and change—
In these days of political correctness, it sure does seem strange,
How once we did what we wanted – it used to be an open range.

I know now how it must have felt when they strung the range with barbed wire—
An era ended on those plains; the land and men put up for hire—
A way of life and freedom gone – a hard rain that put out the fire.

And nowadays in word and rhyme, it seems poets are all fenced in—
To write of history and yesterday, just seem to be a sin—
They only want these modern ranching times and not those way back when.

We know the world has changed a lot and all our freedoms have a cost—
It seems liberties’ now another word that comes each year with frost,
As mournfully we gaze on sunsets and dream back on all we’ve lost.

So hoist another cup of Joe and raise your drink for one last toast—
Like phantom bison and wild horses, our free ways give up the ghost
And sadly we lean back in saddles and lose the thing we love most. 

In these dark days of war and death, in these days of turmoil and change—
In these days of political correctness, it sure does seem strange,
How once we did what we wanted – it used to be an open range.



Details | Cowboy | |

Dear Charlie

I have thought of you often, found some paper tucked away,
I’m feeling sentimental and have some time today,
So with pen in hand I thought I would write a line or two,
Though I don’t know where your at or if this letter will get through.

Well the wire is now strung and the cowboys are fenced in,
The Indians that rode beside you will never be again. 
The long horns their now mulies a horn not a one,
I guess the wild west days have come and gone.

But Charlie I think you know there is a die hard breed.
There are still some out there that live the cowboy creed.
I know it’s not exactly the same as when you rode so bold,
But Charlie I wanted you to know that not all the saddles are sold.
For they wake each morning to the rising sun,
And know at the end of each day their work is still not done.
And they will gather around a fire to hear a yearn or two,
To see who tells the better tale of the things that they do.
And some paint a might good picture too, I have seen them at their best.
I guess there’s still a little wild out here in the west.

We think of you often and dream of a time 
When the range was open and the land was in its prime. 
When long horns ran high ridges and tested cowboy wit,
And even the best of the ponies would still challenge the bit.
So I thought I would write to let you know 
that you are thought of out here in what we do and where we go. 
And there still is hardcore buckaroos who still challenge change,
And they fight for the freedom to ride the range.

Well the fire has burned to embers and the crew is coming in
The quiet moment that I had, is now brought to an end,
So I will stoke the fire, put the coffee on and say goodbye for now,
Hoping you might get this letter some how.
Just remember your not for gotten Charlie and you will live on
And the cowboys and buckaroos are not completely gone.
And when I have more quiet time and paper that I might find,
I promise to write again, rest in peace my dear old friend.


Details | Cowboy | |

Ghost Dance

While the Ancestors worshipped 
   they shot them one and all. 
They thought they had stopped the dance 
   as they watched the Old Ones fall. 
 
But what they did not know 
   is that we do not die... 
Their bullets set us free 
   and sent our souls to fly.   
 
High above this shadow plain 
   where the spirit beasts do roam; 
We roost upon their sacred backs, 
    and the Buffalo carry us home. 
 
We dance for our lives 
   for the secrets of the Earth. 
We dance while they kill us 
   and through death find rebirth. 
 
We dance night and day, 
   to the drums thundering low. 
Singing medicine songs 
   to honor the Buffalo. 
 
Though we may not rise today 
   The People will not die; 
As long as we keep dancing, 
   the Ghosts...You...and I. 

We dance for the things for which we yearn; 
Grass covered plains, the Buffalo’s return. 
The fever of freedom forever will burn,  
While we’re dancing with the ghosts. 
 
For there is no time frame on prophesy, 
This is the Vision Great One gave to me, 
The Heart of The People will always be, 
Dancing with the Ghosts...


(Wado Waya Streeby for understanding.)


Details | Cowboy | |

Buffalo Dance

Rough, Untamed 
Rush the draw 
Primal energy 
Passionate, Raw 
 
	Painted face 
	Feathered lance 
	So begins 
	The Buffalo Dance 
 
Race the Thunder 
Over the hill 
Take the world 
By sheer will 
 
	Free and Wild 
	Without care 
	Fearless screams 
	Split the air 
 
Call it Destiny 
Call it Chance 
Drums beat out 
The Buffalo Dance 
 
	Rise and Fall 
	The Liar’s Moon 
	Death and Existence 
	Come too soon 
 
Earth is made  
Of Give and Take 
Past and Future 
Are at stake 
 
	Lightning strikes 
	Evil askance 
	Spirits of Fire 
	Join the Buffalo Dance 
 
Caution tossed  
To the Wind 
Now is the place 
To begin 
 
	Turn the herd 
	Lead the pack 
	Valiant hearts 
	Blaze new tracks 
 
Dreams are real 
This is no trance 
Life lived Full 
Is the Buffalo Dance


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 Old Night Herder's Dance

(2nd part continued)

Then late one night before coosie did howl,
I woke up and took me a walk by chance,
Down by the sleepin’ cow herd and ol’ Rowel 
When I heard his soft song and watched his dance.

He was just waltzin’ alone off his mount,
Like some ballroom dancer that was plum mad—
Kept twirlin’ around more than I could count—
It was all sort of comical yet sad.

I crept away thinkin’ then I’d done wrong
And climbed back in my bedroll on the range—
But I could still hear that night hawker’s song
And in my mind that lonely dance seemed strange.

Summers last forever for a young buck,
Yet somehow for me this one seemed too short—
But I knew my fate had changed with my luck
And that old chaff blew away in the sort.

Then one day Rowel packed gear in a hurry—
And I knew I’d heard his last herder’s song—
Said he was headin’ home to Missouri—
That he’d been at the ol’ dance much too long.

Then Rowel said something I still remember
About livin’ out your life as you age:
He said savor sunsets in September,
Because life’s a short sashay on the sage.

So now night herds are silently sleepin’—
And for years I’ve been here where I belong—
The night herder’s song is in my keepin’
And I sing it as I dance to the song. 


Details | Cowboy | |

Ghost Dance

While the Ancestors worshipped 
   they shot them one and all. 
They thought they had stopped the dance 
   as they watched the Old Ones fall. 
 
But what they did not know 
   is that we do not die... 
Their bullets set us free 
   and sent our souls to fly.   
 
High above this shadow plain 
   where the spirit beasts do roam; 
We roost upon their sacred backs, 
    and the Buffalo carry us home. 
 
We dance for our lives 
   for the secrets of the Earth. 
We dance while they kill us 
   and through death find rebirth. 
 
We dance night and day, 
   to the drums thundering low. 
Singing medicine songs 
   to honor the Buffalo. 
 
Though we may not rise today 
   The People will not die; 
As long as we keep dancing, 
   the Ghosts...You...and I. 

We dance for the things for which we yearn; 
Grass covered plains, the Buffalo’s return. 
The fever of freedom forever will burn,  
While we’re dancing with the ghosts. 
 
For there is no time frame on prophesy, 
This is the Vision Great One gave to me, 
The Heart of The People will always be, 
Dancing with the Ghosts...


(Wado Waya Streeby for understanding.)


Details | Cowboy | |

Scattered Some

“I loved my fellow man the best
 When he was scattered some.”
                        --Badger Clark (from The Old Cow Hand)

There are those that have been herded too long
And no longer realize from where they come—
There are those that hear no music or song,
While there are those that must be scattered some.

We weren’t meant to live one on the other,
On a little patch of mossy ground—
We need not hear what each one does utter—
Sometimes it’s best when no one is around.

We all need to be free to ride our way,
That is perhaps each man’s rule of thumb—
We all might love each other more they say
If we were all free and scattered some.


Details | Cowboy | |

Ridin' That Ol' Chuck Line

Seems this winter is a long one,
But things will work out fine,
As I trail on from ranch to ranch—
Ridin’ that ol’ chuck line.

Been unemployed since fall shippin’,
But that’s a cowboy’s life—
Line camp’s too confinin’,
Just like a nosey wife.

What money I earned from trail drives
Was spent on gals and cards—
So now I ride this ol’ chuck line
Or borrow from my pards.

Each ranch has its grub to offer,
Though we have not a thing—
We’ll take those beans, stew and biscuits
And jobs that come with spring.

Yet while each winter’s a hard one,
Ol’ cowboys do not whine—
We just keep our horses movin’—
Ridin’ that ol’ chuck line.



Details | Cowboy | |

Common Sense, Men and Horses / Short Version

 We perched atop the corral, 
   as he read the men and horses, 
And he told me about common sense 
   and it’s amazing, magical forces. 
 
We watched the men choose their mounts, 
   some were firm, but kind; 
While others used plain brute force, 
   to make their horses mind. 
 
He said,” Dealing with horses and people  
   is a special kind of art. 
If you watch ‘em work, you'll learn 
   what is truly in a man’s heart. 
 
For though it once was common place, 
   common sense ain’t common any more 
And many of the basic rules of life, 
   some folks will choose to ignore. 
 
The truth is just as obvious 
   as these fellows working the pens. 
There will always be Cowboys 
   as long as there are horses and men. 
 
And just as it takes all kinds of horses, 
   from renegades to leaders to make a herd; 
There will also always be outlaws 
   as well as men true to their word. 
 
You see, a man who can’t, 
   will often bully his way through, 
And how a man treats his horse 
   is how he’ll end up treating you. 

The decisions that we make 
  should be rooted in our common sense. 
Like horses, we should use our instincts, 
   or be prepared to accept the consequence." 
 
We watched ‘em work for hours, 
   as I hung on every word he had to say; 
About life, love and horses; 
   how God hears us when we pray. 
 
I simply took it for granted 
   that he would always be, 
Sitting on that fence rail, 
   talking and laughing with me. 
 
Time makes changes as it passes by; 
   I grew up and followed my star. 
But in times of trouble I’d hear his voice, 
   saying “Remember who’s child you are.” 
 
He taught me to read the world 
   though I didn’t know it at the time. 
I learned about strength and self-respect; 
   how to recognize the best in mankind. 
 
Oh, I made mistakes, but have no regrets, 
   for each is valuable in it’s own way. 
Combined with his words and an education, 
   they are a part of who I am today. 
 
So I honor this Cowboy philosopher, 
   who taught me to follow my heart’s voice; 
To see things exactly for what they are 
   and that happiness is a choice. 

And nothing ever really gets me down, 
   because of these things I can be sure; 
That home is where the heart is, 
   and that love will forever endure. 
 
I realize all those things I learned, 
   from books and college courses, 
Will never hold a candle to his lesson, 
   on common sense, and men and horses.


Details | Cowboy | |

Campfire Calm

Whenever I'm troubled by my modern day folly of living by the bill of exchange.
I run to my stacked sandstone campfire with an armful of deadwood arrange.
With a strike of a match and a breath from my bosom the flickering gold dancing flame
lights a fire in my soul as the smoke starts to roll 'round the log that the hot embers claim.

I'm calmed by the light of the campfire, eased by the warmth of its glow
and cozy inside as I sit beside my campfire.

As I yearn for the money and material worth that I've been conditioned to want,
a Spirit within me from long, long ago rejects this unnatural affront.
It guides me to a walk in the wilderness, to look up to the heavenly skies
then sit by my sandstone campfire and listen to the coyotes' cries.

I'm calmed by the light of the campfire, eased by the warmth of its glow
and cozy inside as I sit beside my campfire.

As I question my purpose past misguided deeds,
unwanted weakness, ill-conceived creeds,
Great Spirit returns me to the laws of the Earth,
to faith, cause, and guidance to heavenly worth.
I stand in a forest of pine trees and gaze at the vistas around
with a fresh breath of air I pray and I listen to the crackling campfire sound.

I'm calmed by the light of the campfire, eased by the warmth of its glow
and cozy inside as I sit beside my campfire.


Details | Cowboy | |

On the Bitterroot

It had been some thirty years,
Back when I was young and free—
Before I lost all those fears
And left to see what I could see.

But time can make you humble
As you turn into a coot—
And come back where you stumble
Along that windin’ Bitterroot.

Our house’s like a tumbleweed
That the night wind somehow saves—
Frail and old and gone to seed,
Near all the family’s graves.

So I’ve followed this river
That they named the Bitterroot—
Once taker, now a giver
And an old bitter man to boot.

I’ve come back to find those dreams
That cowboys often now lose—
Along rivers, lakes and streams
And in saloons and cards and booze.

But seems some feller once said
That you can’t go home again—
At leastways till you’re done dead
And they ship you where you begin.

So now I’m headin’ on out
And I may go on a toot—
But now I know what life’s about
Back there on the Bitterroot.  
 


Details | Cowboy | |

The Cowboy's Cathedral

As he lingers off his horse
At the end of day’s long ride—
The sunset is his stained glass
And there is no place to hide.

His old saddle is his pew
And the cattle herd’s his choir—
The creek’s murmurs are his hymns—
His scars all made by barbed wire.

Green mountains are his steeples—
A chuck wagon’s an alter—
Hard tack serves as his wafer
And his prayers seldom falter. 

Yet saying grace seems mere words
That will make belief too small—
A clear night sky gives him faith
To put aside pride and gall.

There’s no word for religion
When he’s on the open plain—
It’s a thing he can’t describe,
Making sense of what’s insane.

Thunder’s his organ music—
Stampeding them to slaughter—
His prayers come when he needs them—
His blood of Christ is water.

The sage serves as his sermon
And wild rivers cleanse his sin,
As he seeks out his purpose
To be a man among men.

And though he now seems alone,
That’s not really how it is—
He is always with his Lord,
And the peace he has is His.

And so as he comes forward
From the pasture he did tend—
He has found his cathedral—
Leaving offerings on wind.

Then as he seeks acceptance
And the peacefulness it brings—
He soars above blue pastures,
Riding nestled on God’s wings. 


Details | Cowboy | |

The Old Night Herder's Dance

The Old Night Herder’s Dance

I still remember it like yesterday
And see it in my mind from one brief glance—
I can hear the soft song still drift my way—
See again that hauntin’ night herder’s dance.

I rode in to hire on at the Bar-T—
Said they was all full up, but though,
If I wanted to tag on they’d look see—
Said that the ol’ night guard they’d soon let go.

They said that ol’ Rowel had turned peculiar,
But he’d once been the best of the cowmen—
That the story was one too familiar—
It was sad but just the way of things then. 

So I rode that trail expectin’ no pay—
Still had me a stake from my folks back home—
Thought I could make ‘em a hand any day
And this was good as any place to roam.

Seems that Rowel was a frail little old man,
Him and Shorty both took turns at night hawk—
Sometimes I wondered how they could plum stand
Night tendin’ all that loud bellerin’ flock.

One day I sat down and done asked ol’ Rowel
If that there really was his Christian name—
Said no, weren’t sure how he got it no how—
But it was better than Ralph all the same.

And I asked Rowel if he’d do it over,
Would he still follow the night herder’s ways?
And he smiled, but he looked at me sober—
As he talked and remembered the old days.

He said you know that you’re on your last legs,
When they put you out on that ol’ night guard—
But he’d lived life full and drank down them dregs
As all his young years rode by fast and hard.

They say days go quick when they’re passin’ good—
But sometimes it’s just more than you can stand.
Yet I had to finish I understood
And do all that it took to make a hand.

(continued)


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 | |

Prospector at the Intersection

It was just another road construction
Of a brand new super highway,
Only seconds just saved from destruction
On that cold, cloudy winter day.

The back hoe was about to crush it sure,
When the archeologist whoaed—
And they gently pried open and then tore
The pine box so long ago sowed.

Inside were some old fragile human bones,
And shreds of a prospector’s clothes—
An old hat and boots brown with earth’s tones—
Someone long dead from the gold rush’s throes.

Construction was briefly halted right there
For sonar searches of that land—
Finding echoes from more graves safe from care,
Laid to rest by a loving hand.

And so the decision will then be made
To cover or just move them all—
As the simple plans of man are then laid
For a graveyard or shopping mall.

And the story will so quickly just dim
Of that lost prospector’s demise—
As none care what ever happened to him,
As a gull wings out toward the west and flies.   


Details | Cowboy | |

A Cowboy's Toilet

There’s been a lot of speculatin’
‘Bout the cologne some cowboys wear,
And the toothpaste and the sweet mouthwash
And the way he combs his long hair!

I’s here to clear up the confusion
‘Bout these gallant ol’ equine gents—
And tell ya the gall dern ol’ stark truth,
That will make fer good cowboy sense.

Cowboy toothpaste is black gunpowder
And his mouthwash is rye whiskey—
But we’ll never know ‘bout his cologne
‘Cause getting’ close is too risky!

And if on the subject of hygiene,
He remains silent as a sphinx—
Ya better chaw ya some strong garlic
To cover up the fact he stinks!

Don’t git me wrong on my conclusion,
When some ol’ cowboy smells like rot—
‘Cause others take a bath once a month,
Whether they dern needs it or not!


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 | |

Don't Call Me No Cowboy

The little boy threw down his hat
And marched right from the room—
The TV on with nightly news
Of murder, muggings and doom.

The grandpa called out to the hall,
“What’s the matter lil’ pard?
Come back in here and cowboy up,
Don’t be takin’ life so hard!”

The kid slunk back into the room,
This grandson they named Roy,
And with disgust and mistrust said,
“Don’t call me no cowboy!”

“I reckon that you’re right upset,”
His granddad did allow,
“Pick up your brand new cowboy hat
And let’s walk to the corral.”

Then as they leaned on that old fence
That seldom now was used,
The old cowpoke now listened to
His grandson vent his blues:

“I keep hearin’ on the TV,”
Slowly spewed the little lad,
“How some wild folks are just “cowboys”
And ain’t nothin’ but pure bad.  

“They even called our president
A cowboy behind his back—
Like it was something terrible
Or something that he did lack.”

The granddad stroked his long mustache,
Then told that boy what’s so—
“Son, bein’ a cowboy’s a good thing
And don’t let them tell you no.

“We’re keepers of a heritage
That started in the Old West
With good God-fearin’ settlers
That worked hard and gave their best.

“But like all folks, creeds and races,
There’s the bad and the good—
It just takes some figurin’ out
To see where most folks stood.

“There’s always them that question us
Because we don’t seem real
And try to hoe an honest path
And plant instead of steal.

“A cowboy’s handshake is his word—
He’ll risk his life for what’s right-- 
He loves his country, that’s for sure
And defend her with his might!

“Some may think that he’s just too brash
And too quick with his gun—
He don’t ride life’s ol’ middle road—
He does what needs to be done!

“The cowboy helped build this country—
In that we can be proud—
Tell ‘em you’ll always be a cowboy
And tell ‘em good and loud!”

The little boy looked up relieved
And donned his cowboy hat—
“I’m sure proud to be a cowboy!”
And that was the end of that.


Details | Cowboy | |

Big Smalley

It was back in '89 when I worked the Rockin' B,
That they hired a large cowpuncher that we called Big Smalley.
I reckon that ol' cowboy musta went 'bout six foot nine--
And to our suprise was the mildest waddie you could find.
It warn't he never got mad--it jest took a good long while--
After he wupped a cowboy or two, he'd have a great big smile.

But he had strange habits and his thinkin' was right off beat--
Yet the one thing we had in common--he sure did like to eat.
Big Smalley was so huge that horses groaned when he got on--
He weighted 350 and that didn't make cookie too fond
Of tryin' to cook enough to keep him and eight cowpokes fed,
After days of drivin' cows through valleys and watersheds.

Then Big Smalley he done went and surprised us all agin,
When one night he told us that he was a vegetarian.
Well, we told him his religion was between him and God--
Then that ol' puncher got mad as a wild cow on the prod.
He called us ignorant ol' cowboys that didn't know dirt--
That's when us eight waddies done put 'em to the hurt.

I gotta give it to Smalley, he put up one heck of a fight--
But with eight ol' raw-bone cowpunchers it was soon goodnight.
Well, Big Smalley didn't have much to say come the break of day--
He jest sort of grunted at chuck and pushed the bacon away.
After a few weeks, Smalley hired on with another crew--
But he didn't get the joke, now he's ridin' fer the Bar B-Q!


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 | |

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 | |

Ridin' Drag

You’re gettin’ some sleepy now,
Your attention does lag—
As you herd those frisky cows,
While back there ridin’ drag.

How long you been a tail man,
Keepin’ strays in a bunch,
Ain’t important to a cowhand
That ain’t got him a hunch.

You’d rather be in the rear
Than out a ridin’ lead—
You’d rather be like a steer
That satisfies a need.

You ain’t gonna change the world,
You’re just a gettin’ by—
Some say they done broke yer mold,
Others would like to try.

You’re old but you keep ridin’
Though your gray horse does sag—
You know there ain’t no hidin’
When you and God ride drag.



Details | Cowboy | |

When You Followed the Tumbleweed

You needed a spare horse
When you followed the tumbleweed—
So you’d not stray off course
By takin’ more than you would need.

You had long miles to go
And new trails that loomed dark and rough—
In sun and rain and snow
Over hill and canyon and bluff.

And when the first was tired,
You switched and rode then on your spare—
The best horse ever sired:
A gust of wind without a care.

And when you rode your last
And brought those horses in to feed—
You knew the time was past,
When you followed the tumbleweed.


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 Face In the Lake

Wiley McCracken was many things,
But it can be said he was no fake—
Yet folks only smiled and they nodded
When he spoke of the face in the lake.

They said it was years of prospectin’,
Then long years of hard north woods loggin’,
That made him see the world different
And may have somehow touched his noggin’.

Ol’ Wiley never paid mind to creeks
Or oceans or all them wild rivers—
But when he came round to a clear lake,
It gave us all shakes and the shivers.

He’s slowly ease up to that lake’s edge
And peer out blankly into the blue—
While cowpokes or whoever would watch,
Just to see what fool thing he would do. 

Wile would gaze into the lake water,
Then he’d shake his head like he was sad—
And he’d stare at faces around him,
Like he was searchin’ for something bad.

Then he traveled with a wagon train
And they took out headin’ to the west—
And Wile sadly watched the lakes they passed,
Knowin’ that not lookin’ then was best.

But the train stopped outside a near town,
Then sure ‘nuff, there was a lake and face—
But ol’ Wiley couldn’t help himself
And by water’s edge he took his place.

Then there came forth a tall, fair gambler,
Who some said went by the name of Bill—
That stood next to Wiley by the lake
To see if that dark face was there still.

“I had me a dream,” the gambler said,
“About swimmin’ to the other shore”—
But he only saw his own pale face
And he would not look on it no more.

”I never see my own face,” said Wile,
“It’s the one thing I look for, friend—
I only see the next to pass on
And a number, just now that was ten.”

The gambler grew even paler yet,
For now, at long last he understood—
He’d be dealt a hand in that saloon
In the ill-fated town of Deadwood.

Next day, Wiley McCracken returned
To look again at the lake and face—
While Wild Bill was makin’ history
And Wiley’s image now took his place.