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Best Poems Written by Jim Fish

Below are the all-time best Jim Fish poems as chosen by PoetrySoup members

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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.

Copyright © Jim Fish | Year Posted 2005



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Heritage

The ranch on which I hang my hat, though short on most the frills,
Is thirteen sections, give or take, of rugged trails an’ hills.
We call it ‘home’, our little world, our very own frontier,
Amongst the cattle, sheep an' goats; the varmints, hogs an' deer.

Today I watched the breakin' dawn an' whiffed the mornin' air,
A time I often set aside for things like thought an' prayer.
A Mockin'bird an' Mornin' Dove, an' other birds at play,
Were there to sing an' set the mood to start another day.

This mornin' saw the strangest thing, like time itself had merged,
An' all the souls who once were here, appeared an' then converged.
In swirlin' clouds of mist an' fog, right off the bluffs they rolled,
Till all had gathered in the glen, the modern an' the old.

The Indians, conquistadors, an' other ancient men,
The soldiers from this country's wars, an' cowboys from back when…
They all had come from yesterday to help me understand
Our link with those who came before, to heritage an' land.

A crazy notion, so I thought, that they could just appear,
But as the morning went along the reason got real clear.
They rode along with me that day to show me things I’ve missed,
The things I’ve seen a thousand times an’ some I’d just dismissed.

Those wagon roads of long ago, still evident today,
Are carved in rock an' rutted earth, not apt to wash away.
They linked the missions, forts an' towns those many years gone by;
An' left their mark for all to see, as modern times grew nigh.

The artifacts an' weathered ruins attest to yesterdays,
When others came an' lived their lives in very different ways.
We've seen their skill in arrowheads they honed from fired stone,
An' craftsmanship in beads an' tools they fashioned out of bone.

At ever turn and trail we took was something to remind,
The Maker must have had a plan laid out for humankind.
The Earth He made’s been feedin' us a half-a-million years,
An' used it's wonder, force an' change to challenge pioneers.

I do not know if they'll return or if they’ll feel the need,
But I’m prepared to ride the trail, where ever it may lead.
We all are spirits ridin’ time with bodies of the Earth,
Whose time has come to take the reins an’ offer up our worth.

The land has been the legacy we cultivate an’ reap,
The life has been the heritage our father’s fought to keep,
An’ we are bound throughout our time with those who came before,
To put our hearts and souls to it, and make it something more.

Copyright © Jim Fish | Year Posted 2009

Details | Jim Fish Poem

Windowpanes

An ancient river, centuries-old shops and restaurants steeped in a 2000-year history and 
culture set the scene. The ambiance seemed divinely contrived to facilitate the purposes of 
our meeting and the very fodder from which the greatest poets are sustained.
Not newcomers to the area, Kay P. and I were assigned to the Army Security Agency Field 
Station in Augsburg, Germany in 1974. We were colleagues in the intelligence community 
with no romantic overtures to our relationship, save an appreciation of poetry and profound 
philosophical discussions. Kay wanted to spend the evening with a poet, so we planned the 
evening to be appropriate for the purpose. 
At the time and place, we quickly found ourselves hopelessly immersed in the philosophical 
foundations of my writings throughout the evening. It was the first time since Vietnam that 
I'd felt worthy as a person. I still recall sipping the red wine and feeling the warmth of the 
large hearth inside the Balkan eatery. I still see the swans gliding by on the Lech flowing by 
our café.

When windowpanes begin to weep with autumn's chilly dew, I'm taken back through seasons passed to one delight held true, A rendezvous that time allowed, a gentle evening spent Amid a time of long discord when days were dreary bent. I feel the stretch upon my lips, the smile returns once more. Again, I smell the Balkan fare prepared on Lech's old shore, The mood is cast in high regard, the wine is tart and dry, As Augsburg ripples in the wake when swans go gliding by. The ancient windows frame our view and day begins to wane As rivulets meander down and streak the dampened panes. The ambiance of ages passed beseeched us not to leave And held us in its warm embrace throughout the ebbing eve. My heart was scarred, without regard and hardened by the war But her esteem unveiled its worth, while nothing had before. She saw the child that once was me, I'd long since cast aside, And bade he climb astride his mount, engage his life and ride. Now, she is but a memory, whose kindness soothed my heart, For we embarked upon our lives on paths ordained to part. Her subtle way escaped my eye till time had made it clear That her esteem had set me free, that night I hold so dear. The poetry that filled my soul remains these many years, Impassioned in my warmest thoughts when autumn first appears, When windowpanes begin to weep, a-glisten with the dew, And I return to seasons passed, to one delight held true.

Copyright © Jim Fish | Year Posted 2009

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No Greater Love

For God so loved this sinful world, He gave us all His son; That we might live with Him one day, when life on Earth is done. No greater love was ever known, no greater gift bestowed, And for the love He sacrificed, no greater debt’s been owed. The time was short for Jesus Christ, but what He gave mankind To lift our hearts and save our souls has yet to be refined. The grace and style in which He moved through politics and fools, Has paved the way for paths we trod through worldly ways and rules. His teachings spread throughout the land, His miracles renowned, He only had to touch a life to show His love was sound. Two thousand years have come and gone since Christ communed with man; And with his dying saved us all, to serve God's ancient plan. He rose from death, as He had said, and proved His word was true, That life eternal waited those who choose to suffer through. Salvation came that fateful day, the Bible tells us so; And time has shown that through God’s love the weakest spirits grow. Now, modern times are hard on us and cause us all to doubt, For change is there at every turn, and Satan’s always out. It’s now we need the love of God, for always, as before; Just lift your heart and ask for it, and see what lays in store. It’s through God’s love we handle change and how it makes us strong In ways we deal with worldly things and sort the right from wrong. For change is just another way the Lord sees fit to use To make our days seem fresh and new with paths to take and choose. It’s by our faith we live our lives and seek a brighter day, And how we find the confidence when doubts get in the way. But most of all it’s happiness that faith’s been known to give When our misfortunes come to cloud these modern times we live. We need not fear what God has wrought. We need not know His plan. We only need to know He’s there, and love’s in store for man. Just think the words you’d ask in prayer, and ere a sound be heard, His perfect love will fill your heart before you’ve breathed a word. No greater love was ever known, no greater gift bestowed, And for the love He sacrificed, no greater debt’s been owed. But God forgave our debt to Him, we live in grace today; The greatest love you’ve ever known is just a breath away.

Copyright © Jim Fish | Year Posted 2009

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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.

Copyright © Jim Fish | Year Posted 2005



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Christmas Magic

The magic came to Christmas Day when shepherds first were told, When wise men brought their frankincense, their myrrh and gifts of gold, When heaven opened wide its gates and angels came to sing; For in a manger on the hay, lay Christ, the newborn king. I found it first at Grandma's house, so many years ago, When she prepared her Christmas treats and Grandpa seemed to glow. The house was full of warmth and love, so sweet, so pure and real; And what I cherish most of all, that Christmas magic feel. It's in the music, on the air; just turn the dial to find Inspiring songs that sing of peace, goodwill to all mankind. They sing their praises unto God and spread their Christmas cheer, And everywhere the songs are sung, they find an opened ear. Its clamor, sparkle, warmth and hope, of which we try to write In pretty lines of words and rhymes that never sound just right, Can best be seen in children's eyes when they awake to see What Santa Claus has brought and placed beneath the lighted tree. The magic feel returns each year with warmth on coolish nights, With memories steeped in seasons passed, in songs and blinking lights, At Grandma's house, her Christmas treats, aromas rich and spiced; To recognize the best in man, and honor Jesus Christ.

Copyright © Jim Fish | Year Posted 2009

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Mackenzie Trail

When doves on evenings, calm and still, call out a hollow tone, They rouse a medley, old as time, so few have ever known. The whispered lines of its refrains resound of yesterday, In ancient tales and bygone trails that man cannot portray. I’ve rode and worked along a trail throughout my many years. I’ve heard the tales the sages tell of raging Longhorn steers, Of soldiers marching single file or mounted days on end, Of Indians, conquistadors and Rangers tracking men. Mackenzie Trail is not well known for time obscures its fame, But high regard is placed on it by those who know its name. Its story’s scribed in black and white, its remnants etched in stone, Its way was marked by sweat and blood, by grave and bleaching bone. The broad frontier that it traversed had yet to be surveyed And danger seemed to lie in wait at every turn and grade. From Fort Clark Springs to forts on north, it led Mackenzie’s men To risk their lives out on the trail, then brought them home again. A mound lies near Mackenzie Lake, where horse thieves met despair, For Rangers tracked their hurried trail and hung them then and there. And near a barn not far away, in Live Oaks’ blissful shade, The remnants of a camp still lie where soldiers often laid. I’ve rode the trail and damned the rock that cost my horse a shoe. I’ve crossed its draws that filled with rain and made my lips turn blue. Its rugged paths have tested me and all who’ve come this way, Yet, it remains my trail through time, my bond with yesterday. Mackenzie Trail will long survive, a monument to will, That I recall when I ride near on evenings, calm and still; When doves exclaim in harmony, their lonely, hollow tone And rouse the medley, old as time, so few have ever known.

Copyright © Jim Fish | Year Posted 2009

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Death is Not the Enemy

I have found myself at the threshold of death on several occasions. Each time I managed to 
look it in the eye, doff my hat and say, “I’ll catch you up the trail.” This is not to say that I 
am some special breed of hombre that casually defies death, for there have been many who 
have gone the way before me and managed the confrontation in heroic decorum. 
Nevertheless, death is not some evil state of being that only the brilliant or daring may defy; 
nor is it a release from the severity of life. If anything, death is the threshold of eternity. Life 
provides all known qualities, conditions, trials and tribulations that we encounter throughout 
the fruition of our purpose.

Oh, death is not the enemy, for life provides our foes, The ills, disease and suffering… the countless other woes; For this is as it was ordained since Earth was yet to be, When life evolved on other planes, the eye will never see. We all embrace our time and grow in body, mind and soul. We foster wisdom, strength and faith, fulfilling every role. Prepared or not, the time will come, our form will waste away, While life goes on, as is ordained by He who plans the way. No, death is not the enemy, an end that one should fear. It’s but a threshold for the soul to doff its mortal gear, While life transcends its bond with Man to dwell forevermore With He, whose force conceived all life and is its very core.

Copyright © Jim Fish | Year Posted 2009

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A Breath of Time

In youth we shared a breath of time
I cherish yet today.
The plans we made for life ahead
Would soon be underway.
The dreams we shared, those lofty dreams,
Were all within our reach;
As we both planned to sail away
To learn what time could teach.

Then time took on a quickened pace,
It hastened more and more.
Our hopes and dreams became the wings
To lift our hearts and soar.
When they took flight they carried us
Away from all we knew,
And in a fleeting breath of time
I sailed away from you.

I drifted aimless out to sea,
Alone and cast aside,
While everything I’d ever known
Was swallowed by the tide.
I rode the waves, withstood the storms
And cursed the loathsome cost.
I thought I’d wander evermore
Without the love I lost.

Then time allowed another chance
That cold and stormy night,
When I returned to captured scenes
Of whence we first took flight.
To see us there, embraced by time,
In moments fond and dear,
Rekindled embers of the bond
That haunted me each year.

We cannot know the yet to be,
The yesterdays slipped by;
But we can grow in love and hope
And by our faith we’ll fly.
So take my hand and join me now,
Let’s learn what God has willed;
For in this fleeting breath of time
Our dreams can be fulfilled.

Copyright © Jim Fish | Year Posted 2009

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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.

Copyright © Jim Fish | Year Posted 2009

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