photo courtesy of Amy Steiger
A COWBOY SEASON
by Jo Lynne Kirkwood
(October — The Pasture Corrals)
In late autumn gnarled branches remember
their youth, and know they must die,
and at night they moan, and creak and cry out,
and bare tremblin’ limbs to the sky.
And in those lost hours ’til the dawnin’
hoot owls hunt, and predators roam,
and out riding nighthawk you look over your shoulder,
feelin’ fearful, and longin’ for home.
But a coyote’s been doggin’ your late season calves,
and near the tank a bear print was found,
and the fences need mending, better get to that soon,
‘fore your cattle stray off of your ground.
The wind stirs dry leaves in the shadows.
Is that a bruin, a hidin’ in there?
Or could be a cougar, warily watchin’—
Or nothin’ but restless night air.
“Aw, Come on,” you mutter, and shake at your shoulders.
“Grab hold, man. This ain’t no big deal.”
It’s just that October’s got you feelin’ spooked,
and out here the demons are real.
© 2001, Jo Lynne Kirkwood, used with permission
Perfect for the season, Utah storyteller and rural teacher Jo Lynne Kirkwood’s atmospheric four-part work, “A Cowboy Season” is a BAR-D favorite. Find the entire poem at CowboyPoetry.com.
Find Jo Lynne Kirkwood at the Heber Valley Western Music and Cowboy Poetry Gathering (October 26-30, 2016). She’ll join other poets: Waddie Mitchell, Doris Daley, Andy Nelson, Jeff Carson, DW Groethe, Ross Knox, and Walt “Bimbo” Cheney; and musicians Michael Martin Murphey, Suzy Bogguss, Bar J Wranglers, The Highwaymen Live Tribute Band, Dave Stamey, Wylie & The Wild West, The Haunted Windchimes, Joni Harms, Belinda Gail, New West, Trinity Seely, John Wayne Schulz, Heifer Belles, Molly in the Mineshaft, Olivia Harms, Miss Devon and The Outlaw, Dansie Family Band, Kenny Hall, Ken Stevens & Jerye Lee, and the Heber Valley Orchestra.
Award-winning Writer, poet, and working cowboy Amy Steiger shares this recent photograph of bear and baby bear tracks taken by Gail Steiger. Both Steigers work on Arizona’s Spider Ranch, in the Prescott area.
(Please respect copyright. You can share this poem and photo with this post, but please seek permission for any other uses.)