photo © John Michael Reedy; request permission for use
ONLY PLACE FOR ME
by Tom Swearingen
Cows are strung from here to Sunday,
Nose to tail all afternoon.
The herd snakin’ way to low ground,
Down the trail ‘went up last June.
Temp’rature is barely twenty.
With the wind chill it feels worse.
But I count it all a blessing
What most folks would call a curse.
To be all day on the gather
Bringing high-graze cattle down,
To still be a part of something
Not much understood in town.
To ride from can’t see to can’t see.
No need for a watch or clock.
To know I’m spendin’ my time well,
Working hard to raise this stock.
Riding ground that my father rode,
And his father rode before.
Not a lot of people these days
That can say that anymore.
‘Course days like this will test you some,
Winter gnawing at your core.
Reminding you there are reasons
Others don’t take on the chore.
The feeling long left from my hands,
And about gone from my seat.
Warmth just a dwindling memory.
Still some hours ’til home fire’s heat.
Today it’s snow and bitter wind,
Other times it’s sun and dust.
But regardless of conditions
Being here for me’s a must.
Because I’m right where I figure
Is the only place for me.
For a cowboy is what I am,
Cowboy’s what I’ll always be.
© 2017, Tom Swearingen, used with permission
Oregon horseman Tom Swearingen’s poem was inspired by a 1923 photograph by Charles J. Belden (1887-1966) titled, “Work on cattle ranch, Z/T Ranch, Pitchfork, Wyoming” in a Winter Art Spur at CowboyPoetry.com. See all of the selected poems here.
You’ll find Tom at the Spirit of The West in Ellensburg, Washington this weekend,February 17-19, 2017.
Their web site, ellensburgcowboygathering.com, tells, “Our gear fair hosts over 40 vendors from across the country. Works of art, custom leather products, felt hats and handmade boots are just a few of the booths available for your shopping pleasure. Fiddlers from across our region will be competing and providing music for your enjoyment on Saturday in the Historic Liberty Theater. Our downtown venues provide the opportunity to stroll through beautiful Downtown Ellensburg while enjoying an array of music and scenery….”
Main Stage Performers are Waddie Mitchell, Cowboy Celtic, Horse Crazy Cowgirl Band, and Juni Fisher. Downtown Performers include Barbara Nelson, The Panhandle Cowboys, Jim Aasen, T.R Stewart, Stan Kvistad, Duane Nelson, Tom Swearingen, Andy Bales, Rockin HW, Sam DeLeeuw, Paul Wilson, Lynn Kopelke, David Anderson & Jenny Lynn, and Kevin Barnhart.
Tom Swearingen’s latest release is Rhyme ’em Cowboy! Rick Huff, in his Best of the West reviews, comments, “His style and body of work make him one of the most approachable cowbards workin’.” Read more here.
Find more about Tom Swearingen at his web site, including his performance schedule, at oregoncowboypoet.com.
This intriguing photograph, “Sandy,” is by Montana songwriter, poet, and photographer John Reedy. It is included in his recent book, This Place, which also features his poems and lyrics. View the entire book here, where it is available from the publisher.
More photos from the book are included in a February, 2013 Picture the West at CowboyPoetry.com.