COWBOY POETRY IN MOTION
by Paul Bliss
Well, the mornin’ starts at four am,
the coosie rings the bell,
Come-on, get up ya cowboys,
comes a loud persistent yell!
Come-on, shake out the coffee’s hot,
don’t lay their in yor soogans,
Get’em up, roll’em tight,
all bed rolls to the wagon!
Ya can smell the breakfast cookin’,
un that chill that’s in the air,
As ya gather round that chuck box,
with un emotionless stare.
Ya grab biscuits drowned in gravy,
un thank the God above,
For givin’ ya the piece of mind,
to do the things ya love.
The cook calls out for seconds,
better get it while it’s hot,
While the hoodie loads the bed rolls up,
pulls the tarp, down ties the knots.
The jingler brings yer horses in,
while the night hawk grabs some chuck,
Und ya ponder ’bout the last few weeks,
how ya’ll got by on luck;
The mountains that ya trailed across,
the rivers, streams, un swells,
The thunderstorm’s, the dust, un sweat,
some days it felt like hell;
Und yer muscles, sore, un tender,
from a colt that bucked ya down.
Und knowin’ today is the last day,
und yu’ll arrive in town.
Two hundred un ninety miles,
wranglin’ horses all the way.
There’s un emotion that can’t be denied,
when ya call positions for the day.
The team is almost harnessed up,
the leaders start to paw,
Make a circle boys, start’em slow,
head’em up that draw!
In the east the stars they disappear,
un blue gray takes its place,
Un the pink cliffs now er standin’
out where before there wuz no trace;
The herd busts, un thunders towards the draw,
ears alert, un noses flared,
Un cowboys racin’ for the pass,
with hard determined stares;
They glide through rock un timbers,
with a ballerina’s grace,
Over logs, un brush, un ledges,
like a royal steeple chase.
The dust it starts to foggin’ up,
ya smell leather, horse, un sweat,
Un horses crashin’ through the brush,
but still there’s no regret;
Manes un tails a flyin’,
spurs a ringin’ out a tune,
It’s un illusion watchin’ horse un man
race towards a fadin’ moon.
Down through the pines un cedars,
where the scrub oak slaps yer chaps,
Ya memorize this picture boys,
for time has seemed to lapse.
With cowboys in position,
the herd’s now in control,
Un ya watch the horses all line out
as single file they go.
The sun it tops a ragged ridge,
un the rays come bustin’ through,
Un ya watch the herd snake down the trail,
in solemn overview.
It’s a picture that can’t be described
by anybody’s notion,
‘Cause pardner it’s a feelin’,
“cowboy poetry in motion.”
© 1998, Paul Bliss, used with permission
This poem should not be reposted or reprinted without permission
Utah cowboy and rancher Paul Bliss includes this poem and additional poetry and song on his Pure Bliss CD.
He told us that this poem came from a 1998 trip, “…we trailed a 100-horse remuda out the gate of the Lady Bug Ranch, from Salem to Kanab, Utah, 290 miles. Through the meadows of Central Utah. Across steep passes on the edge of the Wasatch mountains. Swimming the Sevier River. Over the pink cliffs of Bryce and Johnson Canyon ….” Read more and more about Paul at CowboyPoetry.com.
This poem inspired a sold-out program of dance and cowboy poetry by Brigham Young University’s Modern Dance Ensemble earlier in 2013. Reciter Jerry Brooks and other poets also participated.
Paul has plenty of experience as a cowboy,rancher, trail boss, and wagon master. A favorite fact about Paul gives a glimpse of his style: One winter he rode horsebackand led 2 pack horses all the way from his home in Utah to the National Poetry Gathering in Elko, Nevada, with most of the trip in blizzard and deep snow.
Right now Paul is busy preparing for the Bliss Wagon Train Reunion later this month. He told us about it:
In the late 1800s and early 1900s my grandfather, Norman Ingels Bliss,in between crops, would freight from the rail head in Oasis, Utah to the mining district of Gold Hill and the now ghost town of Joy, with an eight-up hitch and three wagons in tandem on the way from Joy through the Swasey Mountains. He would stop and check cattle and change out tired horses for fresh horses that would be resting in Lost Springs Canyon.
My father Ferron Lane Bliss would tell me stories about trips, with the teams and wagons trailing out to the Swasey’s to gather fire wood, which was their only source of fuel to cook meals and heat the home in the cold winters.
Since some of my father’s nine brother’s and one sister’s (none still living) descendants are three and four generations removed from ranching and freighting, and since I’am in charge of the Reunion, I thought we should get back to basics of what that life back then was like.”
Paul shared this photo above of his grandfather, one of only three known photographs.He comments, “Those tassels on the head stall are horse hair that he pulled and braided. I have that saddle on the beam in our living room.”