PRAIRIE PHANTOMS by Brenda “Sam” DeLeeuw

samdpicphoto by Anita L. Crane, Photography by Neets.

by Brenda “Sam” DeLeeuw

What makes a herd of prairie mares
Put their noses into the wind,
Hurdle the sage, kick out with rage
Against strong winds, as ears are pinned?

To the onslaught of hooves and legs,
The prairie cactus imparts pain.
Sharp thorns like teeth, grab flesh beneath,
Red stains on hocks and shins remain.

Which specter makes them bolt and race,
Tails slapping warnings to the rest?
They’ll bite and kick through sagebrush thick,
Outrunning spirits, three abreast.

Harsh storms hurl phantoms at their heels,
Setting off a frenzied, wild race.
Bold banshees whip, across each hip,
Driving them at their breakneck pace.

Though out of breath, they will race on,
Not yet willing to end their craze.
Each biting flanks, within their ranks.
Red nostrils flared and eyes ablaze.

It’s not until phantoms vanish,
Will heaving mares shorten their strides.
At last they mill, beyond the hill.
Sweat, dirt and gouges mark their hides.

Though ghosts are gone for present time,
The mares stand keyed, with ears alert.
Ghosts may return, dust devils churn,
Fueling the air with sage and dirt.

And, once again the mares will lift
Keen nostrils to the blowing storm.
A sense of fear, from what they hear;
Strange wailings from some lifeless form.

Red droplets stream across each hoof.
Rays from a setting sun expose
The still wet hide, on mares wild-eyed.
They’re watching, as their breathing slows.

These wild mares begin to settle
And feel the stinging and the pains.
They paw the sod with hooves unshod,
Roll in cooled mud from recent rains.

They outran the prairie phantoms,
As flashing streaks whipped at their tails.
Showing their speed, they took the lead,
Spurred by some distant ghostly wails.

With setting sun, will come some peace.
Mares nicker softly and grow still.
Phantom threat gone, with light of dawn.
A new day’s warmth, removes night’s chill.

Until next time, this herd of mares
Will allow summer days to pass.
Remain at ease ‘mid cooler breeze,
At home in flaxen prairie grass.

© 2017, Brenda “Sam” DeLeeuw
This poem should not be re-posted or reprinted without permission


Popular award-winning poet Brenda “Sam” DeLeeuw is best known for her humorous presentations, but she also writes serious poetry. This poem is from her new CD, Cowboy Seasons: Poetry of the West.


Her bio tells, “Twenty-plus years a rancher’s wife; she’s herded horses, cows, sheep, and two rodeo queens…Sam’s background gives her all the ideas for her often humorous, but sometimes tear-evoking, stories. Much of her original poetry is taken from her own family’s genealogy—happenings from day to day life, from people she’s met and the places she’s been.”

Top musician Dave Stamey has called her, “One of the finest Western entertainers working today.”

See Rick Huff’s review of the new CD here.

Catch Sam next at the Western Legends Roundup in Kanab, Utah, August 25-27, 2017.

Find more about her at her site,, which includes videos and more, including news of a new book, Ladies, Horses and Cowboys.