“Crash of Thunder” by Gary Morton; request permission for use

by Ken Cook

There’s nothin’ forged by mortal man,
Can measure full the gain,

When God swings wide ol’ heaven’s gate,
And sorts a day of rain.

No vessel on a sun-baked ranch,
Not dog dish, gauge or pail,

Can hold the flow and endless worth,
A soaker can unveil.

You’d barter with the devil sure,
If rain ‘gainst soul was bet,

‘Cause on both knees you’ve prayed for months,
With not an answer yet.

More natural than breathin’ air,
See every drop’s a gift,

All creatures livin’ feel the change,
When clouds begin to shift,

And thunderheads show in the west,
The breeze turns damp, not burned.

Your soul might be the devil’s toy,
But for now the sky has turned,

As lightning flashes, thunder screams,
Most cattle bunch to hide.

The horses race the barbed wire south,
They feel it deep inside.

Anticipation, same as you,
Heaven’s gate blows back,

A gully washer’s on its way,
The drought’s under attack.

So fill ’em up to overflowin’,
Each gauge and pail and dish,

The devil may have gained a soul,
But cowboy, you got your wish.

© 2007, Ken Cook
This poem should not be reposted or reprinted without the author’s permission

We’re devoting this week to rain themes.

Third-generation South Dakota cowboy and rancher Ken Cook comments on his poem and the situation in his country:

Sakes alive she’s dry in parts of our country. Got our first good summer rain a week or so ago. Half a dog dish! I measure by the dish. Saves any lengthy discussions pertaining to who got a half, three quarters or ninety five hundredths. Come to think of it, that last one is close enough to an inch to call it an inch right? The dish also keeps me from exaggerating, as long as I beat the dog to the dish.

This poem began on a humorous path but took a turn the longer I traveled with it. It suits me.

My favorite piece about moisture comes from Daron Little’s 307 album. The song is “Rain,” masterfully crafted by Daron. “Sure could use a little rain.” He says it all right there.”

“Fill ‘er Up to Overflowing” is included on Ken Cook’s CD, Cowboys Are Like That.

Find more about Ken Cook and more of his poetry in our feature at

This great image, “Crash of Thunder,” a painting by noted cowboy artist, cowboy, and rancher Gary Morton, was a 2015 National Day of the Cowboy Art Spur at Find other poems inspired by the piece here.

Gary Morton comments on the painting’s inspiration, “Catching horses in the rope corral at the Bell. We were changing horses after making a big drive near the Beef pens. It had been threatening rain all morning. When it started, the thunder and lightning was plentiful. I don’t know a single cowboy that doesn’t get a little nervous when the lightning starts and the thunder crashes!”

Find our feature on Gary Morton at and visit his web site,