THE CONVERSATION by Ken Cook

conversationphoto by Dana Cook

THE CONVERSATION
by Ken Cook

What has not changed ol’ cowboy friend
Since you was young and men were men?

When horse not broke till nearly five?
Cow’s horns intact kept calf alive!

What has not changed in all your days,
Is nothin’ left of cowboy ways?

The wagon was your only home
And blackest eve Nighthawk did roam,

To hold ’em quiet with lullaby
And ride the ridge where coyotes cry.

What has not changed in all your days,
Is nothin’ left of cowboy ways?

When fences held a garden tight
And grass for miles a wondrous sight,

With horse and rope to branding fire
You burned the hide with one desire,

To live a life on Sandhills grass.
Tell me cowboy, has all that passed?

I’ll tell you boy what still remains
Of cowboy ways here on the plains.

By God you ride the same as me
And cows are cows near’s I can see.

I’ll tell you son what still survives
Of cowboy ways shines in your eyes.

Few teams are left and fence appeared
So Nighthawk sleeps but over years,

By God you rope and do it grand
‘Cause it’s your life, you’ve made your stand,

Which has not changed in all the days
You’ve kept alive a cowboy’s ways.

You fight back change to keep old ways
That every year make ranching pay,

So generations yet to come
Might live this life that we’ve begun.

They’ll saddle horse to work a cow
Here on this ranch like we do now.

© 2007, Ken Cook
This poem should not be reposted or reprinted without permission

Ken Cook comes from a long line of respected South Dakota cowboys and has perpetuated that line with his offspring.

He tells that an interviewer’s question prompted the poem, “I spent nearly the entire interview talking about my Grandpa Frank Buckles and my kids and the changes in the cattle industry that have occurred over three generations…[the interviewer] asked the question, ‘Ken, what has not changed?’ I thought for a moment then replied, ‘Cows.’ The one thing that has not changed is the fact that cows are still…just cows. As I left the [interview] I pulled my pad and pen out of my pocket and wrote down the line ‘cows are cows.’And those three words prompted the creation of the dialogue between a grandpa and his grandson …For me, the poem has become ageless, with the passing of my Grandpa, my kids growing up, and now grandchildren of my own. This thing we
call ‘life on the ranch’ has a way changing with the seasons.”

Find more about the poem and about Ken Cook at cowboypoetry.com.

This photo of Ken Cook by Dana Cook is from a 2015 branding.