BILL BURK’S Rx by Chris Isaacs


by Chris Isaacs

I saw Bill Burk the other day
And we stopped a while to visit.
He says, “I see you’re still packin’ them mules.
Your life’s ambition, is it?

I said, Bill, I think it’s a curse,
These cowboy boots and hats.
You try it once, you’re hooked for life,
And I really think that’s

“Kinda like a vow of poverty
Them monks and friars kae.
It sounds OK a-goin’ in,
But the rewards are all just fake.

“I day-work every spring and fall.
I feed some when it snows.
Then wrangle dudes all summer long,
And pack hunters till that slows.

“Shoe horses for everyone in town,
Till I can’t straighten up my back,
And still when tax time comes around
I’ve gotta go and hock my kack.

“There ain’t no money in it,
That’s for certain and for true,
But I just can’t seem to give it up.
There ain’t nothing else I want to do.”

Now, ol’ Bill, he mulled a bit
On this “condition” we both had.
He shook his head and then he said,
“I know the feeling, lad.

“It’s a sickness lad, that’s for sure;
You’ll have to wait till you die.
It’s worse than whiskey, weed, or dope,
And that’s the reason I

“Think they ought to make a vaccine for it;
Just give you a shot to keep you pure.
‘Cause once you get that ‘cowboyitis’
There dang sure ain’t no cure.”

© 2001, Chris Isaacs
This poem should not be reposted or reprinted without permission

Cowboy, packer, and popular poet and humorist Chris Isaacs tells, in his book, Rhymes, Reasons, and Pack Saddle Proverbs, that, “I wrote this poem after a visit I had with my neighbor, Bill Burk. I had my horses and mules loaded and was at the Circle K gassing up when Bill pulled up and this conversation took place.”

Chris also shared this photo, and commented, “In some of the steep sided mesas and canyons we have sometimes found this is a good way to go up, easy on the horses and cowboys too. We always called it ‘tailin’ out.'”

See Chris next at the Spirit of West Cowboy Gathering in Ellensburg, Washington, February 16-18, 2018. Chris joins featured performers Wylie and Wild West, Trinity Seely, Lauralee Northcott, Thatch Elmer, Panhandle Cowboys, and Paul Wilson. Daytime performers include Tom Swearingen, Andy Bales, Duane Nelson, Barbara Nelson, Jane Bailey, Kathy Moss, David Anderson and Jenny Lynn, Joe Sartin, Rocking RW, Stan Kvistad, and TR Stewart. Find more at

Chris will also be a part of the Texas Cowboy Poetry Gathering in Alpine, March 2-3, 2018.

Chris Isaacs collects stories in his new book, An Element of Truth. Red Steagall writes, “…Chris Isaacs is a master storyteller and poet. He will take you on some incredible journeys….” If you follow Chris on Facebook, you’ll see he’s been in a storytelling mode. Find more about Chris Isaacs in a feature at and at his site,