by Baxter Black

Cowboy poetry’s mostly funny but,
it’s just to keep from cryin’,
‘Cause the cowboy’s life’s a constant round of wrecks.
Every time a puncher turns around
life blacks him in the eye,
Or bucks him off or bounces all his checks.

Humiliation’s not enough—they get hurt, I mean a lot!
They’ve perfected what it takes to set the scene
To create a situation where disaster’s guaranteed,
No matter how the angels intervene.

Think about it. If you really wanted
to try and hurt yourself,
You might call the I.R.S. up for a chat.
Or learn to juggle rattlesnakes,
maybe catch’em with yer teeth
Or tell your wife you liked her better fat.

But the cowboy way’s a sure bet.
First you take a good sized beast,
A thousand pounds and fit her with some horns
And then make her disposition like a bobcat with the piles
And give her brains the size of grandpa’s corns.

You say, Great! That sure would do it!
Put that cowboy with a cow,
Yer bound to get a wreck you won’t forget.
But let’s take it a step further and include another brute
That spooks at shadows and is bigger yet,

One who jumps like Michael Jordan
and dives like Moby Dick,
Then set out cowboy up there on his back.
One more thing, we’ll just connect’em
with a piece of nylon rope,
Then set back and watch our victims come untracked.

So that’s why us cowboy poets
write our humorous refrains,
‘Cause like I said, it’s either laugh or cry.
For example, say yer horseback
in the brandin’ pen one day,
And see a friend go flyin’ through the sky.

We all quick go ridin’ over
where he’s bucked off in the dirt,
To check his pulse, if there’s still one to raise.
And…if he’s livin’ you start tellin’ the story right away,
And if he’s dead, you wait a couple days.

© Baxter Black, used with permission


This is the title poem from top cowboy poet and cowboy philosopher Baxter Black’s new book, A Commotion in Rhyme. He comments, “It is a gallows humor in a world where catastrophe is riding on your shoulder. And…on stage and in books it far out-sells serious poetry. Then he includes this quote. “…do not presume because I am frivolous that I am shallow, just as I do not assume because you are grave that you are profound” and credits Rev. Sidney Smith.

In the new book’s introduction, Baxter Black reflects on his career from Vet school to the stage and considers “luck” a large percent of his success. He offers a lot of luck-backed reasons and closes with, “I can live with those reasons, but I do know this: without you, the countless thousands, millions who have climbed on my entertainment wagon and kept it going, I’d be a country vet somewhere takin’ care of your cows. And…I guess that wouldn’t be so bad either.”

Find more at baxterblack.com.

A reminder about Baxter’s policies of use for his poetry, from his office: “Baxter is busy with many media projects; he has retired from live performances. Since Baxter Black is no longer doing live performances, there are inquiries about others using his material in their performances. His policy is that anyone is welcome use his material in appropriate occasions, including non-profit or paid-for performances. He requests that the poems or stories be performed the way they are written, allowing for editing of length if needed. Please give the author credit.”

His office adds that no one, for any reason, has permission to include his work “on cds, books, or dvds…or to try to sell it in any manner, including online.”

Photo courtesy of baxterblack.com.