HEROES OF OLD
by Jay Snider
The end of the trail is a cross we all bear.
We’re all branded the day of our birth.
Make no mistake, it’s the choices we make
plot the course that we ride here on earth.
With luck we have gathered up heroes
like our daddies and granddaddies did.
The face and name likely won’t be the same
as the heroes they knew as a kid.
What shall we do when our heroes are gone
and we’re thinking we’re here all alone?
It’s not courage we lack, so we’ll follow his track,
pull his hat down real tight and ride on.
If ever their trails be forgotten
all heroes may cease to exist.
The hats that they wore should be passed ever more
and new names must be scribed to the list.
It’s a task that is chocked full of danger
and cursed with the Devil’s own kiss.
Lift high up your cup for the kids looking up
are the targets we must never miss.
The tracks that we make, they will follow.
We must never veer from that trail.
Never give up the fight because right is still right.
That code they set down without fail.
Take care of the hat that you’re wearing.
Protect it as if it’s pure gold.
Don’t ever look back, place your hat on the stack.
That’s the makings of heroes of old.
© 2017, Jay Snider
This poem should not be reprinted or reposted without permission
Oklahoma rancher, poet, and songwriter Jay Snider told us that he worked on this poem for some time after his father passed away, and while driving home from the Cochise Cowboy Poetry Gathering in 2017, he finally put it together, pulling off the road several times to work on it. Jay’s father was a top roper and rodeo cowboy and his grandfather was a brand inspector for the Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association.
Jay Snider’s recent CD, Classic Cowboy Poetry: The Old Tried and True, showcases his fine reciting. Like some poetry time traveler, he delivers poems by Bruce Kiskaddon, Henry Herbert Knibbs, Will Ogilvie, Sunny Hancock, and others, to carry you back to time when, to quote Kiskaddon, “cattle were plenty and people were few.”
Enjoy his rendition of Sunny Hancock’s (1931-2003) “The Bear Tale” in a video from the Western Folklife Center’s 2011 National Cowboy Poetry Gathering.
Back in 2007 in a Picture the West feature at CowboyPoetry.com, Jay wrote that this photograph showed his mother and his father “…with 7 of the 9 saddles he won through the years in the Senior Pro Rodeo Association and the National Old Time Ropers Association. His rodeo career began in the early 1940s and continued to rope steers up until the last couple of years. I’m sure he still can but prefers to coach his sons and grandsons from the chutes. That’s a blessing in itself. I have never known a better horseman than he.” Find more photographs, with generations of Sniders, in Picture the West.
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