ROUNDUP IN THE SPRING, by Pat Richardson


by Pat Richardson (1934-2016)

Ropes uncoil in the darkness,
whistle true an’ find their mark
Saddle up an’ snug yer hat down,
make a bronc ride in the dark
Ponies snortin’ in the darkness
hear the spur rowels as they ring
Horse an’ rider work the kinks out,
boys it’s roundup time, it’s spring

Miles away from camp by sunup
dew hangs silver on the grass
A lone mule deer at a distance
stops an’ freezes ’till yer passed
Make a circle change yer mount,
catch a fresh horse from yer string
Days an’ nights all blend together,
boys it’s roundup time, it’s spring

In the evening’ after supper
Bill starts singin’ way off key
But y’ know for some strange reason,
it sounds pretty good to me
In the bunkhouse he gets hushed
every time he tries to sing
But he’s getting’ songs requested
durin’ roundup in the spring

Longtime foes begin’ to visit,
swappin’ stories, lie, an’ brag
An’ the best hand in the crew
takes his turn at ridin’ drag
Every year I’m amazed,
longtime grudges take to wing
An’ the cowboys work together,
boys it’s roundup time, it’s spring

© 1998, Pat Richardson, used with permission
This poem should not be reposted or reprinted without permission.

This week we’re celebrating spring.

Here’s another side of the greatly missed Pat Richardson, California poet, artist, cowboy, and former Pro Rodeo Sports News cartoonist is better known for his humorous poems, but he wrote in a variety of styles. Occasionally he would write a more serious poem like “Roundup in the Spring” (and sometimes completely break the mood with a humorous, unexpected last few lines).

Curly Musgrave (1943-2009), also greatly missed, turned this poem into a song called “Boys, It’s Roundup Time,” on his The Heritage CD.

See Pat in action in a video from the Western Folklife Center’s National Cowboy Poetry Gathering (NCPG), where he was a frequent performer. For a look at the ever-politically incorrect Pat—you’ve been warned—see him in a 2013 NCPG show with his friends Yvonne Hollenbeck, Rodney Nelson, Ramblin’ Jack Elliott, and the late Glenn Ohrlin. Pat starts at about 59:00 at the video here.

Find some of Pat’s poetry and more about him and his book and recordings at

This 1888 photo from South Dakota, titled “Branding calves on roundup,” is by John C.H. Grabill (1849-1903). It’s from The Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.

Grabill worked in Dakota Territory and The Library of Congress maintains an on-line collection of Grabill photographs.

(You may share this poem with this post, but any other use requires permission. The photograph is in the public domain.)