“Making Plans,” by Shawn Cameron Cowboy Poetry Week Art Spur, 2019

makingplans

© 2015, Shawn Cameron, “Making Plans,” shawncameron.com
Request the artist’s permission for any use of this image

Our 50th piece offered to “spur” the imagination is a special Cowboy Poetry Week Art Spur, a painting by Arizona rancher and artist Shawn Cameron, “Making Plans.” The painting is selected as the poster art for the 18th annual Cowboy Poetry Week.

Shawn Cameron comments on painting’s inspiration:

Occasionally a moment in time lingers in your memory.  The clear morning air was brisk as my husband and another rider paused to discuss the day before them.  Plans were being made to cover their area of a large pasture during spring roundup.  I’ve never tired of observing men on a mission who have goals and possess the skills to accomplish them.  There is an undeniable posture of pride in these horseback men who face a day of unknown challenges with confidence and determination.  Even the horses contemplate the miles before them. My subjects are more than cowboys and horses but rather scenes of quiet strength and courage.  I was motivated by such an atmosphere to share “Making Plans” on canvas.

We’re honored to have “Making Plans” for the 18th annual Cowboy Poetry Week poster art:

CPW_Cameron_Poster_2019_R1

Find more about Shawn Cameron in our feature here and visit shawncameron.com.

SUBMISSIONS

Submissions from all were welcome through Monday, April 15, 2019. Selected poems are below.

Find previous Cowboy Poetry Week Art Spur subjects and their poems here and at CowboyPoetry.com.

POEMS

“Makin’ a Hand” by Marleen Bussma of Utah
“Quiet Conversation” by Tom Swearingen of Oregon
“Making Plans” by A.K. Moss of Oregon
“Puttin’ Together a Plan” by Ol’ Jim Cathey of Texas
“A Cowboy Plan” by Don Hilmer of South Dakota
“Old Cowboys” by Terry Hynes of British Columbia
“You Don’t Wanna Know” by George Rhoades of Oklahoma
Aloha My Paniolo Friend, by Jeff Campbell of Texas

makingplans

MAKIN’ A HAND
by Marleen Bussma

Hank’s face is like worn weathered wood well punished by the wind
then polished to a pewter-like patina, taut and thinned.
The lines upon his hands are deep and colored by the dirt.
His eyes have seen a lifetime, still determined and alert.

He wears his calluses and scars like badges on a chest.
They show his jurisdiction is his ranchland here out west.
His joints are loose and rattle like a wagon on the git.
When God put him together He forgot to put in quit.

Hank sits his favorite horse and looks with pleasure on his spread.
The sun shines like a golden benediction overhead.
Four sparrows perched on fence wires that enclose his grassy grange
are spaced like treble clef notes that sing out “Home on the Range.”

Hank’s young friend rides beside him, full of dreams and ripe with hope.
Wade’s hired on to help Hank and to learn about the scope
of ranchin’, what he needs to do to start in this life’s work.
He hopes Hank’s cowboyin’ will rub off, temper doubts that lurk.

Long years ago when young Hank’s clover wasn’t runnin’ deep,
his hammer banged this ranch into creation. Little sleep
and lots of muscle made a deep track to this stead.
Hank’s proud of what he’s built and of the life that he has led.

Hank lopes out on his horse cuz daylight’s not a thing to waste.
He checks along the fence line for a post to be replaced.
While workin’ he shares what he’s learned of cowboyology.
He has some tips on earnin’ a survivor’s ranch degree.

“You learn to live with basics. There’s no luxury out here.
Don’t envy any neighbor. You don’t need that new John Deere.
Don’t plan a warm vacation when your pasture’s full of snow.
Just put aside the money in a place where it will grow.

Become a good mechanic. Keep your old machinery tuned.
Good friends and neighbors are a must and will keep you immune
to overwhelmin’ obstacles. You’ll help each other out.
Be open to some critics. That’s what learnin’s all about.

When you decide you’d like to have her boots beside your bed,
make sure you’ve picked well to avoid big trouble up ahead.
Hard work with brandin’ and the books will put her on the team.
She’ll be your partner. It takes two to manage this life’s dream.

Don’t plan on gettin’ rich. There’s other gravy you can lick.
You’ll be your own man buildin’ what you want, and if you stick
to what your heart is hopin’ here today you’ll find it buys
the freedom of the saddle and a horse between your thighs.”

© 2019, Marleen Bussma
This poem should not be reposted or reprinted without permission

makingplans
QUIET CONVERSATION
by Tom Swearingen

Just a quiet conversation
Between friends as they both sat
Saddled looking down upon
The cattle on the flat.

‘Bout things that don’t get talked about
Near as often as they should
‘Mongst men who’ve rode together
For years through scarce and good.

Sure, they’d done a lot of talking
About subjects then at hand.
About the herds or markets,
Or issues with the land.

They’d talked about the need for rain.
Spent hours in idle chatter.
They’d solved the world’s big problems,
And some that don’t much matter.

But this day some words were spoken
That they’d never before shared.
At least to one another.
For now their hearts were bared.

‘Cause the trail for one was ending
In just weeks or maybe days.
His “til then” getting closer
Put both men in a haze.

Making words come not so easy.
Hard to know just what to say.
But still some things need saying,
And this would be the day.

It started with, “I’ll not forget
All the kindness that you’ve shown.
You’ve been quite the friend to me,
I’d say the best I’ve known.”

With the solemn silence broken
These two cowboys’ talk turned deep,
To truths they’d always treasure,
And promises to keep.

A promise to keep forever
His memory close at hand,
And finish things he’d started,
And live the dreams he’d planned.

A promise to rarely dwell on
Lean and low times of the past,
But rather, focus forward
To pastures green and grassed.

The words that were shared that morning
Were heartfelt and came with tears,
Conveying things not spoken
For way too many years.

Lord, it’s hard to bid your farewell
To a pard who’ll soon be gone,
Stepping beyond the daylight
To no more ride the dawn.

There was quiet contemplation
Between friends as they both sat,
The last time looking out on
The cattle on the flat.

© 2019, Tom Swearingen
This poem should not be reposted or reprinted without permission

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MAKING PLANS
by A.K. Moss

To see beyond a moment, stillness in the air,
The memory of those choices silently lingers there.
Making plans, not promises as they sort out the day.
For a journey is the action, in the plan along the way.
Beyond the ridgeline, beyond the river flows,
Beyond the sea of sand and rock, where the sage and juniper grows.
Beyond the the cattle grazing, the grass wet with dew.
Beyond the anticipation as if the horses knew.
There is a motion towards the north, a nod headed south,
There is a finger pointing yonder to the canyon mouth,
Deep beyond the steep ridge, there is a meadow there,
Can gather most if your counting to help get the tally square.
A swell, a saddle, a gully, a lone tree on the ridge.
There’s a Mesa, a boulder, or dry creek all used to name and bridge
The ideas, the gather, the fence line or not.
In making plans in the lay of the lands it is all that they got
To work with, along with their horses to see a job through,
It is simple communication in the work that they do.
A bob of a head from the bay, he has been this route before,
The buckskin looks onward to the lower valley foor.
But they will wait their turn of commuting, as the plans are being made
For there are no promises, just a journey and the actions played.
That moment a memory will linger, of the taste of morning air,
The salt of horse sweat, and the leather creaking there.
A thousand times it’s been ridden, by the making of the hands,
As they gather for conversation, in the morning, making plans.

© 2019, A.K. Moss
This poem should not be reposted or reprinted without permission

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PUTTIN’ TOGETHER A PLAN
by Ol’ Jim Cathey

It was Easter Sunday mornin’,
On the Quarter Circle C,
Mother Nature’s gift of spring!
Our cantankerous ol’ boss,
Sent us in groups of two an three,
An’ round-up was in full swing!

We each one had our jobs to do,
An’ knew just where to go,
Got started before daylight!
Put our ponies in a trot,
Headed out for the Bee Hollow,
‘Cuz that’s where we start our fight!

As the sky lighted in the east,
We headed for the brush,
That ol’ sunrise gave us pause!
‘Cuz the mornin’s beauty spread out,
Showin’ graze thick an’ lush,
There’d be beeves in all the draws!

Willy’s ol’ pony stood calm,
Just usin’ his eyes an’ his ears,
Fellers learn to watch their mount!
A good hoss is savvy,
To how things go down before it appears,
An’ on that a feller can count!

Well, they sat their saddles an’ jawed,
Puttin’ together a plan,
Each one knew just where they’d be!
When the time come to slap their rope,
As the mornin’ work began,
Well, that’s just cowboy decree!

But before we head our ponies,
Into a dusty day’s task,
There’s one job we plan to do!.
We’ll check our gear an’ riggin’,
An’ for God’s blessin’ we will ask,
Prayin’ He will see us through!

Knowin’ this was Easter Sunday,
T’was a blessin’ that got the nod,
Jesus’ victory o’er the grave!
They’d step off an’ doff their hats,
Then bend a knee to God,
Thankful their sins He forgave!

Then as one, they’d hit them draws,
As they began the gather,
Roustin’ critters wild an’ free!
The blessin’ of the Lord shore helps,
Make a plan come together,
Here on the Quarter Circle C!

© 2019, Ol’ Jim Cathey
This poem should not be reposted or reprinted without permission

makingplans
A COWBOY PLAN
by Don Hilmer

Well Good Mornin’ Neighbor—Good seein’ you too—
With brands mixed together, and it’s just me and you.
There’s big range to cover and not many hands,
So it looks like we better be makin’ some plans.

It’s been a tough Winter, with some livestock loss—
But we both know the country—both ride a good hoss.
You cover the river, I’ll trot down the creeek
We’ll head for the pens where the two waters meet.

If your herd moves slower, as they’re likely to do—
I’ll pen those I’ve gathered, then ride to help you.
If we run into trouble and it starts to get late—
We’ll sort’em tomorrow—Let’s meet at the gate.

© 2019, Don Hilmer
This poem should not be reposted or reprinted without permission

makingplans

OLD COWBOYS
by Terry Hynes

He’s tired and bent and dirty.
Four decades past his thirty,
and wonderin’ why in hell he’s still around.

Most friends that he has known,
like leaves the winds have blown,
are rotting somewhere in some darkened mound.

“Must be the genes, he says to himself,
or maybe just B.S. luck.
I never was one to shun most fights,
just lucky enough to duck.”

Just one more cinch on this stretcher here,
and one staple more in the post.
Of all the darn jobs I would rather avoid,
this fencing is one of the most.

I’d sooner be up on my horse for sure,
with Chet riding there by my side.
For many long years we rode out this land,
and damn, ‘twas a hell of a ride.

That painting that hangs on my mantle wall.
Ol’ Chet brought it over one day.
Said, “Reminds me a time when you and I
were out tryin’ to find a lost stray.”

A couple of cowboys, makin’ some plans,
an’ hoping they’d outsmart that cow.
Sitting there lookin’, from up a small ridge,
and prayin’ we’d find her somehow.

I look at that painting ‘most every day,
and think about things that we done.
This bein’ a cowboy’s a tough old life,
but dammit, it sure can be fun.

But most of the fun has all gone these days,
and Chet, well he’s long gone too.
So I’ll just keep doin’ what needs to be done,
‘cause that’s what ol’ cowboys do.

© 2019, Terry Hynes
This poem should not be reposted or reprinted without permission

makingplans
YOU DON’T WANNA KNOW
by George Rhoades

Billy Bob and Shorty,
Way out on the Texas plain,
Ridin’ herd for the Bar X,
Scorchin’ hot, needin’ rain.

Billy Bob says to Shorty:
“Man on TV says every year
Gets hotter and hotter,
Arctic’s startin’ to disappear.

“This country’ll be too hot
For man, beast or cow.
What’ll it be like
Fifty or 100 years from how?”

“You don’t wanna know,”
Was the reply.

“I made a trip into the city,”
Billy Bob says in some despair,
“Cars and trucks and people
Rushin’ about everywhere.

“Crowds and pollution,
Noise and blight all around;
In 50 or 100 years, what’ll
It be like in town?”

“You don’t wanna know,”
Was the reply.

“And cowhands like us
Are slowly fadin’ away.
What’ll it be like
Fifty or 100 years from today?”

“You don’t wanna know,”
Was the reply.

“And in 50 or 100 years,
Will we keep from blowin’
The world into tiny bits,
The way things are goin’?”

“You really don’t wanna know,”
Was the reply.

© 2019, George Rhoades
This poem should not be reposted or reprinted without permission

makingplans
ALOHA MY PANIOLO FRIEND
by Jeff Campbell

In the late afternoon
As the sun descends
More than the day
Is coming to an end

He’s heading to Denver
Silver wings fly away
In the saddle I listened
To what he had to say

Five years is too long
Away from my roots
I need Kauai red dirt
On these cowboy boots

An ache deep inside
That never goes away
Long to see a rainbow
Reflecting off the bay

Feel the sea breeze
When the trade wind blows
White sandy beaches
Like a Colorado snow

I miss Kanikapila
On a late Friday night
And the old Hukilau
Under bright sunlight

And if fate says my
Paniolo days are through
I’ll be happy in shades
Of pink, green and blue

So I said Aloha
My Paniolo friend
One of these days
I’ll see you again

And on that day
We’re going to ride
From Waimea to Lihue
On the windward side

Yes on that day
Together we’ll ride
Through Koloa to Lihue
On the windward side

© 2019, Jeff Campbell
This poem should not be reposted or reprinted without permission

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Thanks to all who participated.