ABOVE AND BEYOND, by Jarle Kvale

cowboythrown“Heavily thrown,” by Erwin E. Smith (1886-1947), c. 1907


The boys and me were kinda miffed
to hear the boss man say,
he’s bringin’ in some buster
just to break that bald-faced bay.

It sorta bruised our feelings,
tho, in fact, we’d all been tossed;
that bay’s sure got our number –
we’d all tried, and we’d all lost.

Accordin’ to the boss,
I guess we’re all a sorry lot –
this kid’s above and way beyond
the meager skills we’ve got.

We gathered round the pen
that day that cowboy swaggered in;
he strolled just like a peacock,
smirked a denigratin’ grin.

He claimed, “There’s not a horse around
that’s ever bucked me off” –
the final words we heard from him
‘fore he was sent aloft.

The kid went soaring through the air
and bid that bay adieu –
it’s then we all agreed
the boss’ words were ringin’ true.

Above that horse’s head he flew –
beyond the round pen’s rail –
we arched our necks in pleasure
as we watched his skills set sail.

Above the record altitude
that Frank had set last fall;
beyond the longest distance
that my mem’ry could recall.

His flight was acrobatic –
did a flip, then added two –
I scored him perfect tens,
like he’s another Mary Lou.

But flights have ways of ending,
due to gravitation’s tug –
his landing wasn’t pretty,
like a windshield meets a bug.

Was 30 minutes later,
when that cowboy came around;
untangled legs and caught his breath,
rose slowly from the ground.

Humility’s a virtue
that some folks have never learned –
but spoutin’ off and talkin’ big
is bound to get you burned.

That cowboy’s lost his swagger,
and the boss man’s eatin’ crow –
above and way beyond’s a phrase
he’d just as soon let go.

That bay? Well, he’s still buckin’ –
and still provin’ us his worth –
each time we meet a braggart
who needs bringin’ back to earth.

© 2019, Jarle Kvale
This poem should not be reposted or reprinted without permission

Jarle Kvale, North Dakota horseman, radio broadcaster, and host of  the cowboy poetry and Western music Back at the Ranch radio show includes “Above and Beyond” in his new book, Horses, Dogs (& Lingerie).

Find Jarle Kvale at Colorado’s 31st annual Durango Cowboy Poetry Gathering, October 3rd – 7th, 2019. Evening performers include Trinity Seely, Ross Knox, Brooke Turner, Margaret Wilhelm, Greg Hager, Bill Lowman, and Mary Kaye. Daytime performers include Jarle Kvale, Kathy Moss, Paul Larson, Almeda Bradshaw, Tom Swearingen, Thatch Elmer, Ol’ Jim Cathey, Nolan King, Emelia Knaphus, Chris Isaacs, Two Bit Pete, Allora Leonard, Carol Markstrom, Dan McCorison, Slim McWilliams, Dave Munsick, Sam Noble, Jonathan Odermann, Don Schauda, The Sawyer Family, Lindy Simmons, Kacey and Jenna Thunborg, Cora Rose Wood, and Laurie Wood.

The following week, October 10-13, 2019 he’ll be at the 28th annual Nebraska Cowboy Poetry Gathering and Old West Days in Valentine.  Featured performers include Wylie & the Wild West, Jarle Kvale, Dave Munsick, Sky Shivers, and the High Country Cowboys.


Jarle Kvale’s new book, Horses, Dogs, (& Lingerie) is described, “Jarle takes his experiences with horses, rodeo, and North Dakota rural living and turns them into humorous verse. He’s been writing cowboy poetry for over 25 years, sharing his stories with friends and family over trail ride campfires, at various community events, and at cowboy poetry gatherings throughout the country.”

Praise for the book includes ranch hand, poet and picker D.W. Groethe’s comment, “…His poetry has the kind of meter and rhyme that defines traditional cowboy poetry, along with the humor it takes to keep your attention going full out. Writing well, in this style, is difficult at best, and he’s got it down….”

Horses, Dogs, (& Lingerie) is available for $15 postpaid from Jarle Kvale,  PO Box 488 Dunseith ND 58329.

Jarle Kvale also has a recent CD, Custom Made.

Find more of Jarle Kvale’s poetry and more about him at CowboyPoetry.com and tune in to the current and past Back at the Ranch radio shows.

photo of Jarle Kvale by Kevin Martini-Fuller

The c. 1907 photograph by Erwin E. Smith (1886-1947) at the top of the page is titled “Heavily thrown.” It is further described, “Photograph shows a cowboy on the ground after being thrown from his mount and other cowboys on horseback coming to his aid, on the Turkey Track Ranch in Texas.” It is from The Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division. Find more about it here.

Find a gallery of Erwin E. Smith’s works at the Amon Carter Museum.

(Please respect copyright. You can share this post with this poem, but for other uses, request permission. The photograph is in the public domain.)