DYING BREED, by Jay Snider



by Jay Snider

The note was neatly written
On an old brown paper bag
Bound and nicely folded
Inside a little American flag

We found it on the mantel
Near some pictures that he had
Of an old bay hoss he used to ride
His wife, his mother and his dad

It was pressed beneath a Bible
That sixty years ago was new
He often said when it was with him
He felt the Lord rode with him too

The note read smooth and easy
The words were simple, plain, and true
Reflections of a lifetime
Of an old time buckaroo

It read: “I’m just a simple cowboy
I’ve grown accustomed to meager ways
Cause it’s sometimes hard to make ends meet
On what punchin’ cattle pays

“But if wealth is somehow measured
By the many friends you’ve made
And success is hitched to freedom
Then I reckon I’ve been well paid

“But I’ve heard we’re nearin’ extinction
The cowboy’s just a vision from the past
His ways are old and antiquated
That our future is fadin’ fast

“But in my mind,” the note read on,
“I tend to disagree
Cause I see the cowboy in the young bucks
The ones who follow you and me

“I’ve seen ’em ridin’ rangy broncs
And spur ’em jump for jump
Then loose the rein and pet ’em some
When they’ve ridden out the hump

“I’ve heard ’em hoop and holler
Bustin’ brush and dodgin’ trees
Stand hat in hand and reverent
Old Glory wavin’ in the breeze

“I’ve watched ’em tradin’ horses
Swappin’ lies on a cattle deal
Then sign it proud and proper
With just a handshake for the seal

“I’ve seen a sadness in their eyes
For an orphaned calf in pain
When in spite of their compassion
All efforts were in vain

“I know they treat their elders
With respect and dignity
Still tip their hats to womenfolk
Just the way that it should be”

It read: “As long as little buckaroos
Dream of ridin’ wild and free
There will always be good cowboys
To follow you and me

“These words I write, though roughly penned
I hope fit somewhere in the cowboy creed
The cowboy will live eternal
We darned sure ain’t no dying breed ”

© 2002 Jay Snider
This poem should not be reposted or reprinted without permission

Popular Oklahoma rancher, poet, and reciter Jay Snider comes from a long line of cowboys and his sons are growing the next generation.

Find Jay at the 31st annual Cowboy Christmas Poetry Gathering in Wickenburg, Arizona, December 6-7, 2019. Other featured performers include Mary Kaye, Leon Autrey, and Trinity Seeley.

Jay returns to the Western Folklife Center’s 36th annual National Cowboy Poetry Gathering, January 27-February 1, 2020, in Elko, Nevada.  See Monday’s post for a list of participants and visit nationalcowboypoetrygathering.org for more, including descriptions of workshops, films, and other events at the gathering.

Jay Snider’s recent CD, Classic Cowboy Poetry: The Old Tried and True, showcases his fine reciting. He delivers poems by Bruce Kiskaddon, Henry Herbert Knibbs, Will Ogilvie, Sunny Hancock, and others, to carry listeners back to time when, to quote Kiskaddon,
“cattle were plenty and people were few.”

For a great look at how Jay Snider handles the classics, see a video of him reciting Sunny Hancock’s “The Bear Tale” at the 2010 Western Folklife Center National Cowboy Poetry Gathering.

Find more about Jay Snider at cowboypoetry.com , and at jaysnider.net.

Photo courtesy of Jay Snider.

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