Randy Rieman © 2011, Jeri Dobrowski
TO HEAR RANDY TELL ‘EM
by Daniel Bybee
Plain simple tales of round-ups and trails
were the staple of poems of the West.
To hear Randy tell ‘em you’ll sweat or you’ll shiver
and be there with dust on your vest.
He’s a time machine with a soft soothing voice
pickin’ you up on a Montana wind
And carryin’ you back to that home on the range
when a horse was a man’s only friend.
When Randy recites one I’ve heard many times
‘bout an outlaw who cooks with his gun,
I still laugh out loud when old Boomer tells
Henry Herbert Knibbs that “he’s takin’ one!”
I heard the “Creak of the Leather” one night
when he recited a poem in Red Bluff,
and I “Purt Near” laughed till I cried when he
told how Perkins was spreading his stuff.
You’ll find yourself nervous as Jack Potter mumbles
and stumbles for just the right word,
and you’ll squeeze the reins tight as your mustang goes down
on that flight from a stampeding herd.
The words of Barker and the words of Desprez
come alive when he gives them a voice,
‘cause when “Lasca” is dead you try not to cry
but you find that you don’t have a choice.
Down Under we go to the dry saltbush plains
on a Grey ridin’ out through the haze.
The emotion spills out of that Paterson poem
when he recites “In the Droving Days.”
We sense his deep love for horses when hearing
“Where the Ponies come to Drink.”
The feeling of joy with a tinge of regret,
his pony’s there and then gone in a blink.
The married man’s friend in Badger Clark’s poem
ends up thinking about his own life.
He reckons he’s missed maybe more than he’s won,
not havin’ a child or a wife.
You’ll find yourself sittin’ in that married man’s house
watchin’ him braid a quirt for his boy
while his friend goes on about life on the range
and the room he could find there for joy.
Kiskaddon’s classic of the final fall shipping
has been recited by others before,
but you’re lonesome and draggin’ back home with the wagon
when Randy recites it once more.
These poems pass through Randy with their souls intact,
you smell sage, feel the buck and the bawl.
He delivers sights, sounds and smells to your ears,
with eyes closed, you’ll live through it all.
The wisdom and humor of cowboys who rode
for the brand every day of their lives
was captured in poetry by all the greats
and because of their poems it survives.
To hear Randy Rieman recite classic lines
that the great cowboy poets wrote down
is to live in your mind for a while in that best
of all places, “An Old Western Town.”
© 2020, Daniel Bybee
The poem should not be reposted or reprinted without permission
This poem contains lines from poems by S. Omar Barker, Bruce Kiskaddon, Badger Clark, Henry Herbert Knibbs, Frank Desprez, and Banjo Patterson.)
Nevada poet and horseman Daniel Bybee’s skillful poem captures a range of beloved classic cowboy poetry and its vivid delivery by one of today’s best reciters, Randy Rieman. Randy said he was “so humbled and complimented” by the poem.
At this year’s Western Folklife Center’s National Cowboy Poetry Gathering, Daniel Bybee was chosen from many open mic participants to be a part of a special Saturday evening show, “Highlights of the Open Mic.”
Find more about him and more of his poems at cowboypoetry.com.
Daniel Bybee at the Reno Rodeo Cattle Drive.
This 2011 photo of Randy Rieman is by Jeri Dobrowski, used with permission.
(Request permission for use of this poem or these photos.)