“Ranch Water,” by Teal Blake — Cowboy Poetry Week Art Spur, 2020

ranchwater“Ranch Water,” © 2019, Teal Blake, 40×40 oil, request permission for use

Our 52nd piece offered to “spur” the imagination is a special Cowboy Poetry Week Art Spur, “Ranch Water,” a painting by Texas cowboy and artist Teal Blake. The painting is selected as the poster art for the 19th annual Cowboy Poetry Week.


Find more about Teal Blake in our feature here and visit tealblake.com.

Submissions from all were welcome through Monday, April 13, 2020.

Selected poems are posted below.




“Watering Up” by Jim Crotts of Oregon
“Cool Water” by Marleen Bussma of Utah
“The Wise and The Quick” by Rik Goodell of Montana
“Reflection” by Tom Swearingen of Oregon
“Watering His Soul” by David R. Harman
“A Time to Ponder” by Ol’ Jim Cathey of Texas
“The Cowboy, the Creation and the Creator” by Ron Secoy of Oklahoma
“A Tasty Sip” by Jean Mathisen Haugen of Wyoming


by Jim Crotts

Today is soft and tranquil,
The wind is sittin’ still,
My seasoned horse is tankin’ up,
And the younger one soon will,
We’re lookin’ at that ridgeline,
Where the rocks are hard and gray
And we know we’ll need the water,
‘Fore the darkness takes the day.

We gotta work the long draw,
Checkin’ up the calves and fence,
We’ll take it slow and steady,
Cause nothing else makes sense,
This job ain’t for the fastest,
This ain’t a wild stampede,
We’re just a horse and cowboy
Seein’ what them heifers need.

The sun’ll probably burn us,
And the wind most like will blow,
And them heifers havin’ babies,
Gonna test the things we know,
They’re more than just our livelihood,
Them dots out on the plain,
They’re livin’ breathin’ partners
In this world of joy and pain.

And to them we come as angels,
With wings upon our backs,
Bringing care and hope and healing
In the doctorin’ in our sacks,
Kinda like the One above us,
Who watches as we ride,
So we won’t get lost or stumble,
With His spirit as our Guide,

And we’ll do with what we’re given,
And we’ll try to make it good,
And we wouldn’t take another trail,
Not even if we could,
Cause all of us are kindred,
With open in our veins,
Our callin’ is to nuture
All them dots out on the plains.

So drink your fill, my partners,
I’ll wait here ’til you’re through,
The water from this little pond,
Is deep and cool and true,
We’ll need it up the canyon,
When the trail is hot and steep,
Out there on our circle,
Where there’s promises to keep.

© 2020, Jim Crotts
This poem should not be reposted or reprinted without permission

by Marleen Bussma

Scout’s mouth rests lightly on the water like an aspen leaf.
He quietly takes in a drink with satisfied relief.
Slow rhythmic pulses ripple on his throat. He sucks his fill
then lifts his head to listen to a meadowlark’s sweet trill.

Cool water drizzles from Scout’s muzzle just like morning mist.
Slow humble drops are worth their weight in gold when drought exists.
The afternoon is cruelly hot. The man’s canteen drained dry.
No luring Judas clouds hang in the high-plains azure sky.

The West was built on promises that water satisfies.
Desired like a gorgeous woman, it’s a crucial prize.
With no perception of importance or its high esteem,
this playful creek spills chitchat sending gossip bits downstream.

It gnaws on rocks and banks of clay, digesting constantly.
When in a quiet mood the sailboat leaves drift languidly.
Unmasked by mellow water, Scout’s reflected muzzle skims
the cool refreshing stream that nurtures all who come and brims

with stonefly nymphs that feed from rocks then mutate into treats.
They offer sav’ry morsels greedy trout will gulp for eats.
The mountains offer beauty many artists have expressed,
but water is the lifeblood and most precious in the West.

© 2020, Marleen Bussma
This poem should not be reposted or reprinted without permission

by Rik Goodell

It’d been a dry ride
From can’t see thru can.
Ol Buck was parched
And so was young Dan.

We saw the clear pool
As we cleared o’er the rise
And trotted on over
To no one’s surprise.

Young Dan got there first
And waded on in.
When totally quenched,
Well, he drank once agin!

Now Buck being wiser
His drinking was measured
Soon he was slaked
By the water he treasured.

Young Dan, on t’other hand,
Slurped ‘n splashed on
Clean down to hoof mud,
‘Til sweet water was gone.

Dan searched north and south
Querying skyward ‘n down.
His belly a’sloshin’
But no drop could be found.

What have I wrought?
His gaze seemed to ask.
But his lack of years
Weren’t up to the task.

Enter Buck once agin,
The wiser, the sage,
Moseying over ‘longside
Young Dan to engage

“Gotta pace yerself”,
Bemoaned Buck in sorrow,
“Whether water or gait,
Leave some for tomorrow”.

Dan stopped searching
And studied Buck straight
Absorbing shrewd words
From his mentor and mate.

Enlightened, Dan nodded
His tack all ‘a jerkin’
And I’d swear on my saddle
Buck peeked over, ‘a smirkin.

Each took up positions,
Standing nose to tail
In comfort and safety
Flicking flies off t’hail

Old bull, young bull
Cain’t always know how
But friendships develop
When we let go and allow.

So Dan has more “go”
But Buck has more stick
And together they’re better
The wise and the quick.

© 2020, Rik Goodell
This poem should not be reposted or reprinted without permission

by Tom Swearingen

A ponied palomino
Pauses briefly from its drink.
Content to rest a moment
While the rider stops to think

Back on hard miles covered
Since this morning before light.
And those to still be ridden
‘Til their circle’s done tonight.

Eighteen miles or maybe more
Of dry sage and rock and crust.
This water stop a blessing
To cool off and cut the dust.

Soft ripples radiating
From his sorrel’s sipping lips,
Distort trio’s reflection
To the rhythm of his sips.

© 2020, Tom Swearingen
This poem should not be reposted or reprinted without permission


by David R. Harman

A cowman’s day is dirt and dust,
In ears and nose and mouth.
Bawling calves, worried moms,
Surviving through a drought.
He’s tired and weak from lack of food,
Cause there’s no time to eat.
There’s more to do; nearly through
Hope mom has spread a feast.

The day is done, it’s time to stop
And get a refreshing drink.
His jug is low and sun warmed so
He begins to think.
A stream is near with water flow
From rocks upon the hill.
Bringing down that quenching creek
To satisfy his will.

Water spins a magical spell
That calms a weary soul.
First, he lets his horse get done
Then walks behind the knoll.
Rocks and sand can filter
The elements until
The water’s clear, so starts to drink
His satisfying fill.

Then sits his horse and watches
Shimmering ripples roll,
The pressure of his life’s pursuit
Has taken its own toll.
It mesmerizes in his mind
As water flows or’ rocks
He drifts back to his younger days
When he began this walk.

The memories of years gone by
Renew his toil worn mind.
Even though his body’s tired
He’s able to find
The strength that water gave his soul
To make it through the day
Then get up in the morning
And prove he’s here to stay.

© 2020, David R. Harman
This poem should not be reposted or reprinted without permission

by Ol’ Jim Cathey

The harshness of winter here on the high plains,
Had slowly begun to change,
From frosty winds to the gentle warming rains,
That brought new graze to this range.

He sat quite with his thoughts, as the ponies drank,
An’ pondered what lay ahead,
Knowin’ that he had the Good Lord to thank,
For these blessin’s so widespread.

His vision was blurred by the mist an’ the fog,
With a slight chill in the air,
His thoughts came to words in a quiet dialogue,
An’ he sent aloft a prayer.

Just the clean scent of an early spring morn,
That comes at the break o day,
Brought memories strugglin’ to be reborn,
These visions from far away.

The quiet of the morn stirred mem’rys somehow,
Swarmin’ like moths to a flame,
As a gentle breeze brushed his furrowed brow,
He sighed as memories came.

And as memories surfaced, he sat entranced,
Watchin’ the pictures come through,
Visions of yesteryear, bold an’ enhanced,
Mixin’ the old with the new.

He thought of home an’ his sweet Mama’s smile,
As mem’rys marched through his brain,
He’d left home, just a kid, livin’ life in style,
Learnin’ quick not to complain.

He grew up fast an’ learned the cowboy way,
Bringin’ good along with the bad,
Bolstered by his Mama’s prayers each day,
The thought of her made him glad.

An’ as each thought rushed to burst upon the scene,
He sifted through them with care,
An’ one by one, they circled there unseen,
‘Cuz some he could never share.

He shivered from the early mornin’ chill,
As he pushed his thoughts around,
Knownin’ that some mem’rys gave him a thrill,
An’ to most he was not bound.

But the mem’rys were there to remind of the past,
To reflect on yesteryear,
An’ serve as a guide where his lot was cast,
allow no quit an’ no fear.

He knew that he was blessed in a cowboy way,
T’was the only life he knew,
It was early to late, hard work, an’ low pay,
An’ your pards all counted on you.

Yeah, they counted on you to do your part,
An’ they expected your best,
An’ that’s what you gave, your soul an’ your heart,
It takes that here in the west.

So he sorted ‘em out, an’ he brought some in,
As a smile came to his face,
An’ he realized these mem’rys had all been,
Blessed an’ granted by God’s grace!

© 2020,  Ol’ Jim Cathey
This poem should not be reposted or reprinted without permission

by Ron Secoy

His face well worn like a saddle
This gentleman of the old west
Ruddy and wrinkled by age
By the sun and wind caressed

His speech a lumbering drawl
Punctuated by cowboy verbs
Talk all night about his horse
Yet a man of just a few words

Spent his days among the mesquite and sage
In the time the cattle were trailed to Dodge
Soddies weren’t as common on the prairie
As the Indian teepee and medicine lodge

He reveled in the newness of a sunrise
Peaking over the mountains and plain
Acquainted with all kinds of weather
Found value and beauty in snow and rain

He preferred sleeping out under the stars
He called them God’s blanket of light
He drifted off to sleep to a coyote lullaby
On many a clear, peaceful, western night

Nothing more refreshing as water from a rustling brook
Or tastier than rabbit roasted on a spit
Through thick and thin there was always provision
The good Lord made sure of it

He couldn’t have a better companion
Than that sorrel gelding he rode
Some things are just priceless by nature
Worth more than silver or gold

History and literature may very well record
His life, his times, his ways and more
And the special bond that existed between
The cowboy, the creation and the creator

© 2020,  Ron Secoy
This poem should not be reposted or reprinted without permission

by Jean Mathisen Haugen

That water tastes cool and soothing,
as the early morning light
dances on the moving water
as if it was pushed by sprites.
The horse is cooling off some
and the cowboy gazes across the hills,
where he has worked for many years,
with bucks. and bumps and spills.
Some ranch water has a little manure
from the cows that have passed through,
but that ‘ole horse doesn’t care,
for it tastes good through and through.
He raises his head to swallow it
and the cowboy grins at his moves–
he, himself, would like to take a dip,
but all that would only prove,
cooling off for a little bit
and the sun would dry his clothes,
but if it’s a real cool morning,
the chills would come in droves!
It’s time to get on back to work,
and the sun is rising high now–
so he and his horse move on out
to round up an ornery old cow.

© 2020,  Jean Mathisen Haugen
This poem should not be reposted or reprinted without permission


Thanks to all who participated.

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