HEROES OF OLD by Jay Snider

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by Jay Snider

The end of the trail is a cross we all bear.
We’re all branded the day of our birth.
Make no mistake, it’s the choices we make
plot the course that we ride here on earth.

With luck we have gathered up heroes
like our daddies and granddaddies did.
The face and name likely won’t be the same
as the heroes they knew as a kid.

What shall we do when our heroes are gone
and we’re thinking we’re here all alone?
It’s not courage we lack, so we’ll follow his track,
pull his hat down real tight and ride on.

If ever their trails be forgotten
all heroes may cease to exist.
The hats that they wore should be passed ever more
and new names must be scribed to the list.

It’s a task that is chocked full of danger
and cursed with the Devil’s own kiss.
Lift high up your cup for the kids looking up
are the targets we must never miss.

The tracks that we make, they will follow.
We must never veer from that trail.
Never give up the fight because right is still right.
That code they set down without fail.

Take care of the hat that you’re wearing.
Protect it as if it’s pure gold.
Don’t ever look back, place your hat on the stack.
That’s the makings of heroes of old.

© 2017, Jay Snider
This poem should not be reposted or reprinted without permission

Oklahoma rancher, poet, and songwriter Jay Snider told us that he worked on this poem for some time after his father passed away, and while driving home from the Cochise Cowboy Poetry Gathering in 2017, he finally put it together, pulling off the road several times to work on it. Jay’s father was a top roper and rodeo cowboy and his grandfather was a brand inspector for the Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association.

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

Back in 2007 in a Picture the West feature at CowboyPoetry.com, Jay wrote that this photograph showed his mother and his father “…with 7 of the 9 saddles he won through the years in the Senior Pro Rodeo Association and the National Old Time Ropers Association. His rodeo career began in the early 1940s and continued to rope steers up until the last couple of years. I’m sure he still can but prefers to coach his sons and grandsons from the chutes. That’s a blessing in itself. I have never known a better horseman than he.”

Last week Jay Snider took part in the Western Heritage Classics’ virtual “Cowboy Poetry Under the Stars.” Find his excellent presentation of a variety of poems at 29:45.

Enjoy his rendition of Sunny Hancock’s (1931-2003) “The Bear Tale” in a video from the Western Folklife Center’s 2011 National Cowboy Poetry Gathering.

Find Jay at the Arizona Cowboy Poets Gathering August 6-8, 2020 in Prescott. The lineup includes Mary Abbott, Anderson’s, Sally Bates, Floyd Beard, Colt Blankman, Broken Chair Band, Dale Burson, Lola Chiantaretto, Dean Cook, Sam Deleeuw, Mike Dunn, Don Fernwalt, Linda Lee Filener, Rolf Flake, Belinda Gail, Jack George, Amy M. Hale, Audrey Hankins, Joni Harms, Randy Huston, Chris Isaacs, Gary Kirkman, Jo Lynne Kirkwood, Steve Lindsey, Mary Matli, Maxwell’s, Dave McCall, Deanna Dickinson McCall, Mark Munzert, Miska Paget, Abby Payne, Mike Prince, Rusty Pistols Reloaded, Makenzie Slade, Jay Snider, Dave Stamey, Gail Starr, Gail Steiger, Tom Swearingen, Duke Vance, Tom Weathers, and Ashley Westcott.

See Jay later this year at the 30th annual Red Steagall Cowboy Gathering October 23-25, 2020 in Fort Worth. There are many activities there and other poet and musicians performing include Red Steagall, “Straw” Berry, Mikki Daniel, Bobby Flores, Kristyn Harris, R.W. Hampton, Jake Hooker, Teresa Burleson, Chris Isaacs, Jean Prescott, Dan Roberts, Leon Rausch, and Hailey Sandoz.

November 12-15, 2020, he’ll be in Amarillo at the WRCARodeo Finals. Stay tuned for more at that event at wrca.org.

Find more about Jay Snider at cowboypoetry.com.

(Request permission for use of this poem or photo.)