DAYLIGHT SAVING IN CACTUS CENTER by Arthur Chapman

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DAYLIGHT SAVING IN CACTUS CENTER
by Arthur Chapman (1873-1935)

Down here in Cactus Center
we believe in savin’ time;
Unlike the waste of powder,
wastin’ daylight is a crime;
So we held a solemn meetin’,
down in Poker Johnson’s place,
And agreed that here in Cactus
every clock must change its face;
“For,” Bear Hawkins said, reflective,
“it will give one hour more
For the studyin’ by sunlight
of this here draw poker lore.
We are proud of all the sunshine
that suffuses yonder range;
If we was n’t boosters for it,
it’d be almighty strange.”

But a shadder fell upon us
when old Pegleg brought the mail
And he stumped in, from his stage seat,
with his customary hail,
For he said, when we had told him
of our daylight savin’ plan:
“This is rough on pore old Pegleg—
you have got me on the pan,
For they’ve just sent word from Lone Wolf
that the old-time schedule stays,
And they say I’ll run this bus line
just as on all previous days,
So I’d like to have you tell me
how I’ll land among you here
At the time I’m leavin’ Lone Wolf.
Do I make my meanin’ clear?

We are peaceful here in Cactus—
it takes lots to stir our ire—
But this impudence from Lone Wolf
set our fightin’ blood afire;
So we ‘phoned the Two-Bar foreman,
and the Star, and Lazy Y,
And we got word to the round-ups
and they let the brand-irons lie,
And the top hands come a-peltin’
from the wide and dusty plain,
And we even took a sheepman,
though it went against the grain.
Whereupon, when all assembled,
we sent word: “Hunt trees to climb,
For we’re comin’ over, Lone Wolf,
and we’ll make you change your time!”

There’s been battles over poker,
there’s been bloodshed over booze,
There’s been men who’ve gone to Boot Hill
’cause of words that they would use;
Men have been turned into lead mines
for remarks misunderstood;
Men who would n’t drink have perished—
men have died because they would’
But the fight of fights was started
when we entered Lone Wolf’s streets
And we carried daylight savin’
to the uttermost retreats.
Though we lost some ten good gunmen,
we was pleased, on takin’ stock,
When we found that we had shot holes
in each laggin’ Lone Wolf clock.

… by Arthur Chapman, from Cactus Center: poems of an Arizona Town (1921)

Daylight Savings Time is back, no more popular than it was when Arthur Chapman wrote his poem.

At one time, few western poems were as widely known as Arthur Chapman’s “Out Where the West Begins.” Legend has it that Chapman dashed off the poem for his “Center Shots” column in the Denver Republican when the Western states’ governors were arguing about where the West begins, and that he was amazed at the attention it received.

The dust jacket of his 1921 novel, Mystery Ranch, has this to say about the poem:

“…Today it is perhaps the best-known bit of verse in America. It hangs framed in the office of the Secretary of the Interior at Washington. It has been quoted in Congress, and printed as campaign material for at least two Governors. It has crossed both the Atlantic and Pacific, while throughout this country it may be found pinned on walls and pasted in scrapbooks innumerable…[his poems] possess a rich Western humor such as has not been heard in American poetry since the passing of Bret Harte.”

Find “Out Where the West Begins” and more about it, including a parody, “Down Where the Vest Begins,” at CowboyPoetry.com: cowboypoetry.com/ac.htm#OUT

Chapman wrote many poems and published two collections of them.

In 1921, the Literary Review commented on the poetry in Cactus Center, “In vigor of style, [it] irresistibly suggests a transplanted Kipling.” View the entire book at the Internet Archive.

Find much more about Arthur Chapman in our feature at CowboyPoetry.com.

This poem is in the public domain.

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celebrates our Western heritage and today’s working West, dedicated to preserving our important history and to promoting the Western arts that carry on those traditions.  It’s a part of the non-profit Center for Western and Cowboy Poetry.

The Center was formed to serve a mostly rural and under-served community of Western writers, musicians, and artists; to help preserve Western and Cowboy Poetry and its associated arts; to offer a central resource for poets, libraries, schools, and the public; and to educate the public about the history and value of Western and Cowboy Poetry and its associated arts.

Supporters make a difference. With individual support, the Center can continue its programs, expand some of those efforts, and take on new projects. Individual support helps show institutional funders the community interest in our Western arts.

We thank our supporters, who are listed below. They make an important difference to the community of Western writers, musicians, and artists as we work together to preserve Western heritage and support Western and Cowboy Poetry and its associated arts. Please join us.

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2019 program support:
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SONGS LESS TRAVELED by A.K.(Kathy) Moss

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SONGS LESS TRAVELED
by A.K.(Kathy) Moss

When I was young our dad would sing songs,
Of cowboys, horses and love gone wrong.
He’d take us back in time we would hear,
We rode along as he sang knowing he was near.

And we’d ride that Bad Brahma Bull, and the Chisholm Trail,
We went to Cowboy Heaven, tied a knot in the devils tail.
Rode that Strawberry Roan, wore that Continental Suit,
Heard the Jingle Jangle Jingle, saw the one the called The Brute.
We could hear the Coyotes Song and the Cattle Call.
Take Me Back to My Boots and Saddle When the Works All Done This Fall.

When it was time for bed, or I was feeling low,
I would ask my dad to sing a song, a song of long ago
Before he would finish a smile would cross my face,
As we rode off together, another time another place.

And we’d ride that Bad Brahma Bull, and the Chisholm Trail,
We went to Cowboy Heaven, tied a knot in the devils tail.
Rode that Strawberry Roam, wore that Continental Suit,
Heard the Jingle Jangle Jingle, saw the one the called The Brute.
We would hear the Coyotes Song and the Cattle Call.
Take Me Back to My Boots and Saddle When the Works All Done This Fall.

Now when I am traveling alone and there is nothing but time,
A tune come drifting in and gathers in my mind.
I hum along as those words are unraveled, then start singing a song, songs less travelled.

And I’d ride that Bad Brahma Bull, and the Chisholm Trail,
I’d go to Cowboy Heaven, tie a knot in the devils tail.
Ride that Strawberry Roan, wear that Continental Suit,
Heard the Jingle Jangle Jingle, see the one they called The Brute.
I’d hear the Coyotes Song and the Cattle Call.
Take Me Back to My Boots and Saddle When the Works All Done This Fall.

Now times have changed from the wild west then
There is still a magic and a wonder of how it all had been.
So let those stories live and your imagination bring,
A distant memory as the cowboy sing.

And we’d ride that Bad Brahma Bull, and the Chisholm Trail,
We went to cowboy heaven, tied a knot in the devils tail.
Rode that Strawberry Roan, wore that Continental Suit,
Heard the Jingle Jangle Jingle, saw the one the called The Brute.
We would hear the Coyotes Song and the Cattle Call.
Take Me Back to My Boots and Saddle When the Works All Done This Fall.

So hum along as those words are unraveled,
Then start singing a song, those songs less traveled.

© A.K. Moss
This poem should not be reposted or reprinted without permission

Oregon’s Kathy moss comments, “This poem brings back memories of my dad when the radio didn’t work in the old ’63 Ford pickup with 6 kids packed in the cab with our mom. He would start singing word-for-word, never missed a beat. Two of his favorites were “Strawberry Roan” and “Say Hey Good Lookin'” by Hank Williams…great memories shared by so many.”

As varied as her own background—horsewoman, cowboy, poet, novelist, and more—Kathy Moss’s unique new CD, The Truth, presents diverse voices and moods in poems that speak of authentic experience and pay tribute to important influences in her life and work.

On half of the tracks, her original poetry is paired with the voices of other poets and singers. The voice of the late Georgie Sicking, an important inspiration, is heard on “Wink, Nod, and Sigh.” On the title poem, written for her friend Billie Flick, singer Joni Harms offers a complementary message to the title poem with her “Long Hard Ride.” A tribute to a another mentor, “Soft Spoken Man,” honors Joel Nelson and carries his voice, with words from his “The Breaker in the Pen” poem. Brenn Hill joins in on her “He’ll Never Ride Again” with his song “What a Man’s Got to Do.” The US Army Rangers and Wes Aasness chime in on “Partners.”

A tale worth hearing, “KT Diner,” carries on the story of Ian Tyson’s “Navajo Rug.” Kathy Moss’s distinctive voice with its storyteller charm infuses all of these poems.

The CD’s attractive package design is by Anita Crane. Find the CD at CDBaby or directly from Kathy Moss at akmoss12@gmail.com. Visit akmossbooks.com for more.

(Please respect copyright. You can share this poem with this post, but for other uses, request permission.)

WHEN CONNORS RODE REP FOR THE LORD, by Bruce Kiskaddon

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WHEN CONNORS RODE REP FOR THE LORD
by Bruce Kiskaddon (1878-1950)

One time they was givin’ a big work for souls.
They was plum over stocked so they say.
The owners all over that section was told
To come and help take ’em away.

The Devil he come and brought with him three hands
That was nearly as smart as their boss.
The was there representin’ the old Pitch Fork brand
Buck Connors was there for the Cross.

All three of them hands and the Devil was wise.
They thought they was runnin’ things, but,
Buck Connors he pulled his hat down to his eyes
And rode in and started the cut.

All four of them fellers sez never a word,
They figgered they might git a break.
They watch everything that come out of the herd,
But Buck never made a mistake.

When he finished his cut he rode up to the boss
And he sez, “Well I reckon I’m through.
I got everything that belong to the Cross
And I’m turnin’ it over to you.”

So the throw back went home to the ranch in the sky
And the Devil he never once scored.
Not even Old Satan hisself could get by
When Buck Connors rode rep for the Lord.

…Bruce Kiskaddon, from Rhymes of the Ranges and Other Poems (1947)
While putting this post together, the identity of Buck Connors (1880-1947) came to light. Buck Connors was an actor and narrated a popular Tim McCoy serial. The site at b-westerns.com/villan74.htm tells, “Buck was an Episcopal chaplain or minister—or, at least someone with deep religious beliefs. He was the chaplain of the 1930’s ‘Riding Actors Association of Hollywood,’ an early attempt at unionizing riders, stuntmen, etc. who desired safer working conditions as well as higher wages. He also did chaplain duties with the ‘Chuck Wagon Trailers,’ a group of western film heroes, character and support players who assembled a few times a year for a BBQ and to remember the ol’ days.”

When asked, Kiskaddon expert Bill Siems agreed that it was without a doubt that Connors is the man of the poem, and said that Kiskaddon, too, was a member of Chuck Wagon Trailers, as was Frank King, the Western Livestock Journal insider who brought Kiskaddon into the publication.

Noted reciter Ross Knox has a great rendition of this poem on his Make Me a Cowboy Again for a Day CD. He introduces it, commenting that there are a number of Kiskaddon poems that are “phenomenal pieces of work” that aren’t heard much.

Bruce Kiskaddon worked for ten years as a cowboy, starting in 1898 in southeastern Colorado’s Picketwire area. He published short stories and nearly 500 poems. His poems are among the most admired and the most recited in the “classic” cowboy poetry canon.

So much of what we know about Kiskaddon and his work comes from Open Range, Bill Siems’ monumental collection of Kiskaddon’s poetry. Find more in the Kiskaddon features at CowboyPoetry.com.

Ross Knox’s recitation of “When Connors Rode Rep for the Lord” and of another more obscure Kiskaddon poem, along with introduction to Kiskaddon by Bill Siems, are part of CowboyPoetry.com’s forthcoming triple-CD, MASTERS: VOLUME THREE, the poems of Bruce Kiskaddon, to be released in late April for Cowboy Poetry Week.

You can receive a CD and the Cowboy Poetry Week Poster for a donation of $50 or more to the Center for Western and Cowboy Poetry. Find more and a quick link for donating.

CDs will likely be $35 postpaid. Posters are never sold.

Find more about Ross Knox at cowboypoetry.com/rossknox.htm and see a recent video from Western Horseman by Jennifer Denison and Katie Frank here.

(This poem is in the public domain. The photo of Bruce Kiskaddon on the cover of MASTERS: VOLUME THREE, the poems of Bruce Kiskaddon, is licensed from the Aultman Collection, History Colorado.)

THE HELL-BOUND TRAIN, anonymous

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THE HELL-BOUND TRAIN
(anonymous)

A Texas cowboy lay down on a barroom floor,
Having drunk so much he could drink no more;
So he fell asleep with a troubled brain,
To dream that he rode on a hell-bound train.

The engine with murderous blood was damp,
And was brilliantly lit with a brimstone lamp;
An imp for fuel was shoveling bones,
While the furnace rang with a thousand groans.

The boiler was filled with lager beer,
And the Devil himself was the engineer;
The passengers were a most motley crew
Church member, atheist, Gentile and Jew.

Rich men in broadcloth, beggars in rags,
Handsome young ladies, withered old hags.
Yellow and black men, red, brown and white,
All chained together — O God, what a sight!

While the train rushed on at an awful pace,
The sulfurous fumes scorched their hands and face;
Wider and wider the country grew,
As faster and faster the engine flew

Louder and louder the thunder crashed,
And brighter and brighter the lightning flashed;
Hotter and hotter the air became,
Till the clothes were burnt from each quivering frame.

And out of the distance there arose a yell,
“Ha, ha,” said the Devil, “we’re nearing hell!”
Then, oh, how the passengers shrieked with pain,
And begged the Devil to stop the train.

But he capered about and danced with glee,
And laughed and joked at their misery.
“My faithful friends, you have done the work,
And the Devil never can a payday shirk.

“You’ve bullied the weak, you’ve robbed the poor,
The starving brother you’ve turned from the door;
You’ve laid up gold where the canker rust,
And you have given free vent to your beastly lust.

“You’ve justice scorned and corruption sown,
And trampled the laws of nature down;
You have drink, rioted, cheated, plundered, and lied,
And mocked at God in your hell-born pride.

“You have paid full fare, so I’ll carry you through;
For its only right you should have your due.
Why, the laborer always expects his hire,
So I’ll land you safe in the lake of fire —

“Where your flesh will waste in the flames that roar,
And my imps torment you forever more.”
Then the cowboy awoke with an anguished cry,
His clothes wet with sweat and and his hair standing high.

Then he prayed as he’d never had prayed till that hour
To be saved from his sin and the demon’s power.
And his prayers and pleadings were not in vain;
For he never rode the hell-bound train

…Anonymous

The version of “The Hell-Bound Train” above comes from Jack Thorp’s Songs of the Cowboys, and he prefaces it with “Heard this sung at a cow-camp near Pontoon Crossing, on the Pecos River, by a puncher named Jack Moore.” See our feature about the 1921 book at cowboypoetry.com.

The Western music world lost legendary cowboy singer and historian Glenn Ohrlin (1926-2015) a few years ago. A revised edition of his important book, The Hell-Bound Train; A Cowboy Songbook, a treasury of information about cowboy songs, was released soon after his death by Texas Tech University Press.

Editor Charlie Seemann (past Executive Director of the Western Folklife Center) told us, “The original 1973 book was a landmark classic, a collection by a working cowboy and singer in the tradition of Jack Thorp. It’s been out of print for a number of years, and it’s great to have it available again, revised and updated with information about Glenn’s life
since 1973.”

In the book, Glenn Ohrlin tells he learned the title song (sometimes recited as a poem), from an aunt, and that its origin is “a minor mystery.”

A National Endowment for the Arts Heritage Fellow, Glenn Ohrlin’s career is described in a biography there, “As a boy, he heard and liked cowboy songs, and by the age of five, he was singing himself. ‘In Minnesota, where I was born,’ Ohrlin said, ‘everyone sang cowboy songs, even my aunts and uncles. My father was musical; my mother wasn’t, particularly. I used to listen to the radio a lot. When I was growing up in the 1930s, every reasonably big radio station had its own singing cowboy. In those days, it wasn’t too hard to find one. If a station wanted a cowboy singer, they’d go out and find a working cowboy who knew a few songs.'”

A standout show at the 2016 Western Folklife Center’s National Cowboy Poetry Gathering, hosted by Charlie Seemann, celebrated the life of Glenn Ohrlin. It included Brigid and John Reedy, Andy Hedges, Don Edwards, Randy Rieman, Sourdough Slim, Mike Hurwitz, and a short film. You can watch the entire show, in which Andy Hedges recites “The Hell-Bound Train.”

This 1946 photo of Glenn Ohrlin comes from a series of articles at CowboyPoetry.com by Wyoming rodeo historian, National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame honoree, and poet Rhonda Sedgwick Stearns. He is shown at a rodeo in Japan on an ox named “Double Trouble.” He commented, “It was hard to keep your rope from slipping over their withers . . . flat back. We had lots of saddle horses, borrowed broncs from local trucking companies. They had very few motor vehicles in private use. Right after the war the civilians had very little. They rode trains, street cars in larger cities and bicycles.”

(Please respect copyright. You can share this photograph with this post, but any other use requires permission. The poem/song is in the public domain.)

A COWMAN’S LOT by Terry Nash (with Mike Moutoux)

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A COWMAN’S LOT
by Terry Nash (with Mike Moutoux)

Two on the ground at the end of the day
And a heifer waitin’ for night.
Front’s movin’ in with the clouds thick and gray;
Her bag’s gettin’ swollen and tight.

Still in the saddle where he’d been all day,
Knowin’ sure tonight things would freeze,
Looked at the clouds like folks do when they pray;
“Lord, what makes ‘em pick nights like these?”

He hazed her out from the rest of the cows
And into a dry calvin’ pen.
Scattered straw he’d saved for times such as now
In a shelter, out of the wind.

Unsettled and restless, the young cow paced.
He’d seen this in calvin’ before.
She’d delay if he remained in her space;
He backed off and gave her some more.

The first flakes to fall were wet and wide-spaced;
A warning – soon they fell quicker.
Wind and Dark were neck and neck as they raced,
The cowboy pulled on his slicker.

He thought of supper; a wife who’d worry,
She’d watch for his truck at the gate.
He with a heifer no man could hurry
And decided supper could wait.

But most cowmen, at the end of the day
Would likely reflect on this spot –
He asked for this job and it weren’t for pay,
It’s the love of a cowman’s lot.

The temperature dropped, snow turned now to ice;
Stung his face like splinters of glass.
Through squinted eyes he watched her circle twice,
And then take a place in the grass.

She laid down and pushed, then stood up and strained,
Two circles, then back in the grass.
One foot was glimpsed but she stood up again,
looked his way – and the moment passed.

He turned to his chores to get out of sight,
Reminded she needed her space.
This labor could last plum into the night
And nothing would quicken the pace.

He fed all the horses, rode ‘mongst the cows,
Usin’ time he knew she required.
He rode back when done to check on her now,
And hopin’ she wasn’t too tired.

Two feet now emerged where just one had shown;
She labored, her calf to expel.
The cow then uttered a low quiet moan
And stretched out to rest for a spell.

In five more minutes a small head appeared,
Meantime the merc’ry was fallin’
The calf was soon out but the rancher feared
It’d need help or death would be callin’.

But the heifer’s up, inspectin’ her work.
Soft lowin’, she battled the cold.
Nuzzled and licked, the calf shivered and jerked.
The man marveled as instincts took hold.

She licked the calf clean, he tried out new feet,
Nose divin’ plum into the ground.
He then got a taste of mother’s milk sweet
And latched on to the spiggot he’d found.

The man grinned, to hear the smack of wet lips;
Knew the calf was gettin’ his meal.
Inner warmth would soon spread from nose to hips
and Mom’s rough tongue would seal the deal.

Steward of cattle, of birthright and land,
He’d not think of quittin’ this spot.
He’s there, if needed, to lend her a hand;
The best friend this young cow has got.

© 2013, Terry Nash (with Mike Moutoux)
This poem should not be reposted or reprinted without permission

Colorado rancher and poet Terry Nash recites his poem in an impressive video by Chancey Bush, from earlier this week, in Grand Junction’s The Daily Sentinel. The Daily Sentinel also included an article by Erin McIntyre, “Loma rancher honored for cowboy prose.”

The poem is on Terry Nash’s recent CD, A Good Ride. Recently Terry was named Male Poet of the Year by the International Western Music Association and A Good Ride was named Cowboy Poetry CD of the Year by the IWMA.

Find more about Terry at terrynashcowboypoet.com.

Find more about Terry’s collaborator on this poem, cowboy, poet, and musician Mike Moutoux, at mikemoutoux.com.

(Please respect copyright. You can share this poem with this post, but for other uses, request permission.)

FOUR LITTLE WORDS, by Jay Snider

alpbrjoelmemphoto by Barbara Richerson

FOUR LITTLE WORDS
by Jay Snider

Four little words have stuck in my mind
From the time I was just a small child
“There’s a good feller” is what he would say
When he talked of the men he admired

I remember those men he talked about
Sure ‘nuff cowboys, tough, but kind
They said what they meant and meant what they said
These men are gettin’ harder to find

“There’s a good feller,” meant he was true to his word
That’s all you expect of a man
You knew for sure he was proud to meet you
By the genuine shake of his hand

“There’s a good feller,” meant you could depend
On this man no matter the task
Never got too tough, too cold, or too late
For his help, all you need do is ask

“There’s a good feller,” meant he had a light hand
Be it with horses or cattle or crew
He spent most of his life learning this cowboy trade
And he’d be honored to teach it to you

“There’ a good feller” meant don’t ask him to do
What ain’t on a true and honest track
He knows it’s easier to keep a good reputation
Than it is to try to build one back

“There’s a good feller,” meant he’s a fair-minded man
He helped write cowboyin’s unwritten laws
He won’t ask you to do what he wouldn’t do
Yet knows, at times, the short end you’ll draw

“There’s a good feller,” meant, when he’s down on his luck
He can still hold his head way up high
‘Cause he did his best and gave it his all
He knows with faith and God’s help he’ll get by

“There’s a good feller,” just four little words
And their meaning won’t run all that deep
But when Dad would use ‘em to describe certain men
You knew they were at the top of the heap

“There’s a good feller,” just four little words
But they’ve always been favorites of mine
If after my trails end, my name’s brought up
“There’s a good feller” would suit me just fine

© Jay Snider, used with permission.

Third-generation Oklahoma cowboy and rancher, poet, and songwriter Jay Snider’s poem has long been a part of “Poems for Solemn Occasions” at CowboyPoetry.com.

It seems a fitting poem now as the Texas Cowboy Poetry Gathering has announced that this year’s event, the 33rd, held last weekend, is its last. Few gatherings earned such great respect of participants and audiences. Deep and lasting friendships were made there and so many poets and musicians have written eloquently about their experiences and the bittersweet end of an outstanding event.

The gathering loved the poets and musicians back, as these two photos by Barbara Richerson attest. A memorial to poets was created in Railroad Park and dedicated in 2014. Designed by Gathering President Don Cadden, it is dedicated to the men and women who have participated in the and have passed on. Their names are inscribed on brass plates that are mounted on a “steel book” of remembrance on the site (pictured with Joel Nelson). The 2016 30th annual event honored poets and musicians no longer with us. Find reports on these events with more photos at cowboypoetry.com: 2014 and 2016.

txcpg1photo by Barbara Richerson

An unwavering mission drove the event; Don Cadden commented, “… we have worked diligently to keep it truly cowboy and respectful of the values and traditions of the ranching way of life.” Read the gathering’s announcement on their Facebook page.

Jay Snider, a long-time participant at the Texas Cowboy Poetry Gathering, comments, “The Texas Cowboy Poetry Gathering has touched countless lives in the past 33 years. I think Joel Nelson said it best in a conversation that fateful Thursday night, when he said the gathering has changed many, many lives. I know it has changed mine.

“The monument that was erected to memorialize the many great poets of the past who attended the gathering and have since passed on is a testament to the kind of gathering the Texas Cowboy Poetry Gathering has been.”

Hats off to the people who worked so hard and did such an outstanding job.

Jay Snider is appreciated for his poetry as well for his impressive reciting. Find more about him at jaysnider.net and at cowboypoetry.com.

(Please respect copyright. You can share this poem and these photos with this post, but please request permission for any other uses.)