HE TALKED ABOUT MONTANA, Elizabeth Ebert

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HE TALKED ABOUT MONTANA
by Elizabeth Ebert

He talked about Montana
For he’d worked there in his youth,
And you somehow got the feeling
That most of it was truth.
Talked about the things he’d done there,
Memories from a happy past.
Talked about Montana rivers
Running cold, and deep and fast,
About pines upon a hillside
And mountains rising high,
About the endless reaches
Of a blue Montana sky.

Said he left there at the war’s start,
Went to tell his folks good-bye.
Then there was a wartime wedding
To a girl who got his eye.
Said she’d keep the home fires burning,
‘Til the war was past and won,
Wrote her love to him in letters,
Sent him pictures of their son.
And the letters and the pictures
Helped him bear the death and blood.
And he’d dream about Montana
As he slogged through foreign mud.

They would buy a little ranch there,
And he’d teach the boy to ride.
It would be a bit of heaven,
With his family at his side.
But he came home to discover
Someone else was in his place.
She had found another lover.
It was more than he could face
For he was tired of fighting,
So he merely let them go.
It was then he started drinking,
Just to ease the pain, you know.

He’d work a month cold sober,
And then he’d draw his pay,
He was headed for Montana;
But the booze got in his way,
And he never made it out of town,
‘Fore the money all was spent
And he was busted flat again,
And he didn’t know where it went.
So he’d come back asking for his job.
And he’d hope you’d understand.
And you always hired him on again
For he was a darned good hand.

And he’d talk about Montana.
And you’d get a glimmer then,
Of the cowboy that he used to be,
And the man he might have been
Before the war and wife and whiskey
Had bent him out of shape.
Now the war and wife were history
And the whiskey was escape.
But he swore that he was going back
And he’d do most anything
For Montana sure was pretty
When it greened up in the spring.

Then he finally got an offer
To tend a band of sheep.
It was just for winter wages,
Barely paid his board and keep.
But it was in Montana,
So he was on his way,
He could stand to winter woollies,
He would work for little pay,
For he’d be there in the springtime
When the sky turned clear and blue,
And he’d go back to punching cattle
When his winter job was through.

Don’t know why he left the sheep camp,
Started walking into town,
Maybe he just needed whiskey
To wash the lonely down.
Quick come Montana’s blizzards.
Deep falls Montana’s snow.
And unforgiving are the winds
When they once begin to blow.
He’d come looking for his Paradise,
He hadn’t come to die.
But he froze upon a lonely road
‘Neath a cold Montana sky.

© 1997, Elizabeth Ebert
This poem should not be reposted or reprinted without permission

South Dakota’s much-loved poet, the late Elizabeth Ebert, was celebrated for her powerful writing as well as her quick wit and humor.

Baxter Black has said of her (and referring to this poem): “To say that I admire Elizabeth’s writing seems meager comment on her talent. She writes from inspiration with such graceful force it’s like her pen has power steering. There are so many first class pieces in her books, most contemporary cowboy poets would covet even just one so good in their armory. If her poems were mountains and the verses peaks, this would be the eagle soaring over all: ‘Before war and wife and whiskey/ Had bent him out of shape/ Now the war and wife were history/ And the whiskey was escape.'”

Listen to her recite this poem in a 1994 video from the Western Folklife Center.

Journalist Carson Vaughan has written profiles of Elizabeth Ebert and an obituary that appeared in the New York Times.

Find more about Elizabeth Ebert at cowboypoetry.com.

This untitled 1939 photo by Arthur Rothstein (1915-1985) is from The Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division, Farm Services Administration (FSA). It is thought to be from the Quarter Circle U Ranch, Big Horn County, Montana.

Rothstein was a student of Roy Styker, who conceived the documentary photography project for the FSA. Find more about Arthur Rothstein in a Wikipedia article.

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

CATTLE, by Berta Harte Nance

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CATTLE
by Berta Harte Nance (1883-1958)

Other states were carved or born
Texas grew from hide and horn.

Other states are long and wide,
Texas is a shaggy hide.

Dripping blood and crumpled hair;
Some fat giant flung it there,

Laid the head where valleys drain,
Stretched its rump along the plain.

Other soil is full of stones,
Texans plow up cattle-bones.

Herds are buried on the trail,
Underneath the powdered shale;

Herds that stiffened like the snow,
Where the icy northers go.

Other states have built their halls,
Humming tunes along the walls.

Texans watched the mortar stirred,
While they kept the lowing herd.

Stamped on Texan wall and roof
Gleams the sharp and crescent hoof.

High above the hum and stir
Jingle bridle rein and spur.

Other states were made or born,
Texas grew from hide and horn.

…by Berta Hart Nance

In his 1941 book, The Longhorns, J. Frank Dobie (1888-1964) writes, “The map of Texas looks somewhat like a roughly skinned cowhide spread out on the ground, the tail represented by the tapering peninsula at the mouth of the Rio Grande, the broad head by the Panhandle. But ‘Cattle,’ by Berta Hart Nance, goes deeper than the map.”

Berta Hart Nance (1883-1958) was the daughter of a rancher, who was also a Confederate veteran, Indian fighter, and cousin of Jefferson Davis,” according to the Handbook of Texas, which includes more about her life and writings. In 1926, her book-length poem about Texas, The Round-Up, was published, She had two other books of poetry published,
and her work was included in many anthologies.

Andy Hedges recites the poem on a recent Cowboy Crossroads podcast that also includes an interview with Joel Nelson.

Linda Marie Kirkpatrick recites the poem on Volume Six of The BAR-D Roundup” from CowboyPoetry.com.

Find more about Berta Hart Nance and her poem at cowboypoetry.com.

This circa 1904 photograph by W.D. Harper is titled “Open range branding” and summarized, “Photograph shows cowboys branding cattle on the open range in the Texas panhandle.”

(This poem and photograph are in the public domain.)

>>>This is a scheduled post. We’ll be back Monday.

REINCARNATION, by Wallace McRae

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REINCARNATION
by Wallace McRae

“What does Reincarnation mean?”
A cowpoke asked his friend.
His pal replied, “It happens when
Yer life has reached its end.
They comb yer hair, and warsh yer neck,
And clean yer fingernails,
And lay you in a padded box
Away from life’s travails.”

“The box and you goes in a hole,
That’s been dug into the ground.
Reincarnation starts in when
Yore planted ‘neath a mound.
Them clods melt down, just like yer box,
And you who is inside.
And then yore just beginnin’ on
Yer transformation ride.”

“In a while, the grass’ll grow
Upon yer rendered mound.
Till some day on yer moldered grave
A lonely flower is found.
And say a hoss should wander by
And graze upon this flower
That once wuz you, but now’s become
Yer vegetative bower.”

“The posy that the hoss done ate
Up, with his other feed,
Makes bone, and fat, and muscle
Essential to the steed,
But some is left that he can’t use
And so it passes through,
And finally lays upon the ground
This thing, that once wuz you.”

“Then say, by chance, I wanders by
And sees this upon the ground,
And I ponders, and I wonders at,
This object that I found.
I thinks of reincarnation,
Of life and death, and such,
And come away concludin’: ‘Slim,
You ain’t changed, all that much.'”

© Wallace McRae
This poem should not be reposted or reprinted without permission
Wallace McRae, third-generation Montana rancher and National Endowment for the Arts Heritage Fellow penned this modern classic. The NEA comments, in a bio,  that “Reincarnation” is, “…a poem destined to outlive him; it has already become part of oral tradition and is recited by cowboys around the country who have never met the author.”

See a fun video of Wallace McRae and Paul Zarzyski performing “Reincarnation” at the 2009 Western Folklife Center’s National Cowboy Poetry Gathering.

Wallace McRae will tell you that “Reincarnation” is his least favorite of his poems. For a wonderful look at this complex man, watch a recent Western Folklife Center video in which he “… tells a true story about Northern Plains ranching, with a moving tribute to a neighbor.

For another aspect of his work, view his presentation of his stirring, masterful poem, “Things of Intrinsic Worth,” performed in 2013 and a part of WESTDOCUMENTARY, a feature-length documentary work-in-progress by H. Paul Moon at Vimeo.

Wallace McRae has retired from public appearances. Find more of Wallace McRae’s poetry and more about him in our feature at CowboyPoetry.com.

This 2012 photograph, titled, “A lone horse in hill country near the American River at Coloma in El Dorado County, California,” is by Carol M.Highsmith  and included in the Jon B. Lovelace Collection of California Photographs in Carol M. Highsmith’s America Project, The Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division.

Find the collection here, where it notes that, “Highsmith, a distinguished and richly-published American photographer, has donated her work to the Library of Congress since 1992. Starting in 2002, Highsmith provided scans or photographs she shot digitally with new donations to allow rapid online access throughout the world. Her generosity in dedicating the rights to the American people for copyright free access also makes this Archive a very special visual resource.”

allace McRae relishes being known as “The Cowboy Curmudgeon.” You can share this post, but please don’t otherwise use his poem without permission.

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

>>>This is a scheduled post. We’re on a break through September 20.

THE GREATEST SPORT, by Georgie Sicking

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THE GREATEST SPORT
by Georgie Sicking (1921-2016)

An old Nevada mustang,
As wild as she could be,
I’ll tell you all for sure,
She made a gambler out of me.

I forgot I was a mother,
I forgot I was a wife,
I bet it all in the hose I rode,
On him I bet my life.

The thrill of the chase with my roan,
Horse trying to give me a throw.
The smells of the rocks and the sagebrush,
The rattle of rocks as we go.

Blood running hot with excitement,
Mouth getting dry from the same,
In this world, ain’t nothin’ but the mustang,
Roan horse me and the game.

Mustang is getting winded
It slows down to a lope.
Roan horse is starting to weaken,
Mustang gets caught in a rope.

Roan horse’s sides are a heavin’,
And I am all out of breath.
Mustang faces rope a tremblin’,
It would have run to its death.

Sanity returns and I’m lookin’,
At the wild horse I just caught,
My prize of the chase,
Good looking or pretty it’s not.

A hammer head, crooked leg,
It’s awful short on the hip.
Little pig eyes, a scrawny U neck,
And it’s really long on the lip.

No, she sure ain’t worth much,
For sure she ain’t no pearl.
But she took me away from a humdrum life,
Right to the edge of the world.

Now mustanging is a fever like,
Alchohol, gamblin’ and such.
I guess it don’t really matter if what you catch,
Ain’t worth all that much.

This was before the laws passed,
That feed the city people’s dreams.
I was lucky to enjoy the greatest sport,
Of cowboys and of kings.

© Georgie Sicking
This poem should not be reprinted or reposted without permission

Much-loved cowboy and Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame inductee Georgie Sicking, who died in 2016 at age 95, continues to inspire poets and cowboys. She has said that this poem is the result of her many mustanging experiences, experiences that “take you to the edge of the world.”

She tells about her first time in her book, Just More Thinking, when her husband, Frank, worked for the Green Cattle Company, which:

…branded the O RO. They really had good horses, and rules were that those horses were not to be run after mustangs. Frank and I sighted a bunch of mustangs one day. I was riding a big brown O RO gelding. I told Frank that I bet old Ranger could give me a throw at one of those wild ones. He said that no way could Ranger carry my weight and run as fast as a wild horse, so to prove my point, I roped the mustang, which got away with my rope.

I wanted that kept quiet as I didn’t want Frank to lose his job because of my breaking the rules. Roscoe Latham was the boss at the time. Frank and I went to the ranch one day, and Roscoe looked at me and said, “Young lady, I want to see you in my office,” and I got scared! I walked in, he was sitting behind a desk, frowning. He said, “I have heard that you roped a mustang,” and I said, “Yes.” He said, “I also heard that you lost your rope,” and I said, “Yes.”

He reached down under his desk and handed me a new rope, saying, “Now don’t lose this one.” He still let me ride O RO horses.”

When WWII began and cowboys were hard to find, Georgie was hired on at the O RO, the only woman who ever drew pay at the Arizona ranch.

Georgie often mustanged with her friend Leonard Stephens, and the outstanding documentary about her, Ridin’ & Rhymin’ includes scenes of them recounting their experiences. She writes in Just More Thinking, that a ranch where they worked, “…was overrun and grazed off by wild horses. Sometimes the check from the main office would be slow…and [we] would rope enough horses for a truckload, and he would haul them to Fallon or Fernley to sell them. Then we would buy groceries.”

Georgie preferred to be called a “cowboy,” not “cowgirl.” She is quoted in Tough by Nature, Some people had the idea that all you had to do to be a cowgirl was put on a pretty dress and a pair of boots and a big hat and get a faraway look in your eyes…and you’re a cowgirl. They’ve been kind of hard to educate.”

Of Ridin’ & Rhymin’, the award-winning documentary about Georgie Sicking by Greg Snider and Dawn Smallman of Far Away Films, Hal Cannon, retired Founding Director of the Western Folklife Center, comments, “Georgie Sicking is why ‘to cowboy’ is best used as a verb to explain a work, a life, and a big open land. This film captures her level gazed life in such a powerful way that it defines the American West.” A DVD is available at Far Away Films.

Find some of her poetry and more about Georgie Sicking at CowboyPoetry.com.

This photo of Georgie Sicking graces the cover of The BAR-D Roundup: Volume Five from CowboyPoetry.com. The circa 1940 photo was taken at a carnival on her first date with the man who became her husband (photo courtesy of Georgie Sicking and Dawn Smallman).

 

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

>>>This is a scheduled post. We’re on a break through September 20.

KINDRED SPIRITS, J. B. Allen

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KINDRED SPIRITS
by J. B. Allen (1938-2005)

The spotted Heifer missed the drive
and spent the winter free,
‘Though freedom’s price was willow bark
then sprigs of filaree
That finally showed beneath the snow
before her strength played out.
And green-up brought a fine bull calf
to teach the maverick route.

They fattened on the meadows
of the high Sierra’s flanks
In the company of a maverick bull
that drifted from the ranks
Of cattle across the great divide
turned loose to make their way
And lost amongst the canyons
that were strewn in disarray.

The offspring of this union
proved a wily beast,indeed,
Endowed with instincts from the wild
and blessed with wond’rous speed
That proved a worthy challenge
to the punchers in the hills
Who through the hills spun hairy tales
of wildest wrecks and spills.

But though the issue from the two
was sometimes trapped or caught,
These two ol’ wily veterans
still practiced what they taught,
Spent the winters running free
within their secret haunt
Which held enough to see ’em through
emergin’ weak and gaunt.

For years ol’ Utah searched the range
in futile quest for sign
Of where they spent the winter months a
and somehow get a line
On how they made it every year
and brought a calf, to boot,
‘Til fin’lly one cold, dreary day
it fell to this old coot

To happen on their winter park,
hid out from pryin’ eyes,
And to this day ol’ Utah holds
the key to where it lies.
The kindred spirit, shared by all,
who seek the higher range
Could not betray that cul-de-sac
to folks just bent on change

With no respect for mav’rick ways
or independent thought,
And not one frazz’lin’ idee
of the havoc being wrought
By puttin’ things on schedule,
be it work, or man, or cow,
Till ways that make for bein’ free
are bred plumb-out somehow.

Old Utah turned and trotted off,
to let those old hides be.
His heart a-beatin’ lighter
just a-knowin’ they were free.
© 1997, J.B. Allen
This poem should not be reposted or reprinted without permission.

Texan J.B. Allen was a working cowboy for over three decades. He was a frequent performer at the Western Folklife Center’s National Cowboy Poetry Gathering and also at the Texas Cowboy Poetry Gathering, Nara Visa, the Arizona Cowboy Poets Gathering, and other events. His poetry is included in many anthologies and in his own books and recordings.

His book, The Medicine Keepers, received the Western Heritage Wrangler Award from the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum in 1998. The late Buck Ramsey, in his introduction to the book, wrote of J.B. Allen, “More than most cowboys, he held to the ways and memories…thought and talked the old lingo” and states, “…in my opinion he is the best living writer of traditional cowboy verse.”

J.B. Allen’s poetry is featured in a CD from CowboyPoetry.com, MASTERS, along with the work of Larry McWhorter, J.B. Allen, Sunny Hancock, and Ray Owens. The compilation includes recorded poems, “live” performances, and their recitations of other masters’ works (Buck Ramsey, S. Omar Barker, and Henry Herbert Knibbs), with an introduction by Jay Snider.

Find more about J.B. Allen at cowboypoetry.com.

This photograph is by cowhand, writer, and poet Amy M. Hale Author, with a great photographic eye, who cowboys with her husband Gail Steiger in rugged country at Arizona’s Spider ranch. She comments on this photograph, “We rarely run anything through the chute, but this huge maverick bull came from down in the low country. We drove him out with gentle cows, sixteen miles. A quick brand in the chute and he’s free again.” Find more about her essays, novels, poetry and more at amyhaleauker.com; on CowboyPoetry.comFacebook, and Instagram.

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

>>>This is a scheduled post. We’re on a break through September 20.

COW ATTACK, by Baxter Black

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COW ATTACK
by Baxter Black

“What happened to your pickup seat? Is that buffalo track?”
Well, I guess you had to be there. We had a cow attack.
It all began when me and Roy went out to check the cows.
We’d finished lunch and watched RFD and forced ourselves to rouse.

We’s pokin’ through the heavy bunch for calves to tag and check.
I spotted one but his ol’ mom was bowin’ up her neck.
She pawed the ground and swung her head a-slingin’ froth and spit
Then bellered like a wounded bull. “Say, Roy,” I says, “Let’s quit!”

But Roy was bent on taggin’ him and thought to make a grab.
“Just drive up there beside the calf, I’ll pull him in the cab.”
Oh, great. Another stroke of genius, of cowboy derring do.
Surnuf when Roy nabbed the calf, his mamma came in too.

And I do mean climbed up in there! Got a foot behind the seat
Punched a horn right through the windshield and she wasn’t very neat.
She was blowin’ stuff out both ends till the cab was slick and green
It was on the floor and on the roof and on the calf vaccine.

If you’ve been inside a dryer at the local laundromat
With a bear and fifty horseshoes then you know just where I’s at.
At one point she was sittin’ up, just goin’ for a ride
But then she tore the gun rack down. The calf jumped out my side.

I was fightin’ with my door lock which she’d smashed a-passin’ by
When she peeked up through the steering wheel and looked me in the eye.
We escaped like paratroopers out the window, landed clear.
But the cow just kept on drivin’,’cause the truck was still in gear.

She topped a hump and disappeared.The blinker light came on
But if she turned I just can’t say, by then the truck was gone.
I looked at Roy,”My truck is wrecked. My coveralls are soaked.
I’ll probably never hear again. I think my ankle’s broke.

“And look at you. Yer pitful. All crumbled up and stiff
Like you been et by wild dogs and pooped over a cliff.”
“But think about it,” Roy said. “Since Grampa was alive,
I b’lieve that that’s the firstest time I’ve seen a cattle drive.”

© Baxter Black
This poem should not be reposted or reprinted without permission

Baxter Black, top cowboy poet and occasional philosopher, hardly needs an introduction. From Elko to NPR, he put cowboy poetry on the map.

This version of “Cow Attack” comes from “Poems Worth Saving,” Baxter Black’s 2013 collection of 164 poems and stories. You can listen to him recite “Cow Attack” on YouTube.

Baxter wants to relay this message, a policy announcement:

Since Baxter Black is no longer doing live performances, there are inquiries about others using his material in their performances. His policy is that anyone is welcome use his material in appropriate occasions, including non-profit or paid-for performances. He requests that the poems or stories be performed the way they are written, allowing for editing of length if needed. Please give the author credit.

His office adds that no one, for any reason, has permission to include his work “on cds, books, or dvds…or to try to sell it in any manner, including online.”

Find more about Baxter Black at CowboyPoetry.com and find much more, including a weekly column, at BaxterBlack.com.

(Please respect copyright. You can share this poem with this post, but request permission for any other use—except recitation.)

>>>This is a scheduled post. We’re on a break through September 20.

THE HORSE TRADE, by Sunny Hancock

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THE HORSE TRADE
by Sunny Hancock (1931-2003)

I traded for a horse one time,
he wouldn’t take no beauty prize;
A great big long-eared, blue roan gelding,
not too bad for weight or size.
I had to make some tough old circles
and this trader guaranteed
This horse would show me lots of country
and not need too much rest or feed.

He said “Now this here ain’t no kids’ horse
but he’ll pack you up the crick,
He will bump up on some occasions
and he has been known to kick.
I wouldn’t trade him to just anyone
without having some remorse
But if you’re a sure enough cow puncher,
mister, he’s your kind of horse.

I stepped on that horse next mornin’;
he began to buck and bawl.
That trader maybe hadn’t lied none,
but he hadn’t told it all.
Because we sure tore up the country
where he throwed that equine fit
And I almost ran out of hand holds
by the time he finally quit.

I guess that musta’ set the pattern;
things just never seemed to change,
Although I showed him lots of country,
every corner of the range.
But every time I’d ride that booger,
why, he’d keep me sittin’ tight.
I knew I’d make at least three bronc rides
‘fore he’d pack me home that night.

Which woulda been OK
with lots of horses that I knowed.
But that old pony had my number;
I’d just barely got him rode.
And the thing that really spooked me
and put a damper on my pride
Was he was learning how to buck
faster than I was learnin’ how to ride.

I pulled into camp one evening;
it was gettin’ pretty late.
I see this grey horse in the corral
and there’s a saddle by the gate.
I looked that grey horse over
and I sure liked what I seen,
Then this kid showed up around the barn;
he musta been about sixteen.

He said he’d lamed that grey that morning
coming down off the granite grade,
And he wondered if I had a horse
I’d maybe like to trade.
He said he didn’t have the time to stop
and rest and let him heal,
And since that beggars can’t be choosers,
he’d make most any kind of deal.

When a feller’s tradin’ horses,
why, most anything is fair,
So I traded him that blue roan
for his grey horse then and there.
But them my conscience started hurtin’
When I thought of what I did,
To trade a “fly blown” dink like that
off to some little wet-nosed kid.

So next mornin’ after breakfast,
why, I tells him, “Listen lad,
If you want to know the truth,
that trade you made last night was bad.
That old blue horse is a tough one,
bad as any one you’ll see.
He’ll kick you, strike you, stampede.
He’s a sorry SOB.

“It’s all I can do to ride him
and I’ll tell it to you straight,
I think you’ll be awfully lucky
just to ride him past the gate.
There’s two or three old horses
out there in the saddle bunch.
They ain’t got too much going for ’em
but I kinda got a hunch

“They’ll probably get you where you’re going
if you just don’t crowd ’em none,
But damn, I hate to see you ride
that blue roan booger, son!”
He said, “I told you there last night
I’d make most any kind of trade,
And I appreciation your tellin’
what a bad mistake I made.

“But my old daddy told me when you’re tradin’
that no matter how you feel,
Even if you take a whippin’
that a deal is still a deal.
That horse, you say has lots of travel,
and he’s not too bad for speed.
Well, sir, I’m kinda’ in a tight
and that’s exactly what I need.

“I traded for him fair and square
and damn his blue roan hide,
When I pull outta’ here this morning,
that’s the horse I’m gonna ride.”
I watched him cinching up his saddle
and he pulled his hat way down,
Stepped right up into the riggin’
like he’s headed straight for town.

Stuck both spurs up in his shoulders,
got the blue roan hair a-flyin’
Tipped his head straight back and screamed
just like a hungry mountain lion.
You know, I’ve heard a lot of stories
’bout the bucking horse ballet.
I’ve heard of poetry in motion,
but the ride I saw that day

Just plumb complete defied description
though I can see it plain,
Like it had happened in slow motion
and was branded on my brain.
I don’t suppose I could explain it
to you even if I tried.
The only thing that I can say is,
by the saints, that kid could ride.

He sat there plumb relaxed
like he was laying home in bed,
And every jump that pony made,
that kid’s a-half a jump ahead.
When it was over I decided
I could learn a few things still,
And I said, “Son, I’m awfully sorry
I misjudged your ridin’ skill.”

He just said, “Shucks, that’s OK, mister,”
as he started on his way,
“But if you think this horse can buck,
don’t put your saddle on that grey.”

© 2002, Sunny Hancock, used with the permission of the Hancock Family
This poem should not be reposted or reprinted without permission

Sunny Hancock, a “cowboy’s cowboy,” cowboyed all over the western U.S. and when he retired, he and his wife, Alice, lived outside of Lakeview, Oregon. They were friends and inspirations to many. He was at the first Westerm Folklife Center National Cowboy Poetry Gathering in 1985 and was a regular participant for many years.

This poem remains the all-time most popular we’ve posted. The first volume of the MASTERS (2017) CD from CowboyPoetry.com has a recording of Sunny reciting this poem, and others, in front of a live audience at the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering.

Gary McMahan tells the poem with music, and you can listen to the entire piece at his site, singingcowboy.com.

Find more about Sunny Hancock at CowboyPoetry.com.

This 1939 photo by Arthur Rothstein (1915-1985) is titled, “Cowboy mounting horse, Quarter Circle U Ranch, Big Horn County, Montana” It’s from The Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.

(A September, 2014 Facebook post of this poem became our most popular social media post ever, with currently over 3,000 Likes, and over 8,000 shares. People continue to Like and comment on that post.)

(Please respect copyright. You can share this poem with this post, but permission should be obtained for any other use. The photo is in the public domain.)

>>>This is a scheduled post. We’re on a break through September 20.