LEGACY OF THE RODEO MAN by Baxter Black

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LEGACY OF THE RODEO MAN
by Baxter Black

There’s a hundred years of history and a hundred before that
All gathered in the thinkin’ goin’ on beneath his hat.
And back behind his eyeballs and pumpin’ through his veins
Is the ghost of every cowboy that ever held the reins.

Every coil in his lasso’s been thrown a million times
His quiet concentration’s been distilled through ancient minds.
It’s evolution workin’ when the silver scratches hide
And a ghostly cowboy chorus fills his head and says, “Let’s ride.”

The famous and the rowdy, the savage and the sane
The bluebloods and the hotbloods and the corriente strain
All knew his mother’s mothers or was his daddy’s kin
‘Til he’s nearly purely cowboy, born to ride and bred to win.

He’s got Buffalo Bill Cody and Goodnight’s jigger boss
And all the brave blue soldiers that General Custer lost
The ghost of Pancho Villa, Sittin’ Bull and Jessie James
All gathered by his campfire keepin’ score and takin’ names.

There’s every Royal Mountie that ever got his man
And every day-work cowboy that ever made a hand
Each man that’s rode before him, yup, every mother’s son
Is in his corner, rootin’, when he nods to make his run.

Freckles Brown might pull his bull rope, Casey Tibbs might jerk the
flank,
Bill Picket might be hazin’ when he starts to turn the crank.
Plus Remington and Russell lookin’ down his buckhorn sight
All watchin’ through the window of this cowboy’s eyes tonight.

And standin’ in the catch pen or in chute number nine
Is the offspring of a mountain that’s come down from olden time
A volcano waitin’ quiet, ’til they climb upon his back
Rumblin’ like the engine of a freight train on the track.

A cross between a she bear and a bad four wheel drive
With the fury of an eagle when it makes a power dive
A snake who’s lost its caution or a badger gone berserk
He’s a screamin’, stompin’, clawin’, rabid, mad dog piece o’ work.

From the rollers in his nostrils to the foam upon his lips
From the hooves as hard as granite to the horns with dagger tips
From the flat black starin’ shark’s eye that’s the mirror of his soul
Shines the challenge to each cowboy like the devil callin’ roll

In the seconds that tick slowly ’til he climbs upon his back
Each rider faces down the fear that makes his mouth go slack
And cuts his guts to ribbons and gives his tongue a coat
He swallows back the panic gorge that’s risin’ in his throat.

The smell of hot blue copper fills the air around his head
Then a single, solid, shiver shakes away the doubt and dread
The cold flame burns within him ’til his skin’s as cold as ice
And the dues he paid to get here are worth every sacrifice

All the miles spent sleepy drivin’, all the money down the drain
All the “if I’s” and the “nearly’s,” all the bandages and pain
All the female tears left dryin’, all the fever and the fight
Are just a small downpayment on the ride he makes tonight.

And his pardner in this madness that the cowboys call a game
Is a ton of buckin’ thunder bent on provin’ why he came
But the cowboy never wavers he intends to do his best
And of that widow maker he expects of him no less.

There’s a solemn silent moment that every rider knows
When time stops on a heartbeat like the earth itself was froze
Then all the ancient instinct fills the space between his ears
“Til the whispers of his phantoms are the only thing he hears

When you get down to the cuttin’ and the leather touches hide
And there’s nothin’ left to think about, he nods and says, “Outside!”
Then frozen for an instant against the open gate
Is hist’ry turned to flesh and blood, a warrior incarnate.

And while they pose like statues in that flicker of an eye
There’s somethin’ almost sacred, you can see it if you try.
It’s guts and love and glory—one mortal’s chance at fame
His legacy is rodeo and cowboy is his name.

“Turn ‘im out”

© 1986, Baxter Black

This often-requested poem was featured in the 1994 movie 8 Seconds, about the legendary Lane Frost (1963–1989). Frost was named PRCA World Champion Bull Rider at age 24 in 1987. In 1989 he died in the arena at the Cheyenne Frontier Days Rodeo.

In the movie, the poem is called “Cowboy is His Name.” A site, which is no longer active, tells, “Near the end of the movie “8 Seconds,” Lane, Tuff and Cody are flying over the Cheyenne arena, and Cody reads a poem entitled ‘Cowboy is His Name.’ That poem is really a shortened version of the poem ‘Legacy of a Rodeo Man’ by Baxter Black.”
View an archived version of the site with the poems here.

Find articles here devoted to the life of Lane Frost, which were written on the 25th anniversary of his death in 2014.

Baxter Black’s official bio describes him as “a cowboy poet, former large animal veterinarian and entertainer of the agricultural masses.” In the introduction to his recent book, Poems Worth Saving, which includes “Legacy of the Rodeo Man,” Baxter Black comments, “I have been blessed by the good Lord to live in the company of folks I admire and care about. People of the land, I give you my hand, you’re the salt of the Earth, Amen.”

He recites Bruce Kiskaddon’s “They Can Take It” on the new MASTERS: VOLUME THREE triple CD from CowboyPoetry.com and S. Omar Barker’s “Cowboy Saying” on MASTERS: VOLUME TWO.

This message comes from Baxter’s office, 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.

This image, titled “Baxter Ahorseback,” by Vaughn Wilson, is courtesy of Baxter Black.

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

PROLAPSE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON by Baxter Black

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PROLAPSE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON
by Baxter Black

It came from outta nowhere,
like a prolapse in the night.
Which, in fact is what it was, my friends,
the cow vet’s scourge and plight.
That pudgy pink projectile
from those monster movie scenes
Like some whopping giant burrito
filled with attitude and beans.

I was soon laid down behind it
on a hillside in the muck
While the cowboy shined his high beams
from his perch there in the truck.
His rope stretched from the bumper
to her front legs tied in haste.
As I wallowed in the darkness
like a frog, stripped to the waist.

It was bigger than a tree trunk.
It was slick as old chow mein.
It was heavy as a carpet
someone left out in the rain.
I tried to gain some purchase
as I pressed my fist in tight,
It was thrashing like a porpoise
and was putting up a fight.

I got it in a hammerlock.
It was like a rabid dog.
I wrapped my legs around it
like a monkey on a log.
I pushed until my shoulder
disappeared inside the mass
As I scrambled for a foothold
in the mud and frozen grass.

But alas, with one huge effort
she expelled me from her grip.
I shot out like a cannon,
rolled and did a double flip.
But I grabbed her tail in passing
and with strength born out of war,
I dove at the appendage
like some punch drunk matador.

I lifted her hind quarters,
and I swung her side to side,
Then, like smart men do,
I used my head to push it back inside!
It was dark there for a second,
it was hard to catch my breath
But there she lay, my patient
I had saved from certain death.

The cowboy rolled his window down, said,
“Doc, are you alright?”
He gunned the engine several times.
The headlights got real bright.
“I’ve seen a prolapse done before
but never quite like that!”
“Oh, they taught us that in vet school…
But I think it ate my hat.”

© Baxter Black, used with permission

You must watch Baxter Black performing this poem. Find one video from the Heber Valley Music and Cowboy Gathering and another video here.

Poet and writer Rod Miller, in “Fine Lines and Wrinkles,” an essay at CowboyPoetry.com, writes, “Alliteration, assonance, consonance, and a completely off-kilter view of the world are apparent in these fine, wrinkled lines from ‘Prolapse from the Black Lagoon’ by Baxter Black. (Note that even his name uses alliteration and assonance.)”

In his official bio, where he is described as “a cowboy poet, former large animal veterinarian and entertainer of the agricultural masses,” Baxter Black comments, “My audience is my inspiration. Every cowboy, rancher, vet, farmer, feed salesman, ag teacher, cowman and rodeo hand has a story to tell, and they tell it to me. I Baxterize it and tell it back to ‘em! It doesn’t seem fair, does it?”

He recites Bruce Kiskaddon’s “They Can Take It” on the new MASTERS: VOLUME THREE CD from CowboyPoetry.com and S. Omar Barker’s “Cowboy Saying” on MASTERS: VOLUME TWO.

This message comes from Baxter’s office, 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.”

This version of “Prolapse from the Black Lagoon” comes from Poems Worth Saving, Baxter Black’s 2013 collection of 164 poems and stories. Find more about Baxter Black at CowboyPoetry.com,  on Facebook; and find much more, including a weekly column, at
BaxterBlack.com.

This photograph is courtesy of Baxter Black.

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

THE WEST, by Baxter Black

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THE WEST
by Baxter Black

They don’t call it Death Valley for nuthin’
And coyotes don’t make a good pet
But livin’ out here with the griz and the deer
you pretty much take what you get

And the Rockies have shoulders like granite
They’re big and they make their own rules
So take what you need but you better pay heed
‘Cause the mountain don’t tolerate fools

And the wind is the moan of the prairie
That haunts and bedevils the plains
The soul stealin’ kind that can fray a man’s mind
Till only his whimper remains

You can stand in the canyon’s cathedral
Where water and sky never rest
And you know in your bones that the meek, on their own
Will never inherit the West

It’s wild and it’s wide and it’s lonesome
Where the dream of first blood still survives
And it beckons to those who can bid adios
To the comfort of 8 to 5 lives

So come all you brave caballeros
Cinch up and reach down inside
Till you feel the heat, then take a deep seat
‘Cause the West, boys, she ain’t broke to ride

© Baxter Black, used with permission

We could think of no better poet to launch the 18th annual Cowboy Poetry Week with than Baxter Black, who put cowboy poetry on the map.

In his official bio, where he is described as “a cowboy poet, former large animal veterinarian and entertainer of the agricultural masses,” he comments, “My audience is my inspiration. Every cowboy, rancher, vet, farmer, feed salesman, ag teacher, cowman and rodeo hand has a story to tell, and they tell it to me. I Baxterize it and tell it back to ‘em! It doesn’t seem fair, does it?”

He recites Bruce Kiskaddon’s “They Can Take It” on the new MASTERS: VOLUME THREE CD from CowboyPoetry.com.

Find more about Cowboy Poetry Week here.

Last year, Baxter asked us 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.”

This version of “The West” comes from Poems Worth Saving, Baxter Black’s 2013 collection of 164 poems and stories.

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

This photograph is courtesy of Baxter Black.

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

WHY COWBOY POETRY IS FUNNY by Baxter Black

baxter_arizona_sky

WHY COWBOY POETRY IS FUNNY
by Baxter Black

Cowboy poetry’s mostly funny but,
it’s just to keep from cryin’,
‘Cause the cowboy’s life’s a constant round of wrecks.
Every time a puncher turns around
life blacks him in the eye,
Or bucks him off or bounces all his checks.

Humiliation’s not enough—they get hurt, I mean a lot!
They’ve perfected what it takes to set the scene
To create a situation where disaster’s guaranteed,
No matter how the angels intervene.

Think about it. If you really wanted
to try and hurt yourself,
You might call the I.R.S. up for a chat.
Or learn to juggle rattlesnakes,
maybe catch’em with yer teeth
Or tell your wife you liked her better fat.

But the cowboy way’s a sure bet.
First you take a good sized beast,
A thousand pounds and fit her with some horns
And then make her disposition like a bobcat with the piles
And give her brains the size of grandpa’s corns.

You say, Great! That sure would do it!
Put that cowboy with a cow,
Yer bound to get a wreck you won’t forget.
But let’s take it a step further and include another brute
That spooks at shadows and is bigger yet,

One who jumps like Michael Jordan
and dives like Moby Dick,
Then set out cowboy up there on his back.
One more thing, we’ll just connect’em
with a piece of nylon rope,
Then set back and watch our victims come untracked.

So that’s why us cowboy poets
write our humorous refrains,
‘Cause like I said, it’s either laugh or cry.
For example, say yer horseback
in the brandin’ pen one day,
And see a friend go flyin’ through the sky.

We all quick go ridin’ over
where he’s bucked off in the dirt,
To check his pulse, if there’s still one to raise.
And…if he’s livin’ you start tellin’ the story right away,
And if he’s dead, you wait a couple days.

© Baxter Black, used with permission

 

This is the title poem from top cowboy poet and cowboy philosopher Baxter Black’s new book, A Commotion in Rhyme. He comments, “It is a gallows humor in a world where catastrophe is riding on your shoulder. And…on stage and in books it far out-sells serious poetry. Then he includes this quote. “…do not presume because I am frivolous that I am shallow, just as I do not assume because you are grave that you are profound” and credits Rev. Sidney Smith.

In the new book’s introduction, Baxter Black reflects on his career from Vet school to the stage and considers “luck” a large percent of his success. He offers a lot of luck-backed reasons and closes with, “I can live with those reasons, but I do know this: without you, the countless thousands, millions who have climbed on my entertainment wagon and kept it going, I’d be a country vet somewhere takin’ care of your cows. And…I guess that wouldn’t be so bad either.”

Find more at baxterblack.com.

A reminder about Baxter’s policies of use for his poetry, from his office: “Baxter is busy with many media projects; he has retired from live performances. 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.”

Photo courtesy of baxterblack.com.

RUDOLPH’S NIGHT OFF by Baxter Black

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RUDOLPH’S NIGHT OFF
by Baxter Black

‘Twas the night before Christmas and Rudolph was lame!
The vet from the North Pole said, “Foot-rot’s to blame,
I’ll give him some sulfa, it’s the best I can do
But stall rest is needed the next week or two.”

“Great Scott!” cried old Santy, he turned with a jerk.
“I won’t git through Pierre if my headlight don’t work!
On Interstate 40 I’ll surely get fined
And lost in Montana if I’m flying blind!”

“No cop in his right mind would give any clout
To a geezer who claimed that his reindeer went out!”
He gathered the others, ol’ Donner and Blitzen.
Were any among ’em whose nose was tranzmitzen?

They grunted and strained and sure made a mess
But no noses glowed brightly or ears luminesced.
“It’s bad luck in bunches,” cried Santy, distressed.
“We’ll fly Continental, the Red-Eye Express!”

“I’ll just check the schedule.” He put on his glasses,
When up stepped ol’ Billy, the goat from Lampasas.
He shivered and shook like a mouse on the Ark,
But his horns were a beacon…They glowed in the dark!

Santy went crazy! He asked “Why?” With a smile
“I just ate a watch with a radium dial!
Where I come from in Texas we don’t have thick hide
So my skin is so thin it shines through from inside.”

“If that’s true then let’s feed him!” cried Santy with glee,
“Gather everything burnin’ and bring it to me!”
So Billy ate flashbulbs and solar collectors,
Electric eels and road sign reflectors,

Firecracker sparklers, a Lady Schick shaver
And Lifesavers, all of ’em wintergreen flavor,
Jelly from phosphorescellous fish,
Day-Glow pizza in a glittering dish,

Fireflies and candles and stuff that ignites,
Then had him a big bowl of Northering Lights!
He danced on the rug and petted the cat,
And after he’d finished and done all of that

To store up the static ‘lectricity better,
They forced him to eat two balloons and a sweater!
Then he opened his mouth, light fell on the floor
Like a fridge light comes on when you open the door!

His Halloween smile couldn’t be better drawn
When he burped accident’ly, his high beams kicked on!
Hitch him up!” cried ol’ Santy, and they went on their way.
I remember that Christmas to this very day.

The sky was ablaze with the stars shining bright.
They were shooting and falling all through the night.
And I realize now, though my fingers are crossed
What I really was seein’… was ol’ Billy’s exhaust!

© 1997, Baxter Black, used with permission

We’re celebrating the 20th annual Christmas at the BAR-D.

Listen to Baxter Black recite his poem on YouTube.

Baxter Black wrote in Cactus Tracks & Cowboy Philosophy, his book that contains this poem (in pre-internet days):

It is usually my practice to memorize any poem I write that has “potential.” Potential, to me, means it might work its way into my live program. I did not commit “Rudolph’s Night Off” to memory.

Morning Edition ran the poem in early December on a Tuesday, as I recall. By Friday, we had received over five hundred requests for copies, which means the listeners had to call their local public radio stations, get the number of NPR headquarters in Washington, D.C., call them, get my number, and then call me. Matter of fact, I called NPR later that week and the recorded message said, “You have reached National Public Radio, if you want a copy of Baxter’s poem please call…” And they gave my phone number.

I’m not sure of Rudolph’s appeal, but it does go to show you that the poet is often not the best judge of his own work.

Find Baxter Black’s new book, A Commotion in Rhyme, and more at baxterblack.com.

A reminder about Baxter’s policies of use for his poetry, from his office: Baxter is busy with many media projects; he has retired from live performances. 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.”

Photo courtesy of baxterblack.com.

 

DONATIN’ RODEO STYLE by Baxter Black

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DONATIN’ RODEO STYLE
by Baxter Black

There’s a piece of little finger on a fence out in Cheyenne
They had a wild horse race and I thought I’d lend a hand

I gave a bite of ear lobe to a bronc in Calgary
A souvenir, I reckon, so he’d remember me

A hank of hair is clingin’ to a light pole in Raton
Where we both went up together but I come down all alone

In Omaha, Nebraska I left a chunk of chin
I tried to find it later but I forgot where all I’d been

I left bone chips down in Tucson with a doctor and his nurse
Gave blood in Oklahoma just to help me reimburse

My pardners I was owin’ for the gas to Angelo
Where I’d grudgingly donated a percentage of my toe

An Oakdale corriente took the tip off of my thumb
And this cast I got in Denver is a little cumbersome

A doggin’ steer in Billings took a bit of this eyebrow
When he thought he thought he’d do some farmin’ and used me for a plow

A bull in Garden City took interest in my nose
And peeled the top off of it, for his scrapbook, I suppose

I’ve got shrapnel in my body from arenas far and near
From Bismarck, Cedar City, Winnemucca and Pierre

Pendleton, Ellensburg, Shreveport and Dubuque
When I start to think about it, it makes me kinda spook

Though I’ve made quite a collection, I only think it’s fair
’cause pieces of my body I left scattered everywhere

Enough hide to make a riggin’, enough hair to braid a rein
Enough teeth to make a necklace, enough to build a brain

I’ve left a trail of things I’ve lost like heart and soul and mind
But them that went before me left some of theirs behind

So I borrowed ’em and used ’em like they meant for me to do
And I’ll leave ’em for the next guy and if that next guy’s you

When you run short of courage or losin’ gets you down
Remember them before you left somethin’ in the ground

And in the chute or ropin’ box or floatin’ in the air
It’s the ghost of every cowboy who ever entered there

Every ridin’, ropin’ outlaw left you some will to win
Just look around ya, pardner.
You’ll find a piece of skin.

© Baxter Black, used with permission, from A Commotion of Rhyme (2018)

There’s no time like now to celebrate rodeo.

This is just one of the poems in Baxter Black’s brand new book of poems, prose, and plenty of cowboy philosophy, A Commotion in Rhyme. He introduces the poem, “This poem, as well as ‘Legacy of a Rodeo Man,’ was used in the move 8 Seconds. “Legacy’ was later used often, including being the inspiration for the RAM truck ad campaign ‘Guts and Glory.'”

The book is chock full of entertainment and overflowing humor, including laugh-out-loud multiple choice Ag Trivia Quizzes; pieces such as “Women Who Love Cowboys” and “The Potato Salad Principle”‘ and poems as varied as this one and “Why Cowboy Poetry is Funny.” The attractive 250-page hardcover includes drawings by top illustrators.

In the Introduction, Baxter Black reflects on his career from Vet school to the stage and considers “luck” a large percent of his success. He offers a lot of luck-backed reasons and closes with, “I can live with those reasons, but I do know this: without you, the countless thousands, millions who have climbed on my entertainment wagon and kept it going, I’d be a country vet somewhere takin’ care of your cows. And…I guess that wouldn’t be so bad either.”

Just in time for Christmas, find more at baxterblack.com.

A reminder about Baxter’s policies of use for his poetry, from his office: Baxter is busy with many media projects; he has retired from live performances. 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.”

 

TRYING TO CLIMB INTO BANJO PATERSON’S BRAIN by Baxter Black

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Photo by Kevin Martini-Fuller

TRYING TO CLIMB INTO BANJO PATERSON’S BRAIN
by Baxter Black

I went to seeking how he did it. I mean not just how he writ it,
Not in pencil, brush or ink stain or a thumbnail dipped in tar
But just how he played my language,
the proper and the slang which
I myself have twisted into verse and scattered near and far.

Just to spend some time beside him
as the muse roils inside him
Like a seed or yeast or lava that ignites his sharpened quill
I would learn within that hour how the bud becomes the flower
While I watch him take my mother tongue and bend it to his will.

It’s the process that I covet, great magicians make us love it
But alas not every oyster can make a grain of sand a pearl,
DNA is overrated, rhyming verse is complicated
And the Banjo ranks in my book as best poet in the world.

It’s a bit like building arches with each syllable he marches
Cross the consciouness of listeners who anticipate the ride
And a lilting rises from it, I’m convinced that he must hum it
As he locks in rhyme and meter like the moon conducts the tide.

He’s a sculptor carving fiction using consonants and diction
To create poetic mountains moles like me could never climb
I dissect the rhyme and meter,
how it plays through woof or tweeter
And no matter my attempts I am found wanting every time.

He’s the Einstein, the Da Vinci, like them with every inch he
Built a monument to genius, deftly chiseled from thin air
Laying lines of letters lyrical, each uncut gem a miracle
And then welded into meter perfect as an answered prayer.

When you’re good at some endeavor
and you work hell bent for leather
You eventually get very good, of which you can be proud
But–it you’re naturally gifted like the man who never shifted
In his seat you are invincible, acknowledged and unbowed.

Which to me is the description of his patent predilection
To pursue the strictest guidelines he imposed upon himself.
But what good is word selection if in striving for perfection
One obscures the human heart song
and leaves soul up on the shelf.

Banjo’s subjects are not famous, nor are they entirely blameless
But their greatness he uncovers with respect and wit and grace
And they rise to the occasion on his words of adulation
That encircle our emotions like a lover’s long embrace.

Ah, the man from Snowy River
on the ride that makes us quiver
And the fiery horse undaunted that he paints for us in rhyme
Lets us glimpse them through his portal;
he has made them both immortal
As he takes us down the mountainside
beyond the reach of time.

Where I wait, a lowly comma ‘neath his monumental drama
Like Sir Edmond pondered Everest wondering will it be in vain
Yet the power of his writing keeps the muse in me relighting
And ever trying to climb into Banjo Paterson’s brain.

…Baxter Black, used with permission
Baxter Black, top cowboy poet and occasional philosopher, is the man who put cowboy poetry on the map.

If asked about poets he admires, Baxter Black speaks of “perfect” writers such as Carlos Ashley (1904-1993), Elizabeth Ebert (1925-2018), and A.B. “Banjo” Paterson (1864-1941).

Few Australian Bush Poets are as well known as Banjo Paterson, author of the famed “The Man from Snowy River” and “Waltzing Matilda.”

In a recent conversation, Baxter mentioned this poem, “Trying to Climb Into Banjo Paterson’s Brain,” which he says he wrote after trying to analyze the genius of Paterson.

What an excellent model for any poet, though possibly only Baxter Black could successfully rhyme “language” with “along which.” He weaves in some of Paterson’s style and refers to his language, but no one but Baxter could have created this beautifully acrobatic poem.

Find this poem in Baxter’s book, Poems Worth Saving. His new book, A Commotion in Rhyme is available now at baxterblack.com. He says the book, “…shows cowboy poetry is still alive anywhere you find a sweaty saddle blanket, a green colt and someone who survived the wreck long enough to tell the story!”

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We’re looking forward to including a recitation by Baxter Black that was made for the upcoming MASTERS: Volume Three, the poetry of Bruce Kiskaddon.

Baxter is busy with many media projects; he has retired from live performances. He 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.”

Come back Wednesday for Baxter Black’s favorite poem by Banjo Paterson, and you may appreciate this poem of Baxter’s even more.

This photo of Baxter Black is by Kevin Martini-Fuller.

(Please respect copyright and see the message above for information about the use of Baxter Black’s poems. This photo is courtesy of baxterblack.com.)