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!”

commotion

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.)

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, used with permission

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

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.”

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.

Find more about Baxter Black at CowboyPoetry.com; on Facebook; 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.)

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. Here’s one video from the Heber Valley Western Music and Cowboy Poetry Gathering and here is another.

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 S. Omar Barker’s “Cowboy Saying” on the new MASTERS: VOLUME TWO CD from CowboyPoetry.com.

Some months ago, 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 “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 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

baxter_arizona_sky

 

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

Who better to launch the 17th 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 S. Omar Barker’s “Cowboy Saying” on the new MASTERS: VOLUME TWO CD from CowboyPoetry.com.

A few months ago, 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 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.)

VANISHING BREED? by Baxter Black

sam2017photo © 2017, Jessica Hedges, brandedinink.com
Request permission for use

VANISHING BREED?
by Baxter Black

They call ‘em a vanishing breed.
They write books and take pictures
and talk like they’re all dyin’ out.
Like dinosaurs goin’ to seed
But that’s my friends yer talkin’ about.

Like Tex from Juniper Mountain.
He carved out a way of life
where only the toughest prevail.
He’s fifty-seven an’ countin’.
His sons now follow his trail.

And Mike who still ain’t got married.
At home in the seat of a saddle,
a sagebrush aristocrat.
I reckon that’s how he’ll be buried;
A’horseback, still wearin’ his hat.

There’s Bryan, Albert and Floyd.
Cowmen as good as the legends
to whom their livelihood’s linked,
Who’d be just a little annoyed
To know they’re considered extinct.

Some say they’re endangered species
Destined to fade into footnotes
like ropes that never get throwed.
To that I reply, “Bull Feces!”
They’re just hard to see from the road.

© 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.

A few months ago, 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 “Vanishing Breed?” comes from Poems Worth Saving, Baxter Black’s 2013 collection of 164 poems and stories.

Find more about Baxter Black at CowboyPoetry.com and find much more, including a weekly column and all of his books and recordings at BaxterBlack.com.

This photograph of cowboy Sam Hedges is by poet, cowboy, and entrepreneur Jessica Hedges, who is proudly married to Sam. Her Branded in Ink company “serves the ag community through the art of storytelling on social media and beyond.” Her photography is available as prints, cards, and more. Find more at brandedinink.com and on Facebook.

 

SCRAMBLED WISDOM ALMOST ISN’T IS…IS IT by Baxter Black

11-17-Baxter Black- Scrambled Wisdom [Almost Isn't Is, Is It]

Top poet, writer, and cowboy philosopher Baxter Black dedicates his latest book, Scrambled Wisdom: Almost isn’t is … is it, to the late, much-missed funnyman and cowboy poet Pat Richardson. Baxter describes Pat, “…He was droll, with a monotone delivery and every time you’d take a breath he’d drop a knee-slappin’, dog barkin’, rarin’ back, stomp on the floor till the possum is dead ‘one liner’…that brought the house down!”

There are “Pat stories” sprinkled throughout. Baxter famously once said of Pat’s poetry, “If you boiled cowboy poetry down to what’s worth savin’, this is what the stew would smell like.” These two larger-than-life comic geniuses have inspired so many.

Scrambled Wisdom… lives up to its title. There are pithy observations on life, some with “afterthoughts” (“A cowboy without a horse is like a bird without wings. A cowboy without wings is like a bow-legged ostrich!”); aphorisms; quotations; jokes; asides; life lessons, advice (“If you can’t be kind, at least be vague”); and more. Always known for loyalty to his friends, there are mentions of and derived wisdom from many familiar names, such as Dave Stamey, Les Buffham and Mike Fleming, Elmer Kelton, “Vikki’s Grandpa Bill,” and many others. Shakespeare, the Bible, and Theodore Roosevelt are represented.

The wacky wisdom is served up in one-page commentaries and sprinkle of poems, loosely collected in chapters: “Cowboy Up,” “Cowboy Logic,” “Horses,” “Rodeo,” “Farmers,” “Vets and Dogs,” “Workin’ Cattle,” “Cow Bidness,” “Mumbles,” “Out There,” “Flag and Family,” “Riding Drag,” and even “Seriously, Sort Of” (fear not).

With pieces as varied as “On Cowboy Advice to the Lovelorn,” “On Carpooling the Cowboy Way” and “On Lizard Abuse,” there are definitely more topics than a sane person could imagine. The illustrations (inside by Charlie Marsh and Etienne “A-10” Etcheverry, cover by Bob Black) are also wild and numerous and even the credits are laced with hilarity (“Bob lives in Arizona with his beautiful life and sneezes for a living.”).

Don’t look for political correctness and there is plenty that would make a librarian clutch her pearls. Most would say that is what they value in Baxter Black’s humor.

The small-format hardcover is chock full of fun, and a perfect gift. Visit baxterblack.com for order info and special holiday deals.