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

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.

 

Rick Huff’s “Best of the West Reviews,” Winter, 2017

 

Rick Huff reviews Western music and cowboy poetry releases in his “Rick Huff’s Best of the West Reviews” column in The Western Way from the Western Music Association and in other publications.

Rick Huff considers Western music books and recordings; cowboy poetry books, chapbooks, and recordings;  and relevant videos for review. For other materials, please query first: bestofthewest@swcp.com.

Please be sure to include complete contact information, price (plus postage) and order address information.

From Rick Huff, February, 2012:

Policy of the Column: It should be understood by artists sending material that it is being done for review consideration. Submitting such material does not ensure that it will be reviewed. Also, predominantly religious material is not accepted for review in the column. If further clarification is needed, contact Rick Huff, PO Box 8442, Albuquerque, NM 87198-8442.

Find other recent reviews here and hundreds of previous reviews on CowboyPoetry.com.

Find current and past reviews published in The Western Way at the Western Music Association site.

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Selections from “Rick Huff’s Best of the West Reviews,” Winter, 2017, below:

•  Baxter Black  SCRAMBLED WISDOM ALMOST ISN’T IS…IS IT
• 
Terry Nash A GOOD RIDE
•  Rod Miller  RAWHIDE ROBINSON RIDES A DROMEDARY
• 
Bob Marshall SCREEN DOOR 

 

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

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

If the various computer auto-corrects through which it will run actually allow Baxter Black’s title for his latest book to remain unmolested without major reprogramming, it’ll be a miracle!  Or as Black puts at one point in the book: “Anlkadhtlid;s;apoliet eto tpnongljeryrypp (and this applies to typing, too)!”

Here we have a collection of mini-essays and some poems, each with an afterthought (or Baxterthought?)…such as “if life gives you llamas, make llamanade” and “if three out of four people suffer from diarrhea, does that mean one out of five enjoys it” and “(when) Horace Greeley said ‘go west, young man’…three hundred people in San Francisco drowned.”  You get the picture, and boy what a picture.  The book is dedicated to the late Pat Richardson, and some of his pearls are strung in as well.

There’s a good measure of education here on the perils, strangeness, wonder, wackiness and indispensability of the agricultural life.  Therefore, might we say Black’s lives matter?  Occasionally some of it will be best appreciated by his target audience and some of his traditional targets are again in his cross-hairs, but when he pitches haymakers, he’s just feeding the herd.  Recommended, but then when would something from BB not be?

Book (162 pages) – baxterblack.com

©2017, Rick Huff

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11-17-Terry Nash-A Good Ride

A GOOD RIDE
by Terry Nash

First, Terry Nash is, beyond a doubt, one of the best Cowboy Poets writing or delivering today.  I have always found his releases to be worth both your time and investment.

Badger Clark’s “Ridin’” was put to music as a song some years back. For this album, guitarist Ken Dravis helps to create a different but equally suitable mounting for Nash’s enthusiastic take on it.  Beyond the Clark cover, others include works of Kiskaddon (“The Lost Flannins”), Donnie Wynkoop (the hilarious “Fords [Snake Attack]”) and Buck Ramsey (“Bad Job”).  Original picks are “Homesteader,” a fresh version of his wonderful work “A Cowman’s Lot,” an ‘object’ lesson (the object being cow poop) called “Blurred Vision,” “December Stragglers” and what could be called a modern-day “moral of the story” story “Skype (#don’tgetthispoundsignstuff).”

I’ve said this in other reviews, but it holds true.  This particular CD is one of those you might consider using when defining or illustrating what cowboy poetry is or should be. Fourteen tracks.  Highly recommended.

CD:  $18 ppd from Terry Nash, 1278 N Road, Loma, CO 81524 or visit terrynashcowboypoet.com

©2017, Rick Huff

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Rawhide Robinson Rides a Dromedary

RAWHIDE ROBINSON RIDES A DROMEDARY
by Rod Miller

Billed as “the true tale of a wild west camel caballero,” it may be best described as a true “tail” of one!  To be sure, many facts of the historic, ill-fated Army camel gambit in the Arizona desert are faithfully relayed through this story…along with plenty about 19th Century sailing on the high seas!  But remember, Rod Miller’s Rawhide Robinson is also part Pecos Bill!

I will say with this dromedary lope, Rawhide may have found his stride.  His tall tales are integrated more sparingly than in his first outing and he’s hooked more to historical doings than he was in his second.  Filmmaker Joe Camp (of Benji fame) took a dip into the camel trough in his 1976 comedy Hawmps, coming about as close as Hollywood ever does to relating the real story of something.  In Miller’s version, Rawhide Robinson is officially hornswoggled into sailing over the salty seas to roundup and transport the contrary animals back to Arizona.  Adventure ensues.  Back in America, mule packers claim camels are no match for their charges, resulting in an epic desert test.  What happens in the end?  Hint:  Maybe because Rawhide Robinson wasn’t really there is why the #!*^#ing plan never worked!  Enjoy!

Trade Paperback:  (290 pages) $25.95  www.rawhiderobinson.com

©2017, Rick Huff

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11-17-Bob Marshall-Screen Door

SCREEN DOOR
by Bob Marshall

Bob Marshall’s newest release is an enjoyable, solid mix of Contemporary Western and Country tracks  Ten top Austin-area session people participated, including former WMA artist/now Reckless Kelly leader Cody Braun.  When you’re aiming to secure Texas radio airplay, this is all to the good.  But anyone doing it should know there is an Austin formula sound…and some of it has crept in here.

Picks from among the Marshall creations include the bluesy swinger “Hole In My Rope,” “He Talks To God,” “Rodeo Queen Deluxe” and “It’s Gonna Get Western.”  Add to them Marshall’s fine cover of the Donnie Blanz/Ed Bruce song “You Just Can’t See Him From The Road.”

Bob Marshall is a strong enough performer to garner airplay and fans wherever he can, and he certainly can’t be blamed for looking for both wherever they can be had.  He’s another example of the need to build a commercial base from which serious Western artists can work.  Thirteen tracks.  Recommended.

CD: $20 postpaid, www.bobmarshallband.com.

 

COW ATTACK by Baxter Black

baxter_arizona_sky

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.

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.