“J IS FOR JACKALOPE” by Teal Blake

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from “J IS FOR JACKALOPE”
by Teal Blake

Not long ago out in the dust and the sage, a story I’ll tell written down on this page. A critter so wild and free and the little boy who named him–Samuel C.B.

Now, Samuel C.B. was a blond-headed boy. He wore chaps on his legs and red boots on his feet. He’d rope and tie whatever he’d meet. He tied all the barn cats and dogs on the ranch, and even the chickens when he had the chance…

…from the beginning of J is for Jackalope, by Teal Blake, used with permission

There is so much to love about “J is for Jackalope” from Cowboy Artists of America artist Teal Blake. It’s a cowboy-poetry-in-motion tale full of adventure, heart, humor, and fabulous art.

Respected publisher and writer Bill Reynolds comments in his Introduction, “This book is an artful depiction of the dreams and wishes of a young cowboy, and in a sense, of all those that set out in life simply trying to succeed in the things they love to do.”

Reynolds also hints at how Samuel C.B. got his name: Teal Blake’s great grandfather, Samuel Coke Blake, was one the the American Quarter Horse’s founding breeders.

Young cowboy Sam sets out to find a jackalope, which some might think is a mythical creature. Sam will change minds. The writing and Sam take off on a wild ride when he ropes his jackalope, which he eventually turns, and finds, “He was all about kick and all about feel.” Their adventures together begin and … well, you’ll want to read it for yourself.

Teal Blake told us the book came about from the stories he would spin for his young son. Though the genius of the art and story is solely that of Teal Blake, the book was also made possible by a community of people who believed in the concept and donated to a greatly successful Kickstarter campaign. See the original delightful Kickstarter video and find more about the book’s creation here.

It is rare that a book of such careful quality, authenticity, content, and design is produced. This enduring volume should delight readers of all ages for generations.

Find more about Teal Blake and more about the book and order information at tealblake.com. Also find him at Instagram.com.

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

ABOVE AND BEYOND, by Jarle Kvale

cowboythrown“Heavily thrown,” by Erwin E. Smith (1886-1947), c. 1907


ABOVE AND BEYOND

The boys and me were kinda miffed
to hear the boss man say,
he’s bringin’ in some buster
just to break that bald-faced bay.

It sorta bruised our feelings,
tho, in fact, we’d all been tossed;
that bay’s sure got our number –
we’d all tried, and we’d all lost.

Accordin’ to the boss,
I guess we’re all a sorry lot –
this kid’s above and way beyond
the meager skills we’ve got.

We gathered round the pen
that day that cowboy swaggered in;
he strolled just like a peacock,
smirked a denigratin’ grin.

He claimed, “There’s not a horse around
that’s ever bucked me off” –
the final words we heard from him
‘fore he was sent aloft.

The kid went soaring through the air
and bid that bay adieu –
it’s then we all agreed
the boss’ words were ringin’ true.

Above that horse’s head he flew –
beyond the round pen’s rail –
we arched our necks in pleasure
as we watched his skills set sail.

Above the record altitude
that Frank had set last fall;
beyond the longest distance
that my mem’ry could recall.

His flight was acrobatic –
did a flip, then added two –
I scored him perfect tens,
like he’s another Mary Lou.

But flights have ways of ending,
due to gravitation’s tug –
his landing wasn’t pretty,
like a windshield meets a bug.

Was 30 minutes later,
when that cowboy came around;
untangled legs and caught his breath,
rose slowly from the ground.

Humility’s a virtue
that some folks have never learned –
but spoutin’ off and talkin’ big
is bound to get you burned.

That cowboy’s lost his swagger,
and the boss man’s eatin’ crow –
above and way beyond’s a phrase
he’d just as soon let go.

That bay? Well, he’s still buckin’ –
and still provin’ us his worth –
each time we meet a braggart
who needs bringin’ back to earth.

© 2019, Jarle Kvale
This poem should not be reposted or reprinted without permission

Jarle Kvale, North Dakota horseman, radio broadcaster, and host of  the cowboy poetry and Western music Back at the Ranch radio show includes “Above and Beyond” in his new book, Horses, Dogs (& Lingerie).

Find Jarle Kvale at Colorado’s 31st annual Durango Cowboy Poetry Gathering, October 3rd – 7th, 2019. Evening performers include Trinity Seely, Ross Knox, Brooke Turner, Margaret Wilhelm, Greg Hager, Bill Lowman, and Mary Kaye. Daytime performers include Jarle Kvale, Kathy Moss, Paul Larson, Almeda Bradshaw, Tom Swearingen, Thatch Elmer, Ol’ Jim Cathey, Nolan King, Emelia Knaphus, Chris Isaacs, Two Bit Pete, Allora Leonard, Carol Markstrom, Dan McCorison, Slim McWilliams, Dave Munsick, Sam Noble, Jonathan Odermann, Don Schauda, The Sawyer Family, Lindy Simmons, Kacey and Jenna Thunborg, Cora Rose Wood, and Laurie Wood.

The following week, October 10-13, 2019 he’ll be at the 28th annual Nebraska Cowboy Poetry Gathering and Old West Days in Valentine.  Featured performers include Wylie & the Wild West, Jarle Kvale, Dave Munsick, Sky Shivers, and the High Country Cowboys.

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Jarle Kvale’s new book, Horses, Dogs, (& Lingerie) is described, “Jarle takes his experiences with horses, rodeo, and North Dakota rural living and turns them into humorous verse. He’s been writing cowboy poetry for over 25 years, sharing his stories with friends and family over trail ride campfires, at various community events, and at cowboy poetry gatherings throughout the country.”

Praise for the book includes ranch hand, poet and picker D.W. Groethe’s comment, “…His poetry has the kind of meter and rhyme that defines traditional cowboy poetry, along with the humor it takes to keep your attention going full out. Writing well, in this style, is difficult at best, and he’s got it down….”

Horses, Dogs, (& Lingerie) is available for $15 postpaid from Jarle Kvale,  PO Box 488 Dunseith ND 58329.

Jarle Kvale also has a recent CD, Custom Made.

Find more of Jarle Kvale’s poetry and more about him at CowboyPoetry.com and tune in to the current and past Back at the Ranch radio shows.

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photo of Jarle Kvale by Kevin Martini-Fuller

The c. 1907 photograph by Erwin E. Smith (1886-1947) at the top of the page is titled “Heavily thrown.” It is further described, “Photograph shows a cowboy on the ground after being thrown from his mount and other cowboys on horseback coming to his aid, on the Turkey Track Ranch in Texas.” It is from The Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division. Find more about it here.

Find a gallery of Erwin E. Smith’s works at the Amon Carter Museum.

(Please respect copyright. You can share this post with this poem, but for other uses, request permission. The photograph is in the public domain.)

WAR BRIDLE by Maria Lisa Eastman

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WAR BRIDLE
by Maria Lisa Eastman

I used to be a girl who rode bucking horses.
Not in a rodeo or anything glamorous,
just regular horses who bucked—
horses owned by people
who didn’t want them to buck.

Those horses did not scare me.

When they bucked, I sat down deep,
slapped my long reins on their flanks, made them run.
They ran fast and for a long time.
I didn’t let them stop.
If they slowed, I slapped my reins again
so they picked up their pace.

After some long miles, I’d let them slow—
they would draw in great
shuddering breaths,
lifting my legs off their ribs.
Then, all at once, they’d let go,
but it wasn’t anything they did
or anything you could see.
When it happened,
I could feel it run clean, clear
like a mountain stream through us both.
I didn’t question why they bucked.
Likely they all had good reasons.
I wasn’t thoughtful like I am now but
I wasn’t unfeeling or unkind—
I just took it plain, they bucked,
my job was to get them to stop.

Not by being good at riding bucking horses,
because I was never any good at that.
What I was pretty good at was
staying on a running horse,
and that’s what I figured they needed to do.

Run.

When I asked them to run,
I was one-hundred-percent sincere.
I knew the right thing was to go somewhere with them,
instead of nowhere against them.
I was sure of it.
Those horses believed in me.

When I got a little older, I changed.

I don’t know just what it was that changed in me.
That’s what I’m here trying to work out.
What I do know is I quit asking them to run.
I got stuck in their fear, made it my own.
When those horses bucked,
I would get scared,
I would get mad—
I was at war with anything that crossed my path.

And nobody knows that better than a horse.

© 2018, Maria Lisa Eastman
This poem should not be reposted or reprinted without permission

The official bio of Maria Lisa Eastman, award-winning poet and frequent invited performer to the Western Folkife Center’s National Cowboy Poetry Gathering, tells, “Wyoming rancher Maria Lisa Eastman hails from the village of Hyattville, Wyoming, population 100. She and her husband operate the Oxbow Ranch, a sometimes-for-profit hay and cattle outfit, and Rainhorse Equine Assisted Services, a verifiable non-profit, where unfortunate horses are rehabilitated to help people who have had troubles themselves.”

This poem is included in her new book, Regarding the Others. She comments, “This is an auto-biographical poem, looking back to a time when I was able to help out a couple of difficult horses. Then I wasn’t able to anymore. I didn’t know it then, but my heart had fallen out of harmony, and I’d stopped giving 100%. It wasn’t until 20 years later or so that I began to wonder what had happened and why. In the process of looking into myself, I wrote this poem.

See our feature about Maria Lisa Eastman, which includes more of her poetry (“How to Tell a Coyote to Go Away” and “Bad Business”).

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Of her new book, Paul Zarzyski writes, “In her first book of poetry, aptly titled Regarding the Others, Maria Lisa Eastman, by amplifying the choirs of venerable voices of “the others,” magnifies the intrinsic presence of those fellow beings defining our hallowed West—paramount of whom, the horse…” Past Wyoming Poet Laureate, Wyoming rancher Patricia Frolander describes the book as, “Deliciously fresh and deeply caring poems from a poet who understands the power of relationship.”

The cover of Regarding the Others is by celebrated artist Theodore Waddell.

Find the book at Amazon and for $15 postpaid from Maria Lisa Eastman, P.O. Box 55, Hyattville, WY 82428.

This photo is courtesy of Maria Lisa Eastman.

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

Maria Lisa Eastman; “Regarding the Others” and three poems

59910831_2353424188232616_1225929527662739456_n.jpgcover art by Theodore Waddell, “Ryegate Horses”

In her first book of poetry, aptly titled Regarding the Others, Maria Lisa Eastman, by amplifying the choirs of venerable voices of “the others,” magnifies the intrinsic presence of those fellow beings defining our hallowed West—paramount of whom, the horse…  Paul Zarzyski, Rodeo Poet

Deliciously fresh and deeply caring poems from a poet who understands the power of relationship.  Patricia Frolander, Wyoming Poet Laureate 2011-2013

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POEMS

War Bridle
How to Tell a Coyote to Go Away
Bad Business

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WAR BRIDLE

I used to be a girl who rode bucking horses.
Not in a rodeo or anything glamorous,
just regular horses who bucked—
horses owned by people
who didn’t want them to buck.

Those horses did not scare me.

When they bucked, I sat down deep,
slapped my long reins on their flanks,
made them run.
They ran fast and for a long time.
I didn’t let them stop.
If they slowed, I slapped my reins again
so they picked up their pace.

After some long miles, I’d let them slow—
they would draw in great
shuddering breaths,
lifting my legs off their ribs.

Then, all at once, they’d let go,
but it wasn’t anything they did
or anything you could see.
When it happened,
I could feel it run clean, clear
like a mountain stream through us both.

I didn’t question why they bucked.
Likely they all had good reasons.
I wasn’t thoughtful like I am now but
I wasn’t unfeeling or unkind—
I just took it plain, they bucked,
my job was to get them to stop.

Not by being good at riding bucking horses,
because I was never any good at that.
What I was pretty good at was
staying on a running horse,
and that’s what I figured they needed to do.

Run.

When I asked them to run,
I was one-hundred-percent sincere.
I knew the right thing was to go
somewhere with them,
instead of nowhere against them.
I was sure of it.
Those horses believed in me.

When I got a little older, I changed.

I don’t know just what it was that changed in me.
That’s what I’m here trying to work out.
What I do know is I quit asking them to run.
I got stuck in their fear, made it my own.
When those horses bucked,
I would get scared,
I would get mad—
I was at war with anything that crossed my path.

And nobody knows that better than a horse.

© 2018, Maria Lisa Eastman
This poem should not be reposted or reprinted without permission

Maria Lisa Eastman comments:

This is an auto-biographical poem, looking back to a time when I was able to help out a couple of difficult horses. Then I wasn’t able to anymore. I didn’t know it then, but my heart had fallen out of harmony, and I’d stopped giving 100%.  It wasn’t until 20 years later or so that I began to wonder what had happened and why. In the process of looking into myself, I wrote this poem.

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HOW TO TELL A COYOTE TO GO AWAY

Last night I heard her sing.
The dogs went crazy—they’d like to join in,
but lost their voices,
traded for regular meals.

I’ll admit, I loved to hear it,
her wavering soprano.
I wanted that wild joy,
the kind that swells big,
cannot be contained,
so you just give in,
throw back your head,
set it free.

Why is she so close?
Is she young, nonchalant,
or just unschooled?
Shrugging off the risk of easy prey,
like I was once,
a cocky scoffer of all elder wisdom.

She had better go—
though I admire her music,
she is not welcome here.
I want to tell her to go away,
to learn life out in the faraway hills,
away from the tempt of easy living.

It’s my secret,
to care about a coyote.
I like to think she could find a sandy den,
bear her pups, have a life.

I think I’ll give her a chance—
keep it just between us.
I’ll walk up the ditch road,
when I find her,
I’ll shoot
once at her tail.

I hope she understands.

© 2018, Maria Lisa Eastman
This poem should not be reposted or reprinted without permission

Maria Lisa Eastman comments:

Ah. Coyotes. We hate them, we love them. They slay our lambs, lure our dogs to untimely death, and eat our chickens – or at least scare them into not laying for a week. And yet…that song. What would the West be without their song? They are iconic; sometimes frightening, sometimes thrilling. All the cultures of our West have stories about Coyote. This is a short story about trying to strike a deal with one particular coyote.

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BAD BUSINESS

In a snowy cornfield
between our gate and the highway
hungry mothers have been running the fence.
It doesn’t matter that the snow is deep now
because their feed was all gone anyway.
When we drive down the road
they gallop after the pickup,
bellowing their outrage.

The neighbor’s hired man says he fed them
but with what?
We’d rather not watch at all,
we’re stuck,
reluctant judges
wishing we could look away
better yet, find
a line of green laid out in the snow.

Last night
before the mercury dropped to minus 35
a stronger bunch jumped the cattle guard,
headed down the icy pavement to find a mouthful.
Neighbors phoned for miles.
Black cows in a dark night.

The sheriff said, “That trucker never even saw them.”

© 2018, Maria Lisa Eastman
This poem should not be reposted or reprinted without permission

Maria Lisa Eastman comments:

Inspired by a sad event one winter. It was a bad, bad business. It was also bad business.

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Wyoming rancher Maria Lisa Eastman hails from the village of Hyattville, Wyoming, population 100. She and her husband operate the Oxbow Ranch, a sometimes-for-profit hay and cattle outfit, and Rainhorse Equine Assisted Services, a verifiable non-profit, where unfortunate horses are rehabilitated to help people who have had troubles themselves.

Some years ago, while riding colts out in the foothills of New Mexico, Maria Lisa began to collect and study native grasses, and was inspired to earn a master’s degree in range and watershed management.

Maria, Emmy & Coco

More recently, she is the recipient of the 2018 Neltje Blanchan Fellowship in Creative Writing from the Wyoming Arts Council, and has performed several times at the Western Folklife Center’s National Cowboy Poetry Gathering in Elko, Nevada.

One of her poems is included in the anthology Blood, Water, Wind, and Stone: An Anthology of Wyoming Writers (2016), and she has published a chapbook collection of her poetry, entitled Regarding the Others (2019).

Maria Lisa’s work arises from the landscapes of the West and from its animals, plants, and people.

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Regarding the Others is available from Amazon and for $15 postpaid from Maria Lisa Eastman, P.O. Box 55, Hyattville, WY 82428.

Find Maria Lisa Eastman on Facebook.

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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.”

 

SEASONS by Rodney Nelson

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SEASONS
by Rodney Nelson

They claim we have four seasons,
Summer, Winter, Fall and Spring,
But I guess it’s just a theory
And doesn’t mean a thing.

The frost never really leaves us
‘Cause it’s always in our minds.
The ground is barely warming up
When we crawl off our behinds

To begin the yearly ritual
Like the grooming of the fields,
For any moment wasted
Affects the average yields.

With the calving and the fencing
And the fixing every day,
Before we even know it
We’re a sweating, making hay.

We’ve barely shucked the long johns
When the fireworks report.
The Fourth is now upon us
And the summer’s getting short.

The pace gets ever frantic
With the harvest coming on.
One day you see a school bus
And you know the summer’s gone.

You have to get the work done,
You have to beat the frost.
If you cheat the growing season
You’ll have to bear the cost.

It’s hard to get the hay hauled
‘Cause we’re seeing way less sun.
It’s time to get all winterized
And get the weaning done.

Let’s say you haven’t weakened
And you’ve maintained the pace,
There’s a chance you might be ready
When the snow beats on your face.

So I doubt there are four seasons
There are only two, I fear,
There’s the one we’re getting ready
And the one when winter’s here.

But I’ll say this for winter,
For all its frigid blasts,
It’s the season we’ve been working for
And the only one that lasts!

…Rodney Nelson, used with permission.

North Dakota rancher, poet, columnist, and Senior Pro Rodeo champion Rodney Nelson includes this poem in his new book, Up Sims Creek: The Third Trip. The book includes 100 selections from his popular”Up Sims Creek” column in Farm and Ranch Guide. The columns include poems and prose and are full of vivid, mostly humorous accounts of rural life. He has written 610 columns to date and has now collected the first 300 in three books.

The cover of the new book depicts the store on Sims’ Main Street. It and the book’s illustrations are by North Dakota farmer and rancher Scott Nelson, whose drawings appear in Rodney’s other books, including his heartwarming Wilbur’s Christmas Gift book.

Rodney and Scott are both known for their lack of marketing enthusiasm. Rodney writes in his current column, “A lot of people ask or assume Scott and I are related. We are not related but both of us were blessed with a name we could spell easily by the time we reached third grade.

“Scott and I do share the same marketing skills. If asked what Scott would charge for a painting or a sketch he would likely roll his eyes and ask why anyone would want one…

“I have often left on a book selling trip with high expectations of making lots of sales. After driving considerable distances to some town, I typically look for some place that would be willing to sell them. Usually, after a couple laps around Main Street, I decide I should probably try some other town.”

So to help readers find his books, here’s another quote from the column, “The first 100 trips is $13, the second and third books are $20 each. I still have plenty copies Wilbur’s Christmas Gift available so for $10. All are postpaid to make it easy.” Contact him at 4905 44th St., Almont, ND 58520.

Rodney Nelson returns to the Western Folklife Center’s National Cowboy Poetry Gathering January 28 – February 2, 2019. Check out their YouTube channel for performances by Rodney Nelson and much, much more.

The lineup includes 3hattrio, Amy Hale Auker, Mike Beck, Geno Delafose & French Rockin Boogie, John Dofflemyer, Joshua Dugat, Maria Lisa Eastman, Mary Flitner, Jamie Fox & Alex Kusturok, Ryan & Hoss Fritz, Dick Gibford, DW Groethe, Andy Hedges, Brenn Hill, Tish Hinojosa, Yvonne Hollenbeck, Ross Knox, Ned LeDoux, Daron Little, Corb Lund, Carolyn Martin’s Swing Band, Sid Marty, Deanna Dickinson McCall, Gary McMahan, Waddie Mitchell, Michael Martin Murphey, Joel Nelson, Rodney Nelson, Diane Peavey, Shadd Piehl, Vess Quinlan, Halladay & Rob Quist, Henry Real Bird, Brigid Reedy, Randy Rieman, Jake Riley, Matt Robertson, Olivia Romo, Trinity Seely, Sean Sexton, Sourdough Slim, Dave Stamey, Gail Steiger, Colter Wall, and Paul Zarzyski. Find more at nationalcowboypoetrygathering.org.

Find more about Rodney Nelson, some of his poetry, and information about his earlier books and CDs at CowboyPoetry.com.
(Please respect copyright. You can share this poem with this post, but please request permission for any additional uses.)

THE LESSON by Sally Harper Bates

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THE LESSON
by Sally Harper Bates

Leathered hands, arthritic and broken
Caressed the strings of the worn old saddle
Nails were split and callouses formed
As he pushed and pulled and pressed and reformed.

“This one’s for you,” was the message he gave
As his great-grandson watched, eyes ablaze
The admiration fair hung in the air
As I watched, and heard what passed twixt the pair

“Why do you do it like that, Grampa?”
“Just watch, and see, use your eyes and your brain.”
Was all the wrinkled old man replied
As he twisted and platted and measured again.

The razor sharp knife split the leather with ease
Then the second string was braided back through
And repeated to form the knot so tight
Then he shifted his weight on the wobbly stool.

The younger grew quiet, his eyes like a hawk
As he worshipped, and watched, and he gleaned
Not a word passed between as the lesson ensued
An old saddle re-made, and then cleaned.

“It’s yours now, young man. Keep it oiled and clean,
As you gather and ride to the cattle
One thing left to say, one thing I will add
Whatever may come, whatever may go,
don’t ever … sell your saddle.”

© 2018, Sally Harper Bates
This poem should not be reprinted or reposted without permission

Sally Harper Bates grew up on ranches and worked on them, and the popular poet, storyteller, songwriter, and editor chose women with similar backgrounds for a richly varied new collection, Facing West; Voices of Western Women.

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The poems, stories, and lyrics reflect the vibrant world of the working West. Sally Harper Bates writes in her introduction, “…The lines you will find herein are exemplary of culture, heritage, and traditions. Fears, hopes, dreams, suffering, and joy…I hear the voices of women in our beloved West,telling their stories, singing their songs, and setting their hearts down on paper.”

Contributors include Mary Abbott, Amy Hale Auker, Sally Harper Bates, Valerie Beard, Virginia Bennett, Sequent Bodine, Betty Burlingham, Shawn Cameron, Lola Chiantaretto, Cherie Cloudt, Jiminell Cook, Terry Crowley, Sam DeLeeuw, Daisy Dillard, Jody Drake, Bunny Dryden, Tandy Drye, Susan Gahr, Peggy Godfrey, Audrey Hankins, Jeanie Hankins, Roni Harper, Jessica Hedges, Sandy Heller, Yvonne Hollenbeck, Carole Jarvis, Randi Johnson, Sue Jones, Suzi Killman, Cindy King, Mary Matli, Deanna Dickinson McCall, Billie Jo McFarland, Charlotte Allgood McCoy, Bertha Monroe, Janet Moore, Kay Kelley Nowell, Evelyn Perkins, Karen Perkins, Jean Prescott, Jody Presley, Janet McMillan Rives, Darla Robinson, Perilee Sharp, Shirley Tecklenburg, Heidi Thomas, Frances Vance, Andrea Waitley, Carrol Williams, Jolyn Young, and Kip Calahan Young.

The cover of Facing West is a painting by Marless Fellows and design by Steve Atkinson. Other illustrations in the book are by Mike Capron and Lynn Brown.

Find more at Arizona Cowboy Connection on Facebook.

This photograph, “Detail of cowboy’s saddle. Roundup near Marfa, Texas,” is by Russell Lee (1903-1986) and is from The Library of Congress, part of the Farm Security Administration/Office of War Information collection.

Find a feature about noted photographer and teacher Russell Lee with a gallery of photographs from the Dolph Briscoe Center for American History at the University of Texas at Austin.

(Please respect copyright. You can share this poem with this post, but for other uses, request permission. The photograph is in the public domain.)