by Carole Jarvis

If there’s any of you women out there,
…..who are newly a cowboy’s wife.
And are still experiencing the honeymoon phase,
…..be prepared, there’s an afterlife!

The time will soon come you’ll be asked to help out,
…..So you probably ought to know,
That when he hands you a ripe, with a cow on the end,
…..You’re expected to never let go!

No matter he’s roped the old girl from the ground,
…..then dallied a big cedar post,
While explainin’ to you how bad sick she is,
…..almost ready to “give up the ghost.”

She’s standin’ there, tongue out, legs all a’spraddle,
…..her eyes bulging out of her head,
As the cowboy moves in to give her a shot,
…..for after all, the cow’s about dead.

Not quite! Just as the needle is jabbed in her rump,
…..that hind leg lets go with a whack.
And the cowboy’s shin receives direct hit,
…..as I’m tryin’ to take up my slack.

For the cow has leaped forward, shakin’ her head,
…..throwin’ slobber in every direction.
And with only that cedar post between us,
…..I’ve decided to use some discretion.

I dodge to the side, lettin’ go of the rope,
…..which had just burned the palms of both hands.
And that wild-eyed old cow’s horns barely miss
…..where I was, ’cause that’s where she lands.

“Keep a’hold of the rope!” comes a yell from behind
…..but by then this alliance is through!
One “near death” experience a day is enough
…..and I did all I could possibly do.

Or, at least it seemed, from my point of view,
…..(which was sure not the view I’d have chose)
But I handled the incident logically—
…..and that’s where the problem arose.

Logic wasn’t a choice—I aborted the mission!
…..left my post, in the midst of a battle!
So ladies beware, the honeymoon’s over,
…..when you and the cowboy work cattle.

© 2019, Carole Jarvis
This poem should not be reposted or reprinted without permission

Award-winning poet Carole Jarvis met her cowboy while working in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, and they were married for over 50 years before his death in 2010. She tells in her bio at CowboyPoetry.com:

We’ve lived and cowboyed in Wyoming, Oregon and Arizona, and there’s been a lot of hard work, dusty trails, blisters, sunburns and broken bones along the way, but it’s the life I chose and the one Dan, my husband chose, and we wouldn’t trade it for any other.

“Mission Impossible” is included in Facing West: Voices of Western Women, Volume Two (2019). The book includes poems and stories from over 50 Western women, including Deanna Dickinson McCall, Amy Hale Steiger, Jessica Hedges, Andrea Waitley and daughter Abi McWhorter Reynolds, Betty McCarthy, Dee Strickland Johnson (“Buckshot Dot”), and many others. Facing West was compiled by Sally Bates, who is pictured on the cover in a photo by Mary Abbott.


With proceeds from the first volume, Natalie G’Schwind was presented with the 2019 Facing West, Roni Harper Memorial Scholarship. Find more about both volumes of Facing West and other publications from Arizona Cowboy Connection at arizonacowboyconnection.com.

Find more about Carole Jarvis at cowboypoetry.com.

The photograph is courtesy of Carole Jarvis from the Jarvis Ranch.

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

THE LESSON by Sally Harper Bates


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.


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.)