THE MEDICINE KEEPERS, by J.B. Allen (1938-2005)

posterb

 

THE MEDICINE KEEPERS
by J.B. Allen (1938-2005)

A man might live and work beside
The fellers ’round the wagon
And never say two words unless
It’s just hooraw and braggin’.

But sometimes in the solitude
Of some ol’ line camp shack
He smooths a fruit can label out
And writes there on its back

A group of words redeemed from time
To last when he moves on,
Set down with hurried flourish
‘Fore his mem’ry of ’em’s gone.

The spellin’ may not be exact
Or commas where they ought,
But there within those rugged lines
A mood is somehow caught.

It might be full of sadness
From a death or crippled friend,
To just the mournful yearnin’
For a way that’s bound to end.

Some others could be bawdy
While full of life and mirth
Or stories ’bout some saddle horse
That has no peers on earth.

There’s many through the years been lost
Or burned or throwed away,
But others yet survive
To give us views of yesterday.

And still amongst the workin’ hands
The words come now and then
To write a livin’ history
Of the stock, and earth, and men.

© 1997, J.B. Allen; used with permission

Texan J.B. Allen was a working cowboy for over three decades. He was a frequent performer at the Western Folklife Center’s National Cowboy Poetry Gathering and also at the Texas Cowboy Poetry Gathering, Nara Visa, the Arizona Cowboy Poets Gathering, and other events. His poetry is included in many anthologies and in his own books and recordings. His book, The Medicine Keepers, received the Western Heritage Wrangler Award from the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum in 1998.

Buck Ramsey (1938-1998), in his introduction to The Medicine Keepers, wrote of J.B. Allen, “More than most cowboys, he held to the ways and memories…thought and talked the old lingo” and stated, “…in my opinion he is the best living writer of traditional cowboy verse.”

Listen to an outstanding recitation of “The Medicine Keepers” on Andy Hedges’ COWBOY CROSSROADS podcast, Episode 24 from 2017, in his introduction to an interview with cowboy and songwriter Rod Taylor. Among other captivating stories, Rod Taylor reminisces about J.B. Allen in the interview.

“The Medicine Keepers” is just one of J.B. Allen’s poems on the recent MASTERS: VOLUME ONE CD from CowboyPoetry.com. The recording also includes J.B.’s recitation of Buck Ramsey’s “Anthem.”

We look forward to including J.B. Allen’s recitation of Bruce Kiskaddon’s “The Little Blue Roan” on the forthcoming MASTERS: VOLUME THREE.

Find more about J.B. Allen at CowboyPoetry.com.

Top Texas artist Duward Campbell created this painting of his good friend J.B. Allen and his horse, Pilgrim, in 2005. We were proud to have it as the art for the 2011 Cowboy Poetry Week poster from CowboyPoetry.com. Find more about it at Cowboypoetry.com.

Thanks to Margaret Allen for her generous permissions.

(Please respect copyright. You can share this poem with this post, but any other use requires permission.)

 

I’D LIKE TO BE IN TEXAS FOR THE ROUNDUP IN THE SPRING, traditional

jbposter

 

I’D LIKE TO BE IN TEXAS FOR THE ROUNDUP IN THE SPRING
traditional

In a lobby of a big hotel in New York town one day,
Sat a bunch of fellows telling yarns to pass the time away.
They told of places where they’d been and all the sights they’d seen,
And some of them praised Chicago town and others New Orleans.

I can see the cattle grazing o’er the hills at early morn;
I can see the camp-fires smoking at the breaking of the dawn,
I can hear the broncos neighing I can hear the cowboys sing;
Oh I’d like to be in Texas for the round-up in the spring.

In a corner in an old arm chair sat a man whose hair was gray,
He had listened to them longingly, to what they had to say.
They asked him where he’d like to be and his clear old voice did ring:
“I’d like to be in Texas for the round-up in the spring.

They all sat still and listened to each word he had to say;
They knew the old man sitting there had once been young and gay.
They asked him for a story of his life out on the plains,
He slowly then removed his hat and quietly began:

“Oh, I’ve seen them stampede o’er the hills,
when you’d think they`d never stop,
I’ve seen them run for miles and miles until their leader dropped,
I was foreman on a cowranch—that’s the calling of a king;
I’d like to be in Texas for the round-up in the spring.”

…authorship uncertain

Cowboy and poet J.B. Allen (1938-2005) recorded an outstanding recitation of this work at the Western Folklife Center’s National Cowboy Poetry Gathering. The recording is on The BAR-D Roundup: Volume Ten from CowboyPoetry.com.

Top cowboy balladeer Don Edwards sings it in a video here.

The great Buck Ramsey (1938-1998) sings the song here.

The authorship of “I’d Like to Be in Texas…” is uncertain. In the late Glenn Ohrlin’s The Hell-Bound Train, he writes, “Vernon Dalhart recorded ‘Roundup in the Spring’ on November 1, 1926… The song was first printed in sheet music copyrighted in 1927 by Lou Fishback (Fort Worth, Tex.); Carl Copeland and Jack Williams were listed as co-writers. The following year, the Texas Folklore Society printed an article by J. Frank Dobie, who claimed it was an old song he had obtained from Andy Adams.”

The Lomax’s include information from the Dobie article, writing that “…he found two lines in an unpublished play of Mr. Andy Adams. When he requested the full version, Mr. Adams sent him two stanzas and the chorus, which he had obtained fifteen years previously from W. E. Hawks, a ranchman now living in Burlington, Vt. However, he claimed to be responsible for most of the second stanza….”

Find more about “I’d Like to Be in Texas” at CowboyPoetry.com.

Top Texas artist Duward Campbell’s 2005 painting of J.B. Allen and his horse Pilgrim was selected for the 2011 Cowboy Poetry Week poster. Find more about it at CowboyPoetry.com,  where there is also more about J.B. Allen.

This year Cowboy Poetry Week is celebrated April 15-21, and the selected poster art is “Out to Pasture” by Clara Smith (www.clarasmithart.com).

Find more about Cowboy Poetry Week here.

 

THE MEDICINE KEEPERS by J.B. Allen (1938-2005)

jb

THE MEDICINE KEEPERS
by J.B. Allen (1938-2005)

A man might live and work beside
The fellers ’round the wagon
And never say two words unless
It’s just hooraw and braggin’.

But sometimes in the solitude
Of some ol’ line camp shack
He smooths a fruit can label out
And writes there on its back

A group of words redeemed from time
To last when he moves on,
Set down with hurried flourish
‘Fore his mem’ry of ’em’s gone.

The spellin’ may not be exact
Or commas where they ought,
But there within those rugged lines
A mood is somehow caught.

It might be full of sadness
From a death or crippled friend,
To just the mournful yearnin’
For a way that’s bound to end.

Some others could be bawdy
While full of life and mirth
Or stories ’bout some saddle horse
That has no peers on earth.

There’s many through the years been lost
Or burned or throwed away,
But others yet survive
To give us views of yesterday.

And still amongst the workin’ hands
The words come now and then
To write a livin’ history
Of the stock, and earth, and men.

© 1997, J.B. Allen; used with permission

Texan J.B. Allen was a working cowboy for over three decades. He was a frequent performer at the Western Folklife Center’s National Cowboy Poetry Gathering and also at the Texas Cowboy Poetry Gathering, Nara Visa, the Arizona Cowboy Poets Gathering, and other events. His poetry is included in many anthologies and in his own books and recordings. His book, The Medicine Keepers, received the Western Heritage Wrangler Award from the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum in 1998.

Buck Ramsey (1938-1998), in his introduction to The Medicine Keepers, wrote of J.B. Allen, “More than most cowboys, he held to the ways and memories…thought and talked the old lingo” and stated, “…in my opinion he is the best living writer of traditional cowboy verse.”

Listen to an outstanding recitation of “The Medicine Keepers” on the latest COWBOY CROSSROADS podcast from Andy Hedges, in his introduction to an interview with cowboy and songwriter Rod Taylor. Among other captivating stories, Rod Taylor reminisces about J.B. Allen in the interview. Find it and all of the excellent previous shows here.

This is just one of J.B. Allen’s poems on the recent MASTERS CD from CowboyPoetry.com. The recording also includes J.B.’s recitation of Buck Ramsey’s “Anthem.”

Find more about J.B. Allen at CowboyPoetry.com.

Top Texas artist Duward Campbell created this painting of his good friend J.B. Allen and his horse, Pilgrim, in 2005. We were proud to have it as the art for the 2011 Cowboy Poetry Week poster from CowboyPoetry.com. Find more about it here.

Thanks to Margaret Allen for her generous permissions.