REAL COWBOY LIFE, by Gail I. Gardner

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REAL COWBOY LIFE
by Gail I. Gardner (1892-1988)

You have read these cowboy stories,
About their life so wild and free;
I expect that you could tell me
What a cowboy’s life should be.
Oh, he rescues lovely maidens
And he shoots the rustlers down;
He wears a fancy outfit,
And he paints up every town.

You can see him in the movies,
He’s a high-falutin’ swell;
A-ridin’ wring-tailed pintos,
And always raisin’ Hell.
But now let me tell you somethin’
‘Bout this cowboy life so free;
It ain’t no bed of roses,
You can take a tip from me.

Now there ain’t no handsome cowboys,
Nowhere I’ve ever been,
For a real top-notch Buckero
Is just homlier than sin.
And all cowboys have their troubles,
A few of which I’ll name,
To show you that cowpunching
Is a mighty sorry game.

When the roundup starts in April,
The first job you undertake
Is to shoe up all your horses
Till you think your back will break.
Now then you can be a center,
Or a rimmy if you will;
It don’t make any difference,
You will have your troubles still.

When you take your dally-welties
You can lose a lot of hide,
But if you fail to get ’em,
You have shorely got to ride.
Or you tie her hard and solid,
And then throw away the slack;
If your steer should hub a saplin’,
You are shore to lose the pack.

When you get a wild bunch driftin’,
Straight down for the home corral,
There will somethin’ spook the leaders,
And your whole bunch go to Hell.
You build to an orejana,
For to tie him in a rush,
But your pony turns a knocker
And he throws you in the brush.

Then your long-ear’s in the thicket,
And your dogs have plumb give out,
So the only thing that you can do
Is to cuss and cry and shout.
As you ride away and leave him,
You can hear the critter bawl,
And you know some feller’ll git him
Before the rodeer comes next fall.

When you have a real hard winter,
And your cows all try to die,
You ride out every morning,
And to lift ’em up you try.
You can git one by the handle,
And you heave and lift and strain,
With a mighty awful struggle
You can tail her up again.

Oh, you try to leave her standin’,
But she charges you in high,
Then she breaks down in the middle
So you leave her there to die.
On the range there’s not a yearlin’
That is fat enough for meat,
And you are all burnt out on bacon,
And the beans ain’t fit to eat.

When you’ve cowboyed for a lifetime,
Here is all ’twill do for you:
Some busted ribs and shoulders
And a hip knocked down or two.
You have butted into cedars
Till your hair is hard to find,
And the malapais and granites
Have you all stove up behind.

If you ever have a youngster,
And he wants to foller stock,
The best thing you can do for him
Is to brain him with a rock.
Or if rocks ain’t very handy,
You kin shove him down the well;
Do not let him be a cowboy,
For he’s better off in Hell.

You may swear you’ll never ride again,
And know you will not fail,
Till you hear a caviada
Come a-jinglin’ down the trail.
Then you pack up all your soogans,
And prepare to pull your freight,
For you know you’re just a cowboy,
And your head ain’t screwed on straight

© Gail I. Gardner, from Orejana Bull
This poem should not be reprinted or reposted without permission

Gail Gardner was born in Prescott, Arizona. Though he was educated at Philip Exeter Academy and Dartmouth University, his true desire was to work as a cowboy, which he did. His WWI draft registration describes his profession as “ranching & cattle growing.”

Gardner wrote memorable poems, many of which have been set to music, including his best-known work, “The Sierry Petes (or Tying Knots in the Devil’s Tail).” He published some of his poems in his 1935 book, Orejana Bull for Cowboys Only, which was reprinted most recently in 1987.

You can hear Gail Gardner’s own performance of “The Sierry Petes” on The BAR-D Roundup: Volume Ten, a double CD of top classic and modern poetry from CowboyPoetry.com.

Arizona ranch manager, cowboy, filmmaker and songwriter Gail Steiger, Gardner’s grandson, recites “Real Cowboy Life” on his recent, well-received CD, “A Matter of Believin’.” See our previous post for Gail Steiger’s own take on “The Romance of Western Life.”

This photo of “Gail I. Gardner at the Devil’s Gate Rodeo Grounds, Skull Valley, ‘Round-up Time’ in the 1920s” is courtesy of the Gardner/Steiger family.

Find more about Gail Gardner and see many photos and more of his
poetry at CowboyPoetry.com.

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

GHOST CANYON TRAIL, by Bruce Kiskaddon

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GHOST CANYON TRAIL
by Bruce Kiskaddon (1878-1950)

There are strange things told of spirits bold,
And the trail to Sante Fe,
There is many a tale of the Chisholm trail,
And the trail to Laramie.
But this is the tale of an obscure trail
That few men travelled on;
Where a spirit was known to ride alone,
‘Twixt the midnight hour and dawn.

It would wind and creep through canyons deep
And over the mesa wide.
The men who knew this trail were few,
Where the phantom used to ride.
At times was heard a careless word
Some drinking man let fall,
But ’twas held a joke by the rangeland folk,
That no one believed atall.

I learned the truth from a hard youth.
He was one of those reckless men
Who could ride in the lead of a night stampede,
Ot the dust of the broncho pen.
On a winter night when the stars were bright
And the dying moon was low,
He was holding his course on a jaded horse
And the pace that he made was slow.

The cow horse flinched and cringed, till the cinch
Was almost against the ground.
His quivering ears showed deathly fear
And the cow boy looked around.
He felt the thrill of a clammy chill,
As it travelled along his spine,
For he saw at his side a phantom ride,
With never a word or sign.

He kept his place, for he set his pace
To the cow boy’s jogging speed.
There came no sound on the frozen ground
From the tread of his phantom steed.
He showed a flash of a long moustache
And a tilted campaign hat.
There straight and strong with stirrups long
The phantom trooper sat.

They were all alone. And the pale moon shone
Through the ghost at the cow boy’s side.
His courage fled as he rode with the dead
Alone on the mesa wide.
No sign of flight, no show of fight
The buckaroo displayed,
For slugs of lead won’t hurt the dead,
Through the mist of a vapor shade.

With the mesa past they came at last
To a canyon wide and dark,
Where some stone huts stood in the cottonwoods
That had long been an old land mark.
Each ruined shack had a chimney black,
And a roofless crumbling wall.
A living spring was the only thing
That was useful to men atall.

The chilling breeze through the leafless trees,
Gave a dreary, dismal moan.
The trooper stayed in the ghastly shade
And cow boy rode alone.
Strange tales are head of what occurred
At that place in the years gone by,
Ere that restless soul of the night patrol
Rode under the starlit sky.

What the trooper knows, or where he goes,
Nobody has ever found.
But the tale is told of the lone patrol
By the older settlers ’round.
There’s a cow boy trim with a face that’s grim,
Will never forget that ride
On a winter night in the pale moon light,
By the phantom trooper’s side.

…by Bruce Kiskaddon

Halloween is upon us. Bruce Kiskaddon’s poem is from his 1947 book, Rhymes of the Ranges and Other Poems. Find many more Kiskaddon poems and more about him in features at cowboypoetry.com.

Popular musician and historian Rex Rideout created a haunting version of “Ghost Canyon Trail,” along with eerie sound effects and music on MASTERS: VOLUME THREE, the triple-cd of the poetry of Bruce Kiskaddon.

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He comments on his choice of “Bury Me Not on the Lone Prairie” music, saying, “…The song first appears in 1877, which is just about the most likely time that such a trooper could have come to an unfortunate ending.”

Find more about Rex Rideout at timetravelmusic.com.

Also catch the Halloween spirit with “Ghost Riders in the Sky” and the first-ever recording of it in 1949, by Burl Ives. Find our links to other videos of the song, including renditions by  Johnny Cash, Gene Autry (in a 1949 film trailer), Marty Robbins, Sons of the Pioneers, Chris LeDoux, Bing Crosby, Riders in the Sky, Jimmie Rodgers, Lorne Greene, Elvis, The Blues Brothers, the Outlaws, Judy Collins, at cowboypoetry.com, and find poems in the spirit of Halloween there as well.

Texas local historian, poet, writer, and reciter Linda Kirkpatrick shared this fitting photograph, taken in July, 2014. Find more about her at lindakirkpatrick.net.

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

MAKE ME NO GRAVE, by Henry Herbert Knibbs

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MAKE ME NO GRAVE
by Henry Herbert Knibbs (1874-1945)

Make me no grave within that quiet place
Where friends shall sadly view the grassy mound,
Politely solemn for a little space,
As though the spirit slept beneath the ground.

For me no sorrow, nor the hopeless tear;
No chant, no prayer, no tender eulogy:
I may be laughing with the gods—while here
You weep alone. Then make no grave for me

But lay me where the pines, austere and tall,
Sing in the wind that sweeps across the West:
Where night, imperious, sets her coronal
Of silver stars upon the mountain crest.

Where dawn, rejoicing, rises from the deep,
And Life, rejoicing, rises with the dawn:
Mark not the spot upon the sunny steep,
For with the morning light I shall be gone.

Far trails await me; valleys vast and still,
Vistas undreamed of, canyon-guarded streams,
Lowland and range, fair meadow, flower-girt hill,
Forests enchanted, filled with magic dreams.

And I shall find brave comrades on the way:
None shall be lonely in adventuring,
For each a chosen task to round the day,
New glories to amaze, new songs to sing.

Loud swells the wind along the mountain-side,
High burns the sun, unfettered swings the sea,
Clear gleam the trails whereon the vanished ride,
Life calls to life: then make no grave for me!

…Henry Herbert Knibbs

Linda Marie Kirkpatrick shared the sad news of the death of Diane Coggin Merrill on October 22, 2019. Diane was the daughter of Mason Coggin (1938-2000) and Janice Coggin (1937-2013) of Cowboy Miner Productions, publishers of cowboy poetry. This poem was delivered at Mason Coggin’s funeral and was a favorite of Diane Coggin Merrill.

Cowboy Miner published books with the poetry of Bruce Kiskaddon, Henry Herbert Knibbs, Badger Clark, S. Omar Barker, D.J. O’Malley, and other classic poets. They also published contemporary poets, including Larry McWhorter, Chris Isaacs, Sunny Hancock, Jessie Smith, Ray Owens, Dee Strickland Johnson, Jane Morton, Rolf Flake, Linda Marie Kirkpatrick, DW Groethe, Michael Whitaker, Kent Stockton, and others. Their books, particularly in the pre- and early-internet days, were important sources for readers and reciters. Their daughter carried on the business until illness prevented her from continuing.

All three Coggins were great friends to poets (and to cowboypoetry.com) and were frequent participants at gatherings. Find a Diane Coggin Merrill Memorial page on Facebook.

The great troubador and music historian Don Edwards created an outstanding song from this poem. It appears on his Heaven on Horseback album.

It’s often noted that Henry Herbert Knibbs—known for poems such as “Where the Ponies Come to Drink” and “Boomer Johnson”—was not a cowboy. But Knibbs was not inexperienced with Western life.

Lee Shippey wrote about him in a 1931 article in the Los Angeles Times. He notes that Knibbs was born in the Canadian east, went to Harvard, and had a novel published while he was still a student there. He writes, “…when a man can come out of the East, handicapped by such an un-Western sounding name as Henry Herbert Knibbs, and become a man whose songs and stories are loved by the cow men and prospectors and adventurers of all the Western States, he must have something.”

He continues, “While still a young Canadian he tramped the great Canadian forests and all he asked was a canoe, a pack and a gun and he could supply himself with food and shelter. Later he came down into Maine and had a unwritten contract to supply several lumber camps with fresh meat. He was so successful in that business that a special game warden was assigned the task of catching him in some unlawful act.” He goes on to tell that the warden could never catch Knibbs doing anything wrong, and that Knibbs would sometimes lead him on wild chases. Then one day Knibbs found the warden in medical distress and nursed him back to health. The warden didn’t want to pursue Knibbs after that, and persuaded his superiors to call off the hunt. In fact Knibbs was offered a warden position, but he declined, as he had decided to head for California.

Knibbs headed West, and after some newspaper work, “He built himself a little covered wagon—a spring wagon with a canvas top on it—and set out to see California. For the better part of a year he jogged about, visiting many places where still motor cars cannot go, for good horses and a light wagon could take him to many places where there were no roads.”

It is noted that at the time of the column he had published a number of novels and that five of his stories were made into motion pictures. Shippey writes, “But it is probably that his poems will outlive his prose. For there are many western authors but few poets whose work really appeals to the men of plains and ranges, to cow men and prospectors and those who know life in that vanishing domain which is western in spirit as well as geographically.”

Find more about Knibbs at CowboyPoetry.com.

Find more about Don Edwards at westernjubilee.com and visit his site, donedwardsmusic.com.

This photo is from the Connecticut State Archives, available through Creative Commons. The caption describes it, “An autographed promotional photo of Henry H. Knibbs in the desert with 2 pack mules and a walking stick in cowboy garb…” [Connecticut State Library, State Archives, PG 460, Colt Patent Fire Arms Manufacturing Company, Box 2, Folder 7, Item 4; flickr.com/photos/ctarchives/4110253896/]

(This poem is in the public domain.)

AFTER THE FALL ROUNDUP by Bruce Kiskaddon

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AFTER THE FALL ROUNDUP
by Bruce Kiskaddon (1878-1950)

Now the summer work is over and the wagon’s pullin’ in,
And we’ve said good bye to fellers that we mightn’t see agin,
Fer a cow boy don’t write letters so we mighty soon lose track
Of the boys that stops and works a while and never does come back.

When yore clothes is soter tattered and yore hat brim sags and flops,
And yore boots is wore and battered, them that had the fancy tops,
When the owners and the bosses and the hands is most all in.
And them strings of summer hosses is slowed up and lookin’ thin.

When them thin clouds start a trailin through the soft and pleasant sky,
And you watch old buzzard sailin’ soter useless way up high,
And it makes the toughest cow boy soter study after all,
When he’s draggin’ with the wagon to the home ranch in the fall.

Fer he caint help but remember that most cow boys don’t git old
And he’ll git to one November when he caint stand work and cold;
He shore knows that he’ll be sorry when he gits like you and me;
Jest an old man tellin’ stories ’bout how good he used to be.

…Bruce Kiskaddon, 1933

This poem is of course reminiscent of Kiskaddon’s masterpiece, “When They Finish Shipping Cattle in the Fall,” which was one of his earliest published poems, appearing in his 1924 book, Rhymes of the Ranges.

This image is an original Los Angeles Stockyards calendar page from 86 years ago, November, 1933. “After the Fall Roundup” was also included in Kiskaddon’s 1935 book, Western Poems.

Poet Bruce Kiskaddon and artist Katherine Field (1908-1951) collaborated on works for the Los Angeles Union Stockyards calendar and the Western Livestock Journal. The two never met in person.

Bruce Kiskaddon worked for ten years as a cowboy, starting in 1898 in southeastern Colorado’s Picketwire area. He published short stories and nearly 500 poems. His poems are among the most admired and the most recited in the “classic” cowboy poetry canon.

Much of what is known about Kiskaddon and his work comes from Open Range, Bill Siems’ monumental collection of Kiskaddon’s poetry. Bill Siems also collected Bruce Kiskaddon’s short stories in a book called Shorty’s Yarns.

Find more at cowboypoetry.com.

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Popular colorado poet and rancher Floyd Beard recites this poem on the recent 3-cd MASTERS: VOLUME THREE, the poetry of Bruce Kiskaddon.  You can see Floyd at the Western Slope Cowboy Gathering​, November 1-2, 2019, in Grand Junction, Colorado, presented by the Museums of Western Colorado​. Other performers include Terry Nash​, Peggy Malone​, Bill Clark, Jean Prescott​, Gary Prescott​, Valerie Beard​, Floyd Beard​, Dale Burson​, Dale Page​, Dennis Russell Nazelrod​, Rocky Sullivan​, and Rod Taylor.

(This poem is the public domain. The calendar page is from the BAR-D collection.)

THE MAN ON THE FENCE, by Bruce Kiskaddon

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THE MAN ON THE FENCE
by Bruce Kiskaddon (1878-1950)

There’s a man that I would speak about, you see him every where.
He puts out conversations till he mangles up the air;
No matter what the subject is his idees are immense.
But he don’t go into action. He’s the man that’s on the fence.

When the owners ship out cattle they have all that they can do.
The buyers and the waddies they are mighty busy too.
Who explains the situation to a bunch of idle gents?
I needn’t tell no body, it’s the feller on the fence.

Who is that can tell you how a bronco should be rode?
Who is it laughs the loudest at a feller when he’s throwed?
Who tries to be sarcastic when he makes his wise comments?
Whose pants is full of splinters? It’s the man that’s on the fence.

Who is it puts a swagger on but never gits in trouble?
If he ever gits in danger who can vanish like a bubble?
Who can tell about a battle till he holds the crowd plum tense?
Though perhaps he’s never seen it; it’s the feller on the fence.

Who hollers at old timers as if they were his pals?
Who has set and spurred the splinters from a hundred odd corrals?
Who has spurred the gates and fence rails till the boys all know the dents?
It’s the man that’s always present. It’s the feller on the fence.

No, he ain’t no use fer nothin’ and he sure does eat a lot.
And he does a heap of talkin’ that would get a real man shot.
But the outfit tolerates him though he ain’t worth thirty cents,
Fer he’s really right amusin’ that there fellow on the fence.

And it helps an honest waddy when he’s done his best and failed;
Just to stop and look and listen at the feller on the rail.
Fer he knows down in his gizzard, if he’s got an ounce of sense,
That he’s done a durned sight better than the man that’s on the fence.

…Bruce Kiskaddon, from “Rhymes of the Ranges and Other Poems,” 1947

Bill Siems recites this poem on the 3-CD collection, MASTERS: Volume Three, the poetry of Bruce Kiskaddon.

Siems collected most of Kiskaddon’s nearly 500 poems in “Open Range,” and he collected many great Kiksaddon short stories in “Shorty’s Yarns.” In the latter, he quotes Kiskaddon from his autobiography:

“[Tap Duncan’s Diamond Bar, 1922 -1924] was my last job with a cow outfit. My eyes were bothering me and I was getting gray. In short I found out I wasn’t young any more. Punching cattle in a rough country is not an old man’s job. That is if he really gets in and makes a hand. As you get older a bucking horse can outguess you mighty quick. You are not so active if you get a horse jerked down, or if one falls with you it stoves you up a heap worse than it did years ago. And you don’t go down a rope to many big calves before you get that all gone feeling, especially if you are about five feet five.

“But I still like the smell of a camp fire and like to hear the creak of saddle leather and the rattle of spurs. And I like the smell of cows. Yes even if I can tell there have been cows in the drinking water, it don’t bother me much if the mixture ain’t too strong.”

Find information about Kiskaddon, many poems, and information about both of Bill Siems’ books in our Kiskaddon features at cowboypoetry.com.

This 1939 photograph, “Cowboys sitting on corral fence. Roundup near Marfa, Texas,” by Russell Lee (1903-1986), is from The Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.

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.

(This poem and photograph are in the public domain.)

THE DRIFTER, by Bruce Kiskaddon

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THE DRIFTER
by Bruce Kiskaddon (1878-1950)

I’ll bet there’s some feller you all recollect,
That folks joked and kidded but had to respect.
He’d a soft drawlin’ voice and a daredevil grin,
And was welcome wherever he cared to ride in.

He was careless and rough and a little bit dirty.
He had lived several years on the wrong side of thirty.
He wasn’t jest handsome, but wasn’t bad lookin’.
He was handy at carpenterin’, butcherin’, and cookin’.

He could do any thing with an oven or griddle,
And he played a few pretty good tunes on a fiddle.
He could loaf in the shade or could set by the fire
And out talk most any professional liar.

He looked upon life as a sort of a joke.
He didn’t want money, but he never was broke.
But when things got in earnest he shore could talk sense,
And he could shoe horses, mend wagons and fence.

He didn’t mind trouble. He hadn’t a care.
He didn’t work hard, but he shore done his share.
He wouldn’t work steady, but it was a cinch
He never rode off and left friends in a pinch.

A mighty good roper and look out man too.
He could smooth down a bronc quick as most men do.
He wasn’t no scrapper, but if he was right,
He could whip all them fellers that thought they could fight.

If folks didn’t like him, jest let it be known,
And that feller could give ’em a lettin’ alone.
He was most like a doctor, the old timers said.
He helped care fer the sick and to bury the dead.

Now most folks think such a wonderful man
Must have owned lots of cattle or plenty of land.
But all of you cow boys, I needn’t tell you.
He was just some old drifter that all of us knew.

…Bruce Kiskaddon, from Rhymes of the Ranges and Other Poems, 1947

Texan Ol’ Jim Cathey recites “The Drifter” on MASTERS: VOLUME THREE, the poetry of Bruce Kiskaddon. The triple CD has over 60 tracks of Kiskaddon’s poetry. Voices from the past and from today’s top reciters and poets celebrate the popular classic poet.

In Open Range, Bill Siems’ monumental collection of Kiskaddon poems, the original preface to Rhymes of the Ranges and Other Poems is included. In it, he comments, in part:

…In 1898 I started riding in Colorado. Since that time I have put in ten or twelve years around horse and cow outfits.

During the summer of 1922 I was working for G.T. (Tap) Duncan in northwestern Arizona. Sometimes I would parody songs to suit local happenings or write verses and different jingles about what took place on the work…I never really completed grammar school and my powers of imagination are not what some writers are gifted with. So you will find these rhymes are all written from actual happenings or the old legends of cow country…

Hoping it brings back memories to the old boys and that the younger ones enjoy them.

Find more about Kiskaddon and more poetry in our features at cowboypoetry.com.

This c. 1934 photograph, titled “Working Cowboy,” is from The Library of Congress, originally copyrighted by by McCormick Co., Amarillo, Texas.

This poem and photo are in the public domain.

LONGHORN CUPID, by S. Omar Barker

 

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LONGHORN CUPID
by S. Omar Barker (1894-1985)

Jack Potter was a buckaroo
who never looked at girls—
He claims—not even purty ones
that wore their hair in curls.
His job was drivin’ longhorns,
and he set up in his kack
as sure and straight as if
he wore a ramrod up his back.

He knowed the ways of cattle
from their burr-tails to their ears—
‘Twas even said he had the knack
of understandin’ steers
the same as if they spoke in words
instead of with the eye.
But when it came to women
he was spooky-like and shy.

One day some rancher girls ran out
to watch his passing herd.
And Jack, he kinder tipped his hat,
but never said a word.
It may be that he noticed
one girl lookin’ mighty sweet and fine,
But if his heart was smitten—
well, he never showed no sign.

Then, up there in the lead,
a steer that Potter called Randau,
he quit his lead position
and he stepped out with a bow,
to gaze at Miss Cordelia
with a most admirin’ stare,
as if he hadn’t never saw
a girl so sweet and fair.

He looked at her a minute,
then he turned to look at Jack,
And kinder twitched his sunburnt hair
upon his long ol’ back.
It gave Jack quite a start, I guess—
him such a bashful man—
To have that ol’ steer tell him,
“Boy, git this one if you can!

“For she’s not only purty,
but she’s got the kind of stuff
it takes to stick right with you
when the trail of life gits rough!”
Jack swears that ol’ steer winked at him
and rolled his big brown eyes,
Then added as an afterthought,
“And Boss, this girl’s a prize.

“There’ll be some competition for!
So now it’s up to you.
I doubt if you can win her—
but you’re mighty lucky if you do!”
Then Randau stepped back to the lead
and Jack, he scratched his head.
A’wonderin’ if Miss Cordy knowed
what-all that steer had said.

But if she did or didn’t,
when Jack looked at her he saw
The sweetest smile that ever
brought a cowboy’s heart to taw!

That all was way back yonder
more than 60 years ago,
But last November, underneath
a sky that promised snow,
Ol’ Jack and his “Miss Cordy,”
at their home in Clayton town,
invited all their folks and friends
to come and gather roun’

to help them celebrate with joy
the 60 years they’d spent
a-provin’ Jack was right about
what that ol’ longhorn meant.
“Them ol’ lead steers was smart,”
says Jack, a twinkle to his grin.
“Without Randau’s expert advice,
just think where I’d have been!

© 1947, S. Omar Barker, reprinted with the permission of the estate of
S. Omar Barker

Our thanks to great friend of the BAR-D Georganna Kresl, who located this long-lost poem by S. Omar Barker in a 1947 issue of Zane Grey’s Western Magazine.

Many will be familiar with Barker’s popular, fun poem “Jack Potter’s Courtin’,” which was based on the real-life romance of trail driver and storyteller Jack Potter and Cordelia Eddy.

Georganna Kresl is the great granddaughter of “Jack” and “Cordy.” She knew Barker had written a second poem about the couple, and after many years of searching, recently located it.

In 2006 she wrote to us about her great grandfather:

…Though Jack Potter may be best known as a trail driver, throughout his life he was first and foremost a story teller—an oral historian in the folk tradition. After he retired from the range, sold his ranch, and moved into the town of Clayton, New Mexico (1928), Potter wrote down some of his personal recollections, entered them in a contest sponsored by the Pioneer State Tribune and, astonishingly, was awarded second place. The result was that, though in his 60’s at the time, Jack Potter coincidentally created a new career for himself as a writer…

Though Potter wrote primarily for Western magazines and newspapers, he also published two books,Cattle Trails of the Old West (1935, 1939) and Lead Steer and Other Tales (1939). In the third chapter of Lead Steer, titled “Courtship and Engagement,” Jack talks about how he and Cordie met and tells about proposing to her. Barker must have been familiar with this story through his association with Potter during the ’30s, because the heart of Potter’s narrative version of events forms the basis for Barker’s poem; in effect, Barker translated Potter’s prose into verse. The resulting rhyme was then subsequently printed in Ranch Romances in September 1941.

Find much more at cowboypoetry.com.

See our most recent post of “Jack Potter’s Courtin’” from Valentine’s Day.

Top reciter Randy Rieman presents “Jack Potter’s Courtin'” on the recent MASTERS: VOLUME TWO, the poetry of S. Omar Barker” from CowboyPoetry.com.

Barker was one of the founders of the Western Writers of America, Inc. and many of his poems were published by Western Horseman. Find more about S. Omar Barker at CowboyPoetry.com.

This photograph of Cordelia Eddy and her children is courtesy of Georganna Kresl.

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