WHEN YOU’RE THROWED by Bruce Kiskaddon (1878-1950)



by Bruce Kiskaddon (1878-1950)

If a feller’s been astraddle since he’s big enough to ride,
And has had to throw a saddle onto every sort of hide;
Though it’s nothin’ they take pride in, most of fellers I have knowed,
If they ever done much ridin’, has at various times got throwed.

It perhaps is when you’re startin’ on a round up some fine day,
That you feel a bit onsartin’ ’bout some little wall eyed bay.
Fer he swells to beat the nation while yore cinchin’ up the slack,
And he keeps a elevation in your saddle at the back.

He starts rairin’ and a jumpin’ and he strikes when you git near.
But you cuss him and you thump him till you git him by the ear.
Then your right hand grabs the saddle and you ketch a stirrup too,
And you aim to light astraddle like a wholly buckaroo.

But he drops his head and switches and he gives a back’ards jump.
Out of reach your stirrup twitches and your right spur grabs his rump.
And, “Stay with him!” shouts some feller. But you know it’s hope forlorn.
And you feel a streak of yeller as you choke the saddle horn.

Then you feel one rein droppin’ and you know he’s got his head,
And your shirt tail’s out and floppin’ and the saddle pulls like lead.
Then it ain’t no use a tryin’ for your spurs begin to slip
Now you’re upside down and flyin’ and horn tears from your grip.

Then you get a vague sensation as upon the ground you roll,
Like a vi’lent separation twixt your body and your soul.
And you land again a hummick where you lay and gap fer breath,
And there’s sumpthin’ grips your stummick like the awful clutch of death.

Yes the landscape round you totters when at last you try to stand,
And you’re shaky on your trotters and your mouth is full of sand.
They all swear you beat a circus or a hoochy koochy dance,
Moppin’ up the canon’s surface with the busom of your pants.

There’s fellers gives perscriptions how them bronchos should be rode.
But there’s few that gives descriptions of the times when they got throwed.

…by Bruce Kiskaddon

Kiskaddon can certainly paint a picture with words.

This poem was printed in Kiskaddon’s 1924 book, Rhymes of the Ranges, and John Lomax included a version of it in 1919 in Songs of the Cattle Trail and Cow Camp.

As we’ve told many times about Bruce Kiskaddon, he 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 classic poems.

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 in the Kiskaddon features at CowboyPoetry.com.

This 1940 photograph by Russell Lee (1903-1986) is titled, “Cowboy being thrown from bucking horse during the rodeo of the San Angelo Fat Stock Show, San Angelo, Texas.” It’s from The Library of Congress U.S. Farm Security Administration/Office of War Information Black & White Photographs collection. Find more about it here.

Find a feature about noted photographer Russell Lee and a gallery of photographs at the University of Texas at Austin.

WINTER HOSSES by Bruce Kiskaddon (1878-1950)


photo © Ken Rodgers; request permission for use


by Bruce Kiskaddon (1878-1950)

You wake up in the mornin’
and you get yore coffee made.
The thermometer is ten degrees
‘bove zero in the shade.
But when once you get the taste
of good strong coffee in your throat.
You don’t mind the frosty mornin’.
You don’t even wear a coat.

You do put on yore overshoes
fer wadin’ in the snow.
You fill up all three nose bags
and then yore set to go.
The hosses come a nickerin’
and snuffin’ from the shed.
Each one reaches fer the nose bag
when you put it on his head.

You go back into the shack
and git youre breakfast started cookin’.
But you don’t furgit the horsses.
You have got to keep a lookin’.
When they finish, you have got to take
the nosebags off their heads.
Or they’ll grab ’em off each other
and they’ll tear ’em all to shreds.

Hosses act a heap like humans,
and they ain’t so much to blame.
There is shore a lot of people
that is doin’ jest the same.
And it’s mighty hard to stop ’em
at the stunts they try to pull;
Gittin’ sassy and destructive
jest because their belly’s full.

So I reckon there is some one
that has got to take a hand.
Lookin’ after brainless critters
that don’t seem to onderstand.
There’s hosses, cows and people
that you dassent leave alone.
They’d go plum to ruination
if you left ’em on their own.

…by Bruce Kiskaddon

Master poet Bruce Kiskaddon was a great observer of livestock and humans.

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 in the Kiskaddon features at CowboyPoetry.com.

This impressive photograph is by documentary filmmaker, teacher, poet, writer, and photographer Ken Rodgers. Ken and Betty Rodgers are co-producers of I Married the War, a documentary-in-progress about the wives of combat veterans. They also created the award-winning film Bravo! Common Men, Uncommon Valor. Find more about I Married the War at imarriedthewar.com and on Facebook, and more on “Bravo!” at bravotheproject.com and on Facebook.

Find more about Ken Rodgers at CowboyPoetry.com  and here on Facebook. Follow his daily photo posts on Instagram.

COWBOY’S OPINION by S. Omar Barker (1895-1985)


by S. Omar Barker (1895-1985)

Of all God’s creatures I endorse
most heartily the one called “horse.”
That on this creature man might sit
no doubt is why God made him split!

© S. Omar Barker, reprinted with the permission of the estate of S. Omar Barker
This poem should not be reprinted or reposted without permission

Barker wrote some 2,000 poems in his long career, including many pithy short ones, like this one.

It’s told that Barker enjoyed signing his name with his brand, created from his initials and laid sideways for “Lazy SOB,” but, that’s not a completely accurate story. In an article written by Barker for “Hoofs and Horns” magazine, Barker introduces himself, “This S.O.B. (my initials, not my ancestry) has never claimed to qualify as a sure ‘nough cowboy.” Later in the article, he comments, “Incidentally, when I applied for (Lazy S O B) for our cattle brand, they wrote back that some other S O B already had it. So we had to be satisfied with (Lazy S B).” (Thanks to Andy Hedges for sharing the article, which he received from Vess Quinlan, who received it from Joel Nelson who received it from Kay Kelley Nowell.)

S. Omar 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 him at CowboyPoetry.com: http://www.cowboypoetry.com/sobarker.htm.

Oregon poet and horseman Tom Swearingen is pictured in an August, 2016 photo. Tom recites “Cowboy’s Opinion” on a forthcoming recording from CowboyPoetry.com.

Tom is among the poets and musicians featured at the Cochise Cowboy Poetry and Music Gathering, February 2-4, 2018 in Sierra Vista, Arizona. Known for its enthusiastic community and school involvement, the theme for the 2018 Cochise Cowboy Poetry & Music Gathering is “Barn Dance and Western Swing.” Find a history of the gathering, which started in 1993, here.

Featured performers are 3 Trails West, Floyd Beard, Almeda Bradshaw,,Patty Clayton,,The Cowboy Way, Doris Daley, Peggy Godfrey, Hanson Family, Joe Herrington, Jo Lynne Kirkwood, Carolyn and Dave Martin, Syd Masters Band, Doc Mehl, Notable Exceptions, Trinity Seely, Tom Swearingen, Barry Ward, and Joyce Woodson. Saturday Daytime Performers are Vic Anderson, Janet Bailey, Valerie Beard, Cimarron Sidekicks, Dean Cook, Joel Eliot, Thatch Elmer, Jessica Hedges, Ron Hinkle, Randy Houston, Steve Jones, Susie Knight, Mary Matli, Dave and Kathy McCann, James Michae, Mark Munzert, OK Chorale Trio, Ramblin’ Rangers, Dennis Russell, Gail Star, Rocky Sullivan, Miss “V”, and Washtub Jerry.

Find more at the gathering site, cowboypoets.com.

See Tom Swearingen also at the Spirit of the West Cowboy Gathering, February 16-18, 2018, in Ellensburg, Washington.

Find more about Tom Swearingen on Facebook and at his web site, oregoncowboypoet.com.


A COWBOY’S NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTIONS by S. Omar Barker (1895-1985)


by S. Omar Barker (1895-1985)

As one who’s been a cowhand since the wildcats learned to spit,
I’ve made some resolutions for the comin’ year, to wit:
Resolved, to ride a shorter day and sleep a longer night;
To never come to breakfast till the sun is shinin’ bright;
To draw a top-hands wages when they’re due or quit the job
And hunt a wealthy widow or an easy bank to rob.
Resolved, to quit the wagon when the chuck ain’t up to snuff,
To feed no more on bullet beans nor chaw on beef that’s tough.
Resolved, to straddle nothin’ in the line of saddle mount
That ain’t plumb easy-gaited, gentle broke, and some account.

Resolved, that when it blizzards and there’s stock out in the storm,
To let the owner worry while I stay in where it’s warm.
Resolved, that when it comes my turn next spring to ride the bogs,
I’ll don the bib and tucker of my town and Sunday togs,
And tell the boss, by gravies, if he craves to shed some blood,
Just try to make me smear ’em tailin’ moo-cows from the mud.
Resolved, that when a thunderhead comes rollin’ up the sky,
I’ll lope in off my circle to the bunkhouse where it’s dry.

Resolved, to do such ropin’ as a ropin’ cowhand must,
But never when the air ain’t free from cattle-trompled dust.
Resolved to show no hosses, and resolved, to swim no cricks;
Resolved, no dead-cow skinnin’, and resolved, no fence to fix.
Resolved, to swing no pitchfork, no pick, no ax, no spade;
Resolved to wear my whiskers—if I want to—in a braid!
Resolved, to take this New Year plenty easy through-and-through,
Instead of sweatin’ heavy like I’ve always used to do.

As one who’s been a cowhand since before who laid the chunk,
It may sound like I’m loco, or it may sound like I’m drunk
To make such resolutions as you see upon my list,
And others purt near like ’em that my mem’ry may have missed;
But gosh, they sound so pleasant to a son of saddle sweat!
And New Year’s resolutions—well, I never kept one yet!
So why make resolutions that bring furrows to your brow?
Let’s make ’em free and fancy—’cause we’ll bust ’em anyhow!

© 1966, S. Omar Barker, from “Rawhide Rhymes,” reprinted with the permission of the estate of S. Omar Barker


Happy New Year, all!

S. Omar 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.

Jay Snider recites this poem in a forthcoming CD from CowboyPoetry.com.

This photograph is by Colorado rancher Terry Nash, taken in late 2013. Terry has a new CD, A Good Ride. Find more about him at CowboyPoetry.com and at his site, terrynashcowboypoet.com.


COLD MORNIN’S by Bruce Kiskaddon (1878-1950)



by Bruce Kiskaddon (1878-1950)

I been out in the weather since I was a boy,
But cold mornin’s is sumthin’ a man cain’t enjoy.
It makes me feel like I wanted to quit
When I ketch up my pony and thaw out my bit.

There ain’t any cow puncher needs to be told
That my saddle is stiff and the leather is cold.
The blankets is froze and the hoss shakes like jelly
When you the pull the old frozen cinch up on his belly.

He snorts and he’s got a mean look in the eye.
He is humped till the back of the saddle stands high.
He ain’t in no humor to stand fer a joke,
But I belt on my chaps and I light me a smoke.

There may be some trouble between me and him.
It is like goin’ into cold water to swim.
It gives me a sort of shivver and scare
But once I git started; well then I don’t care.

…by Bruce Kiskaddon, 1937

Kiskaddon has a number of cold weather poems, no doubt inspired by his cowboying years in Colorado. This poem appeared in the “Western Livestock Journal” and on the Los Angeles Union Stockyards calendar.

Find more about Bruce Kiskaddon at CowboyPoetry.com.

This photograph is from top cowboy poet, South Dakota rancher, and quilt champion Yvonne Hollenbeck. It was taken a couple of years ago, and she commented on a Facebook post, “Ahh, the life of a ranchwife in South Dakota in winter. We just scooped two long lines of bunks (wet heavy snow) so we could feed the calves…That was just half of ’em in the picture. We feed ground feed into the bunks. I think there’s two rows of 11.”

Find more about Yvonne Hollenbeck at CowboyPoetry.com and at her site, yvonnehollenbeck.com.



THE OLD TIME CHRISTMAS by Bruce Kiskaddon (1878-1950)



by Bruce Kiskaddon (1878-1950)

I liked the way we used to do,
when cattle was plenty and folks was few.
The people gathered frum far and near, and
they barbacued a big fat steer.
The kids tried stayin’ awake because,
they reckoned they might ketch Santa Claus.
Next mornin’ you’d wake ’em up to see,
what he’d been and put on the Christmas tree.

It was Christmas then fer the rich and pore,
and every ranch was an open door.
The waddy that came on a company hoss
was treated the same as the owner and boss.
Nobody seemed to have a care,
you was in among friends or you wasn’t there.
For every feller in them days knew
to behave hisself as a man should do.

Some had new boots, which they’d shore admire
when they warmed their feet in front of the fire.
And the wimmin folks had new clothes too,
but not like the wimmin of these days do.
Sometimes a drifter came riding in,
some feller that never was seen agin.
And each Christmas day as the years went on
we used to wonder where they’d gone.

I like to recall the Christmas night.
The tops of the mountains capped with white.
The stars so bright they seemed to blaze,
and the foothills swum in a silver haze.
Them good old days is past and gone.
The time and the world and the change goes on.
And you cain’t do things like you used to do
when cattle was plenty and folks was few.

… Bruce Kiskaddon, 1934

And here is another Kiskaddon poem, with a similar sentiment:

by Bruce Kiskaddon (1878-1950)

We was whistlin’, we was singin’ on a winter afternoon;
The hobble chains and fryin’ pans was jinglin’ to the tune.
Fer we knew the day was Christmas and the line camp was in sight,
No, it wasn’t much to look at but it suited us all right.

We onpacked and we onsaddled, then we turned our hosses out;
We cooked lots of beef and biscuits and we made the coffee stout.
We et all we could swaller, then we set and took a smoke,
And we shore did work our memory out to find a bran new joke.

No, it wasn’t like the Christmas like the folks have nowadays—
They are livin’ more in comfort, and they’ve sorter changed their ways—
But I sorter wish, old pardner, we could brush the years away,
And be jest as young and happy, as we was that Christmas Day.

… Bruce Kiskaddon


Merry Christmas, all!

This image is an original Los Angeles Stockyards calendar page from December, 1954. The poem and drawing first appeared in the Western Livestock Journal in 1934. It 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.

Siems tells that Kiskaddon wrote an annual Christmas poem for the Chuck Wagon Trailers, a group organized in 1931 “by old-time cowboys who were Hollywood’s first stunt men and western stars.”

On The BAR-D Roundup: Volume 8, a double CD of classic and modern Christmas cowboy poetry, Jay Snider has an excellent recitation of “The Old Time Christmas” and Gail Steiger has a likewise great recitation of Kiskaddon’s “Merry Christmas.”

Find more in the Kiskaddon features at CowboyPoetry.com.


Winter/Christmas Art Spur, 2017-2018, “Coyote” (and poems for inspiration)

(Photograph by Carol M. Highsmith, made possible by Carol M. Highsmith and the Gates Frontiers Fund Wyoming Collection within the Carol M. Highsmith Archive, Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division)

It’s been said that a picture is worth a thousand words. We know many that are worthy of a poem or a song. In Art Spur, we invite poets and songwriters to let selections of Western art inspire their poetry and songs.

Our 47th piece offered to “spur” the imagination is a special Winter/Christmas Art Spur, a photograph by contemporary photographer, author, and publisher Carol M. Highsmith, titled, “A lone, and lean, coyote makes the best of wintertime the northernmost Wyoming reaches of Yellowstone National Park.”

The photograph is included in the Carol M. Highsmith Archive at The Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.

The collection description notes that, “Highsmith, a distinguished and richly-published American photographer, has donated her work to the Library of Congress since 1992. Starting in 2002, Highsmith provided scans or photographs she shot digitally with new donations to allow rapid online access throughout the world. Her generosity in dedicating the rights to the American people for copyright free access also makes this Archive a very special visual resource.”

Find more about Carol Highsmith and her work at http://www.carolhighsmith.com and on Facebook at Carol M. Highsmith’s America.



Submissions are welcome from all. Christmas-themed poems and lyrics had a deadline of Thursday, December 21, 2017. Winter-themed submissions have a deadline of Thursday, January 18, 2018.

Poets and songwriters are invited to be inspired by the photograph; a literal representation of the art is not expected.

•  Please follow our regular guidelines for content.

•  You may submit one poem, either Christmas- or winter-themed.

•  Send your poem to poems@cowboypoetry.com and note “Art Spur” in the subject line.

Selected poems will be posted.

Find previous Art Spur subjects here and at CowboyPoetry.com.


Selected Christmas-themed Poems

“The Coyote Christmas Carol Choir,” by Marleen Bussma of Utah
“Christmas Song,” by Ol’ Jim Cathey of Texas
“Coyote Kin,” by Jean Mathisen Haugen of Wyoming
“Lonesome Coyote,” by Tamara Hillman of Arizona

Thanks to all who participated.


by Marleen Bussma

Contrary Harry gnaws and chomps the tip of Walter’s nose.
He mouths and grunts then side-steps as his satisfaction grows.
Impulsive Henry plans to hold a banquet as he steers
his body in position where he’ll serve up Chester’s ears.

Defiant Chester opens wide to munch on Harry’s tail.
They’re worked into a frenzy and most dining’s done by braille.
And then there’s Walter, meek, subdued, not joining in the stunt.
He doesn’t pester anyone, because he is the runt.

The coyote pups have been evicted from the family’s den.
Their mother is fed up with all the mischief there has been.
Just yesterday she caught them sneaking out to cross the range.
They wanted to be free and see some country for a change.

Mom saw the last tail bobbing like a cork on heavy seas
as naïve pups plunged down the precipice like refugees.
The terror of the coyote traps took hold and energized
her into action with the strength she never realized

she had to save her pups from danger. Chaos framed the scene.
Mom sputtered, fumed, and bristled like she’d had too much caffeine.
She scolded, chastised, lectured in a voice so very loud.
“Why can’t you canine pups behave and mind to make me proud?”

As Harry opened up his mouth she dared him to object.
Their shoulders slumped. Their heads dropped down. She thought she could detect
remorse. They now looked sheepish, sorry, and chagrined.
She hoped their youthful deviltry subsided like the wind.

The night is peaceful as the pups perch on a sandstone ledge.
They’ve promised to behave and not be wayward in a pledge
to mother. It’s no fun to be obedient they find.
Frustration brings out yips and yaps with howls. They’ve even whined!

Their outcry is more organized when Harry sings the lead.
Soon Henry joins with Chester and they blend the notes they need
for harmony that rises over rim rock and the trees.
Poor Walter struggles, tryin’ hard, but shrieks in sev’ral keys.

They sing the carols that drift high above the country church
where men and women congregate to worship as they search
for Peace on Earth, Good Will to Men, an annual crusade.
The coyotes sit in silence as they let the last note fade.

Each night the siblings’ serenades are symphonies that teem
with Christmas cheer as mother listens to her life-long dream.
They raise their voices singing to the starry skies and moon,
including warbling Walter still stuck slightly out of tune.

© 2017, Marleen Bussma
This poem should not be reposted or reprinted without permission


by Ol’ Jim Cathey

Indian summer soon changed to cold winter snow,
Heralding that Christmas time was near.
‘Course, it was just me an’ that that ol’ lineshack, you know,
That lonesome feelin’ was purty severe.

Lonely? It dang shore was! Made worse by the coyote’s yip.
A shiver went up an’ down my spine,
I’d best shake this off, calm down an’ get a grip,
Cup of hot coffee will make things fine.

Then my thoughts drifted through time, back to yesteryear,
I could see Pa readin’ from The Book,
‘Bout the Baby Jesus an’ Kings an’ Angels near,
An’ how shepherds, with their flocks, came to look.

The Christ Child lay in a manger that Holy night,
While Angels sang “Hosanna to the King.”
Then I could hear that coyote’s yippin’ at first light,
An’ I swear… I could hear the angels sing!

The angels sang a song of love with peace and hope,
Then joy seemed to seep into my heart,
An’ my troubled thoughts left me in a lope,
An’ I was feelin’ good, anxious for a fresh start.

Right then, my lonesomeness just seemed to melt away,
An’ a smile struck my face like a warm kiss,
So I bowed my head an’ with Christmas joy began to pray,
An’, that ol’ coyote yippin’ pure bliss.

I don’t often see ‘em, not more’n a glimpse at most,
But I was glad that he had come along,
As he slunk t’ward the river, sorta like a ghost,
An’ I said a silent thanks for his song.

Wal, Christmas is shore ‘nuff good, but chores must get done.
So I says, “Thank You Lord for yore way.”
Then I saddles up, head out to seek warmth from the sun,
Joggin’ along on that Christmas Day!

© 2017, Ol’ Jim Cathey 
This poem should not be reposted or reprinted without permission


by Jean Mathisen Haugen

Slow up, coyote,
no need to run.
I’m just riding out,
don’t have my gun.

It’s a little sad
and passing strange
why you and me
can’t share the range.
We’re loners both
and you’re crippled some.
I’ve nearly forgot
where I come from.
Old dog coyote,
we should be pards.
Food’s scarce to come by.
Life has been hard
for both of us,
I’d tend to think.
So when I see you
I just wink
and head my horse
the other way
and tell the boss,
“No coyotes today.”
Slow up, coyote,
no need to flee,
’cause we are kin,
dog coyote and me.

© 2017, Jean Mathisen Haugen 
This poem should not be reposted or reprinted without permission


by Tamara Hillman

Just look at that coyote
lurkin’ a far over there,
he reminds me of my younger days
when I had nary a care.

It didn’t matter the season—
snow or summer sun,
I lived my life plum’ for myself
an was an ornery son-of-a-gun.

Only foraged for food in my gut
an’ clothes to fit my need,
an’ a dog who loved me spite of it all,
an’ a wild horse for my steed.

I wondered ‘cross the country
an’ stopped but now & then,
hung my hat in a bunkhouse
when needin’ rest from sin.

I scuttled about from ranch to ranch—
pay poor, an’ work was mean,
hours from sunup ‘til darkness,
an’ like that coyote, I was lean,

But I never got discouraged
‘cause I was livin’ single
‘til a filly down ol’ Texas way
taught me how to mingle.

I’m still like that ol’ coyote
but in a different way,
got six kids an’ a pretty wife
who gave my life some sway.

I settled on a gnarly ranch—
a place to call my own,
an’ work the place from dusk ‘til dawn
with nary a grunt nor groan.

‘Cause now, ya see, that ol’ coyote
has matured into a fox,
I’ll not be freezin’ in the snow,
nor livin’ in a box.

I got me a real warm fire now,
a dog layin’ by my chair,
six kids an’ a wife who love me
an’ I sure ain’t got no cares.

© 2017, Tamara Hillman 
This poem should not be reposted or reprinted without permission


A  few coyote poems, for inspiration:

by Robert Fletcher (1885-1972)

Aint no one loves a coyote
That I ever heard about.
He aint nuthin’ but a pestilence
Requirin’ stampin’ out.
A sneakin’, thievin’ rustler,—
A gray, ga’nt vagabone
Whose locoed vocal tendencies
Are lackin’ depth and tone.

Seems like he’s always hungry
And Lord, man, when he wails
It’s the concentrated sinfulness
From lost and vanished trails.
Well, there’s one of them Carusos
Hangs about the Lazy B
And makes hisself obnoxious
Most plum’ consistently.

So, one day, a cayuse dyin’
We surrounds the corpse with traps,
Where we’d cached it in a coulee
A thinkin’ that perhaps
In a moment inadvertent
That coyote will come around
And meet up with some damn tough luck,
And we will have him downed.

Sure enough, he made an error
For he let his appetite
Prevail agin his judgment
And we cinched him that same night.
He got one foot caught in a trap
And jumpin’ ’round about
Another gloms him by a laig
And sort of stretched him out.

Naw, pard, we didn’t shoot him,—
Jest aimed to give him hell,
We took and strapped around his neck
A jinglin’ little bell
And turned him loose to ramble,—
Yes,–I reckin’ it was cruel,—
Aint a cotton-tail or sage-hen
That is jest a plain damn fool

Enought to not take warnin’
When they heard that little bell,—
So he don’t get too much food nor
Company, I’m here to tell.
He’s an outlaw with his own kind
And his pickin’s pretty slim,
‘Cause ev’rywhere he goes that bell
Gives warnin’ that it’s him.

And sometimes when it’s gettin’ dusk
And ev’rything plum’ still,
I can hear that bell a tollin’
As he slips around a hill.
It kind of gets upon my nerves,—
That, and his mournful cry,
For I know the skunk is fond of livin’
Same as you or I.

One day I’m in the saddle
A twistin’ up a smoke,
When he sneaks our of a coulee,
And pard, it aint no joke,
When I see him starved and lonesome,
A lookin’ ‘most all in,—
Well, perhaps I’m chicken hearted,
But it seemed a dirty sin,

And besides, that bell, it haunts me,
Till there doesn’t seem to be
A way t’ square things but to put
Him out of misery.
So I takes my 30-30,
As he sits and gives a yell,—
I drawed a bead, and cracked away,—
And busted that damn bell!

…by Robert H. Fletcher, from “Prickly Pear Pomes,” 1920 chapbook


by S. Omar Barker (1895-1985)

The coyote of the western ranges
Survives despite all modern changes.
He views the world with dauntless drollery—
And does not practice birth controllery.

…S. Omar Barker, used with the permission of the S. Omar Barker estate


by S. Omar Barker (1895-1985)

Cry, coyote! Cry lonely at dawn
For days of a past unforgotten but gone;
For buffalo black on the wide, grassy plains,
In a land still unfettered by civilized chains.

Cry shrill for a moonrise undimmed by the glare
Of cities and highways. Who is there to share
With a slim little wolf all the longing he wails
From moon-mystic hilltops and shadowy trails?

Cry, coyote, gray ghost of the rimrock! Your cry
Still echoes in hearts where old memories lie.
Cry, coyote! Cry lonely at dawn
For open-range freedom now vanished and gone!

…S. Omar Barker, used with the permission of the S. Omar Barker estate