KINDRED SPIRITS by J. B. Allen (1938-2005)

Allen, J.B. #551-'03-5x5

photo ©  Kevin Martini-Fuller

KINDRED SPIRITS
by J. B. Allen (1938-2005)

The spotted heifer missed the drive
and spent the winter free,
‘Though freedom’s price was willow bark
then sprigs of filaree
That finally showed beneath the snow
before her strength played out.
And green-up brought a fine bull calf
to teach the maverick route.

They fattened on the meadows
of the high Sierra’s flanks
In the company of a maverick bull
that drifted from the ranks
Of cattle across the great divide
turned loose to make their way
And lost amongst the canyons
that were strewn in disarray.

The offspring of this union
proved a wily beast,indeed,
Endowed with instincts from the wild
and blessed with wond’rous speed
That proved a worthy challenge
to the punchers in the hills
Who through the hills spun hairy tales
of wildest wrecks and spills.

But though the issue from the two
was sometimes trapped or caught,
These two ol’ wily veterans
still practiced what they taught,
Spent the winters running free
within their secret haunt
Which held enough to see ’em through
emergin’ weak and gaunt.

For years ol’ Utah searched the range
in futile quest for sign
Of where they spent the winter months a
and somehow get a line
On how they made it every year
and brought a calf, to boot,
‘Til fin’lly one cold, dreary day
it fell to this old coot

To happen on their winter park,
hid out from pryin’ eyes,
And to this day ol’ Utah holds
the key to where it lies.
The kindred spirit, shared by all,
who seek the higher range
Could not betray that cul-de-sac
to folks just bent on change

With no respect for mav’rick ways
or independent thought,
And not one frazz’lin’ idee
of the havoc being wrought
By puttin’ things on schedule,
be it work, or man, or cow,
Till ways that make for bein’ free
are bred plumb-out somehow.

Old Utah turned and trotted off,
to let those old hides be.
His heart a-beatin’ lighter
just a-knowin’ they were free.

© 1997, J.B. Allen
This poem should not be reprinted or reposted without 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.

J.B. Allen’s poetry is featured in a 2017 CD from CowboyPoetry.com, MASTERS, along with the work of Larry McWhorter, J.B. Allen, Sunny Hancock, and Ray Owens. The compilation includes recorded poems, “live” performances, and their recitations of other masters’ works (Buck Ramsey, S. Omar Barker, and Henry Herbert Knibbs) with an introduction by Jay Snider.

Andy Hedges, songster and host of COWBOY CROSSROADS  comments on the CD, “This album represents four of the finest poets to ever come out of cowboy culture. We are not likely to see their kind again and the world should be grateful to Cowboypoetry.com for preserving their voices.”

There’s now a second volume of MASTERS, with the poetry of S. Omar BARKER. The CDs are offered to rural libraries across the West in the CowboyPoetry.com outreach Rural Library Program, a part of Cowboy Poetry Week. They are also given as a thank-you to our supporters and are available for purchase. Find more about both MASTERS CDs here.

This photo of J.B. Allen is by top photographer Kevin Martini-Fuller, who has photographed participants of the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering for over three decades. Find some of those photos at his site, http://kevinmartinifuller.zenfolio.com/all-photographs.

Thanks to Margaret Allen for her generous permissions.

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

>>>This is a scheduled post. We’re on a (rare) break, through May 23. There will be scheduled posts, but we won’t be able to fill orders or to respond quickly to email.<<<

THE HORSE TRADE, by Sunny Hancock (1931-2003)

Sunny Hancock

THE HORSE TRADE
by Sunny Hancock (1931-2003)

I traded for a horse one time,
he wouldn’t take no beauty prize;
A great big long-eared, blue roan gelding,
not too bad for weight or size.
I had to make some tough old circles
and this trader guaranteed
This horse would show me lots of country
and not need too much rest or feed.

He said “Now this here ain’t no kids’ horse
but he’ll pack you up the crick,
He will bump up on some occasions
and he has been known to kick.
I wouldn’t trade him to just anyone
without having some remorse
But if you’re a sure enough cow puncher,
mister, he’s your kind of horse.

I stepped on that horse next mornin’;
he began to buck and bawl.
That trader maybe hadn’t lied none,
but he hadn’t told it all.
Because we sure tore up the country
where he throwed that equine fit
And I almost ran out of hand holds
by the time he finally quit.

I guess that musta’ set the pattern;
things just never seemed to change,
Although I showed him lots of country,
every corner of the range.
But every time I’d ride that booger,
why, he’d keep me sittin’ tight.
I knew I’d make at least three bronc rides
‘fore he’d pack me home that night.

Which woulda been OK
with lots of horses that I knowed.
But that old pony had my number;
I’d just barely got him rode.
And the thing that really spooked me
and put a damper on my pride
Was he was learning how to buck
faster than I was learnin’ how to ride.

I pulled into camp one evening;
it was gettin’ pretty late.
I see this grey horse in the corral
and there’s a saddle by the gate.
I looked that grey horse over
and I sure liked what I seen,
Then this kid showed up around the barn;
he musta been about sixteen.

He said he’d lamed that grey that morning
coming down off the granite grade,
And he wondered if I had a horse
I’d maybe like to trade.
He said he didn’t have the time to stop
and rest and let him heal,
And since that beggars can’t be choosers,
he’d make most any kind of deal.

When a feller’s tradin’ horses,
why, most anything is fair,
So I traded him that blue roan
for his grey horse then and there.
But them my conscience started hurtin’
When I thought of what I did,
To trade a “fly blown” dink like that
off to some little wet-nosed kid.

So next mornin’ after breakfast,
why, I tells him, “Listen lad,
If you want to know the truth,
that trade you made last night was bad.
That old blue horse is a tough one,
bad as any one you’ll see.
He’ll kick you, strike you, stampede.
He’s a sorry SOB.

“It’s all I can do to ride him
and I’ll tell it to you straight,
I think you’ll be awfully lucky
just to ride him past the gate.
There’s two or three old horses
out there in the saddle bunch.
They ain’t got too much going for ’em
but I kinda got a hunch

“They’ll probably get you where you’re going
if you just don’t crowd ’em none,
But damn, I hate to see you ride
that blue roan booger, son!”
He said, “I told you there last night
I’d make most any kind of trade,
And I appreciation your tellin’
what a bad mistake I made.

“But my old daddy told me when you’re tradin’
that no matter how you feel,
Even if you take a whippin’
that a deal is still a deal.
That horse, you say has lots of travel,
and he’s not too bad for speed.
Well, sir, I’m kinda’ in a tight
and that’s exactly what I need.

“I traded for him fair and square
and damn his blue roan hide,
When I pull outta’ here this morning,
that’s the horse I’m gonna ride.”
I watched him cinching up his saddle
and he pulled his hat way down,
Stepped right up into the riggin’
like he’s headed straight for town.

Stuck both spurs up in his shoulders,
got the blue roan hair a-flyin’
Tipped his head straight back and screamed
just like a hungry mountain lion.
You know, I’ve heard a lot of stories
’bout the bucking horse ballet.
I’ve heard of poetry in motion,
but the ride I saw that day

Just plumb complete defied description
though I can see it plain,
Like it had happened in slow motion
and was branded on my brain.
I don’t suppose I could explain it
to you even if I tried.
The only thing that I can say is,
by the saints, that kid could ride.

He sat there plumb relaxed
like he was laying home in bed,
And every jump that pony made,
that kid’s a-half a jump ahead.
When it was over I decided
I could learn a few things still,
And I said, “Son, I’m awfully sorry
I misjudged your ridin’ skill.”

He just said, “Shucks, that’s OK, mister,”
as he started on his way,
“But if you think this horse can buck,
don’t put your saddle on that grey.”

© 2002, Sunny Hancock, used with the permission of the Hancock Family

It’s Cowboy Poetry Week, and what better way to celebrate than with this all-time favorite poem. Sunny Hancock, a “cowboy’s cowboy,” was at the first Westerm Folklife Center cowboy poetry gathering in 1985 and was a regular participant for many years. He cowboyed all over the western U.S.and when he retired, he and his wife, Alice, lived outside of Lakeview, Oregon. They were friends and inspirations to many.

The first volume of the MASTERS (2017) CD from CowboyPoetry.com has a recording of Sunny reciting this poem, and others, in front of a live audience at the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering.

Gary McMahan tells the poem with music, and you can listen to the entire piece at his site.

Lake County, Oregon’s annual Sunny Hancock/Leon Flick Memorial Cowboy Poetry Show​ (this year July 27, 2018) “… has become an annual cowboy poetry show to remember Lake County poets Sunny Hancock and Leon Flick while raising funds for a local cowboy crisis/scholarship fund…”

Find more about Sunny Hancock at CowboyPoetry.com.

This photo of Sunny Hancock is by top photographer Kevin Martini-Fuller, who has photographed participants of the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering for over three decades. Find some of those photos at his site.

(A September, Facebook 2014 post of this poem became our most popular post ever, with currently over 2.6K Likes, and over 7,000 shares. People continue to Like and comment on that post.

We’re not fixated on numbers, but it’s great to see that the Center for Western and Cowboy Poetry just crossed the 10,000 Likes marker for its Facebook page, during Cowboy Poetry Week.)

Please respect copyright. You can share this poem and photo with this post, but permission should be obtained for any other use.

TRACKS THAT WON’T BLOW OUT by Ray Owens (1934-2007)

Owens, Ray #799-7x5-72

2006 photo by Kevin Martini-Fuller

 

TRACKS THAT WON’T BLOW OUT
by Ray Owens (1934-2007)

I didn’t know him all that long
And maybe not that well
‘Cause how good you really know someone
Is sometimes hard to tell.
But on this one thing I’m certain
There ain’t the slightest doubt
He made some footprints in my mem’ry
And left some tracks that won’t blow out.

She was someone extra special
When I met her, way back then
Over forty years has passed now
But I can still remember when
She was young and shy and smilin,’
The prettiest thing for miles about
That mem’ry still walks through my mind
Leavin’ tracks that won’t blow out.

There’s been a lot of happ’nin’s
I remember through the years
Times my cup was runnin’ over
And some times that brought some tears.
It’s gettin’ on toward evenin’ now;
The sunset could be soon
But somehow I’m still feelin’
Like it’s early afternoon.

I guess that’s ’cause of bein’ blessed
With havin’ lots of friends
And some understandin’ family
On whose love I can depend.
If I was gonna make the trip again
And travel the same route
I’d maybe try a little harder
To leave some tracks that won’t blow out.

© 1996, Ray Owens, used with permission
This poem should not be reposted or reprinted without permission

New Mexico poet Ray Owens, a lifelong student of poetry and the West, is greatly missed by so many friends, fans, and family. A quiet gentleman, he appeared at gatherings across the West, including the Texas Cowboy Poetry Gathering, the @Arizona Cowboy Poets Gathering, the National Cowboy Symposium and Celebration, the @Cochise Cowboy Poetry and Music Gathering, and appeared at the @estern Folklife Center’s National Cowboy Poetry Gathering in 2006. Red Steagall often recites his poetry on his Cowboy Corner radio show.

Ray Owens’ poetry (recorded at the National Cowboy Gathering) is featured in a new CD from CowboyPoetry.com, MASTERS, along with the work of Larry McWhorter, J.B. Allen, and Sunny Hancock. The compilation includes recorded poems, “live” performances, and their recitations of other masters’ works (Buck Ramsey, S. Omar Barker, and Henry Herbert Knibbs) with an introduction by Jay Snider.

The CD’s introduction quotes Ray Owens, “all four have left ‘tracks that won’t blow out.’”

MASTERS has been offered to rural libraries across the West in the CowboyPoetry.com outreach Rural Library Program, a part of Cowboy Poetry Week. It was also given as a thank-you to our supporters and is available for purchase. Find more about MASTERS here.

Find more about Ray Owens at CowboyPoetry.com and at RayOwens.net.