FOUR LITTLE WORDS, by Jay Snider

alpbrjoelmemphoto by Barbara Richerson

FOUR LITTLE WORDS
by Jay Snider

Four little words have stuck in my mind
From the time I was just a small child
“There’s a good feller” is what he would say
When he talked of the men he admired

I remember those men he talked about
Sure ‘nuff cowboys, tough, but kind
They said what they meant and meant what they said
These men are gettin’ harder to find

“There’s a good feller,” meant he was true to his word
That’s all you expect of a man
You knew for sure he was proud to meet you
By the genuine shake of his hand

“There’s a good feller,” meant you could depend
On this man no matter the task
Never got too tough, too cold, or too late
For his help, all you need do is ask

“There’s a good feller,” meant he had a light hand
Be it with horses or cattle or crew
He spent most of his life learning this cowboy trade
And he’d be honored to teach it to you

“There’ a good feller” meant don’t ask him to do
What ain’t on a true and honest track
He knows it’s easier to keep a good reputation
Than it is to try to build one back

“There’s a good feller,” meant he’s a fair-minded man
He helped write cowboyin’s unwritten laws
He won’t ask you to do what he wouldn’t do
Yet knows, at times, the short end you’ll draw

“There’s a good feller,” meant, when he’s down on his luck
He can still hold his head way up high
‘Cause he did his best and gave it his all
He knows with faith and God’s help he’ll get by

“There’s a good feller,” just four little words
And their meaning won’t run all that deep
But when Dad would use ‘em to describe certain men
You knew they were at the top of the heap

“There’s a good feller,” just four little words
But they’ve always been favorites of mine
If after my trails end, my name’s brought up
“There’s a good feller” would suit me just fine

© Jay Snider, used with permission.

Third-generation Oklahoma cowboy and rancher, poet, and songwriter Jay Snider’s poem has long been a part of “Poems for Solemn Occasions” at CowboyPoetry.com.

It seems a fitting poem now as the Texas Cowboy Poetry Gathering has announced that this year’s event, the 33rd, held last weekend, is its last. Few gatherings earned such great respect of participants and audiences. Deep and lasting friendships were made there and so many poets and musicians have written eloquently about their experiences and the bittersweet end of an outstanding event.

The gathering loved the poets and musicians back, as these two photos by Barbara Richerson attest. A memorial to poets was created in Railroad Park and dedicated in 2014. Designed by Gathering President Don Cadden, it is dedicated to the men and women who have participated in the and have passed on. Their names are inscribed on brass plates that are mounted on a “steel book” of remembrance on the site (pictured with Joel Nelson). The 2016 30th annual event honored poets and musicians no longer with us. Find reports on these events with more photos at cowboypoetry.com: 2014 and 2016.

txcpg1photo by Barbara Richerson

An unwavering mission drove the event; Don Cadden commented, “… we have worked diligently to keep it truly cowboy and respectful of the values and traditions of the ranching way of life.” Read the gathering’s announcement on their Facebook page.

Jay Snider, a long-time participant at the Texas Cowboy Poetry Gathering, comments, “The Texas Cowboy Poetry Gathering has touched countless lives in the past 33 years. I think Joel Nelson said it best in a conversation that fateful Thursday night, when he said the gathering has changed many, many lives. I know it has changed mine.

“The monument that was erected to memorialize the many great poets of the past who attended the gathering and have since passed on is a testament to the kind of gathering the Texas Cowboy Poetry Gathering has been.”

Hats off to the people who worked so hard and did such an outstanding job.

Jay Snider is appreciated for his poetry as well for his impressive reciting. Find more about him at jaysnider.net and at cowboypoetry.com.

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

TYRONE AND TYREE, by Jay Snider

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TYRONE AND TYREE
by Jay Snider

I’ve learned lots of lessons
’bout cowboyin’ up
’cause I’ve been a cowboy
since I was a pup

And my dad taught me
just like his dad taught him
rewards without effort
come seldom and slim

And if workin’ for wages
or bossin’ a crew
a job left half finished
reflects upon you

And good leaders of men
who while bossin’ the crew
won’t ask of their men
what they wouldn’t do

‘Cause men are just men
and it’s by God’s design
we all pull on our britches
one leg at a time

But some men are leaders
while others hold back
they stray off the trail
and are hard to untrack

But with proper persuasion
will likely fall in
’cause that’s just the nature
Of hosses and men

Which put me to thinkin’
’bout Tyrone and Tyree
the best team of Belgians
you ever did see

Why they’d lay in those collars
and pull stride for stride
work sunup to sundown
till the day that they died

But Tyree would get balky
not pull like he should
so Tyrone would reach over
and scold him right good

Then the load they were pullin’
would even right out
that’s the lesson in life
that I’m talkin’ about

‘Cause some hosses are leaders
while some will pull back
they’ll stray off the trail
and are hard to untrack

But with proper persuasion
will likely fall in
see, that’s just the nature
of hosses and men

Which put me to thinkin’
’bout what Dad had said
and a couple of visions
then danced in my head

In my mirror, while shavin’
which one will I see
could I be Tyrone
or would I be Tyree

And to leaders of men
let’s all raise a cup
here’s to pullin’ your weight
and to cowboyin’ up

© 2005, Jay Snider, used with permission
This poem should not be reprinted or reposted without permission

Here’s another poem to suggest new year’s resolutions.

Popular Oklahoma rancher, poet, and songwriter Jay Snider is known for his own writing and as well for his fine reciting.

He has a recent CD, Classic Cowboy Poetry: The Old Tried and True, which showcases his fine reciting. He delivers poems by Bruce Kiskaddon, Henry Herbert Knibbs, Will Ogilvie, Sunny Hancock, and others, to carry listeners back to time when, to quote Kiskaddon, “cattle were plenty and people were few.”

Enjoy his rendition of Sunny Hancock’s (1931-2003) “The Bear Tale” in a video from the Western Folklife Center’s 2011 National Cowboy Poetry Gathering.

Find Jay at the 33rd annual Texas Cowboy Poetry Gathering, February 22-23, 2019 in Alpine, Texas among this year’s outstanding lineup.

Performers include Apache Adams, Gary Allegretto, Amy Hale Auker, Eli Barsi, Floyd Beard, “Straw” Berry, Mike Blakely, Dale Burson, Don Cadden, Bob Campbell, Craig Carter, Zack Casey, Allan Chapman & Rodeo Kate, Justin Cole, High Country Cowboys, Doris Daley, Mikki Daniel, John Davis, Kevin Davis, Doug Figgs, Ray Fitzgerald, Rolf Flake, Ryan & Hoss Fritz, Belinda Gail, Pipp Gillette, Jeff Gore, Kristyn Harris, Andy Hedges, High Country Cowboys, Yvonne Hollenbeck, Randy & Hanna Huston, Chris Isaacs, Jill Jones & Three Hands High, Jim Jones, Linda Kirkpatrick, Ross Knox, Daron Little, Deanna Dickinson McCall, Pat Meade, Glenn Moreland, Terry Nash, Joel Nelson, Sam Noble, Kay Nowell, Jean Prescott, Gary Prescott, Mike Querner, Luke Reed, Randy Rieman, Gary Robertson, Trinity Seely, R.P. Smith, Jay Snider, Gail Steiger, Michael Stevens, Caitlyn Taussig, Rod Taylor, Doug Tolleson, Keith Ward, and Jim Wilson.

Find more about Jay Snider at CowboyPoetry.com and visit JaySnider.net.

This photo is by popular poet and wilderness guide Sandy Seaton Sallee, from December, 2015. She describes it, “Fred and Frank, our big blue Brabant/Percheron team, near our home above the Yellowstone River. Airedale pup Kate enjoyed the ride!” Sandy and her husband Scott run Black Mountain Outfitters, Inc., located in the heart of Paradise Valley, just north of Yellowstone National Park in Montana and also Slough Creek Outfitters, offering world-famous Yellowstone Cutthroat Trout fishing. Find more about Sandy Seaton Sallee at CowboyPoetry.com.

Don’t miss the video of another team at Black Mountain Outfitters of “The Tail End of Christmas 2018.”

(Please respect copyright. You can share this poem and this photograph with this post, but for any other uses, request permission from the poet and the photographer.)

TO THE OLD TIMES, by Chris Isaacs

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TO THE OLD TIMES
by Chris Isaacs

Me and my pards, Bud and Beaver
Were havin’ a cold one down at the Pines.
We’d been to the show and watched the short go
We were just catchin’ up on old times

When this kid walked in with a swagger
That told the whole bar he was there.
Hat cocked to one side, he was plum full of pride;
Just let all of the gunsels beware.

His thumbs slid back behind his new buckle
As he hollered, “The drinks are on me.
I rode a bad one tonight, removed all of his fight
And I’m startin’ right now on a spree.”

We just looked at each other and grinned
As we remembered those days gone by
When we were the ones who were having the fun;
“Let er’ buck” was our standard war cry.

But I think that the grins were a cover.
A mask that could hide something more;
So no one could see that these old devotees
Were wishin’ time hadn’t shuttered the door.

‘Cuz it’s a door that cannot be left gaping.
Once it’s closed it won’t open again.
It’s forever shut tight tho’ you try with your might
The trying could just drive you insane.

But there’s one saving grace; a solution!
It’s a way to help ease the despair.
It’s those old “memories” that help us to see
The good times that are no longer there.

And I looked at Bud and ol’ Beaver
And they were both smiling thru tears
Thinkin’ back when we did the same as that kid,
As we remembered back thru the years.

So pards, let’s raise a glass to old memories,
To the good times and all the old friends.
And though those days are gone, the memories live on;
In our dreams those days never end.

© 2016, Chris Isaacs
This poem should not be reposted or reprinted without permission

As we approach the new year thoughts often go to “auld lang syne” (times gone by), cowboy, packer, and popular poet and humorist Chris Isaacs has a fitting poem. He also shares this photo of himself with “Ol’ Cowboy,” which he says was “taken somewhere between Yarnell and Skull Valley, Arizona in March 1977.”

Chris returns as a headliner to the 33rd annual Texas Cowboy Poetry Gathering in Alpine, February 22-23, 2019.

The Texas Cowboy Poetry Gathering lineup includes Apache Adams, Gary Allegretto, Amy Hale Auker, Eli Barsi, Floyd Beard, “Straw” Berry, Mike Blakely, Dale Burson, Don Cadden, Bob Campbell, Craig Carter, Zack Casey, Allan Chapman & Rodeo Kate, Justin Cole, High Country Cowboys, Doris Daley, Mikki Daniel, John Davis, Kevin Davis, Doug Figgs, Ray Fitzgerald, Rolf Flake, Ryan & Hoss Fritz, Belinda Gail, Pipp Gillette, Jeff Gore, Kristyn Harris, Andy Hedges, High Country Cowboys, Yvonne Hollenbeck, Randy & Hanna Huston, Chris Isaacs, Jill Jones & Three Hands High, Jim Jones, Linda Kirkpatrick, Ross Knox, Daron Little, Deanna Dickinson McCall, Pat Meade, Glenn Moreland, Terry Nash, Joel Nelson, Sam Noble, Kay Nowell, Jean Prescott, Gary Prescott, Mike Querner, Luke Reed, Randy Rieman, Gary Robertson, Trinity Seely, R.P. Smith, Jay Snider, Gail Steiger, Michael Stevens, Caitlyn Taussig, Rod Taylor, Doug Tolleson, Keith Ward, and Jim Wilson.

Chris Isaacs has a recent book, Scattered Memories: Cowboy Wit and Wisdom. In her foreword to the book, Shannon Keller Rollins (of the Red River Ranch Chuck Wagon along with Kent Rollins) calls it, “your feel-good pocket guide to life.” Find more about Chris Isaacs in a feature at cowboypoetry.com, and find all of his books and recordings at his site, chrisisaacs.com.

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

THE HELPMATE, by Yvonne Hollenbeck

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THE HELPMATE
by Yvonne Hollenbeck

You say I look disgusted
but you took me by surprise,
and I suppose there was resentment
coming from my eyes.

Since that hired man left us
I’ve been more than just his wife;
I’m the helper by his side
as he continues ranching life.

I get the gates and scoop the bunks
and help with feeding hay,
and that is just the start
of all the jobs I do each day.

I’m right there for the calving
and I help with all the chores,
then try to catch my work up
when I get some time indoors.

You see, I run and jump
each time he gives a little yelp,
and it galls me that you ask
how he is doing “with no help.”

© 2014, Yvonne Hollenbeck, used with permission.
Yvonne Hollenbeck is cowboy poetry’s most visible ranch wife, and her life gives her endless material. She is a sought-after performer at Western events, for her poetry and for her traveling program that includes the works of the five generations of quilt makers in her family. She is a champion quilter.

Yvonne and and her husband Glen, a champion calf-roper, raise cattle and quarter horses on their ranch in Clearfield, South Dakota.

In fairness to Glen, the poem came about after he was the one who told Yvonne about someone who, even after Glen had said Yvonne was helping out, went on to ask how he did everything “with no help.”

This photo of Glen Hollenbeck is from 2017. Yvonne wrote, “Here’s a picture of a couple good ol’ boys. Glen stopped to visit Paddy’s Irish Whiskey at the 6666 Ranch at Guthrie, Texas, and thank him for the great addition to Glen’s G2 horse collection…I mean “horse program.”

This poem is in Yvonne Hollenbeck’s recent book, Rhyming the Range, which collects her original poems about her life on the ranch. The book includes the most requested poems from her two out-of-print books and all of her newest poetry. She also has a CD by the same name that includes many of those poems.

She has a busy cowboy poetry event schedule in the next few months:

Catch Yvonne this weekend at the 9th annual Black Hills Cowboy Christmas at the Historic Homestake Opera House in Lead, South Dakota, adjacent to Deadwood. She’ll be joined by Chuck Larsen, Trinity Seely, and others. Find more at .

Find Yvonne at the Colorado Cowboy Poetry Gathering in Golden, January 17-20, 2019. The lineup includes Jerry Brooks, Jon Chandler, Connie Dover, Mark Gardner & Rex Rideout, Kristyn Harris, Carol Huechan, Yvonne Hollenbeck, Chuck Larsen, Gary McMahan, John Nelson, New West, Jean Prescott, Dave Stamey, Pop Wagner, Barry Ward, and Dick Warwick.

She’ll be at the Western Folklife Center’s 35th annual National Cowboy Poetry Gathering in Elko, Nevada, January 28-February 2, 2019. See the roster of performers in our Monday post and find information at nationalcowboypoetrygathering.com.

Yvonne returns as a headliner to the 33rd annual Texas Cowboy Poetry Gathering in Alpine, February 22-23, 2019. The Texas Cowboy Poetry Gathering lineup includes Apache Adams, Gary Allegretto, Amy Hale Auker, Eli Barsi, Floyd Beard, “Straw” Berry, Mike Blakely, Dale Burson, Don Cadden, Bob Campbell, Craig Carter, Zack Casey, Allan Chapman & Rodeo Kate, Justin Cole, High Country Cowboys, Doris Daley, Mikki Daniel, John Davis, Kevin Davis, Doug Figgs, Ray Fitzgerald, Rolf Flake, Ryan & Hoss Fritz, Belinda Gail, Pipp Gillette, Jeff Gore, Kristyn Harris, Andy Hedges, High Country Cowboys, Yvonne Hollenbeck, Randy & Hanna Huston, Chris Isaacs, Jill Jones & Three Hands High, Jim Jones, Linda Kirkpatrick, Ross Knox, Daron Little, Deanna Dickinson McCall, Pat Meade, Glenn Moreland, Terry Nash, Joel Nelson, Sam Noble, Kay Nowell, Jean Prescott, Gary Prescott, Mike Querner, Luke Reed, Randy Rieman, Gary Robertson, Trinity Seely, R.P. Smith, Jay Snider, Gail Steiger, Michael Stevens, Caitlyn Taussig, Rod Taylor, Doug Tolleson, Keith Ward, and Jim Wilson.

Find more of Yvonne Hollenbeck’s poetry at CowboyPoetry.com, and visit yvonnehollenbeck.com, which has her appearance dates, including quilt programs.

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

THE CUTTIN’ CHUTE by Linda Kirkpatrick

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THE CUTTIN’ CHUTE
by Linda Kirkpatrick

As the cowboy works the cuttin’ gate
There’s a few things he’s gotta know.
The first and foremost of these things
Is what must stay and what must go.

Now take that ole cow over there
The black with mottled face,
Why she ain’t calved in more than a year;
She’s got no business on this place.

So I’ll just cut her to the left
When she hits the cuttin’ gate,
So far of all the cows to go,
She’ll be number eight.

But when it comes to friends I know
And life is kinda in a tight
There is one thing fer darn sure,
I’ll cut you to the right.

© 2002, Linda Kirkpatrick, used with permission
This poem should not be printed or posted without the author’s permission

Ranch-raised in Texas Hill Country, Linda Kirkpatrick is known for her poetry, recitations, writings about regional history, and chuckwagon cooking.

She wrote this poem for her friends Ginger and W. B. Patterson, who, like Linda, are from long-time Texas ranching families.

Linda Kirkpatrick is headed to the 31st annual Texas Cowboy Poetry Gathering (February 24-25, 1017). A stellar lineup includes Doris Daley, Pipp Gillette, Yvonne Hollenbeck, Jim Jones, Luke Reed, Gail Steiger, Dale Burson, Mikki Daniel, Kevin Davis, and Randy Rieman. There are special concerts by Trinity Seely and Kristyn Harris and by Red Steagall and Dan Roberts and other performers include Mary Abbott, Apache Adams, Gary Allegretto, Amy Hale Auker, Sally Bates, “Straw” Berry, Mike Blakely, Almeda Bradshaw, Don Cadden, Bob Campbell, Craig Carter, Allan Chapman & Rodeo Kate, John Davis, Doug Figgs, Ray Fitzgerald, Rolf Flake, Ryan Fritz, Jeff Gore, Audrey Hankins, Andy Hedges, Don Hedgpeth, Randy Huston, Chris Issacs, Jill Jones & Three Hands High, Suzi Killman & Cyndi Austin, Linda Kirkpatrick, Daron Little, Deanna McCall, Pat Meade, Chuck Milner, Glenn Moreland, Joel Nelson, Sam Noble, Kay Nowell, Jean Prescott, Gary Prescott, Mike Querner, Heather Watson & Nathan Schmidt, Jay Snider, Caitlyn Taussig, Rod Taylor, Floyd Traynor, Keith Ward, and Jim Wilson.

This year’s Texas Cowboy Poetry Gathering poster is by Tyler Crow, the newest and youngest member of the Cowboy Artists of America. (The Center for Western and Cowboy Poetry/CowboyPoetry.com is also pleased to have Tyler Crow art for this year’s Cowboy Poetry Week poster.)

Find more about the Texas Cowboy Poetry Gathering on Facebook and at texascowboypoetry.com.

Find more about Tyler Crow on Facebook,  and at tylercrow.com.

Find more about Linda Kirkpatrick, including her books and recordings, at CowboyPoetry.com, http://www.cowboypoetry.com/lk.htm, and find her “Somewhere in the West” column in The Hill Country Herald.