TOMBOY, by Dee Strickland Johnson (“Buckshot Dot”)

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TOMBOY
by Dee Strickland Johnson (“Buckshot Dot”)

I was raised with seven brothers
near a place called Concho Lake.
There was Jamie, Jeff, and Joseph,
Sam and Seth and Sid and Jake.
So I grew up rough and tumble,
and I made my share of noise,
Romped the dogs and roped the horses.
I was rowdy as the boys!

Skinny tomboy, seven brothers,
and assorted brothers’ friends
On our little cattle ponies,
raced to hell and back again.
We’d roar down the dry arroyas;
then we’d all come tearing back,
There was Buzz and Paul and Donnie
and that rascal Charlie Black.

But one Spring, as I grew older,
Mama firmly told me, “No!”
And when the boys went out on roundup—
Mama said I couldn’t go.
Then she tried to teach me cooking,
how to sew, and keep the place;
But my heart was roping yearlings,
and I longed to barrel race.

Once she washed my hair in soap weed;
while it still hung limp and damp,
She stuck that rusty curling iron
down the chimney of the lamp.
“Sister,” she said, holding up a gingham
dress that she had sewed,
“Andy’s comin’! Now you wear this,
so’s your legs won’t look so bowed.”

Andy was the new young foreman
of the ranch off to our west,
And of all my brothers’ cronies,
Mama showed she liked him best.
O, she was proud that she had made me
look like something of a girl,
Got me out of faded Levis,
forced my stubborn hair to curl.

Well, it wasn’t long thereafter
every time that Andy’d call,
And the boys were pitching horseshoes,
Andy’d linger in the hall.
So he came to be my suitor,
brought me candy, flowers and such,
And the night he brought me perfume,
Well, I didn’t mind too much.

Andy’d come ‘most every evening;
he was courteous and kind,
And it wasn’t any secret
what the cowboy had in mind.
Every Friday we’d go dancing,
laughing clear to town and back.
Andy made me feel a lady—
so I married Charlie Black!

© 1994, Dee Strickland Johnson, from her book, Cowman’s Wife, used with permission

Popular poet, writer, and musician Dee Strickland Johnson, known as “Buckshot Dot,” delights audiences across the West.

Buckshot Dot told us that some of the poem was based on her own life, including the facts that when they lived on the Hualapai that reservation, her mother did wash her hair in soap weed (agave root) and did curl her hair with a curling iron she heated by placing down the chimney of the kerosene lamp.

She also told us that the poem itself was inspired by another infamous tomboy: the late poet, cowboy, and National Cowgirl Museum Hall of Fame honoree Georgie Sicking. Buckshot Dot says that at a gathering, Georgie, ” …mentioned on stage that she grew up a tomboy. I was waiting in the wings and right then and there I decided to write that poem…”

Buckshot Dot has recordings, books of her poetry, books about Arizona history, books for children, and more. Find more about her at CowboyPoetry.com, and visit her web site, buckshotdot.com.

This image is a childhood photo of California poet, writer, horsewoman, and tomboy Janice Gilbertson. She shared it in a 2007 Picture the West at CowboyPoetry.com.

Janice has published well-received books of her poetry and two novels, Summer of ’58, and The Canyon House. She is at work on her third novel, The Dark Side of Gibson Road.

The title poem of one her poetry collections, “Sometime in the Lucias,” was a Western Writers of America, Inc. Spur Award finalist. Find her on Facebook and at CowboyPoetry.com.

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

TOMBOY, by Dee Strickland Johnson (“Buckshot Dot”)

jgdanny

TOMBOY
by Dee Strickland Johnson (“Buckshot Dot”)

I was raised with seven brothers
near a place called Concho Lake.
There was Jamie, Jeff, and Joseph,
Sam and Seth and Sid and Jake.
So I grew up rough and tumble,
and I made my share of noise,
Romped the dogs and roped the horses.
I was rowdy as the boys!

Skinny tomboy, seven brothers,
and assorted brothers’ friends
On our little cattle ponies,
raced to hell and back again.
We’d roar down the dry arroyas;
then we’d all come tearing back,
There was Buzz and Paul and Donnie
and that rascal Charlie Black.

But one Spring, as I grew older,
Mama firmly told me, “No!”
And when the boys went out on roundup—
Mama said I couldn’t go.
Then she tried to teach me cooking,
how to sew, and keep the place;
But my heart was roping yearlings,
and I longed to barrel race.

Once she washed my hair in soap weed;
while it still hung limp and damp,
She stuck that rusty curling iron
down the chimney of the lamp.
“Sister,” she said, holding up a gingham
dress that she had sewed,
“Andy’s comin’! Now you wear this,
so’s your legs won’t look so bowed.”

Andy was the new young foreman
of the ranch off to our west,
And of all my brothers’ cronies,
Mama showed she liked him best.
O, she was proud that she had made me
look like something of a girl,
Got me out of faded Levis,
forced my stubborn hair to curl.

Well, it wasn’t long thereafter
every time that Andy’d call,
And the boys were pitching horseshoes,
Andy’d linger in the hall.
So he came to be my suitor,
brought me candy, flowers and such,
And the night he brought me perfume,
Well, I didn’t mind too much.

Andy’d come ‘most every evening;
he was courteous and kind,
And it wasn’t any secret
what the cowboy had in mind.
Every Friday we’d go dancing,
laughing clear to town and back.
Andy made me feel a lady—
so I married Charlie Black!

© 1994, Dee Strickland Johnson, from her book, Cowman’s Wife, used with permission

Poet, writer, and musician Dee Strickland Johnson, known as “Buckshot Dot,” delights audiences across the West.

Buckshot Dot told us that some of the poem was based on her own life, including the facts that when they lived on the Hualapai that reservation, her mother did wash her hair in soap weed (agave root) and did curl her hair with a curling iron she heated by placing down the chimney of the kerosene lamp.

She also told us that the poem itself was inspired by another infamous tomboy: the late poet, cowboy, and Cowgirl Hall of Fame honoree Georgie Sicking. Buckshot Dot says that at a gathering, Georgie, ” …mentioned on stage that she grew up a tomboy. I was waiting in the wings and right then and there I decided to write that poem…”

Buckshot Dot has recordings, books of her poetry, books about Arizona history, books for children, and more. Find more about her at CowboyPoetry.com  and visit her web site, buckshotdot.com.

This image is a childhood photo of California poet, writer, horsewoman, and tomboy Janice Gilbertson. She shared it in a 2007 Picture the West at CowboyPoetry.com.

Janice is recovering from the successful cancer surgery that she had yesterday. Why not send her good wishes at PO Box 350, King City, CA 93930.

Janice has published books of her poetry and two novels, including Summer of ’58, and the newest, The Canyon House. A reviewer wrote that her writing was reminiscent of “Steinbeck or Harper Lee.”

The title poem of one her poetry collections, Sometime in the Lucias, was a Western Writers of America, Inc. Spur Award finalist. Find some of her poetry and more about her at CowboyPoetry.com and at her site, janicegilbertsonwriter.com.

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

MAYBE IT’S YOUR CALLIN’ by Janice Gilbertson

janice

MAYBE IT’S YOUR CALLIN’
by Janice Gilbertson

Maybe it’s that certain way
Early morning smells in June
The fragrance of the damp leftover heat

Maybe it’s the rise and fall
Of golden dust at dawn
From the milling of the saddlehorses’ feet

It could be the slap of leather
The jangle of the bridle chains
The cadence of the hoofbeats down the lane

There’s that friendly cowboy banter
And the planning of the gather
Some spittin’ and some razzin’ to sustain

There’s the frolic of the cowdogs
In their rough and tumble glory
There’s the quiver of excitement in a mount

In the mid-light of the coming
Of the sunlight o’er the ridge
Maybe that is what it’s really all about

Then there’s that swagger on your jog
And that ole sense of satisfaction
You can get when you bring in that ornery stray

And when you water at the crossin’
Give your horse a little rub
Maybe that would be the best time of your day

Ah! Maybe it’s the headin’ home
Followin’ your shadow
Anticipatin’ supper and your bed

Maybe it’s the certain way
The night air smells in June
Or a hundred things that never could be said

Could be the knowin’ where you fit
That easy comfort in your soul
Like that ole saddle that you ride most every day

Just maybe it’s your callin’
Or, you were just born lucky
Cuz you know you couldn’t live no other way

© 2008, Janice Gilbertson
This poem should not be reprinted or reposted without permission

California poet, novelist, and horsewoman Janice Gilbertson commented on her poem, “Wouldn’t life be grand if we could each be doing the work we know and love every day, and have the comfort that comes in knowing that we are exactly where we are meant to be.”

jgcanyonhouse

Janice Gilbertson’s second novel, Canyon House, published by PEN-L publishing, has just been named a Willa Award Finalist. The respected award from Women Writing the West “…honors the best in literature, featuring women’s or girls’ stories set in the West that are published each year…The award is named in honor of Pulitzer Prize winner Willa Cather, one of the country’s foremost novelists.”

Read Chapter One of “Canyon House” at PEN-L Publishing.

Janice has been an invited poet at the Western Folklife Center’s National Cowboy Poetry
Gathering and performs at other events across the West. Her work has appeared in anthologies and compilations, and she has poetry books and recordings and another novel, Summer of ’58. Find more at her web site, janicegilbertsonwriter.com, and at CowboyPoetry.com.

The photo above is of Janice Gilbertson on the Glen Aulin Trail high above Yosemite Meadows.

http://www.cowboypoetry.com/jgilb.htm#Maybe

GIVING IN TO LONESOME by Janice Gilbertson

shespeaks

GIVING IN TO LONESOME
by Janice Gilbertson

Her long legs, bony knees poking
At pantlegs, sunbleached and threadbare
Disappear into his kneehigh boots with
Burlap stuffed toes, and worn beyond repair

Her bare hands no longer noticing the cold
Are bent and fused until they feel no pain
The right rested in its place on her thigh
The left hand’s crooked fingers weave the rein

It is his tattered sheepskin coat she wears
Unbuttoned to the cold, early morning air
And it is his ole blue scarf ’round her throat
Shaped by his sweat and the knot he’d tied there

She quietly sits her beloved bay gelding
Narrow-chested and slightly splayed
He is stoved and gaunt with age
Hipbones wide and back some swayed

They stand for a moment just inside the gate
Both shifting old bodies for comfort’s sake
She legs his ribby side gently and turns
To ride the ancient fence north to the break

‘Neath a cast-iron sky without a glint of star
She rides through the dark before dawn
By the instincts of a thousand rides
They travel by memory of days bygone

There was a time she rode here on snorty colts
Their morning-fresh stride dancing her along
What a grand time she would have then,
Looking for that stray where it didn’t belong

There are no cattle now, not for a decade
But old habits hang on like old barbed wire
His fence pliars still hang in their scabbard
To twist a wire, tap a staple, should she desire

Ghost calves bawl for want of their mamas
Bulls bellow for long gone cows on the lowland
She sees him on his black on the zig zag trail
Where he is sitting his saddle just grand!

Time’s trickery confuses her and she curses
At her old mind where his image lingers
Ghostly fog knuckles over the ridge
Crawls the canyons in cold, grey fingers

A harsh chill shudders her thin body
And sends gooseflesh down her spine
The familiar sounds and images
So cruelly tease her lonesome mind

For the first time she turns back on her trail
Finally…leaving her life as it were
For the very first time in fifty years
She leaves the gate stand open behind her

© Janice Gilbertson, used with permission

Janice Gilbertson is one of the women included in the new She Speaks to Me: Western women’s view of the west through poetry and songs, edited by Jill Charlotte Stanford, with photographs by Robin L. Green.

The book is an enticing collection of works by Amy Hale Auker, Sally Bates, Virginia Bennett, Niki Berg, Teresa Burleson, Doris Daley, Janice Gilbertson, Audrey Hankins, Joni Harms, Linda Hasselstrom, Jessica Hedges, Debra Coppinger Hill, Yvonne Hollenbeck, Stacy Jenne, Dee “Buckshot Dot” Strickland Johnson, Randi Johnson, Jo Lynne Kirkwood, Echo Klaproth, Deanna Dickinson McCall, Renee Meador, Lyn Messersmith, Kathy Moss, Lauralee Northcott, Skye Mesa Ogilvie, Evelyn Roper, Sandy Seaton Sallee, Ann Sochat, Rhonda Stearns, Jody Strand, and Tina Willis. Western Horseman Senior Editor Jennifer Denison provides a foreword.

Janice Gilbertson comments, “What an honor it is to be included in Jill Stanford’s beautiful book of western women’s poetry. My western background is precious to me and being able to grasp the same fine thread as these brave, capable and talented women touches me deeply. Thanks to Jill for bringing us together.”

Find more about Janice Gilbertson, including her two novels, Summer of ’58 and The Canyon House at her web site, at CowboyPoetry.com, and on Facebook.

She Speaks to Me is available from booksellers and the publisher, Two Dot Press, a division of The Rowman & Littlefield Publishing Group.

(Please respect copyright. You can share this poem with this post, but for other uses, please request the poet’s permission.)