Jim Dunham, 1942-2017

We share the sad news from the Arizona Cowboy Poets, and their photo collage:


We are so very sad to announce that Jim passed away Monday, September 18, 2017. There will be a celebration of Jim’s life at 10 am on Sunday, October 1 at Jim and Barb Buchanan’s home, 8250 N Buchanan Drive, Prescott (about 7 ½ miles out Williamson Valley Road) Buck Ryberg will officiate and there will be an open mic time. Please bring a lawn chair and if you have one, an instrument. There will be music poems, happy memories and fun. Casual dress.

The family requests in lieu of flowers please make a donation to your favorite charity.

Jim Dunham was a popular performer. An obituary tells, “Jim was an integral part of the Arizona Cowboy Poets Gathering, both as a committee member and as a performer for many years. He was awarded the prestigious Gail I. Gardner Award For a Cowboy Poet in 2012. ”

Poet Nona Kelley Carver shared a poem:

by Nona Kelley Carver

Far down in Arizona,
where the evening breezes play,
there’s a sadness felt among us,
for a cowboy died today.

He wasn’t tall in stature,
but was loved throughout the land,
for  he sang and played sweet music
with the Rusty Pistols Band.

There was music in his laughter,
there was music in his soul,
there was music from his guitar.
Cowboy music made him whole.

He sang and played the old songs,
sometimes wrote some of his own.
He might practice until daylight
to improve each note and tone.

His music was a blessing.
Some of it more like a prayer.
He shared it with his family,
and friends who gathered there.

But put away your grieving,
now that he has left our land,
for he’s singing there in heaven,
where he’s joined the Angel Band.

© 2017 Nona Kelley Carver



Floyd Traynor, 1944-2017


We were sad to learn of the death of poet Floyd Traynor, 72,  on August 12, 2017.

A Facebook remembrance page notes that Floyd had servered as a County Mapper, Flood Plain Manager, and Rural Addressing Co-ordinator at New Mexico’s Grant County Courthouse. There are many tributes at the Facebook page.

His 2015 bio at CowboyPoetry.com tells:

Floyd was raised on a ranch at Mule Creek, New Mexico. Four generations of his family have cowboyed on the Arizona-New Mexico border. He learned his skills from old-time hands and vaqueros. A graduate of NMSU, he has built fence, pulled wells, and hauled feed on ranches from the Mexican border to the panhandle of Texas. He has been writing poetry since he was seven years old.

An employee of Grant County, New Mexico for 14 years, Floyd sold his saddle and retired to Turkey, Texas in January of 2015 with his partner, Radna Proctor. He admits his saddle had gathered a lot of dust. Writing poetry and songs has helped fill some lonely hours along the trail of life.

Floyd is past chairman of the New Mexico Cowboy Poetry Gathering held in Silver City, and has recited in several gatherings in Arizona, Colorado, and New Mexico. He believes it is important to keep our western heritage intact for future generations

Find a poem by Floyd Traynor at CowboyPoetry.com.



photograph of Trey and Janice Hannagan Allen by Carol Barlau; request permission for use

Inspired by Jack Carter “Trey” Allen, III
by Marci Broyhill

Father and daughter leaned against the rail fence
reviewing the day as the sunset commenced.

They talked about livestock, repairs of the day,
the upcoming taxes and bills yet to pay,

how much hay to keep and how much to sell,
a new door for the barn, a new pump for the well,

cedar trees in the pasture and down by the creek.
Those invasive rogue trees to be burned out next week.

As they paused for a moment and gazed to the west
at the glorious sunset, their voices took rest.

They stood there absorbing the radiant sky
so, peaceful, serene. No words could apply.

This setting was right for the man to impart
philosophical thoughts and requests of his heart.

Breaking the silence by clearing his throat,
calmly shifting his hat, the father gave note.

I’ve lived my best years on this ground where we stand.
I’m the third generation to work this grassland.

As a young man, I frequently fell off the track.
But each time I did, this land called me back.

I’ve been giving some thought to my life here on Earth,
hoping my work has contributed worth.

Man, woman or child, we just never know
when the angel of death says, “Hey there, let’s go.”

To make that time easier for those left behind,
let me share what’s been buzzing around in my mind.

When my body can no longer shelter my soul,
when old age or disease have done taken their toll,

when it’s time for my spirit to cross the grand bridge,
to that eternal grassland up over the ridge,

I have some requests, I hope you’ll abide
when my spirit is called to the hereafter side.

I’m a practical man, my style is low-key.
A quiet observance is perfect for me.

I need not a casket to bury my bones
or a cemetery plot with a fancy head stone.

No extravagant flowers in basket or vase,
for this crusty old geezer, they’d be out of place.

Let me merge with this land, my dust to this earth,
to join in the cycle of Nature’s rebirth.

Toss some of my ashes into a warm breeze
to dust the green crown of the cottonwood trees.

Scatter some dust through a shelterbelt row.
There I’ll stand against wind driving dirt, ice and snow.

Shake some dust in the pasture along the fence line,
and behind the horse barn that your pa built with mine,

across the hay meadow that borders the creek,
into the plum brush where blossoms smell sweet,

on my favorite trails where I ride with Roan Red,
on your mother’s perennials, her prize flower bed.

When it rains, I’ll drip, float and trickle around
immersing myself into life-giving ground

to be one with wild flowers and native grass.
I’ll stroke velvet muzzles of those grazing past.

I’ll cradle new life, domestic and wild,
the gentle, the aggressive, each one Nature’s child.

When the scattering of ashes is accomplished and done
I’ll be living in two worlds, not merely one.

Now you sleeve that there sniffle and blink back those tears.
‘Cuz I plan to keep ranching some twenty plus years.

This land will be yours when I cross the divide.
But until then my dear, I’m here by your side.

You’re an honest, smart woman, with a trustworthy man.
If any two ranchers can make it, you can.

Right now, we’re a trio. I like that I do.
When counting my blessings, the best ones are you.

Oh, there’s one more detail I’m a gonna’ to impose.
Get a stainless-steel plate for a message of prose.

Engrave an inscription so all understand
my respect for ranch life, my love for this land.

Then nail that steel plate on a creosote post.
Let it state, Trey Allen remains here, on the land he loves most.

@ 2017, Marci Broyhill
This poem should not be reposted or reprinted without permission

Marci Broyhill comments:

“A Father’s Conversation with His Daughter” was inspired by Jack Carter “Trey” Allen III. I first met Mr. Allen in 2005 at Michael Martin Murphey’s West Fest event at Snow Mass, Colorado. I was in the infancy of my cowboy poetry adventure and attended West Fest to immerse myself in the essence of western culture: the people, art, music and poetry. It was there that I heard and met Trey Allen for the first time.

It was after one of the West Fest concerts as I stood on the grassy slope, the magnificent natural amphitheater setting for the West Fest concerts, that I saw Trey Allen walking in my direction. I was apprehensive, yet summoned up the courage to introduce myself and express my appreciation for his material and presentation. At that time, he was dressed in crisp light taupe attire from head to toe. Trey politely tipped his hat and respectfully said, “Thank you, ma’am.” We shared a few pleasantries and he was gone. Our encounter was brief, yet it is branded in my memory.

My next encounter with Mr. Allen was ten years later, August 2015, in Abilene, Kansas at the Cowboy Poetry Rodeo where I was a participant. Mr. Allen was one of the judges. The third time was in October of 2015 at Old West Days in Valentine, Nebraska where Trey was a featured performer. Trey was ill both times; fighting multiple myeloma. Still, Trey portrayed a positive attitude of living, strutting his pink boots, bright neon colored shirts, flashy scarves and ties giving inspiration to all present.

Trey was scheduled to entertain at the Chickasaw County Cowboy Poetry and Western Music Gathering in Lawler, Iowa the following January 2016. Due to his on-going, energy-sapping cancer, he had to decline that appearance. I was asked to “fill in” for Trey Allen. Wow, what boots to fill. I was humbled and honored.

The following was garnered from CowboyPoetry.com.

Jack Carter “Trey” Allen III was born January 20, 1971 in Richardson, Texas. He respected the cowboy code of life and was employed in the ranching, cowboy-style of living most of his life which generated a wealth of background experiences for his colorful, original cowboy poetry which he recited with ease.

He was diagnosed in 2013 of multiple myeloma. A photo of Trey, taken by Carol Barlau became the reference photograph used by Don Dane for his painting titled “Cowboy True, Thru and Thru.” That art work became the poster for Cowboy Poetry Week, April 19-25, 2015.

Understanding the severity of his illness, Trey asked his three daughters that at upon his death, they take a road trip with his ashes. He directed them to scatter his remains on all the ranches on which he worked. Jack Carter “Trey” Allen III died July 7, 2016 in Manhattan, Kansas with family at his bedside.

My three brief encounters with the brave, unselfish man, Jack Carter “Trey” Allen III, inspired me to write “A Father’s Conversation with His Daughter.” Thank you, sir.

[Find a tribute to Trey Allen here and more at CowboyPoetry.com.]


Marc Broyhill


Marci Broyhill, Prairie Poet & Storyteller grew up on the Cedar-Dixon County Line between Nebraska’s Cowboy Trail, Highway 20 and Nebraska’s Outlaw Trail, Highway 12. Marci is on the Humanities Nebraska Roster with her program, Nebraska’s Outlaw Trail, Highway 12. She balances her presentations with current information, history, reflection and humor. Marci currently lives in Dakota City, Nebraska. Find more at marcibroyhill.com.

2015Marci BroyhilMarci Broyhill and two new fans of Cowboy Poetry. South Sioux City, Nebraska Library honoring Cowboy Poetry Week (2015).

2015Marci Broyhill2.jpgMarci Broyhil, Doc Middleton (aka Kyle Rosfeld) and Teresa Kay Orr. Naper, Nebraska honoring Cowboy Poetry Week (2015).

2017marcibroyhill.jpgTeresa Kay Orr and Marci Broyhill in Dakota City, Nebraska honoring Cowboy Poetry Week.  Marci adds, “Teresa Kay is my sister. Whenever possible, we do events together. She brings the element of music. Together, we provide a bit of fun sibling banter.”

RAY LASHLEY 1923-2017


Peggy Malone let us know about the death of poet Ray Lashley, 93, on May 29, 2017.

For his bio at CowboyPoetry.com, he wrote:

I was born and raised on a farm in the Missouri Ozarks at a time and place where horses or mules were about the only source of power and transportation. We raised cattle and hogs and feed for them. There was an “Open Range Law” in effect so our cattle had a lot of room to roam and a lot of places to hide. Tending them took a lot of our time.

At about age 14 I was on a short (60 mile) trail drive when the only way to move stock was by train or trail drive. There were no trucks or stock trailers.

I always did like working with horses better than with other types of stock. That’s probably why I’ve been raising horses since 1970.

My first job for pay was driving a four-horse team to a log wagon.

I joined the Navy at 18 and found out that a man could make a living without working as hard as the stockmen back home, so I learned to spell “injuneer” and they let me be one. But, as they say, you can’t take the country out of the boy so I managed to stay in touch with some part of the stock world (mostly horses) while I pursued a career as a weapon testing engineer.

From 1969 to 1994 we owned and lived on a twenty three acre place near the east shore of the Great Salt Lake raising Appaloosa horses. (One of them ran no worse than second in eight out of nine races and won five of them.) After we sold out in ’94 we traveled some, then, in early ’95, moved lock, stock and horses onto the five acre place in Grand Junction, Colorado, where we live now.

I’ve been invited to perform in the Elko Cowboy Poetry Gathering every year since it started in 1985 until 1995.

Without repeating a poem I can recite from memory something over 3 hours of poetry — mostly cowboy poems by old poets.

Find an obituary here, which says, “A graveside service will be held for family and friends in Des Arc, Missouri in the near future as he is laid to rest near his boyhood home in the family plot surrounded by his parents and siblings.”




Almeda Bradshaw told us of the passing of poet and writer Bette Wolf Duncan in 2016.

In her bio at CowboyPoetry.com, she wrote:

I was born during the depression, on my grandfather’s ranch in Stillwater County, Montana. Later my folks moved to Billings, where I went to grade and high school.  This is rodeo country; and a good portion of summer entertainment involved rodeo attendance.  It is also cattle country; and it was difficult not to grow up a  cowpoke of sorts by osmosis.

I worked during high school as an usherette in a movie theater.   I worked my way through college as a long distance operator; and  I graduated from Rocky Mountain College in Billings Montana in 1954. For the next 18 years I worked as a Medical Technologist, chiefly in the field of toxicology.  Among other institutions, I worked at Texas Children’s Hospital and Southwestern Medical School in Dallas,  Los Angeles County Hospital in Los Angeles and Valley Presbyterian Hospital in Van Nuys, California.

In 1974, I graduated from Drake University Law School.  Subsequently, I was employed as a Prosecutor in The Polk County Attorney’s Office, Des Moines, Iowa; and as Director of the Regulatory Division and legal counsel, Iowa Department of Agriculture.  For the last eight years, prior to my retirement in 1995, I was an Administrative Law Judge (tax cases).  Since retirement, I have been so busy I wonder how in the world I ever managed before retirement.

Bette was the author of several books and in 2011 she was named “Top Female Poet” by the Academy of Western Artists.

Find an obituary here.

Nancy Thorwardson, 1955-2017


Nancy Thorwardson, 1955-2017

The Western music and cowboy poetry world and her many friends and family mourn the passing of much-loved songwriter, musician, teacher, and more, Nancy Thorwardson on April 11, 2017.

As her web site describes, “Nancy has been a performing musician for many years, working in combos large and small, playing western and standard swing music, old-timey and Cajun dance music, and folk and bluegrass music. Nancy has a true talent for composing songs which fit perfectly within the genre, so her original numbers are always highlights of any show. Nancy plays rhythm guitar, ukulele, piano, drums, and
various hand percussion instruments, and sings lead and harmony vocals. She performs with several bands in Colorado.”

Find more about Nancy at www.nancythorwardson.com.


treyjanicephotograph by Carol Barlau; request permission for use


By Jack “Trey” Allen

His boots looked a hundred years old
they’d seen 10,000 miles and more
They’s scuffed up dirty except for the spots
worn smooth by the spurs that he’d wore

Levi’s adorned his twisted bowed legs
faded pale from years in the sun
His belt was remnant of an old harness strap
fastened with some buckle he’d won

His shirt was just a remnant, too
torn and patched and half untucked
If it could’ve talked, it mighta told the story
of all the hard seasons he’d bucked

His shoulders set straight and firm
though not as firm as they once may have been
They spoke of a man who’d done a life’s work
and would gladly do it again

His gray hair told of the wisdom
he gained from years on the range
of horses he’d rode, friends he’d outlived
and all the things that he’d seen change

The line of his jaw set crooked but hard
Seemed it was chiseled outta stone
And the lines on his face, like the wrinkles on his hands,
seemed to cut clear to the bone

The gaze from his icy blue eyes
Could almost bore a hold plumb through
But there was nothing to warm your heart like a smile
from that ancient buckaroo.

© Trey Allen, used with permission
This poem should not be reposted or reprinted without permission.

Cowboy and ranch manager Trey Allen (1971-2016) is sorely missed by his many friends and family. His friend, rancher and poet Jay Snider has said, “Trey is one of those guys that lives every day by the same code of ethics as the old-timers. It means something to him that your word is your bond and that you do what you say you’re going to do.”

(This poem also appears in a Western Horseman tribute.

See more about Trey Allen here in this blog and at CowboyPoetry.com.

Photographer Carol Barlau took this striking photograph of Trey Allen and Janice Hannagan-Allen at a branding. We asked her to tell us a bit about herself and she wrote,”Photography is my outlet, my escape from the hurried and stressful everyday world. Photography relaxes me and renews my spirit. One of my favorite places to photograph is in the Flint Hills of Kansas. Here I can admire its quiet and subtle beauty and enjoy the warmth and friendliness of the people I meet there.”

Carol Barlau also took the photograph that was featured in Don Dane Art’s painting of Trey Allen, “Cowboy True, Thru and Thru,” that was selected for the 2015 Cowboy Poetry Week poster and for the cover of Trey Allen’s CD, “A Remnant Gather.” Find more about Carol Barlau and the poster here.