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”)

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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

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.)

CHRISTMAS BENEATH THE STARS by Colen Sweeten (1919-2007)

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CHRISTMAS BENEATH THE STARS
by Colen Sweeten (1919-2007)

The cattle were bedded down on the hill,
It was a peaceful sight that I saw.
The winter moon hung high in the sky
Casting shadows on the side of the draw.

The Christmas lights on the ranch house below
Sparked a thought of a night gone by.
When shepherds, watching over their flocks
Heard the message from the sky.

I stopped and looked at the stars above
And listened where all was quiet,
Then into my heart came the message
The angels delivered that night.

I stepped from the saddle, whispering aloud,
“Shepherds watching over their flocks.”
My mount rubbed his head on my shoulder
As he shifted his feet on the rocks.

The horse held his breath while we listened,
I could almost hear the heavenly choir.
Then the spirit bore witness once again
And burned in my heart like a fire.

Yes, the ranchers, herders and cowboys
Who work beneath the wide open sky,
Can understand how the shepherds felt
When they heard the voice from on high.

Let the rich and the powerful pity me,
Let the city folk think I am strange;
My silent prayer shall continue to be,
“Lord, thanks for my home on the range.”

© 1996 Colen H. Sweeten Jr., used with permission

Colen Sweeten had an enormous repertoire of poems, stories, wisdom, and humor. He always had a kind and cheerful word for all, and as he often said, so many friends that he “wasn’t even using them all.”

He appeared on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson in 1991, and you can watch a video of the performance, which also includes the late Rod McQueary, in a video here.

During his lifetime, Colen Sweeten was a part of every Western Folklife Center National Cowboy Poetry Gathering, except one.

Find more about Colen Sweeten and more of his poetry here at CowboyPoetry.com,  and also see tributes to him here.

This illustration is by popular poet, writer, musician, and songwriter Dee Strickland Johnson, known to all as “Buckshot Dot.” She illustrated her own poem, “A Cowboy’s Christmas Eve,” with this drawing. Her son Tim was the model. She comments, “Tim posed for that scratch board picture of the campfire cowboy. I had him standing there with his back to me for quite some time—took a while to get those rivets on the Levi’s.”

As the Johnsons’ many friends know, Tim was seriously injured in an accident on August 5, 2002. He is being cared for in Payson, Arizona. The family welcomes visits, cards, or emails.

The picture was the subject of an Art Spur at CowboyPoetry.com, and you see the resulting poems here.

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.