PROLAPSE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON by Baxter Black

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PROLAPSE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON
by Baxter Black

It came from outta nowhere,
like a prolapse in the night.
Which, in fact is what it was, my friends,
the cow vet’s scourge and plight.
That pudgy pink projectile
from those monster movie scenes
Like some whopping giant burrito
filled with attitude and beans.

I was soon laid down behind it
on a hillside in the muck
While the cowboy shined his high beams
from his perch there in the truck.
His rope stretched from the bumper
to her front legs tied in haste.
As I wallowed in the darkness
like a frog, stripped to the waist.

It was bigger than a tree trunk.
It was slick as old chow mein.
It was heavy as a carpet
someone left out in the rain.
I tried to gain some purchase
as I pressed my fist in tight,
It was thrashing like a porpoise
and was putting up a fight.

I got it in a hammerlock.
It was like a rabid dog.
I wrapped my legs around it
like a monkey on a log.
I pushed until my shoulder
disappeared inside the mass
As I scrambled for a foothold
in the mud and frozen grass.

But alas, with one huge effort
she expelled me from her grip.
I shot out like a cannon,
rolled and did a double flip.
But I grabbed her tail in passing
and with strength born out of war,
I dove at the appendage
like some punch drunk matador.

I lifted her hind quarters,
and I swung her side to side,
Then, like smart men do,
I used my head to push it back inside!
It was dark there for a second,
it was hard to catch my breath
But there she lay, my patient
I had saved from certain death.

The cowboy rolled his window down, said,
“Doc, are you alright?”
He gunned the engine several times.
The headlights got real bright.
“I’ve seen a prolapse done before
but never quite like that!”
“Oh, they taught us that in vet school…
But I think it ate my hat.”

© Baxter Black, used with permission

You must watch Baxter Black performing this poem. Find one video from the Heber Valley Music and Cowboy Gathering and another video here.

Poet and writer Rod Miller, in “Fine Lines and Wrinkles,” an essay at CowboyPoetry.com, writes, “Alliteration, assonance, consonance, and a completely off-kilter view of the world are apparent in these fine, wrinkled lines from ‘Prolapse from the Black Lagoon’ by Baxter Black. (Note that even his name uses alliteration and assonance.)”

In his official bio, where he is described as “a cowboy poet, former large animal veterinarian and entertainer of the agricultural masses,” Baxter Black comments, “My audience is my inspiration. Every cowboy, rancher, vet, farmer, feed salesman, ag teacher, cowman and rodeo hand has a story to tell, and they tell it to me. I Baxterize it and tell it back to ‘em! It doesn’t seem fair, does it?”

He recites Bruce Kiskaddon’s “They Can Take It” on the new MASTERS: VOLUME THREE CD from CowboyPoetry.com and S. Omar Barker’s “Cowboy Saying” on MASTERS: VOLUME TWO.

This message comes from Baxter’s office, a policy announcement:

Since Baxter Black is no longer doing live performances, there are inquiries about others using his material in their performances. His policy is that anyone is welcome use his material in appropriate occasions, including non-profit or paid-for performances. He requests that the poems or stories be performed the way they are written, allowing for editing of length if needed. Please give the author credit.”

His office adds that no one, for any reason, has permission to include his work “on cds, books, or dvds…or to try to sell it in any manner, including online.”

This version of “Prolapse from the Black Lagoon” comes from Poems Worth Saving, Baxter Black’s 2013 collection of 164 poems and stories. Find more about Baxter Black at CowboyPoetry.com,  on Facebook; and find much more, including a weekly column, at
BaxterBlack.com.

This photograph is courtesy of Baxter Black.

(Please respect copyright. You can share this poem with this post, but request permission for any other use—except recitation.)

WATCHIN’ ‘EM RIDE, by S. Omar Barker (1895-1985)

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WATCHIN’ ‘EM RIDE
S. Omar Barker (1895-1985)

Isom Like was seventy-odd
Straight in the back as a steel ramrod,
And the whiskers that growed on his leathery chin,
They bristled out instead of in.
Six growed sons had Isom Like:
Jake, Joe, John, Jess, Noah and Ike.

Ridin’ men was Isom’s sons,
Salty, straddlin’ sons-o’-guns.
Once a year they chipped in change
To pay for the best hoss on their range,
And held ridin’ to settle who
Should git that hoss when the show was through.

Nearin’ eighty was Isom Like:
“Pa,” said the son whose name was Ike,
“You’re stiffed up like an ol’ pine tree.
Better leave this to the boys an’ me!”
Ol’ Isom grinned his grizzled grin.
“Nope,” he says, “Just count me in!”

Seven broncs on the high pole pen,
Seven saddles and seven men . . . .
Ma Like watched as the show begun,
And when Jake straddled a dusty dun,
You guessed right off that her joy and pride
Was Jake, from the way she cheered his ride.

Jess spurred out on a big-foot bay.
Up on the fence you could hear Ma say:
“Ride him, Jess! Boy, kick him out!”
And you knowed right quick from the tone of her shout,
Of all six sons Ma Like had bore,
By this here Jess she set most store.

Joe clumb on and you heard Ma squall:
“Joe, you’re the ridin’est son of all.”
Noah an’ John purt near got piled–
But both was Ma Like’s favorite child.
Two broncs left, and the one Ike took
Bucked like the broncs in a storybook;
Pawed the moon and scraped the sky.
Up on the fence you could hear Ma cry:
“Boy, that’s ridin’ to suit my taste!
I got one son ain’t no panty-waist!”

One bronc left, a big blue roan . . . .
“Never mind, boys, I’ll saddle my own!”
Over the saddle Pa flung his shank,
Raked both spurs from neck to flank.
The big roan rose like a powder blast,
Buckin’ hard and high and fast,
But deep in the wood Pa Like set screwed,
Strokin’ his beard like a southern dude!
And every time that blue roan whirled,
Ma Like’s petticoats come unfurled.

Isom grinned and waved his hat,
And Ma, she squalled like a ring-tailed cat:
“Straddle him, Isom! Show your spizz!
Learn these buttons what ridin’ is!”
Throwed her bonnet high in the air,
Whooped and hollered and tore her hair:
“I got six sons and nary a one
Can ride like that ol’ son-of-a-gun!”
Yelled and cheered so dang intense
She fell plumb off of the high pole fence.
“Wawhoo, boys! Watch Isom spur!”
Isom’s six sons grinned at her.

Seven broncs and the ridin’ done . . . .
Nary a doubt but Pa had won!
“Sons,” says Ma, “are a mother’s pride,
But ol’ Pa Isom, he can ride!
The trouble is, you boys ain’t tough–
But you’ll learn to ride–when you’re old enough.”

(Based on a true incident related by the late Col. Jack Potter. Isom Like died at the age of 102.)

© S. Omar Barker, reprinted with the permission of the estate of S. Omar Barker

Here’s a poem in anticipation of Father’s Day.

Keith Ward recites “Watchin’ em Ride” on our 2018 MASTERS: VOLUME TWO, a double CD celebrating S. Omar Barker’s poetry, with over 60 poems from many of today’s top poets and reciters.

Wyoming’s Rhonda Sedgwick Stearns, Cowgirl Hall of Fame honoree, poet, writer, day worker, and rodeo historian shared vintage family horse photos a while back in Picture the West at CowboyPoetry.com and an accompanying piece, “Horses Are My Heritage” in Western Memories.

She comments on this photo,”Dad had a bunch of mares and bought a registered Thoroughbred stallion from Eph Hogg who came to Wyoming from Kentucky. His head and neck are shown in this photo, they called him “Little Eph”; Dad’s at far right.”

When we asked her about pairing this poem with her photograph, Rhonda Sedgwick Stearns was pleased. She told us that while she was a columnist Rodeo Sports News, she was looking for a photo of a particular horse and was in touch with a man named Bill King from Kim, Colorado, whose family provided rodeo stock to the region. She writes, “As we corresponded Bill soon began to tell me of the manuscripts he wanted to get published. He had stories of not only the King’s (his father and several brothers who traded horses in every state, Canada, Mexico and Cuba in the 1800’s!) but also two other families deeply entwined with horses.

“He gave me the manuscripts to read. One family was the Like’s?—and in the Like family story was this poem of S. Omar Barker’s.

“Bill said the six Like boys and the old man each owned outfits and ran a lot of horses along the Cimarron River border country between New Mexico and Colorado; and that they truly did have this competition every fall when they gathered their horses to brand and cut. Bill’s story was that Barker had actually come out to Isom’s place one fall to observe the show, and wrote the poem from live inspiration. What he had in his manuscript was from a copy Barker gave to the Like’s when he wrote it.

Poets Valerie Beard and Floyd Beard live on one of the Like brothers’ original homesteads in Southeastern Colorado. Valerie told us that, “… a few years ago we saw the name, “Ike” chiseled into the cliff face just below our house. We were thinking that it was “Like” at one time and the “L” wore off even though it didn’t look like it. After getting familiar with the poem, it is all clear. Ike Like chiseled his name into the cliff face himself…”

J. Frank Dobie also wrote about the Like family in his book, The Longhorns. Find the poem and more about it at CowboyPoetry.com, where there is also much more about S. Omar Barker and more of his poetry.

Rhonda commented further on this photo, “The old man with the suspenders is Charlie McEndeffer, originally from Sterling, Colorado. They were a big ranching, cowboy family and Charlie was a magnificent, amazing horseman. I remember him very well from my early childhood, although by that time he was pretty stove up and I never saw him ride. He worked for my grandfather for years and he and Dad were breaking horses and baching in an old cabin on Robbers Roost Creek south of Newcastle when that photo was made…”

Rhonda is a great storyteller, and you can find her “Rodeo Roots” stories at CowboyPoetry.com; some of her poetry here; and more about her at her site, doublespearranch.com.

Find more poems for Father’s Day and other special features at CowboyPoetry.com.

(Please respect copyright. You can share this poem and photo with this post, but any other uses require permission.)

GRAND CANYON COWBOY, by S. Omar Barker

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GRAND CANYON COWBOY
by S. Omar Barker (1894–1985)

I’d heard of the Canyon (the old cowboy said)
And I figured I’d like to go see it.
So I rode till I sighted a rim out ahead,
And reckoned that this place might be it.

I anchored my horse to a juniper limb
And crawled to the edge for a peek.
One look was a plenty to make my head swim.
And all of my innards felt weak.

If I’d known how durned deep it was going to be,
I’d have managed, by some hook or crook,
To tie my ownself to the doggoned tree
And let my horse go take the look!

© S. Omar Barker, reprinted with the permission of the estate of S. Omar
Barker from Rawhide Rhymes; Singing Poems of the Old West, 1958

S.Omar Barker’s poem was a favorite poem of two popular poets who are sorely missed: Rusty McCall, 1986-2013, son of Deanna Dickinson McCall and David McCall; and Colen Sweeten, 1919-2007.

We are lucky to have Rusty McCall’s recitation on last year’s MASTERS: VOLUME TWO, a double CD celebrating S. Omar Barker’s poetry, with over 60 poems from many of today’s top poets and reciters.

Andy Hedges recites “Grand Canyon Cowboy on his COWBOY CROSSROADS podcast with Ross Knox, Episode 3. Episode 43, devoted to S. Omar Barker, includes an interview with the late Georgia Snead, Barker’s grandniece and a devoted friend to cowboy poetry, who tells great stories about Barker and his wife Elsa. Top cowboy poet Waddie Mitchell reminisces about his introduction to Barker, the quality of his poetry, and his conversations with the poet.

S. Omar Barker was one of the founders of the Western Writers of America, Inc. and many of his poems were published by Western Horseman. He enjoyed signing his name with his brand, “Lazy SOB” (but Andy Hedges tells that it never really did become his brand, and that explanation is included on MASTERS: VOLUME TWO).

Find more about S. Omar Barker at CowboyPoetry.com.

This c.1903 photo, titled “Descending Grand View Trail – Grand Cañon of Arizona,” is described, “Stereograph showing a man, with a horse and two pack mules, descending the Grand View Trail in the Grand Canyon, Arizona.” It’s from The Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division. Find more about it here.

(Please respect copyright. You can share this poem with this post, but any other use requires permission. This photo is in the public domain.)

BREED OF THE BRAVE, by S. Omar Barker

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BREED OF THE BRAVE
by S. Omar Barker (1894–1985)

The wind rode chill on the wings of snow
From a sullen northeast sky,
As the ice-fanged “norther” swooped to blow
Down the staked plains bare and high.

A young steer bawled and an old cow’s nose
Swung up to sniff the storm.
“Let’er rip!” said Bill, “Till the air’s plumb froze!
In town it’s snug an’ warm!”

“Let’er tear!” said Spud, “We’ve drawed our pay
At the toe of the old man’s boot!
Let his damn cows drift! For my part, I’m
A-foggin’ to town for a toot!”

Six men rode fast from the wind’s cold bite—
“I’m turnin’ back,” said one.
“Them cows’ll drift in the storm, come night.
You fellers go have your fun!”

Five men rode on, but the kid called Mac
Struck a lope for the southeast rim;
And the drifting cattle he cut them back
To a down-trail faint and dim.

To the canyon’s breaks down a narrow trail,
Out of reach of the norther’s breath,
He cut them back lest the knife-edged gale
Whip them over the rim to death.

But the ice-fanged wind bit sharp and deep,
And the drift came crowding fast;
And the kid called Mac fought hard to keep
Them turned ‘cross the norther’s blast.

All night on the sifty wings of snow,
All day, all night again,
Like a broom of death the wind swept low
Where the old man’s herds had been.

It was then five men left the warm saloons,
And grim they faced the gale.
The norther crooned its dying runes—
They found Mac riding trail.

For the sake of cows what man rides so—
Dead, to his saddle, bound?
On the great high plains where the northers blow
This breed of the brave is found.

© S. Omar Barker, reprinted with the permission of the estate of S. Omar Barker
This poem should not be reposted or reprinted without permission

According to a family biography, poet and writer S. Omar Barker’s parents set out for New Mexico in 1889, with “fifty-six head of cattle, twelve head of mares and colts, a yoke of oxen, two teams of horses and three covered wagons loaded to the top of the sideboards…”

Andy Hedges’ current Cowboy Crossroads podcast includes interviews with the late Georgia Snead, Barker’s grandniece and a devoted friend to cowboy poetry and with top cowboy poet Waddie Mitchell. Georgia Snead tells great stories about Barker and his wife Elsa and about Barker’s work. Waddie Mitchell reminisces about his introduction to Barker, the quality of his poetry, and his conversations with the poet.

The MASTERS: VOLUME TWO,the poems of S. Omar Barker CD from CowboyPoetry.com has over 60 tracks of Barker’s poetry, presented by many of today’s top reciters and poets—including individuals, siblings, couples, parents and their offspring—who bring forth Barker’s humor and humanity. Andy Hedges introduces the CD and the life of Barker.

Find more of S. Omar Barker’s poetry and more about him at cowboypoetry.com.

This c. 1881 photograph is from Picture the West at CowboyPoetry.com, in a submission by Nevada horseman and poet Daniel Bybee, about his family’s cowboy and ranching roots, from France to New Mexico.

His great uncle Fred was persuaded to record memories of his life before he died at age 95 in 1980. Dan writes, “He was a cowboy and a freight wagon driver in New Mexico, worked at a sawmill, worked the docks in San Francisco, and drove a cab there. When he was 11, he helped his parents and my grandfather drive 100 head of cattle and a remuda of horses from New Mexico to Oklahoma. He took a turn riding night hawk every night along with my grandfather who was 13. One of his uncles was killed in a gun fight when Fred was 5 [pictured on right]. After his family moved to Oklahoma, he returned to New Mexico to cowboy for a few years with his uncles.”

Find much more of the family’s story and more photos here.

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

JACK POTTER’S COURTIN’ by S. Omar Barker

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JACK POTTER’S COURTIN’
by S. Omar Barker (1894-1985)

Now young Jack Potter was a man
who knowed the ways of steers.
From bur-nests in their hairy tails
to ticks that chawed their ears.

A Texican and cowhand,
to the saddle bred and born,
He could count a trail herd on the move
and never miss a horn.

But one day on a tally,
back in eighteen-eighty-four,
He got to acting dreamy,
and he sure did miss the score.

The Trail Boss knowed the symptoms.
“Jack you ain’t no good like this.
I’ll give you just ten days
to go and find what is amiss!”

A “miss” was just what ailed him,
for he’d fell in love for sure
With a gal named Cordie Eddy,
mighty purty, sweet and pure.

So now Jack rode a hundred miles,
a-sweatin’ with the thought
Of sweetsome words to ask her with,
the way a fella ought.

“I’m just a humble cowhand,
Miss Cordie, if you please,
That hereby asks your heart and hand,
upon my bended knees!.”

It sounded mighty simple
thus rehearsed upon the trail.
But when he come to Cordie’s house,
his words all seemed to fail.

‘Twas “Howdy, ma’am, and how’s the crops?
And “How’s your pa and ma?”
For when it came to askin’ her,
he couldn’t come to taw.

He took her to a dance one night.
The hoss she rode was his.
“He’s a dandy little hoss,” she says.
“Well, yep,” says Jack, “he is.”

They rode home late together
and the moon was ridin’ high,
And Jack, he got to talkin’
’bout the stars up in the sky,

And how they’d guide a trail herd
like they do sea-goin’ ships.
But words of love and marriage—
they just wouldn’t pass his lips!

So he spoke about the pony
she was ridin’, and he said:
“You’ll note he’s fancy-gaited,
and don’t never fight his head.”

“He’s sure a little dandy,” she agrees,
and heaves a sigh.
Jack says, “Why you can have him—
that is—maybe—when I die.”

He figgered she might savvy
what he meant or maybe guess,
And give him that sweet answer
which he longed for, namely, “yes.”

But when they reached the ranch house,
he was still a-wonderin’ how
He would ever pop the question,
and he had to do it now.

Or wait and sweat and suffer
till the drive was done that fall,
When maybe she’d be married,
and he’d lose her after all.

He put away her saddle,
led his pony to the gate:
“I reckon I’ll be driftin’, ma’am.
It’s gittin’ kinder late.”

Her eyes was bright as starlight,
and her lips looked sweet as flow’rs.
Says Jack, “Now, this here pony—
is he mine, or is he ours?”

“Our pony, Jack!” she answered,
and her voice was soft as moss.
Then Jack, he claims he kissed her—
but she claims he kissed the hoss!

© 1966, S. Omar Barker, from “Rawhide Rhymes,” reprinted with the permission of the estate of S. Omar Barker;  This poem should not be reprinted or reposted without permission

Happy Valentine’s Day, Thursday.

S. Omar Barker’s poem is based on the real-life romance of trail driver and storyteller Jack Potter and Cordelia Eddy. In July, 2006, we received correspondence from Georganna Kresl, great granddaughter of “Jack” and “Cordie,” commenting on the poem about her great-grandparents.

She wrote, “…Though Jack Potter may be best known as a trail driver, throughout his life he was first and foremost a story teller—an oral historian in the folk tradition. After he retired from the range, sold his ranch, and moved into the town of Clayton, New Mexico (1928), Potter wrote down some of his personal recollections, entered them in a contest sponsored by the Pioneer State Tribune and, astonishingly, was awarded second place. The result was that, though in his 60’s at the time, Jack Potter coincidentally created a new career for himself as a writer…

“Though Potter wrote primarily for Western magazines and newspapers, he also published two books, Cattle Trails of the Old West (1935, 1939) and Lead Steer and Other Tales (1939). In the third chapter of Lead Steer, titled “Courtship and Engagement,” Jack talks about how he and Cordie met and tells about proposing to her. Barker must have been familiar with this story through his association with Potter during the ’30s, because the heart of Potter’s narrative version of events forms the basis for Barker’s poem; in effect, Barker translated Potter’s prose into verse. The resulting rhyme was then subsequently printed in Ranch Romances in September 1941.”

Find much more and a photo of Cordie and her children at CowboyPoetry.com.

Top reciter Randy Rieman presents “Jack Potter’s Courtin'” on MASTERS: VOLUME TWO, the poetry of S. Omar Barker, from CowboyPoetry.com.

Barker was one of the founders of the Western Writers of America, Inc. and many of his poems were published by Western Horseman. Find more about S. Omar Barker at CowboyPoetry.com.

Find more cowboy love poems for Valentine’s Day here.

This postcard image is from the BAR-D collection, postmarked Fraser, Colorado, 1909.

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

COWBOY’S COMPLAINT by S. Omar Barker (1894-1985)

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COWBOY’S COMPLAINT
by S. Omar Barker (1894-1985)

I wouldn’t be a cowboy for a skunk-boat full of gold!
It’s swim with sweat in summer an’ it’s freeze in winter’s cold.
It’s roll out with the morning star an’ lace your saddle on
An’ swaller bitter coffee long before the the gray of dawn.

At snoozin’ time for city folks, you step acrost your kack
To get your innards jolted as your pony warps his back.
It’s round ’em up an’ swing a rope an’ wrestle down a calf,
An’ earn your daily wages—’bout a dollar an’ a half!

It’s herd dust down your gullet with the air too thick to chew,
An’ plenty times the water’s such you’ve got to chew it, too.
It’s set-fast on your hunkers an’ your legs so sprung an’ bent,
That your pants would fit a wagon-bow without no argument.

You eat so much hawg-boozem that a grunt’s your greetin’ hail,
An’ you dassent take a look for fear yo’ve growed a curly tail!
It’s take the ramrod’s powders when he wants to swim the crick,
An’ lean against a bullet when the rustlers try a trick.

It’s hunt a trail or slide the groove or ride a lonely line,
It’s cut the herd an’ herd the cut an’ watch for injun sign.
It’s lay upon a Tucson bed amongst the centipedes
An’ dream about the easy life them city fellers leads.

I wouldn’t be a cowboy for a skunk-boat full of gold—
It’s ‘cut a rusty’ when yo’re young an’ ‘cut back’ when you’re old.
“I wouldn’t be a cowboy”—Thus the snort of Soogan Sam,
An’ then he kinder grins and says, “I wouldn’t—but I am!”

…S. Omar Barker, used with the permission of the estate of S. Omar Barker

Poet and reciter Dick Morton, who just turned 90, recites this poem on the new double CD from CowboyPoetry.com: MASTERS: VOLUME TWO, the poetry of S. Omar Barker.

S. Omar Barker wrote some 2,000 poems in his long career. He was one of the founders of the Western Writers of America, Inc. and many of his poems were published by Western Horseman.

It’s told that Barker enjoyed signing his name with his brand, created from his initials and laid sideways for “Lazy SOB,” but, that’s not a completely accurate story. Andy Hedges sets the record straight in an introduction on the new CD.

Find more about S. Omar Barker at CowboyPoetry.com.

Rick Huff reviews the MASTERS: VOLUME TWO CD in his latest “Best of the West Reviews“:

The MASTERS of cowboy poetry series from CowboyPoetry.com showcases both the masters of writing Western poetic words and masters of delivering those words. It just doesn’t get any better than that.

MASTERS: VOLUME TWO brings us the poetry of S. Omar Barker (1894-1985) on two jam-packed CDs. Included are the most famous of his works and plenty that may well become more famous now. As for the caliber of the reciters, the attuned who read this will only need last names of most: Hedges, Rieman, McMahan, Morton, Steiger, Nelson, Black, Beard, Swearingen, Zarzyski, Isaacs, Groethe, Snider, Hollenbeck and the list goes wonderfully on.

With a total of sixty tracks here to amuse and educate, this collection makes me, born and bred New Mexican, particularly proud to recall that Mr. Barker was one as well. Highly recommended. Lovers of content should be very contented!”

Find more of Rick Huff’s latest reviews here.

Each year, the non-profit Center for Western and Cowboy Poetry/CowboyPoetry.com creates a compilation CD that is offered to libraries in the Center’s outreach Rural Library Program, part of Cowboy Poetry Week. CDs are also given to supporters and offered to the public. Find more about this latest double CD here.

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

Rick Huff’s “Best of the West Reviews,” Summer, 2018

Rick Huff reviews Western music and cowboy poetry releases in his “Rick Huff’s Best of the West Reviews” column in The Western Way from the Western Music Association and in other publications.

Rick Huff considers Western music books and recordings; cowboy poetry books, chapbooks, and recordings;  and relevant videos for review. For other materials, please query first: bestofthewest@swcp.com.

Please be sure to include complete contact information, price (plus postage) and order address information.

From Rick Huff, February, 2012:

Policy of the Column: It should be understood by artists sending material that it is being done for review consideration. Submitting such material does not ensure that it will be reviewed. Also, predominantly religious material is not accepted for review in the column. If further clarification is needed, contact Rick Huff, PO Box 8442, Albuquerque, NM 87198-8442.

Rick Huff
P.O. Box 8442
Albuquerque, NM 87198-8442

Find other recent reviews here and hundreds of previous reviews on CowboyPoetry.com.

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Selections from “Rick Huff’s Best of the West Reviews,” Summer, 2018, below:

•  CowboyPoetry.com MASTERS: VOLUME TWO, the poetry of S. Omar Barker
•  “V” The Gypsy Cowbelle TRIBAL PILGRIM
  Pegie Douglas & The Badger Sett Band THE MUSIC OF BADGER CLARK, Volume II
  Ron Secoy COWBOY PSALMS
  Chris Mortenson I’LL ROPE YOU IN THE SUNSET 
  Barry Ward COYOTES AND CATTLE

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MASTERS: VOLUME TWO, the poetry of S. Omar Barker
CowboyPoetry.com

The MASTERS of cowboy poetry series from CowboyPoetry.com showcases both the masters of writing Western poetic words and masters of delivering those words.  It just doesn’t get any better than that.

MASTERS: VOLUME TWO brings us the poetry of S. Omar Barker (1894-1985) on two jam-packed CDs.  Included are the most famous of his works and plenty that may well become more famous now.  As for the caliber of the reciters, the attuned who read this will only need last names of most:  Hedges, Rieman, McMahan, Morton, Steiger, Nelson, Black, Beard, Swearingen, Zarzyski, Isaacs, Groethe, Snider, Hollenbeck and the list goes wonderfully on.

With a total of sixty tracks here to amuse and educate, this collection makes me,  born and bred New Mexican, particularly proud to recall that Mr. Barker was one as well.  Highly recommended.  Lovers of content should be very contented!

CD:  2-CD Set $25 ppd through CowboyPoetry.com, PO Box 1107, Lexington, VA 24450

 © 2018, Rick Huff

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V The Gypsy Cowbelle - Tribal Pilgrim

TRIBAL PILGRIM
“V” The Gypsy Cowbelle 

In the listening and the reading, releases from “V” The Gypsy Cowbelle are always trips to fresh new places, and CD number 5 for her is no exception.  She educates and entertains anew in this spritely collection of originals put together at various locations across the course of four years.

Top musical hands joining her include Ernie Martinez, John Magnie, Johnny Neill, Jon Chandler, saw man Robert Armstrong and “V’s” longtime friend and mentor, the late Liz Masterson, to whom the album is dedicated and who harmonizes on an Amelia Earhart-inspired song “Dawn In The Night.”  Each track has elements to recommend it, but other picks include the saga song “Resolve,” “Long-Legged Cowboy” and the song “East To Go West,” which may become for “V” what “If I Hadn’t Seen The West” has for Joyce Woodson.

It’s encyclopedically annotated in a booklet (and all sides of the cover), so settle back, read and listen.  “V” is a journey— for some still a discovery—well worth making.  Fourteen tracks, and recommended.

CD:  $20 ppd through gypsycowbelle.com, CDbaby or from Gypsy Cowbelle, PO Box 809, Thermopolis, WY 82443 

 © 2018, Rick Huff

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Pegie Douglas & The Badger Sett Band - The Music of Badger Clark Vol 2

THE MUSIC OF BADGER CLARK, Volume II
Pegie Douglas & The Badger Sett Band

In listening to this release, I was particularly struck by the skillfulness with which Clark’s poetry has been set to music.  Creating songs using classic cowboy verse is one of those classic slippery slopes, but Pegie Douglas just artfully skates along it.  The tracks here are perfectly thought through and well executed.  Now there are more successful Badger Clark-based songs from which to choose than just “Spanish Is The Lovin’ Tongue.”  And remember this is “Volume Two,” too!

The poems used here were drawn from the Clark collections Sun & Saddle Leather, Skylines & Woodsmoke and Cowboy Poetry:  Classic Poems & Prose by Badger Clark.  South Dakotan Douglas obviously created these works as a labor of love to fellow South Dakotan Clark who, incidentally, was that state’s first Poet Laureate.  Some are mixes of song and recitation nicely rendered by Ned Westphall.  In addition to him and Ms. Douglas (lead vocals & guitar), other members of the Badger Sett band (they do “sets” of Badger’s music: get it?) are Cheryl Janssens (bass), Marcia Kenobbie (lead/harmony vocals & mandolin) and Katie Lautenschlager (violin).

From inception to performance, this CD is Top Drawer all the way.   Ten tracks.   Highly recommended!

CD:  Contact Pegie Douglas, PO Box 925, Hill City, SD 57745 or visit pegiedouglas.com for information.

 © 2018, Rick Huff

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Ron Secoy - Cowboy Psalms

COWBOY PSALMS
Ron Secoy

Rather than being a specific statement of content, Cowboy Psalms is actually the title track of the newest release from Oklahoma poet Ron Secoy.  In truth most of these tracks are religious, some less so.  But all are lessons.

Picks here include the title cut “Cowboy Psalms” (equating herding herds and herding words), “Outlaw” (an O. Henry-worthy encounter at a campfire), the barroom braggin’ piece “Tall Tail” (his spelling not mine), “Adam & Eve” as cowfolk,  “Ol’ Bill” and “Mustang,” an unusual healing horse story set to Indian flute accompaniment.

Secoy’s delivery is straightforward, clear and deliberate, as are the points of the stories.  When I received it, I had first thought the CD must be an early release sent ahead of cover art and a tray card being ready.  But in phoning Secoy, I found this was not the case, or rather, I was looking at the complete case!  I fear it will hurt the album gaining radio/online airplay and certainly will knock it out of any award eligibility in the Fall.  But it’s listenable and orderable, and maybe that’s the artist’s main consideration.  Fourteen tracks.

CD:  $15 + $5 s/h from Ron Secoy, 272826 Gatlin, Duncan, OK 73533 and through ronsecoy.com

 © 2018, Rick Huff

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Chris Mortenson - I'll Rope You The Sunset

I’LL ROPE YOU IN THE SUNSET
Chris Mortenson

In a past review I drew a comparison between Chris Mortenson’s vocal styling and that of Neil Young, which Mortenson writes he finds “a bit puzzling.”  Well, puzzle onward!  For me it still holds true.  To my ear on most of the tracks, something in Mortenson’s swoop onto and casual glide over notes still evokes a bit of Neil Young, particularly in Young’s more recent material where he sings closer to Mortenson’s vocal range.  And a certain rock sensitivity on Mortenson’s part is suggested by the presence of the track called “Missing Glenn Frey.”

Basically this release is a mix of ballads and saga songs.  Picks include Bob Parson’s “When His Eyes Are Closed,” Randy Abel’s unusual and compassionate “Sgt. Eli’s Silver Mine,” Mortenson’s own “Shawn Wayne” and his “Eight Second Blues.”  The offering is enhanced significantly by the instrumental support on varying tracks of Ryan Shupe (fiddle), Bob Parson & Josh Ward (electric guitar), Scott Olson (harmonica & guitar), Ernie Sites (mandolin & acoustic lead guitar), Kelin Gibbons (banjo), Karl Gibbons (dobro), Greg Forbush (pedal steel), Tony Messerly (banjitar) and Zan Summers (drums).  Fifteen tracks.

It definitely should please Mortenson fans.

CD:  $15 ppd from Chris Mortenson, PO Box 405, Paradise, UT 84328

© 2018, Rick Huff

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Barry Ward - Coyotes & Cattle

COYOTES AND CATTLE
Barry Ward

The newest from The Bear strikes me as containing more first person reflections and End-of-Life’s-Trail songs than usual.  Am I mistaken, or is he trying to tell us something?  What am I saying.  Barry Ward frequently tries to tell us something!

Seven of the tracks here are Ward originals.  Picks among them include “Ruts Of The Santa Fe Trail,” the wistful title track “Coyotes & Cattle,” “That Old Barn,” “Saddle Up” and the rousing voice and guitar showpiece “Bandito,” even though its religious U-turn ending might otherwise make me veer off.  Among the covers we’ll name as picks are Marvin O’Dell’s “Keep A Candle In The Window,” the Indian-intoned “Wayfaring Stranger,” fellow Kansan Larry Hannon’s 1995 Will Rogers paean “The Man From Coo-Wees-Coo-Wee” and Gordon Mote’s “Wake Up Dancin’.”

Barry Ward is a former WMA Male Performer of the Year and his CD Coyotes & Cattle will still give you a good indication why.  All in all, it’s another solid horse in his string!  Thirteen tracks.  Recommended.

CD:  $15 + $3 s/h from Barry Ward, PO Box 185, Eureka, KS 67045 and through BarryWardMusic.com