DEEP OCTOBER, by Rod Nichols (1942-2007)

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DEEP OCTOBER
by Rod Nichols (1942-2007)

There’s somethin’ ’bout the time of year
when fall is almost over,
September’s just a memory,
now lost in deep October.

The nights have changed from cool to cold
the trees from leafed to bare,
a breeze is now a cuttin’ wind
that hones the evenin’ air.

And overhead a muted light
casts shadows o’er the gloom,
like tricks upon All Hallow’s Eve
an orange October moon.

A melancholy, haunted place
this lonely trail tonight,
a grove of twisted, barren shapes
against that autumn light.

The sounds of evenin’ aren’t the same
no crickets, birds or frog,
instead a moan among the trees
or distant, mournful dog.

While overhead that muted light
casts shadows o’er the gloom,
like tricks upon All Hallow’s Eve
an orange October moon.

There’s somethin’ ’bout the time of year
when fall is almost over,
September’s just a memory,
now lost in deep October.

© 2007, Rod Nichols, used with permission

Rod Nichols told us, “‘Deep October’ was written after a ride one evening when the moon was almost orange in color. I was on a black Morgan that belonged to a friend of mine and I had to write this one when I got in.

Rod is forever missed by his many friends and family. Find more about him and more of his poetry at CowboyPoetry.com.

This photo is by New Mexico cowboy, songwriter, poet, entertainer, and talented photographer Mike Moutoux. He told us he took the photo in the Pecos Wilderness, northeast of Santa Fe, of his friend Ben Nelson of Las Vegas, New Mexico.

Find more about Mike Moutoux at mikemoutoux.com, including videos with his poetry and music.

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

NOT SO SLOW by Bruce Kiskaddon (1878-1950)

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photo © 2016, Mike Moutoux

NOT SO SLOW
by Bruce Kiskaddon (1878-1950)

You have heard some folks say, “He’s as slow as a cow.”
Well, there’s things about cows they don’t know.
If they knowed about cattle, they’d figger somehow,
That there’s times when a cow ain’t so slow.

When a bunch of rough cattle start burnin’ the breeze,
And take off a rough mountain side,
You want a good shore footed hoss ‘twixt your knees
And sand in yore gizzard to ride.

Fer when a old cow starts to rattle her hocks,
She certainly makes a good showin’
She’s a foggin’ the dust and a rollin’ the rocks
And Cow Boy you’d better git goin’.

So when a man sez, “He’s as slow as a cow.”
You can figger by what he has said,
That the hosses he’s seen was hitched to a plow,
And cows was tied under a shed.

…Bruce Kiskaddon, 1937

This poem appeared in the Western Livestock Journal in August, 1937. It was also on a Los Angeles Union Stockyards calendar with an illustration by Katherine Field.

Bruce Kiskaddon worked for ten years as a cowboy, starting in 1898 in southeastern Colorado’s Picketwire area. He published short stories and nearly 500 poems.

Much of what is known about Kiskaddon and his work comes from Open Range, Bill Siems’ monumental collection of Kiskaddon’s poetry. Bill Siems also collected Bruce Kiskaddon’s short stories in a book called Shorty’s Yarns. Find more in the Kiskaddon features at CowboyPoetry.com: http://www.cowboypoetry.com/kisk.htm.

Find much more about Kiskaddon and many more poems in features at CowboyPoetry.com.

This photo by New Mexico cowboy, songwriter, poet, entertainer, and photographer Mike Moutoux, was included in a 2016 Picture the West at CowboyPoetry.com. Mike took it at a spring branding at singer and songwriter Randy Huston’s New Mexico ranch. See all of the images here.

Find more about Mike Moutoux at mikemoutoux.com, including his occasional “Ranch Notes.”

RANCH HORSES by Mike Moutoux

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photo ©Mike Moutoux, “Jason and Gray: holding cows
near Silver City, New Mexico,” request permission for use

RANCH HORSES
by Mike Moutoux

Ranch horses lead a different kind of life
They aren’t coddled much with barns and special feed
A lean-to, some grain on days they’re working
Some new shoes now and then is all they need

But that doesn’t mean they aren’t special, not at all
It just means they aren’t a bunch of pampered pets
So, they fend for themselves when they aren’t workin’
A day off now and then’s about all they get

Don’t get me wrong; they’re more than beasts of burden
They make a ranch complete in many a way
Horse add a bit of class; a sort of equine grace
I’m reminded of this fact two times a day

Morning is the first times that I see it
As liquid light first plays along the rim
A soft nicker from the shadows and another
Tells me the ranch remuda is comin’ in

Silhouettes appear then, almost noble in my mind
One or two will glance my way as we pass
The day has just begun, and there’s your proof
That this ranch has got itself some real class

There’s something in the way they hold their heads up
A softness and alertness in every eye
You can sense the power, and yet restraint
In the way they give me room as they pass by

Evening is the other time I sense the magic
If I linger at the corrals it comes again
A thin cloud of dust above the yuccas
Means the horses—ranch horses, are comin’ in

Even on the hottest days of June and July
When summer sweat and dust streak my sunburned face
The horses file by with their tales keepin’ time
In that easy flowin’ state of equine grace

There’s a rhythm in their footsteps I admire
A synchronicity they show at any gait
So I linger now and then in the evening
A state of grace is my reward if I just wait

Now, I cowboy for all the obvious reasons
Grace and class are a just a bonus now and then
Twice a day, I look for one or the other
And find it in the horses a-comin’ in

© 2013, Mike Moutoux
This poem should not be reposted or reprinted without permission

New Mexico cowboy, poet, and songwriter Mike Moutoux comments, “The poem is just my way of honoring the many ranch horses that are hard-working integral parts of ranching. The ones I’ve ridden aren’t pampered much, love to work cattle and generally got me home safe. Some of the best hours in my life have been spent riding a ranch horse somewhere working cattle.”

See and hear “Ranch Horses” on Mike’s YouTube channel.

There’s more about him at CowboyPoetry.com, on Facebook, and at mikemoutoux.com, which includes his performance schedule and occasional “Ranch Notes.”

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photo ©Mike Moutoux;, “Roger Moyers roping at the Huston Ranch, New Mexico,” request permission for use

 

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photo ©Mike Moutoux;, “Owen Young roping at Huston Ranch, New Mexico,” request permission for use

 

Christmas 2016: Submitted Poems

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Find more poetry at the main page for the 17th annual Christmas at the BAR-D. Below are selected submitted poems.

“Cactus Charlie,” by Mike Moutoux
“Santa on My Heels,” by Dan “Doc” Wilson
“Cookie’s Christmas,” by Jack Burdette

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CACTUS CHARLIE
by Mike Moutoux

Life wasn’t hard on Charlie
But it wasn’t easy neither
‘bout like most cowboys who’ve seen life’s ups and downs
He retired from punchin’ cows and most thought all he’s doin’ now
Is marking time on his small place outside of town

At least that’s what they figured
But then, no one saw him much
He just stayed out there alone on his patch of desert
Yet despite the dust and heat, he kept the place up pretty neat
And every year it seemed to look a little better

Now you can call me nosey
I like to say I’m concerned
‘Cause I’d always turn in whenever I was out that way
We’d talk a little while, and he’d ask with half a smile
“You want to see how they’re a-doin’ now today?”

See, Charlie was a cactus rancher
(I learned not to call it farmin’)
And he was proud—proud of his sturdy prickly herd
He had claret cup, and prickly pear and a cholla name of teddy bear
He seemed to know the name of every plant and bug and bird

The tour would take an hour
But the time just seemed to fly
As we checked on just ‘bout everything we could
The nests of cactus wrens and the desert tortoise den
When Charlie said, “stop in again”, I said I would

“Christmas Party at Cactus Charlie’s”
The notes came in our reg’lar mail
We’re invited on the eve of Christmas Day
‘Course a lot of folks had plans, but they changed ‘em for that old man
Some were curious or just polite, but we all came

An’ I’ve never so many of us together
But there we were at Charlie’s
All arriving in the evening’s fading light
And once we were all assembled, Charlie said in a voice that trembled
“I want to thank you all for coming here tonight.”

And then he took us on the tour
Not another word was spoken
As Charlie took us on the path where we always met
He must have worked for hours placing candles and adding flowers
I believe it was as close to Heaven as some of us would get

The cactus glowed from all those candles
Shadows flickered on our faces
There were smiles and married folk were holding hands
Charlie’s gift was plain to see, what he shared with them and me
Was the joy and peace that come to those who love the land

Now me, I’m just an old poet
But that gives me a kind of license
To tell you things that may or may not be true
Well I’m tellin’ you this story’s real, I shared it so you might feel
The joy and peace that Charlie would want for you.

© 2016, Mike Moutoux
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without permission.

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SANTA ON MY HEELS
by Dan “Doc” Wilson

‘Twas just before Christmas and I was alone
Out ridin’ the line, only me and my roan.
The snow was piled high by the rough line shack door,
While north winds were howlin’ and threatenin’ more.

Some icicles hung from the edge of the roof
As if winter needed to show us some proof
That summer was gone while Fall’s had its day,
And soon we’d see Santa come ridin’ our way.

The crick was froze over, as hard as a rock,
And waterin’ places we’d dug for the stock
Were crusted with ice that I stopped to break
In bitter cold winds that made weary bones ache.

Then down ‘long the fence line I rode once again
To look for those breaks that appeared now and then.
An’ sure enough there, just as plain as can be,
A hole gapped so wide that the stock could roam free.

I spent almost all of that cold, snowy day
Just roundin’ up critters that wandered astray,
Then drivin ‘em back to our own pasture lands,
And hazin’ away some that wore other brands.

But one ol’ cantankerous bull wouldn’t turn,
And ran down the ridge past the late summer burn.
Through drifts that were deep, we set up quite a pace,
And rambled and scrambled and had us a race!

Then suddenly out of the blizzard’s cold rage
A wild, wooly cowboy came drivin’ a stage!
He hooted and hollered like Ol’ Scratch at night
While I stared and shivered to see such a sight!

The eyes of his team burned like hot glowin’ coals
And I swore ‘twas Satan out lookin’ for souls!
Not waitin’ to see where the creature was bound
I gigged my ol’ roan and I turned him around.

I shot through the drifts and the pines on the hill
While thunderin’ hooves and a “ye-haw” so shrill
Were hot on my heels like a demon possessed!
He never would pause, nor would give me a rest!

We rode for the fence that was not far behind,
And left the old bull who I put out of mind,
Then flew through the gap that stood open wide,
While on came the stage, and it rumbled inside!

I turned for the line shack just over the crest
And hoped maybe Scratch would find some other guest,
When much to my sudden surprise and dismay
My roan slipped and fell in a gawsh awful way!

I tumbled and rolled and then suddenly stopped
On snow-covered logs that some waddies had chopped,
While thrashin’ and crashin’ and hot on my trail
Came Scratch with his stage and my certain travail!

All dressed up in red from his head to his boots
The driver was smokin’ them cowboy cheroots,
And as he raced by he yelled back from the gate,
‘It’s Christmas y’all and I reckon I’m late!’

Then off with a bound, he rode on through the snows
His stage full of boxes with ribbons and bows,
Then I knew at once, and it hit me right quick,
Why, ‘twarn’t Scratch at all… it was jolly St. Nick!”

© 2016, Dan “Doc” Wilson
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without permission.

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COOKIE’S CHRISTMAS
by Jack Burdette

Now, Cookie’s been a might grumpy,
since he stepped on his corncob pipe
And, if there’s one thing you don’t want
it’s chuck cooked with a grudge or gripe.
So, us boys all got together
and decided with Christmas near,
We’d all pitch in to cheer him up,
or, at least, quell food poisoning fear.

Ken’s been sorta sneaky of late,
spending spare time out in the shed
And Austin’s been firing the forge,
pretending to shoe some old stead.
Louie and me rode into town,
and did some shopping on our own.
We made up some lame brain excuse,
so’s our true purpose was unknown.

Soon, Christmas day came to our ranch
and we sat down to a real feast.
Before the blessing could be said,
for Cookie, all our gifts unleashed.
Lou and me gave him a bible,
with zipper case for on the trail
And a pair of doeskin slippers,
Indian crafted with fine detail.

Austin presented a fire set,
for use when working the roundups,
All hand forged tools made from wrought iron,
with handles fashioned from old stirrups.
There were long forks, big spoons and tongs,
and griddle for flipping flapjacks.
There was a spit with turning crank,
stew pot crane and coffee pot racks.

Ken handed Cookie his artwork,
he’d carved from a maple burl blank.
A tobacco pipe with large bowl
and Bent Billiard style curved shank.
Light magnified the swirling grain,
hand polished to a vibrant sheen,
It was the most beautiful pipe,
that none of us had ever seen.

Cookie was shocked and taken back.
was first I’d seen him lost for words.
But, stammered, “Grub’s all I gotcha,
so, dig in and fill your innards.”
We sopped our plates and ate our pie.
As for the meal, nary a gripe.
Then Cookie put on new slippers
and lit tobacco in his pipe.

After a few puffs, tamped the bowl
and said, “Now that’s a right cool smoke.”
He tapped out ash and lit up new
and weren’t too long before he spoke.
“I weren’t always a broke down cook,
and if you want to hear the truth,
I still yearn for saddle and spurs
and carefree escapades of youth.”

“Thankful, I can still pull my weight,
it keeps me near the life I love
And ‘though I’m not straddling a horse,
this job’s a blessing from above.
I thank you for these treasured gifts
and this Christmas we can share.
By far, the greatest gift of all,
is just knowing you waddies care.”

© 2016, Jack Burdette
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without permission.

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Picture the West: Mike Moutoux

Picture the West looks for images that give a glimpse of the ranching, cowboy, and rural and working life of the West of today and yesterday. We’re looking for vintage and contemporary photos: family photos, images of where you live and work, and the area around you.

If you have a photo to share, email us.

Find many years’ previous photos at CowboyPoetry.com.

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New Mexico cowboy, songwriter, poet, entertainer, and photographer Mike Moutoux shares pictures below from this fall. He writes:

“A good friend of mine, Randy Huston, asked me to come up for a branding and of course I made the long drive to be there. That is what friends do. Turns out, Randy has a lot of friends who do the same and together we made short work out of branding his crop of Corriente calves. It was a picture perfect shirtsleeves by 8:00 in the morning day, and with all the help he had, I got permission to just run a camera for a while.

(All photos: © 2016, Mike Moutoux, mikemoutoux.com. Request permission for use.)

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“It is always a pleasure to be in a branding pen; for me it is much more enjoyable than a rodeo. There is the pleasure of getting work done, being side by side with folks you both like and admire, occasional misses and slip-ups offset by slick catches and quick thinking ropers and flankers speeding up the work and keeping each other and the livestock safe. The dust, the smoke and the noise are unique to the work and create an atmosphere I love to be in the middle of.

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“My song’s line below, ‘Seen fine roping done by the best of quiet men’ was inspired by this particular crew that Randy puts together. It is a pleasure to ride beside them and watch them work. They make it look easy; they make me proud to be part of the crew; they understand if I sit out a spell to take photos like these so I can share it all with others. They are the best of quiet men.”

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(All photos: © 2016, Mike Moutoux, mikemoutoux.com. Request permission for use.)

 

GRATEFUL FOR THE CHANCES
lyrics by Mike Moutoux

I’m grateful for the chances given me
For places that could set my spirit free
Been reckless when I had to be
No, long days never bothered me
‘Cause I saw things I’d never get to see
Trading time for one more memory

Rode mountain trails where aspens twist and sway
Where Douglas Firs threw shadows deep and long
And columbines nod gently in the shade
Where canyon creeks made music all day long

I’ve been blessed to see a new life come to be
Helped a time or two when the birth was rough
And the mourning of a cow inspired me
When she lost a calf she never got to love

Chorus

Been in the thick of things in the branding pen
Survived the swirling dust and kicking calves
Seen fine roping done by the best of quiet men
Each of us all giving all we have

Saddled up my horse in the pearly light of morn
Seen the last stars kiss the morning moon goodbye
Watched the eastern clouds greet the sun as it was born
The beauty and romance would make me sigh

Chorus

I’m grateful for the chances given me
Tried to share it all with songs and poetry
Stretched the truth now if I had to
Sang my heart out and was glad to
Grateful for the chance to set you free
Grateful for the time you took for me.

© 2016, Mike Moutoux, used with permission

Find some of Mike Moutoux’s poetry and lyrics and more about him at CowboyPoetry.com; at his web site, mikemoutoux.com; and on Facebook.

A FITTING MONUMENT by Mike Moutoux

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mmhuston-windmill-sizedphotos © 2016, Mike Moutoux

A FITTING MONUMENT
by Mike Moutoux

In the dry land stands the monument of a dreamer
It is a testament to hope; to years of yearning
Standing tall above the grasses, rocks and scrub oak
Below a cloudless sky and sun so brightly burning

No babbling brooks cross here, just silent sand arroyos
Few linger here at all; fewer still would stake a claim
Only fools and dreamers could love this barren land
It does not suffer fools; dreamers love it just the same

‘Twas the Homestead Act that brought him here to dream and sweat
It was the solitude and grass that it made it feel right
But there were months when precious rains were non-existent
Each cloudless day brought another worried weary night

All that changed when the Aermotor windmill was delivered
The well was dug, the tower raised; each rod and gear in place
The wind blew as always, but now it turned a shiny fan
And both the cowman’s heart and dreams begin to race

The cowman would talk about that day for years to come
How the blades spun, the rods creaked, how he paced and paced
And then water, precious water, poured from pipe to trough
Giving hope a thing a man could actually taste

Within weeks trails appeared around the water trough
As thirsty critters, one by one, found the water there of course
Not just cows, but the antelope, fox and deer drank there
The tower, a beacon, led them to their water source

The story of the dreamer is old but not forgotten
The tower still stands although its working years are spent
A testament to one man’s hope and all those years of yearning
For a dreamer and cowman, a most fitting monument.

© 2016, Mike Moutoux

New Mexico cowboy, songwriter, poet, entertainer, and photographer Mike Moutoux shared this poem and photos.

He comments, “The Aermotor company sold its first windmills in 1888; they still make them today. It is not uncommon to see their mills in our part of the country. The precious water they produce as well as the many ranch dirt tanks that capture and store run-off benefit cows and great herds of wild things.”

Catch Mike Moutoux at the Cochise Cowboy Poetry & Music Gathering (February 3-5, 2017) in Sierra Vista, Arizona. The event celebrates its 25th anniversary and featured artists are Arvel Bird, Mikki Daniel, Desert Suns, Rena Randall & Due West Trio, Juni Fisher, Sue Harris, Carol Heuchan, Susie Knight, Jon Messenger, Dale Page, Saddle Strings, and Jay Snider. Participating artists include Broken Chair Band, Call of the West, Van Criddle, Sam DeLeeuw, Mike Dunn, Nancy Elliot, Kerry Grombacher, Purly Gates, Harpy Trails, Larry Harmer, Randy Huston, Ken & Jerye, Deanna Dickinson McCall, Peggy Malone, Carol Markstrom, Mike Moutoux, Terry Nash, Tony Norris, Notable Exceptions, and Outriders. Find more at cowboypoets.com and on Facebook.

Find more about Mike Moutoux at mikemoutoux.com, including his performance schedule and occasional “Ranch Notes.”

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