COWBOY BANKER by Pat Richardson (1934-2016)

seenoevil© 2006, Jeri Dobroski, photo of Pat Richardson, Jess Howard, and Stan Howe

COWBOY BANKER
by Pat Richardson (1934-2016)

“I wanna be a cowboy,” said the banker Larry Brown,
“an’ work out in the country, ‘steada cooped up here in town.”
When his wife got wind of this she nearly went berserk
he made a hundred grand a year, doin’ banker work.

She said,” You can’t ride a horse, you can barely drive a Jeep
the whole idea’s dumber than a hundred head of sheep.”
“Ben said he’d teach me everything I need to know
an’ how long can that take? There’s just giddyup an’ whoa.”

He went thumbin’ through a catalog of “Western wear an’ feed”
with his calculator hummin’, addin’ up the things he’d need
“A thousand for a saddle? There must be some mistake
a misprint he reckoned, a grand for heaven’s sake?”

A hat an’ vest, boots an’ spurs, an’ naturally a rope
a bridle, reins, an’ silver bit, an’ a bar of saddle soap
a pickup an’ a trailer, an’ assorted odds an’ ends
“It’s pretty dang expensive now, I’ll tell you that my friend

“Saddle blankets, underclothes, an’ oh yes a pair of chinks.”
When he hit the total button, took an hour just to blink.
So he gave up that cowboy scheme an’ sez with some dismay,
“I can’t afford to be a cowboy on a lousy banker’s pay.”

© 2001, Pat Richardson, used with permission

The late California poet, humorist, artist, cowboy, and former Pro Rodeo Sports News cartoonist Pat Richardson was known for his deadpan delivery of his humorous poems. It’s always hard to resist to mention that Baxter Black said of Pat Richardson’s poetry, “If you boiled cowboy poetry down to what’s worth savin’, this is what the stew would smell like.”

At the forthcoming Western Folklife Center’s 35th National Cowboy Poetry Gathering, January 28 – February 2, 2019 in Elko, Nevada, there will be a show remembering Pat Richardson and other favorite cowboy poets who have recently left us: Georgie Sicking (1921-2016), Jess Howard (1936-2016, Pat Richardson’s brother), and Elizabeth Ebert (1925-2018). Performers for the show, all friends of those poets, are Yvonne Hollenbeck, Rodney Nelson, Brenn Hill, Dave Stamey, and DW Groethe. The show will be Saturday afternoon, February 2, at 1:30 pm, at the G Bar Three Theatre at the Western Folklife Center.

There’s more at CowboyPoetry.com about each of the poets being remembered: Pat RichardsonGeorgie Sicking, Jess Howard, and Elizabeth Ebert.

The complete National Cowboy Poetry Gathering lineup includes 3hattrio, Amy Hale Auker, Mike Beck, Geno Delafose & French Rockin Boogie, John Dofflemyer, Joshua Dugat, Maria Lisa Eastman, Mary Flitner, Jamie Fox & Alex Kusturok, Ryan & Hoss Fritz, Dick Gibford, DW Groethe, Andy Hedges, Brenn Hill, Tish Hinojosa, Yvonne Hollenbeck, Ross Knox, Ned LeDoux, Daron Little, Corb Lund, Carolyn Martin’s Swing Band, Sid Marty, Deanna Dickinson McCall, Gary McMahan, Waddie Mitchell, Michael Martin Murphey, Joel Nelson, Rodney Nelson, Diane Peavey, Shadd Piehl, Vess Quinlan, Halladay & Rob Quist, Henry Real Bird, Brigid Reedy, Randy Rieman, Jake Riley, Matt Robertson, Olivia Romo, Trinity Seely, Sean Sexton, Sourdough Slim, Dave Stamey, Gail Steiger, Colter Wall, and Paul Zarzyski.

Find more at nationalcowboypoetrygathering.org and check out their YouTube channel for a great archive of cowboy poetry and Western music performances and more.

Jeri Dobrowski took this photo of Pat Richardson, Jess Howard, and Stan Howe at the 2006 National Cowboy Poetry Gathering. Find her photography at jeridobrowski.com.

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

A COWBOYIN’ DAY, by Gary McMahan

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A COWBOYIN’ DAY
by Gary McMahan

Morning is just a thin line to the East
As you steps in the corral and captures a beast.
Cold saddle blankets, hey cock-a-doodle-doo—
Don’t buck now, you booger; you’ll break me in two.

Your head starts working on the last pass around;
Saddle horses are wrangled, draft horses cut out.
You shuts the gate and steps to the ground—
It’s hot, black coffee you’re thinking ’bout now.

Then it’s biscuits and gravy and eggs over light,
And the foreman’s wife is a beautiful sight.
Jokes and jabs and the cowboss’s orders,
A chew and a toothpick, and you’re out the door

To saddle the horse you’ll use for the day,
Makin’ sure your riggin’ has no extra play.
You steps aboard light with him all gathered up
’Cause you know first hand this critter can buck.

Ease him out at a walk and head north towards the dump.
You’ll be askin’ a trot when he loses his hump.
You hits a slow lope on the badger highway;
It’s a cool morning, blue-sky cowboyin’ day.

And the brooks are babbling down through the holes,
The meadowlarks sing the song in your soul,
And the wildflowers blaze any color you s’pose
As the smell of sagebrush and pine fill your nose.

Now the horse that you’re on is big, and he’s lean—
Quick, tough, smart, and a little bit mean.
His saddle’s no place for the meek or the green;
He’s a sho-nuff rip-snortin’ cowboyin’ machine.

And the place that you’re headed is pretty intense;
Continental Divide is the back fence.
There’s ten thousand acres of mountain and rock there
And twelve hundred head to check and to doctor.

And to make matters worse (or better, you think),
They’re all yearling heifers—unpredictable dinks.
They’ll run and they’ll hide ’til hell freezes twice
Then kick up their heels as you skate on the ice.

But this ain’t no colt, and you ain’t no kid,
So you whips out your rope and pulls down your lid,
And you climbs and cruises the sagebrush and aspen
’Til you finds you a cow brute what’s droopy and raspin’.

And maybe you’ll tag ’er ’fore she gits to the brush
And trip ’er and tie ’er in a big rush
And pack her with sulfa and penicillin.
She’ll turn for the better, good Lord a willin’.

Lots of footrot and pinkeye today,
But that don’t mean the boogers can’t play.
They’ve ducked and they’ve dodged ’til who laid a chunk,
But you managed to capture a pretty good hunk.

A line-backed old heifer with a sly side dart
Almost upset the whole apple cart,
And a bald-faced old bag sure slammed on her brakes
When we dived off a ledge and got in her way.

It’s the heat of the day now—sun’s straight overhead—
And you and your horse are packing some lead.
You hanker for rest and a biscuit or two,
And you figures you got that much coming to you.

Now your horse likes the grass that grows ’neath the aspen,
And the shade there is welcome as peace everlastin’.
So you finds such a place with a creek close by
To soothe the bruises of a hard ride.

You hobbles, unbridles him, loosens his girth
Then sets yourself down in the cool, green earth,
Surrounds your grub and drinks your fill
And takes a siesta way back in the hills.

Well, a catnap is all you require;
Still, you lay there and ponder your thoughts . . .
The world sure has its briars.
Take, for instance, this good old cow-hoss—

He was a wild-eyed, ring-tailed dandy.
Heck, they give up on him ’fore they give him to me,
But it’s the same for horses as it is for men—
He just needed a job and a kick in the shin.

Well the afternoon’s spent with the usual flair:
A close call here, a catastrophe there.
But still we saved more than a couple of hides;
That’s why we get paid for making these rides.

A storm blew through for about thirty minutes,
And you’d swear that Satan hisself was in it.
You’re sure glad your pony is seasoned plumb through—
Close lightning’s unloaded a few buckaroos.

You’re wet as a fish, but you ain’t gonna melt,
And the sun feels the best it ever has felt.
You’re all steamed up like an overdue freight,
But you’re dry as a duck time you get to the gate.

Now, there are those who thinks a cowboy’s a crude, ignorant cuss.
Truth is, we no-savvy them; they no-savvy us.
But there’s one thing that sticks in my mind
When a cowboy’s job cuts into sublime.

It’s when you and your horse form a leathery feather
And drift two, three yearlings out of a gather
And trail ’em up someplace they don’t want to go
When they’re needing a vet or what ever, y’know.

You set ’em just so when you go through a gate,
And don’t rile ’em up, for heaven’s sake.
Folks that have tried it say it’s kind of an art
To pen ’em in the home corral before dark.

And we’re trailin’ two of em home this night.
We’ll prolly ship the one; the other’ll be all right.
But one wrong move now the air’s turning cool,
And these two yearling heifers’ll make you look like a fool.

Punch ’em into the catch with a “whoop” and a smile.
You been walkin’ on eggs for the last two miles,
And if one woulda broke, the fur woulda flew—
No tellin’ when you’da got another crack at them two.

Your horse rolls in the dirt while you put up your tack,
Then savors his grain while you scratch his back.
It’s an evenin’ ritual you both enjoy;
You don’t covet nothin’ when you ride this ol’ boy.

An he heads for the timothy down by the lake
Whilst you saunters to the house for soup and steak
To mix it up with compadres and finish your pie
Like folks do when they’re satisfied.

When supper’s done, there’s little time for play—
You sleep hard all night if you work hard all day—
But ’fore you fall off your log to float in the air,
You may have time for a little prayer:

“Lord, I thank you for this cowboyin’ day.
I sure had me some fun a-earnin’ my pay,
And I like to think I put meat on the table
For a country that needs to stay fit an’ able.

“But a cow with no horse is boring as hell,
And a horse with no cows don’t ring my bell.
It’s a good life you gave me, these horses and cattle,
And I wanted to say thanks Lord for my day in the saddle.”

© 1986, Gary McMahan, used with permission
This poem should not be reposted or reprinted without permission.

Cowboy, poet, songwriter, and yodeler Gary McMahan’s vivid “A Cowboyin’ Day” is a contemporary cowboy poetry standout.

In his book, Gary McMahan in Poetry and Song, he writes about it, “One of my favorite things is working cattle on a good horse in the high country. I used to do a considerable amount of it, and even though this poem doesn’t have a ‘Hollywood plot,’ a lot of ranch folk have told me how much they like it, especially those who’ve ever run a bunch of yearlin’s.”

At Gary McMahan’s singingcowboy.com, you can listen to “A Cowboyin’ Day” and the full-length tracks of all his albums of his music and poetry.

Gary is headed to the 30th annual Colorado Cowboy Poetry Gathering in Golden, January 17-20, 2019. The lineup includes Jerry Brooks, Jon Chandler, Connie Dover, Mark Gardner & Rex Rideout, Kristyn Harris, Carol Huechan, Yvonne Hollenbeck, Chuck Larsen, Gary McMahan, John Nelson, New West, Jean Prescott, Dave Stamey, Pop Wagner, Barry Ward, and Dick Warwick.

Gary told us, “Vess Quinlan and I started the Colorado Cowboy Gathering 30 years ago! I can’t believe it’s been 30 years. We wanted to have a gathering to go along with the National Western Stock Show here in Denver. We figured it would just dovetail right in with it. So we went to the state folklorist Bea Roeder and she really did the hard work of putting it together. Turns out, it was sparsely attended by the NWSS folks and loved by the people in and around Denver and Colorado. We have much to celebrate. Some great cowboy poets came outta Colorado, Bruce Kiskaddon, to give you one example.”

(Look for Gary’s recitation of two Kiskaddon poems on our forthcoming MASTERS: VOLUME THREE CD.)

Gary is also featured at the Western Folklife Center’s 35th annual National Cowboy Poetry Gathering in Elko, Nevada, January 28-February 2, 2019.

Find more about Gary at CowboyPoetry.com and at his site, singingcowboy.com.

This photo is by Bill Patterson, top gathering photographer, who has captured great views of so many of today’s performers and the essence of so many events. See some of his photos on Facebook.  The above photo is used with a different look in a recent article in about the Colorado gathering from 5280 magazine.

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

DROUGHT OF SEVENTY-SEVEN by John Dofflemyer

 

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DROUGHT OF SEVENTY-SEVEN
by John Dofflemyer

It was dry in the fall of seventy-six
and the cows were calvin’ in the dust,
nothin’ to see but acres of chips,
a drought year when cowmen went bust.

Their hides were rough ‘n’ just cover’d bone
‘n’ ribs caught most of your eye,
spindly calves seemed to wander alone
as if lookin’ for a place to die.

Cows were bringin’ two-bits a pound,
a hundred bucks less than the spring,
and all you could do, was throw hay on the ground,
and pray to God it would rain.

Their toes would clack like castanets
in the cloud that’d boil ’round your truck,
the bawlin’ skeletons and weak silhouettes
would bring tears to the drought of good luck.

Reckon Ma Nature’s showed me who’s boss,
as she’ll do some time and again,
but she’s never caused me half of the loss
that politicians create with a pen.

© 1989, John Dofflemyer, used with permission

California rancher and poet John Dofflemyer is Andy Hedges’ guest on the most recent Cowboy Crossroads podcast—the 41st in this excellent, not-to-be-missed series.

John Dofflemyer speaks to a sweep of modern history, from his young life in the turbulent ’60s, its music and politics, through the birth of the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering. He also reflects on his boyhood, the deep roots of his ranching family, and how he came to work on the ranch and later take on full responsibility. Throughout, his thoughtful and open-minded maverick spirit shines through, from his publication of Vietnam War poetry by the late Rod McQueary and William Jones to his views on environmental issues to the nature and forms of cowboy poetry.

“Drought of Seventy Seven” was one of John Dofflemyer’s earliest poems and was included in his first book, Dry Creek Poems (1989), where it appears all in lower case. The poem was collected in New Cowboy Poetry: A Contemporary Gathering, edited by Hal Canon (1990). A 2011 entry in Dry Crik Journal also includes the poem.

John Dofflemyer’s innovative periodical, the Dry Crik Review of Contemporary Cowboy Poetry, published fourteen print volumes, 1991-1994, and an electronic double volume in 2005. Find a comprehensive index at CowboyPoetry.com. Currently the Dry Crik Journal blog includes frequent poems, commentary, and photography.

The Cowboy Crossroads podcast with John Dofflemyer is the last of the series for this year. Don’t miss Andy Hedges’ fine recitation of a Charlie Russell Christmas poem. Find the podcast and many others here where you can listen to past interviews with Waddie Mitchell, Don Edwards, Jerry Brooks, Gary McMahan, Ramblin’ Jack Elliott, Randy Rieman, Amy Hale Auker, Ross Knox, Dom Flemmons, Mike Beck, Hal Cannon, Andy Wilkinson, Wallace McRae, Amy Hale Auker, and many others.

John Dofflemyer returns to the Western Folklife Center’s 35th National Cowboy Poetry Gathering, January 28 – February 2, 2019 in Elko, Nevada. The lineup includes 3hattrio, Amy Hale Auker, Mike Beck, Geno Delafose & French Rockin Boogie, John Dofflemyer, Joshua Dugat, Maria Lisa Eastman, Mary Flitner, Jamie Fox & Alex Kusturok, Ryan & Hoss Fritz, Dick Gibford, DW Groethe, Andy Hedges, Brenn Hill, Tish Hinojosa, Yvonne Hollenbeck, Ross Knox, Ned LeDoux, Daron Little, Corb Lund, Carolyn Martin’s Swing Band, Sid Marty, Deanna Dickinson McCall, Gary McMahan, Waddie Mitchell, Michael Martin Murphey, Joel Nelson, Rodney Nelson, Diane Peavey, Shadd Piehl, Vess Quinlan, Halladay & Rob Quist, Henry Real Bird, Brigid Reedy, Randy Rieman, Jake Riley, Matt Robertson, Olivia Romo, Trinity Seely, Sean Sexton, Sourdough Slim, Dave Stamey, Gail Steiger, Colter Wall, and Paul Zarzyski. Find more at nationalcowboypoetrygathering.org and check out their YouTube channel for a great archive of cowboy poetry and Western music performances and more.

This c. 1993 photograph of John Dofflemyer by Kent Reeves appeared in the 1995 book Between Earth and Sky: Poets of the Cowboy West and is used with his generous permission. View a gallery of all of the book’s photos here.

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

THE HELPMATE, by Yvonne Hollenbeck

glen2
THE HELPMATE
by Yvonne Hollenbeck

You say I look disgusted
but you took me by surprise,
and I suppose there was resentment
coming from my eyes.

Since that hired man left us
I’ve been more than just his wife;
I’m the helper by his side
as he continues ranching life.

I get the gates and scoop the bunks
and help with feeding hay,
and that is just the start
of all the jobs I do each day.

I’m right there for the calving
and I help with all the chores,
then try to catch my work up
when I get some time indoors.

You see, I run and jump
each time he gives a little yelp,
and it galls me that you ask
how he is doing “with no help.”

© 2014, Yvonne Hollenbeck, used with permission.
Yvonne Hollenbeck is cowboy poetry’s most visible ranch wife, and her life gives her endless material. She is a sought-after performer at Western events, for her poetry and for her traveling program that includes the works of the five generations of quilt makers in her family. She is a champion quilter.

Yvonne and and her husband Glen, a champion calf-roper, raise cattle and quarter horses on their ranch in Clearfield, South Dakota.

In fairness to Glen, the poem came about after he was the one who told Yvonne about someone who, even after Glen had said Yvonne was helping out, went on to ask how he did everything “with no help.”

This photo of Glen Hollenbeck is from 2017. Yvonne wrote, “Here’s a picture of a couple good ol’ boys. Glen stopped to visit Paddy’s Irish Whiskey at the 6666 Ranch at Guthrie, Texas, and thank him for the great addition to Glen’s G2 horse collection…I mean “horse program.”

This poem is in Yvonne Hollenbeck’s recent book, Rhyming the Range, which collects her original poems about her life on the ranch. The book includes the most requested poems from her two out-of-print books and all of her newest poetry. She also has a CD by the same name that includes many of those poems.

She has a busy cowboy poetry event schedule in the next few months:

Catch Yvonne this weekend at the 9th annual Black Hills Cowboy Christmas at the Historic Homestake Opera House in Lead, South Dakota, adjacent to Deadwood. She’ll be joined by Chuck Larsen, Trinity Seely, and others. Find more at .

Find Yvonne at the Colorado Cowboy Poetry Gathering in Golden, January 17-20, 2019. The lineup includes Jerry Brooks, Jon Chandler, Connie Dover, Mark Gardner & Rex Rideout, Kristyn Harris, Carol Huechan, Yvonne Hollenbeck, Chuck Larsen, Gary McMahan, John Nelson, New West, Jean Prescott, Dave Stamey, Pop Wagner, Barry Ward, and Dick Warwick.

She’ll be at the Western Folklife Center’s 35th annual National Cowboy Poetry Gathering in Elko, Nevada, January 28-February 2, 2019. See the roster of performers in our Monday post and find information at nationalcowboypoetrygathering.com.

Yvonne returns as a headliner to the 33rd annual Texas Cowboy Poetry Gathering in Alpine, February 22-23, 2019. The Texas Cowboy Poetry Gathering lineup includes Apache Adams, Gary Allegretto, Amy Hale Auker, Eli Barsi, Floyd Beard, “Straw” Berry, Mike Blakely, Dale Burson, Don Cadden, Bob Campbell, Craig Carter, Zack Casey, Allan Chapman & Rodeo Kate, Justin Cole, High Country Cowboys, Doris Daley, Mikki Daniel, John Davis, Kevin Davis, Doug Figgs, Ray Fitzgerald, Rolf Flake, Ryan & Hoss Fritz, Belinda Gail, Pipp Gillette, Jeff Gore, Kristyn Harris, Andy Hedges, High Country Cowboys, Yvonne Hollenbeck, Randy & Hanna Huston, Chris Isaacs, Jill Jones & Three Hands High, Jim Jones, Linda Kirkpatrick, Ross Knox, Daron Little, Deanna Dickinson McCall, Pat Meade, Glenn Moreland, Terry Nash, Joel Nelson, Sam Noble, Kay Nowell, Jean Prescott, Gary Prescott, Mike Querner, Luke Reed, Randy Rieman, Gary Robertson, Trinity Seely, R.P. Smith, Jay Snider, Gail Steiger, Michael Stevens, Caitlyn Taussig, Rod Taylor, Doug Tolleson, Keith Ward, and Jim Wilson.

Find more of Yvonne Hollenbeck’s poetry at CowboyPoetry.com, and visit yvonnehollenbeck.com, which has her appearance dates, including quilt programs.

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

HERE’S LOOKING AT YOU lyrics by Joel Nelson, music by Don Edwards

joelnelsonkent

photo © 1993, Kent Reeves, used with permission

HERE’S LOOKING AT YOU
lyrics by Joel Nelson, music by Don Edwards

You rode the Goodnight-Loving
Went up the Chisholm too
You trailed three thousand to Kansas City
And you wintered with Teddy Blue
Here’s looking at you
Here’s looking at you

You rode with Ranger Goodnight
You helped him tame the land
You learned the Llano Estacado
Just as well as the back of your hand
When you rode for the brand
You rode for the brand

You’ve been three times to Sedalia
With a cook and six-man crew
You came dang near losing the herd and your hair
To a passel of renegade Sioux
But you saw it through
You saw it through

And you courted the dancehall beauties
‘Till they picked your pockets clean
If it happened once you let it happen twice
Up in Dodge and Abilene
And places between
Every place in between

From a heat wave in Palo Pinto
To the frostbite on Raton Pass
You looseherded cattle through a Southwestern drought
In the quest for water and grass
Alack and alas
Huntin’ water and grass

Then you trailed home the fittest survivors
When the word came of late summer rain
And you reveled in respite for weary riders
And three pounds a day in gain
The respite of rain
And three pounds of gain

You drove ‘em up to Montana
Over rivers swollen outta the bank
You started out helping the wrangler’s helper
But you rise right up through the rank
Through the dark and the dank
You rose through the rank

It was a poor way to make a living
And you threatened to quit—but then
When the herd bedded down at the shank of evenin’
You knew you’d do it over ag’in
Through the thick and the thin
You’d do it ag’in

Now a half-dozen generations
Have mourned your passin’ on
But you were just startin’ what still isn’t over
And your spirit saddles up in the dawn
For you are not gone
No you are not gone

We see you in the Steeldust
In the spark flyin’ offfa the show
Maybe we are here livin’ what you never dreamed of
But you lived what we never know
Here’s looking at you
Here’s looking at you

Here’s looking at you—Cowboy
Here’s looking at you.

© Copyright 2001, Joel Nelson, Night Horse Songs, BMI
These lyrics should not be reposted or reprinted without permission

This outstanding cowboy song (listen here) is the result of a collaboration between two of today’s most respected people in the cowboy poetry and music world: Joel Nelson and Don Edwards.

Here’s Looking at You” came from the pen of Joel Nelson, emerging as a song, not a poem. Don Edwards told of his friendly skepticism when Joel Nelson told him he had written a song that he wanted Don to hear. Don admitted he was thinking “A song? Joel’s a poet,” and before he knew it, there was another surprise: Joel pulled out his guitar. Don said at the time, “I’ve known Joel for twenty-five years, and I didn’t know he played the guitar.” His expectations weren’t high. But he went from skeptic to believer quickly.

What followed was what Don describes as a song of “marvelous purity, akin to the works of Don Hedgpeth, JB Allen, Badger Clark, Bruce Kiskaddon,” writers able to make words with “a hundred years wrapped into now.” Don said that he couldn’t get the song out of his mind, and he soon was in touch with Joel to talk about working with the song, saying that he didn’t want to do anything to take away from the near-perfect words. Don’s skillful arrangement makes it impossible to imagine any other tune working with the inspired lyrics.

“Here’s Looking at You” was recorded by Don Edwards on his Saddle Songs II, Last of the Troubadours album. You can listen to it here.  It was also featured last week on Jim and Andy Nelson’s Clear Out West (C.O.W.) radio show and is available in part 4 of the October 15, 2018 archive.

This collaboration was featured in 2008 in a column from CowboyPoetry.com, “Before the Song,” which appeared in the International Western Music Association’s magazine, The Western Way. Find much more about the song and the collaboration in the article here.

Find more about Joel Nelson at CowboyPoetry.com and visit donedwardsmusic.com for more about Don Edwards.

Joel Nelson appears at the Texas Hill Country Cowboy Poetry Gathering in Fredricksburg, Texas, November 8-10, and will be a part of the Western Folklife Center’s 35th Annual National Cowboy Poetry Gathering January 28 – February 2, 2019. The lineup includes 3hattrio, Amy Hale Auker, Mike Beck, Geno Delafose & French Rockin Boogie, John Dofflemyer, Joshua Dugat, Maria Lisa Eastman, Mary Flitner, Jamie Fox & Alex Kusturok, Ryan & Hoss Fritz, Dick Gibford, DW Groethe, Andy Hedges, Brenn Hill, Tish Hinojosa, Yvonne Hollenbeck, Ross Knox, Ned LeDoux, Daron Little, Corb Lund, Carolyn Martin’s Swing Band, Sid Marty, Deanna Dickinson McCall, Gary McMahan, Waddie Mitchell, Michael Martin Murphey, Joel Nelson, Rodney Nelson, Diane Peavey, Shadd Piehl, Vess Quinlan. Halladay & Rob Quist, Henry Real Bird, Brigid Reedy, Randy Rieman, Jake Riley, Matt Robertson, Olivia Romo, Trinity Seely, Sean Sexton, Sourdough Slim, Dave Stamey, Gail Steiger, Colter Wall, Swift Current, and Paul Zarzyski. Find more at
http://www.nationalcowboypoetrygathering.org.

This c. 1993 photograph of Joel Nelson is by Kent Reeves, Cowboy Conservationist, from the landmark book Between Earth and Sky: Poets of the Cowboy West, by Anne Heath Widmark, with photographs by Kent Reeves.

Kent Reeves writes in the book’s Acknowledgments, “…I owe my work in this book to all the poets who allowed me to interrupt their lives and who took me in for a few days. I do not feel that I ‘took’ these photographs; I believe that each poet gave them to me.” In addition to Joel Nelson, the book includes chapters with Buck Ramsey, Wallace McRae, Rod McQueary, Linda Hussa, John Dofflemyer, Shadd Piehl, Paul Zarzyski, Sue Wallis, Vess Quinlan, Henry Real Bird, and Drummond Hadley.

See a gallery of photos from the book on Facebook.

Find more about Kent Reeves at CowboyPoetry.com and at cowboyconservation.com.

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

OLD EAGLE EYE, by Yvonne Hollenbeck

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OLD EAGLE EYE
by Yvonne Hollenbeck

He can tell if a heifer is starting to calve,
I swear from a mile away,
and see if he needs to go pull the calf
by just simply looking that way.

He can see if a windmill is working or not
from his horse on a faraway hill,
and tell what direction the wind’s coming from
by watching the tail on the mill.

He knows if a coyote or badger is near
by watching the tracks in the sand,
and sees if a staple is loose from a post
on the fence that encircles his land.

He’s got eyes like an eagle for finding new calves
that their mamas have hidden all snug;
so why can’t he see the mud on his boots
that he’s tracking all over my rug?

© 2012, Yvonne Hollenbeck, used with permission.
This poem should not be reposted or reprinted with out the author’s permission

Ranch wife, top poet, and champion quilter Yvonne Hollenbeck and her husband Glen raise cattle and quarter horses on their ranch in Clearfield, South Dakota.

Glen, a champion calf-roper and the subject of many of her poems, is pictured here.

Find Yvonne emceeing at the Dakota Western Heritage Festival in Ft. Pierre, South Dakota, September 14-16, 2018. Poets and musicians include Robert Dennis, Marty Blocker, R.P. Smith, Jake Riley, Colt Blankman, and others. Find more about the event on Facebook.

In October, she’s featured at the Red Steagall Cowboy Gathering, October 26-28, 2018 in Fort Worth, Texas along with Red Steagall, “Straw” Berry, Mikki Daniel, Don Edwards, Bobby Flores, Kristyn Harris, Jake Hooker, Chris Isaacs, Jean Prescott, Dan Roberts, Leon Rausch, Hailey Sandoz, and Jay Snider.

In January, she returns to the Western Folklife Center’s National Cowboy Poetry Gathering in Elko, Nevada, January 28 through February 2, 2019. Find more about the event and see the great lineup at nationalcowboypoetrygathering.org.

Yvonne Hollenbeck’s recent book, Rhyming the Range, and CD by the same name, collect her original poems about her life on the ranch. The book includes the most requested poems from her two out-of-print books and all of her newest poetry.

Find more of Yvonne Hollenbeck’s poetry at CowboyPoetry.com and visit YvonneHollenbeck.com.

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

THE OLD DOUBLE DIAMOND, by Gary McMahan

cutiepie

THE OLD DOUBLE DIAMOND
lyrics by Gary McMahan

The old Double Diamond lay out east of Dubois
in the land of the buffalo
And the auctioneer’s gavel rapped and it rattled,
as I watched the old Double Diamond go.
Won’t you listen to the wind
Mother Nature’s violin.

When I first hired on the old Double Diamond
I was a dammed poor excuse for a man
Never learned how to aim,
well my spirit was tame
couldn’t see all the cards in my hand.
And the wind whipped the granite above me
and blew the tumbleweeds clean through my soul.

I fought her winters, busted her horses
I took more than I thought I could stand,
but the battle with the mountains and cattle
seems to bring out the best in a man.
I guess a sailor, he needs an ocean
and a mama, her babies to hold.

And I need the hills of Wyoming
in the land of the buffalo
Now shes sellin’ out, and I’m movin’ on
But I’m leavin’ with more than I came
‘Cause I got this saddle and it ain’t for sale,
and I got this song to sing

I got this a new range to find
and new knots to tie
in a country where cowboys are kings
I turned my tail to the wind,
and the old Double Diamond
disappeared into the sage.

Yay ee o-del o-hoo – dee

© 1975, words and music by Gary McMahan, used with permission
These lyrics should not be reposted or reprinted without the author’s permission

Gary McMahan’s widely loved song has been cited as one of today’s top cowboy songs by Western Horseman. It has been recorded by Chris LeDoux, Ian Tyson, and dozens of other artists. Gary tells about writing the song:

My dad was a cattle trucker and had hauled lots of cattle out of Dubois, Wyoming, for a fella named Ab Cross. Ab owned the grand old Cross Ranch outside of Dubois. Dad and Ab were good friends, and I became a friend of the Crosses as well.

I believe it was 1973 when Dad and I were up there in Dubois on a fishing trip. We stayed with the Crosses, and as we were getting ready to head out, Ab said, “You’re not leaving today, are you? The Double Diamond Ranch is going on the auction block today, and it’s kind of a big deal around these parts.” So Ab talked us into staying an extra day.

We all went to the sale and saw the fine old ranch go. There were a bunch of  cowboys there who had just lost their jobs and were loadin’ up and moving out, all heading to what they hoped would be another cowboyin’ job somewhere. It struck my heart, and I thought this was kind of typical of what was going on in the West.

That next day on the drive back to Colorado, I wrote the basics of the song ‘The Old Double Diamond.’ I was living in Nashville at the time and over the next…I don’t know…nine months or so, I refined the song into the song you hear today.

It’s been cut I don’t know how many times by big names and small alike. I never tried to control who sang the song. I just let it have its head…I rarely meet a cowboy who doesn’t know the words to that song.”

Listen to Gary McMahan’s rendition at his web site  and see a video on Youtube.

Find an Ian Tyson version on YouTube and one by Chris LeDoux here .

Gary McMahan is featured at the Western Folklife Center’s 35th annual National Cowboy Poetry Gathering, January 28 – February 2, 2019. The lineup has just been announced: 3hattrio, Amy Hale Auker, Mike Beck, Geno Delafose & French Rockin Boogie, John Dofflemyer, Joshua Dugat, Maria Lisa Eastman, Mary Flitner, Jamie Fox & Alex Kusturok, Ryan & Hoss Fritz, Dick Gibford, DW Groethe, Andy Hedges, Brenn Hill, Tish Hinojosa, Yvonne Hollenbeck, Ross Knox, Ned LeDoux, Daron Little, Corb Lund, Carolyn Martin’s Swing Band, Sid Marty, Deanna Dickinson McCall, Gary McMahan, Waddie Mitchell, Michael Martin Murphey, Joel Nelson, Rodney Nelson, Diane Peavey, Shadd Piehl, Vess Quinlan. Halladay & Rob Quist, Henry Real Bird, Brigid Reedy, Randy Rieman, Jake Riley, Matt Robertson, Olivia Romo, Trinity Seely, Sean Sexton, Sourdough Slim, Dave Stamey, Gail Steiger, Colter Wall, Swift Current, and Paul Zarzyski.

The event will include three showings of Everything in the Song is True, Doug Morrione’s award-winning feature-length documentary film “of four iconic western characters”: Gary McMahan, Yvonne Hollenbeck, Brice Chapman, and Greg Nourse. The excellent film is now available for streaming at Amazon. Find more about the film at www.everythinginthesongistrue.com.

This vintage photo is of Gary and his dog, Cutie Pie. Check out “Cutie Pie (the Yodeling Dog)” at his site for audio from the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering with Ranger Doug of the Riders in the Sky, Gary, and Cutie Pie.

Find more about Gary McMahan at CowboyPoetry.com; visit his site, www.singingcowboy.com (where there are full-length versions of all tracks on all of his albums); and find him  on Facebook, http://www.facebook.com/HorseAppleRecords.

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