EASY LIFE by Duane Nelson


by Duane Nelson

I’d like to cowboy for a livin’, but the pay just ain’t too good,
so I had to figure out another way.
Took a loan out from my banker, only mortgaged half my life,
house in town and all I’d saved, but that’s OK,

Cuz I leased myself some pasture, and bought a bunch of cows,
And I settled back to let myself get rich.
No more workin’ for the “other guy,” just handle my own stock.
I’ll tell ya, boys, I finally found my niche.

Three good bulls and sixty mamas, now that’s sixty calves a year,
Keep your heifers, sell the steers at market price.
Just slap yer brand onto ’em, let nature take its course,
Yeah it’s a gamble but it sure beats rollin’ dice.

Bought myself a one-ton, four wheel drive and dually too,
and a goose-neck trailer I can haul around.
Got a good old bay ranch gelding, a slick-fork saddle too,
And two “good” dogs I got down at the pound.

Now I’m set up for the “easy life,” just cowboy work to do,
and that’s more fun than work is what I say.
Just ride out in the sunshine, watch cows eat and poop and sleep,
And at shippin’ time I’ll gather in my pay.

But my fences started goin’ down; my horse was gettin’ tired,
from chasin’ cattle from the neighbor’s wheat.
So I bought myself some wire, four-point barbed and shiny new,
And somehow got it up all straight and neat.

‘Course that was kinda spendy, but I’d figured in the cost,
And I knew I’d still be rolling in the dough.
But I didn’t count on scours; my calves got awful sick,
and that was just the start of all my woes.

I had three cows abort their calves, pine needles were to blame,
and then there was a prolapse in the night.
I tell ya, that’s a struggle, in the ice and wind and rain,
But the old girl lived, I guess we got it right!

Then there’s hoof rot and pneumonia, then flies become a pain,
And of course you know there’s bloat and ringworm too.
And you gotta watch for black-leg, and there’s this thing called “wooden tongue”
They get that, they cannot eat, and they’re all through!

And have you tried to buy these vaccines? My gosh, they cost a lot.
You total them all up, it sure ain’t cheap.
And there’s minerals, and feeders, and boluses and grain…
Why the cost of gettin’ rich is getting steep!

When you’re calving all the neighbor’s dogs, and coyotes come to call,
And then there’s wolves, cuz liberals had their way.
And of course there’s all the cougars and now they’re talkin’ grizzly bears!
Hell, they’re big enough to eat a calf a day!

I had to baler wire my squeeze chute, so I could work my cows,
You know, ear tags, pour-ons, preg test, all that stuff.
My best bull broke his “tool box,” now Baloney is his name!
Got some money by the pound, but not enough.

When you take your calves to auction and they run ’em through the ring,
And they sell ’em at a dollar ten a pound;
But it cost you a buck-fifty to get ’em up to weight,
why as a business model that just isn’t sound!

So I sold off all my cattle and turned back my pasture lease,
And got myself a new job driving truck.
Sold my horse and trailer, that slick-fork saddle too.
Just wrote the whole thing off to rotten luck.

Of course, you know, there’s lots of time, when you’re behind the wheel,
To think up different ways of gettin’ rich.
And getting all that money, shouldn’t be so difficult;
All I gotta do is find that niche!

Hey, anybody want to go partners on some Thoroughbred race horses?

© Duane Nelson
This poem should not be reposted or reprinted without permission

Oregon poet and cowboy Duane Nelson comments, “I wrote this poem for all those folks that think that just because beef is $5.00/lb. at the store, ranchers should have an easy time making money in the cattle business. And for all the people who think cowboys just ride out in nice weather in pretty country and look at a bunch of good lookin’ cows…”

You’ll find Duane at Western events including the Spirit of the West Cowboy Gathering February 15-17, 2019, in Ellensburg, Washington. He joins headliners Dave Stamey, Kristyn Harris, High Country Cowboys, Kathy Moss, Lynn Kopelke and and other featured performers Carter Junction, Panhandle Cowboys, Andy Bales, Paul Wilson, Rockin HW, Scott Glen Lambertsen, Lauralee Northcott, and Mark Seeley. Find more at ellensburgcowboygathering.com.

See more about Duane Nelson at CowboyPoetry.com.

Photo courtesy of Duane Nelson.

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THE GREATEST SPORT, by Georgie Sicking (1921-2016)

wildhorsesrphoto © Shirley Ross

by Georgie Sicking (1921-2016)

An old Nevada mustang,
As wild as she could be,
I’ll tell you all for sure,
She made a gambler out of me.

I forgot I was a mother,
I forgot I was a wife,
I bet it all in the hose I rode,
On him I bet my life.

The thrill of the chase with my roan,
Horse trying to give me a throw.
The smells of the rocks and the sagebrush,
The rattle of rocks as we go.

Blood running hot with excitement,
Mouth getting dry from the same,
In this world, ain’t nothin’ but the mustang,
Roan horse me and the game.

Mustang is getting winded
It slows down to a lope.
Roan horse is starting to weaken,
Mustang gets caught in a rope.

Roan horse’s sides are a heavin’,
And I am all out of breath.
Mustang faces rope a tremblin’,
It would have run to its death.

Sanity returns and I’m lookin’,
At the wild horse I just caught,
My prize of the chase,
Good looking or pretty it’s not.

A hammer head, crooked leg,
It’s awful short on the hip.
Little pig eyes, a scrawny U neck,
And it’s really long on the lip.

No, she sure ain’t worth much,
For sure she ain’t no pearl.
But she took me away from a humdrum life,
Right to the edge of the world.

Now mustanging is a fever like,
Alchohol, gamblin’ and such.
I guess it don’t really matter if what you catch,
Ain’t worth all that much.

This was before the laws passed,
That feed the city people’s dreams.
I was lucky to enjoy the greatest sport,
Of cowboys and of kings.

© Georgie Sicking, used with permission

Much-loved cowboy and Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame inductee Georgie Sicking, who died in 2016 at age 95, continues to inspire poets and cowboys. She has said that this poem is the result of her many mustanging experiences, experiences that “take you to the edge of the world.”

She tells about her first time in her book, Just More Thinking, when her husband, Frank, worked for the Green Cattle Company, which “…branded the O RO. They really had good horses, and rules were that those horses were not to be run after mustangs. Frank and I sighted a bunch of mustangs one day. I was riding a big brown O RO gelding. I told Frank that I bet old Ranger could give me a throw at one of those wild ones. He said that no way could Ranger carry my weight and run as fast as a wild horse, so to prove my point, I roped the mustang, which got away with my rope. I wanted that kept quiet as I didn’t want Frank to lose his job because of my breaking the rules. Roscoe Latham was the boss at the time. Frank and I went to the ranch one day, and Roscoe looked at me and said, ‘Young lady, I want to see you in my office,’ and I got scared! I walked in, he was sitting behind a desk, frowning. He said, ‘I have heard that you roped a mustang,’and I said, ‘yes.’ He said, ‘I also heard that you lost your rope,’ and I said, ‘yes.’

“He reached down under his desk and handed me a new rope, saying, ‘Now don’t lose this one.’ He still let me ride O RO horses.”

When WWII began and cowboys were hard to find, Georgie was hired on at the O RO, the only woman who ever drew pay at the Arizona ranch.

Georgie often mustanged with her friend Leonard Stephens, and the outstanding documentary about her, Ridin’ & Rhymin’  includes scenes of them recounting their experiences. She writes in Just More Thinking, that a ranch where they worked, “…was overrun and grazed off by wild horses. Sometimes the check from the main office would be slow…and [we] would rope enough horses for a truckload, and he would haul them to Fallon or Fernley to sell them. Then we would buy groceries.”

Georgie preferred to be called a “cowboy,” not “cowgirl.” She is quoted in Tough by Nature, Some people had the idea that all you had to do to be a cowgirl was put on a pretty dress and a pair of boots and a big hat and get a faraway look in your eyes…and you’re a cowgirl. They’ve been kind of hard to educate.”

Of Ridin’ & Rhymin’” the award-winning documentary about Georgie Sicking by Greg Snider and Dawn Smallman of Far Away Films (www.farawayfilm.com), Hal Cannon, retired Founding Director of the Western Folklife Center, comments, “Georgie Sicking is why ‘to cowboy’ is best used as a verb to explain a work, a life, and a big open land. This film captures her level gazed life in such a powerful way that it defines the American West.” A DVD is available at http://farawayfilm.com/rr.html.

Find some of her poetry and more about Georgie Sicking at CowboyPoetry.com.

This photograph, by Shirley Ross, was taken on the Virginia Range near Fernley, Nevada. Shirley Ross, who lives in Chico, California, is a native of Honey Lake Valley in Lassen County. She comments, “Even though I have lived in Chico for a number of years, I always return to the high desert to photograph any wildlife I come across, revisit ranches I lived on growing up, and to visit life-long friends and even some new ones.” She has many impressive photos of wild horses birds of prey, and more.

Thanks to Cindy Stout Quigley of CMQ Photography for introducing us to Shirley Ross.

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by Ken Cook

There’s nothin’ forged by mortal man,
Can measure full the gain,

When God swings wide ol’ heaven’s gate,
And sorts a day of rain.

No vessel on a sun-baked ranch,
Not dog dish, gauge or pail,

Can hold the flow and endless worth,
A soaker can unveil.

You’d barter with the devil sure,
If rain ‘gainst soul was bet,

‘Cause on both knees you’ve prayed for months,
With not an answer yet.

More natural than breathin’ air,
See every drop’s a gift,

All creatures livin’ feel the change,
When clouds begin to shift,

And thunderheads show in the west,
The breeze turns damp, not burned.

Your soul might be the devil’s toy,
But for now the sky has turned,

As lightning flashes, thunder screams,
Most cattle bunch to hide.

The horses race the barbed wire south,
They feel it deep inside.

Anticipation, same as you,
Heaven’s gate blows back,

A gully washer’s on its way,
The drought’s under attack.

So fill ’em up to overflowin’,
Each gauge and pail and dish,

The devil may have gained a soul,
But cowboy, you got your wish.

© 2007, Ken Cook, used with permission

We’re devoting this week to rain themes, a sort of cowboy poetry rain dance.

Third-generation South Dakota cowboy and rancher Ken Cook comments, “We are good for moisture, unlike so many others.” When we shared this poem last year, his area was in a severe drought. He wrote, in part, “Sakes alive she’s dry in parts of our country. Got our first good summer rain a week or so ago. Half a dog dish! I measure by the dish. Saves any lengthy discussions pertaining to who got a half, three quarters or ninety five hundredths. Come to think of it, that last one is close enough to an inch to call it an inch right? The dish also keeps me from exaggerating, as long as I beat the dog to the dish.”

Ken says, “This poem began on a humorous path but took a turn the longer I traveled with it. It suits me.

“Fill ‘er Up to Overflowing” is included on Ken Cook’s CD, Cowboys Are Like That.

Ken Cook comes from a long line of respected South Dakota cowboys and he and wife Nancy have perpetuated that line with their offspring. They also have some irresistible grandchildren. This 2013 photograph, courtesy of Ken Cook, includes Ken, his son, and son-in-law.

Find more about Ken Cook and more of his poetry in our feature at CowboyPoetry.com.

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WHAT IT IS, by Trey Allen (1971-2016)


by Trey Allen (1971-2016)

“What is this cowboy poetry?”
the lady asked of me.
“It must be more than stories
Whether rhymed or free.”

“What makes it so intriguing,
reels you in and gets you hooked,
it must be something simple.”
I jist give a sideways look.

“You’re right, ma’am, it’s kinda simple
but it’s complicated too,
but if you’ve got time to lend an ear
I’ll share some thoughts with you.”

You see the written word is simple
But the complicated thing
Is understanding the life behind the words
So I’ll tell you what I mean.

It’s the greenin’ of the grass in spring,
The first frost in the fall,
The dreary doldrums winter morns,
The summer shadows tall.

It’s the smell of mornin’ coffee
‘fore ol’ Sol has blinked an eye
and the million twinklin’ star aglow
in the pitch black predawn sky.

It’s the jingle of a much-worn spur
Upon a rundown handmade boot,
The snort of a cold-backed cayuse
And the silent prayer he don’t leave you afoot.

It’s the catch rope hangin’ inside the door
Of a rickety ol’ saddle shed
And the wariness of the pony
Who knows jist when to drop his head.

It’s the colt you traded for last fall
And started late this spring
That’s proved to you he’s worth his salt
And you wouldn’t trade him for anything.

It’s that motley face calf there on the scale,
He don’t look half as big as when
You had to flank him solo
Last spring in the brandin’ pen.

It’s the tangy scent of wood smoke,
The washtub by the wagon wheel,
The patched and worn out cookfly
And all the stories it could tell.

It’s a herd of unbroken saddle mounts
Strung out steppin’ single file
Through a sage covered Utah mountain pass
For near three quarters and a mile.

It’s the old man outside the brandin’ pen
Watchin’ the goings on
And the look in his eye that says loud and clear
“I’d like to see one more ‘fore I’m gone.”

It’s an old cow sucklin’ a newborn calf,
A foal on wobbly legs.
It’s a seventeen hour day with nothin’ on your stomach
But bitter coffee dregs.

It’s the old kack you use to start a young colt,
Holds in for the bad storms you weather.
It’s the pride displayed in a new handmade rig
And the creak of the well tooled leather.

It’s the antiquated wage he draws
Despite the Hollywood label,
It’s puttin’ life and limb on the line
To put a tasty beef steak on the table.

It’s the Sevier River Valley and the Wasatch Front,
The Muggyown Rim in the spring.
The Canadian River breaks, the Chisos and the Davis
And a thousand other places I’ve never seen.

It’s the labor of love you choose for life
Workin’ from can ’til can’t.
Maam, I could go on for days ’bout what it is
And probably a lot of things it ain’t.

So in short, ma’am, what I’m sayin’ is this
Cowboy poetry ain’t jist in the words you read,
The poetry of the cowboy
Is in the life he leads.

© Jack “Trey” Allen

It is hard to top what the late Trey Allen, popular award-winning poet, reciter, cowboy, and Kansas ranch manager had to say in his poem. He is greatly missed by his many friends and family. We’re grateful for his poetry and recordings.

A 2014 bio he supplied gave a bit of background, “For some twenty years and change now, Jack Trey Allen has been writing and reciting cowboy poetry. He started out gathering intel early in life as a bullrider/bullfighter and graduated to shoeing horses and starting colts, to those ‘to those in the know’ this should explain a great deal. At the point he began his family however, the conclusion was reached that three meals a week and Copenhagen made less than desirable home conditions and he settled into a real job…

“While earning a regular paycheck, he kept his hand turned at colts and shoeing, dayworking, etc. It was during this time he became intimate with a little known group called ‘Corporate America.’ Thirteen years of that and he packed his family up, headed for the mountains of south central Colorado, near Canon City and has been full time cowboy every since. For nine years Trey has managed the Moyer Ranch in the northern Flints Hills of Kansas, south of Manhattan. When asked about the possibility of ‘lightin’ a shuck,’ he said ‘Pack rats set up shop in my tipi and cut my bedroll up into little tiny ones. Sure hate to disturb their little enterprise…’ Reckon he’ll stay put.”

A painting of Trey Allen by Don Dane was featured on the 2015 Cowboy Poetry Week poster.

Find more about Trey Allen at CowboyPoetry.com.

Thanks to Janice Hannagan-Allen for this photograph and her generous permissions.

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




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. Here’s one video from the Heber Valley Western Music and Cowboy Poetry Gathering and here is another.

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 S. Omar Barker’s “Cowboy Saying” on the new MASTERS: VOLUME TWO CD from CowboyPoetry.com.

Some months ago, Baxter asked us to relay this message, 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 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.)



by Al “Doc Mehl

There’s a quilt in north Nebraska,
That’s been sewn into the land;
Rolling grass fields are the fabric,
And the batting’s made of sand.

It’s been trimmed at the horizon
Where it’s pinned against the sky;
Ev’ry stock tank is a button,
Ev’ry windmill is a tie.

And the runs of old barb’d wire,
They are the braided threads with which
Nimble fingers sew a pattern;
Ev’ry fence post is a stitch.

Each square tells a family’s story,
Sewn inside a bound’ry fence;
That quilt chronicles a his’try
’Bout the trials of sustenance.

Formed of fabric from those lives,
That quilt will shield us from the storm;
Daytime’s tapestry breathes beauty,
Come the night, ’twill keep us warm.

Pieced a broad mosaic patchwork,
’Tis a blend of life and line;
I should think that some great spirit
Had a hand in the design.

Most folks picture the Almighty
In the image of a man.
But if judging by that quilt,
I’d say God has a woman’s hands.

© 2008, Al “Doc” Mehl, used with permission


Poet, songwriter, and musician Al “Doc” Mehl told us about this poem soon after it was written, and he illustrates relationships among poets:

Several years ago as I was driving into the Sand Hill country of Nebraska to perform at Old West Days in Valentine, I couldn’t help thinking of the finely detailed quilting of good friend and accomplished poet Yvonne Hollenbeck ([a Nebraska native] who lives nearby just across the state line in South Dakota). The rolling grass covered hills of this uniquely beautiful countryside reminded me of Yvonne’s billowy bed-cover creations, and an idea for a poem began to take shape.

As it turns out, a few scribbles on a loose scrap of paper were all that survived that original inspiration, and the cryptic notes languished in a “poems-in-progress” file until recently… Jane Morton was kind enough to present me with a copy of her latest CD titled Turning to Face the Wind. Listening to her recording, I was inspired to revisit my own quilting-poem idea by Jane’s somber poem, “Summer ’34.” In this piece, Jane describes her mother taking up the art of piecing a quilt to combat the loneliness she felt living out on the eastern plains of Colorado. I can still hear Jane’s voice: ‘Mom pieced and pieced and pieced some more, that summer ’34; My mother was expecting, and the wind blew evermore.’

I pulled my former notes from the file that evening, and it seems the original idea had finally come of age; the poem about the Sand Hill country flowed out onto the page.

Doc also shared this photo, which he says was, “…taken by me in the Sand Hills of Nebraska on the ranch where poet Marty Blocker was working at the time.

The happy couple of Doc Mehl and Doris Daley live in Black Diamond, Alberta. They’ll both be at the Bar U Ranch in Southern Alberta on July 1, the Arizona Cowboy Poets Gathering (Prescott, Arizona, August 9-11) and at the Heber Valley Cowboy Music and Poetry Gathering (Heber City, Utah, October 25-28).

At the Arizona Cowboy Poets Gathering, Doris Daley and Doc Mehl will join Gary Allegretto, Sally Bates, Floyd Beard, Valerie Beard, Broken Chair Band, Dale Burson, Marleen Bussma, Don Cadden, Dean Cook, Kevin Davis, Sam DeLeeuw, Mike Dunn, Thatch Elmer, Don Fernwalt, Linda Lee Filener, Pipp Gillette, Amy Hale Auker, Randy Huston, Chris Isaacs, Gary Kirkman, Suzi Killman, Steve Lindsey, Mary Matli, Dave McCall, Deanna Dickinson McCall, Al “Doc” Mehl, Mike Moutoux, Mark Munzert, Old Time Fiddlers, Jay Parson, Jean Prescott & Gary Prescott, Dennis Russell, Rusty Pistols Reloaded, Buck Ryberg, Jim & Nancy Sober, Jay Snider, Gail Steiger, and Barry Ward. Find more at azcowboypoets.org.

Performers at the Heber Valley Cowboy Music and Poet Gathering are Dave Stamey, Waddie Mitchell, Gary McMahan, Andy Nelson, Randy Rieman, Brenn Hill, Doris Daley, Al “Doc” Mehl, Jo Lynne Kirkwood, Randy Huston, Trinity Seely, Kenny Hall, Jeff Carson, High Country Cowboys, Ryan Fritz, John Anderson, Suzy Bogguss, Bar J Wranglers, Max T. Barnes, Hot Club of Cowtown, Jack Hannah, Ed Peekeekoot, Dyer Highway, Many Strings, Stacy Despain, Nancy Elliott, Charley Jenkins Band, Stewart MacDougall, In Cahoots, Kristen J. Lloyd, and the Heber Valley Orchestra. Find more at hebervalleycowboypoetry.com.

Also find Doc at other venues, including the Durango Cowboy Poetry Gathering (Durango, Colorado, October 4-7) where he’ll join Dave Stamey, Jay Snider, Floyd Beard, Curt Brummett, Kristyn Harris, Sam Noble,Ken Overcast, The High Country Cowboys, Vic Anderson, Sally Bates, Colt Blankman, Jack Blease, Rick Buoy, Patty Clayton, The Cowboy Way, Sam DeLeeuw, Thatch Elmer, Nolan King, Jo Lynne Kirkwood, Susie Knight, Maria McArthur, Slim McWilliams, Gary Penney, Hailey Sandoz, Lindy Simmons, Gail Starr, Washtub Jerry, Cora Rose Wood, and Laurie Wood. Find more at www.durangocowboypoetrygathering.org.

You can even catch Doc playing cello with the “new-grass” group “Highwood;” watch for dates on Doc’s website, DocMehl.com

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photo © 2015, John Michael Reedy; request permission for any use


by DW Groethe

It must’ve been a day
for peace an’ reverie
When my father took a pencil in his hand
an’ scribed upon his notebook,
all the horses that he’d had
when growin’ up in West Dakota land.

I can see him sittin’, thoughtful,
soft smile in his eyes,
As the ponies pranced before him, once again.
Then he jotted each one down,
with a slow an’ careful hand.
Sometimes, horses, can count right up with kin.

Tobe, Frank an’ Muggins,
Daisy I an’ Daisy II,
(his mem’ry felt a breeze that stirred their manes.)
Charlie, Chub an’ Pearl
found their way up to the front
an’ back once more upon the dusty plains.

Prince I an’ II an’ Mike
come lopin’ lightly into view,
he penned their mem’ries, gentle on the page…
a-waitin’ an’ a thinkin’,
he was missin’…just a few
when Queen an’ May neared, nickerin’ thru the sage.

An’ finally, down the draw,
come Thunder, Buck an’ Bill
a’flyin’ like the wind an’ they was one.
then he eased back in his chair,
contemplatin’ all that’s there,
his gatherin’ of the old bunch was all done.

Yeah…it must’ve been a day
of peace an’ reverie,
in his office, at a desk of metal gray,
when the ol’ man made a tally
a-gatherin’ up his cavvy,
One last time, a-fore they slipped away.

© 2007, DW Groethe, used with permission

Happy Father’s Day.

Eastern Montana ranch hand, poet, and picker DW Groethe told us about this popular poem’s inspiration, “Among the many things I inherited from my father was a box of items from his office desk. In it there was a handful of pens and pencils and a small pocket notebook…On the first page he’d written the names of sixteen horses…the horses he’d grown up with back in the twenties and thirties. I wish I could remember all the stories he had about them. As it is, all I have is a page in an old worn notebook and a poem to honor their memories.”

DW performs his poetry and music at venues small and large. He’s appeared many times at the Western Folklife Center’s National Cowboy Poetry Gathering, and has been invited to the the National Council for the Traditional Arts’ National Folk Festival, The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, The Library of Congress, and other places.

He’s working on a new book of poetry. Find more about DW Groethe and his books and recordings at CowboyPoetry.com.

This striking 2015 photograph of “Roper” is by John Michael Reedy, Montana photographer, songwriter, musician, poet, and father of the delightfully talented Brigid and Johnny Reedy.

See additional impressive photography at John Reedy’s photography site. Find more about him at CowboyPoetry.com and visit twistedcowboy.com.

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