by Floyd Beard
Have you ridden in the canyons
Where the cedar smell is sweet.
And the sandstone and the malpais
Form cliffs above the draw?
And the breezes blow the grasses,
And a person feels complete
As you ride along the mesa
Through a land that’s rich and raw.
New dawn blazons o’er the ridgeline
Pink and gold in hue and grace,
As the darkened shadows scatter
‘Neath rock and shrub and tree.
‘Til the silver shards of sunlight
Stab forth as in a foot race
Bringing shape to all the landscape
As the stubborn shadows flee.
Ever gently then you hear it,
The canyon chorale singing;
Joins the creaking of the saddle
And the sighing of the breeze.
Canyon wrens are trilling proudly,
Morning doves softly winging,
As the screech of the red tail
Causes creatures small to freeze.
Then your mind begins to wander
As you ride by ancient script
Chipped into the sandstone varnish
Left by man long ago.
Did his message hold a promise?
Or could it be as he chipped
That he also loved these canyons,
His record left to show.
Have you rode out on a rim rock
Overlooking canyon wide?
And you see the distant mesas
Abound with chasm deep.
Far below, down near the bottom
Water weeps from the cliff side,
Crystal clear and cold, refreshing
There pools a canyon seep.
You just sit there and you listen
And you gaze upon this view.
From atop your leather throne.
Your being seems so small.
And you marvel at this artwork,
Every color, every hue.
You can feel the ancient spirits
And hear the silence call.
To have ridden in the canyons
A picture with so many panes,
Where the very smell of pinion
Will permeate your soul.
Where the cliffs and sandy washes
Will pulse within your veins,
Their spirits softly speaking
Let you know that you are whole.
© 2018, Floyd E. Beard
This poem should not be reposted or reprinted without permission.
Colorado rancher Floyd Beard shared this photo of “…riding in the canyons of southeast Colorado, one of the places that inspired the poem.” He comments, “I also spent much of my childhood in the canyons of northeastern New Mexico in the Canadian River country,” experiences that inspired this poem.
“Canyons” was selected for the current issue of The Western Way from the International Western Music Association, in the “Penned by Lantern Light” column, which spotlights poetry of the members of the Western Wordsmith’s chapter. View the entire magazine in a pdf file here.
Floyd Beard’s most recent CD is Short Grass County. Find more about it and Floyd at his web site, floydbeardcowboy.com.
(Please respect copyright. You can share this poem and photograph with this post, but for other uses, request permission.)