OLD ONES by Deanna Dickinson McCall


by Deanna Dickinson McCall

Before most life begins to stir
The music of bit and spur
Would sound and carry on
In the early light before dawn.

Voices floated on the air
Like a melody hung there
Soft Texas drawls
Held in by canyon walls.

The Old Ones readied to ride
Grass ropes coiled at their sides
Split reins in gloved hands
They rode for their own brand.

On strong horses they rode away
Into the foothill mist of day,
I cried in vain for them to wait
As they trotted out the gate.

They turned and I saw their eyes
And knew this was the final goodbye
Dad and Granddaddy riding away
Me pleading for them to stay.

With my heart pounding
I heard their words sounding
And felt the crash in my chest
As mere words pierced my breast.

I woke with deep regret
Soaked with stale sweat
For they had spoken true
And I knew what I must do.

The Old Ones were gone again
The last of clan and kin
Men of horses and stock
My shield and my rock.

Their message was clear
“Go on without fear”
They had taught me well
And in my heart would dwell.

We still run a cow outfit
And all the old ways still fit
In a different land and time
Taught by the Old Ones of mine.

Before most life begins to stir
The music of bit and spur
Sounds and carries on
In the early light before dawn.

© Deanna Dickinson McCall
This poem should not be reprinted or reposted without permission

Fourth-generation rancher and award-winning poet and writer Deanna Dickinson McCall has received numerous accolades. Earlier this year, her CD, I’ll Ride Thru It, was awarded the Western Heritage Wrangler Award from the National Cowboy and Western Museum. Her writing has also been recognized with awards from the Academy Of Western Artists, the International Western Music Association, Women Writing The West, the Will Rogers Medallion Award, and the New Mexico Book Co-Op New Mexico-Arizona Book Awards.

She also has a highly praised book of stories and poems, Mustang Spring, three other books, and an another award-winning CD of her poetry, Riding. Her work appears in many anthologies and magazines and she’s a popular performer at gatherings. She is currently at work on a novel.

As her bio tells, “Besides ranching in several states, she’s ridden for paychecks, sold feed and received cattle at sales yards to make ends meet when necessary.”

Back in 2006, Deanna Dickinson McCall shared this circa 1912 photo of her grandfather. It became the cover photo of The BAR-D Roundup: Volume Three.


Deanna told us about the photograph, “The picture was a post card—that was quite a fad—of my grandfather Perry Preston Dickinson. He went by ‘P.P.’ He was born in Denton County, Texas in 1896 to a ranching family. He got itchy feet and rode to Arizona at the age of 12 and stayed there quite a while. He “courted” my Granny back in Texas and had the card made for her. The picture was taken in the vicinity of Grand Canyon. It is signed ‘The 10X Bronc fighter,’ as he was the rough string rider and was working on the 10X ranch at the time. (Men weren’t boys for very long in those days!) He was a great influence in my life and taught me many of the old stories, songs, and how to ride.
He later was a Marshall and a special agent of the Texas Rangers.”

Find more about Deanna Dickinson McCall at CowboyPoetry.com; at her web site, deannadickinsonmccall.com; and on Facebook.

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