“Making Plans,” by Shawn Cameron Cowboy Poetry Week Art Spur, 2019

makingplans

© 2015, Shawn Cameron, “Making Plans,” shawncameron.com
Request the artist’s permission for any use of this image

Our 50th piece offered to “spur” the imagination is a special Cowboy Poetry Week Art Spur, a painting by Arizona rancher and artist Shawn Cameron, “Making Plans.” The painting is selected as the poster art for the 18th annual Cowboy Poetry Week.

Shawn Cameron comments on painting’s inspiration:

Occasionally a moment in time lingers in your memory.  The clear morning air was brisk as my husband and another rider paused to discuss the day before them.  Plans were being made to cover their area of a large pasture during spring roundup.  I’ve never tired of observing men on a mission who have goals and possess the skills to accomplish them.  There is an undeniable posture of pride in these horseback men who face a day of unknown challenges with confidence and determination.  Even the horses contemplate the miles before them. My subjects are more than cowboys and horses but rather scenes of quiet strength and courage.  I was motivated by such an atmosphere to share “Making Plans” on canvas.

We’re honored to have “Making Plans” for the 18th annual Cowboy Poetry Week poster art:

CPW_Cameron_Poster_2019_R1

Find more about Shawn Cameron in our feature here and visit shawncameron.com.

SUBMISSIONS

Submissions from all were welcome through Monday, April 15, 2019. Selected poems are below.

Find previous Cowboy Poetry Week Art Spur subjects and their poems here and at CowboyPoetry.com.

POEMS

“Makin’ a Hand” by Marleen Bussma of Utah
“Quiet Conversation” by Tom Swearingen of Oregon
“Making Plans” by A.K. Moss of Oregon
“Puttin’ Together a Plan” by Ol’ Jim Cathey of Texas
“A Cowboy Plan” by Don Hilmer of South Dakota
“Old Cowboys” by Terry Hynes of British Columbia
“You Don’t Wanna Know” by George Rhoades of Oklahoma
Aloha My Paniolo Friend, by Jeff Campbell of Texas

makingplans

MAKIN’ A HAND
by Marleen Bussma

Hank’s face is like worn weathered wood well punished by the wind
then polished to a pewter-like patina, taut and thinned.
The lines upon his hands are deep and colored by the dirt.
His eyes have seen a lifetime, still determined and alert.

He wears his calluses and scars like badges on a chest.
They show his jurisdiction is his ranchland here out west.
His joints are loose and rattle like a wagon on the git.
When God put him together He forgot to put in quit.

Hank sits his favorite horse and looks with pleasure on his spread.
The sun shines like a golden benediction overhead.
Four sparrows perched on fence wires that enclose his grassy grange
are spaced like treble clef notes that sing out “Home on the Range.”

Hank’s young friend rides beside him, full of dreams and ripe with hope.
Wade’s hired on to help Hank and to learn about the scope
of ranchin’, what he needs to do to start in this life’s work.
He hopes Hank’s cowboyin’ will rub off, temper doubts that lurk.

Long years ago when young Hank’s clover wasn’t runnin’ deep,
his hammer banged this ranch into creation. Little sleep
and lots of muscle made a deep track to this stead.
Hank’s proud of what he’s built and of the life that he has led.

Hank lopes out on his horse cuz daylight’s not a thing to waste.
He checks along the fence line for a post to be replaced.
While workin’ he shares what he’s learned of cowboyology.
He has some tips on earnin’ a survivor’s ranch degree.

“You learn to live with basics. There’s no luxury out here.
Don’t envy any neighbor. You don’t need that new John Deere.
Don’t plan a warm vacation when your pasture’s full of snow.
Just put aside the money in a place where it will grow.

Become a good mechanic. Keep your old machinery tuned.
Good friends and neighbors are a must and will keep you immune
to overwhelmin’ obstacles. You’ll help each other out.
Be open to some critics. That’s what learnin’s all about.

When you decide you’d like to have her boots beside your bed,
make sure you’ve picked well to avoid big trouble up ahead.
Hard work with brandin’ and the books will put her on the team.
She’ll be your partner. It takes two to manage this life’s dream.

Don’t plan on gettin’ rich. There’s other gravy you can lick.
You’ll be your own man buildin’ what you want, and if you stick
to what your heart is hopin’ here today you’ll find it buys
the freedom of the saddle and a horse between your thighs.”

© 2019, Marleen Bussma
This poem should not be reposted or reprinted without permission

makingplans
QUIET CONVERSATION
by Tom Swearingen

Just a quiet conversation
Between friends as they both sat
Saddled looking down upon
The cattle on the flat.

‘Bout things that don’t get talked about
Near as often as they should
‘Mongst men who’ve rode together
For years through scarce and good.

Sure, they’d done a lot of talking
About subjects then at hand.
About the herds or markets,
Or issues with the land.

They’d talked about the need for rain.
Spent hours in idle chatter.
They’d solved the world’s big problems,
And some that don’t much matter.

But this day some words were spoken
That they’d never before shared.
At least to one another.
For now their hearts were bared.

‘Cause the trail for one was ending
In just weeks or maybe days.
His “til then” getting closer
Put both men in a haze.

Making words come not so easy.
Hard to know just what to say.
But still some things need saying,
And this would be the day.

It started with, “I’ll not forget
All the kindness that you’ve shown.
You’ve been quite the friend to me,
I’d say the best I’ve known.”

With the solemn silence broken
These two cowboys’ talk turned deep,
To truths they’d always treasure,
And promises to keep.

A promise to keep forever
His memory close at hand,
And finish things he’d started,
And live the dreams he’d planned.

A promise to rarely dwell on
Lean and low times of the past,
But rather, focus forward
To pastures green and grassed.

The words that were shared that morning
Were heartfelt and came with tears,
Conveying things not spoken
For way too many years.

Lord, it’s hard to bid your farewell
To a pard who’ll soon be gone,
Stepping beyond the daylight
To no more ride the dawn.

There was quiet contemplation
Between friends as they both sat,
The last time looking out on
The cattle on the flat.

© 2019, Tom Swearingen
This poem should not be reposted or reprinted without permission

makingplans

MAKING PLANS
by A.K. Moss

To see beyond a moment, stillness in the air,
The memory of those choices silently lingers there.
Making plans, not promises as they sort out the day.
For a journey is the action, in the plan along the way.
Beyond the ridgeline, beyond the river flows,
Beyond the sea of sand and rock, where the sage and juniper grows.
Beyond the the cattle grazing, the grass wet with dew.
Beyond the anticipation as if the horses knew.
There is a motion towards the north, a nod headed south,
There is a finger pointing yonder to the canyon mouth,
Deep beyond the steep ridge, there is a meadow there,
Can gather most if your counting to help get the tally square.
A swell, a saddle, a gully, a lone tree on the ridge.
There’s a Mesa, a boulder, or dry creek all used to name and bridge
The ideas, the gather, the fence line or not.
In making plans in the lay of the lands it is all that they got
To work with, along with their horses to see a job through,
It is simple communication in the work that they do.
A bob of a head from the bay, he has been this route before,
The buckskin looks onward to the lower valley foor.
But they will wait their turn of commuting, as the plans are being made
For there are no promises, just a journey and the actions played.
That moment a memory will linger, of the taste of morning air,
The salt of horse sweat, and the leather creaking there.
A thousand times it’s been ridden, by the making of the hands,
As they gather for conversation, in the morning, making plans.

© 2019, A.K. Moss
This poem should not be reposted or reprinted without permission

makingplans

PUTTIN’ TOGETHER A PLAN
by Ol’ Jim Cathey

It was Easter Sunday mornin’,
On the Quarter Circle C,
Mother Nature’s gift of spring!
Our cantankerous ol’ boss,
Sent us in groups of two an three,
An’ round-up was in full swing!

We each one had our jobs to do,
An’ knew just where to go,
Got started before daylight!
Put our ponies in a trot,
Headed out for the Bee Hollow,
‘Cuz that’s where we start our fight!

As the sky lighted in the east,
We headed for the brush,
That ol’ sunrise gave us pause!
‘Cuz the mornin’s beauty spread out,
Showin’ graze thick an’ lush,
There’d be beeves in all the draws!

Willy’s ol’ pony stood calm,
Just usin’ his eyes an’ his ears,
Fellers learn to watch their mount!
A good hoss is savvy,
To how things go down before it appears,
An’ on that a feller can count!

Well, they sat their saddles an’ jawed,
Puttin’ together a plan,
Each one knew just where they’d be!
When the time come to slap their rope,
As the mornin’ work began,
Well, that’s just cowboy decree!

But before we head our ponies,
Into a dusty day’s task,
There’s one job we plan to do!.
We’ll check our gear an’ riggin’,
An’ for God’s blessin’ we will ask,
Prayin’ He will see us through!

Knowin’ this was Easter Sunday,
T’was a blessin’ that got the nod,
Jesus’ victory o’er the grave!
They’d step off an’ doff their hats,
Then bend a knee to God,
Thankful their sins He forgave!

Then as one, they’d hit them draws,
As they began the gather,
Roustin’ critters wild an’ free!
The blessin’ of the Lord shore helps,
Make a plan come together,
Here on the Quarter Circle C!

© 2019, Ol’ Jim Cathey
This poem should not be reposted or reprinted without permission

makingplans
A COWBOY PLAN
by Don Hilmer

Well Good Mornin’ Neighbor—Good seein’ you too—
With brands mixed together, and it’s just me and you.
There’s big range to cover and not many hands,
So it looks like we better be makin’ some plans.

It’s been a tough Winter, with some livestock loss—
But we both know the country—both ride a good hoss.
You cover the river, I’ll trot down the creeek
We’ll head for the pens where the two waters meet.

If your herd moves slower, as they’re likely to do—
I’ll pen those I’ve gathered, then ride to help you.
If we run into trouble and it starts to get late—
We’ll sort’em tomorrow—Let’s meet at the gate.

© 2019, Don Hilmer
This poem should not be reposted or reprinted without permission

makingplans

OLD COWBOYS
by Terry Hynes

He’s tired and bent and dirty.
Four decades past his thirty,
and wonderin’ why in hell he’s still around.

Most friends that he has known,
like leaves the winds have blown,
are rotting somewhere in some darkened mound.

“Must be the genes, he says to himself,
or maybe just B.S. luck.
I never was one to shun most fights,
just lucky enough to duck.”

Just one more cinch on this stretcher here,
and one staple more in the post.
Of all the darn jobs I would rather avoid,
this fencing is one of the most.

I’d sooner be up on my horse for sure,
with Chet riding there by my side.
For many long years we rode out this land,
and damn, ‘twas a hell of a ride.

That painting that hangs on my mantle wall.
Ol’ Chet brought it over one day.
Said, “Reminds me a time when you and I
were out tryin’ to find a lost stray.”

A couple of cowboys, makin’ some plans,
an’ hoping they’d outsmart that cow.
Sitting there lookin’, from up a small ridge,
and prayin’ we’d find her somehow.

I look at that painting ‘most every day,
and think about things that we done.
This bein’ a cowboy’s a tough old life,
but dammit, it sure can be fun.

But most of the fun has all gone these days,
and Chet, well he’s long gone too.
So I’ll just keep doin’ what needs to be done,
‘cause that’s what ol’ cowboys do.

© 2019, Terry Hynes
This poem should not be reposted or reprinted without permission

makingplans
YOU DON’T WANNA KNOW
by George Rhoades

Billy Bob and Shorty,
Way out on the Texas plain,
Ridin’ herd for the Bar X,
Scorchin’ hot, needin’ rain.

Billy Bob says to Shorty:
“Man on TV says every year
Gets hotter and hotter,
Arctic’s startin’ to disappear.

“This country’ll be too hot
For man, beast or cow.
What’ll it be like
Fifty or 100 years from how?”

“You don’t wanna know,”
Was the reply.

“I made a trip into the city,”
Billy Bob says in some despair,
“Cars and trucks and people
Rushin’ about everywhere.

“Crowds and pollution,
Noise and blight all around;
In 50 or 100 years, what’ll
It be like in town?”

“You don’t wanna know,”
Was the reply.

“And cowhands like us
Are slowly fadin’ away.
What’ll it be like
Fifty or 100 years from today?”

“You don’t wanna know,”
Was the reply.

“And in 50 or 100 years,
Will we keep from blowin’
The world into tiny bits,
The way things are goin’?”

“You really don’t wanna know,”
Was the reply.

© 2019, George Rhoades
This poem should not be reposted or reprinted without permission

makingplans
ALOHA MY PANIOLO FRIEND
by Jeff Campbell

In the late afternoon
As the sun descends
More than the day
Is coming to an end

He’s heading to Denver
Silver wings fly away
In the saddle I listened
To what he had to say

Five years is too long
Away from my roots
I need Kauai red dirt
On these cowboy boots

An ache deep inside
That never goes away
Long to see a rainbow
Reflecting off the bay

Feel the sea breeze
When the trade wind blows
White sandy beaches
Like a Colorado snow

I miss Kanikapila
On a late Friday night
And the old Hukilau
Under bright sunlight

And if fate says my
Paniolo days are through
I’ll be happy in shades
Of pink, green and blue

So I said Aloha
My Paniolo friend
One of these days
I’ll see you again

And on that day
We’re going to ride
From Waimea to Lihue
On the windward side

Yes on that day
Together we’ll ride
Through Koloa to Lihue
On the windward side

© 2019, Jeff Campbell
This poem should not be reposted or reprinted without permission

makingplans

Thanks to all who participated.

Christmas 2017: Submitted and Invited Poems

xmasbardplain

Find more poetry at the main page for the 18th annual Christmas at the BAR-D. Below are selected submitted poems for 2017.

“The Wily Old Cow and Santa,” by Tim Heflin
“The Ox and the Cattle,”  by Jo Lynne Kirkwood
“Untitled,” by Robert Dennis
“I Carried Mary,” by Andy Nelson
“The Star and the Sheepherders,” by Ron Secoy
“Cowboy Christmas Day,” by George Rhoades

Find many, many more Christmas poems at CowboyPoetry.com.

hollybar_1029

THE WILY OLD COW AND SANTA
by Tim Heflin

Santa got lost in a snowstorm
and landed in a Sierra meadow.
He hadn’t a clue as to where he was
and no idea which way to go.

It was windy and cold in the darkness,
Rudolph’s nose couldn’t even be seen.
The sounds and smells were scary
and the cries of the wolves sounded mean.

The reindeer were starting to panic
when something crashed out of the trees.
It was only a wily old loner cow
in snow up to her knees.

“You must be lost if you’re up here”
she said to Santa between smiles.
“I can lead you down to my owner’s ranch house
it’s only a few rugged miles.”

“I’d be much obliged” Santa replied.
“From there we can find our way.”
“I have many more stops to make with my sleigh
before the coming of day.”

Then they followed that wily old cow
down a treacherous winding trail.
So snowy, freezing and dark it was
they barely could see her tail.

After a while they dropped out of the clouds
and their vision began to improve.
The trail leveled out and then straightened
and soon they really could move.

“This is as close to the ranch as I go”
to Santa that old cow did say.
“For any ol’ cowboy that gets a rope on me
will get an extra month’s pay.”

“The path parallels an old fence line
as the valley opens up below.”
“When you see the lights of the ranch” she said
“You will know the way to go.”

“Thank you my friend” said Santa
“Can I get anything for you?”
“For all of the help that you’ve been to us,
what is there that I can do?”

That wily old cow thought for awhile
then whispered into Santa’s ear.
And none of the cowboys got a new rope
for Christmas presents that year.

Now, everyone knows about Rudolph
and I guess that is okay.
But nobody’s heard of the wily old cow
that helped to save Christmas Day.

© 2017, Tim Heflin
This poem should not be reposted or reprinted without permission

dingred_1029

cowsjlk“Cows,” © 2017, Jo Lynne Kirkwood

CATTLE AT CHRISTMAS (or) Homage to Fake News
by Jo Lynne Kirkwood

The legend that beasts on Christmas Eve can speak in human voice
To tell the tale of the Christ Child’s birth, so all Creation may rejoice
Has passed through generations, from those who witnessed first
The donkey, sheep, and cattle, bow down at the Infant’s birth.

And who could ever argue the veracity of that story?
Told by shepherds, with Angels standing guard, and Kings in all their glory?
Even the humble Drummer Boy, with a child’s sweet honesty
Sang praise to the musical Ox and Lamb, of their rhythmical harmony.

And though perhaps the Drummer’s ballad was a wordless lullaby,
The connections of cadence and human speech can hardly be denied.
So having admitted the evidence, my mind ponders, and keeps playing
With the thought, If cattle talk on Christmas Eve, What is it that they’re saying?

My faith compels me to believe, with original intent
Of this gift, to spread Glad Tidings! it was first used as was meant.
But twice a thousand years have passed since that Holy Night and now,
And credibility no longer loves a Missionary Cow.

What ever do they talk about? What could it be they say?
Could we suppose a diatribe on the quality of hay?
Perhaps they’d like a warmer barn, fewer barbs on barbed wire fence.
Do they laugh at us behind our backs? Make jokes at our expense?

Perhaps they plot a Range War, with human elocution.
They could be planning a coup d’état, a bovine revolution!
I pause to view the calendar, to count each day and week
Until this fateful night returns – When beasts again will speak!

Paranoia settles in. There will be Reindeer on the roof!
They’ve likely formed a spy network, tapping codes with each small hoof.
We must plan with watchful vigilance; Grab our Bibles, and our Guns,
To withstand the horned and hooved assault! And then, when daylight comes,

We’ll welcome Christmas Morning, share gifts and sing of Peace,
And Celebrate the Season with a haunch of Prime Roast Beef.

© 2017, Jo Kirkwood
This poem should not be reposted or reprinted without permission

dingred_1029

JB-17-11-09-xmas-1© 2017, LE Stevens

UNTITLED
by Robert Dennis

Christmas time at a cow camp can get might long and cold And a feller checking cattle has to be a little bold When he saddles up a cold backed horse to go and check around Tending to all them cattle he’s in charge of ‘cross that frozen ground

That ol’ pony ain’t to tolerant of some silly little quirk When the feller on his back comes off as being a royal jerk So a cowboy tries his very best to be extremely nice ‘Specially when he and said pony, have to cross some slickery ice

Oh sure you can sharp shoe them, but there is always balls of snow That get wadded up and make horses hooves just like skates, ya’know That’s when them caulks on shoes don’t really do much good So you don’t get around like in summer time you always could

So Slim saddles up ol’ Dobbin when it’s just the right conditions Wearin’ every stitch he owns with a rifle and axe for additions Gets Dobbin’ standing down hill so he can make that awkward climb Grunts and strains to get on board cuz’ Slim ain’t in his prime

With rifle in the scabbard, axe tied on back of saddle Awkward as a hog in a canoe who ain’t never held no paddle Dobbin heads out nice and easy cuz’ he is old and pretty wise He’s done this job lots of winter with lots of different guys

They come to the first watering spot that needs a hole cut in ice So cows can drink and get there fill, but here’s the part not nice Water collects in lower spots, geographically so to speak So it’s a downhill grade to this here spot, down along a creek

Slim ain’t takin no chances, safety first is his lifelong motto So he stops on top of the upper slope just like a feller oughta’

Dobbin’s on the downhill slope, so there ain’t much of a step He loosens up in the saddle for his final disembarking prep

The thing that Slim forgot about as his belly goes past that horn Is that his gut is a lot larger than the day that Slim was born Slim had put a leather belt around and over his bulky coat Help to keep him snug and warm like the wild rag ‘round his throat

That belt hooked over that saddle horn just slick as oil on water Slims foot slipped out of the stirrup just like it maybe ought’r So Slim is hanging upside down, imitatin’ a perfect backflip About then ol’ dobbin gets scared when he feels himself start to slip

Down they go with Slim underneath praying and cussin’ pretty loud Slim is starting’ to rethink his plan and ain’t feelin’ real proud They skid downhill like a bobsled, picking’ up pretty good steam And yup you guessed it, they ended up down there, in that stream

As they break thru’ the ice on the water, Slim manages to get unhooked About right then it dawns on Slim that his goose is still uncooked Dobbin wallers on out now that he ain’t so weighted down Slim wades out wet and cold, just tickled that he didn’t drown

When Slim related this tale to us we asked what maybe he’d learned He claimed he’s had worser scares… like when he almost burned We knew he’d gained some experience and offer some sound advice Slim simply said,  “Well boys, it’s a dang cold way to break some ice”

© 2017, Robert Dennis
This poem should not be reposted or reprinted without permission

dingred_1029

I CARRIED MARY
by Andy Nelson

An angel came down to see me this morning,
About the carpenter and his bride;
He gave instructions then left without warning,
I was chosen to be Mary’s ride.

I’m just an ol’ donkey, a right lowly beast,
Called to carry the mother of God;
I’m awkward and furry, homely at the least,
And my poor voice is simply just odd.

The assignment I have is really more fit,
For a noble and a comely steed;
But I’m the one that was given charge of it,
So, I accept this mantle indeed.

I place my steps softly and watch where I walk,
Making certain that I do not fall;
I try to stay silent, work hard not to balk,
And I strive to make no noise at all.

She bears the Messiah, I carry them both,
An incumbrance with which I am blessed;
I labor earnestly to fulfill my oath,
And pause only as she needs to rest.

The road is rugged and my cargo divine,
I humbly execute my task;
Now I wish to tarry, a home to be mine,
But I know that I just cannot ask.

As I turn to walk away from the stable,
She touches my soft cheek with her hand;
I would speak to her if I were just able,
But somehow, she can still understand.

She gestures to a spot that I might bed down,
To witness a miracle tonight;
As a Savior is born, a king with no crown,
And the heavens attest that it’s right.

A modest birth in a humble surrounding,
Is the way the Redeemer came in;
He came to this world with blessings abounding,
To free man from the bondage of sin.

I guess it’s fitting that a donkey like me,
Was called to deliver a new king;
So, I lay here tonight completely carefree,
And rejoice as herald angels sing.

© 2017, Andy Nelson
This poem should not be reposted or reprinted without permission

dingred_1029

THE STAR AND THE SHEEP HERDERS
by Ron Secoy

The herd was settled for the night
And Red was making his round
He heard Sam singing in the dark
Keeping the dogies all calmed down

They met on the north side
Red was peering up at the sky
Sam mosied up real quiet like
Until the men were side by side

“Sure is still out here tonight
Reckon we can just sit a bit
Sure is a real brilliant night
Look at how the stars are lit”

Red said, “Reminds me of a star
They say was the biggest in the night
Could be seen for miles around
Giving off the brightest of light”

“That star led some Easterners
To the little town of Bethlehem
To a new born baby in a stable
They gave gifts and worshipped him”

Sam, scratching his head, said
“Now, you don’t say?
A star, a stable and some Easterners
Don’t think I heard it that way”

“Seems there were these sheep herders
Somewhere out on the flats
There came a ruckus in the sky
With singin’ and shoutin’ and all that”

“Bet, that ran off them sheep, Red said
Probably had to chase them all night”
“Nope, they just left them there Sam replied
And went into town to see the sight”

“Of a babe lying in a feed trough
With the animals all around
The parents Mary and Joseph
And everything all quieted down”

Those sheep dippers got real rowdy
They tried to wake up the town
Telling about them goin’s on
And baby Jesus they had found”

“Good thing it weren’t cattle” says Sam
“They’d be scattered twelve ways to noon
The angels would have needed doctoring
From all those carbine rifle wounds”

“Reckon so” old Red replied
“Guess that’s why he came long ago
But I sure am glad he came
Sam said, riding off, singing low

© 2017, Ron Secoy
This poem should not be reposted or reprinted without permission

dingred_1029

COWBOY CHRISTMAS DAY
by George Rhoades

Breakin’ ice and haulin’ hay
On a cowboy Christmas day,
Cactus, cedar and mesquite
Coated in ice and sleet.

Cattle all huddle together
Out of the frigid weather
Along the timber creek;
Skies gray and bleak.

A coyote wanders warily,
Prowlin’ the woods cautiously
In the early-mornin’ glow
Of freshly fallen snow.

North wind comes howlin,’
A sharp, whistlin’ violin,
Screamin’ like a banshee
Across the open prairie.

Stars the night before
Bright diamonds galore;
Trees standin’ bare
In the cold wintry air.

Workin’ way out here
Miles from anywhere,
Cold and bitter and raw
Down every hill and draw.

A lonely crow calls,
And the sound softly falls
Over the frosty range,
Eerie, hauntin’ and strange.

“Thank God we get to see
This outdoor majesty,”
All the cowhands say
On a cowboy Christmas day.

© 2017, George Rhoades
This poem should not be reposted or reprinted without permission

hollybar_1029

Find many, many more Christmas poems at CowboyPoetry.com.

Cowboy Poetry Week Art Spur 2017, “Makin’ a Break For It” by Tyler Crow

tylercrowmakinabreak482601.jpg

image © 2015, Tyler Crow, “Makin’ a Break for It”

It’s been said that a picture is worth a thousand words…we know many that are worthy of a poem or a song. In Art Spur, we invite poets and songwriters to let selections of Western art inspire their poetry and songs.

Our 45th piece offered to “spur” the imagination is a special Cowboy Poetry Week  Art Spur, an oil by Tyler Crow, “Makin’ a Break For It.” He tells that the oil painting depicts his “good amigo Mike Eslick.”  The painting was selected as the poster image for the 16th annual Cowboy Poetry Week, April 16-22, 2017.

Submissions were welcome from all through Tuesday, April 11, 2017.  Thanks to all who participated.

Selected poems are posted below.

Find previous Art Spur subjects here and at CowboyPoetry.com, including one with a previous Tyler Crow painting, “At the End of His Rope.”

cpw_poster_2017_crow_r1sm

POEMS

“Makin’ a Break For It,” by Kathy Moss of Oregon
“A Day at the Office,” by Al “Doc” Mehl of Colorado
“Running Amok,” by Marleen Bussma of Utah
“Oh No You Don’t!,” by Tom Swearingen of Oregon
“He’s a Rider,” by Jean Mathisen Haugen of Wyoming
“Endearment,” by Mark Munzert of New York
“The Elusive Dream,” by Ol’ Jim Cathey of Texas
“Ranch Ropin’,” by Lynn Kopelke of Washington
“Last of the Strays,” by George Rhoades of Oklahoma

painting by Tyler Crow, year: 2015, size: 30

MAKIN’ A BREAK FOR IT
by Kathy Moss

If given a chance a thousand times,
in tales they’re all the same,
Where cowboys lives repeat in rhymes,
and horses play the game.
Where wisdom beams from knowing eyes,
and the jester holds the rope,
They put you there a thousand tries,
and can only wish and hope
That your toss is true, your cinch is tight,
your hands honest on the bit,
When life throws you a wild fight,
makin’ a break for it.

When in doubt, you dally son,
take your turns, and head to the fire,
Be true as the one who has to run,
and pulling the weight you hire.
For when there is a rough one,
the truth is where you sit,
For his knowledge if respected
catches those makin a break for it.

© 2017, Kathy Moss
This poem may not be reposted or reprinted without permission.

painting by Tyler Crow, year: 2015, size: 30

A DAY AT THE OFFICE
by Al “Doc” Mehl

He’s a cowboy by profession,
And he works the open range;
Spend a day there in his ”office,”
You’ll discover something strange…

You could say he mans a cubicle
(A square with four straight sides);
But those sides are mountain ranges,
And his square’s a light-year wide.

Though he doesn’t own a smart phone,
He’s possessed with common sense;
He is less ’bout “build relationships,”
And more ’bout “build some fence.”

Yes, it’s true, he’s got a laptop,
Though it shifts when horse might buck,
And his only modern “key-board”
Is the starter in his truck.

Never had a written “E-val,”
Never joined a brainstorm group;
Though he’s heard about “team building,”
He would rather build a loop.

He’s not keen to learn new “paradigms,”
His “pairs” are cow-and-calf.
If he ever punched a clock,
His overtime would make you laugh.

He is all ’bout punching cattle;
Punching time clocks is a joke.
And when payday rolls around each week,
He’s all ’bout staying broke.

Seems his pension plan is simple,
He’ll just work until he’s dead.
And his filing cab’net’s just
A calving book; that… plus his head.

Come and spend a day at work with him,
Some cattle you’ll both punch.
Dress in layers, wear a hat, and come well-fed…
He don’t do lunch.

© 2017, Al “Doc” Mehl
This poem may not be reposted or reprinted without permission.

painting by Tyler Crow, year: 2015, size: 30

RUNNING AMOK
by Marleen Bussma

Loud banging can be heard throughout the pasture and the hills.
The calf is using both front feet like hammers as he mills
around the min’ral feeder that has given up its stash.
He pokes his head inside, brings in a foot, and starts to bash.

Perhaps he hopes that tasty morsels hiding in a crack
will drop like coins in Vegas when the slots give something back.
He’s taught it a good lesson drubbing dimples, dents, and dips.
He jolts it for good measure as he spanks it with his hips.

He finds an unsuspecting neighbor calmly eating grass,
then gives a hearty head-butt as he runs off full of sass.
His tail is high up in the air, a kite string blazing red.
The Overture of William Tell is blaring in his head.

His mother is a jumper who has challenged every fence.
An acorn does not fall far from the oak.  In his defense,
enough of his contrary mother rests within his genes
to make him act like he’s a new recruit for the Marines.

While running over grass that found a foothold in the spring,
he’ll jump across imaginary mountain streams, then wing
his way above deep canyons where no men dare scale.
This pest penned in the pasture is Tom Sawyer with a tail.

When born, he was no bigger than a minute as he hid
deep in the brush where Mamma left him off the rancher’s grid.
This sanctuary serves him yet when he needs an escape.
It’s branding time and lassos will be thrown his way to drape

around his neck and drag him to the dreaded branding fire.
He’s frisky and he’s full of pep with little thought to tire.
A rider comes upon him out of nowhere near his side.
He was too busy chasing shadows to go off and hide.

The race is on.  He heads for cover, but the horse is fast.
He dodges, darts, and ducks, but cherished freedom does not last.
He’s jerked down to the real world; thoughts to run away are blurred.
Now drug off through the dirt, he’s just another in the herd.

© 2017, Marleen Bussma
This poem may not be reposted or reprinted without permission.

 painting by Tyler Crow, year: 2015, size: 30


OH NO YOU DON’T!
by Tom Swearingen

Oh no you don’t!  I’ve seen that trick.
And this grey has seen it too.
You might think you’ve got us snookered,
But calf I’ve got news for you.

Your little zig, and sudden zag
You must thought would shake us loose.
But this cow horse has you figured
So you’re ’bout to feel my noose.

For this loop I built is sailing
And it’s heading for your neck.
So you might consider slowing
And diminishing your wreck.

Otherwise you’ll be stopped faster
Than I think you’d like to stop.
Put your head back where your tail is
In an instant ’bout-face swap.

Which might just send you a’ tumblin’
Like a bovine acrobat.
A cartwheeling heap of hairy.
Pretty sure you don’t you want that.

‘Cause your eye orbs might get dusty.
And your air might get woofed out.
Your nose might suffer a scrapin’
From your premature reroute.

Your tail might end up with a kink.
And a leg might get a sprain.
And I just hate to think about
The jumble’n  of your brain.

Now, the choice is yours, but hurry.
See, this twine’s about to soar.
So please straighten up and slow down
‘Cause I can’t delay no more.

Just need to change you from a bull.
Punch a tag there in your ear.
Inject you with some medicine.
Burn our brand into your rear.

Oh.  Maybe now I see your point.
Doesn’t sound like too much fun.
So I guess I’ll understand if
You just keep up with your run.

© 2017, Tom Swearingen
This poem may not be reposted or reprinted without permission.

painting by Tyler Crow, year: 2015, size: 30

HE’S A RIDER
by Jean Mathisen Haugen

He’s a’ lopin’
and a’ ropin’,
working hard to catch that calf.
Where country’s high and wider,
He’s a rider
that few could beat by half.
There is blue sky,
where the winds sigh
and the mountains rise up tall.
Nothing’s hidin’,
as he’s ridin’,
for he truly loves it all.
He’s on the old ranch
on the north branch
of the old Popo Agie River.
For a century
in their memory,
his family’s loved to live here.
He’s a lopin’
and a’ ropin’,
working hard to catch that calf.
Where Wyoming’s high and wider,
he is a rider
few could beat by half!

© 2017, Jean Mathisen Haugen
This poem may not be reposted or reprinted without permission.

painting by Tyler Crow, year: 2015, size: 30

ENDEARMENT
by Mark Munzert

Loopin’ strays and runaways
In air so warm and pure.
Lucky me for what I see
In open range grandeur.

Upon my colt as dogies bolt
There’s no way I can lose.
If I miss my throw, I’ll still know
It’s this cowboy life I choose.

On my steady mount I can count.
Together we are a team.
Just the two of us with no fuss.
Were just livin’ out our dream.

Mountains high, grass n’ water nigh,
Could you want of better scope?
Forage green and waif stock to glean,
For these things I’ll always hope.

When day’s done and I’ve had my fun
I’ll disengage to my sack.
Of my post I’ll have had the most
‘Midst endearment I shan’t lack.

© 2017, Mark Munzert
This poem may not be reposted or reprinted without permission.

painting by Tyler Crow, year: 2015, size: 30

THE ELUSIVE DREAM
by Ol’ Jim Cathey

Old timers never quit, they just strive to renew,
Tho, sometimes they do ride “upstream,”
Their ever vanishing youth, to pursue.
…They seek the elusive dream.

I sat hossback, watchin’ that scene unfold,
Like it was only yesterday,
An’ it played out, as if the story had been retold,
To us travelers on our way.

An early Texas spring found us workin’ stock,
On the Quarter Circle C,
When I come acquainted that the Grey an’ young Brock,
Had that special chemistry.

Ahhh, I thought back to a scene from yesteryear,
An’ marveled at my recall,
An image of horse an’ rider, showin’ no fear,
A picture of “buck ‘n bawl.”

Before me the scene of an age old fight,
Man an’ beast as once before,
Then the subtle  hiss of the lariat’s flight,
The hoofs thud on desert floor.

Why, I could smell horse sweat, dust, an’ leather,
An’ feel the tug of a spring breeze,
Blowin’ the scent of sage an’ coming weather,
Gave me pleasant thoughts of gay soirees.

An’ gone were the aches an’ pains brought on by age,
At youthful spirit’s  return.
Thanks to that Grey an’ Brock, here at God’s own stage,
A life for which we often yearn.

So, I took a moment to say thanksto God,
For blessin’s He gave to me.
To live a good life on this western sod,
Where a cowboy can be free.

Old timers never quit, they just strive to renew
Tho, sometimes they do ride “upstream,”
Their ever vanishing youth, to pursue.
…They seek the elusive dream!

© 2017,  Ol’ Jim Cathey
This poem may not be reposted or reprinted without permission.

painting by Tyler Crow, year: 2015, size: 30

RANCH ROPIN’
by Lynn Kopelke

My buddy Geof and me was wrastlin’ calves
Whilst workin’ for the Bar H Bar.
It’s a job can’t be done by halves.
Ground work’s hard. Just the way things are.
To this day, I swear
Through no fault of ours
One of them critters got clear
And took off with all his power.
Pickin’ up speed as his hooves gained traction
With thoughts of skinnyin’ under the rail
But Rob and John sprung into action
That freedom train to derail.
They shook out their loops and set out afoot.
No thought in their mind to fail
To return this wanderin’ galoot
Just as sure as the US Mail.
Their approach was slow, purposeful.
The beast might yet turn bold.
You couldn’t be too careful.
He must’ve been near three weeks old.
Oh, but they stood tall
Lariats all a twirl.
A symbol of America, never to fall,
Recognized throughout the world,
COWBOY
One young rancher named Terry
Not as impressed as the rest of us
With expression somewhat glarey
Set out purposely through the dust.
He, deftly, dodged the spinnin’ loops
And approached the cornered critter
And with a less than gentle scoop
Picked up that errant pup and returned him to the litter.
For a moment they still stood
Frozen in space and time
Robbed of their heroic cowboyhood.
Practicality had stolen their moment sublime.
But there was work to be done
Critters to be branded in kind
But amidst that spring’s other fun
That image remains etched in my mind.
A twin cowboy colossus, the inspiration for Gene and Roy,
Their kack twine, like Old Glory, bravely unfurled.
For when a cowboy feels like, well, a cowboy,
Catch or no, he’s king of the world.

© 2017,  Lynn Kopelke
This poem may not be reposted or reprinted without permission.

painting by Tyler Crow, year: 2015, size: 30

LAST OF THE STRAYS
by George Rhoades

We rounded up the strays,
The ones that got away
When we herded ’em to the pens
For the final sale day.

The spread was shuttin’ down,
The old Circle R was through;
They sold off the horses,
And most of the cattle, too.

A hundred years or more
Strugglin’ on the Texas plains,
Years of drought, low cow prices,
Too many losses, not enough gains.

They sold it all that day,
And the lively auction drew
From all around the county;
The crowd was more’n a few.

Hay bales and wheat drills,
Farmall tractors and John Deeres,
Along with mowers and combines
Sold off by the auctioneers.

Headgates and portable chutes,
All the gear sold and gone;
The ranch owners beaten down,
Tired of hangin’ on and hangin’ on.

Big ranchers bought the cows,
Bankers took the land,
The old Circle R faded away;
It had made its last stand.

Cowboys finished up their chores,
Said farewell and headed out;
Range getting’ smaller and smaller,
Times are changin’, no doubt.

The final things to go
On that melancholy day,
Was the last of the strays,
The ones that almost got away.

© 2017,  George Rhoades
This poem may not be reposted or reprinted without permission.

painting by Tyler Crow, year: 2015, size: 30

Thanks to all who participated.

bwseparator


tylercrow    About Tyler Crow
:

Tyler Crow is the newest and youngest member of the Cowboy Artists of America.

From his official bio:

Tyler Crow spent his young life in the small town of Apache, Oklahoma. A 2007 graduate of Apache High School, Tyler always had paper and pencil with him drawing horses. This childhood interest continued throughout his high school years. During his Senior year he entered a pencil drawing in the Oklahoma Youth Expo at the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum. Winning Reserve Best of Show and a scholarship gave him a chance to attend a week-long summer painting workshop co-taught by Bruce Greene and Martin Grelle. This was the first time he had ever held a paintbrush in his hand.

Since their first meeting, Tyler has attended three more painting workshops co-taught by Greene and Grelle. In April 2011, Tyler attended his second Cowboy Artist workshop taught by Mr. Greene at the Scottsdale Artists School in Scottsdale, Arizona. In Tyler’s two most recent shows, Bosque Arts Classic and Small Works Great Wonders, he received the People’s Choice Award. His future plans are to continue studying art and work toward a career as a Western artist.

Find more about Tyler Crow at CowboyPoetry.com; at his site, tylercrow.com; and on Facebook.