RANCHMAN’S RESOLUTIONS by S. Omar Barker (1894–1985)

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RANCHMAN’S RESOLUTIONS
by S. Omar Barker (1894–1985)

Of New Year’s resolutions
I could think up quite a few.
But since I’m pretty busy,
Maybe two or three will do:
Resolved to raise still better beef,
To market when they’re fat;
To build new chutes, to buy new boots–
But wear the same old hat!

© S. Omar Barker, reprinted with the permission of the estate of S. Omar Barker
This poem should not be reposted or reprinted without permission

These resolutions may be easier to keep than most. One recent study says that 80% of New Year’s resolutions fail by February.

Barker, as described in Cowboy Miner Productions’ collection of his work, “…was born in the rugged Sangre de Cristo Mountains of northern New Mexico… a rancher, high school teacher, college professor, forest ranger, soldier, outdoorsman, and legislator…” He was one of the founders of the Western Writers of America, Inc. and many of his poems were published by Western Horseman. Find more about S. Omar Barker at CowboyPoetry.com.

Gail Steiger, Arizona ranch manager, cowboy, filmmaker, songwriter, and poet recites this poem on MASTERS: VOLUME TWO, the poems of S. Omar Barker.

The poem seemed a perfect choice for him. These hat pics are courtesy of Gail’s partner, writer and cowboy Amy Hale Auker Author.

Gail Steiger is a featured performer at 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.

After Elko, find Gail at the popular Texas Cowboy Poetry Gathering​ in Alpine, February 22-23, 2019. Learn all about it and see the outstanding list of performers at texascowboypoetry.com.

Find more about Gail Steiger at gailsteigermusic.com.

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

THE OLD NIGHT HAWK by Bruce Kiskaddon (1878-1950)

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photo © 2017, Amy Steiger

 

THE OLD NIGHT HAWK
by Bruce Kiskaddon (1878-1950)

I am up tonight in the pinnacles bold
Where the rim towers high.
Where the air is clear and the wind blows cold,
And there’s only the horses and I.
The valley swims like a silver sea
In the light of the big full moon,
And strong and clear there comes to me
The lilt of the first guard’s tune.

The fire at camp is burning bright,
Cook’s got more wood than he needs.
They’ll be telling some windy tales tonight
Of races and big stampedes.
I’m gettin’ too old fer that line of talk:
The desperaders they’ve knowed,
Their wonderful methods of handling stock
And the fellers they’ve seen get throwed.

I guess I’m a dog that’s had his day,
Though I still am quick and strong.
My hair and my beard have both turned gray,
And I reckon I’ve lived too long.
None of ’em know me but that old cook, Ed,
And never a word he’ll say.
My story will stick in his old gray head
Till the break of the Judgment Day.

What’s that I see a walkin’ fast?
It’s a hoss a’ slippin’ through.
He was tryin’ to make it out through the pass;
Come mighty near doin’ it too.
Get back there! What are you tryin’ to do?
You hadn’t a chance to bolt.
Old boy I was wranglin’ a bunch like you
Before you was even a colt.

It’s later now. The guard has changed.
One voice is clear and strong.
He’s singin’ a tune of the old time range —
I always did like that song.
It takes me back to when I was young
And the memories come through my head,
Of the times I have heard that old song sung
By voices now long since dead.

I have traveled better than half my trail.
I am well down the further slope.
I have seen my dreams and ambitions fail,
And memory replaces hope.
It must be true, fer I’ve heard it said,
That only the good die young.
The tough old cusses like me and Ed
Must stay still the last dog’s hung.

I used to shrink when I thought of the past
And some of the things I have known.
I took to drink, but now at last,
I’d far rather be alone.
It’s strange how quick that a night goes by,
Fir I live in the days of old.
Up here where there’s only the hosses and I;
Up in the pinnacles bold.

The two short years that I ceased to roam,
And I led a contented life.
Then trouble came and I left my home,
And I never have heard of my wife.
The years that I spent in a prison cell
When I went by another name;
For life is a mixture of Heaven and Hell
To a feller that plays the game.

They’d better lay off that wrangler kid.
They’ve give him about enough.
He looks like a pardner of mine once did.
He’s the kind that a man can’t bluff.
They’ll find that they are making a big mistake
If they once get him overhet;
And they’ll give him as good as an even break,
Or I’m takin’ a hand, you bet.

Look, there in the East is the Mornin’ Star.
It shines with a firy glow,
Till it looks like the end of a big cigar,
But it hasn’t got far to go.
Just like the people that make a flash.
They don’t stand much of a run.
Come bustin’ in with a sweep and a dash
When most of the work is done.

I can see the East is gettin’ gray.
I’ll gather the hosses soon;
And faint from the valley far away
Comes the drone of the last guard’s tune.
Yes, life is just like the night-herd’s song,
As the long years come and go.
You start with a swing that is free and strong,
And finish up tired and slow.

I reckon the hosses all are here.
I can see that T-bar blue,
And the buckskin hoss with the one split ear;
I’ve got ’em all. Ninety two.
Just listen to how they roll the rocks —
These sure are rough old trails.
But then, if they can’t slide down on their hocks,
They can coast along on their tails.

The Wrangler Kid is out with his rope,
He seldom misses a throw.
Will he make a cow hand? Well I hope,
If they give him half a show.
They are throwin’ the rope corral around,
The hosses crowd in like sheep.
I reckon I’ll swaller my breakfast down
And try to furgit and sleep.

Yes, I’ve lived my life and I’ve took a chance,
Regardless of law or vow.
I’ve played the game and I’ve had my dance,
And I’m payin’ the fiddler now.

…Bruce Kiskaddon

This poem appeared in Bruce Kiskaddon’s 1924 book, Rhymes of the Ranges, and was revised for his 1947 book, Rhymes of the Ranges and Other Poems. The 45 variants are included in Bill Siems’ Open Range, which includes almost all of Kiskaddon’s nearly 500 poems. The above poem is the 1947 version of “The Old Night Hawk.”

Bill Siems writes, in another of his books, Shorty’s Yarns (the collected stories of Kiskaddon) about how this poem inspired him. His eloquent comments include how city people and ranchers might see each other, and, he comments on ranch people:

“…Besides feeding us, they are the stewards of our land and keepers of our connection with the natural world. They have come closest, after the Native Americans, to harmony with a landscape that is both beautiful and harsh. This harmony is a significant and difficult achievement, essentially in opposition to our romantic notions that are driven by need but not grounded in reality. It is one thing to love the land from a climate-controlled vehicle, but it is another to love it in the wind and sleet on horseback. Cattle as a backdrop for western entertainment are a world apart from cattle as living creatures that must be cared for and slaughtered. Standing with honesty and humility on such bedrock facts of life gives a person authority, however gently it may be asserted…this is the poem that first caught me up in Bruce Kiskaddon’s words…”

Find more about Kiskaddon, Open Range, and Shorty’s Yarns at CowboyPoetry.com.

This stunning photograph is by writer and ranch hand Amy Steiger (Amy Hale Auker) who cowboys with her husband Gail Steiger in rugged country at Arizona’s Spider ranch. She comments, “We often make camp below this butte when we are working our Cottonwood Pasture. Late evening and early morning highlights the rock faces, and I can’t help but stand in awe.”

Amy Steiger has four acclaimed books: two novels and two essay collections. The latest collection, Ordinary Skin, was recently released (see the glowing reviews on Amazon). She also has a forthcoming book of poetry.  Find more about her at AmyHaleAuker.com,  on CowboyPoetry.com, on Facebook,  and on Instagram.

>>>This is a scheduled post. We’re on a (rare) break, until May 23. There will be scheduled posts, but we won’t be able to fill orders or to respond quickly to email.<<<

COWBOY COURTIN’ TIME by Elizabeth Ebert

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photo of “Jim,” © 2018, AmyHaleAuker

 

COWBOY COURTIN’ TIME
by Elizabeth Ebert

When Romeo went courtin’
He climbed a balcony,
And some men serenade you
Upon their bended knee.

Leander swam the Hellespont
To reach his lady’s side,
But when a cowboy comes a-courtin’
You get a pickup ride.

Sometimes the pickup’s even washed
(Will wonders never end?)
But like as not he’s brought along
His trusty cowdog friend.

The dog will bark a welcome
(And you know what that means)
There’ll be paw prints and dog hair
Upon your new black jeans.

The cowboy’ll open up the door
And hold it while you enter.
You know he’s gettin’ serious
‘Cause he sits you in the center.

The cowboy’s reeking of cologne,
Half a bottle, you can tell,
You wish he’d shared it with his friend
Who has that doggy smell.

A hairy face on one side
A mustache on the other,
And both of them are squeezin’ in
‘Til you think you’re gonna smother.

You sit there in the middle
Like a rabbit in the hole.
The one is merely droolin’
While the other’s droolin’ Skoal.

Makes a body sometimes ponder
On the strange queer twists of fate
Makes you sometimes even wonder
Which one really is your date.

The cowboy’ll put his arm around
And hug you ’til you hurt.
And then he starts to pawin’
(The dog, that is) your shirt.

They’ve got you snuggled there between
Just a pawn within their game.
I doesn’t matter where you turn
‘Cause they kiss about the same.

Long years have passed since courtin’ time
Changed me from Miss to Mrs.
And I’ll admit, I’ve grown to like
Those cowboy-cowdog kisses.

© 1997, Elizabeth Ebert
This poem should not be reprinted or reposted without the author’s permission.

It’s a pleasure to have the perfect Valentine poem from South Dakota’s much-loved poet Elizabeth Ebert, who is turning 93 later this month. This poem appears in her book, Crazy Quilt. She introduces it, writing, “Don’t tell me that cowboys aren’t romantic!”

Journalist Carson Vaughan wrote about Elizabeth Ebert in a February, 2017 American Cowboy profile, “The Grande Dame of Cowboy Poetry.”

Find more about Elizabeth Ebert at CowboyPoetry.com.

This photograph of “Jim” is by writer and cowboy Amy Hale Auker. Like Amy, Jim works and lives on Arizona’s Spider Ranch. He recently got a new partner, and you can follow the fun on Amy Hale Auker’s Instagram. Amy Hale Auker is the author of four acclaimed books—two novels and two essay collections—with new publications forthcoming. Find more about her at AmyHaleAuker.com.

Find more Valentine’s Day poems at CowboyPoetry.com.

SKYPE (#don’tgetthispoundsignstuff) by Terry Nash

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photo by Amy Hale Auker; request permission for use

 

SKYPE (#don’tgetthispoundsignstuff)
by Terry Nash

Never thought I’d ever twitter
Nor considered that I’d tweet.
I’ve kept my hashtags to myself
And my sentences complete.

I used to think that Facebook
just happened when in bed
And you’d drifted off mid-paragraph
And yer novel hit yer head.

But, now I have this smart phone
With touch screen and some apps,
And I’m feelin’ sorta trendy
And I figure, just perhaps,

I’ll polish up my ‘tech’-nique;
Succumb to the latest hype,
Clean my hat, brush my ‘stache
And call someone and skype!

I figured just this mornin’
I’d be sure to catch Ol’ Claude.
When he see’s my grinnin’ face
There’s no doubt he’ll be awed!

So I called a little early
To catch him still at home…
Hadn’t ever seen him hatless,
But the glare off his ol’ dome

Plumb blinded me at first!
And when he started into talkin’
He hadn’t stuck his teeth in yet;
It was sorta like he’s squawkin’!

Claude didn’t know we’s skypin’-
Held the phone up just to listen
And I swear I seed plum through him
Confirmin’ my suspicion;

Some cowboys got dang little
‘Twixt their left ear and their right
Next time I skype ol’ Claude
It’ll be in the dark of night!

© 2015, Terry Nash, used with permission
This poem should not be reposted or reprinted without permission.

Colorado rancher, reciter, and poet Terry Nash includes this poem on his new CD, A Good Ride.

Find the complete playlist for A Good Ride here.

Terry makes a return appearance as as invited poet at the Western Folklife Center’s National Cowboy Poetry Gathering in Elko, Nevada (January 30-February 4, 2018) along with a stellar lineup, including poets, musicians, and dancers: Ardi Baltza, Amy Hale Auker, Mike Beck, Ryan Bell, Muzzie & Willy & Cody Braun, Adrian Buckaroogirl, Caleb Klauder Country Band, Cowboy Celtic, John Dofflemyer, Carolyn Dufurrena, Maria Lisa Eastman, Elko Ariñak, Ramblin’ Jack Elliott, Dom Flemons & Brian Farrow, Jean Flesher & Amerikanuak, Patricia Frolander, Pipp Gillette, Martin Goicoechea, Jesus Goñi, Kristyn Harris, Andy Hedges, Yvonne Hollenbeck, Rita Hosking & Sean Feder, Oihana Iguaran Barandiaran, Ross Knox, Maialen Lujanbio Zugasti, Betty Lynne McCarthy, Carlton McCord Lewis, Wally McRae, Waddie Mitchell, Mercedes Mendive and Melodikoa, Michael Martin Murphey, Terry Nash, Joel Nelson, Rodney Nelson, Shadd Piehl, Vess Quinlan, Henry Real Bird, Brigid Reedy, Riders in the Sky, Randy Rieman, The Rifters, Matt Robertson, David Romtvedt & Caitlin Belem Romtvedt, Jack Sammon, Sean Sexton, Sand Sheff, Andy Wilkinson, Wylie & the Wild West, and Paul Zarzyski.

The 34th annual National Cowboy Poetry Gathering also includes workshops, films, exhibits, dances, and more. Find more at nationalcowboypoetrygathering.org.

Find Terry also at the Texas Cowboy Poetry Gathering in Alpine, Texas (March 2-3, 2018).

Learn more about Terry Nash at CowboyPoetry.com and about his CDs and more at his web site, terrynashcowboypoet.com.

This photo with DW Groethe and Gail Steiger was taken by writer and cowboy Amy Steiger (Amy Hale Auker) in 2016 at the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering. Amy is also featured at Elko. Amy Steiger is the author of four acclaimed books: two novels and two essay collections. Find more about her at AmyHaleAuker.com.

 

IT SORTA MAKES SENSE by Virginia Bennett

 

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IT SORTA MAKES SENSE
by Virginia Bennett

A friend of mine, (I’ll call him Pete)
was watching TV the other day.
He listened to some reporter,
believin’ all he had to say.
It was a “human interest piece”
tho’ some would call it fluff.
And, it showed a lot of fancy folks
with their poodles struttin’ stuff.

And, the reporter said, “It has long been
established as a scientific fact
that dogs look like their owners
and by data this has been backed.”
Well, Pete looked down at his old dog
lyin’ faithfully on the floor:
His tongue lolled out (the dog’s, not Pete’s)
as he laid there in full-snore.

His one good eye was swollen shut
from one of the milk-cow’s kicks.
He’d lost patches of his mangy fur
from diggin’ at his ticks.
A trophy brought home gallantly
from a coyote fight last week,
was one ear torn completely in half
and a new scar on his beak.

He had porky quills stickin’ out of his gums
he only had one dew claw…
And since the stud horse aimed just right
he drinks his toilet water through a straw!
Yes, Pete looked down, then looked at the screen
his cowboy mind in a muddled fog.
And said, “If it’s true that dogs look like their owners…
then, I gotta get a better lookin’ dog!”

©2004, Virginia Bennett, used with permission

Cowboy, horsewoman, poet, musician, writer, and editor Virginia Bennett’s respected body of work is collected in her books and in a number of anthologies. This poem is included in her most recent book, In the Company of Horses. She’s the editor of two important collections, Cowgirl Poetry and Cowboy Poetry: The Reunion.

She was often a featured poet at the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering and other events until she suffered a serious horse-related injury about ten years ago.

Find some selections of her poetry and more about her and her publications in our feature at CowboyPoetry.com.

This photo is by writer, poet, and working cowboy Amy Steiger (Amy Hale Auker), who works on Arizona’s Spider ranch with ranch manager, songwriter, poet and filmmaker (and her husband) Gail Steiger, who is shown.

Amy Steiger has four acclaimed books: two novels and two essay collections. The latest collection, Ordinary Skin, was recently released (see the glowing reviews on Amazon). Find more about Amy Steiger  at AmyHaleAuker.com.

Amy and Gail Steiger appear along with Caitlyn Taussig and Ramblin’ Jack Elliott on September 9, 2017 in Napa, California at the 3rd annual National Cowboy Poetry Gathering on the Road in Napa Valley hosted by Napa Valley Performing Arts Center at Lincoln Theater and the Western Folklife Center. Find more about it at Facebook.