TRUE GRIT, by Elizabeth Ebert (1925-2018)


by Elizabeth Ebert (1925-2018)

The crowd had all left the rodeo ground,
Just a bunch of old cowboys were hangin’ around.
Hunkered down on rheumatic haunches,
With balding pates and protruding paunches,
Drinkin’ to the old days way back when
The horses were tougher and so were the men.
And every time that the jug went ’round
The toasts got longer and more profound.
“Here’s to the world’s best buckin’ horse!”
(That was Tipperary, of course.)
“To the Pony Express that carried the mail!”
“To Old Man Chisholm and his trail!”
To ranchers and rustlers and those in between,
To the rivers they’d crossed and the mountains they’d seen.

Then old Bill said, with a hearty burp,
“Let’s drink to the lawmen—to Wyatt Earp
And Morgan, and Doc, and that OK crew,
They were real brave men, but I’m telling you,
The man I remember most of all,
He weren’t no real lawman a’tall.
But that fellow from down at the picture show,
The one that had ‘True Grit,” you know.
I was a lawman once myself.
My guns are at home on the closet shelf,
But if I could ride for the law again
I’d ride in the hoofprints of John Wayne
When he played that Rooster Cogburn fellow.
Now there’s a marshall who wasn’t yellow,
With his reins in his teeth and his guns in his hand
He rode right into that outlaw band.
He was old like me, and tired and fat.
I wish I could make one ride like that!”

Then Ed said, “By pure Providence,
There’s a horse standin’ over along the fence
With a saddle that looks like a pretty good fit
And we’re here to judge if you’ve got true grit.
If you want that ride, you can make it still.”
Old Bill stood up, “By God, I will!
But Rooster Cogburn wore a patch,
And so to make it a fairer match
I’ll stick my glasses here in my pocket,
Then the ride will be square and you can’t knock it;
But when I take them off, of course,
You’ll have to point me toward that horse.
I was a lawman as you well know,
My guns are at home and I’ve told you so
But my pickup truck holds a twenty-two
And an old twelve-gauge, and I’ll make ’em do!”
So they helped him on and he sat up proud,
Said those famous words and he said ’em loud
And they sounded just like poetry.
Said, “Fill your hands, you S.O.B.!”

Then he struck the reins into his mouth
And he kicked that horse and they took off south.
He raised up the shotgun and fired a round,
The fellows they all hit the ground
While the pellets riddled the pickup truck
And the horse went into a crow-hop buck.
Bill might have stuck on, as like as not
He might have stuck on, but he plumb forgot,
Forgot that his teeth were the store-bought kind
And he wore ’em loose so they wouldn’t bind.
They slid from his mouth, still chewin’ that rein
And Bill came down in a world of pain.

His pocket was filled with shards of glass.
His teeth were scattered across the grass.
His hat was smashed and his Sunday clothes
Were spattered with blood from his busted nose.
But he staggered up—to their vast relief.
Said, “A gritty man don’t need no teeth
No glasses neither! You know darned well
He can spot a jug by his sense of smell!”
So they passed it around and they had to admit
John Wayne never had no truer grit.

© 1997, Elizabeth Ebert, used with permission, from Crazy Quilt

South Dakota’s much-loved poet, retired ranch wife Elizabeth Ebert, delighted audiences across the West. She died March 20, 2018, leaving many friends and loving family, and a great body of work.

Read Carson Vaughan’s obituary in the New York Times, “Elizabeth Ebert, ‘Grand Dame of Cowboy Poetry,’ Dies at 93,” and find more here.

Elizabeth Ebert had a wide range, creating memorable poems both serious and humorous. Baxter Black has said of her (and referring to her serious poem, “He Talked About Montana”): “To say that I admire Elizabeth’s writing seems meager comment on her talent. She writes from inspiration with such graceful force it’s like her pen has power steering. There are so many first class pieces in her books, most contemporary cowboy poets would covet even just one so good in their armory. If her poems were mountains and the verses peaks, this would be the eagle soaring over all: ‘Before war and wife and whiskey/ Had bent him out of shape/ Now the war and wife were history/ And the whiskey was escape.'”

Find more about her Elizabeth Ebert at

After listening to the MASTERS: VOLUME ONE CD from, which includes the works of Larry McWhorter, Sunny Hancock, J.B. Allen, and Ray Owens, Elizabeth Ebert commented about three of the poets included, “…I sat at a book table one day with Larry and watched him draw horses and other animals on the white plastic table cloth. He was quite an artist and much too young to die. J.B. fascinated me as he reminded me of a corner post–straight, solid and unmovable. I could not believe that he never wrote down a poem until it was finished in his head, and never changed a word after it was written. And Sunny with that mean look he loved to startle people with when he was really such a sweet guy. We spent a lot of time with him and Alice at gatherings. Out at Prescott [ the Arizona Cowboy Poets Gathering] he asked if he could do ‘True Grit’ and it just seemed to fit him so well that I never recited it again until after he had died….He was certainly one of a kind.”

Find more about both MASTERS CDs here.

This c. 1922 photograph by the Bain News Service is from The Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division. It is described, “Cowboy riding bronco while other cowboys look on.” Find more about it here.

(Please respect copyright. You can share this poem with this post, but for other uses, request permission. This photo is in the public domain.)



by Doris Daley

Everybody’s different, diversity rules the day
Still I slap my head in wonder at the Housewives of LA.
They’re bosomy and botoxed, voluptuous of hip
And I can’t understand why anybody gives a rip.

They’re brassy and they’re bossy, over-glitzed, uber noisy
And please don’t get me started on the Housewives of New Joisy.
A spree at Nieman Marcus and they’re rolling the clover,
Cleavage like the 23 Psalm: their cups runneth over.

They hurl diamond crusted insults with a practiced, deadly aim
Jealousy and jewelry are their biggest claims to fame.
They dress themselves in Gucci just to buy a happy meal
Though to be clear, the chauffeur is the one who’s at the wheel.

Flirting with a jailbird sugar daddy millionaire
And here’s my biggest question: Why does anybody care?
If you want me as a viewer, scrap those superficial wives
And point your TV camera at the gals who have real lives.

Farmwives tough as tigers, ranch wives strong and brown
And the ones I know the best: the real farmwives of my home town.
When I was just a baby, when TV was still a dream
These farmwives got together just to laugh and let off steam.

Tough and smart and funny, and steady as she goes
And they never shopped at Tiffany’s or wore designer clothes.
They could drive a tractor, fix a fence, load and bale and stack
Then bake six rhubarb pies with one hand tied behind their back.

They had soirees, they had setbacks, skies of grey and skies of blue
And these Farmwives of Alberta always got each other through.
They buried husbands, buried kids, shared laughter and shared tears
They’ve been there for each other for over 60 years.

So when it comes to housewives, you can keep your bling and brass
It’s to farm and ranch wives everywhere I raise my fluted glass.
But ‘specially to the women who you won’t see on TV:
My mom and all her farm pals who still inspire me.

© Doris Daley
This poem should not be reposted or reprinted without the author’s permission

Canadian wordsmith, performer, and emcee Doris Daley is widely appreciated throughout the cowboy poetry and Western music world. Top cowboy poet Waddie Mitchell has said, “If cowboy poetry was fresh milk and the cream that rises to the top was the very best, then Doris Daley would be very rich and very fattening.”

See videos, poetry, and more at and find more poetry at

In coming weeks, find Doris Daley at the Texas Cowboy Poetry Gathering in Alpine, March 2-3, 2018. Friday night headliners include Jay Snider, Doug Figgs, Ryan Fritz, Deanna McCall, and Michael Stevens. Saturday night headliners are Gary Allegretto, Ross Knox, Gary Robertson, Trinity Seely, and Caitlyn Taussig. Poets and musicians include Apache Adams, Amy Hale Auker, Floyd Beard, “Straw” Berry, Mike Blakely, Teresa Burleson, Dale Burson, Don Cadden, Bob Campbell, Craig Carter, Cowboy Celtic, Allan Chapman & Rodeo Kate, Doris Daley, Mikki Daniel, John Davis, Kevin Davis, Ray Fitzgerald, Rolf Flake, Pipp Gillette, Jeff Gore, Kristyn Harris, Andy Hedges, Don Hedgpeth, Carol Heuchan, Yvonne Hollenbeck, Randy Huston, Chris Isaacs, Jill Jones & Three Hands High, Jim Jones, Linda Kirkpatrick, Daron Little, Pat Meade, Glenn Moreland, Terry Nash, Joel Nelson, Sam Noble, Kay Nowell, Jean Prescott, Gary Prescott, Mike Querner, Luke Reed, Randy Rieman, Heather Watson & Nathan Schmidt, R.P. Smith, Gail Steiger, Rod Taylor, Doug Tolleson, Keith Ward, Washtub Jerry, and Jim Wilson. Find more at

After Alpine, Doris is headed to British Columbia’s 22nd Annual Kamloops Cowboy Festival, March 15th – 18th, 2018. Performers include Abe Zacharias, Alan Moberg, Ben Crane, Bj Smith, Brian Salmond, Bryn Thiessen, Butch Falk, Carol Heuchan, Chris Isaacs, Doc Mehl, Doris Daley, Ed Peekeekoot, Gary Prescott, Gary Fjellgaard, Gordie West, Hugh McLennan, Jason Ruscheinsky, Jim McLennan, Louis “Big Rig” McIvor, Mag Mawhinney, Mike Dygert, Notable Exceptions, Ryan & Hoss Fritz, and Tom Cole. Find more about the many activities at the event at

photo of Doris Daley by Mikeala MacKenzie,

THE ZEBRA DUN anonymous



We were camped on the plains at the head of the Cimmaron
When along came a stranger and stopped to arger some.
He looked so very very foolish that we began to look around,
We thought he was a greenhorn that had just ‘scaped from town.

We asked him if he had he been to breakfast; he had n’t had a smear;
So we opened up the chuck-box and bade him have his share.
He took a cup of coffee and some biscuits and some beans,
And then began to talk and tell about foreign kings and queens,

About the Spanish War and fighting on on the seas
With guns as big as steers and ramrods big as trees,–
And about old Paul Jones, a mean-fighting son of a gun,
Who was the grittiest cuss that ever pulled a gun.

Such an educated feller, his thoughts just came in herds,
He astonished all them cowboys with them jaw-breaking words.
He just kept on talking till he made the boys all sick
And they began to look around just how to play a trick.

He said he had lost his job upon the Santa Fe
And was going across the plains to strike the 7-D.
He did n’t say how come it, some trouble with the boss,
But said he’d like to borrow a nice fat saddle horse.

This tickled all the boys to death; they laughed ‘way down in their sleeves–
“We will lend you a horse just as fresh and fat as you please.”
Shorty grabbed a lariat and roped the Zebra Dun
And turned him over to the stranger and waited for the fun.

Old Dunny was a rocky outlaw that had grown so awful wild
That he could paw the white out of the moon every jump for a mile.
Old Dunny stood right still–as if he didn’t know–
Until he was saddled and ready for to go.

When the stranger hit the saddle, old Dunny quit the earth,
And traveled right straight up for all that he was worth.
A-pitching and a-squealing, a-having wall-eyed fits,
His hind feet perpendicular, his front ones in the bits.

We could see the tops of mountains under Dunny every jump,
But the stranger he was growed there just like the camel’s hump;
The stranger sat upon him and curled his black moustache,
Just like a summer boarder waiting for his hash.

He thumped him in the shoulders and spurred him when he whirled,
To show them flunky punchers that he was the wolf of the world.
When the stranger had dismounted once more upon the ground,
We knew he was a thoroughbred and not a gent from town;

The boss, who was standing round watching of the show,
Walked right up to the stranger and told him he need n’t go–
“If you can use a lasso like you rode old Zebra Dun,
You are the man I’ve been looking for ever since the year one.”

Oh he could twirl the lariat and he did n’t didn’t do it slow;
He could catch them fore feet nine out of ten for any kind of dough,
There’s one thing and a shore thing I’ve learned since I’ve been born,
That every educated feller ain’t a plumb greenhorn.


One of the oldest cowboy songs, “The Zebra Dun” is sometimes known as “The Educated Fellow.” The author is unknown. When Jack Thorp collected the song, he noted that he “first heard the song sung by Randolph Reynolds, Carizozo Flats, in 1890.”

Cowboy and singer Jules Verne Allen (1883-1945) recorded “Zebra Dun” in 1928, the first known commercial recording. Listen to a great version by Cisco Houston (1918-1961) here from Smithsonian Folkways Recordings.

Many others have recorded “Zebra Dun,” and Don Edwards has an outstanding version on his “Saddle Songs” album that you can listen to here.

Find more in our feature about Jack Thorp’s 1912 Songs of the Cowboys.

This 1940 photo of a cowboy at the Quemado, New Mexico rodeo by Russell Lee (1903-1986) is from the Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division. Find more about it here.


NOT SO SLOW by Bruce Kiskaddon (1878-1950)


photo © 2016, Mike Moutoux

by Bruce Kiskaddon (1878-1950)

You have heard some folks say, “He’s as slow as a cow.”
Well, there’s things about cows they don’t know.
If they knowed about cattle, they’d figger somehow,
That there’s times when a cow ain’t so slow.

When a bunch of rough cattle start burnin’ the breeze,
And take off a rough mountain side,
You want a good shore footed hoss ‘twixt your knees
And sand in yore gizzard to ride.

Fer when a old cow starts to rattle her hocks,
She certainly makes a good showin’
She’s a foggin’ the dust and a rollin’ the rocks
And Cow Boy you’d better git goin’.

So when a man sez, “He’s as slow as a cow.”
You can figger by what he has said,
That the hosses he’s seen was hitched to a plow,
And cows was tied under a shed.

…Bruce Kiskaddon, 1937

This poem appeared in the Western Livestock Journal in August, 1937. It was also on a Los Angeles Union Stockyards calendar with an illustration by Katherine Field.

Bruce Kiskaddon worked for ten years as a cowboy, starting in 1898 in southeastern Colorado’s Picketwire area. He published short stories and nearly 500 poems.

Much of what is known about Kiskaddon and his work comes from Open Range, Bill Siems’ monumental collection of Kiskaddon’s poetry. Bill Siems also collected Bruce Kiskaddon’s short stories in a book called Shorty’s Yarns. Find more in the Kiskaddon features at

Find much more about Kiskaddon and many more poems in features at

This photo by New Mexico cowboy, songwriter, poet, entertainer, and photographer Mike Moutoux, was included in a 2016 Picture the West at Mike took it at a spring branding at singer and songwriter Randy Huston’s New Mexico ranch. See all of the images here.

Find more about Mike Moutoux at, including his occasional “Ranch Notes.”

PAYIN’ ATTENTION by Carole Jarvis


photo © 2017, Jessica Hedges


by Carole Jarvis

“I told ya’ once, it’s the second gate,
and leave the thing open!
Close the one with fingertrap;
That’s where they’ll water—I’m hopin’.

“Now pay attention; watch fer cows;
make sure the fences are up.
Keep yer mind on what we’re doin’ out here,
and quit lookin’ fer buttercup!”

Then off he rides in a cowboy trot,
his eyes on the trail up ahead.
And me, I’m tryin’ to concentrate,
on all of the things he just said.

But above me there’s a red-tail hawk,
and I watch him circle and soar.
Then into the wind he dips and turns,
with the grace of a matador!

And what made those tracks in the wash;
they’re not rabbit or coyote I know,
But some kind of critter wandered this way,
and it hasn’t been that long ago.

Guess I really shouldn’t tarry though,
so come on old horse, let’s get goin’.
I’m sure by now Dan’s halfway there,
and I’d better be a-showin’.

Okay, this trail is headed right,
and I can see all the fence from here.
Gee, what a lovely day for a ride,
oh wow, there’s a herd of mule deer!

With three or four does and a buck
a couple of spikes! Boy they’re quick!
Over that ridge and out of sight
Like kids on a pogo stick!

That buck was a five-point, at least!
I wonder where he hid last fall?
Wherever it was, I hope he goes back—
uh oh, I think I head a cow bawl!

Oh nuts, that came from way up ahead—
I pray they’re not through the gate!
Come on little horse, let’s hit a lope,
I’m in big trouble if I’m too late!

And there they are, headin’ straight in
toward the gate I’m supposed to close!
At a dead run now, it’s nip and tuck—
And I beat ‘um—but just by a nose!

Wow! That was too close, old pony,
I’d never hear the end of that,
If they’d gotten through and scattered…
well, let’s go see where the rest are at.

Here comes Dan now with the big bunch,
ridin’ in from the other direction.
“Good,” he says, when he sees these cows,
“looks like ya’ paid attention!”

I always do, I say to him,
and a laugh is his reaction.
Just because on a rare occasion,
I might have had a distraction.

So I tell him the fence is all up,
and there’s plenty of feed in the draw.
But I keep to myself, all the other things,
that when I paid attention I saw!

© 2003, Carole Jarvis
This poem should not be reprinted or reposted without permission.

Popular poet Carole Jarvis has lived and cowboyed in Wyoming, Oregon and Arizona. She has written, “… there’s been a lot of hard work, dusty trails, blisters, sunburns and broken bones along the way, but it’s the life I chose and the one Dan, my husband chose, and we wouldn’t trade it for any other.”

Carole Jarvis lives is the recipient of the 2001 Gail I. Gardner Award for a Working Cowboy Poet, bestowed at the Arizona Cowboy Poets Gathering at Prescott, Arizona and of the 2003 Western Heritage Award, bestowed at the 15th Annual Cowboy Christmas Poetry Gathering in Wickenburg, Arizona.

This poem is included in her book, “Time Not Measured By a Clock” and she recites it on Volume 7 of The BAR-D Roundup from Find more of her poetry, including a moving tribute to her late husband, and more about her at

This photograph is by poet, cowboy, and entrepreneur Jessica Hedges. Her “Branded in Ink by Jessica Hedges” company “serves the ag community through the art of storytelling on social media and beyond.” Her photography (see more on Instagram at brandedinink and cowboyinlady) is available as prints, cards, and more. Find more at

Jessica is among the poets and musicians taking part in the Cochise Cowboy Poetry and
Music Gathering, February 2-4, 2018 in Sierra Vista, Arizona.

Featured performers are 3 Trails West, Floyd Beard, Almeda Bradshaw, Patty Clayton, The Cowboy Way, Doris Daley, Peggy Godfrey, Hanson Family, Joe Herrington, Jo Lynne Kirkwood, Carolyn and Dave Martin, Syd Masters Band, Doc Mehl, Notable Exceptions, Trinity Seely, Tom Swearingen, Barry Ward, and Joyce Woodson. Saturday Daytime Performers are Vic Anderson, Janet Bailey, Valerie Beard, Cimarron Sidekicks, Dean Cook, Joel Eliot, Thatch Elmer, Jessica Hedges, Ron Hinkle, Randy Houston, Steve Jones, Susie Knight, Mary Matli, Dave and Kathy McCann, James Michae, Mark Munzert, OK  Chorale Trio, Ramblin’ Rangers, Dennis Russell, Gail Star, Rocky Sullivan, Miss “V”,  and Washtub Jerry.

Vinton Cowboy Poetry & Music Show, Vinton, California March 16 and 17, 2018

Version 2

32nd annual Vinton Cowboy Poetry & Music Show
“Oldest and Best Cowboy Poetry Show in California”  
March 16 and 17, 2018


BELINDA GAIL – singer songwriter

SOURDOUGH SLIM – singer- humorist

 JOE HERRINGTON –  storyteller – poet

Friday and Saturday evening shows at 7:30 PM

Saturday matinee at 2:00 PM

Cost of each show is $23


Friday evening – Corned Beef and Cabbage dinner 5:00 – 7:00 PM Cost $12

Saturday evening – Roast Beef dinner 4:30 – 7:00 PM   Cost $12


92202 Highway 70
VINTON, CA 96135

For tickets and information contact:

Phone 831-345-9840

Always on the 3rd weekend in March.


Stan Tixier, 1932-2017


We were sad to learn of the death of Utah poet Stan Tixier on December 23, 2017. Stan was a long-time part of the BAR-D and a tireless supporter of Cowboy Poetry Week. Each year he would coordinate with librarians, musicians, poets, and the media to present programs at area libraries.

Find some of Stan’s poetry and more about him at

See an article “‘The Tabasco Man,’ cowboy poet Stan Tixier, dies at 85,” by Janae Francis, from the Standard-Examiner, December 30, 2017

An obituary here tells about Stan’s rich life, “…Stan served in the Navy as an air traffic controller for 4 years starting in 1951 and in the reserves for four years after that. He began a career in the United States Forest Service in 1959. He had many assignments in Arizona, New Mexico, Washington D.C. and Milwaukee, Wisconsin before transferring to Ogden, Utah in 1982. He retired as Regional Forester in 1991 and he and Jan moved to Eden, Utah. While serving as Regional Forster, Stan also served as the first Chairman of the Inter-Agency Grizzly Bear Committee. He was active in the Society for Range Management and served as its national president in 1991-92. After retiring, Stan began further careers raising foxtrotting horses and writing and performing cowboy poetry. He achieved particular success in the latter, performing often and winning awards at several regional contests….”

It notes, “Visitation will be 5 to 7 p.m. with a Rosary with an open mic following the Rosary at 7 p.m. on December 28, 2017 at Myers Mortuary, 5865 S 1900 W, Roy. A funeral mass will be said at St. Joseph Catholic Church, 514 24th Street, Ogden, at 11 a.m. on December 29, 2017.”