by J.B. Allen (1938-2005)

“What’s the myst’ry of the wagon?
asked a townie, green as grass,
As he visited on a dreary autumn day.
Fer there weren’t a sign of romance
nor no waddies’round with class,
And he couldn’t see why one would want to stay.

“Well, don’t be askin’ me,” says Jake,
when asked that very thing,
“I’ve only been around here thirty years;
If I’d learnt some floocy answers
to the questions you-all bring
I’d not be tough as brushy outlawed steers!

“It’s a dang sight more romantic
in the bunkhouse, snug and warm,
When that winter wind
is blowin’ from the Pole
Than the livin’ at the wagon
through the same ol’ freezin’ storm
And the call of nature sends you for a stroll!

“The smell of beans and beefsteak
born in bilin’ coffee’s breath
Pulls a feller from them soogans,
clean and dry,
‘Stead of half-cooked food that drownded
so you’ll not git choked to death
As you look around and git to wonderin’ why.

“But I reckon, since you asked me,
it’s the challenge that you git
Testin’ what you got for gizzard
through the squalls,
And not just nature’s doin’s
but the kind that’s stirred a bit
When a cowboy, bronc, or critter starts the brawls.

“Take them fellers that’s a-squattin’
’round that soggy campfire there,
That big-uns done some time
for murder one,
But I’ll guarante you, feller,
when you think your flank is bare
You’ll hear his boomin’ laughter through the run.

“The scroungy-lookin’ half-breed kid
can ride a bear or lion,
Thought he mostly rides the rough-uns
for the boys.
Black Pete would rope the Devil
through a stand of burnt-out pine,
And Ol’ Dobb would mark his ears to hear the noise!

“What I’m gettin’ ’round to sayin’
is them boys will back yore play
Though their outside shore ain’t groomed
or show-ring slick;
It’s their innards that you count on
when you work for puncher’s pay,
And the reason why the wagon makes you stick.”

© 1997, J.B. Allen
This poem should not be reposted or reprinted without permission

Texan J.B. Allen was a working cowboy for over three decades. He was a frequent performer at the Texas Cowboy Poetry Gathering, the Arizona Cowboy Poets Gathering, the Western Folklife Center’s National Cowboy Poetry Gathering and also at Nara Visa and other events. His poetry is included in many anthologies and in his own books and recordings. His book, The Medicine Keepers, received the Western Heritage Wrangler Award from the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum in 1998.

Buck Ramsey (1938-1998), in his introduction to The Medicine Keepers, wrote of J.B. Allen, “More than most cowboys, he held to the ways and memories…thought and talked the old lingo” and stated, “…in my opinion he is the best living writer of traditional cowboy verse.”

J.B. Allen’s poetry is featured in the first MASTERS CD from (2017) along with the work of Larry McWhorter, Sunny Hancock, and Ray Owens. The compilation includes recorded poems, “live” performances, and their recitations of other masters’ works (Buck Ramsey, S. Omar Barker, and Henry Herbert Knibbs), with an introduction by Jay Snider.

Find more about J.B. Allen at

Top Texas artist Duward Campbell created this painting of his good friend J.B. Allen and his horse, Pilgrim, in 2005. We were proud to have it as the art for the 2011 Cowboy Poetry Week poster from Find more about it here.

Thanks to Margaret Allen for her generous permissions.

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




by Jane Morton

The round-ups, the brandings,
the calvings are done,
as ranchers sell out
and move on one by one.

We must tell the stories,
so memories live on,
past time when the tellers
themselves are long gone.

© 2004, Jane Morton, used with permission
Colorado poet Jane Morton is no longer writing or reciting, but her meaningful words continue to inspire.

Thanks to all who took part in celebrating this 18th annual Cowboy Poetry Week, including those who took their poetry and music to venues across the West; the many who contacted their states’ governors for proclamations for the week and those governors who recognized the week; Shawn Cameron for lending her outstanding “Making Plans” for this year’s poster art; those who are featured in this year’s triple-cd collection, MASTERS: VOLUME THREE, the poetry of Bruce Kiskaddon; the many who have visited’s social media, blog, and web site and who have shared posts and the word of Cowboy Poetry Week; the Western radio stations who showcased cowboy poetry on their weekly shows; those who submitted poems to the special Cowboy Poetry Week Art Spur; the libraries in the week’s Rural Library Program who created displays and held events; and the vital, generous community who supports the BAR-D with annual donations that make all of its projects and programs possible.


If you enjoy and appreciate the work of the Center for Western and Cowboy Poetry but aren’t yet a supporter, join us! Help make sure we can celebrate the 19th annual Cowboy Poetry Week, April 19-25, 2020.

Join us!

Current Donors

Cowboy Poetry Week
Cowboy Poetry Week News
Cowboy Poetry Week Art Spur

MASTERS: VOLUME THREE, the poetry of Bruce Kiskaddon

Subscribe to our occasional newsletter


Cowboy Poetry Week News 2019


Image © 2005, Shawn Cameron, “Making Plans”


Find more about Cowboy Poetry Week here.



Find Cowboy Poetry Week events on the April calendar.


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Nancy Flagg
of “Cowboy Tracks” celebrates Cowboy Poetry Week with an almost all-poetry show on May 1, 2019. She highlights many tracks from the MASTERS and BAR-D Roundup series, and comments, “This episode will be a celebration of Cowboy Poetry Week. We’ll hear top cowboy poems, traditional and new, recited by the leading cowboy poets. The Center for Western and Cowboy Poetry ( is the prime resource for all-things cowboy poetry-related and I drew upon their resources in preparing the show….” Listen to the show here.

The weekly “Cowboy Tracks” is on KDRT 95.7 FM from Davis California.  As the site explains, “She’s on a mission to preserve and promote the cowboy/western music heritage and to offer western music and cowboy poetry as a healing balm for today’s hectic world.”

Listen to current and past programs here and also find “Cowboy Tracks” on Facebook.



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Texas poet and regional historian Linda Kirkpatrick held a Cowboy Poetry Week giveaway on Facebook, for her Tales of the Frio Canyon book and her CD of cowboy poetry. The drawing was made by Elvis, the goat. Watch the video here.



Members of Montana’s Reedy family (Brigid, Johnny “Guitar,” and their father John; all talented performers) made a fun video for Cowboy Poetry Week.  All three are a part of MASTERS: VOLUME THREE, the poetry of Bruce Kiskaddon. Find the video on Facebook, here.



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Popular North Carolina poet Keith Ward displays the Cowboy Poetry Week poster every year at his Dutch Creek Trails business; he often treats his clients to cowboy poetry recitations.




Colorado poet Terry Nash and singer Peggy Malone celebrated Cowboy Poetry Week with the students at  Caprock Academy in Grand Junction on April 25, 2019, performing songs and poems for elementary students studying Western history.




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Texas poet and regional historian Linda Kirkpatrick received an eloquent Cowboy Poetry Week proclamation from Texas Governor Greg Abbott.



Oregon poet Tom Swearingen took Cowboy Poetry Week to an appreciative audience at the Juanita Pohl Community Center in Tualatin, Oregon.



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The Campfire Cafe
with Gary I. Holt and Bobbi Jean Bell (of OutWest) on radio celebrated Cowboy Poetry Week with poets Kathy Moss and Tom Swearingen on Thursday, April 18, 2019. Both poets have new CDs.

Listen to the archived broadcast here.

The popular weekly program is live at noon, CST and available at any time on the podcast at


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Jarle Kvale‘s Back at the Ranch weekly radio show features tracks from MASTERS: VOLUME THREE, the poetry of Bruce Kiskaddon, on his April 20 show. Find the show and archived shows here.


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From Sam DeLeeuw, who has organized Utah Cowboy Poetry in the Libraries (find event details on the April calendar).

First night of Cowboy Poetry in the Libraries is in the books! David Anderson with daughters Jenny and Amanda with grand kids, Riley and Cooper got a standing “O” for singing “You’ve Got a Friend!” Gordon Champneys, cowboy poet, brought grand kids Tib and Rainey to spin yarns and recite poetry. Great entertainment!


Sam, Bob Urry (poet extraordinaire) along with Snoose Argyle, Brian Arnold, Laurie Morgan and Cindy Argyle of the group SADDLE STRINGS! Third night of Cowboy Poetry in the Weber County Libraries! Another great evening of entertainment! 


Fourth night in the libraries with poet Gordon Champneys; Troy Ross and Kevin Higley, aka, Sawtooth Mtn. Boys, with special guest Venessa Carpenter, youth singer. It has been a great week!


Fifth and final day of Cowboy Poetry in the Libraries with David Anderson
and Thatch Elmer in Huntsville! I was honored to be the hostess for each
night of these five programs. Thank you all who participated in 2019! See
you next year!



On Thursday, April 25, 5-7 PM, “A Literary Western Versification,” an event organized by Karlene Gonzales-Martinez  of the Donnelly Library-Ray Drew Art Gallery at New Mexico Highlands University in Las Vegas, New Mexico, features Deanna Dickinson McCall; Randy Huston; and poems by Stewart Williamson performed by Duke Sundt.


Karlene Gonzales-Martinez also shared some photos of Cowboy Poetry Week exhibits at the Donnelly Library-Ray Drew Art Gallery at New Mexico Highlands University in Las Vegas, New Mexico:





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Each year for Cowboy Poetry Week, Andy and Jim Nelson‘s popular Clear Out West (C.O.W.) radio show features cowboy poetry and songs that were created from poems.  Listen to the show here.

This year’s show, April 22-28, 2019, features poetry tracks from the new MASTERS: VOLUME THREE, poems of Bruce Kiskaddon 3-CD set from and other music that came from poems.

The lineup includes Stephanie Davis sings “Hittin’ the Trail Tonight,” from the poem by Bruce Kiskaddon; Gary McMahan recites Kiskaddon’s “The Creak of the Leather”; Prickly Pair sings “The Ranch Sale,” from the poem by Ivan Kershner; Trey Allen recites “Alone” by Bruce Kiskaddon; Andy Nelson recites “Then and Now” by Bruce Kiskaddon; Rex Allen puts Gail I. Gardner’s “The Sierry Petes” to music; Brenn Hill sings “Bristlecone Pine,” from a poem by Waddie Mitchell; Baxter Black recites Bruce Kiskaddon’s “They Can Take It”; Randy Reiman recites “An Old Western Town” by Bruce Kiskaddon; and Michael Martin Murphey sings “A Border Affair (Spanish is the Loving Tongue)” by Badger Clark.


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Colorado rancher delivered poems to the Colorado State Legislature on April 16, 2019 in celebration of Cowboy Poetry Week. After performing one of his poems, he offered the James Barton Adams’ classic “Bill’s in Trouble.”


Floyd and Valerie Beard will perform  at the Mitchell Art Museum in Trinidad on  Friday, April 26, 2019. Find details on the April calendar.


Judy Johnston and others will have a program celebrating Cowboy Poetry Week at
the Library District #2 of Linn County in La Cygne, Kansas on Thursday, April 25, at noon for their Senior Lunch & Explore program.


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Montana ranch hand, poet, and picker DW Groethe received a Cowboy Poetry Week letter of recognition from Montana Governor Steve Bullock:



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Wendy Brown-Barry has a long involvement with Cowboy Poetry Week. She shared this media release about activities at California’s Mariposa Public Library in their “Write to Read” program, which is broadcast on KRYZ radio:


Cowboy Poetry Week is celebrated each year during April. April is National Poetry Month in the United States. This year the annual cowboy poetry celebration takes place from April 21-27.

Eighteen years ago initiated Cowboy Poetry Week. In April 2003 the U.S. Senate passed a resolution with unanimous approval, recognizing the Cowboy Poetry Week Celebration. sponsors the Bar-D Ranch web site. Their mission is to preserve and celebrate the arts and life of rural communities everywhere. An important component of Cowboy Poetry Week is the Rural Library Program. Our county library has participated in this program since 2009 with recitations, displays, and cowboy poetry writing workshops. This year local cowboy poet Wendy Brown-Barry has been invited by the library to participate in their new “Write To Read” program, a radio show where local people read what they write. It is hosted by the Mariposa Library Adult Literacy Program on KRYZ 98.5 FM, Mariposa’s Community Radio Station. Wendy’s show will air on Sunday, April 21st at 4:00 p.m., and Tuesday, April 23rd at 7:00 p.m. She will be talking about and sharing cowboy poetry along with a short story titled “Sometimes Our Animals Choose Us.” Another way to listen in is to go to on your computer.

Tune in and support this oral tradition of the working West, that spans three centuries. You can visit Wendy’s web site at:

wendybrownlib2019 Wendy Brown-Barry also shared a photo of a past Mariposa Library exhibit:



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As he does each year, David L. Carlton, seventh-generation Floridian raised in the cattle industry, worked with Florida officials for a Cabinet resolution from the Governor and Cabinet of the State of Florida for Cowboy Poetry Week:




Montana’s Miles City Public Library shared photos of their Cowboy Poetry Week exhibits:



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Oklahoma rancher, poet, and songwriter Jay Snider received a Cowboy Poetry Week proclamation from Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt.



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From Nebraska storyteller and poet Marci Broyhill:

Teresa Kay Orr and Marci Broyhill had a great time at the South Sioux City
Library presenting their program, “Aprons, Skirts, Hats & Flirts: Women-Their Range of Status During the Western Movement.” The staff at the SSC Library was very helpful. The audience was wonderfully attentive and responsive.


Marci and Teri also had a presentation on Monday, April 15, 2019 7:00 PM at the John A. Stahl Library in West Point, Nebraska.

Sisters Teresa Kay Orr and Marci Broyhill have two programs through Humanities Nebraska: Aprons, Skirts, Hats & Flirts: Women-Their Range of Status During the Western Movement and Sisters From the Outlaw Trail: History through Poetry and Music.  Marci Broyhill also has her own Humanities program: Nebraska’s Outlaw Trail, Highway 12.

Marci Broyhill has received a Cowboy Poetry Week proclamation from Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts:

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South Dakota poet and rancher Robert Dennis has been visiting rural schools with Shelane Graham, the traveling librarian for all six rural schools in Meade County.

Robert Dennis received a Cowboy Poetry Week proclamation from South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem:



602866_601568729871791_179439946_n  Cowboy Poetry Week will be celebrated at Utah’s Draper Library on April 23, 2019 Don Korth, STAMPEDE! (Terri and Steve Taylor, pictured), and poet and author Laurie Tye. Find details on the April calendar.


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Horseman, poet, and radio host Jarle Kvale received a Cowboy Poetry Week proclamation from North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum.




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Washington poet, musician, and artist Lynn Kopelke received a Cowboy Poetry Week proclamation from Washington Governor Jay Inslee.




Jo Lynne Kirwood, Greg Harwood, and Kenny Hall, members of the Cowboy Poets of Utah celebrate Cowboy Poetry Week in an event on April 12, 2019 at 7 PM at the North Sevier High School Library in Salina, Utah:


 The Cowboy Poets of Utah have a long-time involvement with Cowboy Poetry Week.  Their March newsletter includes a brief history of the event, information about the Cowboy Poetry Week Art Spur, events, and more.


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Musician and poet Shane Queener received a Cowboy Poetry Week proclamation from Tennessee Governor Bill Lee:



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Colorado ranchers Valerie and Floyd Beard have two Cowboy Poetry Week events scheduled:  They will perform  at the Mitchell Art Museum in Trinidad on  Friday, April 26th and  Floyd will deliver a few poems to the Colorado State Legislature on April 16th. Find details on the April calendar.



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Oregon poet Tom Swearingen received a Cowboy Poetry Week proclamation from Oregon Governor Kate Brown:



Judy James, four-time WMA DJ of the year will celebrate Cowboy Poetry Week on Cowboy Jubilee her show with many poems. Tune in to the show from Weatherford, Texas, on Saturday mornings, 7:30-9:30 am via


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Colorado musician Red Rideout has a Cowboy Poetry Week event on April 8, 2019 in Evergreen, Colorado. Find the event on the April calendar.


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Great friend of the BAR-D Chuck Learn will celebrate Cowboy Poetry Week reciting  at the 26th annual Santa Clarita Cowboy Festival, April 11-14, 2019 in Historic Old Town Newhall, California. He’ll be at OutWest Stage, run by Jim and Bobbi Jean Bell of OutWest Shop; they host the popular Buckaroo Book Shop and the OutWest Stage at the festival.


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Nevada poet Dan Bybee obtained a Cowboy Poetry Week proclamation from Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak:



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Russ Westwood of Mesquite, Nevada, has organized a number of events at nearby Utah libraries for the Cowboy Poetry Group of Mesquite. At Enterprise, Marleen Bussma, Mark Kerr, Mike Prince, and Jim Parsons will take part. Find all of the events on the April calendar.


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Cowboy, packer, poet and humorist Chris Isaacs received a Cowboy Poetry Week proclamation from Arizona Governor Douglas Ducey.



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Utah poet Sam DeLeeuw has  has organized a number of events for Cowboy Poetry Week at Utah‘s Weber County libraries. Joining her will be poets and musicians Robin Arnold, Thatch Elmer, Saddle Strings, Gordon Champneys (and two of his grandchildren), Amanda Hoesel, and Jenny and David Anderson. Find the events on the April calendar.


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Oregon poet Tom Swearingen always takes an active part in Cowboy Poetry Week and this year he’ll be making appearances at the Museum of the Oregon Territory in Oregon City, Oregon and at the Juanita Pohl Community Center in Tualatin, Oregon. Find the events on the April calendar.


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Colorado musician Red Rideout is seeking a Cowboy Poetry Week proclamation from Colorado Governor Jared Polis.


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Poet and rancher Diane Tribitt Scott is seeking a Cowboy Poetry Week proclamation from Minnesota Governor Tim Walz.


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Award-winning DJ Totsie Slover of The Real West from the Old West show is seeking  a Cowboy Poetry Week proclamation from New Mexico Governor Michelle Lynn Lujan Grisham.


idahoflj  smokewadejld08_small.jpg Poet and storyteller Smoke Wade is seeking a Cowboy Poetry Week proclamation from Idaho Governor Brad Little.


Much more to come…



THE WEST, by Baxter Black


by Baxter Black

They don’t call it Death Valley for nuthin’
And coyotes don’t make a good pet
But livin’ out here with the griz and the deer
you pretty much take what you get

And the Rockies have shoulders like granite
They’re big and they make their own rules
So take what you need but you better pay heed
‘Cause the mountain don’t tolerate fools

And the wind is the moan of the prairie
That haunts and bedevils the plains
The soul stealin’ kind that can fray a man’s mind
Till only his whimper remains

You can stand in the canyon’s cathedral
Where water and sky never rest
And you know in your bones that the meek, on their own
Will never inherit the West

It’s wild and it’s wide and it’s lonesome
Where the dream of first blood still survives
And it beckons to those who can bid adios
To the comfort of 8 to 5 lives

So come all you brave caballeros
Cinch up and reach down inside
Till you feel the heat, then take a deep seat
‘Cause the West, boys, she ain’t broke to ride

© Baxter Black, used with permission

We could think of no better poet to launch the 18th annual Cowboy Poetry Week with than Baxter Black, who put cowboy poetry on the map.

In his official bio, where he is described as “a cowboy poet, former large animal veterinarian and entertainer of the agricultural masses,” he comments, “My audience is my inspiration. Every cowboy, rancher, vet, farmer, feed salesman, ag teacher, cowman and rodeo hand has a story to tell, and they tell it to me. I Baxterize it and tell it back to ‘em! It doesn’t seem fair, does it?”

He recites Bruce Kiskaddon’s “They Can Take It” on the new MASTERS: VOLUME THREE CD from

Find more about Cowboy Poetry Week here.

Last year, Baxter asked us to relay this message, a policy announcement: “Since Baxter Black is no longer doing live performances, there are inquiries about others using his material in their performances. His policy is that anyone is welcome use his material in appropriate occasions, including non-profit or paid-for performances. He requests that the poems or stories be performed the way they are written, allowing for editing of length if needed. Please give the author credit.”

His office adds that no one, for any reason, has permission to include his work “on cds, books, or dvds…or to try to sell it in any manner, including online.”

This version of “The West” comes from Poems Worth Saving, Baxter Black’s 2013 collection of 164 poems and stories.

Find more about Baxter Black at; on Facebook; and find much more, including a weekly column, at

This photograph is courtesy of Baxter Black.

(Please respect copyright. You can share this poem with this post, but request permission for any other use—except recitation. You can share this photo with this post, but any other use requires permission.)

It’s Cowboy Poetry Week!


Let the 18th annual Cowboy Poetry Week begin!

Poets, musicians, libraries, and others have planned events, exhibits, and
more. States’ governors have proclaimed the week. Find the latest in Cowboy Poetry Week news.

We’re honored to have the beautiful work of Shawn Cameron, “Making Plans,” as the image for this year’s poster. Later this week there will be poems inspired by this painting, in Art Spur.

This year’s audio compilation, the 3-CD set, MASTERS: VOLUME THREE, the poems of Bruce Kiskaddon, is now available. Over 60 tracks with voices from the past and from today’s top reciters and poets celebrate cowboy poetry’s popular classic poet, Bruce Kiskaddon (1878-1950).

Hundreds of rural libraries across the West have received this year’s poster and an invitation for the CD for their collections, through Cowboy Poetry Week’s outreach Rural Library Program.

Posters are never sold, but, in addition to going to libraries, they are given to supporters of The Center for Western and Cowboy Poetry. For a $50 donation, you can receive a thank-you gift of the poster and MASTERS: VOLUME THREE, the poems of Bruce Kiskaddon. You’ll also be joining the community that helps to support the Center and ensure that its programs continue, including, Cowboy Poetry Week, and the Rural Library Program. Donations of any amount make a difference. Find more about how to be a part of it all here.

All of the work of the Center is made possible by its generous community of individual supporters, sponsors, and program funders. Find them all here. If you appreciate the work of the Center, thank them, and why not join them and be a part of the BAR-D?

Find more about Cowboy Poetry Week here.

Thanks for joining us here. Stay tuned this week for some of the best-of-the-best poetry postings.











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ANTHEM, by Buck Ramsey (1938-1998)



by Buck Ramsey (1938-1998)

And in the morning I was riding
Out through the breaks of that long plain,
And leather creaking on the quieting
Would sound with trot and trot again.
I lived in time with horse hoof falling;
I listened well and heard the calling
The earth, my mother, bade to me,
Though I would still ride wild and free.
And as I flew out in the morning,
Before the bird, before the dawn,
I was the poem, I was the song.
My heart would beat the world a warning—
Those horsemen now rode all with me,
And we were good, and we were free.

We were not told, but ours the knowing
We were the native strangers there
Among the things the land was growing—
To know this gave us more the care
To let the grass keep at its growing
And let the streams keep at their flowing.
We knew the land would not be ours,
That no one has the awful pow’rs
To claim the vast and common nesting,
To own the life that gave him birth,
Much less to rape his mother earth
And ask her for a mother’s blessing
And ever live in peace with her,
And, dying, come to rest with her.

Oh, we would ride and we would listen
And hear the message on the wind.
The grass in morning dew would glisten
Until the sun would dry and blend
The grass to ground and air to skying.
We’d know by bird or insect flying
Or by their mood or by their song
If time and moon were right or wrong
For fitting works and rounds to weather.
The critter coats and leaves of trees
Might flash some signal with a breeze—
Or wind and sun on flow’r or feather.
We knew our way from dawn to dawn,
And far beyond, and far beyond.

It was the old ones with me riding
Out through the fog fall of the dawn,
And they would press me to deciding
If we were right or we were wrong.
For time came we were punching cattle
For men who knew not spur nor saddle,
Who came with locusts in their purse
To scatter loose upon the earth.
The savage had not found this prairie
Till some who hired us came this way
To make the grasses pay and pay
For some raw greed no wise or wary
Regard for grass could satisfy.

The old ones wept and so did I.
Do you remember? We’d come jogging
To town with jingle in our jeans,
And in the wild night we’d be bogging
Up to our hats in last month’s dreams.
It seemed the night could barely hold us
With all those spirits to embold’ us
While, horses waiting on three legs,
We’d drain the night down to the dregs.
And just before beyond redemption
We’d gather back to what we were.
We’d leave the money left us there
And head our horses for the wagon.
But in the ruckus, in the whirl,
We were the wolves of all the world.

The grass was growing scarce for grazing,
Would soon turn sod or soon turn bare.
The money men set to replacing
The good and true in spirit there.
We could not say, there was no knowing,
How ill the future winds were blowing.
Some cowboys even shunned the ways
Of cowboys in the trail herd days
(But where’s the gift not turned for plunder?),
Forgot that we are what we do
And not the stuff we lay claim to.
I dream the spell that we were under;
I throw in with a cowboy band
And go out horseback through the land.

So mornings now I’ll go out riding
Through pastures of my solemn plain,
And leather creaking in the quieting
Will sound with trot and trot again.
I’ll live in time with horse hoof falling;
I’ll listen well and hear the calling
The earth, my mother, bids to me,
Though I will still ride wild and free.
And as I ride out on the morning
Before the bird, before the dawn,
I’ll be this poem, I’ll be this song.
My heart will beat the world a warning—
Those horsemen will ride all with me,
And we’ll be good, and we’ll be free.

© 1993, Buck Ramsey, used with permission
Called cowboy poetry’s “spiritual leader,” Buck Ramsey was a cowboy, poet, songwriter, musician, National Endowment for the Arts Heritage Fellow, and National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum Wrangler Award recipient. His work continues to inspire cowboy poets and songwriters.

This is the day affectionately known as “Buck Day,” an annual celebration of his birth. Buck Ramsey would have been 81 this year.

“Anthem” is the prologue to Buck Ramsey’s book-length poem, Grass. A book of the entire poem was published by Texas Tech University Press in 2005. It also includes photos, friends’ recollections, Buck Ramsey’s original short story on which he based the poem, and a CD of the original 1990 recording of Buck Ramsey performing Grass in John Hartford’s home studio in Nashville, introduced by Andy Wilkinson.

Top poets and reciters Joel Nelson, Jerry Brooks, and Andy Hedges recite Buck Ramsey’s “Anthem” in an impressive film interpretation, Between Grass and Sky, which begins with Buck Ramsey’s voice.

The Western Folklife Center, home of the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering, recently posted a great video of Buck Ramsey from 1994. In it, he comments on the oral tradition and recites his poem, “Bad Job.” Watch it on Facebook.

Find “Anthem,” more poetry, and more about Buck Ramsey in our features at

Visit the Buck Ramsey Memorial Page on Facebook, which is maintained by Buck Ramsey’s daughter, Amanda Robin Ramsey.


These photographs of Buck Ramsey are by Kent Reeves, Cowboy Conservationist, from a landmark book that Between Earth and Sky: Poets of the Cowboy West, by Anne Heath Widmark, with photographs by Kent Reeves. The photographs were made in the spring of 1993. One shows Buck Ramsey visiting the one-room school house he attended. In the other, the fiddler with Buck Ramsey is Rooster Morris.

Kent told us about his experiences in photographing Buck Ramsey, “One of the more enjoyable times working on the book was getting to visit with Buck Ramsey and his family, Bette and Amanda. We traveled through the Texas Panhandle where Buck had worked and grew up. I got to drive the van and I was forgiven for bumping his neighbor’s car when we pulled out of Amarillo. We visited the one-room school house where he attended grade school where he talked about daydreaming during class and looking out across the great Texas panhandle. There was an impromptu concert along with more of Buck’s stories. Always stories.

“He talked about listening to baseball games on the radio in bunkhouses with other cowboys gathered around and that they were all St. Louis Cardinals fans. At the time there weren’t any teams as far west as the Cardinals and no Texas cowboy was gonna cheer for some team from a big city in the east. Over the years I have talked to other punchers, buckaroos and cowboys of that era and yep, Cardinals were a cowboy’s favorite. It was a grand day and the best way I can simply end this short tale is with what Buck wrote in my personal copy of ‘Between Earth and Sky,’ ‘…Thanks and keep out of the wire –'”

See a gallery of photos from the book on Facebook.

Find more about Kent Reeves at and at his site,

(Please respect copyright. You can share this poem and photo with this post, but please seek permission for any other uses.)

34th annual Vinton Cowboy Poetry & Music Show, Vinton, California March 15 and 16, 2019

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34th annual Vinton Cowboy Poetry & Music Show
“Oldest and Best Cowboy Poetry Show in California”  
March 15 and 16, 2019



The Sierra Valley Grange presents

Dave Stamey

Chris Isaacs

Richard Elloyan & Steve Wade

March 15,16 -2019

Sierra Valley Grange Hall

92202 Hwy 70, Vinton, California

Friday Evening Show at 7:30 PM

      Saturday — Matinee Show at 2:00 PM – Evening Show at 7:30 PM

Dinner Fri 5 to 7 PM /Dinner Sat 4:30 to 7:00 PM 

Reserved seating. Show tickets: $25 for Adults, $10 for Children 12 and under 

Dinners:  $12 for Adults and $8 for Children 12  and under

For tickets call Pam Olivieri (831-345-9840)

Always on the 3rd weekend in March.