BE YOURSELF by Georgie Sicking, 1921-2016


by Georgie Sicking, 1921-2016

When I was young and foolish,
The women said to me,
“Take off those spurs and comb your hair
If a lady you will be.

“Forget about those cowboy ways
come and sit a while,
We will try to clue you in
On women’s ways and wiles.

“Take off that Levi jumper
Put up those bat wing chaps.
Put on a little makeup and
We can get a date for you, ‘perhaps.’

“Forget about that roping.
That will make calluses on your hands.
And you know it takes soft fingers
If you want to catch a man!

“Do away with that Stetson hat
For it will crush your curls.
And even a homely cowboy wouldn’t
Date a straight-haired girl.”

Now being young and foolish,
I went my merry way.
I guess I never wore a dress
Until my wedding day.

Now I tell my children,
No matter what you do,
stand up straight and tall,
Be you, and only you.

For if the Lord had meant us, all to be alike,
And the same rules to keep,
He would have bonded us all together,
Just like a band of sheep.

© Georgie Sicking, used with permission

Much-loved cowboy and Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame inductee Georgie Sicking, who died a year ago, November 6, 2016, at age 95, continues to inspire poets and cowboys. This autobiographical poem is just one her many popular verses.

Find an interview with Georgie Sicking and her recitation of this poem here.

In the impressive book, Tough by Nature, by Lynda Lanker, Georgie Sicking tells that she was the only woman who ever drew pay on Arizona’s Oro Ranch, where she worked during World War Two. She prefers to be called a “cowboy,” not “cowgirl.”

She is quoted in Tough by Nature, “Some people had the idea that all you had to do to be a cowgirl was put on a pretty dress and a pair of boots and a big hat and get a faraway look in your eyes…and you’re a cowgirl. They’ve been kind of hard to educate.”

Of Ridin’ & Rhymin’, the award-winning documentary about Georgie Sicking by Greg Snider and Dawn Smallman of Far Away Films, Hal Cannon, Founding Director (retired) of the Western Folklife Center, comments, “Georgie Sicking is why ‘to cowboy’ is best used as a verb to explain a work, a life, and a big open land. This film captures her level gazed life in such a powerful way that it defines the American West.” A DVD of the outstanding film is available here.

Georgie Sicking’s photo (above) graces the cover of The BAR-D Roundup: Volume Five from The circa 1940 photo was taken at a carnival on her first date with the man who became her husband (photo courtesy of Georgie Sicking and Dawn Smallman).

Find some of her poetry and more about Georgie Sicking at


Bill Barwick, November 10, 2017



Bill Barwick’s many friends in the Western music and cowboy poetry world mourn his passing on November 10, 2017. A multi-talented musician, songwriter, singer, and more, Bill received many awards, including a Western Heritage Wrangler Award from the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum. He will also be remembered as the original voice of television’s Westerns Channel.

Bill Barwick had a stroke in 2015, and this show on Equestrian Legacy Radio was recorded just a few weeks before.

Find more at, where information about services will be posted.

INSIDE WAR by Joel Nelson


photo © 2016, Ken Rodgers

by Joel Nelson

We read stories of Wars
Hist’ries written on pages
And records of battle
Drawn on walls of the cave
Read of Glory and Honor
And Right through the ages
And all those who fell
‘Neath the crest of the knave

The themes are eternal
Of wars on the ocean
Of axes and swords
On the Otterburn Plain
The ninety gun Frigates
The horsemen in motion
The bleeding has stopped
But the stories remain

There are terms of Armistice
And flags of surrender
This war fought for freedom
That war saved a race
Twixt savages cruel
Or soldiers yet tender
The scholars record them
And each has its place

Some go unrecorded
Wars fought self-contained
Conflicts never ending
No respite or truce
For the foe lives within
Lashing out unrestrained
And the warrior wears thin
From the battles’ abuse

The shelling subsides
Then intensity quickens
With most unaware
Of the state of the war
Leaving soldier and loved ones
With Conflict that thickens
Outsiders observing
The scene from afar

There is only so long
Any warrior can battle
‘Til he must succumb
To the enemy inside
So loosening the reins
Stepping down from the saddle
Heaving sigh of relief
He will cease his long ride

His allies left standing
Gather somewhat uncertain
Refraining from judgment
United by love
Acknowledging peacetime
And drawing the curtain
Leaving all in the hands
Of the Maker above

© 2008, Joel Nelson
This poem should not be re-posted or reprinted without permission

In observance of Veterans Day and Remembrance Day, we’re honored to share the words of Texas rancher and horseman Joel Nelson. He served in Vietnam with the 101st Airborne Division. A National Endowment of the Arts Heritage Fellow, Joel Nelson is respected for his writing and his reciting.

Find more about Joel Nelson at

This photograph, by Idaho filmmaker, writer, teacher, and photograph Ken Rodgers, was taken last year at the San Antonio Veterans Memorial Plaza and Vietnam Veterans Memorial.

This year, Ken was the Grand Marshal of the Boise Veterans Day parade. See a great photo here on Facebook.

Ken and the equally talented Betty Rodgers are the creators of the award-winning film, Bravo! Common Men, Uncommon Valor, about the men of Bravo Company, 1st Battalion, 26th Marines during the 1968 siege at Khe Sanh in Vietnam, with whom Ken served. Find more about it  on Facebook and at, where there is an engaging blog.

Their latest project, a work in progress, I Married the War, tells the stories of the lives of combat veteran spouses, from WWII through today. Find more about it at and on Facebook.

Find poems and more for Veterans Day at


celebrates our Western heritage and today’s working West, dedicated to preserving our important history and to promoting the Western arts that carry on those traditions.  It’s a part of the non-profit Center for Western and Cowboy Poetry.

The Center was formed to serve a mostly rural and underserved community of Western writers, musicians, and artists; to help preserve Western and Cowboy Poetry and its associated arts; to offer a central resource for poets, libraries, schools, and the public; and to educate the public about the history and value of Western and Cowboy Poetry and its associated arts.

Supporters make a difference. With individual support, the Center can continue its programs, expand some of those efforts, and take on new projects. Individual support helps show institutional funders the community interest in our Western arts.

We thank our supporters, who are listed below. They make an important difference to the community of Western writers, musicians, and artists as we work together to preserve Western heritage and support Western and Cowboy Poetry and its associated arts. Please join us.


The BAR-D supporters make all of the programs of the Center for Western and Cowboy Poetry possible: Cowboy Poetry Week, the Rural Library Program, and

Claud Roundtree
Janice Gilbertson
Andria Kidd
Laverna B. Johnson
Betty and Ken Rodgers in memory of Trisha Pedroia
Nika Nordbrock
Dick and Jane Morton
Christopher Chambers
Joanne Grinage
Susan Matley
Keith Ward
Thomas F. Hawk
Jo Lynne Kirkwood
Howard Moon
DW Groethe
Rodney Nelson
Susan Parker
Denise Arvidson in memory of Ross Christian Arvidson
Gary McMahan-HorseApple Entertainment
Steve and Marge Conroy in memory of Allen “Hook” Hill
David Stanley
Paul R. Brown III
Susie Knight
Barbara Richhart (Western Belle)-Cowtrails
Colleen Kohler
Bryce Angell
Ken Cook (sponsor)
Wendy Brown-Barry
Jeff Campbell
Yvonne Hollenbeck (sponsor)
Chuck Learn (sponsor)
Marjorie Satterfield
Sandi and Jay Snider (sponsor)
Nika Nordbrock
Marleen Bussma
Paul Quinton
Shelly Pagiliai-Prairie Moon Quilts
Almeda Bradshaw (sponsor)
Jim and Stella Cathey in memory of Joan Taylor and Garland Haak
National Cowboy Poetry Rodeo (sponsor)
Jean Prescott (sponsor)
RANGE (sponsor)

Significant 2017 and 2018 program support: Laura and Edmund Wattis Littlefield Jr.

Cowboy Poetry Week 2017 Foundation support: Margaret T. Morris Foundation


See all of the generous supporters to the Center for Western and Cowboy Poetry below and find how to  be a part of it all here.


The BAR-D supporters make all of the programs of the Center for Western and Cowboy Poetry possible: Cowboy Poetry Week, the Rural Library Program, and

National Cowboy Poetry Rodeo (sponsor)
Eileen Dirksen
Denise Arvidson
Joanne Grinage
Dee Strickland Johnson (“Buckshot Dot”)
Santa Clarita Cowboy Gathering (sponsor)
Gary Brown
Bryce Angell
Hal Swift (multiple donations)
Robyn Stangel
Sally Smith-Joelle Smith Western Art
Rhonda Stearns (sponsor)
Betty and Ken Rodgers
Rodney Nelson
Valerie and Floyd Beard
Susan Parker
Almeda Bradshaw (renewing Sponsor)
John Waters
Jim Thompson (California)
Ray Doyle
Dan Wilson
Marjorie Parker
C.W. (Charles) Bell
Wendy Brown-Barry
Ken Cook (renewing Sponsor)
Saddle Up at Pigeon Forge (renewing Sponsor)
Douglas Gustafson
Susie Knight
Yvonne and Glen Hollenbeck (multiple donations) donations in memory of Ray Hanzlik,
Jess Howard, Pat Richardson, and Jack Walther
Cindy Quigley
Cowboy Poets of Idaho (renewing Sponsor)
Marleen Bussma
David Stanley
Terry Nash
Melissa and Dave Stamey in memory of Pat Richardson
KC La Course
Scofield’s Cowboy Campfire
Jean Prescott Music (renewing Sponsor)
Denise Arvidson in Memory of Ross Christian Arvidson
RANGE (renewing Sponsor)
Jean Haugen
Monterey Cowboy Poetry & Music Festival (renewing Sponsor)
Stella and Jim Cathey in memory of Jack “Trey” Allen and Ronnie G. Murphey
Kent Penter
Jon Dean
Stella and Jim Cathey in memory of Ed Nesselhuf
Ron Secoy
Western Folklife Center (renewing Sponsor)
Robert Dennis
Deanna Dickinson McCall
Rosemary Yull
George Rhoades
Tom Morgan
Heber Valley Cowboy Music & Poetry Gathering
Andy Nelson
Linda Kirkpatrick
Chuck Learn (multiple donations)
Daniel Bybee
Tom Swearingen
Kay Kelley Nowell
Jean Mathisen Haugen
Del Gustafson
David Carlton
Patricia Frolander
Sally Smith – Joelle Smith • Clara Smith Art
Valerie and Floyd Beard
Jarle Kvale
Daniel Wilson
Mike Moutoux
Sally Baldus
Kent Penter
Dale Page
Totsie Slover
Bob Miller
Gary McMahan-HorseApple Entertainment
Kent Reeves-The Whole Picture Consulting
Robert Kinsey
Susie Knight
Al “Doc” Mehl
Terry Nash (multiple donations)
Charles (C.W.) Bell
Dee Strickland Johnson (“Buckshot Dot”) (multiple donations)
Arizona Cowboy Poets Gathering (renewing sponsor)
Marleen Bussma
Slim McNaught-Slim’s Custom Leather
Spalding Labs (renewing sponsor)
Jim Thompson (California)
Stella and Jim Cathey in memory of Charles H.(Chuck) Munzert
Rocky Sullivan
John Waters
Bob Coker
Jay Snider (renewing sponsor)
P’let and Mike Tcherkassky
Jerry Brooks (multiple donations)
Smoke Wade
Chuck Learn (sponsor)
Roberta Rothman
Linda Nadon (in memory of Georgie Sicking)
Kip and Marilyn Sorlie
Sandy Seaton Sallee
Lynn Kopelke
Mark Kerr
Paul Quinton
Marci Broyhill (sponsor)
Andy Carr
Devin Dingler
Bill Ott
Jeri Dobrowski (sponsor)
Cameron La Follette
Judy James-Cowboy Jubilee
Beth Rand-Joyful Horse Project/Restoration Ranch
Stan Tixier
Greg Camp

Significant 2016 program support: Laura and Edmund Wattis Littlefield Jr.

Cowboy Poetry Week 2016 Foundation support: Margaret T. Morris Foundation


See all of the generous supporters to the Center for Western and Cowboy Poetry below and find how to  be a part of it all here.

You can make a donation by check or money order, by mail (please use the form here for mail) or by a secure, on-line credit card payment through PayPal (a PayPal account is not required):

x-click-but21 is a project of The Center for Western and Cowboy Poetry, a tax-exempt non-profit organization under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Service Act. The Center seeks grants and donations from individuals, corporate entities, foundations, and private sources.

Contributions to the Center are fully deductible for federal income tax purposes.

Donors at the $40 level and higher receive the year’s CD and Cowboy Poetry Week poster. (The CD fair market value is $15 and that amount is not deductible as a charitable contribution.)

As in all professional journalistic endeavors, no editorial preference is given to financial sponsors or supporters.






FEEDIN’ TIME by Bruce Kiskaddon, 1878-1950



by Bruce Kiskaddon, 1878-1950

You are warm in the cabin, and doin’ yore cookin’.
But you know that yore hosses are there, without lookin’.
It’s ‘long about time they come in to be fed,
And to be put away fer the night in the shed.

Both hosses and mules seem to have their own way
Of tellin’ exactly the time of the day.
And I’ve noticed besides they don’t often get lost,
Like some human bein’s you’ve happened acrosst.

Yore feet is so warm that you don’t like to go
And git yore boots wet, wadin”round in the snow.
But it’s feed makes ’em stout, and it’s feed brings ’em back;
So you pull on your boots, and you start makin’ tracks.

You pull down yore hat and you turn up yore collar.
You start fer the shed and the hosses both foller.
They are glad to see you, and I’ve generally found,
A man don’t git so lonesome with hosses around.

…by Bruce Kiskaddon


Poet Bruce Kiskaddon and artist Katherine Field (1908-1951) collaborated on works for the Los Angeles Union Stockyards calendar and the Western Livestock Journal. The two never met in person.

This image is an original Los Angeles Stockyards calendar page from December, 1953. The poem and drawing first appeared in the Western Livestock Journal in 1941.

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. His poems are among the most admired and the most recited in the “classic” cowboy poetry canon.

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


TALENT by Rod Nichols, 1942-2007


photo ©2017, Gary Allegretto. Request permission for use.

by Rod Nichols (1942-2007)

Lord knows why the boss ever hired him,
he wuzn’t what you’d call a hand,
he stayed in our way or in trouble,
not much of a cowboy that man.

I think that the boss would’ve fired him,
just waited to find the right way,
til after our supper one evenin’
he took a mouth-organ and played.

It might have been Red River Valley
or Down In The Valley so low
or Kathleen or Come To The Bower,
to this day I don’t rightly know.

But that doesn’t really much matter
cause whatever tune that he played,
when that rascal pup started playin’
we all wuz right glad that he’d stayed.

Have you felt the warm wind on the prairie,
the soft mourning call of a dove,
then you may have some sort of feelin’
for what we wuz all thinkin’ of.

The cares of the day soon forgotten,
they vanished without any trace,
there wuzn’t an hombre among us
without a big smile on his face.

The Lord gives to each man a talent
to use or to hide as he may,
there wuzn’t no doubt ’bout his talent
whenever that feller had played.

Lord grant me just one little favor,
please help me a bit now and then,
to call on just half of such talent
to shine as a light before men.

© 2002, Rod Nichols
This poem should not be re-posted or reprinted without permission

Texas poet Rod Nichols is greatly missed by his many friends. He wrote this poem soon after September 11, 2001, and he told us, “… I have never seen so much interest in cowboy poetry, story telling, music and western art as I have seen since the Sept. 11th attack. I think folks are beginning to look for answers in our past and the American cowboy fills the bill. Here is one more that speaks to the use of the talents that the Good Lord has given us all whatever they may be.”

Find more about Rod Nichols at

This photo is by top harmonica player, popular entertainer, and educator Gary Allegretto. He comments that it is, “My very rare and ornate Hohner “Trumpet Call” harmonica. A gift from my father, it is nearly 100 years old. Monetarily it’s probably worth more than my pickup truck…sentimentally of course it’s priceless.”

Gary is on his way to Hawaii to perform in coming days. Find him as a headliner at the 32nd annual Texas Cowboy Poetry Gathering in Alpine, March 2-3-2018 and at many other events and venues across the West and beyond. Find more at

THE MEDICINE KEEPERS by J.B. Allen (1938-2005)


by J.B. Allen (1938-2005)

A man might live and work beside
The fellers ’round the wagon
And never say two words unless
It’s just hooraw and braggin’.

But sometimes in the solitude
Of some ol’ line camp shack
He smooths a fruit can label out
And writes there on its back

A group of words redeemed from time
To last when he moves on,
Set down with hurried flourish
‘Fore his mem’ry of ’em’s gone.

The spellin’ may not be exact
Or commas where they ought,
But there within those rugged lines
A mood is somehow caught.

It might be full of sadness
From a death or crippled friend,
To just the mournful yearnin’
For a way that’s bound to end.

Some others could be bawdy
While full of life and mirth
Or stories ’bout some saddle horse
That has no peers on earth.

There’s many through the years been lost
Or burned or throwed away,
But others yet survive
To give us views of yesterday.

And still amongst the workin’ hands
The words come now and then
To write a livin’ history
Of the stock, and earth, and men.

© 1997, J.B. Allen; used with permission

Texan J.B. Allen was a working cowboy for over three decades. He was a frequent performer at the Western Folklife Center’s National Cowboy Poetry Gathering and also at the Texas Cowboy Poetry Gathering, Nara Visa, the Arizona Cowboy Poets Gathering, 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.”

Listen to an outstanding recitation of “The Medicine Keepers” on the latest COWBOY CROSSROADS podcast from Andy Hedges, in his introduction to an interview with cowboy and songwriter Rod Taylor. Among other captivating stories, Rod Taylor reminisces about J.B. Allen in the interview. Find it and all of the excellent previous shows here.

This is just one of J.B. Allen’s poems on the recent MASTERS CD from The recording also includes J.B.’s recitation of Buck Ramsey’s “Anthem.”

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.