HERE’S LOOKING AT YOU lyrics by Joel Nelson, music by Don Edwards


photo © 1993, Kent Reeves, used with permission

lyrics by Joel Nelson, music by Don Edwards

You rode the Goodnight-Loving
Went up the Chisholm too
You trailed three thousand to Kansas City
And you wintered with Teddy Blue
Here’s looking at you
Here’s looking at you

You rode with Ranger Goodnight
You helped him tame the land
You learned the Llano Estacado
Just as well as the back of your hand
When you rode for the brand
You rode for the brand

You’ve been three times to Sedalia
With a cook and six-man crew
You came dang near losing the herd and your hair
To a passel of renegade Sioux
But you saw it through
You saw it through

And you courted the dancehall beauties
‘Till they picked your pockets clean
If it happened once you let it happen twice
Up in Dodge and Abilene
And places between
Every place in between

From a heat wave in Palo Pinto
To the frostbite on Raton Pass
You looseherded cattle through a Southwestern drought
In the quest for water and grass
Alack and alas
Huntin’ water and grass

Then you trailed home the fittest survivors
When the word came of late summer rain
And you reveled in respite for weary riders
And three pounds a day in gain
The respite of rain
And three pounds of gain

You drove ‘em up to Montana
Over rivers swollen outta the bank
You started out helping the wrangler’s helper
But you rise right up through the rank
Through the dark and the dank
You rose through the rank

It was a poor way to make a living
And you threatened to quit—but then
When the herd bedded down at the shank of evenin’
You knew you’d do it over ag’in
Through the thick and the thin
You’d do it ag’in

Now a half-dozen generations
Have mourned your passin’ on
But you were just startin’ what still isn’t over
And your spirit saddles up in the dawn
For you are not gone
No you are not gone

We see you in the Steeldust
In the spark flyin’ offfa the show
Maybe we are here livin’ what you never dreamed of
But you lived what we never know
Here’s looking at you
Here’s looking at you

Here’s looking at you—Cowboy
Here’s looking at you.

© Copyright 2001, Joel Nelson, Night Horse Songs, BMI
These lyrics should not be reposted or reprinted without permission

This outstanding cowboy song (listen here) is the result of a collaboration between two of today’s most respected people in the cowboy poetry and music world: Joel Nelson and Don Edwards.

Here’s Looking at You” came from the pen of Joel Nelson, emerging as a song, not a poem. Don Edwards told of his friendly skepticism when Joel Nelson told him he had written a song that he wanted Don to hear. Don admitted he was thinking “A song? Joel’s a poet,” and before he knew it, there was another surprise: Joel pulled out his guitar. Don said at the time, “I’ve known Joel for twenty-five years, and I didn’t know he played the guitar.” His expectations weren’t high. But he went from skeptic to believer quickly.

What followed was what Don describes as a song of “marvelous purity, akin to the works of Don Hedgpeth, JB Allen, Badger Clark, Bruce Kiskaddon,” writers able to make words with “a hundred years wrapped into now.” Don said that he couldn’t get the song out of his mind, and he soon was in touch with Joel to talk about working with the song, saying that he didn’t want to do anything to take away from the near-perfect words. Don’s skillful arrangement makes it impossible to imagine any other tune working with the inspired lyrics.

“Here’s Looking at You” was recorded by Don Edwards on his Saddle Songs II, Last of the Troubadours album. You can listen to it here.  It was also featured last week on Jim and Andy Nelson’s Clear Out West (C.O.W.) radio show and is available in part 4 of the October 15, 2018 archive.

This collaboration was featured in 2008 in a column from, “Before the Song,” which appeared in the International Western Music Association’s magazine, The Western Way. Find much more about the song and the collaboration in the article here.

Find more about Joel Nelson at and visit for more about Don Edwards.

Joel Nelson appears at the Texas Hill Country Cowboy Poetry Gathering in Fredricksburg, Texas, November 8-10, and will be a part of the Western Folklife Center’s 35th Annual National Cowboy Poetry Gathering January 28 – February 2, 2019. The lineup includes 3hattrio, Amy Hale Auker, Mike Beck, Geno Delafose & French Rockin Boogie, John Dofflemyer, Joshua Dugat, Maria Lisa Eastman, Mary Flitner, Jamie Fox & Alex Kusturok, Ryan & Hoss Fritz, Dick Gibford, DW Groethe, Andy Hedges, Brenn Hill, Tish Hinojosa, Yvonne Hollenbeck, Ross Knox, Ned LeDoux, Daron Little, Corb Lund, Carolyn Martin’s Swing Band, Sid Marty, Deanna Dickinson McCall, Gary McMahan, Waddie Mitchell, Michael Martin Murphey, Joel Nelson, Rodney Nelson, Diane Peavey, Shadd Piehl, Vess Quinlan. Halladay & Rob Quist, Henry Real Bird, Brigid Reedy, Randy Rieman, Jake Riley, Matt Robertson, Olivia Romo, Trinity Seely, Sean Sexton, Sourdough Slim, Dave Stamey, Gail Steiger, Colter Wall, Swift Current, and Paul Zarzyski. Find more at

This c. 1993 photograph of Joel Nelson is by Kent Reeves, Cowboy Conservationist, from the landmark book Between Earth and Sky: Poets of the Cowboy West, by Anne Heath Widmark, with photographs by Kent Reeves.

Kent Reeves writes in the book’s Acknowledgments, “…I owe my work in this book to all the poets who allowed me to interrupt their lives and who took me in for a few days. I do not feel that I ‘took’ these photographs; I believe that each poet gave them to me.” In addition to Joel Nelson, the book includes chapters with Buck Ramsey, Wallace McRae, Rod McQueary, Linda Hussa, John Dofflemyer, Shadd Piehl, Paul Zarzyski, Sue Wallis, Vess Quinlan, Henry Real Bird, and Drummond Hadley.

See a gallery of photos from the book on Facebook.

Find more about Kent Reeves at and at

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

THE WHITE MUSTANG, by S. Omar Barker (1894-1985)


by S. Omar Barker (1894-1985)

Wherever rhythmic hoofbeats drum,
As galloping riders go or come,
Wherever the saddle is still the throne,
And the dust of hoofs by wind is blown,
Wherever the horsemen young or old,
The Pacing Mustang’s tale is told.

A hundred years on hill and plain,
With comet-tail and flying mane,
Milk-white, free, and high of head,
Over the range his trail has led.
Never a break in his pacing speed,
Never a trot nor a lope his need,
Since faraway days of the wagon train,
Men have followed his trail in vain.

A dozen horses spurred to the death,
Still he flees like a phantom’s breath,
And from some hill at horizon’s hem,
Snorts his challenge back at them.
A bullet drops him dead by day,
Yet white at night he speeds away.
Forever a thief of tamer steeds,
Stallion prince of the mustang breeds,
Coveted prize of the men who ride,
Never a rope has touched his hide.
Wherever the saddle is still a throne,
The Great White Mustang’s tale is known.

O Phantom Ghost of heart’s desire,
Lusty-limbed with soul of fire,
Milk-white Monarch, may you, free,
Race the stars eternally.

… © 1968 S. Omar Barker, from “Rawhide Rhymes,” reprinted with the permission of the estate of S. Omar Barker

S. Omar Barker’s spooky poem fits the post-Halloween mood.

Barker notes that Washington Irving (1783-1859) was the first to write about the “ghost horse of the plains.” In 1832, Irving traveled to Eastern Oklahoma, and wrote about it in his 1835 book, A Tour of the Prairies. In Chapter 20, “The Camp of the Wild Horse,” Irving writes:

…We had been disappointed this day in our hopes of meeting with buffalo, but the sight of the wild horse had been a great novelty, and gave a turn to the conversation of the camp for the evening. There were several anecdotes told of a famous gray horse, which has ranged the prairies of this neighborhood for six or seven years, setting at naught every attempt of the hunters to capture him. They say he can pace and rack (or amble) faster than the fleetest horses can run. Equally marvelous accounts were given of a black horse on the Brazos, who grazed the prairies on that river’s banks in Texas. For years he outstripped all pursuit. His fame spread far and wide; offers were made for him to the amount of a thousand dollars; the boldest and most hard-riding hunters tried incessantly to make prize of him, but in vain. At length he fell a victim to his gallantry, being decoyed under a tree by a tame mare, and a noose dropped over his head by a boy perched among the branches…

Find more at

Irving is well known for his own ghostly story, “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow,” published in 1820. A bit of trivia: a 1922 silent movie version of the story, “The Headless Horseman,” starred Will Rogers.

Irving also has a connection with this image. This nineteenth century engraving, “Lassoing Wild Horses,” was made by by W. W. Rice from a painting by Felix Octavius Carr Darley (1822-1888). Darley illustrated many works by authors of the time and did the first illustrations for Irving’s “Rip Van Winkle.”

S. Omar 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… named after his father Squire L. Barker, but went by Omar, he often signed his books with his initials and trademark brand, ‘Lazy SOB.'”

Barker was one of the founders of the Western Writers of America (and twice the winner of their Spur Award) and was inducted into the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum ‘s Hall of Great Westerners, the first living author to receive that recognition. His poems were frequently published by Western Horseman and appeared in many other publications. He published four collections of his hundreds of poems, edited many books, and wrote novels and non-fiction.

Rex Rideout has a great recitation of “The White Mustang,” with creative sound, on the “MASTERS: Volume Two: the poetry of S. Omar Barker” CD from

The image is from The Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division. Find more about it here.

(You can share this poem with this post, but any other use requires permission. The image is in the public domain.)

GHOST CANYON TRAIL, by Bruce Kiskaddon (1878-1950)


by Bruce Kiskaddon (1878-1950)

There are strange things told of spirits bold,
And the trail to Sante Fe,
There is many a tale of the Chisholm trail,
And the trail to Laramie.
But this is the tale of an obscure trail
That few men travelled on;
Where a spirit was known to ride alone,
‘Twixt the midnight hour and dawn.

It would wind and creep through canyons deep
And over the mesa wide.
The men who knew this trail were few,
Where the phantom used to ride.
At times was heard a careless word
Some drinking man let fall,
But ’twas held a joke by the rangeland folk,
That no one believed atall.

I learned the truth from a hard youth.
He was one of those reckless men
Who could ride in the lead of a night stampede,
Ot the dust of the broncho pen.
On a winter night when the stars were bright
And the dying moon was low,
He was holding his course on a jaded horse
And the pace that he made was slow.

The cow horse flinched and cringed, till the cinch
Was almost against the ground.
His quivering ears showed deathly fear
And the cow boy looked around.
He felt the thrill of a clammy chill,
As it travelled along his spine,
For he saw at his side a phantom ride,
With never a word or sign.

He kept his place, for he set his pace
To the cow boy’s jogging speed.
There came no sound on the frozen ground
From the tread of his phantom steed.
He showed a flash of a long moustache
And a tilted campaign hat.
There straight and strong with stirrups long
The phantom trooper sat.

They were all alone. And the pale moon shone
Through the ghost at the cow boy’s side.
His courage fled as he rode with the dead
Alone on the mesa wide.
No sign of flight, no show of fight
The buckaroo displayed,
For slugs of lead won’t hurt the dead,
Through the mist of a vapor shade.

With the mesa past they came at last
To a canyon wide and dark,
Where some stone huts stood in the cottonwoods
That had long been an old land mark.
Each ruined shack had a chimney black,
And a roofless crumbling wall.
A living spring was the only thing
That was useful to men atall.

The chilling breeze through the leafless trees,
Gave a dreary, dismal moan.
The trooper stayed in the ghastly shade
And cow boy rode alone.
Strange tales are head of what occurred
At that place in the years gone by,
Ere that restless soul of the night patrol
Rode under the starlit sky.

What the trooper knows, or where he goes,
Nobody has ever found.
But the tale is told of the lone patrol
By the older settlers ’round.
There’s a cow boy trip with a face that’s grim,
Will never forget that ride
On a winter night in the pale moon light,
By the phantom trooper’s side.

…by Bruce Kiskaddon

Happy Halloween. Bruce Kiskaddon’s poem, with a bit of a tip of the hat to Robert Service, is from his 1947 book, Rhymes of the Ranges and Other Poems. Find many more Kiskaddon poems and more about him in features at

Also catch the Halloween spirit with “Ghost Riders in the Sky” and the first-ever recording of it in 1949, by Burl Ives. Find our links to other videos of the song, including renditions by Johnny Cash, Gene Autry (in a 1949 film trailer), Marty Robbins, Sons of the Pioneers, Chris LeDoux, Bing Crosby, Riders in the Sky, Jimmie Rodgers, Lorne Greene, Elvis, The Blues Brothers, the Outlaws, Judy Collins, at, and find more poems in the spirit of Halloween there as well.

Texas local historian, ghost-tale-teller, poet, writer, and reciter Linda Kirkpatrick shared this fitting photograph, taken in July, 2014.

Find Linda at the Texas Cowboy Poetry Gathering in Alpine, February 22-23, 2019. The event performers are Apache Adams, Gary Allegretto, Amy Hale Auker, Eli Barsi, Floyd Beard, “Straw” Berry, Mike Blakely, Dale Burson, Don Cadden, Bob Campbell, Craig Carter, Allan Chapman & Rodeo Kate, Justin Cole, High Country Cowboys, Doris Daley, Mikki Daniel, John Davis, Kevin Davis, Doug Figgs, Ray Fitzgerald, Rolf Flake, Ryan & Hoss Fritz, Belinda Gail, Pipp Gillette, Jeff Gore, Kristyn Harris, Andy Hedges, Yvonne Hollenbeck, Randy & Hanna Huston, Chris Isaacs, Jill Jones & Three Hands High, Jim Jones, Linda Kirkpatrick, Ross Knox, Daron Little, Deanna McCall, Pat Meade, Glenn Moreland, Terry Nash, Joel Nelson, Sam Noble, Kay Nowell, Jean Prescott, Gary Prescott, Mike Querner, Luke Reed, Randy Rieman, Gary Robertson, Trinity Seely, R.P. Smith, Jay Snider, Gail Steiger, Michael Stevens, Caitlyn Taussig, Rod Taylor, Doug Tolleson, Keith Ward, and Jim Wilson.

Find more about Linda Kirkpatrick at

(Please respect copyright. You can share this photograph with this photograph, but for other uses, please request permission from the photographer. The poem is in the public domain.)


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

John Waters
Paul R. Brown III
Rod Miller
Almeda Bradshaw (sponsor)
Jim and Stella Cathey in memory of Louise M. Fritts
Marci Broyhill (sponsor)
Buzz Helfert
Al “Doc” Mehl and Doris Daley
Susan Matley in memory of Liz Masterson
Charmaine Ganson
Susan Parker
Marvin and Elaine Del Chiaro
Thomas F. Hawk
Terry Nash
Rodney Nelson
Patrick Sullivan
Jerry A. Brooks
Cindy Quigley
Lawrence Smith
Diana Rice
Susan Shuma
Susie Knight
David Carlton
Russ Westwood
Scott and Diana Overcash in memory of Debi Koppang
M. Todd Hess
David Sudbury
Janet Prezia
Georganna Kresl
L.L. “Lucky Lindy” Segall in memory of Carlos Ashley
Linda Kirkpatrick
Hugh Cooke
Linda Nadon in memory of Georgie Sicking
Don Hilmer
Yvonne Hollenbeck (sponsor)
Yvonne and Glen Hollenbeck
in memory of Liz Masterson, Kenny Krogman, Elizabeth Ebert
Jeff Thomas
Martha Singer
Ken Howry—Sunshine Prairie Farm
Daniel Wilson
Robert Dennis
Jeri Dobrowski
Ron Secoy
Michael Henley
Jane and Dick Morton
Karen Bartholomew
Stella Callentine
Mark Munzert
Bryce Angell
Maryanne Patterson
Betty Burlingham
Denise Arvidson in memory of Ross Christian Arvidson
C.W. (Charley) Bell
Chuck and Cindy Learn (sponsor)
Kay Kelley Nowell
Marleen Bussma
Charles A. St. Lucas
George Rhodes
Nick Bales
Rhonda Sedgwick Stearns (sponsor)
Bill Siems

Cowboy Poetry Week support:  Margaret T. Morris Foundation
Significant program support:  Laura and Edmund Wattis Littlefield Jr.


Claud Roundtree
Janice Gilbertson
Andria Kidd
Laverna B. Johnson
Betty and Ken Rodgers in memory of Trisha Pedroia
Christopher Chambers
Joanne Grinage
Susan Matley
Keith Ward
Thomas F. Hawk
Howard Moon
DW Groethe
Rodney Nelson
Susan Parker
Steve and Marge Conroy in memory of Allen “Hook” Hill
Paul R. Brown III
Susie Knight
Barbara Richhart (Western Belle)-Cowtrails
Colleen Kohler
Bryce Angell
Ken Cook (sponsor)
Jeff Campbell
Yvonne Hollenbeck (sponsor)
Chuck Learn (sponsor)
Marjorie Satterfield
Sandi and Jay Snider (sponsor)
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)
Lynn Kopelke
Deanna Dickinson McCall
Judy James
Mike Moutoux
Robert Kinsey
Dale Page
Andy Nelson
Jarle Kvale
Kay Kelley Nowell
Heber Valley Cowboy Music & Poetry Gathering
Totsie Slover
Ron Secoy
Patricia Frolander
Norma Battenfield
Eldon Housley
Linda Kirkpatrick
David Stanley
George Rhoades
Jean Mathisen Haugen
Western Folklife Center (sponsor)
P’let and Mike Tcherkassky
Chester Roundtree
Sandy Seaton Sallee
Hugh Cooke
Jim White
Maryanne Patterson
Sally Baldus
Del Gustafson
Marleen Bussma
Nika Nordbrock
Wendy Brown-Barry
Gary McMahan-HorseApple Entertainment
Spalding Labs’ Flying SL Radio Ranch Show (sponsor)
Dee Strickland Johnson (“Buckshot Dot”)
Jane and Dick Morton
Arizona Cowboy Poets Gathering (sponsor)
Stephen Barnard
Jo Lynne Kirkwood
Marilyn and Kip Sorlie
Denise Arvidson in memory of Ross Christian Arvidson
Jim Thompson (California)
Eileen Dirksen in memory of “California” Steve Dirksen
Sandi and Jay Snider (sponsor)
Tom Swearingen
Roberta Rothman
Sally Smith-Joelle Smith Western Art
Sunshine Prairie Farm
Georganna Kresl
Teddie Daley
Ron Cagle
Mary Seago
Maurice Carter
Bert and Carol Braun-The Cowpoke Foundation in memory of Pat Richardson
Floyd and Valerie Beard
Betty and Ken Rodgers
Laverna B. Johnson
Linda and Bill Patterson
Daniel Bybee
Greg Camp
Dave Stamey
Smoke Wade
Rocky Sullivan
Sarah Hendricks
Shane Queener
Michael Babiarz-KVMR

Significant 2017 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.


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.









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abAR-D Banner







DEEP OCTOBER, by Rod Nichols (1942-2007)


by Rod Nichols (1942-2007)

There’s somethin’ ’bout the time of year
when fall is almost over,
September’s just a memory,
now lost in deep October.

The nights have changed from cool to cold
the trees from leafed to bare,
a breeze is now a cuttin’ wind
that hones the evenin’ air.

And overhead a muted light
casts shadows o’er the gloom,
like tricks upon All Hallow’s Eve
an orange October moon.

A melancholy, haunted place
this lonely trail tonight,
a grove of twisted, barren shapes
against that autumn light.

The sounds of evenin’ aren’t the same
no crickets, birds or frog,
instead a moan among the trees
or distant, mournful dog.

While overhead that muted light
casts shadows o’er the gloom,
like tricks upon All Hallow’s Eve
an orange October moon.

There’s somethin’ ’bout the time of year
when fall is almost over,
September’s just a memory,
now lost in deep October.

© 2007, Rod Nichols, used with permission

Rod Nichols told us, “‘Deep October’ was written after a ride one evening when the moon was almost orange in color. I was on a black Morgan that belonged to a friend of mine and I had to write this one when I got in.

Rod is forever missed by his many friends and family. Find more about him and more of his poetry at

This photo is by New Mexico cowboy, songwriter, poet, entertainer, and talented photographer Mike Moutoux. He told us he took the photo in the Pecos Wilderness, northeast of Santa Fe, of his friend Ben Nelson of Las Vegas, New Mexico.

Find more about Mike Moutoux at, including videos with his poetry and music.

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

In Our Thoughts: Dennis Gaines (updated)

dennisgainesjldxxphoto by Jeri Dobrowski

October 26, 2018

Yesterday, Dennis Gaines told us that he is feeling better than he had been since his recent diagnosis, and with pain control and treatment, he is doing much better than he was a few weeks ago when his illness was announced.

Read his poem, “The Spandex Cowboy,” here.


From Jean Prescott, October 18, 2018:

We have a friend in need, folks. And, we all want to help.

Well known, award winning cowboy poet, humorist and storyteller, Dennis Gaines has been diagnosed with stage 4 prostate cancer. He has been running a ranch in Texas for the past three years, but is no longer able to work.

There will be a “Stay-at-Home Benefit” on Judy James’ Cowboy Jubilee radio program with an accompanying “Quiet Fund” to raise funds for Dennis on Saturday, October 27th, from 7:30 AM to 9:30 AM, on KMQX 88.5 FM out of Weatherford, Texas.

Here’s how it works: While being aware of the need to help folks around us who are experiencing trials or tragedy, the concept of the Stay-at-Home Benefit Concert has been developed by DJs Jim and Andy Nelson with the help of

This is a special concert which you can listen to from the comfort of your home and enjoy without spending any money. With that in mind, you are free to donate any amount of money that you may have spent in travel, food, tickets and lodging to this worthy cause through what we call the Quiet Fund.

With the Quiet Fund, you can give any amount by mail or credit card, and the recipient is sent the funds with donor names, but not the amounts given. You can also chose to remain anonymous. Please put Dennis Gaines name in the notes/memo. Only Linda Kirkpatrick, who oversees the fund, knows the names of donors and the amounts of donations. She does not share that information with anyone else.

Here is how you can listen if you are not in the Weatherford, TX, area. Download the “tunein” app on your cell phone or your computer. Put in KMQX 88.5. CHUCK FM will pop up and you can listen to the concert in the comfort of your own home or vehicle.

Donate by credit card with Paypal (you do not need a Paypal account) with this link.

And, you can also donate by sending a check or money order to:

Linda Kirkpatrick 
P.O. Box 128
Leakey, Texas 78873

or directly to:

Dennis Gaines
8954 FM 60 West
Somerville, TX 77879

Remember to say a prayer for Dennis and be generous with your donation. God Bless.


From October 10, 2018:

Thanks to Teresa Burleson for sharing this sad news, from Steve Conroy of the Cochise Cowboy Poetry and Music Gathering:

Cowboy, poet, and storyteller Dennis Gaines is “dealing with serious cancer…Please keep Dennis in your prayers and if you have an opportunity, send him a note or give him a call.”

Dennis Gaines
8954 FM 60 West
Somerville, TX 77879

Find more about Dennis at



dgpinkphoto © 2006, Lori Faith, Photography by Faith


by Dennis Gaines

“Hey, Gaines, you’re up. We paid yer fee; the first man in the chute.”
As I dribbled chili on my pants and mustard on my boot,
From the hot dog I was scarfin’ at the travelin’ circus show
Known as Colonel Potter’s Big Top Tent and Wrestlin’ Rodeo.

Ol’ Slim Bodine, the Chisos Kid and Ikie Bob and me
Had left the ranch and gone to town to see what we could see.
We had come to ride the elephant and watch the dancin’ bear,
But such a tribe of freaks could melt yer bones and curl yer hair!

There was oddities and marvels that most eyes have never seen.
He had giants, midgets, leprechauns and Martians, blue and green.
There was ladies sproutin’ whiskers and a gent with twenty toes,
And a man who gapped his gulper wide and gobbled his own nose!

The Turtle Boy was in his shell; the Human Crocodile
Was swallerin’ live chickens with their feathers, all the while
That the bear was swattin’ baseballs, and the Flyin’ Cossack Boys
Was jugglin’ bowlin’ balls and flamin’ swords and livin’ toys,

Like bunnies, kittens, puppy dogs and circulatin’ saws,
As the lion tamer stuck his head between the mighty jaws.
There was fortune tellers guessin’ weights and calculatin’ luck,
And Ikie paid four bits to see a seven-legged duck.

A feller set himself on fire and jumped into a trunk
With poison Gila monsters and a hydrophoby skunk.
A monkey in a kiltie jigged a Highland country dance,
Then showed the crowd that Scottish monks don’t wear no underpants!

The hoochie-koochie gals was squirmin’ in another tent,
And the barker told me, “Cowboy, you look like the kind of gent
That would ‘preciate the finer things, so have a peek inside.”
If the preacher seen what I could see, he’d shorely tan my hide!

They was wearin’ mostly nothin’, down to here and up to there,
So I give ’em each a dollar and said, “Buy some underwear.”
When I told the other fellers what I’d seen and what I’d done,
They all agreed the circus show was shorely lots of fun.

I ate my weight in circus grub, from cones to car’mel corn,
Cotton candy, roastin’ ears and shore as I was born,
When I’d had my share of chuck, from beans to chocolate goo,
The boys said, “Gaines, it’s time to go and show what you can do.”

For months and months we’d heard the brag from Colonel Potter’s camp,
‘Bout a wrestlin’ phenomenon he claimed to be the champ.
A thousand bucks went to the gent who’d stay three rounds or more,
So natcherly the boys had drafted me to beat the score,

In tribute to my title as the Champeen of the Land,
For rasslin’ bawlin’ calves in dusty pens to wear the brand.
I could flip four hundred pounds of hide and hair and slingin’ snot,
Serve him up for shish-kebobs or tie him in a knot.

“There’s only three tough hombres in this world,” I told my pards.
“And them other two, I’ll guarantee ya, send me Christmas cards.
We’ll take their money first and then we’ll run ’em out of town.
The big galoot will rue the day he tried to take me down.”

The poster said the victim of my wrath was named Attila,
The mutant offspring of a man and African gorilla.
A whisper circled through the crowd and stirred up quite a whirl.
“Good Lord,” said Slim Bodine, “it seems Attila . . . is a girl!”

“Ha, ha, my boys, we’re rich, we’re rich. I’ll take this gal to school.
Gallant, though, my cowboy ways, I’ll be nobody’s fool.
I’ll bounce her like a sucklin’ calf; hooray for womens’ lib!
She’ll curse the day she thought to stray away from Adam’s rib.”

The band struck up the drums and pipes, and folks had gathered ’round,
When a total solar eclipse cast its shadow on the ground.
The earth begun to rumble with an awesome, crackin’ noise.
The hair stood straight up on my neck, and on the other boys.

The Chisos Kid was paralyzed, his vocal cords was broke.
Ikie Bob had wet his pants, and Slim begun to choke
At the fearsome female specimen displayed before our eyes.
A gal should have a zip code when she gets to be that size!

Her mammoth girth wrapped ’round the Earth as far as I could point!
A smarter man than me would say, “It’s time to blow this joint.”
Ikie said, “There’s bigger gals; at least that’s what I hear,
But all of them are pullin’ plows or wagons full of beer.”

Colonel Potter told me, “Son, them duds has got to go.
There’s rules that we must follow at the Wrestlin’ Rodeo.
You keep your hat, you keep your boots; a cowboy’s got his pride,
You’ll have to wear a diff’rent outfit there upon your hide.”

They stripped me down, they togged me up, they turned me inside out.
They took my shirt, my britches, too; the crowd begun to shout.
They brought me out a wrestlin’ rig that really made me blink.
It was tight and it was shiny; it was spandex, it was pink.

Attila loomed above me with a glaring, evil eye.
A voice more like a hippo’s belch said, “Cowboy, now ya die!”
“No holds barred, and to the death,” the ref was heard to say.
The buzzards started circlin’, and I begun to pray.

My plan, it was to psyche her out, and that would save the day.
I flexed my pecs, I struck a pose, I leaped the grand jetè.
Croisè devant, the arabesque, I limbered down and up.
I drank my fill of Gatorade and crushed the Dixie cup!

I circled in, I circled out, I feinted left and right.
I darted in and grabbed a leg and heaved with all my might.
My strategy worked mighty well; she landed with a thud.
A ton of lard in a leotard squashed me in the mud!

My ears was full of gumbo and my mouth was full of sod.
She heaved me high enough for me to pay respects to God.
She had a grip in places where she shouldn’t oughtta grab.
If I should ever walk again, I’d waddle like a crab!

She tightened up her grip until my voice begun to soar.
I’d shorely sing soprano if she’d squeeze a little more!
She whirled me like a helicopter revvin’ up to fly.
Snot flew from my nostrils as the world went sailin’ by.

She changed the game to basketball; she dunked me in the goo.
She bounced me to the hippo pen and chunked me in the poo.
She mopped me through the mud and muck ’til I begun to squish;
Grabbed my ankles, snatched me up and told me, “Make a wish.”

She tied my legs behind my head; it was an awful scene.
My eyeballs spun like cherries in a Vegas slot machine.
I saw stars and little birdies as she cracked me like a nut.
‘Twas then I realized that I was starin’ at my butt!

Colonel Potter offered me a job he had in mind.
He’d bill me as “The Cowboy Who Could Kiss His Own Behind.”
I figgered there was safer ways to earn a thousand bucks,
Like standin’ up to cannonballs or tractor-trailer trucks!

I lay there in the slime and slop, with not much cause for glee.
My bones was broke, my joints was popped; I’d lost the entry fee.
At least I had my cowboy pards, no better could I choose.
“Don’t worry ’bout it, Gaines,” they said. “We bet on you to lose.”

© 2000, Dennis Gaines
This poem should not be reprinted or reposted without permission,

Cowboy Dennis is known for his humorous windies and on-stage antics.

As most of his many friends know, he is struggling with stage four cancer. Yesterday, he said that he is feeling better than he had been since his recent diagnosis, and with pain control and treatment, he is doing much better than he was a few weeks ago when his illness was announced.

Judy James is holding a stay-at-home benefit on her Cowboy Jubilee radio show on Saturday, October 26, and along with Jean Prescott and Linda Kirkpatrick and others, they have set up a way to donate to Dennis Gaines, who can no longer work. You can donate with a credit card here. Find  more complete information here, including an address for mail donations and how to contact Dennis Gaines, who appreciates receiving calls and mail.

Find more about Dennis Gaines at

Thanks to Lori Faith of Photography by Faith, for sharing her 2006 photograph from the Cochise Cowboy Poetry Gathering, of Dennis Gaines’ “Spandex Cowboy” performance there.

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