Events: November

Find links to all months here.

• November 3-4, 2017
Western Slope Cowboy Poetry and Music Gathering Grand Junction, Colorado

• November 3-5, 2017
29th Annual Storyfest George West, Texas

• November 3-5, 2017
15th Annual Moab Folk Festival Moab, Utah

• Dates not yet received for 2017
Comstock Cowboy Poet Gathering  Comstock, Nebraska

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• November 8-12,  2017
29th Annual Western Music Association Festival Albuquerque, New Mexico

WMAWebBanne13Visit our Sponsor supporters: The Western Way and the Western Music Association

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• November 9-12,  2017
23rd Annual Cowpoke Fall Cowboy Poetry and Music Gathering Loomis, California

• November 9-12,  2017
World Championship Ranch Rodeo Amarillo, Texas

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• November 10-12,  2017
Wayne Nelson Memorial Cowboy Gathering (21st annual Diamond Field Jack Cowboy Poetry Gathering) Rupert, Idaho

CPI2013Visit our Sponsor supporters: Cowboy Poets of Idaho

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• November 17, 2017
Campfires, Cattle and Cowboys Gathering Duncan, Oklahoma  (More …)

 • November 19, 2017
Williams Lake Cowboy Christmas Williams Lake, British Columbia

ONE LAST BRANDING by Jessica Hedges

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ONE LAST BRANDING
by Jessica Hedges

From the hackamore to the two rein, from the two rein to the bridle
Steeping in Spanish tradition, he is every cow pony’s idol

Year after year he has made the push to this old cedar round corral
Held sliding reata dallies, watching rise and fall of crew’s morale

He has been rim fired, wrapped up, burned, had ropes between his legs like snakes
With each rawhide loop that shakes out, he proves what he can mentally take

Experience has taught him to pin his ears and shift his weight just so
For he has found victory in positioning for the perfect throw

Jerking slack from a head loop that settles right is only just the start
It takes patience to build up quiet, pulling to fire shows heart

Avoiding the trap’s dangers, trotting straight to set up the double hock
Taking slack out for the heeler, loop coming tight right at the calf’s sock

Facing up, holding strong, while rider slides coil helping the ground crew
Ropes get set, build up short, hold tight until the bull to steer change is through

With a nod from the ground crew and the heeler, dallies are popped off clean
Grateful for the day, grateful for the anything but basic routine

He first gathered to here at two, watching the branding chaos unfold
He smelled the scorch of burning hide, watched the wrecks, heard bridle crickets rolled

In his third year he came to the fire on the heels, guide horse beside him
That smoke was a lot scarier then as it floated up under limb

With time and patience, he was brought through jaquima to freno traditions
Perfected by the Moors, the Spaniards, and the vaqueros of the missions

Each hackamore and bridle has brought with it a new expectation
A level of finesse understood across boundaries of nation

His eleven year teeth long gone, semi-retired status at best
No more circles, branding pens and sorting alleys by boss’s request

The go to for youngsters and elders, guide horse for an upcoming colt
They question if he’ll make another winter while I secretly revolt

Through his stiff, slackened moves I still see the cow horse he was in his prime
I’m just asking for one more branding, just one more before his due time

© Jessica Hedges, used with permission

Cowboy, mother, ranch wife, and more, Jessica Hedges and her poem took home the Georgie Sicking Award (which included custom spurs by Tommy Thompson) at last weekend’s Western Music Association (WMA) convention.

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The Georgie Sicking Award, offered by the Western Wordsmiths chapter of the WMA, “…is presented to the author of a single poem that honors a working ranch cowboy’s lifestyle and celebrates our Western heritage.”

Watch a video from Jessica Hedges in which she talks about the award and recites the poem.

The award is named in honor of beloved cowboy and poet Georgie Sicking (1921-2016). Read more about her and find links to her poetry  here on this blog.

Jessica Hedges is also an entrepreneur and event organizer, and she performs across the West. This Friday she’ll be at the Temptations Cowboy Concert Series in Lovelock, Nevada, and in coming weeks she’ll be emceeing other shows there featuring Mary Kaye, Brenn Hill, and Andy Nelson.

Find more about Jessica Hedges, including her poetry CDs and schedule, at CowboyPoetry.com,  at her site, jessicahedgescowboypoetry.com; and on Facebook.

Jessica Hedges also shared this photograph.

 

“PURT NEAR!” by S. Omar Barker (1895-1985)

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“PURT NEAR!”
by S. Omar Barker (1895-1985)

They called him “Purt Near Perkins,”
for unless the booger lied,
He’d purt near done most everything
that he had ever tried.
He’d purt near been a preacher
and he’d purt near roped a bear;
He’d met up with Comanches once
and purt near lost his hair.
He’d purt near wed an heiress
who had money by the keg,
He’d purt near had the measles,
and he’d purt near broke his leg.

He’d purt near been a trail boss,
and accordin’ to his claim,
He’d purt near shot Bill Hickock—
which had purt near won him fame!
He’d purt near rode some broncs
upon which no one else had stuck
In fact he was the feller
Who had purt near drowned the duck!

Now mostly all the cowboys
On the Lazy S B spread,
They took his talkin’ with a grin
And let him fight his head.
But one named Tom Maginnis
Sorter told it to him rough:
“You’re ridin’ with an outfit now
Where ‘purt near’ ain’t enough!
We tie our lasso ropes to the horn,
An’ what we ketch we hold,
And ‘purt near’ is one alibi
We never do unfold!
In fact, right now
I’ll tell you that no word I ever hear
Sounds quite so plain damn useless
As that little pair: ‘purt near’!”

That’s how ol’ Tom Maginnis
Laid it out upon the line,
And like a heap of preachin’ talk,
It sounded mighty fine.
But one day Tom Maginnis,
While a-ridin’ off alone,
He lamed his horse
And had to ketch some neighbor nester’s roan
To ride back to the ranch on.
But somewhere along the way
A bunch of nesters held him up,
And there was hell to pay!

Tom claimed he hadn’t stole the horse—
Just borrowed it to ride.
Them nesters hated cowboys,
And they told him that he lied.
The cussed him for a horsethief
And they’d caught him with the goods.
They set right out to hang him
In a nearby patch of woods.
They had pore Tom surrounded,
With their guns all fixed to shoot.
It looked like this pore cowboy
Sure had heard his last owl hoot!

They tied a rope around his neck
And throwed it o’er a limb
And Tom Maginnis purt near knowed
This was the last of him.
Then suddenly a shot rang out
From somewhere up the hill!
Them nesters dropped the rope an’ ran,
Like nesters sometimes will
When bullets start to whizzin’.
Tom’s heart lept up with hope
To see ol’ Purt Near Perkins
Ridin’ towards him at a lope.

“Looks like I purt near
Got here just in time,” ol’ Perkins said,
“To see them nesters hang you!”
Tom’s face got kinder red.
“You purt near did!” he purt near grinned.
“They purt near had me strung!
You’re lookin’ at a cowboy
That has purt near just been hung!
And also one that’s changed his mind—
For no word ever said,
Can sound as sweet as ‘purt near’,
When a man’s been purt near dead!”

© S. Omar Barker, from his 1954 book, Songs of the Saddlemen, and reprinted with the permission of the estate of S. Omar Barker

Watch top reciter and respected horseman Randy Rieman recite the poem on the Western Folklife Center’s YouTube channel.

New Mexico’s S. Omar Barker gave many humorous poems to the world of cowboy poetry. A good number of them, including this one, remain widely recited today. He inserted a bit of himself in this poem in referring to the “Lazy S B spread.” He enjoyed signing his name with his brand, “Lazy SOB.”

Barker was one of the founders of the Western Writers of America, Inc. and many of his poems were published by Western Horseman. Find more about S. Omar Barker at CowboyPoetry.com.

This image is from an old trade card for Wiedemann Beer. In the late 1800s, it became Kentucky’s largest brewery.

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

 

INSIDE WAR by Joel Nelson

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photo © 2016, Ken Rodgers

 

INSIDE WAR
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

On this 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.

You can find Joel Nelson next weekend at the 18th annual Monterey Cowboy Poetry & Music Festival, November 18-20, 2016 in Monterey, California. The event has a great outreach with local schools and libraries, and includes a great a Western art and gear show.

There, Joel Nelson joins a stellar lineup of Dave Stamey, Mike Beck, Don Edwards, Randy Rieman, Peter Rowen, Skip Gorman and the Waddie Pals, Connie Dover with Tom Sauber, Juni Fisher, Janet Bailey, Rich O’Brien, Rex Allen, Jr., The Hanson Family, R.W. Hampton, Bruce Forman & COW BOP, Karen Ross, Jim Ross, Ross Knox, Hot Club of Cowtown, and Whit Smith.

Find more about the Monterey Cowboy Poetry & Music Festival at montereycowboy.org and on Facebook.

Find more about Joel Nelson at CowboyPoetry.com.

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

Ken and 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 bravotheproject.com, 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 imarriedthewar.com and on Facebook.

Find poems and more for Veterans Day at CowboyPoetry.com.

START OF A COLD MORNIN’ by Deanna Dickinson McCall

coldmornin

painting by JaNeil Anderson

START OF A COLD MORNIN’
by Deanna Dickinson McCall

When posts are glazed like a cake
And the wire is taut with ice
The troughs need busting
The mornin’s ain’t so nice.

The red roan resembles a camel
His back has such a hump
You’d better cheek him up
He’ll likely buck and jump.

The saddle is sitting high
Good inch above his back
He’s sucked all up
Under blanket and kack.

On mornings like these
It’s a chance you take
Sliding into the stirrup
No room for mistake.

You wish you were 20 again
When you make that swing
But, you’ll do it because
That’s what cold morning’s bring.

© 2016, Deanna Dickinson McCall, used with permission

Award-winning poet, writer, and fourth-generation New Mexico rancher Deanna Dickinson McCall and noted painter and rancher JaNeil Anderson collaborated, pairing poems and paintings, in an attractive and engaging book, Split Reins.

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In the foreword, respected singer, songwriter, and rancher Randy Huston comments that the book, “…is a wonderful look into real life in the rural West, a contemporary landscape still flavored by the frontier era, and a place in which many values and traditions haven’t changed in more than a hundred years. The hardships, triumphs, and daily routines of this unique world come to life in this collection.”

He explains that “split reins” are associated with the working traditions of Southwest cowboys; “two independent reins that must be used in concert to signal a horse.” He concludes, “As the saying goes, the sum is greater than the parts.”

Deanna has two highly praised books of stories, Rough Patches, which just won a Will Rogers Medallion Award, and Mustang Spring, which also includes poems. She also has an award-winning CD of her poetry, Riding. She’s a popular performer at gatherings, often appearing at the Arizona Cowboy Poets Gathering, the Texas Cowboy Poetry Gathering, the Western Folklife Center’s National Cowboy Poetry Gathering, and other events.

Find more about Deanna Dickinson McCall at CowboyPoetry.com; at her web site, deannadickinsonmccall.com; and on Facebook.

JaNeil Anderson studied under Cowboy Artists of America painters James Reynolds and R.S. Riddick. She and her husband live on their family’s third-generation ranch along the banks of the Gila River in southwest New Mexico. She is represented by Thunder Horse Gallery in Riudoso.

Find more about JaNeil Anderson at her web site, www.janeilanderson.com, and on Facebook.

BE YOURSELF by Georgie Sicking, 1921-2016

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BE YOURSELF
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

It is with great sadness that we learned (from Diane Scott) of the passing of much-loved cowboy and Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame inductee Georgie Sicking, 95, on November 6, 2016. This autobiographical poem is just one her many popular verses.

Find a short video with the poem and additional footage 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.”

Georgie Sicking has been a great inspiration to many.

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.” See a clip here.

Georgie Sicking’s photo graces the cover of The BAR-D Roundup: Volume Five from CowboyPoetry.com. 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).

Georgie was at the first Western Folklife Center National Cowboy Poetry Gathering in 1985, and appeared there and at other gatherings many times, until the last couple of years.

Services will be held on Saturday, November 19 at 1:00 pm at The Gardens Funeral Home in Fallon, Nevada.

Find an obituary here.

Cards can be sent to Georgie Sicking’s daughter, Sue Jarrard, PO Box 341 Kaycee, WY 82639

Find some of her poetry and more about Georgie Sicking at CowboyPoetry.com.

As Linda Marie Kirkpatrick commented, “I wanted her to live forever.” She will be greatly missed.

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

A FITTING MONUMENT by Mike Moutoux

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mmhuston-windmill-sizedphotos © 2016, Mike Moutoux

A FITTING MONUMENT
by Mike Moutoux

In the dry land stands the monument of a dreamer
It is a testament to hope; to years of yearning
Standing tall above the grasses, rocks and scrub oak
Below a cloudless sky and sun so brightly burning

No babbling brooks cross here, just silent sand arroyos
Few linger here at all; fewer still would stake a claim
Only fools and dreamers could love this barren land
It does not suffer fools; dreamers love it just the same

‘Twas the Homestead Act that brought him here to dream and sweat
It was the solitude and grass that it made it feel right
But there were months when precious rains were non-existent
Each cloudless day brought another worried weary night

All that changed when the Aermotor windmill was delivered
The well was dug, the tower raised; each rod and gear in place
The wind blew as always, but now it turned a shiny fan
And both the cowman’s heart and dreams begin to race

The cowman would talk about that day for years to come
How the blades spun, the rods creaked, how he paced and paced
And then water, precious water, poured from pipe to trough
Giving hope a thing a man could actually taste

Within weeks trails appeared around the water trough
As thirsty critters, one by one, found the water there of course
Not just cows, but the antelope, fox and deer drank there
The tower, a beacon, led them to their water source

The story of the dreamer is old but not forgotten
The tower still stands although its working years are spent
A testament to one man’s hope and all those years of yearning
For a dreamer and cowman, a most fitting monument.

© 2016, Mike Moutoux

New Mexico cowboy, songwriter, poet, entertainer, and photographer Mike Moutoux shared this poem and photos.

He comments, “The Aermotor company sold its first windmills in 1888; they still make them today. It is not uncommon to see their mills in our part of the country. The precious water they produce as well as the many ranch dirt tanks that capture and store run-off benefit cows and great herds of wild things.”

Catch Mike Moutoux at the Cochise Cowboy Poetry & Music Gathering (February 3-5, 2017) in Sierra Vista, Arizona. The event celebrates its 25th anniversary and featured artists are Arvel Bird, Mikki Daniel, Desert Suns, Rena Randall & Due West Trio, Juni Fisher, Sue Harris, Carol Heuchan, Susie Knight, Jon Messenger, Dale Page, Saddle Strings, and Jay Snider. Participating artists include Broken Chair Band, Call of the West, Van Criddle, Sam DeLeeuw, Mike Dunn, Nancy Elliot, Kerry Grombacher, Purly Gates, Harpy Trails, Larry Harmer, Randy Huston, Ken & Jerye, Deanna Dickinson McCall, Peggy Malone, Carol Markstrom, Mike Moutoux, Terry Nash, Tony Norris, Notable Exceptions, and Outriders. Find more at cowboypoets.com and on Facebook.

Find more about Mike Moutoux at mikemoutoux.com, including his performance schedule and occasional “Ranch Notes.”

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