Gathering Report: California Rodeo Salinas’ Cowboy Music & Poetry Gathering


California Rodeo Salinas Cowboy Music & Poetry Gathering
report by Bill Vaughan

On Sunday, July 17th,  2016, the California Rodeo Salinas’ Cowboy Music & Poetry Gathering brought together a group of great entertainers to “Wow” the folks in attendance with wonderful cowboy music and verse. This marked the 29th year of the event and was, once again, very successful in doing so.

Sherwood Hall in Salinas was the venue and wine and Swiss Sausage BBQ was the fare. The Committee put together an array of silent auction items that were quite varied and included a live auction of delicious baked goods and a catered Polenta and Stew dinner, as well.

The show started off with the doors opening at 1:00 PM for folks to come on in and have a sampling of nice local wines and some hors d’oeuvres and look over the silent auction tables. The cabaret seating made the auditorium perfect to sit and visit over wine and treats and, for those who wished, a Swiss Sausage meal was also available.

It was the talent present that made the show, though! From open mic amateurs to the seasoned pros. The Salinas Valley’s own Cowboy Poet “Laureate,” Clem Albertoni, was on hand to serve as master of ceremonies and included, of course, his own brand of down-home wit and poetry. Clem has been a local favorite for decades and did not disappoint. Clem’s first duty was to introduce the open mic folks to come up and share their own talent with the crowd. Following open mic, The Youth Orchestra of Salinas, YOSAL, performed the National Anthem and a selection of songs including Patsy Cline’s “I Fall to Pieces.” I spoke briefly with Joanne Taylor Johnson and she informed me that the YOSAL program is continuing to grow and succeed and it shows. What a great group of young musicians!

After YOSAL’s performance, the Monterey County Free Library Foundation introduced the three winners of the annual Cowboy Poetry Contest. First off was 13 year old Broden Murray reciting his winning entry,  “The Golden Valley,”  then 11 year old Katie Mazerik and her winning poem, “Old American Cowboy,”, and then 5 year old June Paul Harbaugh stood by on stage while her winning poem, “Cowboys are Cowboys” was read. All showed great potential and were some of the best winners ever to be on the show.

Chyrle Bacon (photo by Best Shot Video)

Chyrle Bacon followed with six-gun twirling, whip cracking and trick roping. She amazed and amused all when she coerced California 2nd Vice-president, Dave Pedrazzi, on stage for some whip-play…western style. Dave survived, just barely, though. Chyrle had the room laughing with her infectious cackle of a laugh. She was a real western Hoot!

Larry Maurice (Photo by Best Shot Video)

Next up was Larry Maurice. This was not Larry’s first appearance here; he has been in Salinas before. Larry is the recipient of The Academy of Western Artists, Cowboy Poet of the Year award, as well as having received the American Cowboy Culture Award for Lifetime Achievement in Cowboy Poetry. Larry shared his energetic and fast-paced delivery of original stories and poems along with some favorite old classics that he’s known for. His portion of the show had the audience smiling throughout.

c4Los Vaqueros Hunting Club Traveling Band (photo by Best Shot Video)

Los Vaqueros Hunting Club Traveling Band hit the stage next. This local band has been performing for decades, as well, and are local favorites. Brothers, Randy and Terry Handley have been combining their voices for some of the best harmonizing anyone could ever hope to hear. Born and raised in nearby Soledad, they have polished their style all their lives. Randy is the front man of the band with Terry providing the vocal harmonies. Jim Geil was on hand to expertly pick his electric guitar and include some vocals while Roger Hill backed it all up with his bass guitar rhythms. Many in the audience have heard these guys before and all agreed, they’ve never been better. The selection of songs and the clever banter hit the spot!

Intermission was preceded with a live “cake auction” and got quite spirited with Butch Lindley serving as auctioneer.


Dave Stamey took the stage with the lovely and talented Annie Lydon
(photo by Best Shot Video)

Dave Stamey (photo by Best Shot Video)

Following a brief intermission, Dave Stamey took the stage with the lovely and talented Annie Lydon. Never a disappointment, Dave has been a Salinas favorite for many years and has starred at this show several times in the past. Seven times named Entertainer of the Year and five times Songwriter of the Year by the Western Music Association, Dave shared why with the folks in attendance. A great voice, a great guitar picker, original songs and Annie singing along. There’s none better, folks! Dave’s songs are musical stories and that’s what Cowboy Songs are supposed to be. Each song tells a tale and the tune that goes with it is perfect, every time. That’s the “why”. Dave has a way with the audience, too, between songs. His wit is nearly as enjoyable as his songs. Annie Lydon joined Dave on stage and in recordings several years ago and I would never say that Dave’s style lacked for anything, but what she adds makes me wonder…

So, with that, the 29th annual California Rodeo Salinas’ Cowboy Music and Poetry Gathering is in the books! It was a fabulous show with great talent, great wine and food, put on by a great committee of volunteers!

Come and see it when it hits 30!

Larry Maurice and Dave Stamey (photo by Best Shot Video)

California Rodeo Salinas Cowboy Music & Poetry Committee 2016
(Photo by Best Shot Video)

c9Co-Chairs Lydia Miranda and Clem Albertoni
(Photo by Best Shot Video)

Find more at

Arizona Cowboy Poets Gathering



The Arizona Cowboy Poets Gathering takes place in Prescott, August 11-13, 2016.

Prescott artist Marcia Molnar’s painting, titled “Dust ‘n Dogies,” is featured on the Arizona Cowboy Poets Gathering 2016 poster.

The poster is the theme for poets and musicians, and some create poems and songs inspired by the art (and that practice was the inspiration for Art Spur here at

Marcia Molnar’s web site notes, “Marcia lives in Prescott, Arizona with her artist husband George Molnar. Together, they explore and paint Arizona ranch life as well as the Grand Canyon.” Find more about Marcia Molnar at her web site,

More than 50 performers include headliners Jim Jones, Mary Kaye, and R.W. Hampton along with Jay Snider, Gail Steiger, Amy Auker, Deanna Dickinson McCall, Dale Burson, Kevin Davis, Yvonne Hollenbeck, Audrey Hankins, Vess Quinlan, Doug Figgs, Mike Dunn, Curt Brummett, Dean Cook, Rolf Flake, Bimbo Cheney, Sally Bates, Floyd Beard, Terry Nash, Dale Page, Randy Huston, Kay Nowell, Nika Nordbrock, Tom Weathers, Mary Matli, Mary Abbott, and many others.

Find more about the event at

BOOMER JOHNSON by Henry Herbert Knibbs




by Henry Herbert Knibbs (1874-1945)

Now Mr. Boomer Johnson was a gettin’ old in spots,
But you don’t expect a bad man to go wrastlin’ pans and pots;
But he’d done his share of killin’ and his draw was gettin’ slow,
So he quits a-punchin’ cattle and he takes to punchin’ dough.

Our foreman up and hires him, figurin’ age had rode him tame,
But a snake don’t get no sweeter just by changin’ of its name.
Well, Old Boomer knowed his business – he could cook to make you smile,
But say, he wrangled fodder in a most peculiar style.

He never used no matches – left em layin’ on the shelf,
Just some kerosene and cussin’ and the kindlin’ lit itself.
And, pardner, I’m allowin’ it would give a man a jolt
To see him stir frijoles with the barrel of his Colt.

Now killin’ folks and cookin’ ain’t so awful far apart,
That musta been why Boomer kept a-practicin’ his art;
With the front sight of his pistol he would cut a pie-lid slick,
And he’d crimp her with the muzzle for to make the edges stick.

He built his doughnuts solid, and it sure would curl your hair
To see him plug a doughnut as he tossed it in the air.
He bored the holes plum center every time his pistol spoke,
Till the can was full of doughnuts and the shack was full of smoke.

We-all was gettin’ jumpy, but he couldn’t understand
Why his shootin’ made us nervous when his cookin’ was so grand.
He kept right on performin’, and it weren’t no big surprise
When he took to markin’ tombstones on the covers of his pies.

They didn’t taste no better and they didn’t taste no worse,
But a-settin’ at the table was like ridin’ in a hearse;
You didn’t do no talkin’ and you took just what you got,
So we et till we was foundered just to keep from gettin’ shot.

When at breakfast one bright mornin’, I was feelin’ kind of low,
Old Boomer passed the doughnuts and I tells him plenty:
“No, All I takes this trip is coffee, for my stomach is a wreck.”
I could see the itch for killin’ swell the wattle on his neck.

Scorn his grub? He strings some doughnuts on the muzzle of his gun,
And he shoves her in my gizzard and he says, “You’re takin’ one!”
He was set to start a graveyard, but for once he was mistook;
Me not wantin’ any doughnuts, I just up and salts the cook.

Did they fire him? Listen, pardner, there was nothin’ left to fire,
Just a row of smilin’ faces and another cook to hire.
If he joined some other outfit and is cookin’, what I mean,
It’s where they ain’t no matches and they don’t need kerosene.

…by Henry Herbert Knibbs, public domain

Henry Herbert Knibbs never worked as a cowboy, but he was a student of the West and his friendships, including one with cowboy, rancher, and writer Eugene Manlove Rhodes informed his work. His poems are still often recited today, including “Boomer Johnson,” “Where the Ponies Come to Drink,” “The Walking Man,” “Shallows of the Ford,” and “So Long, Chinook!”

Find more about Knibbs and more of his poetry at

This 1939 photo by Russell Lee (1903-1986) is titled, “Cook of SMS Ranch making bread in front of chuck wagon. Ranch near Spur, Texas.” It is from The Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division. Find more about it here.

Find a feature about noted photographer and teacher Russell Lee with a gallery of photographs from the University of Texas at Austin here.

(This poem and photo are in the public domain.)

National Cowboy Poetry Gathering


From the Western Folklife Center:

The 33rd National Cowboy Poetry Gathering poster features the painting, “Moving the Corrientes” (2010), by award-winning Tucson artist Howard Post. An excerpt from Linda M. Hasselstrom’s poem, “Where the Stories Come From” (Bitter Creek Junction, 2000), borders the painting, in honor of the storytelling theme of the 33rd National Cowboy Poetry Gathering.


Announcing the Artist Line-Up for the 33rd National Cowboy Poetry Gathering 

The 33rd National Cowboy Poetry Gathering is January 30 to February 4, 2017, in Elko, Nevada. Tickets are on sale to Western Folklife Center members starting Tuesday, September 6, and to non-members starting Thursday, October 6. We are pleased to welcome the following poets, musicians and storytellers to the Elko stage in 2017!

Amy Hale Auker – Prescott, AZ
Mike Beck – Monterey, CA
Luke Bell – Cody, WY — NEW!
Jerry Brooks
– Sevier, UT
Cowboy Celtic -Turner Valley, Alberta, Canada
Doris Daley – Black Diamond, Alberta, Canada
John Dofflemyer – Lemon Cove, CA
Carolyn Dufurrena – Winnemucca, NV
Maria Lisa Eastman – Hyattville, WY – NEW!
Don Edwards – Hico, TX
Ramblin’ Jack Elliott – Northern California
Dom Flemons & Brian Farrow – Hillsborough, NC
Patricia Frolander – Sundance, WY
DW Groethe – Bainville, MT
Kristyn Harris – McKinney, TX
Andy Hedges – Lubbock, TX
Brenn Hill – Hooper, UT
Teresa Jordan – Virgin, UT
Ross Knox – Midpines, CA
Jarle Kvale – Dunseith, ND – NEW!
Daron Little – Encampment, WY – NEW!
Corb Lund – Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
Waddie Mitchell – Twin Bridges, NV
Doug Moreland & the Flying Armadillos – Manchaca, TX – NEW!
Joel Nelson
– Alpine, TX
Rodney Nelson
– Almont, ND
Shadd Piehl – Mandan, ND
Vess Quinlan – Florence, CO
Henry Real Bird – Garryowen, MT
Brigid Reedy – Boulder, MT
Randy Rieman – Dillon, MT
Kent Rollins – Hollis, OK
Jack Sammon – Murwillumbah, New South Wales, Australia – NEW!
Martha Scanlan & Jon Neufeld – Birney, MT
Trinity Seely – Cascade, MT
Sean Sexton – Vero Beach, FL
Sourdough Slim & Robert Armstrong – Paradise, CA
R.P. Smith – Broken Bow, NE
Dave Stamey – Orange Cove, CA
Gail Steiger – Prescott, AZ
Rod Taylor – Cimarron, NM
Ian Tyson – Longview, Alberta, Canada
Keith Ward – Vilas, NC
Andy Wilkinson – Lubbock, TX
Paul Zarzyski – Great Falls, MT

Find the Western Folklife Center on Facebook and at



National Cowboy Poetry Rodeo

This photo of Geff Dawson was taken by Dawn Dawson in 2009 at the National Cowboy Poery Rodeo in Montrose, Colorado.


Horsewoman, photographer, and Better Horses Radio co-host Dawn Dawson and poet, musician, ranch manager, and Kansas Cowboy Hall of Fame inductee Geff Dawson run the National Cowboy Poetry Rodeo (NCPR) and have great plans for this year’s event, August 4-6, 2016 in Abilene, Kansas.

From their July 22, 2016 announcement:

It’s not too late to put the National Cowboy Poetry Rodeo on your calendar. Join us August 4th after the parade at the Shockey and Landes Building, Abilene, Kansas, for our annual get-together and open mic event.

Then Friday and Saturday mornings until we are done, we start in with the cowboy poetry rodeo competition with free admission. On Saturday afternoon, August 6, 2016, at 4:00 p.m., get your tickets to the Matinee show where the winners will be crowned and perform their winning poetry followed by the Chisholm Trail Western Music Show with Geff Dawson and Cowboy Friends. For more information, visit our web site at Tickets available online.

Take time to see all the sights in Abilene and the area while you are in Kansas. You can see one of the biggest free fairs and rodeo in the Midwest, the Central Kansas Free Fair and Wild Bill Hickok PRCA Rodeo while you are there, plus many, many more attractions. Some of our contestants and judges will be performing during the rodeo each night so don’t miss it!

Don’t miss eating at the Brookeville Hotel where they serve family-style fried chicken dinners. If you would like to come as a contestant or a spectator, contact Geff Dawson, or call 785-456-4494 and we will get you hooked up. You’re not going to want to miss this event. We have several special guests coming to judge and entertain, and contestants can win thousands of dollars and prizes. Entries are open now.

Many poets who have participated in the NCPR have had high praise for the experience, including Pat Richardson, Yvonne Hollenbeck, Doris Daley, Linda Kirkpatrick, DW Groethe, Andy Nelson, and others. A celebration of “excellence through competition,” many lasting friendships get made.

Find more about the National Cowboy Poetry Rodeo on Facebook,  at, and at the NCPR web site.

Art Spur: National Day of the Cowboy

It’s been said that a picture is worth a thousand words…we know many that are worthy of a poem or a song. In Art Spur, we invite poets and songwriters to let selections of Western art inspire their poetry and songs.

Our 43rd piece offered to “spur” the imagination is a special National Day of the Cowboy Art Spur, a photograph, “Shadow Bronc,” by songwriter, poet, and photographer John Michael Reedy (,

We asked John Michael Reedy to tell us about the photograph, and he commented:

I made the photograph at the Jefferson County Fair Rodeo in Boulder, Montana. Since most rodeos have photographers dedicated to catching the “action,” my focus tends more towards light, composition, and story. This is our hometown rodeo, a very small-town and (almost) always dry and dusty affair held at the end of August. However, this particular year we experienced absurdly unusual wet and muddy conditions. I felt an urgency to get a good shot on this day, to capture the striking tension between the (still) very clean cowboys and the inevitable mud bath. In this shot, the small-town setting and the prominence of the flag catching the sun at that moment creates a mood, and the classic position of the rider is iconic. Mostly I like the the body language of the horse as he appears to stomp his own shadow in the mud.

Poets are invited to be inspired by the art; a literal representation of the art is not expected.

The Twelfth Annual National Day of the Cowboy is Saturday July 23, 2016. Find more about the organization at and on Facebook.

Selected poems, below, are:

“Someday” by Tom Swearingen
“Broncs, Bruises, and Brawn” by Marleen Bussma
“Counting Down” by Merv Webster
“From Dust to Mud” by Jim Cathey
“Seize the Day” by Jeff Campbell
“Dream Ride” by George Rhoades
“The Shadow Riders”by Jean Mathisen Haugen


by Tom Swearingen

Been years since winning a buckle.
More still since he’s been in his prime.
Tonight, you’d think he was twenty,
Legs churning together in time.

His rowels rake ‘cross the shoulders.
Strong lift of the thick woven reign.
Sweeping to flank with each landing,
Bronc’s efforts to pitch him in vain.

Been to the top of the mountain.
Made Finals three times years ago.
Says he’s just riding for fun now,
But man, he still puts on a show.

Spurs fly like there’s no tomorrow.
He’s fanning and riding for keeps.
Showing his guts and his gristle,
No matter the bucks or the steeps.

He knows he can’t ride forever.
He’ll hang up his war bag someday.
But now he’s right where he should be,
High rolling atop this rank bay.

© 2016, Tom Swearingen
This poem may not be shared without the author’s permission.

by Marleen Bussma

The day’s crowd is loud and restless waiting in the scorching sun.
Hats are lowered for the anthem that is cheered when singing’s done.
The arena holds and gathers brave contenders to this dance.
They will partner with a rank bronc who’ll replace old west’s romance

with reality and raw truth.  “Come on, cowboy, show your stuff.
Can you take the jarring pounding?  Is your spirit tough enough?”
Jackson paces in the background, hears the chute boss bring the news.
It’s his turn to face the devil, time to pay those dancing dues.

Jackson’s fairly green at riding, wears a price tag on his jeans,
but he’s worked at getting better and he hopes that this ride means
he will hear the buzzer’s music, mark a victory for once.
Jackson’s nerves, though taut and troubled, hang on tough as he confronts

what is caged up in the bronc chute agitated, blowing snot.
Pump Jack throws his ornery head back as the cowboy starts to squat.
Jackson gently makes adjustments as he settles on the steed,
gets his chaps arranged and straightened.  Thoughts of what to do stampede

through his head like prairie dogs that see the shadow of a hawk.
He feels cautious, careful, cold, and hopes his courage does not walk.
“Don’t forget to mark the horse out.  How much buck rein should you give?”
Laundry lists of what to do portend mistakes that don’t forgive.

“Keep your chin down on your chest and have those big toes pointed out.
Lift the buck rein for your balance, stay alert,” his instincts shout.
Jackson pulls his hat down tightly, nods his head to start the dream.
If he sticks like glue to Pump Jack it will help his self-esteem.

Pump Jack rises on his hind feet as he leaps out of the chute.
Jackson’s left hand fans the air as he clings bravely to the brute.
He can feel his fortune slipping like the buck rein in his hand.
The intensity is frantic, nothing like what he had planned.

When you talk about a bronc ride, Casey Tibbs once gave this pearl,
“You just fall into a rhythm.  It’s like dancing with a girl.”
Jackson’s rhythm leaves the dance floor as he flirts with a dismount.
Fresh air swells above his saddle like a sly thief’s bank account.

His intentions are unfastened as he flops like fish on shore.
Bouncing wildly in the saddle, he forgets about a score.
The eight-second clock is ticking.  Does he have time to regroup?
The arena floor now greets him and he doesn’t have to stoop.

With the grace of a flat tire he is finished for the day.
Just his pride is pained and pounding as he grimly limps away.
Though rejected like a wallflower waiting with a wish to dance,
the next town puts on a rodeo and he’ll get another chance.

As he thinks about his last ride, what went right and what went wrong,
he concedes he needs the basics to help make his riding strong.
It will take a lot more practice while he learns to do what’s smart,
but for now he knows his hat stayed on and, pardner, that’s a start.

© 2016, Marleen Bussma
This poem may not be shared without the author’s permission.

by Merv Webster

It’s been a life I don’t regret and looking back I’m proud
of all the rides and challenges played out before a crowd.
Eight seconds might not seem that long but on a bronc from hell
you have to know it’s every move or you won’t score that well.

I’d made a promise to my wife that this was my last ride
as she had shared my childhood dream and I look back with pride
on how she’d thrown her full support behind me all the way
but sensed she longed to settle down and call it quits today.

I knew the bronc between my chaps, I’d ridden him before,
but if it had its way at all he’d dump me that’s for sure.
The Chute Boss called, “Let’s have him out!” and did that horse perform
though all who’d hung up on his back knew that was just the norm.

Eight seconds were now counting down, I’d marked out clean enough,
but this bronc sure would see if I was made of sterner stuff.
He knew the game and loved it too and had a bag of tricks
and it would try near everyone that it had in its mix.

Six seconds now and counting down, so what now lies ahead?
I swear its gonna prop and buck and sure to drop its head.
It’s eyeing off that shadow there and knew it’s in its blood
to want to see me on the ground and sprawled out in the mud.

Four seconds left and I’ve survived but man my back near broke
while all the pain that wracked my frame was way beyond a joke.
Just rake and watch for his next move was what raced through my mind
and just a few secs longer and we’ll put all this behind.

Two seconds left but man he showed no sign of tiring out
then arched his back and screamed out loud and I was in no doubt
he’d give it all he had and  try in one last desp’rate buck
to do his best and give his all to see me come unstuck.

I knew there for a moment there was air below my seat
and wondered would I stay with him or did he  have me beat.
But then I felt his back again and heard the siren blow
well knowing I had ridden time and we’d put on a show.

To go out on a ride like that was pleasing to the soul
and mighty glad the bronc I drew had surely played its role.
The broncs I ride these days are tame but every now and then
I break a lively youngster and I count down time agen.

© 2016,  Merv Webster
This poem may not be shared without the author’s permission.

by Jim Cathey

Dang Gramps! I ain’t too shore about this weather,
That ol’ muddy ground shore spooks me.
I seen them ol’ boys grabbin’ fer leather,
an’ their ol’ broncs seemed sorta goofy.

Most times its purty dry come buckin’ time,
‘course, I reckon you’ve seen it all.
But I just wondered, back in yore prime,
If you’d ever seen sich a squall.

Yeah, I seen it muddy like this, back in ought nine,
When Dick Stanley rode Ol’ Steamboat.
Lookin’ back, we shoulda took it as a sign,
All the chutes was purt near a float.

Cheyenne it was, a fancy gig back then,
Folks had came from all around,
All that stock was bad an’ so was the men,
‘course Frontier days was renowned.

Some said that Steamboat would never be rode!
That he’d go down in hist’ry.
Now Dick Stanley, well, he ain’t never been thowed!
But his past was a myst’ry.

He knowed all about this bronc he was on,
‘Twas a good bronc riders job.
Lottery said he drawed the devil’s spawn,
An’ he knowed he’d shore played hob.

The night’s rain turned hard dirt into a mud,
Ma Nature had made her play.
That bronc was snortin’ an’ lookin’ for blood,
But this cowboy planned to stay.

He’d marked ‘em good, comin’ outta the chute,
His fist drawed  into a knot.
But, that  bronc was learnin’ the ways of the brute,
An’ he’d give more than he got.

He quit the gate an’ was goin’ on high,
An’ he showed that he warn’t slow,
He’d come poundin’ down, then go on the fly,
Twistin’ ‘til his belly would show!

That cowboy stuck tighter than a Texas tick,
While that bronc was  asplashin’ mud.
An’ he squalled an’ snorted  with every kick,
smashin’  the ground with a thud.

But this day would not be kind to Ol’ Steamboat,
Mayhaps the mud slowed him down.
Steamboat whistled, but that was all she wrote,
‘cuz Dick Stanley had won the crown!

Now you drawed good an’ you shore got the skill,
That bronc will be okay, like as not.
An’ he’ll shore ‘nuff try to give you a spill,
So son, just give ‘r all you’ve got!

Yeah! I seen it muddy like this… back in ought nine.

© 2016,  Jim Cathey
This poem may not be shared without the author’s permission.

by Jeff Campbell

Four A.M. the thunder booms
As the gushing rain cascades
Easy just to stay right here
The coffee and couch persuades

It’s just a small town rodeo
A winding one hundred mile trip
But he hates the thought of missing
As he takes one final sip

Dodges puddles out to the truck
Turns the key and the radio on
As an old Corb Lund song ends
A forecast of blue skies by dawn

Does it matter if he wins?
Or lands with a humbling thud
When that whirling shadow stomper
Baptizes him in the mud

It’s about the thrill and focus
The feeling of being alive
To have something to live for
A goal and a will to strive

One day out on life’s highway
As he glances in his rear view
He will not regret things tried
Just the ones he did not do

© 2016,  Jeff Campbell
This poem may not be shared without the author’s permission.

by George Rhoades

The old cowboy sat in the chair,
A blanket across his lap,
On the patio of the rest home,
Wakin’ from his nap.

I did ’em all, he said,
Ridin’ and ropin’ at the rodeo
All up and down the line,
Calgary to Cheyenne to El Paso.

Now I’m crippled up and stuck
With caretakers and fadin’ memory,
Thinkin’ back on the past,
Gone forever now for me.

But when I sleep I dream
That I’m buckin’ once again,
A small town, flags aflyin’,
Tryin’ my best to win.

Corrals, horses, pickup trucks,
Spurs, buckles, chaps and ropes,
Arenas, bulls, barrel racers,
Livin’ on dreams and hopes.

Travelin’ from town to town,
Wantin’ to make the short go,
To get the cash and the glory;
Hard life, not much to show.

Comin’ outta the chute,
One arm up, under stormy sky,
Hat pulled low, holdin’ tight,
Pickup man waitin’ nearby.

I’ve drawn a good one,
Bronc with lots of fire,
High-kickin’ and high-jumpin’,
I’m ridin’ ‘im higher and higher.

Settlin’ into the rhythm,
Day money’s gonna be mine,
Spurrin’ on a high roller,
Pains forgotten, feelin’ fine.

The roar from the crowd,
Ride ’em cowboy, comes the cry,
The cheers urge me on
As I grab for the sky.

Then I hear the buzzer,
Eight-second ride and top score;
My dream comes to an end
‘Til I dream it all once more.

© 2016, George Rhoades
This poem may not be shared without the author’s permission.

by Jean Mathisen Haugen

Those rodeo grounds are in rough shape,
they date back over eighty years.
Though the rodeo dates back to 1894
and many a’ cowboy has bruised his rear.

The CCC built this one for town
a’ way up on the highest hill,
with a full view of the mountains,
and wild horse races still cause a thrill.

A few years ago they planned to move the grounds—
but that idea did not go over well.
The folks here liked it just where it was—
for there were many stories to tell

of when Indians danced in the ring there
or a bull dumped a cowboy or two;
the time old Checkers climbed the stand
from the back to get a good view.

Come the 4th of July, Pioneer Days
has folks coming here back home
to see the parade and the rodeo,
for they never wanted to roam

out of the valley to somewhere else.
This valley catches your heart
and the old rodeo brings ’em home
from way back in1894 at it’s start.

Now I’m sitting here in this grandstand
and it seems to me that I see
some shadow riders in the ring—
and they’re not just seen by me!

Stub Farlow and his brother Jules,
Clayton Danks, a well known rider.
A lady rider who once rode the circuit
and her second horse is right beside her.

Phantom horses and phantom bulls
and ghosts of cowboys long gone—
join us here at the rodeo grounds—
Let her buck and let’s get on

with having a regular big to-do
for the day is blue sky and prime
and the shadow riders are back here too—
to enjoy the fun one more time!

© 2016, Jean Mathisen Haugen
This poem may not be shared without the author’s permission.