by Don Tidwell
THE COWBOY POET
When Cowboy Poets gather
people come from miles around
to hear the fetching stories
which these orators expound.
These fellers drive from town to town
and go from state to state.
Each thinkin up some far fetched tale
to spring first out the gate.
You're likely to be told about
a coyote eatin snake
or a drunk beer drinkin longhorn,
or an outlaw they call Jake.
The competition's fearsome
and it's pretty plain to see
that aside from flirtin with the truth,
they write good poetry.
They'll pick a cowboy subject
and suit it to their need,
then rope and tie it to a page,
with blinding cowboy speed.
They think "poetic license"
gives them power to pick and choose;
So what, if what they say ain't true --
What do they have to lose?
They're apt to say that flick "High Noon"
did NOT take place that way --
The good and bad guy fought it out
much later in the day.
Right now I'm straddlin the fence
a tryin to decide
if this winding Cowboy Poet trail
is one I'd like to ride.
A colorful contender
for the Cowboy Poet crown,
attracted great attention
when he ambled into town.
He came across as vivid
with a multi-hued onslaught--
His cowboy hat was purple,
and his shirt gold polka-dot.
He wore a pair of yellow cuffs
with inserts done in plaid,
and boasted of a wardrobe
like no other poet had.
There was a red bandanna wrapped
around his scrawny neck,
and his moustache, combed and waxed
was long enough to cause a wreck.
His costly Tony Llamas
were a loud and glaring pink;
His wooly orange sheepskin chaps
would make your eyelids blink!
They called on him to do his thing
and when he took the stage,
his lip began to tremble,
then he flew into a rage!!
He calmed, and said "I'm sorry folks--
I gotta go back home;
It took so long to git dressed up
I plumb forgot my poem!!"
THE RODEO COWBOY
He starts as a yearlin
down home on the ranch;
His first horse a stick horse
from some sturdy branch.
He's raised to the rigors
of life in the West,
and his daddy has faith
he'll be up to the test.
He outshines all others
while goin through school;
his creed is the creed
of the staid golden rule.
He works at his trade
with what strength he can find,
and knows most in this calling
are out of their mind.
His summers are spent
on the rodeo road
where the stress of this life
is a big mental load.
He battles the broncs
and the bulls and the steers,
and his payment is often
how loud the crowd cheers.
The paychecks are spotty,
there's no way to fudge..
his fate in the hands
of the rodeo judge.
His saddle and chaps
are the tools of his trade;
His lean body scarred
from mistakes that he's made,
But he won't give it up,
it's too doggone much fun...
The Rodeo Cowboy ...
FAR EAST COWBOY
We went for Chinese chop-chop
at a restaurant here in town,
and I told my wife to hurry up
and gulp her food right down.
She asked me why the hurry,
and I said I must get home,
to saddle my computer
and compose a cowboy poem.
She scoffed at me, the cow-boy,
blessed with looks and tact and poise,
and suggested that I couldn't tell
the bovines from the boys.
I ignored her blatant insult,
and said one day she would crawl
when I proved to all and sundry
that I cowboyed best of all.
Well, I hurried home and started
on some clever cowboy verse,
But for some elusive reason,
things just went from bad to worse.
It must have been the Chinese food,
for much to my surprise,
my cowboy hero ended up
with Oriental eyes. Ah so.
The sign of the law
in the wild wooly west
Was a five pointed star
on some lawman's worn vest,
And a gun that hung low
on a belt round his waist
Within reach of his hand
to quell trouble he faced.
One notable sheriff
who covered the ground
Took pride in the fact
that he worked without sound.
He could sneak up on outlaws
while they robbed the bank,
For his horse didn't snort
and his spurs didn't clank!
He made not a sound
while protecting his town,
And soon carved out a rep
which brought fame and renown.
Bordellos and barrooms
where he plied his trade
Soon learned, when he said so,
a spade was a spade.
He labored in Tombstone,
El Paso and Dodge.
There was no western town
where an outlaw could lodge.
There was never a baddie
that he couldn't tame --
Who was he, you ask??
QUIET EARP was his name!
(Keep a'goin' on down the page.)
MY SORREL HORSE
I felt the urge to write a poem
about my sorrel horse.
And since I was a cow-boy,
it's a cowboy poem of course.
I'm talkin now about the time
when I was just a kid,
So listen very closely,
and I'll tell you what we did:
I know my horse's name was "Flax",
my daddy told me so.
And in them days she went with me
wherever I would go.
I'd do the morning farm chores,
then ride her into town,
(That morning that she threw me off,
I never did live down.)
I'd get the town cow milked and then
I'd hustle off to school,
then after school reverse the route,
according to Dad's rule.
Now old Flax was kinda gimpy
as a knowing one could tell ...
She got that way when she was new,
from fallin in a well
One minute we were watchin her
a grazin on the lawn,
then,just like that, the ground gave way
and poor old Flax was gone.
She left a great big gapin hole,
and a stiflin cloud of dust,
and it scared me so I wet my pants
and thought my lungs would bust.
Well all the townfolks gathered round
to help us get her out,
Suggestions came from every side
as loud as folks could shout.
They lowered down a ladder
and climbed down so they could see,
if they could find an easy way
to help old Flax get free.
They tried to lift her by her legs
with heavy rope and chain,
and got her nearly to the top,
then she fell back down again.
Well, I rode that horse for four more years
before I left to roam.
She became a sort of legend,
in the town that I called home.
But, how did she get out, you say?
Well, let his fact be known...
She braced that flimsy ladder,
then she climbed out on her own!!
THOUGHTS OF AN AGING COWBOY
Will there be horses in heaven?
Will there be trails we can ride?
Will I meet there my sidekick and trailhands
Who, before me, have crossed the Divide?
Can we gather at night round the campfire
And talk of the days of our youth?
Can each tale be embellished a little,
Or will we be held to the truth?
Will our saddles be heavily padded
To soften the strain on our bones?
Will music we hear from the bunkhouse
Fill night air with clear cowboy tones?
Will cattle browse softly and safely
With never a cause to stampede?
Will the wrangler who tends the remuda
Have oats and alfalfa to feed?
Will I find there a heavenly barroom
Behind finely carved swinging doors,
Where a man can buy cold sarsaparilla,
A whiskey, a Bud or a Coors?
If these scenes from my mind's view of heaven
Can truly be found to be so;
Please send me my summons by angel --
This cowboy is ready to go.
While you are here, please visit the memorial archive
of my cowboy poet and humorist friend, Skinny Rowland,
who, before crossing the Divide himself in 1997, lived
in what he described as the closest thing to heaven.
It often made me wonder ...
Where in the world is Montana?
How do you get there from here?
What is their foremost attraction?
Is it mountains or horses or beer?
Are natives there hostile or friendly?
Would they welcome a dude from the East?
Would they buy him a shot of rye whiskey
And feed him a Dutch Oven feast?
Do buffalo still roam the prairie
Avoiding the gun and the bow?
Do fish jump right into your tote-bag?
Old timers will tell you it's so!
Do grizzlies and cougars and white tails
And others with prior domain
Patrol in their realm at their choosing
Without thought of human-caused pain?
If so then it sounds like a winner,
A place where a soul can be free ...
Maybe too much for city born green horns,
But a place that I'd like to go see!
Hey Bubba ... Ya know:
Texans make the best of friends,
form a bond which never ends.
Reckon I'm the one to know,
Got some good ones, I can show.
Bub and Willie, Mary too,
just to name a very few.
Many more from Army days,
but all have gone their separate ways.
With wit and humor, stock in trade....
You, my friend your dues have paid.
You twist the words round every way,
'til they say what you'd have them say.
You know that this here rhymin game,
without you, wouldn't be the same.
Pirates, Sailors, Bullfrogs too,
never get the best of you.
You orchestrate the perfect blend....
I'm PROUD to have you as my friend.
And this 'aint no West Texas joke....
Truer words jist 'aint been spoke.
'Ol Bubba's got a rancho
on the vast West Texas Plain,
devoid of most utilities
and downright cowboy plain.
He has to get his power
from the windmill by the creek,
and days when Texas winds don't blow,
he caint compute a lick!
He's got a makeshift shanty
where he beds ol' Roland down,
and a peg to hang his rope* on,
cause he does rope tricks in town.
His team of Yukon Huskies
and his low-slung flop-eared hound,
He puts to work at roundup time,
to git lost dogies found.
He's got a outside barbecue
that's big and sure good lookin,
and works real well for gatherins,
(when Gator does the cookin.)
The plaster walls inside the house
reflect his love of "Pun"..
(They're decorated with awards
for fibstorms that he's won!!)
But best of all, when lookin south,
away out there in back,
an acre -- fenced with concrete posts --
A pasture for Old Slack!!
*It's a cloud ropin rope.
DILEMMA IN DEADWOOD
A wayfarin stranger was farin his way
when he came to the outskirts of Deadwood one day.
He reined in his Cayuse and looked all around,
Confused by the markings he saw on the ground.
The signs of a struggle he saw from his saddle
all looked as though somebody had to skidaddle.
The tracks in the road left his mind in some doubt--
There were none headin In, they were all headed out !
He rode into town and tied up at the jail
hopin somebody in there could tell him the tale.
The sheriff explained that the town was uptight;
City Hall was broke into and robbed late last night.
They formed up a posse to capture the crook
and bring back that important loot that he took!
He asked what was stole by this law breaking nerd,
and thus opened the dam for the strangest tale heard.
The Sheriff said:
This town started small as a western town should,
and was named for the trees where a forest once stood.
A drifter one time was just driftin this way,
and he liked what he saw, so decided to stay.
Some others came by and said they liked it too,
so they all went to work to see what they could do.
They hauled in the dead wood and clapboards and more,
workin on a saloon and a mercantile store.
But an upcomin town such as this needed more
than a Deadwood Saloon and a mercantile store.
They held a town meetin and when it was through,
They'd made up a list of some things they would do:
They'd build a hotel and a church and a school
and a barn where prospectors could stable their mule;
They'd set up a boot hill, a park and a bank,
and to settle the street dust, a big water tank.
So they built up these things, then to govern them all,
erected a brand spankin new city hall.
Now to keep the accounts of a town such as this,
they recruited Miss Amy, a comely young miss.
She'd schooled in the East, and they knew it was true,
that for runnin a town, she knew just what to do.
She kept all the ledgers and paid every bill,
and kept track of each body consigned to boot hill.
The news of her expertise spread through the land,
and she soon had a string of men after her hand.
She listened politely but turned them all down
sayin "I'm needed here to look after this town."
The doc and the blacksmith and even the judge
all asked her to wed but she just wouldn't budge.
Her job was her passion was all she would say,
and she fully intended to keep it that way.
Then last night after hours she was checkin her books
When this bold outlaw stranger, enthralled with her looks,
broke down the front door in a Paul Bunyan way,
and kidnapped Miss Amy and hauled her away.
He gagged up her mouth and blindfolded one eye,
hauled her onto his horse and took off on the fly
headin North to the the badlands of New Mexico,
Where no fast ridin posse would think he would go.
Those tracks on the outskirts of town that you found
were caused by the posse just millin around;
They stopped to palaver on how to proceed
to catch up with the dude who would pull such a deed.
They studied those tracks to see what they could learn,
and determine which way that bold outlaw would turn.
Soon deputy Dan spit the chaw from his mouth
and said: "Boys it's quite clear, that kidnapper went south!"
So they all headed South in a single-file lope,
taking with them the last of Miss Amy’s faint hope.
The outlaw escaped and somehow on that ride,
He converted Miss Amy from hostage to bride.
He turned a new leaf and they soon settled down
and enjoyed the good life in a new Western town.
Meanwhile back in Deadwood, the town went berserk,
with no one to do the late Miss Amy's work.
The bills were not paid. Some guy robbed the bank.
A drunk shot a hole in the big water tank;
The church stood there empty and so did the school,
and each prospector bypassed the town with his mule.
The gravesites at boot hill became the town dump---
The whole cockeyed town found itself in a slump.
A tale such as this takes a long time to spin
and should end on a note which might foster a grin,
but this intriguing story plain ran out of steam....
When the wayfarin stranger awoke from his dream!
It all seemed so real in the back of his mind--
He had never before had a dream of this kind.
Convinced that he'd really seen Deadwood that day,
He climbed up on his horse, and rode slowly away.
© 1953-2003 Don Tidwell
Brought to you by Poets Collective