Welcome!

Welcome to my western and cowboy poetry site. Poems are collected here until there are enough to warrant formal publication. Then they are pulled and the site begins again.

The poems which were recently posted have been pulled, a new book, Prairie Knights, has been published, and the collection begins again. The title poem  for Prairie Knights appears below.

Thank you for visiting!

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In the Dark

My poem “Western Moon” has just won an international challenge (and a prize of £100) sponsored by hourofwrites in the UK. The contest was judged by Dr. Kate McClune, University of Bristol, UK.  The challenge topic was “In the Dark.” Here’s the entry…

In the Dark

For this old cowboy poet, there ain’t nothin’ worse than bein’ in the dark whether it’s sufferin’ through the darkness of night or shiverin’ alone in the darkness of mind. Either one of those can be terrifyin’. But it can also be enlightenin’, dependin’ on your state of mind and your mood at the time.

Most times, in the darkness of nature’s night, there is the moon to stir the mind, to brighten the dark, and to shelter you from the inherited fears and biases of the ages. But there are hazards. That darkness, lighted by the moon, can have awesome, unexpected, and sometimes unwelcome outcomes as in this poem authored not long ago.

Western Moon

The western full moon is magic,
shinin’ up in the sky,
bright’nin’ up the whole universe
as time goes passin’ by.

It’s a mighty pleasant feelin’,
to see it shinin’ down,
like gettin’ a shot of moonshine
when you go into town.

That moon changes the whole landscape,
addin’ its moonlit hue,
makin’ all the shadows deeper
and soft’nin’ colors too.

It makes a cowboy handsomer,
the way he ought to be,
and makes ugly gals good lookin’,
the kind you like to see.

But it can lead you into trouble
with moonlit gals like that
and can quickly move from smoochin’
to things that might begat.

So avoid that moon if you can,
’cause it could change your life
and you might wake up some mornin’
with a real ugly wife.

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Ridin’ Down to Texas

One day recently, I recalled my experience in Southern Texas during WWII as I was in training at the San Antonio Air Cadet Center. The training itself wasn’t a lot of fun, although memorable, but the Southwestern environment was delightful. The city, the river, the Alamo, the diverse population very much impressed this young cowboy. Hence this poem…a sort of a dream…ridin’ back to Texas.

This drought has killed my herd
Now my future’s blurred
So I’ll fly to Texas
Like some prairie bird

Ridin’ along today
Just ridin’ away
Goin’ down to Texas
Where I plan to stay

I really can’t say why
Words would be a lie
Ridin’ off to Texas
Now before I die

I would love to tell you
What I’m gonna do
When I get to Texas
If I only knew

I would like to be free
To take you with me
As I ride to Texas
Where I’d like to be

I will ride back some day
If you say I may
And take you to Texas
Where we’ll always stay

We’ll start anew down there
Where life is so fair
Down in Southern Texas
Where we’ll have no care

Ridin’ down to Texas
To start life anew
That’s what I really want
Livin’ there with you

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A Garden at The Willows

Settlers in the Sandhills of Nebraska found an ideal environment for ranching. Others, such as Mabel in the following poem, failed to appreciate the unique environment. Rich prairie vegetation stabilizes the fragile dunes, a place where buffalo roamed and cattle thrive on native grasses. The Sandhills are a virtual dune field which occupies about a fourth of the State. Details of its origin and history may be found in a Great Plains Research Article issued by the University of Nebraska.

Mabel’s garden at The Willows,
not much for one to see,
untended now for twenty years
since Mabel left with Lee.

As a bride she came to this place,
she thought to an estate
with a grand home and servants here.
She learned the truth too late.

The house, just a two room sod shack,
a husband on the roam,
a hundred miles to anywhere
far from their western home.

She hated life back in the hills,
the heat of summer days,
the icy blast of winter winds,
the rustic western ways.

At first the garden kept her sane
but sun-scorched summer days,
eternal winds that dried the soil,
turned her from gard’ning ways.

The hands were just rustic cowboys
’til Lee was hired on.
He was a different cowboy,
who’d soon be ridin’ on.

She didn’t love Lee, not at all,
but he was her way out,
a footloose cowboy workin’ there,
a low paid roustabout.

Oh, he was friendly and funny,
he made her laugh a lot,
remindin’ her of youthful times,
the things too oft forgot.

But her trust in Lee was fatal,
he led her far astray,
and she ain’t been heard of a-tall
since leavin’ that Fall day.

Now the garden at The Willows,
a barren spot of land,
beside an abandoned soddy,
amongst these hills of sand.

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Available Books

I’ve had a number of queries about my books and how to purchase them. All are in international distribution by Ingram Book Distributors and are available through internet and local booksellers.

Specifically, the five latest books – Thirty, Rustic Ruminations, Poetic Reflections At The Creekside, Western Viewpoints, and Prairie Knights – are listed at CreateSpace. Those plus eight earlier books – Voices of the Wind, Reflections, Where Horses Reign; Sun, Sand & Soapweed; Western Images; Views from the Saddle; Eight Viewpoints; and Harkin’ Home – are listed at Amazon.

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Poets in the Park

Tomorrow I’ll be on stage with two other cowboy poets at “Poets in the Park,” an all day event in Redmond, Washington. Most other poets will be reading modern poetic forms, hence this bit to put our work in perspective.

Cowboy poetry in the park?
what’s the world comin’ to?
It just don’t make no sense a-tall,
the things them cowboys do.

They’re an insult to us poets,
what with their perfect rhymes,
and fancyin’ up their verses
with careful metered lines.

They just can’t write blank verse it seems,
and free verse does ‘em in,
’cause their stuff has rhyme and rhythm
to do less seems a sin.

But Whitman took us from that path
so many years ago
and cowboys just ain’t learned that truth…
it seems they’ll never know

Then just why are cowboys here today?
Maybe it’s for contrast
So please set back, enjoy their work
it’s poetry from our past!

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Prairie Knights

Most cowboys I knew during my youth were honest and ethical fellows who subscribed to an unwritten cowboy code of ethics. With that in mind, and noting their ways of life, one might sense a similarity between cowboys and the knights of old. Hence this remembrance.

Men ride like knights of old
across the western plains
seeking independence,
avoiding social chains.

No armour do they wear
to conquer this great land,
no dragons do they find
as they explore firsthand.

No sovereign do they serve
no need to kneel or bow,
no royal ring to kiss,
no coffers to endow.

But they are truly knights
as in the days of old,
challenging the unknown,
adventures just and bold.

That spirit lingers still
among these prairie knights
who’ve found the grail they sought
in star-lit western nights.

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