Welcome to my website where poetic images occasionally flow from the pen. Mindful of the advice of Charles Badger Clark, the classic cowboy poet, with whom I was acquainted in the early 1940s, I’ve tried to capture the rhythm of horses hooves on the trail while maintaining consistent meter and true rhymes. Thank you for visiting!
This old cowboy at some 90 years now, does not often endorse a product but when Congress recently allowed industrial hemp to be grown again in the United States and hemp oil started getting national press for various uses, I decided to try it as a possible help with chronic pain, nausea, and lightheadedness. And no, the oil does not contain marijuana. Here’s the review I wrote describing my experience.
As a retired management consultant, I really value being a customer of a company which is responsive and customer oriented. R+R Medicinals is one such organization. Lars, one of the founders of the Colorado company, replied on the same day to my inquiry about their product. Their full spectrum hemp oil extract has eased a long term pain in my shoulder and arm and I credit it with relieving my chronic nausea (possibly caused by some form of anxiety). Although I am a new user of hemp oil and still in a test mode, I am pleased with both the product and its producer, a customer oriented business!
City folks can…maybe…take a day off but the cowboy’s work on the ranch never ends. Them cows gotta be cared for along with a dozen other chores. For me, it was just another dollar for another day. No foolin’ my pay was a dollar a day plus found. (For you city folks, found is a one word term for board and room.)
‘Twas in eighteen-eighty-two
it was first celebrated,
but just whose idea was it?
…a question much debated!
McGuire or Maguire…
which one started Labor Day?
It was one of them, for sure,
who thought up the holiday.
Was it Peter or Matthew?
That is sorta disputed
’cause the record is unclear…
how it was instituted.
If it’s truly important,
history’ll have to decide,
’cause truth can’t be sorted out
although many folks have tried.
But the holiday exists
to give labor it’s just due
by honoring those who work…
that includes us cowboys too!
So here’s a toast to them gents
who set up this holiday.
I’m just gonna enjoy it
this puncher is gonna play.
Leave the horses corralled up
and let the cattle run free
because of this holiday
that is meant for you and me.
Fences just won’t get mended
and the stock will not get fed
’cause I’m taking the day off
just like them two fellers said.
From the book Western Images, (c)2007 by Clark Crouch.
Winning book: 2008 Will Rogers Medallion Award for Cowboy Poetry.
Some folks think I’m a lying cowboy when I talk about celebrating Crouchmas. It really did exist as a religious Celebration of the Cross for about 15 centuries. “Crouch” is Old English for “cross” hence the name of the celebration.
When the holiday was dropped by the church in 1969 we adopted it as a secular holiday, sending out a few greeting cards and enjoying an Old English dinner. The Jones family down the way thought that was a great idea and had a vision of celebrating Jonesmas…somehow that just didn’t ring true!
This poem expresses the cowboy’s rationale and the economic reality of continuing the celebration out on the ranch…herd management!
It’s said that St. Helena,
in the Fourth Century A.D.,
found remnants of the true cross
and so Crouchmas came to be.
For near fifteen centuries
each and every May the third
Crouchmas was celebrated
and the Latin Mass was heard.
But in nineteen-sixty-nine
that old holiday was dropped,
no longer celebrated,
and the Latin Mass was stopped.
But in Scandinavia
the Crouchmas is still observed,
although as a holiday,
it’s not really been preserved.
It’s when they let the bull in
to bewitch and woo the cow…
it is an age-old custom,
still observed and practiced now.
It’s a way of controlling
that the calving will occur
in the very early Spring
which the cattlemen prefer.
The logic does make good sense…
the holiday’s worth having…
so we celebrate Crouchmas
to manage our herd’s calving.
From the book, Sun, Sand & Soapweed. © 2005
Today, as one born and raised in Nebraska, I celebrate Arbor Day, a day initiated in 1872 by J. Sterling Morton a Nebraska newspaper editor who served as President Grover Cleveland’s Secretary of Agriculture. As a youth in the 1930s, I remember observing the day by helping to plant trees in the ranch lands of the Nebraska Sandhills.
“Proposing for the future”
was J. Sterling Morton’s theme
planting trees on Arbor Day
was J. Sterling Morton’s dream.
The cowboys hooted loudly
when they first learned the news
breaking sod to plant some trees
was contrary to their views.
Next they’ll plant a garden
around the water hole
and where then will cattle drink?
Their thirst will take it’s toll.
Then they’ll want a barb wire fence
surrounding all that grows,
cutting up the prairie
and handing out the hoes.
They’ll take away the horses
and drive the herds away
to save all those blasted trees
planted on Arbor Day.
Cowboys slapped their knees and laughed
at their thought’s absurdity
and, returning to their herds,
thought of Morton’s verity.
From the book, Where Horses Reign, © 2004.
The bit of family history revealed here is true. It was documented in a diary kept by my ancestors as they traveled west in their covered wagon in the mid-1800s.
She fed cow chips into the fire;
her breath hung in the air,
her demeanor bright and cheerful
denying of despair.
The prairie dawn broke in the east
to light her morning chores
and sparkled on a skift of snow
in this great out of doors.
Bill joined her there, leading his horse,
ready to ride away,
but here to have some coffee first
at the dawning of this day.
Supplies were needed, that’s for sure;
their journey’d been so long
they were out of most ev’ry thing
needed to move along.
A village, twenty miles ahead,
was where he had to go
while wagons moved a slower pace
through early winter snow.
Bill asked for any special needs…
Maude whispered in his ear.
He smiled and nodded to her then,
“that’s what you’ll get, my dear.”
‘Twas late that night when Bill returned
and gave the gift to Maude.
She held it tightly in her hand
for she was truly awed.
It was something that she needed,
a priceless gift indeed,
a simple spool of linen thread
to satisfy her need.
For the past 58 years we have produced a Christmas letter, some containing a seasonal poem. This year’s poem, Christmas Wishes, is printed below with our best wishes to you for a wonderful holiday and a fabulous new year.
Many years have gone by
since Santa reigned supreme.
Now that the kids are gone
seems almost like a dream.
Yet Christmas lingers still,
the story of Christ’s birth,
the guidance it provides
for peace and love on earth.
We trust that will prevail
to guide us on our way
bringing us together
in all we do and say.
So best wishes to you
as you go on your way
and love and happiness
on each and ev’ry day.
November was designated as Native American Heritage Month by President George H. W. Bush in 1990 and his proclamation has been repeated by each president since that time.
In celebrating the month this year, I wanted to share this image of a bolo tie which was handcrafted for me about 1980 by a friend, a Lakota Sioux Indian lady who was a granddaughter of the great Chief Sitting Bull.
She designed and created the tie in a traditional Sioux beaded pattern. The beads are on a natural buckskin backing and she handcrafted the entire tie (except for the metal tips on the woven leather neckpiece).
It is a prized possession especially because I was born and raised in Nebraska where the Sioux and other plains tribes lived and hunted for centuries before their land was invaded by Europeans and others. Our contact with members of the tribe was frequent, primarily because the treaty between the Sioux and the government grants them hunting, fishing, and gathering rights on land they had ceded in the treaty.
The first contact I remember occurred in 1931 when I was celebrating my third birthday during the Custer County Nebraska Fair. At an Indian encampment there, I was entertained by a Sioux chief,, John Search the Enemy. Details of that are posted here.
In any event, throughout my life I have been directly and indirectly associated with the Land of the Sioux. This bolo tie brings back great memories of that long-standing relationship and of my friend, the Lakota Sioux lady who created it for me.
This poem was written on the recent death of a friend, one I had not seen for sixty-seven years. We were a part of a small informal group of singles, mostly in their late teens or early twenties who were employed directly or indirectly in the secretive nuclear industry managed by the newly formed Atomic Energy Commission. Residing in dormitories or company housing, we found commonality and friendship in that lonely environment, teaming together for dining and recreation. Each became a special part of my life and I now stand as the only surviving member of the group.
Her life remembered, actions kind,
mem’ries linger and come to mind,
always caring, quick to commend,
a fine lady and faithful friend.
She rides a range that’s new to roam
in a far place she now calls home.
She is at peace, that much I know,
in that place we can hope to go.
I sense that she would wish us well,
and not upon our grief to dwell,
so I’ll remember her and smile
for that true friend I knew a while.
Cowboys didn’t carry much in their saddle bags and they felt kind of an attachment to some of their few possessions … even that bent up old fryin’ pan.
Today my fryin’ pan burned up,
it’s loss is evident,
and it shore leaves me a wonderin’
where my pan up and went.
I was just warmin’ up some beans
when it plum disappeared
and I might never get it back,
at least that’s what I feared.
It weren’t worth much as such pans go
but it was like a friend
and I’ll always be a wonderin’
how it’s short life did end.
It’s a mystery, that is true…
a puzzlin’ twist of fate…
just one of many that I’ve known
as time passed by of late.
I’ll worry a bit over it
and spread this sorry tale
to tell every one I know.
In that I will not fail.
I’ll say, “maybe them beans did it,
fulla methane and all,
and that pan just plumb exploded
in answerin’ nature’s call.”
I’ve always had a fancy for Pitcairn…it’s history and the life of its citizens. Although now at 88, I shall never get to visit that island, I frequently tune in to pitcairn.pn to see what’s happening.
Given that, as a one time youthful cowboy and now a published cowboy poet, I was moved to write this poem about cowboy life on the island.
Cowboys do live here on Pitcairn,
this island paradise,
tending their great herds of sea cows
‘neath deep blue tropic skies.
Them sea cows sure are a challenge
for cowboys, that I know,
’cause their pasture’s under water
down where sea grasses grow.
Cowboys, astride their sea horses,
face challenges each day,
dealing with watery pastures
where sea cows graze and play.
It’s a grand life for cowboys here,
as they tend to their herd,
and live this island life of ours…
at least that’s what we’ve heard.