2015 October Issue- Week 2

October 7, 2015


Herding Longhorns  (Authors Collection) – Merle Grabhorn


by Richard Manly Heiman

I blear down from beyond the canyon rim
out there
where shadows still refuse the light
that clearing where you justify the night

The funneled wind up the arroyo breathes
a murmur of your name
stirring the leaves
gaunt cottonwoods on fire with the dawn

And on the thermal, rising with the day
a red-tail takes flight
screaming forth her elemental life

My palomino paws the chalky earth
tosses his head
he strains against the girth
impatient with my hesitation now

But I will linger still
and set it down
to memory
where I laid you in the ground

Richard Manly (Rick) Heiman lives in the Northern California “Gold Country” where there is currently little gold left and no water from which to pan it. He works as a substitute teacher and writes mornings, evenings,
weekends and when the kids are at recess. He is in his fourth quarter of the Lindenwood U. MFA Writing program. Rick rides horses whenever he can find one slow and low enough to mount up!


The Tenderfoot And Nasty

by Larry Bradfield

“Well, lookey here !” Bob said with glee
“We’ve got a tenderfoot !
He’s got all this brand new gear , you see
He don’t know where to put ”

“He says he comes from way Back East
Teach him a thing or two
Let’s put him on that unbroke beast
And see what he can do”

The hoss they gave him don’t look mean
Though Nasty was his name
He did seem sometimes really keen
On makin’ riders lame

It seemed so like an awful match
New guy on this terror
This plot somehow just didn’t hatch
We all judged in error

The greenhorn climbed upon that hoss
A move as slick as rain
He spurred to show him who was boss
And let him have the rein

Now Nasty gave him all he had
He bucked and whirled and screamed
The rider smiled, said “This ain’t bad !
It’s nothin’ like I dreamed.”

That hoss gave up, plum’ tuckered out
The rider just stepped down.
Bob said “The East you lied about!
You’ve rode before this town !”

The new guy said, “Not in the least.
This here’s New Mexico.
The whole of Texas lies Back East
I do believe it’s so !”

They called him tenderfoot no more
He made a real smart hand
He came from Texas that’s for shore
And that ole boy’s got sand


Chimney Rock Cemetary

Melbita, Nebraska

by Andrew Hubbard

This speck of land

On the Oregon Trail

Is a tiny cemetery.

In the high plains vastness

In the cold, cold wind

Below the tumbled gray sky

Untended for fifty years,

Maybe a hundred.

The picket fence is missing slats,

The hand-hewn, wooden markers

Are bleached, askew,

Some fallen over.

Each marker has a full name

And dates of birth and death.

Some have a few words of a Bible verse.

But it’s the dates that tear at me:

This one lived four years…

This one seven.

I try to imagine

Being seven, sick, fevered,

So far from home

And so afraid.

This is the high plains:

There was no wood for a box,

The parents would have wrapped her

In a blanket—if they could spare one.

Digging a hole in the tough sod

Was a day’s work for the man

And the brothers.  The sisters

And mother sat back in the wagon

And didn’t look.

Father came back stone-faced

Wiping his hands on his pants.

The horses needed tending,

And then it was westward,

Westward toward the great ocean.

It was a shame:

His wife died before the house was finished,

And on a farm

The work is never done.

Thirty years went by

Before he could sit back

And finally cry for his baby girl

Dead and buried

On the Oregon Trail.

In the high plains vastness

In the cold, cold wind

Below the tumbled gray sky.

Andrew Hubbard holds degrees in English and Creative Writing, from Dartmouth College and Columbia University respectively. He is the author of three business-related books, one book on gemology, and one book of poetry, “Things That Get You,” produced by Interactive Press. He lives in rural Indiana with his wife, intermittent children, two Siberian huskies and a demon cat. When not writing poetry, he is a passable outdoor and wildlife photographer, a licensed handgun instructor, a former competitive weightlifter and martial arts instructor, and a collector of edged weapons.


2015 October Issue- Week 1

September 30, 2015


Longhorns Eating Cactus-Living on Poor Forage

From an old Postcard (Authors Collection)


by Merle Grabhorn

It may surprise you that, by the beginning of the 20th century, the icon of the American West, the Longhorns, were virtually extinct.  Thirty years previously, they had been the dominant breed of cattle in the US; however,  by 1900 Longhorns were considered trash or” scrub cattle.“ What happened?    Longhorns were hardy, had evolved disease resistance, ease of calving, strong mothering instincts, and other traits such as hard hooves and dangerous horns to protect themselves.  What’s more, they could walk for miles for water, utilize poor forage, and raise strong healthy calves year after year.   They were the perfect breed for the American West.  It was ranching economics, not genetics, that led to the decline and near extinction of the Longhorn.

Three Strikes and You’re Out

There were three causes that led to the decline and near extinction of Longhorns.    The first strike against Longhorns was that new breeds of cattle began showing up in the West.  Towards the end of the 19th century, purebred cattle breeds from Europe and Asia became available such as Hereford, Shorthorn, and Angus.

Since Angus beef is often marketed in grocery stores and even fast food chains, a comparison between Angus and Longhorn tells the story.    An Angus cow can reach an average weight of 1,200 to 1,800 pounds, while a Longhorn cow will average 1000 pounds.   Thusly, an Angus can easily average about 25 percent more weight than a Longhorn.   That’s a 25 percent increase in profit per head.    Further, Angus have what cattlemen call “Superior Feed Conversion” which means that an Angus will return larger amounts of beef for the same amount of feed.    The Angus reaches maturity relatively early in comparison to the Longhorn.   Calves are born sooner and they mature faster.  That said, the return on Angus is both greater and quicker.

Strike Two-The Need for Fat

The Longhorn is a very lean animal.  Compared to an Angus it has about 80percent less fat per pound.    Historically, candles, soaps, lubricants and cooking all required tallow.  The demand for the tallow and hides was a driving force for the cattle business.    Hides could be obtained from Longhorns but not much fat.    Cattle processing companies were willing to pay more for cattle with fat that could be rendered for tallow.   Also, Longhorns had a reputation for producing tougher, stringier, and less appetizing meat.

To the steak connoisseur, the rib-eye is a choice cut, taste of which comes from the marbling of fat around the steak.   Sure, there is fat around a Longhorn ribeye, just not very much.  Longhorn beef cooks quickly due to its low fat content.    The less fat, the quicker the cooking time.  It’s very easy to overcook meat that is lean and when you overcook it, it toughens up.   The “old-time” cowboys knew the trick was to eat their Longhorn steaks rare.  But as America became more urban, the knowledge of how to cook very lean meat all but vanished and the ads from meat packing companies advertising the “better” beef didn’t help.  We know today not only that Longhorn beef is leaner than that of other breeds, it is also lower in saturated fats.  Longhorn beef even has less cholesterol and calories than chicken, a very healthy meat.

Strike Three-Cattle Tick Fever

It is ironic that one of the strengths of the Longhorn was also a cause of its near extinction.  Fever in cattle is carried by ticks and, unlike other breeds, the Longhorns had developed immunity to this disease.  In the good old days, when Longhorns were moved along cattle trails during the great drives, the ticks dropped off and found local cattle to feed on.  In this way, the ticks transmitted the deadly disease that would decimate entire herds.   It took a little time but ranchers soon realized that tick or Texas fever as they called it, was somehow related to the Longhorns.  They didn’t know the how of it, but they knew the results:   the loss of their herds of valuable Angus, Herefords, and Shorthorns.

Longhorns were disease carriers that no one wanted.  Soon, cattle drives were met with armed resistance.  This led to an event recorded in Western history as the “Winchester Quarantine”.   Texas Panhandle cattlemen, Charles Goodnight of the JA Ranch and Orville Nelson of the Shoe Bar Ranch, posted cowhands armed with Winchester rifles at their southern boundaries to keep out tick-infested South Texas Longhorns.  The cowhands were armed with Winchesters.   Goodnight warned the drivers, “You will not treat this as idle talk.   I simply say you will not pass through here in good health.”    Years later, movie and TV Westerns would draw on this event for some of their stories.

It’s Almost Too Late

As ranchers began the transition to other, more profitable cattle breeds, they sent most of their Longhorns off to slaughter.    However, some did retain a few Longhorns to try to crossbreed with the more valuable cattle in hopes that they could combine the desirable attributes of both.  This hybridization further led to the decline of pure Longhorn stocks.   Eventually the remaining pure Longhorns were sent to slaughter or died.   Mostly, they were just bred out of existence.

However, there were a few cattlemen who saw that the Longhorns were disappearing and started to bring some of the best they could find to their ranches.   They were sometimes hidden on remote parts of the ranch to prevent scorn from neighbors who scoffed at the “relics.”        A total of six ranchers, Butler, Marks, Peeler, Phillips, Yates and Wright saved what was thought to be the last pure Longhorns.   They kept their other cattle separate so there were no mixing of the herds.   These ranchers were diligent and strict purists in breeding, record keeping and maintaining their Longhorns.    This created six isolated gene pools.   All Longhorns alive today come from these six gene pools plus one more, the WR herd.

The Government Steps In with the WR Herd

In 1927, conservationists and historians asked Congress for money to establish a federal herd of purebred Texas Longhorn cattle with the object of saving Western Heritage.  The cattle were supposed to be established in the Wichita Mountain Wildlife Refuge located in Southeast Oklahoma as a “for show herd” to allow tourists to see and photograph.  Three thousand dollars were appropriated for the task.  It was also supposed to have been be easy to assemble the herd, as at one time there had been somewhere between four and six million Longhorns in Texas alone.   However, it did not turn out to be so easy.

For several years, two U.S. Forest Service rangers searched South Texas and Northern Mexico for Longhorns.  They inspected over thirty thousand head of cattle and found only twenty cows, three bulls, and four calves (two bulls and two heifers).   Those found did not include any from the six other herds then known to exist.      This became the basis for what would eventually be known as the WR (Wildlife Refuge) herd and would become the seventh gene pool.    The search continued and a few years later, two more Longhorns were bought from Zunigas Y. Cia of Monterey Mexico for sixteen dollars each.     Shipping was more than seven times the value of the animals and one of them later had to be discarded as there were indications of a Jersey cattle bloodline.   Strict conservation of the breed was and as is the mandate of the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge and this herd is highly regarded due to its pure and strict Longhorn lineage and distinctive conformation.


 Meat Packers wanted “good” beef and not Longhorn beef

(Saturday Evening Post Ad  1927 Authors Collection)

The Turnaround

About 1943 the-refuge herd had increased and the Forest Service began to hold annual sales of surplus animals. The six other herds sold a few of their Longhorns beginning about this time as well.  At first, Cowmen purchased them as curiosities, but interest began to grow.   New herds began to appear and gained recognition.  Two these were the SPEAR-E  herd which Elvin Blevins of Wynnewood, Oklahoma started in 1952 (primarily from WR and Yates stock), and the Ox-Yoke T herd bred by Ken Humphrey of Okreek, South Dakota in 1950 (50 percent Niobrara  Refuge, 25 percent WR and 25 percent Yates).

In 1964, a small group of cattlemen banded together to preserve the unique heritage of these and started the Texas Longhorn Breeders Association.  The mission was to maintain a pure breed registry and to increase the population.     Although interest was renewing, there was still danger to the Longhorns.   When Milby Butler, one of the breeders, died in 1971, the Longhorns on his ranch were rounded up and sold.  Some 80 percent of his cattle were never accounted for said to be sold for slaughter.  The remaining 20 percent were scattered among different breeders who had been fortunate to hear that they were for sale.   This led to the almost total destruction of one of the last Longhorn gene pools.    Today, it is estimated that only 5 percent of existing Longhorn cattle have the Butler Bloodline.

As time passed, interest continued to grow even more and today, every Longhorn carries registration papers similar to those of American Kennel Club show dogs.  Most present day Texas Longhorn cattle are descended from those seven families, each of which had its own distinctive attributes. To a Longhorn cowman today, it is vitally important to have an understanding of an animal’s pedigree and the degree to which it has been genetically influenced by one or more of those families.  DNA testing is often performed to insure that a bull or cow falls in the acceptable range to be a true Longhorn.

Today, Longhorns are far from the “worthless relics” they once were.  Their numbers have grown since the 1920’s to well over three hundred thousand today.  Although  cattle for the WR refuge were purchased for $16 dollars apiece (about two-hundred twelve dollars in 2015) today, a Longhorn with outstanding genetics can fetch upwards of forty thousand at auction with a record price for a cow of one-hundred seventy thousand dollars.

Longhorns are once again being raised for their “healthier” meat which is often seen in organic grocery stores.  Ranchers prize these cattle on their ability to live on marginal pasture land.  So, if you happen to see a true Longhorn, you are seeing a real piece of American history that was almost lost.   From trash to distinction, not bad for worthless old relics.

Author’s Biography:

Merle Grabhorn is a rancher living in the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma. And like many ranchers, has an interest in cattle, horses, and Western History. Like all ranchers, he diversifies so Row Crops such as Wheat or Soybeans are part of the Ranch Economics. Of course he feels, part of Ranching is attending State Fairs and other venues to show cattle or horses, enhancing the value of the herd.

Shown below, Merle with his favorite Paint Horse: “Radified” or “Rad” for short. Rad is a Registered Paint, Registered Pinto, and is an APHA Breeders Trust Horse.  In competition and shows, Rad has won over 300 awards, including a number of Grand and Reserve Championships. He has been in Multiple National and World Championship competitions where he has won recognition and awards.


The article by Merle, about the History of Longhorn cattle, is mostly from research– coming from an interest in starting a herd of Longhorns. The herd hasn’t been established….yet. Only the future knows.

Alan Birkelbachand Spur Award

Managing editor, Elizabeth Akin Stelling (left), Sherry Monahan, President of WWA, and Alan Birkelback (right)

Cowboy Poetry Press and Red Dashboard LLC Publishing are proud to announce Alan Birkelbach has won the 2015 Spur Award for his poem, A Little Longer Than the Moment, first published in October 2014– Week 6. It also means CPP and Red Dashboard get the award!

The Spur Award is given to many categories, and if you feel your work merits any submission to Western Writers and other journals, then do so, we encourage it.

RedD has already seen an increase in readership in its books, and CPP’s Facebook page has gotten many many likes over the past week since Alan emailed our managing editor the good news.

We appreciate everyone submitting to the ezine and anthology each year!

Here’s to another great year, and to those of you well on your way to winning an award…

October 2014 Issue- Week 6

November 9, 2014

Let’s keep Rodney Nelson in our thoughts this week, he ventured out for a much needed surgery. Red Dashboard will also be publishing his newest book, Words For The Deed. He is a fine westen observer and poet!


 It’s been busy around the pub office since we began 1 year ago October with publishing authors poetry and flash fiction books.

We would love to see some western genre manuscripts come out way, since there are so many of you submitting to this ezine.

See our submission guidelines at http://www.reddashboard.com for more information, dates are Oct 1st – Feb 28th.

Enjoy this months previous issues 1, 2, 3, 4 & 5!



It takes a certain kind of person to step into the ring with wild animals, a certain kind of person to love it enough to get close for a good shot! And we’ve are fortunate to have a number of rodeo submissions come our way this summer! Keep a scrollin’ on down and enjoy! Click on photos to enlarge for a closer look…



My name is Chrystal Berche, I am a writer, photographer and artist living in North Central Iowa. The following photographs were taken at the fourth of July celebration in my town of Osage Iowa, at the rodeo. I have included five, per the submission guidelines, however if there is anything particular you like about these and wish to see more of, I have well over a thousand images taken on that way.



Arroyo Al on Loyalty

Through the doors came a yellin’, “What’s tied to that thar post?”
“Ne’er have I seen such crowbait; I thought it was a ghost!”

I downed my pint and at once that youngin’ I engaged,
That thar is my ol’ pony, it matters not that he is aged.

For we have ridden through snow and rain and that ragin’ sun,
To him thrice o’er I owe my life for outpacin’ the blazin’ gun.

O’course, ol’ fella, he’s a beaut – he said it with such sass,
And in His honor, with one hook, I laid him on his ass.

Nicholas R. Larche is currently attending the University of Detroit Mercy School of Law. While native to Rochester, New York and a current resident of the greater Detroit metropolitan area, Nicholas has set his eyes westward and will be relocating to Colorado this May. An adept researcher, Nicholas has recently accepted an offer for publication with the Seton Hall Legislative Journal for his work involving an interstate comparison of sex trafficking laws. In addition to his academic studies, Nicholas enjoys writing flash fiction and poetry. His work has been published or is forthcoming in The Literary Hatchet, From the Depths, Penny Ante Feud, Superstition [Review], and Drunk Monkeys.





by Rodney Nelson

a narrow rain cloud brought the pink
of sundown into one draw of
the valley and the ravens were
at work around your camp until
oh holy night which you would not
have given a thought to if you
had not heard drunken caroling
a mile off down there at the wells
and you could see the building with
a piano bar no doubt and
a tower sign in red and white
you could not read from where you were
but the unwindy desert air
let the singing carry and now
you got to sleep to it and with
an odor of wet mineral
maybe weed even though the four-
minute rain had long gone away
and the stars were brightly shining

when you drove into sunup on
oh holy day the building with
no doubt a piano bar looked
hung over but somewhere within
the revelers would be waking
to pine in sin and error and
the ravenhood were up meanwhile
and you could not have named a few
of the colors the valley had
begun to take on as you rode
your way in clarity out of
the valley of not a shadow




The Photographer’s Bio:

Chrystal Berche dabbles, lots, and somewhere in those dabbles blossoms ideas that take shape into images. Many of her current pieces of artwork start out as three minute gesture drawings and eventually get paired with some sort of still life photography and a lot of playing in photoshop. She loves to take pictures, especially out in the woods, where she can sit on a rock or a log and wait quietly, jotting notes for stories until something happens by. A free spirit, Chrystal digs in dirt, dances in rain and chases storms, all at the whims of her muses.

October 2014 Issue- Week 5

November 4, 2014

“Better late than never!” our managing editor Ms. Stelling says. It’s been busy around the pub office since we began 1 year to the date publishing authors poetry and flash fiction books. And we look forward to more manuscript submission for next fall! We would love to see some western genre manuscripts come out way, since there are so many of you submitting to this ezine.

See our submission guidelines at http://www.reddashboard.com for more information, dates are Oct 1st – Feb 28th.

Enjoy this months issues 1, 2, 3 & 4!

LindaWoods_GypsyColtsWinterday (1)

‘Gypsy Colts Winter Day’ photo by Linda Woods

“They are two year old Gupsy Vanner Colts at Magic Gypsy Ranch.”


Whining Dog Road

Bumpy and narrow the gravel road
Twisted up the mountain
A red streak like a rusted spiral staircase.
No guardrail gave false assurance.
No warning signs marked the way.

The skidding tires on hairpin turns
Shushed the already quiet forest.
Only a lone raven glided overhead
Cackling caution.

From the back of the truck
Came a whimper and whine
As the dog registered his unhappiness.
The driver chuckled, “That dog must have to go.”

In a wide spot the truck halted,
The driver released the dog.
But, the passenger and the dog both knew
Nature’s call wasn’t the reason for the stop.
It was the wild ride on Whining Dog Road.

Donnaa Meyer lives in Prescott, Arizona with her husband and dog. She’s been a professional storyteller since 1980. Recently, having been exploring poetry as a vehicle for story. Donna is a graduate of Southern Illinois University with a Masters in Instructional Technology. Now retired, she was a children’s librarian for twenty-five years.


Coyotes and Cowgirls

for Buffy St. Marie

Yes, the occasional rock was tossed,
but they were free to go and never left,
coyotes of the sidelong glances
and sidling steps and delicate paws.

No yellow eyes in my headlights tonight
but The Morning Call’s full of corroborated tales

Stories of the breasts of cowgirls
whose dresses rode over their calves.
More stories of the miners’ daughters
and sad parental sieves and pans.

And on her hip, a silver dagger.
That’s why I’m yodeling cowboy songs.

Ken Fifer’s poems have appeared in Barrow Street, Ploughshares, and other journals. Sometimes he wishes he were a cowboy.


A Prairie Frost

Woke up this morning to a prairie frost.
Saw warm breath rising through cold air.
Rolled a bedroll in an oilcloth stiff with cold.
Hard frozen ground
and the crunch of frosted grass.
Heard the message and felt the change in the season.
Thought of warmer mornings in southern climes;
of lush evenings on coral shores.
Stood up, looked east into the rising sun.
Breathed deep the cold clear air.
Turned into the wind,
let it brush aside the years,
and clear my mind.

Rode in this morning through a prairie dawn.
This was a gift I could not ignore.
Stopped and spread my arms
across a golden arch.
Felt the sun push back the chill.
Felt blood flow.
Heard birdsong.
And from the Dawn came clarity
in that slow reveal.
Vision and understanding
not from a rising star
but from the turn of a wheel.

Rode home this morning through a prairie night.
Only thing bigger than a prairie sky.
Reached up to touch infinity.
Saw my hand washed by eternity.
Starlight from all of time.
All moments, in one moment.
All places, in one place.
All my life – an instant.
All my travels, home.
Time is not a prison
The future is no escape.
We are…All…Here…Now.

Andy Kerr-Wilson  is a member of “LiPS”; a rural slam poetry collective in Lanark County, Ontario, Canada. After a lifetime of writing poetry in his head, he began performing and publishing 5 years ago and competed at the 2011, 2012 and 2013 Canadian National Slam competitions. His published works reflect his 40 years as a wilderness guide and a love of horses and back country rides. When not riding in the ring or on trails, he and his wife Nancy, live ‘off the grid’ on 9 acres of rock and trees and swamp in a self-built passive solar home.


An Old West Hymn

Drag back his body alone and dead.
Sky bleeds dawn come a holsterin’ gun–
When he lassos moon by deed of dread.
Drag back his body alone and dead.
He shall see no stars from shallow bed!
Hunt sovereign beast, and if low he run:
Drag back his body–alone and dead.
Sky bleeds dawn come a holsterin’ gun.

Gabe Russo recently graduated from the University of North Carolina School of the Arts with a BFA in film-making. His films have played at various film festivals in Florida and North Carolina. Gabe enjoys writing poetry, flash fiction, and screenplays, and currently reside in Melbourne, Florida. He is also also an avid John Ford cinephile.


October 2014 Issue- Week 4

October 29, 2014


Enjoy this months issues 1, 2, & 3!


Artwork of ‘Texas Pepe and Clyde’ by Leroy Trussell


by Leroy Trussell


There comes ol’ Texas Pepe,
ridin’ his rugged tough Longhorn steer.
Caught him over yonder uh’ while back in the’ cactus and mesquite.
was headin’ uh’ cross the river, into the Wild Frontier.

Ol Clydes back, there ain’t no comparin’,
for a aii day ride.
Across the prairie uncaring,
just Texas Pepe and ol’ Clyde.

Clyde was just uh’ wild little calf,
when ol’ Texas Pepe came along.
Twas uh’ kind thought on Pepes behalf,
for Pete found him in uh’ wild Texas sand storm, blowin’ strong.

No halter upon his head,
just a pull on the horn,
An’ uh few kind words said,
across the prairie, never to forlorn.

As they go, Clyde tins to browse,
Pepe lays back and takes a nap.
When to encounter cows, ol’ Clyde will arouse.
Pepe just pulls on his earflap.

Clyde ain’t much on the run,
but he’s taken Texas Pepe many miles.
When to hit uh’ prairie town, people have a lot of fun,
leaving the folk’s there laughing, and Texas Pepe in smiles.



I was never
a real, horse-riding cowboy.
Just a hand.

Alfafa and prairie
hay hauling, fixing fence with
a ride-along,

wearing Converse tennis
shoes chasing black angus cows.
and calves towards

chutes, up into
long red cattle trucks, hauled
across the Kaw.

Then I had
the real cowboy’s accorded treat
following calf castration.

My job then
was to toss calves, spread
their hind legs,

watch scrotums’ emptied,
eat 100 mountain oysters fondued
with Uncle Bill

Raymond Hall is a Kansas writer who loves to spin tales and poetry about his past work on the range.


A Little Longer Than The Moment

Dang. I left my camera in my other shirt
I say to myself like a tourist.
Wire-cutters I brought, a hammer,
a shovel, an iron bar,
and a coffee can full of nails I’d salvaged.
An extra pair of gloves. Water.
But a camera hadn’t made the list for months.

Not like there wasn’t room in the truck.
Plenty of space even for some pencils,
a lined pad or old faded receipts that could
still take a mark. I could have written something down.

Why, not even two weeks ago I saw the biggest snake
I’d ever encountered coiled up and around a post,
his head as pitted and gravelly as old adobe
resting flat on top, impassive as a mummy.

That would have been a picture. Or at least a good poem.
I’ve seen hawks fight to exhaustion over rabbits.
I’ve felt the wind blowing so hard
it embedded mesquite tines like bullets in the side of the truck.
I should have taken a picture of that.

I should have taken a picture of how many nails
a post can hold. Maybe I should have written about
how when the fence wire is tight enough it sings
a real low note. A good fence has to be at least that tight.

I’m sure I have a camera somewhere. Maybe tomorrow
I will at least put a pencil and a notepad in the truck.
I have left enough blood and sweat on this landscape.
I am no longer a tourist.

Alan Birkelbach is a native Texan, was the 2005 Poet Laureate of Texas. His work has appeared in journals and anthologies such as Grasslands Review, The Langdon Review, and Concho River Review. He has nine collections of poetry.


The Outback Prince

Was told a tale hard to believe, about what a bull did achieve
Seems he was the best in the land
Spoiled, well-fed and groomed, washed daily and even perfumed
Hide was perfect no brand

His owner made a friendly bet, one he could live to regret
His pampered bovine at the core
Had to survive real life, in the outback with its strife
Nothing less nothing more

Handlers had to wean it off, being fed outta a trough
It ate desert brush, plants and twigs
No more baths or massage, and live without its entourage
They’d see how it like it’s new digs

The outback was the bulls new home; it was dropped and left to roam
The bet was the bull won’t last a year
Had to find his own food, and assorted predators elude
Including the odd wild steer

A year passed and no one knew if the pampered bull made it through
The cattle were in to be tagged and cut
Cowboys on horses were talking, when a bull began to walking
It actually started to strut

That bull was running fast, to where those horses were amassed
When the lead head calmly dismounted
The others knew he had guts, but thought him definitely nuts
But he stood there ready to be counted

The bull kept coming, it was almost numbing
Like a scene from a bad show
As the bull started to close, a cloud of dust arose
It ended with them toe to toe

There was an expression of joy between the bull and cowboy
The pampered bovine survived
He looked good and lean, but hadn’t turned mean
You could say that bull even thrived

His owner had won the bet, and became richer yet
The amount finally became known
It was hard to understand he only won five grand
On one of the finest Bulls ever shown.

Geof ‘Pappa Mac’ Mackay is a storyteller, entertainer, and rodeo clown (as seen in photo above). His poetry and music has been seen and heard- June 2013 Performed Pincher Creek Gathering; June 2013 Performed Manitoba Stampede July 2013; Performed at a CD Release party Palomino Club August 2013; Chosen to Clown Heartland Rodeo Finals September 2013; Performed Souris River Bend Trail ride September 2013; Performed Maple Creek Gathering September 2013; MC’d and Performed Quinton Blair CD Release Party October 2013, and Competing Columbia River gathering, Cowboy Idol- April 2014. Recently his work was published in our Unbridled Anthology representing Cowboy Poetry Press.

October 2014 Issue- Week 3

October 19, 2014


Enjoy this months issues 1 & 2 before this!

Narcissus_Christopher Woods

‘Narcissus’ by Christopher Woods

Chris said that horses are often afraid of their own reflection.

Christopher Woods is a writer, teacher and photographer who lives in Texas. He has published a novel, THE DREAM PATCH, a prose collection, UNDER A RIVERBED SKY, and a book of stage monologues for actors, HEART SPEAK. His photographs can
be seen in his gallery – http://christopherwoods.zenfolio.com/


The Reclaimed Dogs

Our family deals in discarded dogs,
all wagging tails and toothy grins
and wide watching eyes.
When the coyotes howl at the moon
our little pack offers them a response –
a warbling stalemate, a cold war on a cold night.
The beginning of summer is heralded
by handfuls of dog wool
pulled out by metals combs and loving hands,
and summer is over
when big beds of hay beckon to creatures
bred for the arctic.
In the fall not a berry or crabapple escapes them.
Not even falling pecans are safe.
They know what fire is, and how
hot dogs and marshmallows are sometimes nearby.
In the spring, when life is blooming,
see four dogs on a perpetual Easter egg hunt.
Horses watch with weary glances, only half interested.
I know the seasons by fur
and hunts
and berries
and hay,
by the twitch of a nose and the wag of a tail,
because my family deals in discarded dogs.

Virginia “Jena” McLaurin– Originally from Georgia, Virginia “Jena” McLaurin is of Eastern Cherokee and European descent. She is currently pursuing a doctorate degree in the Anthropology Department at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, with a primary interest in stereotypes of Native American peoples. Virginia finds inspiration for her poetry in issues she has faced since childhood – difficult subjects such as identity and misconceptions of Native people – but also from nature, her family, and her work with Native communities and especially Native youth. She aspires to write poems that reflect both the difficulties of being Native as well as the beauty and depth of Native cultures, and she hopes that her poetry inspires readers to reflect on their own family heritage and cultures.



by Dawn Schout

She searches the ravaged,
muddy field, the broken
stalks, red cobs stripped
of kernels. The black
cat follows. She has to go
out further than normal. Corn
is harder to find this year.
The husks she expects
to find full are empty.
Time is against her, the sun
a rotting pumpkin, sinking
behind leafless trees.
She is ready to give
up searching when
something rolls under her black
boot. She rips
off the dried, freckled
husk, the silk,
wet from muddy water.
Gold greets her.

Dawn Schout’s poetry has appeared in more than 50 publications, including *Cowboy Poetry Press*, *Dagda Publishing*, *Poetry Quarterly*, *Red River Review*, and *Tipton Poetry Journal*. She was nominated for Best of the Net in 2013. Her debut poetry collection, *Wanderlust*, is scheduled to be published in January 2015 by WordTech Editions.



He finally died of heat prostration;
old desert rat lived in a shack 52 years
before a simple sprain led to a short fall
onto a midsized rock that broke
a thin hip riddled with Osteoporosis
and he goes from rat to snake in a desperate crawl
in search of away from the sun
with tiny cacti for water but nothing for shade
except his old imagination that finally wandered
back to childhood in the Twin Cities moving
Minneapolis to St. Paul to Minneapolis
and so on winter by dark, white winter
until even barely breathing baked dust and sand
he still remembers the frostbite of childhood
and graces the canyon with one final, cracked smile.

Hubert Hix was born and raised in Oklahoma. His Grandfather Hix moved there as a teenager around the time of the land rush. He now lives in Minnesota. Recent publications include poems in Lilliput Review, Under the Basho, and Right Hand Pointing.

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