The State of the Cowboy IV, 2017

November 6, 2017

Welcome to our fourth installment of Cowboy Poetry Press, fall October 2017 ezine. All work is eligible to be entered into any award site, like Western Writer of America, The Spur Award, and Will Rogers Medallion Award (if collection). We thank those of you for participating and submitting to us!

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Lissanne Lake has been a full time freelance illustrator for thirty years. She has done art for over two hundred book covers, including covers for best-selling authors such as Terry Pratchett, Thomas Disch, Raymond Buckland & David Bischoff. In addition, Lissanne has created hundreds of other paintings for magazines and game products and other publications, including a tarot deck, the Buckland Romani Tarot and also has done several large murals. She lives and works at her home in North Bergen, NJ, with her partner Alan and a bossy dog.

Las Cruces Kid

by T.T. Auffhammer

Three horses cross the dusty threshold of a town somewhere out West.
In times of old when the land was wrought by those with guns that shot the best.

The three riders were cowpokes, drifting through another lonesome season,
Without money or purpose to guide their hearts with compassion or with reason.

In the saloon they went, for a drink to quench their thirsts and a smoke of a
crap cigar, when they spotted a silver-buckled belt gleaming from the waist of an elder at the bar.

“That’s the gun belt of Las Cruces Kid,” said the one with the best eyesight, “I heard a tale of that gunslinger who left in the hearts of all he crossed terror and fright.”

The three cowpokes huddled together and conspired to stir up old hate and rage,
By taking the silver-buckled belt from the elder whose book had left but one page.

The first, with the eyes of blue and crisp sight, walked up behind the elder and tapped his shoulder. The old man turned around in his seat and stared with eyes much darker and colder.

The other two cowpokes slowly backed up, as the elder’s eyes had touched their souls, but the leader of their trio could not to do cause’ you don’t retreat from a fight with old bulls.

“Give me that belt,” said the young cowpoke, fingering the leather on his own.
He got neither a reply nor response, just a stare from the elder alone.

With sand running down the eternal hourglass and his fidgeting getting worse,
The young cowpoke decided to test if his skills were a gift or a curse.

He pulled his big iron from the spot on his hip, and raised the barrel at the elder’s chest, but quickly found, that even in old age, the Kid, with a gun, was still the best.

The cowpoke fell dead, gun still in his hand, on the wooden saloon floor.
And just as quickly as the Kid’s gun went off, the other two cowpokes wanted more.

They reached for their guns, like twin pistoleers, at the same time to catch the elder off-guard, but the pistol of the Kid was quicker than they could imagine, and with lead their bodies were marred.

With three young men now dead on the floor, the Kid re-holstered his smoking gun. He spun around and returned to his drink, and smiled, content with the fun.

T.T. Auffhammer is an author whose writing interests include pulp-style adventure stories, hard-broiled detective mysteries, traditional and weird westerns, and historical fiction, including the age of piracy. He has also published one poetry chapbook, *Threshold*, and was included in the book-length poetry collection, Witness: Appalachia to Hatteras. He currently has three titles awaiting publication, all from Pro Se Productions, including: 50’s Western Roundup, a western fiction anthology, Quests Untold, an anthology of quest-style adventures, and his first full-length short story collection: The Adventures of Harvey Strong. All are due for release in 2017-18. He graduated Western Carolina University Magna Cum Laude, was a N.C. Teaching Fellow, and was selected as a Gilbert-Chappell Distinguished Poet for the Western Region. He teaches English and Creative Writing in North Carolina, where he lives with his wife.

THE HIGH LONESOME

by Edward Steadman

The high lonesome
A place you find by chance
On the windswept ridges
At the far edges of the ranch

The high lonesome
Often the best place I’ve ever been
With the summer prairie flowers
Or big storms a rolling in

The high lonesome
Can also be real tough and mean
In a blinding winter storm
About the roughest times I’ve seen

The high lonesome
I’ve found her even in a town
Sitting on a bar stool
And feeling real low down

The high lonesome
She’s a wonder from God’s hand
But it’s far more than weather
Controls the nature of this land

The high lonesome
A major lesson she has taught
About how my own outlook makes
Both her and me look good or not

Edward Steadman is a rancher in North Dakota and with extensive farm and ranch background, as well as experiences having provided the inspiration for this work. He can be best be described as “cowboy poetry”. He is the owner and manager of the Lazy S Ranch along the beautiful Sheyenne River near Pekin, North Dakota. He is an eternally-grateful golden ruler who spends most of his time as a worker, drinker, host, hunter, explorer, daydreamer, and star-gazer.

The Cows of Salt Creek Trail

by Andrew Hubbard

We never know
If they’ll be in their stalls
Or out, flecking the field,
Moving slowly, grazing,
Enjoying their own company
Quietly, their grass-grown muscle
Flexing their jigsaw-puzzle blobs
Of black and white hide.

We don’t interest them
But our dogs do!

Some cows not otherwise occupied
Walk deliberately to the fence
Lower their heads, stare hard
And snort their breath out.

The huskies prance
And whine and rear,
It takes all our strength
To pull them away.

The cows don’t move
Till we are gone.

What do you think
A dog looks like to a cow?
Or a cow to a dog?

I stretch my imagination
Around that question
And have to call it a failure:
The cow dog connection exists

For sure, but what it’s like
I cannot guess.

Frustrating: the puny reach
Of our imagination,
Our empathy,
Understanding.

Andrew Hubbard was born and raised in a small fishing village on the coast of Maine. He graduated from Dartmouth College magna cum laude, receiving awards in creative writing and psychology, and a degree in English. He completed his formal education at Columbia University, receiving a Master of Fine Arts degree in Creative Writing, summa cum laude. For most of his career, he worked as the Director of Training for a number of major financial institutions. He is a well-known speaker on the topic of corporate training, and has authored three books and dozens of articles on the subject. He is a former martial artist and competitive weight-lifter, a casual student of cooking and wine, a gemologist, a collector of edged weapons, a licensed handgun instructor, and an avid outdoor photographer. He currently lives in rural Indiana with his wife, two Siberian Huskies, and a demon cat. His previous book with IP was Things That Get You.

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