February 2013- Week 3

February 18, 2013

Untitled-2

“illo: cowboy-coat=scratch.
It’s well known that an artist becomes more popular by dying, so I’m typing this with one hand while pummeling my head with a frozen mackerel with the other. I’ve done art for several magazines, newspapers, websites, commercial and governmental clients, books, and scribbling – but mostly drooling – on tavern napkins. I also create art pro bono for several animal rescue groups. I was awarded the 2004 James Award for my cover art for Champagne Shivers. I recently illustrated the Cimarron Review, Stories for Children, and Still Crazy magazine covers. Take a gander ( or a goose ) at my online gallery: _www.angelfire.com/sc2/cartoonsbycartwright_ (http://www.angelfire.com/sc2/cartoonsbycartwright) . And please hurry with your response – this mackerel’s killin’ me! Your pal, Steve Cartwright

Heartache and Pards

His words were plain and to the point,
“Sometimes this life just sucks.
She does her best to throw ya down,
She boogers and she bucks.”

The cowboy knew the trail I rode,
The steep and rocky way.
I came for lies and platitudes,
But truth was all he’d say.

“You’re gonna hurt a good long time,
Ain’t nothin’ can be done.
You’ll ride awhile in blackest night,
Before ya see the sun.

The pain you feel ain’t nothin’ new,
Just look around, and know,
That scores of riders up ahead,
Have passed the way you’ll go.”

His thoughts were far from comforting,
Not what I came to hear.
His kindness smoothed their edges though,
And helped to calm my fear.

“There’s some will buckle to the test,
Some barely make it through.
But you, you’re tough. You’ll be just fine.
I’ve seen what you can do.

Remember that I’ll be right here,
When livin’ feels too hard.
If you should ever need a friend,
Just holler for yer pard.”

Debra G. Meyer’s was born in Brooklyn, New York, where she spent the first 10 years of her life. Her family then moved to Crane,Indiana. Debra married in 1974 at the age of eighteen, finished her education at Indiana State University in 1977, and by the age of 30 had two children and a job teaching elementary school. She wrote my first cowboy poem in 2007 after visiting a cowboy gathering in Fort Worth, Texas. Now 57 years old, have a small farm in Putnam County, Indiana, still teach school, and absolutely love writing cowboy poetry.

************

GUN FIGHT AT THE DIAMOND K CORRAL

It was one of those days at the ranch when you sensed something was going to happen—something fun but probably slightly dangerous. Grandpa, Uncle George and I were gathered on the back porch of the Bachelor Shack. On the agenda was a shooting match with the usual hyperbole regarding one’s expertise. Grandpa raised the ante to a bottle of Uncle George’s Courvoisier to the winner or, in the unlikely event that he lost, the same prize which he would obtain at the bar of the Rogers Hotel in Idaho Falls. Grandpa was generous and offered Uncle George a small victory sip. My uncle was “powerful annoyed” because first his cognac was dearer than life and second there was a strong possibility that his Dad would out shoot him. Furthermore his Dad knew exactly how to gore his ox. The shooting was over before it started. It wasn’t even close as the “hawkeye” punctured ten out of ten tin cans at 75 yards.
Uncle George was very unhappy and Grandpa was doing his best to restrain his gloating about his smashing victory. We retired to the front room of the Shack. I found an old seat out of the way and at a respectful distance from the combatants. Uncle George and Grandpa sat on the cots facing each other. They downed the bottle of cognac and then the conversation and its volume escalated. The egregious acts which followed became the stuff of legends.
Taking casual aim Grandpa shot a hole near the bottom of one of Uncle George’s gallon cans of honey and the resultant flow was spectacular and catastrophic. Then without a pause he shot a bottle of Hennessy where it had rested a long time under its owner’s savoring glance. Uncle George was furious—he had lost two bottles of cognac and a can of honey.
Before outrage set in, Grandpa was heading down the road with remarkable speed toward the ranch house. According to a reliable source, he ran upstairs and hid in the closet.
Within seconds Uncle George burst through the door shouting,
“Where is he? I’m going to kill him.”
In her customary calm voice Grandma said. “Put down the gun, Junior. You know he didn’t mean anything.”
Uncle George was still indignant, “Didn’t mean anything!” He detailed the damages and his grievances.
Grandma raised her hand and declared, “There will be restitution. Now put down the gun!!”
Uncle George did and the crisis was averted. In a few days Grandpa was seen heading toward the Bachelor Shack with a gallon can of honey and two bottles of Courvoisier—-a special affirmation of the wondrous love between father and son.
Later Grandma asked me to recite the events of the great shoot out. She listened and pronounced, “Those damn fools. They could have killed my grandson.”
I replied, “Maybe not Grandma, I was ready to duck.”

Michael J. Keyser in his formative years spent summers and other free time at the family ranch, the Diamond k located in southeastern Idaho. He graduated from Princeton University with a B.A. in English. While there, he won the John B. Wanamaker Prize for Excellence in English Composition.

Mr. Keyser served as the President of the American Cancer Society, Cuyahoga County Unit. He was also a Park Commissioner in Hudson, Ohio. For several years he served on the Board of the Summit-Portage County Health Systems Agency.

He also has published four works of fiction. His hobbies are writing, walking and woodworking. Mr. Keyser is very active in his church with outreach ministries serving senior health facilities.

February 2013- Week 2

February 12, 2013

The Lonesome Cowboy

The lonesome cowboy, he’s out on a roam.

With thirty miles of fence to mend, and today’s grown old.

He finds an old cotton tree, says: “Guess here tonight I’ll be…”

He throws down his saddle and poke,

pulls out some hard tack, coffee and a smoke,

and the frayed-edged letter from Maria, the only one who wrote.

The lonesome cowboy, he’ll pass the night away,

The Hotel of a Million Stars, that’s where he likes to stay.

He don’t got no house, don’t pay no rent.

Out on the range, he’s so content.

A new moon’s on the rise, he’s searching the starry sky,

Thinking about Maria, and her boy, who’s got his eyes.

The lonesome cowboy he’s tired, he calls it a day.

Lays down his head to rest, he dreams the night away,

of Colorado, and pasture sweet, tall green grass, wading through waste deep.

On his cow horse with his cow dog, the cowboy drives ’em on,

up to Colorado from New Mexico, he’s dreaming on and on and on.

The lonesome cowboy, he’ll pass his life away.

He’ll be riding herd, and mending fence, he’ll even put up some hay.

He don’t like concrete, it kind of hurts his feet.

His cowboy boots don’t wear even on a street.

There’s just one thing that he wants. That’s to find the love he lost.

He’s whispering to the wind, and he sends her his kind thoughts.

Yea, he’s whisperin’ to the wind, and he sends her his kind thoughts.

Yea, he’s whisperin’ to the wind, and he sends her his kind thoughts.

Going to Maria, Maria…

Espero te, siempre, mi amor, mi amor perdido, Maria…

(I’ll wait for you, forever, my love, my lost love, Maria)

Arthur Davenport’s musical career spans 30 years of songwriting and
performance. He first started playing in the Washington D.C. folk
scene in the 1980’s and then moved on to the southwest scene during
the 90’s while living in New Mexico.

Arthur has been featured on National Public Radio performing his song,
“Lonesome Cowboy,” specially written for a cowboy music compilation
album entitled “‘Round-em Up!” Arthur now lives in Hawai’i where he
has been a house musician at the Hilo Palace Theater for the past ten
years.
************

A LACY VICTORIAN VALENTINE

Sweet Elizabeth
Can you feel the ride and rise of the sun
This mid-February day bucking against
The rusted spur and crumbling saddle of Jack Frost?
We done got the heifers all calved
Mostly in the ice of January nights
I reached into more than one cow
Afraid with the strange pain spewing new life onto the prairie
Turning her calf to touch light.
The coyotes so full of after birth
Gave the wobbly newborns a free pass
To rise and walk with their mothers.
The sun is frisking more each day
And a tired cowboy can hope for a short ride its in warm rays
To ask you to wander with him a while behind the old barn
To that spot I know where the first buttercups each year
Slip up between the patches of melting snow
I put on my new jeans and a clean shirt and my Sunday go to meeting Stetson
Cleaned the mud off my boots and even shined them.
It shore would be nice if you could walk with me
In the mothering breeze near
That weather beaten barn
With its sides testifying for Mail Pouch tobacco
“Treat yourself to the best”
In fading red and yellow painted by a dead hand some half century ago
Persisting like my feelings for you as the years say adios
To yesterday’s yearlings.
I wanted to share this lacy Victorian valentine
My great granddaddy gave my great grandmamma
Here on the ranch,
He warn’t no better with words than I am
But the pink lace and the frills and the buttercups
Would talk his feelings for her a whole lot better than his wind chapped lips
And tongue rusted from the silence of riding alone.

Tyson West is a is a traditional western poet whose aesthetic continually shape shifts. He watches the Northwest with veiled and hooded lynx eyes, broods among the conifers and quarrels with Coyote. He has a degree in history, but writes a variety of poetry styles, and has written a series of poems around Spokane Garry who is our local magical Indian. One of Tyson’s Western poems was published in Spoke Magazine called “Floorshow”, which is based on a picture of a 1922 floorshow in the Davenport Hotel which photo you can find on line. He lives in the middle of Eastern Washington, which is definitely cowboy country. There are two Washingtons, Eastern and Western, and they are as different as a Mocah Mint Latte with organic goats milk and black boiled coffee at a chuck wagon fire.

February 2013- Week 1

February 5, 2013

SONY DSC

Ballad Of Rufus Hartz

First time I ever seen her was in the Rodeo parade
Jesse Sue ridin tall by her pa there in the cavalcade
Me I had a right good view, as the clown with the broom and pan
Sweepin’ up them hot horse apples and puttin’ em in the  can.
See Billy didn’t have no sons, his wife a long time  ago
Had run off one night with a deputy come up from  Del  Rio.
Since then him and Jesse Sue they run their ranch  alone
Hunnert and forty acres of hardpan, flint and stone.
Their ranch raised Buckin’ Broncos for to sell to  rodeos.
Mighty tough work, I reckon just ‘bout everyone  knows.
Wranglin’ broncs is cowboy tough and it’s easy to git  hurt
But Jesse Sue and her daddy never minded dirt nor  work.
Now the Rodeo market ever’one knows is pert’ much a bumpy  ride
Billy figured just to be safe, he need sumthin’ on the side.
Now hogs is sure fast money, and raisin’ ‘em aint much fun.
But Big Black pigs will market just under a quarter ton.
Big Blacks, was a new kind of breed
Round here they’d never been seen
On accounta them hogs, while they grow mighty  big
They tend to git powerful mean.
But the brood sow never quit turnin’ out  choats
A reg’lar piggie machine
So when the Rodeo market was cold or flat,
Them pigs paid the bills in between.
They’re fierce them Big Black hogs,
They’ll fuss and fight at the trough
Snarlin’ and bitin’, pushin’ and shovin’
By God don’t them hogs play rough.
So Billy rigged him a feed chute
Then he’d never have to go in.
He’d feed them murderous Big Blacks
Him standin’ outside the pig pen.
Other day I seen her sittin’ tall on her Appaloosa  mare
Her hand above her eyebrows blockin’ out the  glare
Over by the water tank I was hidin’, layin’ low down in  the draw
Of course I weren’t s’posed to be there, on accounta  Jesse’s pa.
He’d ordered me off’n their place and he threatened to  call the law
He’d seen me a’ peekin through the winder of an evenin’  late last fall.
The man don’t understand there aint no harm in a’  lookin’
Watchin’ through the winder pane at a pretty girl jist  cookin’.
Yesterday I seen her it was at Old Gumps Feed and  Seed
Helpin’ her daddy Billy, they was stackin’ sacks o’  feed
Slingin’ bags of horse feed from the tailgate to the  cab
Pigtails shinin’ golden in a shirt of pretty  plaid.
Now Billy’s eye’s don’t see so good, and his hearin’s a  total wreck
So creepin’ round the ranch house is much easier than  you’d suspect
So tonight I’m gonna slip to her winder, jist to  take me a  little  peek,
And watch the pretty fourteen year old get ready to go to  sleep.
Late that night Jesse Sue awakened, them pigs was a  raisin all hell
Somthin’ in  their food shoot she could hear it  clear as a bell
Why was daddy feedin those bruisers there in the dark of  the night?
Then the pigs got all quiet, she rolled over and put out  the light.
The deputy and the coroner lifted what was left to the  ambulance
“Crazy as a bedbug, old Rufus  he never had any  sense.
And whatcha reckon he was doin’ in Jesse Sue’s pig sty at  night
With them hogs was known to be vicious and ever so  quick to fight?”
“There ain’t no accountin’ with a bad sort, one like that  old Rufus Hartz
Ain’t it awful what them hogs has done, ‘specially to his  lower parts.”
Death by accident was the verdict that day at the  coroner’s  inquest.
In a plain pine box the sheriff and her daddy laid Rufus  Hartz to rest.

Gary Ives is a retired Senior Chief Petty Officer who lives with his wife and  two
big dogs in the Ozarks where he grows apples and writes.

You can find more of his work and other ramblings here- Gary Ives

All work appearing in Cowboy Poetry Press is copyrighted and belongs to the author and cannot be reprinted or copied without their written permission. Unless artist is specified all photos and artwork are property of Elizabeth Akin Stelling, Managing Editor of Cowboy Poetry Press; please do not use or copy any of them without her written permission. All others are property of photographer and artists, same applies.

December- Week 4

January 2, 2013

Scents of Christmas

Remembering briefly the scents which pervaded the Christmas Season so many years ago in our one-room sod home back in the Sandhills of Nebraska.

The scents of Christmas filled the air…
the smell of pumpkin pie,
a turkey roasting on the hearth…
with mama standing by.

‘Twas a Christmas to remember,
and enjoy once again
the many scents of Christmas past,
remem’bring way back then!


Clark Crouch
is a self-proclaimed Poet Lariat and a prize-winning western and cowboy poet, author, lyricist, and performing artist. He admits to a bias toward traditional cowboy poetic forms.

The author of eight books poetry, six of which are devoted to western and cowboy verse, he is a two-time winner of the prestigious Will Rogers Medallion Award for Cowboy Poetry and a five-time finalist in the annual Western Music Associations book award competitions. He wrote his first prize-winning poem at age eleven but never got around to writing more until 2001 when he was 73. Shortly thereafter he started writing and performing professionally.

He was inspired by three individuals: Will Rogers who was his hero during the early 1930s; Charles Badger Clark, the classic cowboy poet, with whom he was acquainted in the early 1940s; and Sherman Alexie, a Native American poet, novelist, screen-writer and performer who, in 2001, encouraged him to write his western tales in poetic form.

His poem ‘The Guardian’ was published in CPP’s October 2012 Issue- Week 2

*******

 TWO SHOTS—MAYBE

It was late Fall when Pete and I found five dead Herefords on the bank of the Ranch’s main irrigation ditch. They were gutted.

I remarked to Pete, “There’s only one animal, besides man, that kills for pleasure—the Grizzly bear. “We’ll shoot him tonight.”

We built a shelter, downwind, with a good view of the bear’s most likely path to his victims. I had borrowed a Steyr Mannlicher eqipped with a night sight and Pete, as back up shooter, had his Dad’s thirty-aught-six.

It was not a long wait. Pete spotted him—about 200 yards out—cantering towards us. My first shot was in his gut. He let out a high pitched grunt and in spite of his condition he closed on us fast. He was less than thirty yards away. On the second shot I remembered my grandfather’s dictum—lie still, bring the animal into the cross hairs, hold your breath and squeeze the trigger.

It was a perfect shot through the heart. The Grizz rose up on his hind legs, barked a piercing death rattle and keeled over. He measured out at over 10 feet and weighed we estimated, about1,000 lbs.

After he was dressed out, I visited the Forest Service to fill out a report.

Chief Ranger Bill Burns admonished, “Mike, you’re supposed to obtain permission before you kill an endangered species.”

“Bill, I know, but he’s made endangered species already of five of our cattle.” I did not say what I was thinking: we Wyoming ranchers shoot first and talk about it later. “Here are your bear steaks. I’m returning the Grizz slightly modified into Forest Service custody.”

Bill shook his head and smiled, “You do pretty good dealing with us Smokeys.”

We named the bearskin Jerome and he was placed before the fireplace. For Mary and me the pleasure of his company endured for years.

I reckon that Jerome’s second life was warmer and more stimulating than his first.

Michael J. Keyser in his formative years spent summers and other free time at the family ranch, the Diamond k located in southeastern Idaho.  He graduated from Princeton University with a B.A. in English.  While there, he won the John B. Wanamaker Prize for Excellence in English Composition.

Mr. Keyser served as the President of the American Cancer Society, Cuyahoga County Unit.  He was also a Park Commissioner in Hudson, Ohio.  For several years he served on the Board of the Summit-Portage County Health Systems Agency.

Mr. Keyser has published four works of fiction.  His hobbies are writing, walking and woodworking.  Mr. Keyser is very active in his church with outreach ministries serving senior health facilities.

December- Week 2

December 10, 2012

Call The Fire Joe

Cookie, I know your dark drinkin’ secrets
But you got no notion of mine
So we can talk around this dying campfire
While the moon limps down like a three legged coyote.
I don’t care if some fruity song writer
From New York City claims out here we call the rain Tess, the fire Joe and the wind Maria,
The embers of this fire is burning out nameless
While we hang this last bottle of whiskey
And rehearse our eulogies for its funeral.
Our campfire don’t need no name
Not like our buddies
We drove with on yesterday’s trails
And who are the dust we choke on today.
Cookie, you got even more grey whiskers and fewer teeth than I do
These young bucks snoring away in their bedrolls
Couldn’t handle the whiskey or the truth under this clear black sky
Nor are they even going to appreciate that some of the stars is missing
Since they can’t see yesterday’s sky.
That Jimson boy rides frisky and free reminds me
Of my pardner Joe just after the war
Same strawberry blond hair and easy laugh
We shared many a bottle and many a hard dirty ride
And many a lady at Miss Lucy’s sporting house
But we could only share feelings up to that line
That a real man draws
For fear he will be less of a man.
There was them two ladies
Miss Susan and Miss Elspeth
That Joe and I would pass back and forth
Neither was any great looker
Not like some other younger slim fillies Miss Lucy kept in her stable
I’d go upstairs with Miss Susan and Joe with Miss Elspeth and next payday we would trade across
Older and a bit stockier
They still looked perfect after the whiskey started playing the piano.
They conversed about more than the coins
And the arrival of the next stagecoach
They could see the magenta in the sunset and puce in the cactus blossom
If we weren’t cowboys and needin’ to drive the herds up this Goodnight Loving trail
We might have ridden with them on a good night lovein’ trail of our own
A few cows and an couple quarter sections
Miss Susan could almost see the lace of the sins in my soul
And loved me anyhow
Cotton Eyed Joe
Where did you come from?
Where did you go?
I know where my Joe rode off to
We buried him in Wyoming
Too far from a town to carry his body
I’ve always wondered if I knew then
What I learned in all those starry nights
Silent except for the dust and the voices of the cattle
That there ain’t no great eye of God watching us
Or even if he was
Would even care how close Joe and I could have gotten.
Fearing mostly the scorn of the other young men who was thinking they was going to live forever
And the whuppings from our daddy’s
We high tailed it from any feeling that a silk dress is something purdy
Not just the body of the lady that’s wearing it
After all these years of hard saddles and even harder women
I just wonder if there was some soft place we was missing
Where we might want to bed down for a while
Some place near cool water
Before I sleep with Joe under this hard prairie soil.

Tyson West is a is a traditional western poet whose aesthetic continually shape shifts. He watches the Northwest with veiled and hooded lynx eyes, broods among the conifers and quarrels with Coyote. He has a degree in history, but writes a variety of poetry styles, and has written a series of poems around Spokane Garry who is our local magical Indian. One of Tyson’s Western poems was published in Spoke Magazine called “Floorshow”, which is based on a picture of a 1922 floorshow in the Davenport Hotel which photo you can find on line. He lives in the middle of Eastern Washington, which is definitely cowboy country. There are two Washingtons, Eastern and Western, and they are as different as a Mocah Mint Latte with organic goats milk and black boiled coffee at a chuck wagon fire.

December- Week 1

December 4, 2012

Wild Onion

John H. Dromey was born in northeast Missouri. He’s had a byline (for brief, humorous items) in over one-hundred different newspapers and magazines. Once upon a time he had light verse published in Grit, Hoofs and Horns, Light, the Wall Street Journal, and elsewhere. His cartoons have appeared in Bowhunter and Farm Antiques News (no longer published).

*******

Crossing The Bar

Walt Blake’s foreman Bill Kelly advised Jake McCarthy that Walt wanted to see him.

Jake inquired, “How’s he doing?”

“Not well. Molly’s doing a great job of nursing, but it’s a race against cancer and it is winning.”

“Thanks, Bill.”

Jake drove his F 350 fast down US 50 to the Blake Ranch (the Lazy B). Molly greeted him warmly and brought him in to see Walt.

He barely sat up in his rocker, “Amigo, how goes it?”

“It’s fine with me Walt, but how about you?”

As customary Walt was to the point, “I’m dying Jake!”

Jake reacted naturally, “Oh, I’m so sorry Walt.”

“Don’t be. We owe God a death and mine is coming up.”

Jake shook his head—already incredulous that this fine man would soon be gone. No more hunting, no more fishing, no more wise counsel and no more Jack Daniels on Walt’s back porch. It was time to shrug off his morbid mood—try to cheer Walt up.

Jake grinned, “Walt I’m missing you already. Will you send me a letter about what it’s like on the other side of the bar?”

Walt laughed with some difficulty, “Same old Jake. Sure young amigo, the letter will come by turtle doves, or still smoking.”

“Well my friend, the Almighty is getting a damn fine man.”

“Thanks Jake for the compliment. I hope the Almighty will be forgiving.”

Molly was listening as Walt declared, “I know that I’m hard to replace, but I’m sure she can find a young stud.”

Molly remarked with a grin, “He’s out in the barn now dear.”

Walt declared, “You see why I’m better off on the other side
Let’s seal our business deal with a bit of Mr. Jack. You too Moll.”

Molly protested, “It’ll kill you sweetheart.”

Walt riposted, “Better now with friends than tomorrow alone.”

They all had two shots—neat.

Walt Blake died ten days later.

Michael J. Keyser in his formative years spent summers and other free time at the family ranch, the Diamond k located in southeastern Idaho.  He graduated from Princeton University with a B.A. in English.  While there, he won the John B. Wanamaker Prize for Excellence in English Composition.

Mr. Keyser served as the President of the American Cancer Society, Cuyahoga County Unit.  He was also a Park Commissioner in Hudson, Ohio.  For several years he served on the Board of the Summit-Portage County Health Systems Agency.

Mr. Keyser has published four works of fiction.  His hobbies are writing, walking and woodworking.  Mr. Keyser is very active in his church with outreach ministries serving senior health facilities.

“Crossin the Bar (primarily a 19th century phrase) in the Tennyson poem (last stanza) means dying.  To navigate over the bar, which could be sand, rock, etc.,  requires a pilot and good tidal conditions. Spiritually dead and once over the bar, he hopes he’ll meet his Pilot (God) face to face.”

October- Week 4

October 23, 2012

Bareknuckle

He wrapped a bandage tight around his battered knuckles
to stanch the flow of blood. His buddies ponied up
the cash to keep his pitcher full of beer, their chuckles
inviting him to tell again about the whup

he’d laid on that there thief, the way he went and slugged
the noisy little dude that interfered with his
prerogative to hear the song he picked. While drugged
with alcohol, he’d made it his especial busi-

ness setting matters square by punching out the lights
that darkened his already ugly mood. Fort Knox
would barely cover debts owed on his ranch—his sights
lit on the quarter stuck inside that damned juke box.

C.B. Anderson, the longtime gardener for the PBS television series, The Victory Garden, spent his formative years in Blue, Arizona where, in the late 70’s, he worked for neighboring ranchers (Clell & Katharine Lee) at the stupendous rate of $5/day. He has castrated many a bull-calf and eaten the grisly harvest that was grilled on site atop the rusty iron cylinder in which the branding irons were heated red-hot by a propane torch. His poems on other subjects have appeared in many print and electronic journals internationally.

********

The Cowboy Who Counted the Stars

At days tattered close, head nodding to rest
His ride for the day is now done,
He thinks of the hours whose total won’t count
“Cause he only gets paid sun to sun.

His eyes shift above a duster of red
That rakes blowing sand from the wind,
He’s glad day is made but knows in his heart
Before long, another begins.

Reins still in his hand he steps to the ground
Tipping his hat with a nod,
He lets go the cinch to bring back the breath
Then takes stock of the four that are shod.

The dust billows free as he raises a leg
And gives his worn boot a good stomp,
His horse now at ease as it chases the ground
Looking for some sweet grass to chomp.

With care, a brush, and sure measured strokes,
To her mane and her flank and her withers,
Sweeping tangles and brambles, knotting the tail
She speaks thanks to him when she shivers.

Deep purples and reds are all that remain
Of the sky that was painted pure blue,
The sun cutting west will be dipping below
As night waits to answer its queue.

Hobbling his mount to the picket line
He knows she’ll be safe for the night,
Covering his traps with a dusty ole tarp
Resting easy, ’cause all is put right.

Upon a soft meadow his bed is unrolled
Then he studies a vast sparkling sky,
He asks if there was ever a count,
Of the stars ’cause it takes a sharp eye.

Repeating the question for no one to hear
Thinking, “Cowboy, now how can this be,
That no one has counted the lights in the sky
Are they leaving it all up to me?”

Begin the tally from a well-chosen point
Should you have to start over it’s plain,
The northern star on the handle shines bright
To preface your celestial domain.

The counting established with nary a slip
He knows he’ll not stop ’til its penned,
With thousands to reckon he can’t miss a one
At least, that is what he intends……

Darkness now past, the camp’s in a stir
As the riders crawl out of their rolls,
Saddles are creaking, horses are speaking
Big Augur recalls these poor souls.

Rousted from sleep, he’s not quite awake
As he raises an eye toward the heavens,
He remembers the count of nights’ flickering lights
But was sure there were more than eleven……

Robert L. Penven Sr.
70 years of age, the patriarch of a rather large family/grand kids included. He served in the United States Marine Corps from June 1961 to January 1966. Honorably discharged at the time of separation. From 1967 until 1992, and served with the New Jersey State Police as a state trooper. Since the time of retirement Robert has taught tennis under the auspices of the United States Professional Registry, and has been employed as a finished carpenter and later years an assistant to an airplane mechanic. Hobbies are many, aversions are few. He likes writing stories and poems, and this is his first real publication, but he did submit poetry to his college magazine in 1975 and it was published for the benefit of the student body, probably not so much for himself. Now you know more about Robert Penven than you probably should.

*******

October- Week 2

October 10, 2012

INGALLS LOST LEDGE OF GOLD

Sister Elizabeth, I am sure

Your telling me the truth like the real lyrics

To dead Duane Allman’s song “Sweet Melissa”

Was most well intentioned.

But I want you to know how deeply it has changed

My feelings back here at the ranch.

I still get up at three in the morning most winter days

To be sure that the water troughs ain’t iced over

And the cows and yearlings have enough fresh hay to make it

Through the raspy days

And when the sky shades into the blue of my dead wife’s eyes

I can still see the peaks of the Cascades some hundred miles or so to the west

Capped with snow and concealing

Old Ben Ingalls lost ledge of gold.

I would lie there whole in the hot July night

Next to my lost wife in the year before my oldest boy was born

Listening to poor dead Duane’s slide guitar

Convinced he was singing of finding the dead man’s gold

And now with your fancy internet and irresistible force for truth

You proved to me that he was singing about the cross roads concealing the dead man’s ghost.

Do live men have ghosts?

I’ve talked to old Ben Ingalls ghost in my dreams

His blue woolen uniform gold oak leaf on his shoulder strap

And he showed me the three small lakes

And the angle of the ledge of solid gold

Wrapped in the alpine firs and western hemlock

In the canyon up in that Cascade valley

More than once as I slept

He tells me I have been chosen to claim the yellow dream of easy living

And spread its goodness around my world.

But sister you know as well as I, having chased dreams of your own

That the cutting and the roping and binding the calf ends the race

And the race is what we live for.

That song gallops around and around in my head

As I load steers to the stockyards

And trot through my chores each day

Some day I’m going to climb that mountain

Old Ben Ingalls by my side

And I’m going to find our ledge of gold

Before Ben and I posse up and we ain’t gonna let the crossroads hide us

We’ll find some other young buck to haunt

But we ain’t going to tell him the real lyrics

To our song.

He can hear what he needs to hear.

Tyson West is a is a traditional western poet whose aesthetic continually shape shifts. He watches the Northwest with veiled and hooded lynx eyes, broods among the conifers and quarrels with Coyote. He has a degree in history, but writes a variety of poetry styles, and has written a series of poems around Spokane Garry who is our local magical Indian. One of Tyson’s Western poems was published in Spoke Magazine called “Floorshow”, which is based on a picture of a 1922 floorshow in the Davenport Hotel which photo you can find on line. He lives in the middle of Eastern Washington, which is definitely cowboy country. There are two Washingtons, Eastern and Western, and they are as different as a Mocah Mint Latte with organic goats milk and black boiled coffee at a chuck wagon fire.

*******

The Guardian

It was a lonely hilltop
where the prairie grasses played,
tossed by the winds of summer
and barren of any shade.

From that grand promontory
one could see a distant home
rising from the prairie sod
and the land where cattle roam.

To the west the land stretched on…
waves of grass, a moving sea,
splashing on a sandy shore
too distant for man to see.

The river, off to the south,
shrunken from the springtime flood
with waters now running blue,
and no longer filled with mud.

But that view was overcome
by a mound of new-turned soil
and a wee fist of daisies
that marked a poor digger’s toil.

Guarding that lonely hilltop
a small home-made cross now stands,
marking one more sacrifice
to hardship on prairie lands.

The sod home seemed empty then
but the rancher toiled on
glancing very frequently
t’ward the place his love’d gone.

From: Sun, Sand & Soapweed, ©2005

Clark Crouch is a self-proclaimed Poet Lariat and a prize-winning western and cowboy poet, author, lyricist, and performing artist. He admits to a bias toward traditional cowboy poetic forms. The author of eight books poetry, six of which are devoted to western and cowboy verse, he is a two-time winner of the prestigious Will Rogers Medallion Award for Cowboy Poetry and a five-time finalist in the annual Western Music Associations book award competitions. He wrote his first prize-winning poem at age eleven but never got around to writing more until 2001 when he was 73. Shortly thereafter he started writing and performing professionally.

*The Guardian*
/This poem was one of twenty “living documents” selected by a Fifth Grade Teacher in Page, Arizona to help her students understand the Westward Movement in the U.S.  She received a “best classroom practices award” for her innovative approach./

October Issue- Week 1

October 4, 2012

About photo- “In addition to getting up at 2 AM, we have huge ranches in Az and NM. The ranch we were working cows is 206 section ranch. The border splits the ranch in half and has to run different brands. We get up at 2 to feed the cow horses and we are all up, dressed, most of us anyway, saddled and mounted by 4:30 AM. It takes us about 45-one hour to get the herd where we gathered them (10 section trap) and we wait for sun up. At sun rise they want water and we drive them about 10 miles to the corrals and water. Then we sort off the mother cows. We rope and drag the yearling to the fire for shots, ear tags, brands and if it’s a bull calf I cut them. We then let the calves mother up and we push them all back to good pasture, then ride back to headquarters. It is usually a 2Am – 8PM day.”

M. C. Hudson was born in Tombstone, Arizona and has lived and loved the life of a cowboy for most of his life. He is an ex-bull rider, who has lived to tell about his experiences, and has helped train youth to ride bulls. As a pastor of a rural church and setting in SE. AZ Mike has worked many of the larger ranches in Arizona and New Mexico, gathering cows, doctoring, sorting, branding (cutting-seems to be the job for a pastor) and roping. He is also embarking on a journey into writing poetry and prose, and was chosen for the October 2012- week 3.

*******

Dragging Me Down

Our raft was sinking thirty yards off Wild Horse Island.  That bastard Rollie had been dragging me to the Island for six months, and this is how it ended.  We had busted ass over sixteen square miles nearly every night and everything we had to show for it was sinking.

The shadow of Wild Horse Island loomed over us, even in the dead of night.  She was laughing at our private disaster because she knew we had stolen from her.

“Damnit Warren, help me bail.”  Rollie was trying to scoop water with his hands.

“It’s gone.  We gotta start swimming.  Sun’ll be up in an hour and I ain’t getting caught by Tribal Police.”  Trespassing on Indian land came with stiff retribution, but Rollie didn’t care.  And Rollie did enough not caring for the both of us.  He kept scooping.

“Rollie, it’s not gonna’ work.  The damn thing weighs four hundred pounds.  We can’t swim with that.  Hell, it sank the raft.”  I took him by the shoulders and stared him straight in the eye.  “I’m going.”

I slung my pack and hit the water.  The shock of cold sent my testicles into the furthest recesses of my gut and I struggled for my next breath.  I used it to holler at Rollie to swim before I started myself.  The mainland shore was a quarter mile off and my clothes were already heavy.
“Warren, come back.  We can’t let it go.”  I know Rollie would have gladly sunk along with the cargo.  As it was, he was fighting to stay up, still clinging to the crudely constructed raft.  But it was going, and there would be no stopping it.  Our treasure was just too heavy.

I paddled over to Rollie who had just managed to grab his bow off the raft in its last seconds above water.  He was treading water now, still staring down into the water after his prize.

“Wish we hadn’t killed it,” I said.  “I had more fun chasing the thing every night.  It was huge.”  Now it was dead and headed to a resting spot two hundred feet below the surface, but I didn’t bother saying that.

“It was either me or that ram.  It used to see it in my dreams, Warren.”

“I’m just glad it wasn’t you and the ram.”

I peered down into the depths, wondering if I’d be able to see the one-and-a-quarter curl on its way to the bottom.  But it was four-thirty in the morning and that would have been impossible.  I grabbed his arm and started for shore.

Nate Wilkerson currently  is a resident of Portland, Oregon, has attend school at Marylhurst University, and now works for the YMCA child care division.  I have had poetry published in A Plains Paradox Literary Journal in 2011.

June 2012- Week 4

June 25, 2012

Steve Cartwright “It’s well known that an artist becomes more popular by dying, so I’m typing this with one hand while pummeling my head with a frozen mackerel with the other. I’ve done art for several magazines, newspapers, websites, commercial and governmental clients, books, and scribbling – but mostly drooling – on tavern napkins.” He has also created art pro bono for several animal rescue groups. I was awarded the 2004 James Award for my cover art for Champagne Shivers. I recently illustrated the Cimarron Review, Stories for Children, and Still Crazy magazine covers. Take a gander ( or a goose ) at his online gallery: _www.angelfire.com/sc2/cartoonsbycartwright_

TO MARILYN MATTHEWS

(1943–1991)

your father had given you the blood and last name of
Thomas More and your mother what had taken a breast
from you and hidden with it but you were not remiss
trying meditation and catholicism and
sweat lodge anything to wash you rid of it that you
not have to have a next appointment
             you were only
coming a bit weakened out of the last when we met
and I from a night of my own we both emergent
into entire day on the plateau
             I wanting
fire time in the high desert had taken to trails
had joined and begun to love a shadowy woman
friend of yours there who invited me to hike with you
and another in Abineau Canyon and Bear Jaw
on the north flank of the peaks
             June heat and drought
did not reach where we went dancing up with you
a quick and intent slight woman of laughter that knew
which boots to wear and the way to achieve a mountain
did psychotherapy for a living knew how to
talk and would talk of it too
             we got to quakenasp
every other leaf on them in direct sun and
you called
                          thank you god
             in joy it had to have been
             that
you and I would revisit on our own later to
hold colloquy about metempsychosis and young
Everett Reuss who had fused with the nature he loved
and you thought of the holied ones saying goodbye to
vivid earth in the knowledge they would not come round
again and we did not mention Edward Abbey’s or
any name
            when I was looking you had and did not
rent a room to me which sort of educated my
liking and you had had reconstruction and worried
what a man would think but we took hikes together in
the hardpan country often on the Weatherford road
to Doyle Saddle
             keeping up with you I would write was
like chasing fritillaries you were that good on the
vivid earth we inhabited at our one time
and could see from such height 
             you had me to dinner on
Thanksgiving and the two children you had left in New
Mexico on running away with your profession
             two other
men at the table to rival me I 
thought but you gave me the head of it refilling my
glass with wine you did not drink anymore letting the
children know how you wanted them to vote
             nothing would
come of you and me however beyond a hug and
a long impromptu monsoon-evening talk when I
worked on the Navajo Nation every thirteen-
hour day a lifetime I needed of red dirt of
Indian chatter anglo country on kay-tee-en-
en
             maybe like the holied ones on their goodbye round
we had a knowledge we did not have to say only
act on and I might even have been fearing night as 
I got in with a redhead saltimbanque whom you
had seen and warned me of whom I enjoyed and suffered
in the only more time on earth that would have remained
to you and me
              might have been cathexis not fear when
I heard it had come to you again I wanted day
so much that kept me not with you
              we did meet in a 
hospital waiting room and one afternoon you had
a turban on were puffy I took you to the mesa
walking rather than hiking but we hiked on the south
Wilson Mountain trail with a group
              you and your nurse
not making it to first bench the autumn under way in
Verde Valley and later you in the restaurant
                        joking
              who
drove to the agency every day
to talk with clientele
              I ran into you out on
the avenue and said we ought to get together
                       averted nod
                       at the car door
                       no talking or look
              but on another
street in February a honk
a wave a smile from the same car moving and in a 
week the word you had had to go in had said you were
tired of this
              they were not letting nonfamily
visit I tried to get to you one evening the
next morning and another day could not
              late night a
ting-ringing in my ear might have prepared me for the
news to come Marilyn but I have not been knowing
of such am not 
              your children and brother were taking
your ashes to the mountain
                       we would have known where to
                       find her anyway
I wrote to our circle
               as
we got out of your memorial meeting it hailed

Rodney Nelson work began appearing in mainstream journals long ago; but he turned to fiction and did not write a poem for twenty-two years, restarting in the 2000s. So he is both older and “new.” See his page in the Poets & Writers directory
http://www.pw.org/content/rodney_nelson
for a notion of the publishing  history. He has worked as a copy editor in the Southwest and now lives in the northern Great Plains. Recently, his poem “One Winter” won a Poetry Kit Award for 2011 (U.K.); it had appeared in Symmetry Pebbles. His “Upstream in Idaho” received a Best of Issue Award at the late Neon Beam (also England). The chapbook Metacowboy was published in 2011, and another title, In Wait, is due this year.

**************************

THE INLAW

He called himself THE INLAW. Rolled from town to town in either a beat-up Buick or a crippled brown mare, depending on which version of the legend you believed. Road up and down the streets, pilfering possessions and identities out of mailboxes.

He was Bigfoot. Never fully captured on film, little variations in all the descriptions. A man of such infamy should’ve been apprehended. We were talking millions of federal offenses.

One day I heard the clomp clomp clomp down my street. There he was, on a crippled brown mare, tattered white sack overflowing from his shoulder. The horse moved slowly, but THE INLAW was practically a flash. Hand in and out of each mailbox before you could even recognize he’d taken anything.

He was on the other side of the street, but I knew he’d make his way over to my house. I figured I had plenty of time to plan my action since he probably did a big loop, but I didn’t think it was as simple as running and grabbing the mail before he got there. Sure, that would prevent him from grabbing my bills or the nude mags that usually came on that day, but didn’t I also have a duty to my fellow citizens?

I shuddered on the porch as I watched him slink from box to box. Even though there was nothing singularly terrifying about the man, the whole situation creeped me out. No matter how many boxes he visited, the sack never grew, but I watched him put countless items in it.

I stepped off the porch and marched past rows of daisies to my own mailbox. Just as I was planning my big intervention, my citizen’s arrest, THE INLAW pulled a quick U-turn and called out, “Hold on there, partner.” I tried to avoid eye contact, hoping he was talking to the horse, but curiosity eventually got the best of me. It always does. THE INLAW was staring straight at me, surprising warmth on his smiling face.

“Just stay right where you are,” he said with a policeman’s “stop” gesture.

I bolted for the mailbox. It was the boldest move I’d ever made, and I hoped it wouldn’t be my last. Somehow THE INLAW and his sloth of a horse beat me there, almost like they teleported. The horse bit at my reaching hand.

“I told you to hold on,” THE INLAW said, smile still covering his face.

I pissed myself right in front of them. There was nothing else I could’ve done. They had me and I knew I was a goner. I deserved that final moment of relief.

While I was soaking my lower half, THE INLAW reached in his hand and dropped a handful in the sack.

“The rest is yours,” he said. “And if you ever tell anyone about this…” he warned before riding the mare to the next mailbox. When I looked to my left, sure enough, they were riding off into the sunset.

Nathaniel Tower writes fiction, teaches English, and manages the online lit magazine Bartleby Snopes. His short fiction has appeared in over 100 online and print magazines and has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize. His story “The Oaten Hands” was named one of 190 notable stories by storySouth’s Million Writers Award in 2009. His first novel, A Reason To Kill, is was released in July 2011 through MuseItUp Publishing, and his first novella, Hallways and Handguns, is due out this spring. Visit him at http://www.bartlebysnopes.com/ntower.htm.

***********************

Piggin

A lariat, some lines and rope kinda frayed,
Was discussin’ their uses, how they was played,
When out of collection of some tack in a bin
Another voice piped up, “I don’t mean to butt in,
But fellas , don’t forget the handy piggin.
For ropin’ to tie down, say at brandin’ time,
Aint nothing better you could ever find
Than seven short feet of good piggin string
Tossed round them hooves for a mighty tight sling.
Straighten’ a post that’s been set in soft sand?
Piggin’s as good as another cowhand.
Five miles out and your bridle reign snaps?
Just reach for that piggin tied to your chaps.
He aint long like a lariat, nor strong like a bull,
But the piggin’s always good for a short quick pull.
And a quick mend on the range for plenty of things
Like chokers and chinches, breechins and reigns.
So when dishin’ out praises to long braided things
Remember those handy sweet piggin strings.

Gary Ives is a retired Navy chief- lives in the Ozarks with his wife and two big dogs where he writes and grows apples. His short stories have recently appeared in Frontier Tales, Tales of Old, Hisstories, The Rusty Nail, Efiction, and Freedom Fiction.

Dine With Pat

Food & Dining in the Garden State

campfireshadows

Western short stories, heritage and trail recipes.