October 2014 Issue- Week 2

October 14, 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 www.reddashboard.com for more information, dates are Oct 1st – Feb 28th.

Enjoy this months issues!

mphoto043 (1)

Photo by Malinda Fillingim of David Fillingim singing at a chuck wagon event at the Booth Western Museum, Cartersville, GA.

COWBOY SHOWERS

She never liked the smell of cattle
Keeping me clean was always her battle
I sprayed myself twice a day
Just to keep the fighting at bay.

It never dawned on me
That my arm pits stank
But daily she reminded me
With many big yanks.

Get in the shower
She’d loudly declare
While I wash out
Your dirty underwear.

I wonder if her
Love is enough
To keep me clean
Not smelling of snuff

Maybe it is,
Maybe it’s not,
But this shower
Is way too hot.

She can’t cook
Her love’s gone sour,
So why am I here
Scrubbing in a shower?

I’ll grab my clothes
And all that’s pretty
And find a woman
Who’ll love me dirty!

Malinda and David Fillingim have been married for over 30 years and live in Leland, NC. They both teach at Cape Fear Community College, Wilmington, NC. David is an award winning writer of many books and articles, including Georgia Cowboy Poets and Malinda takes really good photos with a camera she bought at a thrift store for one dollar. Contact either one at fillingam@ec.rr.com.

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INDIAN CAMP OF THE HUDSON VALLEY – A True Story

There was no reservation,
only houses and shanties
in the wetlands along the Esopus Creek.
Not good land, it flooded
in the Springs when the run-off
to the river was high.
Dutch burghers and Tory descendants
disdained it, but
it was place to these displaced Algonquians,
Lenape from New Jersey, Manhattan and Delaware.
They took the twenty-fours dollars worth of trinkets
for land they did not own,
and they knew farming,
how to make fabric from plants and skins.
They had kitchen gardens
tended by women and children.
In time before driven out of the valley,
men worked the slate mines,
skidding great gray slabs on timbers
to Hudson’s stolen river.
Straining horses and men delivered
the sidewalks of New York
to barges dipping and bowing
in the residual tides of estuary.
Commerce walked like a ghost
on the water
of the Creek and of the River,
slipping away toward Manhattan
and the sea.

Howard Winn has published over 400 poems and short stories in various competitive selection literary magazines. He’s published one book of poetry, and has been nominated for a Push Cart Press Award three times. Winn has appeared in two poetry anthologies, one published in the Ashland Poetry Series and one of Hudson Valley poets edited by Mary Gordon. He’s been included in one anthology celebrating the 300th year anniversary of the discovery of the Hudson River.

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Blessings Be Upon You, Horace Greely

“Go West, young man, go West and grow up with the country.”
So, I followed the Conestogas
and found forever, an Eden,
endless vistas that promised
vast possibilities of success.
With no gaurantee in my pocket,
save that of manhood’s training,
I trusted myself,
and called myself frontiersman
when in truth I was a gambler separated
from those who sought safety in civilization.
And I, a being formed by space itself,
untamed, unrestrained
except by natural age and failing,
chart my course by stars named
Sea. Sage. Sequoia.
Mesa, rio, arroyo—
commissioned by God to dare.
Experiment.
Build.
Fashion.
A demigod in boots and chaps
wielding a branding iron instead of lightning bolts,
I did not know the Great Divide
was more than just geography,
that those contented
with being Europe’s mirror
would become my enemy
because they fear the freedom
of the ultimate question:
Now that God has made him,
what can a man make of himself?

Jenean McBrearty is a graduate of San Diego State University, a former community college instructor who taught Political Science and Sociology, and is finishing a certificate in Veteran Studies. Her fiction has been published in a slew of print and on-line journals including Cigale Literary Magazine, 100 Doors to Madness Anthology, Mad Swirl and The Moon; her poetry has been accepted by Van Gogh’s Ear and Page & Spine; and her photographs have appeared in Foliate Oak Literary Journal and Off the Coast Magazine among others. Her novel, The 9th Circle was published by Barbarian Books, serials Raphael Redcloak and Retrolands can be found on Jukepop.com. Web-page: Jenean-McBrearty.com.

October is also dedicated to Robert Penven, one of our beloved poets passed last night after a surgery that wasn’t suppose to cause problems. He was 81, and was one of our biggest supporters, lived here in New Jersey, about an hour away from the managing editor who met him at a local Vineland poetry group, Poetry-go-round once a month. RIP dear cowboy, you are missed…

December 2013- Week 2

December 10, 2013

MikeHudson

Michael Hudson is a poet/preacher in Arizona, and is our resident ranch hand and roper sends us these great photos from time to time! He is the rider, but not sure who is down on the ground, but they do this from sun-up to sun-down, every day.

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MY CHARISMATIC COWBOY

Observe brash
imminent intimidation
every part of.
Like pauses in the flow,
we listen.
Inclusionists

crouched over this.
Our knowledge acts withered
slow to resist.
Faint lips
subjective in the telling.
Now willing to present

the kiss.

Thank you for traveling through time.

Passive histrionics
levitating beneath a rock.
Servitude’s meandering cracks,
where did I put that’s.
Forever and ever or
a horizon of stoics.
Impractically industrious.
I witnessed a fellow spirit
materialize without a comma

within the here is.

Colin James has a chapbook of poems available from Atlantean Publishing, and has been published via other journals and on-line lit magazines.

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Stage Coaches

Cowboy songs command the throng.
One falls off his hobbyhorse.
Some miss marks.

The sheriff stage-whispers cues
from a casting couch,
Hands up. Drop your drawers.

Unstellar heroine in the dark
— cut to black,
nothing but crickets.

Gerard Sarnat is the author of two critically acclaimed poetry collections, 2010’s “HOMELESS CHRONICLES from Abraham to Burning Man” and 2012’s “Disputes.” His pieces have appeared or are forthcoming in over seventy journals and anthologies. Harvard and Stanford educated, Gerry’s been a physician who’s set up and staffed clinics for the disenfranchised, a CEO of health care organizations, and a Stanford professor. For “The Huffington Post” review of his work and more; visit GerardSarnat.com.

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Horse, pony, colt, filly waiting for a cowboy

Horse on the trail
waiting for a cow
waiting for a cowboy
traveling a trail
pony at a fair
waiting on a kid
waiting for a rider
traveling a circuit
colt born wild
colt waiting to run wild
colt waiting for a mustang wild run
colt traveling a wildness trail
filly born wild
filly in the wildness running wild
filly waiting for a drink of water
filly running in a wildness trail
cowboy tell me this
cowboy tell me that
cowboy tell me a horse tale
cowboy waiting on a cow trail
Working with a cow
working for along time on the cow trail
fencing the wild trail
gone wild are the horses
gone are the ponies
gone are the colts
gone wild are the fillies
how sad are the cowboys with fences

Clinton Seagle as a kid grew up on Cracker Box Route Fallon, Montana area. Worked a bit in Ekalaka Montana where one can see the end of the world is just a step away. Returned Peace Corps Volunteer from Bolivia an other end of the world stepping stone. This is his first attempt at publishing his work.

TwainRedSized

Cacti photo property of Red Dashboard LLC

MARK TWAIN IN OUTER SPACE

i. I arrive on the planet surface—am immediately disappointed—my battle against gravity—a digression concerning the naming of constellations

By the look of things, I had arrived too late for the planet’s funeral. The soil had already been cremated, and set back on the geological shelf. I was disconsolate. I had hoped for a better vacation spot, nothing fancy mind you, just a garden to stroll around in, with a swimming pool, and some interesting animals to name. And—if it wasn’t too much to ask—maybe a lonely siren, and a reasonably priced saloon.

Now I realized, sadly, that I had been done in by my own greed. For, gentle reader, the planet had hung for me like an apple for me in its distant, tantalizing orbit. And I had coveted it—coveted it over a span most humans can only dream of sinning across.

My coming had created quite a stir of things. For the longest time, I could see nothing but the dust clouds that had heralded my arrival. As for myself, I soon discovered I would have no more trouble with gravity on this planet, than I did on Earth. This was disheartening also. Because even if I couldn’t have my garden, I might have been able to comfort myself by turning the planet into my wild gymnasium and soaring about it in fifty- and hundred-foot leaps. For fun, I could have lifted my ship over my head, tossed it hand to hand, or bounced it up and down like a child’s ball—I could. Or perhaps I might have played the evil alien from outer space and stomped out a few Lilliputian villages for my own amusement. I choked to think how I had been cheated out of doing all the wonderful things my imagination conjured up for me.

In vain, I tried to stride across the planet’s surface like a colossus, succeeding only in wrenching my legs. In vain, I leapt around, flapped my hopeful arms, and thought lofty thoughts, but did not find myself elevated in any way.

I blush to think of the spectacle I must have made of myself, performing all of these actions in ridiculous slow-motion. I can only find consolation in speculating that any intelligent being watching might not have possessed arms or legs, to know how better acquainted with mine I ought to have been. Or if he had, perhaps he would have taken some pity on me and offered his assistance—as I was apparently in considerable distress, having forgotten my limitations as a featherless biped.

It was a bad poet’s sun: the color of a five-ball. So little out of the ordinary, that I set it down here for the scientific rather than the literary record. To compose a panegyric upon it would be like sticking a peruke on the town drunk and declaring him a district judge.

I observed, after all the destruction and turmoil that I could modestly attribute to my landing had subsided, that a steady sirocco was blowing. It might become significant to note here that I was struck by the impression that this was just the sort of breeze to have blowing on your side if you were carrying on an argument with your neighbor across the street.

I also thought I might have caught sight in the distance of a small shape rolling and bouncing by. But at the time, I dismissed this evidence of my eyes. I was feeling tired and somewhat dizzy from my recent attempts at levitation, which had re-taught me the old lesson that my humanity was a burden I must carry.

I looked again, but all I could see for miles around was the ashen sand—well, and a couple of cacti. But there was no sign of life that I could see.

I considered an immediate return to the ship, where I could read all about hacking through tropical jungles or trudging across desolate plains without having to experience such pleasures firsthand: for such is the wonder of the novel. But in my heart, I knew that once back in space, I would only fidget and toss my books aside, then pace up and down in front of the viewer screen, upon which each star would take on different personalities as my cabin fever set in—appearing, at first, as a novelty—then as a breathtaking firework—then as a beautiful woman—then a terrifying eclipse—then a member of the family.

My imagination would run wild, seeing individual stars as part of yet-to-be charted constellations. It was a childish habit of mine to sketch such constellations, connecting the dots on paper, then standing back to determine whether the tracery resembled anything to me.

During the past week, however, there had been a growing dearth of stars on the screen, and my opportunity to make connections became more infrequent. It had gotten to the point where I had begun to just doodle, drawing lines from the dots to nowhere in particular. I apologize for any harm I may have caused future explorers who may attempt to navigate by my charts—but as the universe is endless (so far as I can tell, anyway), these patterns could eventually turn up somewhere; in which case, my ready-made constellations might be put to good use.

I hate to digress any further—especially from myself—but as any writer worth his salt must have as his goal the universal edification of mankind, perhaps a further observation may be tendered here.

The fact is, my scribbles are really no less outlandish than the everyday constellations with which the indulgent reader is already familiar. It is impossible to guess what could have possessed the minds of the poets who went about naming the stars—excepting, of course, that simple genius who christened “Crux” and “Triangulum.” All one need do is to look at other star configurations, to see that through no stretch of the imagination can most of these be reconciled with their names. “Ursa Major” and “Ursa Minor,” for example, look more like a cuttlefish and a pig, respectively, than a matching set of bears.

In the course of a diligent study, I have examined this problem further. I am convinced that the proper names of the following constellations should be as follows: “Bootes”—the Kite; “Acquila”—the Teepee; “Perseus”—the Peacepipe; “Pegasus”—the Courthouse; “Leo”—the Golf Course; and “Draco”—the Deathmask of Ramses II.

Before taking issue with any of my replacement names, the astronomer and general reader alike must bear in mind that I have seen all these constellations recently, up close.

ii. I spot another movement on the horizon—make camp for the night—an introduction to the Free People—some personal reflections

Instead of moping about, I decided to head for town. I was monarch of all I surveyed, but the time seemed ripe for abdication. The poetaster sun had risen to its most sublime zenith and was waning melodramatically; the cacti refused to do anything but stand at attention; I had seen more activity in empty museum cases. Out of the goodness of my heart, I kept giving the ashen sand its freedom, rubbing it from my eyes and releasing it from my mouth’s clamped Bastille.

Imagine my surprise when, about a mile from the ship, I saw several shadowy shapes racing across the horizon. My eyes blinked open—my jaw dropped—I drew in a lot of sand. Then the shapes were gone!

My first inclination was to duck back into the ship immediately. Then I heard an inner voice that was either science or foolhardiness calling me, and I found my courage.

Thereafter, I put my courage away, wiped my lips, and did the only thing a rational creature could do in such a situation: I drew my gun.

A mile or so onwards, and I had just about convinced myself that the long confinement in the ship, combined with the afternoon in a torrid climate, had sautéed my brains.

My exhaustive struggle with the elements was about over, as far as I was concerned—on the one hand, my sojourn on this planet had borne no relationship whatsoever to a romantic adventure tale. On the other hand, I had easily gathered enough material to return to the ship and make one up.

Ahead of me, I saw what appeared to be a few scattered tumbleweeds. One of them rolled in my direction a little. With a start, it occurred to me that these must have been the rolling shapes I had seen before on the horizon—the objects of my long chase.

Well, I’ll bet I was disappointed then. To relieve my fury, I pulled out my gun and fired off several shots at one of the tumbleweeds, which burst into flames and vaporized.

I thought it only my imagination when I heard a noise like the one a table makes when dragged across the floor—a wooden screeching.

I decided to take a nap before heading back to the ship. There was a brackish pool of chemicals off to one side, but I did not trust the water qua water. I took a few gulps from my canteen instead. Then I curled up next to a tumbleweed that didn’t look like a snorer, and promptly fell asleep.

I must have dozed for hours. My sleep was enhanced by a gentle crackling noise that seemed to emanate from a congenial distance away from me, like a campfire.

My translator was in my breast pocket, and at one time or another during the course of my nap it must have switched on, because gradually the campfire noise began to sound like several whispering voices.

Is it sleeping?

It is restless.

Will it burrrn us?

It is sleeping.

We must kill it!

I looked around me but could see nothing my canteen and the tumbleweed, and since mistrusting my senses had become almost second nature to me on this planet—sort of a way of keeping myself company, you might say—I fell back asleep.

A little later, I had a dream that I was hiking through a forest and the vines were whipping against my arms. Shortly afterwards, the impression of pain seemed to take upon a distinct vivacity, though I still believed the forest was only an idea in my head. Gradually, however, the distinctness of the agony I ventured to say I was feeling, grew acute enough so that I believed I had support for a tenable hypothesis—namely, that the source of my torture was in the external environment! I yelled aloud in my excitement over this important metaphysical discovery.

“Stop! No more!”

I was surrounded—oh yes, I opened my eyes now. Around me my ring of tumbleweed attackers rolled and bounced away.

I relaxed, considerable. The tallest of them was only knee-high to me, and besides, I still had my gun, which could end the game quickly if I ever got tired of punting them across the terrain.

I pulled it out, now, and began to woo the bushmen with a little advanced technology, firing at a nearby cactus, which sizzled and vaporized.

I now held the floor, and began to address the frightened sagebrush assembly.

“My friends,” I said, “fear not. I come in peace, from a planet up space quite a ways. Now, I don’t intend to hurt you boys, but I do recall having more pleasant awakenings in the past, and a man can only stand so much. So if you are rational creatures, like myself, I beg you to kindly forbear from such physicality in the future.”

Well, I’ll bet the bushmen were sorely penitent then, asking me over and over if they had hurt me. They had a peculiar way of talking, always inviting a yes-or-no answer to their questions, but never answering my own, instead rolling away from the subject, true to their contour, and to my great exasperation.

It was only by exercising a good deal of patience (and such exercise does not come naturally to me) that I learned that the tumbleweeds would come around to my question if I plied them with general statements first, such as “You are dry”—to which they might reply, “We have roots”; or, “You seem happy and free”—to which they might bemoan the fact they had no politicians.

Upon learning this trick, I was subsequently able to find out a good deal about their way of life. Their name for themselves is the “Free” (in the sense of “free-moving”) people, or the “Rollers.” Their lifestyle is a peculiar nomadic one. The Rollers do not eat or photosynthesize; their only nourishment is obtained through groundwater. About once a month or so, for a stretch of six or seven days, they must “put down roots” to refuel. During this interim they cannot readily extricate themselves, for the water table is extraordinarily low, and the taproots sunk into the ashen sand run deep.

Despite their name, the Free people exercise little actual control over their own trajectory. They tire easily of turning more than a few somersaults during a single sally, preferring to blow with the wind when making trips of any substantial distance. Though by the same token, the greatest fear of any Roller is being seized by a mighty sirocco and “blown away” forever.

The Rollers—if the reader considers their spare lifestyle, and the limited say they have in steering themselves toward a destination of their own choosing—are surprisingly selective of company. They often jockey for the same refueling spots and play a spirited game of “poison” trying to bump undesirables off a claim. It is not at all uncommon for a Roller to starve to death by eradication rather than spend an entire week refueling next to one of his unloved brethren.

In fact, I learned that I was somewhat of a hero to the tribe I had just encountered, as the tumbleweed I had shot earlier turned out to be an irrepressible old gaffer who was keen on the filibuster. This proverbial long talker kept all the boys (they numbered twelve or thirteen, if memory serves me correct) writhing and straining at their roots for five solid days with a few tomes of autobiography, plus a travelogue revealing how that part of the country had looked in his younger days, back when a tumbleweed was a tumbleweed.

All major altercations among the Rollers develop out of unfortunate circumstances such as these. I held it as a high mark of their sage ingenuity, that the Rollers have actually invented methods of killing one another other despite their ridiculous shape. Crude is their technology in comparison with ours—and wholly lacking in any advanced weaponry with which to mercifully speed up wars—but I shall refrain here from glorious ethnocentrism.

Roller wars take a great deal of patience, and choreography. I was lucky enough to be witness at one of these contests. It had arisen when five Rollers camped at a prime watering spot held by five members of the opposing party. The two sides lined up, as if for a square dance.

Next, one at a time, a member of each contingent rolled out into the middle of the desert floor, colliding as zestily as possible with the enemy. He would return to the line after that. The governing rule was that whoever sparked first, lost. I do not think it likely that the Rollers were evolved from asbestos.

The Roller war was not designed for the spectator, if I may editorialize for just this once. I began to drowse off as the combatants took turns at each other for hours, trying to get the sparks flying. I did not complain, though. Even if my fingers were aching from having to rewind my wristwatch—and I am not one prone to exaggeration.

Finally, my patience was rewarded—doubly, in fact—when two of the combatants began to spark and smoke at the same time. Then I watched, in great surprise, as they both returned to their sides and set the whole convention on fire!

At this time, I was informed by a companion of mine, who had noticed my astonishment, that such an outcome was not uncommon in a Roller battle. The casual tone in which he disclosed this fact to me alarmed me a little, and diminished my opinion of his species’ shrewdness somewhat. Because what good could a war accomplish, if both sides were annihilated? I thought to myself. Who would be left holding the real estate?—to claim righteousness?

I shook my head—it was all beyond the understanding of a miserable creature such as myself. To me, the square dances appeared to be nothing but turkeys, and straw.

Stay tuned next week for iii, and iv…

M.V. Montgomery is a professor at Life University in Atlanta. He is the author, most recently, of the short story collection Beyond the Pale (2013). This and ‘My Fair Zombie’ which appears on the Flash Fiction page are part of his new collection ‘Night-Crawl’, forthcoming via Red Dashboard LLC, Oct 2013. He is also regular submitter to Red Dashboard LLC Publishing companies selection of journals- Cowboy Poetry Press, Z-composition, and Annapurna Magazine.

October Issue- Week 2

October 7, 2013

Bison_skull_pile_edit

Author Unknown- Photograph from the mid-1870s of a pile of American bison (high plains) skulls waiting to be ground for fertilizer. Courtesy of the . |Source=http://www.raeky.com/bison/, originally Burton Historical Collection, Detroit P

Its a shame what our ancestors did, used up what we could, even the land. Once a plot of land yielded gains for the farmer, they moved on further west and began again, as opposed to alternating planting and letting land rest for a season.

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Glance Bandit

I tried to steal them constantly—in rearview
mirrors and staggered side by side, through
the screened-off window of a trailer
in your backyard. I wanted to slip
where you slept, purposely forget
to pack an extra sleeping bag
forever, and bust my mouth up
until please don’t go so far from me
sounds something like: I hope you love
California. You will love California.
Dig any hole you want.
I will come to you.

Lily Goderstad obtained her MFA in poetry from The New School. Her work has appeared in The Best American Poetry Blog, and is forthcoming in Dark Matter Journal and Vine Leaves Literary Journal. She currently lives in Queens, NY.

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BUS RIDE

Down the road,
a young boy walking in the dust.

A bus passes, whizzing by,
upsetting the cows and the flies.
‘I wonder where it’s going,
could it be Japan, or maybe Mexico.’

‘I’d like to see a bullfight.
Or maybe London,
with the funny-looking hats.’

‘Or Rome, or France.
Oh well, maybe just even Texas.’

He continues
down the road,
walking in the dust,
with only six pennies
and a rock in his pocket.

Mike Tupa began writing poetry at age 16 — during a car trip along a leafy, mountain road — and hasen’t kicked the habit since. A two-year church mission in Italy, a four-year active duty stint in the Marine Corps and four years of college haven’t cured him of any literary affliction. Some of Mike’s other publishing credits include poems printed in the Wilderness House Literary Review, Calliope Poets & Writers, and the Write Place at the Write Time.

February 2013- Week 4

February 25, 2013

SONY DSC

The Shooting Star

Midnight splendor

Tell me cowboy,

what was your wish?

Stars shoot first

and ask questions later.

Virginie Colline is a French translator living in Paris. You can read her latest poems in

*Seltzer*

*BRICKrhetoric*,

*Winamop and *Yes, Poetry*

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*/Paniolo/*

by Clark Crouch

He’s a paniolo

on a volcanic range

minding herds of cattle,

it’s really not so strange.

He’s a paniolo

on these, the lava lands.

He’s a paniolo

far from the beach’s sands.

His ranch is quite ancient

from ‘fore the Texasrange;

from eighteen nine ’til now

there’s been so little change.

His ranch is very large…

puts other spreads to shame;

multi-thousand acres

brings paniolo fame.

His ranch is furtherest west,

and off the continent,

three-thousand miles away

on an isle of content.

There on the mount’nous slopes,

his herds of cattle roam.

He’s a paniolo;

Hawaiiis his home.

Aloha paniolo

on the lava lands.

Aloha, paniolo

 

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.

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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.

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