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.

*******

Cowboy Poetry Press was given a great opportunity to review Rodney Nelson, METACOWBOY poems, our first book review for June 2012 year, and I’m certainly glad to share…

‘Rodney Nelson confesses a separation from poetry until 2000, writing and publishing fiction; when he returns ‘The cowboy and the Deadwood gambler and the Tombstone gunslinger are legendary,” he says. “The working cowboy lives on, but so does the metacowboy, without lariat or gun or poker deck and wearing strange boots.”… Rodney Nelson is a traveler and hiker on his native Great Plains and throughout the west…’ (Taken from the back jacket)

I had not heard the term ‘metacowboy’ until I laid eyes on this book. It is a great title and opportunity for me personally as the editor to get a glimpse into a modern day cowboy’s boots. Maybe hiking boots in Rodney’s case. Only beginning the cowboy poet genre recently, I confess my own hunger for modern artistic views on old western life and hardship. Indeed Nelson has given me just what I wanted.

His voice and fantastic use of language throughout the pages are alone enough to draw you in.

In Rest Stop Big Horn Country– without reprinting the  whole I can attest, you are tourist driving along and taking in monuments and sites, we’ve all done it; then the cavalry appears, and help you really experience the long weary drive.

His movements in word and throughout line have you right beside, and ready…yet onto another page, and you are moved just as easily by another. Rodneys modern verse; it will swing you, reminding, life is not so far off from our past, just easier to swallow as we get older.

Another site (Dry Crik Review) uses this poem below to show us how he uses pauses and last words- expressing the poets feeling of loss which ends with humor, but I like the sadness which clearly sets the tone, and pulls you in…

Yuma Hat

When I lived in smoke heat on the Clearwater of
Idaho I knew that the river would exhale
into my late evening rooms if I opened them
but now I am in the dog days on the Red of
North Dakota and the water will be hot as
afternoon all night
            why do I walk out along
the bike and in-line skating path when I could have
oak shade...

I admit a dislike for overtly ostentatious reviews, and shouldn’t have to use fancy words to persuade you to venture into longing- into Rodney”s Montana and Wyoming and other plains. His portrayal of the Badlands and as I said earlier, his use of language gives us a glimpse into the roughness of the old and new west in sound and scenery, making much of his poetry authentically cowboy.  It has shown me paths he himself has taken. I want to visit these places, and write my own history now.

He is truly a kindred cowboy on a metahorse, and  into sunset we shall ride.

EAS

METACOWBOY: poems. By Rodney Nelson. (2011. The Moon Publishing and Printing The Moon) 34 pp. $14

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