October 2014 Issue- Week 1

October 4, 2014

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

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

Enjoy this months issues!

 

EPSON MFP image

(Click to enlarge)
Watercolor ‘Steeds’ by Anj Marth

Ocean steeds was inspired by a story my great-grandmother told me when I first started riding horseback. Selkies are beautiful horses that live in the sea, and come to shore to tempt people to try to catch them. If you bridle one, or get on its back (it will let you) it will drag you into the deeps with it, and there’s no escape.

Anj Marth was born in the early 70s, and grew up on the east coast of the US, near Philadelphia. She has since moved and traveled all over the country, by road. She currently lives in the Pacific Northwest and
considers it home. She works in a variety of mediums and has been a professional,licensed tattoo artist since the late 90s.

Her condensed portfolio can be seen here- Anj Marth Portfolio

 

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KODACHROME BOOTS

This here’s a tale bout widow Beall and me,
a very close call as far as I can see.
Nearly hung myself from a stout oak tree,
when she proclaimed she’s “a gonna marry thee”!

Now, widow Beall was a comely lass,
much appeal and a cute little…….well.
Dumb as a sheep and not much class,
spit fire temper and a whole lot of sass.

Not fix’n to marry, ner give’n a dang hoot,
rather ride me a bronc, raise hell and shoot.
Single I’ll stay, til I be a grizzled old coot,
and all this started o’er a Kodachrome boot.

A life riding single with a little spare loot,
I’d spent honest big money on Kodachrome boots.
With huge eagle wings, patterns fanciful stitched,
never reckoned on them boots a get’n me hitched.

Them knee high boots just glowed by day,
bright yellar and red with horned lizard inlay.
Strong ride’n heels built up real high,
with side seam piping, blue as the sky.

Chartreuse pull straps above scalloped top,
a rainbow of colors that seemed never to stop.
Big ole eagles, blueish green and dark taupe,
tawdry beauty from some boot makers shop.

Kodachrome boots made from the best of cowhide,
brash as a peacock cowboy on an afternoon ride.
Clean shirt, fresh hat, pants stuffed inside,
One of a kind boots, whispered ego and pride.

When corralled by the widow, I couldn’t break free,
She’d always look down and then I could see,
her eyes come alive, twinkling romance and glee,
It was them boots she truly loved and not really me!

I hatched an idea to get me outta her plan,
and git back on the trail as fast as I can.
Just need to convince my first cousin Stan,
widow Beall needs some lov’n and he is her man.

Got Stan a new Stetson, wild rag and new suit,
a bath, and some tonic, why he looked darn right cute.
And to sweet’n the deal, first time in the chute,
I gave him my pair of those kodachrome boots.

Marc Bradshaw– Though raised in the hills and hollows of central Kentucky, the southwest U.S. beckoned immediately after high school graduation. Over the next 50 years California’s San Joaquin valley and parts south of Bakersfield, in Santa Fe New Mexico, and currently Mesquite Nevada were home to life and
work.

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COME HAVEN OR LOW WATER

by Rodney Nelson

when we hear the recorded whoop of
a cowboy cello we’re not truant
only away from our home butte
on the Niobrara

we are the men of earth we have been
and when we reinvent the odor
of horse and hay we ride and forget
what larrupt us to town

there won’t ever be a flareout of
the world or a man-roping event
in the oil range we hold the dream to
on the Niobrara

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

COWBOY OF THE SEA

His name is Keealani,
a cowboy of the sea.
Needs the wind upon his back,
that bucking ride to set him free.

He wrestles surf and ocean
gripping tight and holding strong,
waiting for horns blowing
counting seconds short and long.

Got his lasso round his ankle
his bolo tie, a string of shells,
biggest difference in this cowboy
is his fishy stinky smell.

No manure or dirt upon him,
just the residue of sand,
cause this cowboy’s ride is over
when he steps upon the land.

Heather M. Browne is a faith-based psychotherapist and recently emerged poet, published in the Orange Room, Boston Literary Review, Page & Spine, Eunoia Review, Poetry Quarterly, The Poetry Bus, Red Fez, The Muse, An International Journal of Poetry, Deep Water Literary Journal, Electric Windmill, Maelstrom, mad swirl, and Dual Coast.  Her first chapbook, We Look for Magic and Feed the Hungry has been published by MCI. She just won the Nantucket Poetry Competition, a semi-finalist in Casey Shay chapbook competition, and has her first collection coming out this winter with Red Dashboard Publishing.  Recently widowed from her love of 21 years, she lives with her 2 amazing teens, and can be found frolicking in the waves.  Follow her: www.thehealedheart.net

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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.

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

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 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 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).

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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.

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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.

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