A Welcoming Invitation

Welcome to WesternPoetry where the work of both experienced poets and rising stars is displayed. Poets are invited to submit their original Western and Cowboy poetry for consideration. However, before submitting, please check our requirements by clicking on POETRY SUBMISSIONS in the right hand column. Limited mentoring and coaching are available for promising newcomers.

Rising stars in the field of cowboy poetry, as well as some experienced poets, may find some interesting and helpful resources on “Tools for Cowboy Poets“.

Just a Solitary Chimney

Just a Solitary Chimney
~~ Tom Swearingen — © 2014 ~~

Just a solitary chimney
Stands rising from debris
That used to be a family’s ranch
Before they had to flee

Range fire pushed by relentless wind
Came roaring through the pass
Nothing between them and the fire
But timber and dry grass

No time to gather much at all
As Hell raced on its path
They left their stock and memories
To face the fire’s wrath

Just minutes to gather fam’ly
Leave on a hope and prayer
Take a last glance in the rearview
At smoke and ash-filled air

Now back to see that it’s all gone
All they worked hard to build
Just a scorched footprint of what was
And all that the fire killed

There’s no way we can know their grief
There’s nothing we can say
To take away the pain and loss
Experienced that day

What we can do is support them
Find ways to lend a hand
Help them rebuild when they’re ready
Their dream on that burned land

Nolan’s Revenge

Nolan’s Revenge
~~ DWeaver — ©2014 ~~

From the summit of the highest mountain,
he could see the riders below.
Five days they had relentlessly chased him,
anger in him began to grow.

Nolan had covered over eighty miles,
with four of them on his back trail.
It was his gold that they now coveted,
proudly thinking they would prevail.

Nolan had panned a river for two years,
adding gold nuggets to his find.
Carefully on guard for robbers and thieves,
leaving no evidence behind.

Those behind him were very determined,
Nolan’s patience was wearin’ thin.
That night he lay awake and made his plan,
tomorrow his plan would begin.

Next morning he lay on the mountainside,
the four riders were coming ‘long.
The heavy boom of the old Sharp’s rifle,
plainly showed them what’s right and wrong.

The first rider grabbed for his missin’ ear,
it was laying there on the ground.
The Sharp’s rifle spoke loudly once again,
his other ear couldn’t be found.

The riders had never seen such shootin’
the rifle skeered ‘em half to death.
Nolan laughed and waved as they ran for home,
until he was plumb out of breath.

A Windmill and a Still

A Windmill and A Still
~~ Larry Bradfield — ©2014 ~~

I stopped in a West Texas town -
There wasn’t much to see.
Not much to do or do it with,
They all just stared at me.

I’ve cowboyed in some strange places
But this was stranger still
There was cows and there was hosses -
Nothin’ but time to kill

Now I grew up in Tennessee
Made whiskey all my life
The folks back home all built their stills
Before they took a wife

I figgered that these Texas folks
Might loosen up a mite
If I could share my skills with them
And let them see the light!

Chose a spot by an old windmill-
Water was pure and sweet
I stole some corn from a feedlot -
Some sugar down the street

I made a still in nothin’ flat
From things found layin’ ’round
Built me a fire from old mesquite
And I was whiskey bound !

Next day the smell was dark and sweet
And early in the morn
The doors came slowly openin’ up
To see who’s crackin’ corn

Then one by one the menfolk came
Said what you doin’ there
I said I’m brewin’ sippin’ stuff
The best found anywhere

For two whole days I poured my brew
Some folks stayed up all night
Guess I shoulda seen it comin’ -
One gunshot, then the fight

They fought around the square awhile
Then moved on down the street
Crossed over to the other side
It never lost the heat

The hotel and the barber shop
Caught fire and burned up well
The courthouse , jail and livery barn
Got shot up all to hell

I stopped in this West Texas town
Not much here I’ll confess -
I’m movin’ on, not lookin’ back,
They got a whole lot less

Desert Sojourn

Desert Sojourn
~~ J. Wesley Taylor, Sr. — ©1962 ~~

I wandered in a barren land
And through a desert dry;
My parch-ed lips in deep despair
For mercy loud did cry.

I stumbled on, not knowing where
My halting steps would lead
And with each step my thirst increased;
For water I did plead.

My weary body ceased to move,
My wretched form lay still.
In agony I waited there,
I dared not move until

A gentle breeze swept o’er the sand
And once again I stood.
My legs moved on, without my will,
As though they were of wood.

They carried me until I fell
Beside a desert pool
That brought relief and strength to me
Within the waters cool.

To Grass ‘n Water

To Grass ‘n Water
~~ Harold Losey — ©2014 ~~

The dawn was breaking,
Lighting up a cloudless sky.
All things are waking.
One more day the tanks are dry.

Seems like forever,
Since this lands seen any rain.
Cows seek the river,
Though their efforts are in vain.

Rivers a trickle,
Slow moving and mostly mud.
Lands in a “pickle”,
Water our life giving blood.

Round up our cattle,
Drive them to the loading pen.
The chute’s a battle,
Trucking them to Wyomin’

We’ve got acres there,
Grass and water aplenty.
Texas, left in prayer
Come back by twenty-twenty?

High Water Jack

High Water Jack
~~ Larry Bradfield with Michael L. Moore — ©2014 ~~

Down on the Pecos just west of Grand Falls
The river runs lazy ’til nature calls
Then it rages with deadwood tossed about
Water rises quicker than you can shout

There’s many a soul that has tried and lost
When the Pecos floods ain’t many have crossed
But one man is legend among the rest
A cowboy named Jack has given his best

No river had ever stopped him before
And that’s how he worked his way into lore
He scouted for a trail drive headed east
And was ridin’ a downright orn’ry beast

He hit the Pecos after dark that night
Couldn’t see the river, but heard its might
He was more excited than fearful though
Knew down in his bones he could tame that flow

When the sun came up he stood there aghast
The river was flooded and risin’ fast
He had to decide to cross or go back
He knew they all called him High Water Jack

Pride got to him and he tightened his cinch
This hoss never quits when he’s in a pinch
He mounted up, rode into the stream
Washed outta the saddle and started to scream

Was a mile down river in nothin’ flat
The hoss turned downstream, barely saw his hat
‘Twas a hoss named Henry and he could swim
Never missed a stride and went after him

Caught him by the belt and drug him ashore
High Water Jack almost wasn’t no more
Well, he dried out in a day, maybe two
The tale started growin’ and grew and grew

When the herd came up, the water went down
He told the boys all the way into town
How he’d beat that river, never looked back
And they could still call him High Water Jack

Henry listened and gave a little cough
Bowed up and throwed him in a water trough
He looked at ol’ Jack and then seemed to say
“Handle that water in your own proud way!”

Henry took off and wasn’t seen again
Though we’ve heard tell of a horse that can swim
Rivers at flood with a man on his back -
We know for shor’ it ain’t High Water Jack

The Blood

The Blood
~~ DWeaver — ©2014 ~~

Jack Billings rode in early on that night
to the little town of Boise.
Stabled his buckskin at the livery
found a saloon that was noisy.

He appreciated the sounds so loud
after miles of silent ridin’.
Jack was searchin’ for a killer outlaw
who was in the town a hidin’.

The killer outlaw he was lookin’ for
was known over the untamed west.
He knew the man was fast with a six-gun
both men would soon see who is best.

The outlaw had sent a warnin’ message
Jack found it at the one hotel.
“Leave town or die tomorrow,” it proclaimed
“or the folks will hear the death knell.”

Jack lay in bed dreadin’ the mornin’ sun
a killin’ was about to come.
He dreamed of all the gunfights he had fought
and all the men who did succomb.

They faced each other in the street that morn’
and each man made his deadly play.
When the smoke cleared from the fateful shootin’
Jack saddled up and rode away.

The outlaw who lay dead there in the street
the blood in each man was the same.
Jack had taught his own brother how to draw
but he just used it to seek fame.

Steam in the Rockies

Steam in the Rockies
~~ Steve Dickson — ©2014 ~~

Runnin’ deep in the valley
Along the swift flowin’ stream
Comes the big locomotive
She’s a pourin’ on the steam

Pullin’ freight from far away
Through the Rocky mountains wide
So many miles traveled
On across the great divide

I walk beside the river
Looking up from far below
She rolls across the trestle
Hear that lonesome whistle blow

Teddy Franke Is One Tough Hand

    Teddy Franke Is One Tough Hand
   ~~ Tom Swearingen — ©2014 ~~

Teddy Franke of the Morrow Ranch
Was out mendin’ fence alone
When coming to his attention
Was a charging wild-eyed roan

Closing fast that big spooked crazed mare
Was running for all she’s worth
Her nostrils flared and ears pinned flat
A cyclone of hooves and earth

The mere sight of that hell bent hoss
Would leave most men quite rattled
Especially if like Teddy was
Surprised, on foot, unsaddled

We’ll most men would duck, dive, or run
But not Teddy, no siree!
He conjured himself up a plan
He’d not let this wild mare flee

Teddy, recall, was all alone
Some people would say outmanned
But not those who know Teddy Franke
Because he is one tough hand

Surveying his situation
He figured his only hope
Would be one chance when she ran by
He’d collect her with his rope

He’d toss a big ‘ol floatin’ loop
That would sail out o’er her ears
She’d know right quick she was bested
And let go her primal fears

She’d settle down real sudden like
They’d become the best of friends
But that’s not how the story goes
That’s not how the story ends

‘Cause the only little wrinkle
In Teddy’s quick thought up plan
Was the absence of his saddle
‘Can’t just dally one by hand

But now the horse was upon him
In a flash she’d be on by
So now or never he figured
And he let his catch twine fly

Right then his plan adjusted some
‘Cause that horse sped up her run
And that’s when Teddy realized
The battle had just begun

With no horn wraps to slow her down
He ran with her best he could
And all the time he’s ‘a thinkin’
” ‘Nuther hand would sure be good”

That horse was picking up good steam
They were cover’n lots of ground
Teddy sure had his hands full now
But took time to look around

Spots a lone white oak approachin’
Figured that’ll slow her down
So siezin’ opportunity
Teddy ran some dallies ‘roun

He figured now he’d won the fight
With three dallies on that oak
Breathed a big ‘ol sigh of relief
And detects a whiff of smoke

Was an odor some familiar
But not that of burning tree
Didn’t take Teddy long to know
“That there burning smell is me!”

Three dallies around an oak tree
Teddy says he has now learned
Ain’t near enough to stop a horse
Which is why his hand’s now burned

Rather than feelin’ defeated
Teddy looks on the bright side
Says it’s just skin and a jump start
On callusin’ up his hide

And next time he says if needin’
To stop a runaway hoss
Next time he’ll be in the saddle
And he’ll prove just who’s the boss

Still Some Sun to Catch

Still Some Sun to Catch
~~ Tom Swearingen – © 2014 ~~

Our horses earned their feed today
Worked hard on the gather
Put in an honest cow horse day
Telling by the lather

But now their long day’s work is done
They catch a little rest
They’re basking in the setting sun
As it drops off to the west

That bay horse Andy rode today
Saved his rear for certain
When dodging that one on’ry stray
He was headin’ for a hurtin’

And there’s Carla’s gold-maned sorrel
Strong, sweet, and real cow smart
Disagree you’ll get a quarrel
‘Cause she’s got Carla’s heart

And that young roan rode by Thomas
He didn’t do too bad
New to the game but with promise
‘Least gave it all he had

Tomorrow they’ll be back to it
More out there yet to fetch
But for now we’ll leave ‘em resting
There’s still some sun to catch