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Amy sees the life she writes about through a window that no one else has discovered....Readers will not only have an unbelievable understanding of the life she writes about, but I guarantee that they will fall in love with Amy Auker and the country she writes about.
Red Steagall

From the Texas panhandle to the mountains of Arizona, Amy Auker has lived the cowboy life—as wife, as mother, as cook, as ranch hand, as writer. In fine-grained detail she captures the prairie light, the traffic on small farm-to-market roads, the vacant stillness of shipping pens when fall works are over. But she also captures the unmistakable westernness of the people and creatures around her: the son who must get back on the horse that just bucked him off, the husband who gives great gifts, the animals whose names and temperaments are as recognizable as family. Auker understands those who live in the sway of nature’s moods far off the main roads, and she commends them to us in luminous prose backlit by her own hard-earned experience. [Auker’s] focus is sharp and discerning, intimate and clear—so refreshing, that her writing transcends the contemporary cattle culture and her harsh Texas landscape to become a template for creating a richer life.

                                                                               John Dofflemeyer

Amy Hale Auker describes herself in a biography at her web site, "I write and ride on a ranch in Arizona where I am having a love affair with rock, mountains, the piňon and juniper forest, and the weather." Texas Tech University Press, publisher of her 2011 book of essays, Rightful Place, adds, "Amy Hale Auker writes essays, poems, and fiction while working for day wages on an Arizona ranch. Twenty years on commercial cattle operations in Texas cooking for cowboys, homeschooling children, and taking long walks have given her material for writing about a way of life that is alive and well in the heart of the American West..." Read more about Amy Auker below.  

Rightful Place has received high praise. Amy Hale Auker and the Texas Tech University Press have kindly given permission to reprint the essay, "Frankie," from that book. The piece is about the late Frankie McWhorter, whose image is featured as the cover for The BAR-D Roundup: Volume 6.


About Amy Hale Auker

Prose and Poetry
"Full Moon"
Snowed in with Tulips

       The Story is the Thing

Winter of Beauty

  Rightful Place

Additional Links

Contacting Amy Hale Auker




About Amy Hale Auker
from www.AmyHaleAuker.com

We live right now in a world where Wall Street bankers are rewarded even though they have created nothing of value in a nation where everyone knows what a McDonald's french fry tastes like.

I write about the real world where things grow up out of the ground, where the miracle of life happens over and over and over again, where people can and do survive without malls or Arby's.

I want to produce something of value from a place where the bats fly, the lizards do pushups on the rocks, the bears leave barefoot prints in the dirt, the hummingbirds do rain dances in August, spiders weave for their food, and poetry is in the chrysalis and the cocoon.

I believe that what you put out there is what you get back, and that if we do the good work, stay true to the creative process, we will be rewarded.

Read more here at www.AmyAuker.com


Prose and Poetry

"Full Moon"
Snowed in with Tulips


He offered us a song about riding the eternal range, his mouth a wide grimace of pain, but his voice true to every note. His fiddle sang a song mimicking a longhorn bull's bellow and danced through a song about a horse no one could ride. He listened to us with one hand cupped around his ear, a wide smile, and all of his attention. Just as his camp is nestled in the Canadian River prairie country, so he lives, nestled among the memorabilia of a life lived with the land and his music. He invited us to sit and stay awhile in a room full of cigarette smoke and stories and songs, each illustrated with the wave or scrape of his bow.

His fiddle says what words cannot. We heard songs he wrote while sitting on the porch looking out over Camp Creek, songs he learned on the JA wagon when it stayed out for months at a time, and stories of people, horses, and ranches that no longer exist. We listened to music that arthritis cannot mar and techniques cannot duplicate because it is rooted in a lifetime of art. We heard lyrics to "Good-by Ol' Paint" that we had never heard before.

In the late evening, he invites us to walk out to his saddle house, a shrine to the days when he rode the prairies and a few thousand rough horses. He leans close to us as his stories take him back to a time when he moved with more surety and his bones did not ache. "A horse can only think of one thing at a time." The swollen, knotted wrists move in a practiced gesture, distracting an ornery company horse that is trying to make his yesterday mornings interesting. Old-time methods and wisdom spill from him like jewels, and we scoop up all that we can.

We stand with our backs to the evening sun watching two old horses graze and stomp at flies, as much in retirement as the man who feeds them each morning. He looks out over the prairie and tells us that he is moving to town. He is bothered by the fact that he lives here, taking up one of the camps on a big working cow outfit when his stirrups are crisscrossed with cobwebs and his headstalls are brittle with age. This old cowboy's sense of place is strong, though he doesn't own this short-grass country that encourages a man to love, to survive, to know, a land that nurtures abilities unappreciated in the modern world. He tells us that he doesn't want to impose on these kind of people any longer, but his voice breaks, and he turns his head away. He'll put off the move as long as possible so that maybe it won't be necessary.

As the sun sets, he will play his fiddle and look over the cottonwoods of Camp Creek.

Amy Hale Auker, “Frankie” from Rightful Place. © 2011 Amy Hale Auker. Reprinted by permission of the author and Texas Tech University Press, www.ttupress.org. Reproduction without permission is prohibited.

© Kris Erickson, www.hankthecowdog.com
Frankie McWhorter, c. 1986 at
Camp Creek Ranch in Lipscomb County, Texas

The BAR-D Roundup: Volume 6 (2011) CD cover features the image above of legendary fiddler and cowboy Frankie McWhorter (1931-2008) and his dog, Hank. Frankie McWhorter was the father of cowboy and poet Larry McWhorter (1957-2003) and grandfather of reciter Abi McWhorter.


Full Moon

The horses look like veiled women, only eyes and ears above burlap morrals, and the smell of fly spray starts my day, after the coffee.

We named the bull Ferdinand, the one we listened to scream for women all night long as he made his way around the fence until he found the cattle guard and the next morning we found his tracks where he walked over the metal bars, his lust stronger than his trepidation about blank spaces.

We dug the spring out with shovels and made a difference, added value for the animals who go there to drink, and the ribbon snake crawled between my feet, seeking leopard frogs who lie like jewels in the cow-stomped mud.

I slogged along behind slow-moving cows, going up the trail the way they like to go to water, single file and in their family groups, and my bones ache and my throat is scratchy from yelling when they all bushed up and didn't want to go, and I am concerned about the red streak of blood down my horse's leg, hoping the cut isn't too deep.

The horses look like veiled women again, grinding their ration of rolled barley between their teeth, the air still hung with a dusty sheet thrown up while we branded calves, and I think I can still smell burning hair, hear the roar of the propane burner, taste the cool water I drank when we were done.

We lie on the ground in canvas and wool, and the moon is so bright it hurts our eyes.

© 2011, Amy Hale Auker, All rights reserved
These words may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.


Give me mud,
heavy black fragrant,
goldfish harbor
at the bottom of a trough.

Give me cows,
bawling cumbersome social,
daughters and sons and families of cows.

Give me light,
flickering non-electric intimate,
creating a circle of us.

Give me solitude
days of books and truth and pages
when the story is the thing.

Give me weather
wind and storms and bright hot
on unprotected skin.

Give me simple
and wet
and real
an abundance of time.

Keep your diamonds,
your malls,
your exhaust fumes,
your schedules,
your busy-ness,
your prescriptions,
your clean.

Give me mud,
heavy black fragrant,
goldfish harbor
at the bottom of a trough.

© 2011, Amy Hale Auker, All rights reserved
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

Snowed in with Tulips

Everything electric is silent

     since the first morning

     when wind woke

     to find color and sound


     and heaved aside the barriers...

          broke the blanket—

     and the poles,

          we guess—

The recording says they are aware of the problem.

          Thank you for your call.


Its all about calories.

We swim in dim space


     by a close heavy sky—


     by ever roar of yellow fire.

We turn from one to the other—


Forays into the gray with

     grains and flakes

for horses and LGBs

     (a misnomer for the scarlet, ebony, russet, azure, and gold)

We stand and stare at middle storm—

     forced bulbs in a pot:  red, white, and green.

© 2011, Amy Hale Auker, All rights reserved
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.


The Story is the Thing

Working ranch woman and award-winning essayist, novelist, and poet Amy Hale Auker's second novel is set in the ranching West, a captivating tale of people who are inexorably tied to the land and to each other. There is suffering, struggle, loss, loneliness and danger mixed with love, beauty, nature, and unshakable bonds. For some, there is wisdom earned and even redemption. But like life, nothing is simple, and the story is the thing. Through graceful prose and occasional poetry her complex characters'vcompelling stories stay with the reader long after the book is closed.

"This is a challenging work by a very gutsy, gifted writer with large ambitions. One gets the sense that Amy Auker is poised to reach beyond that which is so intimately familiar to her—the cowboy West—and break free of all genre labeling. Watch out, here she comes." Top photographer, screenwriter, and director Kurt Markus (kurtmarkus.com )

The Story is the Thing is available from amyhaleauker.com; from the publisher, Pen-L Publishing; and from Amazon.


Winter of Beauty

Winter of Beauty tells the story of the men and women raising beef and families far off the highways in a seemingly antiquated lifestyle while facing contemporary problems. As Bride Mountain changes her clothes with the seasons, the people down below seek beauty and belonging, drink coffee and tequila, work and play and live and love.

"Amy Hale Auker has found her own voice with which she has created a refreshing style of storytelling. It is obvious she has a broad understanding of the politics and traditions of a ranch. It is also obvious she loves the West. She stays spot on with the cycles, moods and language that have evolved within the ranching community. Her characters have the recognizable traits of folks from the same lifestyle and heritage. I tasted the food and the pain and the cold and the friendships. Winter of Beauty will stand the test of time." Waddie Mitchell

Winter of Beauty is available in a special author's edition from amyhaleauker.com; from the publisher, Pen-L Publishing; and from Amazon.


Rightful Place

Rightful Place "...is passionate, gritty, and an unvarnished glimpse into the life of a ranch woman/wife/mother. This collection of essays is powerful and worth savoring...."  Candy Moulton in The Fence Post

"...No one has written this story..." from the foreword by Linda M. Hasselstrom


Waking Up
Highway 294
Weather Talk
The Giver
The Pantagonians
Facing North
Bread Bowl
Ground Beef
Every Horseman
Family Tree
Handmade Life
Fourth of July
Out of the Blue
Cloud Come to Earth
Used To
Ten Inches of San
The Round Pen
The Address Book
A Legacy of Snakes and Stones
Small White Squares
Rightful Place

Language of Place, Language of Work (Glossary)

Rightful Place
is available from amyhaleauker.com, from
Amazon, the publisher, and other booksellers.

Recipient of the 2012 Willa Award Winner for Creative Non-fiction from Women Writing the West

...and other honors, including ForeWord magazine's Book of the Year award.


Additional Links


  Read Amy Hale Auker's "But Now I Ride" here in the January, 2014 issue of Cowboys & Indians magazine.

  Read selections of Amy Hale Auker's writing here at Dry Crik Review.

  Find Rightful Place here on Facebook 

  Read Candy Moulton's review of Rightful Place here at The Fence Post

Read Lee Raines' review of Rightful Place here at Cowboy Showcase

Read our review of Rightful Place here at CowboyPoetry.com

Find additional links to reviews here at www.AmyHaleAuker.com

Contacting Amy Hale Auker


Rightful Place on Facebook

Amy Hale Auker on Twitter






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