Featured at the Bar-D Ranch

Betty K. Rodgers

"After the Gathering"
 

 

© 2011, Betty K. Rodgers

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See the Art Spur introductory page here

It's been said that a picture is worth a thousand words...we know many that are worthy of a poem.  In Art Spur, we invite poets to let selections of Western art inspire their poetry.

Our twenty-sixth piece offered to "spur" the imagination—in celebration of the National Day of the Cowboy (July 23, 2011)—is the work of Idaho photographer Betty K. Rodgers.


© 2011, Betty K. Rodgers; this photograph may not be reposted or reproduced without permission
"After the Gathering"

"After the Gathering" is a photograph taken at the Maggie Creek Ranch outside Elko, Nevada in January, 2010 during a photography workshop at the Western Folklife Center's National Cowboy Poetry Gathering. The cowboys (including the ranch manager) were bringing cattle into the corral. Find more about the Maggie Creek Ranch here on Facebook.

See a larger version of the image below.

Find these two additional photographs from this series in our feature about Betty K. Rodgers here.


© 2011, Betty K. Rodgers; this photograph may not be reposted or reproduced without permission


© 2011, Betty K. Rodgers; this photograph may not be reposted or reproduced without permission

 

Art Spur subjects are meant to inspire poetry; we look for poems inspired by the piece, not necessarily for a literal description of the image or its subject. 

Poetry submissions were welcome from all, through Tuesday, July 19, 2011. They are now closed.

Find the selected poems below, posted in celebration of the National Day the Cowboy, which takes place July 23, 2011.


 


photo by Ken Rodgers

About Betty K. Rodgers
 

Betty Rodgers was born in Salinas, California, where the Salinas Rodeo was a natural part of her family’s life. She has also lived in other regions of California, Maine, New Mexico, and for the past six years in Boise, Idaho.

Her father was an Air Force photographer at the end of World War II, and finding the bathroom periodically converted to a darkroom was a normal occurrence in her childhood home. A lifelong photographer herself, Betty has made this art form a priority since moving to Idaho where she explores western landscape and life through the lens of her camera. Her work is frequently shown in a variety of venues and resides in many homes throughout the West.

Also a great advocate for authors and the literary world, she publishes the Idaho Writer’s Update, a free bi-weekly newsletter featuring Idaho’s thriving literary community, www.idahowritersupdate.com.

Betty owns BK Publications, a small press devoted to poetry and short prose. Among its publications are poet Janice Gilbertson's collection, Sometimes, in the Lucias and her chapbook, Riding In; and the late Vince Pedroia's collection, A Mano.

Her current passion is a documentary film project she and her husband, author Ken Rodgers, are making about Ken’s company of Marines during the siege of Khe Sanh in the Vietnam War. Learn more about it at www.indiegogo.com/bravo-common-men-uncommon-valor, www.bravotheproject.com, and here on Facebook.



 

See our feature here for more about Betty K. Rodgers, which includes additional examples of her photography. You can email Betty K. Rodgers.
 


 

Submissions

Art Spur subjects are meant to inspire poetry; we look for poems inspired by the piece, not necessarily for a literal description of the image or its subject. 

Poetry submissions were welcome from all, through Tuesday, July 19, 2011. They are now closed. 

Find the selected poems below, posted in celebration of the National Day the Cowboy, which takes place July 23, 2011.


If you enjoy features like Picture the West, please support the BAR-D.

 


 


© 2011, Betty K. Rodgers; this photograph may not be reposted or reproduced without permission
"After the Gathering"


 

Poems

Satisfaction by Rhonda Sedgwick Stearns of Wyoming
Sitting in the Sun by Jean Mathisen Haugen of Wyoming
After the Gatherin' by Bette Wolf Duncan of Iowa
The Long Ride Home by Kristen Lynch of Idaho
After the Gathering by Susan Matley of Washington
Starting the Day
by Del Gustafson of Washington
After the Gather by C.W. (Charles) Bell of Utah
 

 

 

Satisfaction

They’re standin’ calm—no shuffle of hoof
In the wake of a strong deep sigh

Tired as their riders, content with their work
Finished, ahead of this dark’nin’ sky.

Beef on the meadow, just as was planned;
Near, for the work of the ‘morrow.
Ever horse is sound, an’ no rider’s hurt

Day ends with thankfulness, not sorrow.

Country this steep, that’s iced up with snow,
Can be hell on horses and men

This afternoons’ thawin’ slopes made things worse . . .
It’s a relief to stand in this pen!

No man says much, if he speaks a’tall
‘Bout the close calls that each one dodged . . .
The built-up snow that broke off young Buck’s hoof,
His fall . . . wild slide . . . the way they both lodged

‘Gainst that big deadfall, held fast by roots
Luckily buried firm in rock!
If some freak wind hadn’t felled that tree there . . .
Well . . . we just can’t imagine the shock…

Who might’a found ‘em? Dead bloodied pulp . . .
If they’d ever begun to roll….
Down that icy, steep, rock an’ brush-strewn slope . . .
Body would soon have parted from soul.

Boss let only two work the high rims,
‘Cause lower it was much less steep . . .
Even his stout roan took a bad skid once
Near a canyon rim, slick, black and deep.

“Just as it should be,” he told himself,
“A boss should take most the chances.”
These boys were his responsibility,
“They’re OK . . . they won’t miss no dances.”

Yet . . . it’s rewardin’, here knee to knee,
Jokin’, while takin’ a fresh chew,
Thinkin’ how bles’t a man is to ride free . . .
An’ work
with friendsbest he ever knew!

© 2011, Rhonda Sedgwick Stearns
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.
 


 

Sitting in the Sun

After the gathering is over,
after we move in the stock,
let's sit here a while all a' horseback,
enjoying the sun and just talk.
It's been a rough roundup this year,
we're missing a few cowboys on the trail.
Grandpa passed on last winter,
and Uncle Pooch seldom would fail
not to show up here at the gathering,
but he left for good on his birthday last fall;
so let's just sit here a while in the sunshine,
just visit, remember and recall.
Uncle Albert would drive them along to the canyon,
and Mom rode old Fairfield to help gather the herd.
She still here, but Albert's long moved on.
It gets lonesome recalling his stories and words.
After the gathering was over,
Gram would cook a big meal at the ranch,
and we'd gather ourselves at the table,
in the cabin above Squaw Creek's long branch.
I think they were here riding with us

I can see them in my mind just a' riding along.
After The Gathering Is Over--
those words would make a pretty fine song.
So after the day's work is finished,
after the trailing is done

we'll sit here a' horseback enjoying
those memories basking out here in the sun.

© 2011, Jean Mathisen Haugen
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

 


After the Gatherin'

After the gatherin’ down by the barn
after the round-up of strays

after the ropin’ and brandin’ were done

after those hard-drivin’ days…
they dismounted for good,
too old for the life

and they finally sat down to rest.
They looked back on those days;
and they thought, in some ways,
those rock-hard, ranch times were the best.
For by then all the worry and grief, they forgot;
and they chose to forget all the pain.
They just saw a view
where the skies were all blue;
and they ’d search for a gray cloud in vain.

They remembered those drives

round ‘em up…move ‘em out….
with brandin’ and doctorin’ and more

when their hard-workin’ bunch
on a good eight-man job,
got the job done with just four.
Chokin’ from dust and burned by the rays
of the cruel and sadistic, hot sun

they didn’t ask how
they could brand every cow.
They just simply got the job done.

When the sun sank to rest
in the arms of the West,
so did those work
weary men.
Now, they choose to forget
all the grief and the sweat.
They just wish they could do it again.
Oh, they wish, how they wish
they could ride one more time
with those glorious, glorious men.
They wish they could ride,
with those men by their side.
How they wish they could do it again!

© 2011, Bette Wolf Duncan
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.
 

 

The Long Ride Home

Was it the wind that night?
Or something else
That followed the four of us home
The night after we gathered
We shared a few rounds—
And a couple of lies
Taking it slow upon the gravel
Our horses knew better than we
For they sensed a new rider among us
As silent as a sullen moon
An invisible guest on a phantom steed
That made our party grow by one
Our horses whinnied and threw their heads
Making us pull the reins to steady their nerves
We coaxed them on, ‘whoa, girl, whoa’ say we,
And tried to soothe with soft words
Our heels crushing their ribs
But they knew
They knew
We were not alone

Oh, the wind came on,
Tickling our skin like a tremulous tongue
My flesh chapped raw from the cold
By my side, an intruder
In the guise of blackness,
Whose ghostly hooves clopped steady and slow
Like raindrops off the canyon walls
And kicked the same dust I rode upon,
Scattering stones and clearing paths
Through the cheat grass
We tried to outrun this uninvited rider
Our horses wheezing among these ghost plains
Grown thick from fertile seeds
Long-nourished from the bones
Of buffaloes and moccasined-braves
And wily men who herded cattle,
Led north by milky stars
Floating like flotsam in the vast sea sky
Our hearts racing and lungs inhaling the air,
Heavy with sage
Frost-kissed and caused
Our breath to dance
Like restless spirits

On through the night we rode
And above the wild hooves,
A voice as thin
As the sudden wind
Crept in my ear
And hummed a tune
Whose words have been long forgotten.

© 2011, Kristen Lynch
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

 


After the Gathering

Working cattle’s the mainstay of the year
But for a brief and bold mid-winter time
The cowboy and cowgirl poets draw near
To share tales of range rhythm, set to rhyme.

With stories brave, noble, and sad beside
The tales of great fun had at the expense
Of greenhorns and city-slickers’ dude rides,
Plus a moral saga of building fence,

The wordsmiths recite with passion, not to
Impress folks of fashion but to revere
The life of corral and range, year ‘round through
Nature’s old path of turning calf to steer,

Of dirt, dust and sagebrush, of round-up in
The fall, and branding in springtime; calving
Between times, up all night as mid-wife when
A cow or ten knows she will be having

A rough go. At week’s end, corral timbers
Creak and call the women and men back to
Horse and saddle. Arms and legs grow limber
Again after days of hullaballo

With those of like minds and loves. Just ahead
Is calving, branding, moving the herd to
Summer pasture, grass risen from the dead
For feed ‘til autumn’s round-up rendezvous.

That’s the real life, after the gathering.

© 2011, Susan Matley
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

 


Starting The Day

Another morning, starting the day,
Bed and board and a cowhand’s pay,
Quite a life that I have chosen,
At least the today the ground ain't frozen.

We caught our mounts at morning light,
Saddled and pulled the cinches tight,
Those cranky horses don’t want to go,
Like powder kegs, they’re ready to blow.

My horse’s back has got a hump,
He’s bulling his head wanting to jump,
To leave me lying in a heap,
The mud in the pen is at least hock deep.

There’s fresh snow dusting the low hills,
Another day of slides and spills,
Pulling calves and gathering strays,
This miserable weather will last for days.

My feet and hands are cold and numb,
I dallied and almost lost my thumb.
We’ll work stock till the sun goes down,
How long since I’ve been into town?

I’m yearning for those desert nights,
Cheering crowds and neon lights,
Just climb in my pickup truck and go.
Back to that crazy world of rodeo.

© 2011, Del Gustafson
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.
 


After the Gather

Each cowboy was settin’ his mount and watchin’ the count
At the end of the gather that day.
All four gave a sigh as the cows straggled by,
Wonderin’ what would be their next play.

Old Cece was troubled, his debt had doubled,
He worried ‘bout what to do next.
House may foreclose, the kids needed clothes,
And the wife just a bit perplexed.

Dubya, thinkin’ bout life, the stress and strife
Just punchin’ cows for a living.
He needed a change, to get offa the range.
He wanted to do some giving.

And Alton was wishin’ that he could go fishin’,
Experience some wilderness.
He was tired of cows and the shortage of browse;
He was seekin’ some loneliness.

On the other hand, young Ron felt grand,
He was rarin’ to go to town
To shave his bristle and to wet his whistle.
He needed a good rubdown.

So there they sat just a lookin’ at
Those cows as they straggled by.
Each in his heart was ready to start,
After they said goodbye.

© 2011, C.W. (Charles) Bell
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.
 


 

Thanks to all who participated.

 


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