"Wake up Call" by Steve Devenyns



© Steve Devenyns


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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 or a song.  In Art Spur, we invite poets and songwriters to let selections of Western art inspire their poetry and songs.

Our thirty-ninth piece offered to "spur" the imagination—a special Winter/Christmas Art Spur—is "Wake up Call," a painting by noted Western artist Steve Devenyns (www.stevedevenyns.com).

Submissions were welcome from all through Monday, December 22, 2014. Selected poems are posted below.


© 2010, Steve Devenyns; this painting should not be reposted or reproduced without permission; www.stevedevenyns.com
"Wake up Call"

Steve Devenyns comments, "In my work I strive to portray the relationship between a rancher and the animals and land in his care. 'Wake up Call' is a great example of this theme."


About Steve Devenyns

excerpted from www.stevedevenyns.com

Steve Devenyns was born with the talent to visualize and create. However, his direction did not merge with his talent until an automobile accident allowed him the opportunity to focus on his God given ability. During a nine month recuperation period in 1974, the artist began unfolding and discovering the layers of his creativity. Steve's bareback and saddlebronc riding, as well as his pre-veterinary studies at CSU were put aside and the pursuit of his artistic talent began. It continues today. His dedication to quality and perfection has lead to a successful career as a self-taught artist. His work today is a reflection of the input and friendship of several well known artists that have helped and supported Steve throughout his career. Ray Swanson, Robert Tommey, Jim Wilcox, Tucker Smith and John Kittelson have all had a tremendous influence in Steve's work.

Raised in Colorado, Devenyns has always enjoyed wildlife, the west and open spaces. As a boy, his love for livestock and horses put him in a saddle or near a rodeo. The lifestyle Steve enjoys today that takes him to the places that he paints. He is a horseman and outdoorsman that enjoys time in the mountains or with rancher friends working livestock. Devenyns is selective of the West that he paints. His story of the West is told in episodes that reveal moments he knows to be true from personal experience. "I prefer to paint the cowboys of today, the ones I've worked with on horseback. Their work isn't always glamorous, but they are fortunate in so many ways. It's a life they love, and you can't pry them out of the saddle. I want to capture on canvas what they feel and see, as well as their independence and dedication." No extravagant, wreck a minute, action-packed scenes, but simple, pure stories are found in a Devenyns painting. One reason he paints contemporary life is to prove that the openness and the chance for freedom still exists ... if you want it bad enough.


Steve Devenyns is one of the finest western and wildlife artists painting today. That fact is a testimony of his talent, diligence and destiny. From decisions he has made, to those made for him, his life has culminated into the stories told in his paintings.

Devenyns has talent, vision and the diligence to make his dreams reality. Devenyns works have received numerous awards and accolades including:

The purchase of his paintings "Happy Hour" and “In the Wings” for the Cheyenne Frontier Days Old West Museum.

In 1997, Steve was chosen “Artist of the Quarter” and “Artist of the Year” for the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation. His painting "Fringe Benefits" was the RMEF Anniversary Print and Stamp and was an immediate sellout.

Devenyns is a 3 time Gold Medal winner at the George Phippen Memorial Art Show in Prescott, Arizona.

In 2002 the Foundation for North American Sheep named Steve "Artist of the Year."

In 2005, he was the Featured Painter at the Bradford Brinton Museum.

In 2006 at the Buffalo Bill Art Show in Cody, Wyoming, his painting "The Spirit of Wyoming" won the People's Choice Award.
In 2010, he received the “Red Smith Artist’s Choice” Award at the Western Visions Show in Jackson, Wyoming.

In 2011, Featured Artist at ”America’s Horse in Art” Show and “Buffalo Bill” Art Show.

Art Talk Magazine once described Devenyns as, "a major talent in the use of oil paint to depict the life of the West."

Over the years Devenyns has been a "featured artist" and his work has graced the covers of many prestigious art publications, including:

Art of the West & Southwest Art
Today’s Horse
Rocky Mountain Rider
Inform Art & U.S. Art
Western Horseman
Nebraska Cattleman
New Mexico Stockman Journal
Super Looper
America’s Horse

Steve Devenyns' painting, "Praise is the Best Teacher" appeared on Western Horseman's May, 2014 cover, his fourth cover for the magazine. Inside, there's a profile by Senior Editor Jennifer Denison. Find more in a Cody Enterprise article by Corey Morris, here.


Visit SteveDevenyns.com and find more in our feature here.


Devenyns Limited Editions
1435 Southfork Rd.
Cody, WY 82414
800-966-7623 or 307-587-6867



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© 2010, Steve Devenyns; this painting should not be reposted or reproduced without permission; www.stevedevenyns.com

"Wake Up Call"


Wake Up Call by Don Hilmer of South Dakota
Ridin' Plum into Luck by Dennis Russell of New Mexico
Stewards of the Land by Jim Cathey of Texas
Well Howdy Little Feller by Tom Swearingen of Oregon
The Little Christmas Stray
by Jean Mathisen Haugen of Wyoming
 To Our Fellow Creatures
by Susan Matley of Washington


Wake Up Call

     There’s a chill in the breeze as the sun starts to squeeze
all the shadows of night from the “draws.”
     And the rancher trots down toward the “spring calvin’ ground”
By the trees where the snow always thaws.

     It’s a little too soon, (if ya go by the moon),
to be startin’ to calve this far north.
     But there’s one whitefaced cow that can always somehow
be there early to bring a calf forth.

     Now ya know that it’s true if she chooses to do—
what she’s done for most all of her life,
     She’ll be “bedin’ her calf right there next to that path
and she’ll graze to the creek without strife.

     As Ole’ Buck picks a trail through the deer and the quail
you can hear that ole cow softly bawl.
     Yep she’s done it again—put him out of the wind—,
And she’s givin’ her spring Wake Up Call.

© 2014, Don Hilmer
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.



Ridin’ Plum Into Luck

We grazed our cows long on the mountain this year.
The weather was warm and the days they were clear.
Switch grass had grown tall while the aspen trees quaked
Plumb into December, still grazin’ our stake.

The gather began with the weather forecast.
We pushed down the cattle with snow comin’ fast.
The Sangres let winter wind up its own clock.
Cold don’t give a darn if you’re missin’ some stock.

The cows comin’ down over hills and long draws
Left Black Jack Oak like it was cut with dull saws.
From canyons and coulees, the cows with their bawl
Cry out for their calves in this great free for all.

And countin’ each Hereford that kicked through the gate
We’re hoping to balance before it’s too late.
For years we have pushed down our calves with our cows
With God watchin’ close, not one shy until now.

My number eight cow was the last to come down
Coyotin’ her calf in the timber’s dark gown.
Checked tally again tried to pair ‘em all up
Just ain’t gonna drink from that old ‘Give Up Cup.’

Eight’s bag was still soft, proves the calf had her meal.
With the start of the push mom had her concealed.
The ground was still warm for this late in the year.
I know that young calf lies quite still like a deer.

We turned out the mama to show us the calf.
The cow out ran us like we walked with a staff.
As she took to the hills, the steepest of draws,
She never looked back. She was driven with cause.

My horse wearin’ thin and the night comin’ soon,
But Eight came on down, left her calf with the moon.
We spent the next days shaking snow from our hats.
Good Lord in Heaven show us where’s the calf at.

Then a gift to lift up my tired old soul,
Ridin’ plum into luck, this calf in the knoll.
With Christmas Day comin’, my crew tired and slow,
We found this young calf bedded down in the snow.

Her ears were straight up and her eyes were quite bright.
The breath from her lungs came like fog in the night.
We eased her down slow, it was then I was struck
With strong notion that this calf’s name should be Luck.

© 2014, Dennis Russell
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.



Stewards of the Land

Christmas season is always a joyous time,
but this year, it came in on the heels of a storm.
That ol’ cold wind just ablowin’,
them thick clouds would soon start snowin’,
make a feller want to seek a warmer clime!

But there are folks that shore ‘nuff love this land,
does not matter whether it is hot or cold.
They always make the best of it,
just havin’ no fear an’ no quit.
They are a special breed an’ they made their stand.

Well sir, Willie was just that away, out there!
Sometimes late afternoon you could hear him,
just a singin’ in the saddle,
on that ridge, he sat astraddle
of his favorite mount, that ol’ yeller mare.

There is no way you could count the miles they’d rode.
Them two dang shore loved this ol’ rugged country.
Just the two of them together,
the only sound…creakin’ leather.
Purt near reapin’ more than they ever sowed.

A late fall storm had brought an early snow.
Their ride started before that ol’ sun come up,
crunchin’ up the hill an’ ‘crost the creek,
ears perked to hear the eagle’s shriek.
Lookin’ for baby calves in the meadow.

They knew if they heard a distant eagle’s cry,
it could mean that a critter was in distress.
Nothin’ could bring them more pleasure,
it was like findin’ lost treasure!
Keepin’ that calf safe from danger in the sky.

Them first calf heifers would often get confused,
an’ they might just walk off an’ leave that calf.
But Willie knew where to find them,
as that harsh wind blew ‘crost the rim.
It’s safe to say, them calves were shore ‘nuff abused.

He knew that heifer would do better next year.
Sometimes it took awhile to just sort things out.
So, he would often pack ‘em in,
back to the barn an’ its warm pen,
hoped she’d take over, so he’d not interfere!

Soon that barnyard would be like the Christmas scene,
full of watchful critters both large an’ small.
Sorta like the Christ Child’s birthday,
with that ol’ manger full of hay,
an’ the night sky full of starlight so serene.

You could purt near hear the host of angels sing!
Or, was it just the wind howlin’ in the trees?
Well, it’s Christmas Day after all,
with Baby Jesus in that stall,
while wondrous tidings of great joy seem to ring!

Daylight would find Willie an’ that yeller mare,
back on the lookout for more first calf heifers.
Just stewards, put on God’s green earth,
watchin for heifers givin’ birth!
An’ he thanked the Good Lord for puttin’ ‘em there.

© 2014, Ol’ Jim Cathey 
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.


Well Howdy Little Feller

Well howdy little feller
But aren't you a welcome sight
You know you had me worried
Wondr'n if you'd be all right

Your momma told the story
In a lonesome restless way
Made clear that you were missing
That you'd somehow gone astray

Last night sure was a cold one
Don't you wonder how I know?
You didn't think I'd stay in
With you out here in the snow

Yes I was looking for you
Was out searchin’ most the night
Sure thought I had you spotted
But turns out I wasn't right

Could swear I saw your bald face
Least a hundred times but no
Each time it was just nothing
But another pile of snow

Be honest little bugger
Was afraid of what I'd find
The thought of cold and coyotes
Put some pictures in my mind

Sure glad to see you made it
Good to feel your steamy breath
Don’t suppose you’ve got a clue
Just how close you came to death

Your momma's waiting for you
So let's get up now and go
Come on now little feller
Let’s both get out of this snow

© 2014, Tom Swearingen
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.


The Little Christmas Stray

The snow has been falling steady,
far across the foothills, down into the draws
and among the aspen trees.
One of our young heifers had a calf
that came 'a way to early--
now he is missing in that cold and howling breeze.
I've been riding out most of the day,
bundled and riding the old buckskin--
the horse is real savvy and will find what I'm looking for.
My wife will be peeved at me,
it's nearly Christmas Day now--
but she knows I have to find that little feller before
the temperatures go down to minus forty
or a blizzard comes a' howling.
So she'll stay up and wait up for me
Silently cussing while humming carols,
maybe baking up some pumpkin pies
And wishing we all would be
safe and asleep in our room next to the grandkids--
while they're dreaming of Chirstmas treasures,
and all of us are tucked up snug and tight.
I can feel the frostbite dancing
around the edges of my cheekbones--
But old Buck has finished up our hunt just right.
Both of us spotted the calf in a clearing,
He is slumped and hardly breathing--
I whisper "Wake up young'n, you got a life to live!"
The wind has quieted down now,
his eyes are opening a bit some and I climb
down to pick him up so I can do all I can give.
We plow back through the snowdrifts,
From far off I see the lights of home now,
and soon I climb off and pack the calf in near the stove.
Mary come's a running and helps me with that baby,
she's used to calves and bum lambs in her kitchen,
and we wonder how that calf managed to go rove.
Then I hear old grandma's clock a' chiming--
Christmas morning is arriving
and the little feller's moving and trying to get away.
Mary and I are both thinking of all the years we been here,
and this is one of the best times we'll remember
bringing home and saving this little Christmas stray.

© 2014, Jean Mathisen Haugen
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.



To Our Fellow Creatures

Christmas greetings to all of you
who work with us the whole year through.
Every day this old world is new,
with unimagined things to do.

We’ve settled some routines, of course.
At daybreak someone feeds the horse
and lets the chickens out to run.
Why, the day has hardly begun

until the mother cow and calf pairs
from the back of the flatbed get theirs.
We open the bales one by one
They eat about a half-a-ton.

But that’s the normal everyday stuff.
Without warning, the morning turns rough
and gives us a nasty surprise.
A flicker in the heeler’s eyes

Says not all’s as it should be. Someone broke
a section of fence. Like a cruel joke
half the herd is out and straying
down the highway. There’s no saying

how long it will take to fix this mess.
We feel cursed but ask God to bless
our good efforts to set things right.
With luck, we’ll have a silent night—

the rooster won’t decide it’s dawn
when 2 AM is barely gone;
the dog won’t sing soprano with coyotes
and rend our dreams with wild, discordant notes.

And if we don’t wake to someone AWOL,
hear the distant peal of a lost calf’s bawl,
the day will be perfectly begun.
The clouds will break. Warming rays of sun

will soothe men and beasts alike. Two-
legged or four, we’ll muddle through.
What would we ranchers find ourselves to do
without fellow creatures? I have no clue.

© 2014, Susan Matley
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.


Thanks to all who participated.



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