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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-fifth piece offered to "spur" the imagination—as part of Cowboy Poetry Week—is the work of noted Western artist Duward Campbell. His painting, "Pilgrim," is featured as the tenth annual Cowboy Poetry Week poster.


© 2005, Duward Campbell,  duwardc@yahoo.com
 

"Pilgrim" is a painting of cowboy and poet J.B. Allen (1938-2005) and his horse, Pilgrim. This painting is also the cover of J.B. Allen's book, the circle:

Read more about J.B. Allen and about the book in our feature here.

Poetry submissions were welcome from all, through April 11, 2011. Submissions are now closed. Selected poems were posted during Cowboy Poetry Week, April 17-23, 2011.

Find the selected poems below.



Reproduction prohibited without express written permission
© 2005, Duward Campbell,  duwardc@yahoo.com
"Pilgrim"
 

About Duward Campbell

Duward Campbell is a native Texan, born and raised in the center of some of the best ranching and farming land in the country.

As an artist, the people of this region and the Southwest have provided the lifeblood for Duward’s work, as he has concentrated his painting and drawing efforts around the contemporary cowboy and rural life. Duward never draws an image he has not “breathed on,” for he knows the people, the animals and the land he brings to his work. He gathers information for his work mostly in the Southwest, however his many friends and associates allow him to do research from coast to coast. He strives for accuracy and detail of not only the physical, but spiritual aspects of the characters and land he loves.

Duward has been involved in creative activities most of his life, but became serious about drawing and painting during his junior high school years. At that time, his pencil and pen and ink drawings were shown by several galleries in Dallas and Houston. He continued these interests at Texas Tech University, where he graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in 1975.

Although he has made a living as an artist painting and drawing in a realistic manner since he was in high school, he has always tried to reach beyond that to other formats and media. Since getting a BFA in drawing and ceramics, he has involved himself in a variety of creative ventures that all interlock. Everything from designing and building furniture and architectural structures, photography, layout and graphics for several award winning books and also set design and stage direction of two theatric productions.

The basis for all his work has been good drawing and composition with the application of good design. For him, this is true if he is doing the painting of a cowboy horseback or designing a piece of equipment. He believes an “artist” should be creative in all aspects of life, and not limit himself to traditionally accepted formats. He has tried to do just that.

Duward Campbell has pieces in many public and private collections and has exhibited throughout the United States in competitive and invitational shows. He is a past member of the American Indian and Cowboy Artists (AICA), where he served as a board member and representative to the Autry Museum of Western Heritage. He has served as a board member and on the National Advisory Board for the National Ranching Heritage Association, Lubbock, Texas.

See our feature here for more about Duward Campbell and additional examples of his art. You can contact Duward Campbell at duwardc@yahoo.com.

 
 



Web reproduction permitted for Cowboy Poetry Week promotion with the credit line included:
"'Pilgrim' © 2005, by Duward Cambell, duwardc@yahoo.com; Cowboy Poetry Week 2011, www.cowboypoetry.com"
Print publications, email us for high resolution reproduction information.


Cowboy Poetry Week posters are not sold. They are offered to libraries in our Rural Library Project and to supporters of the Center for Western and Cowboy Poetry, which sponsors CowboyPoetry.com, Cowboy Poetry Week, the Rural Library project, and all of our programs.


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

 

 



Reproduction prohibited without express written permission
© 2005, Duward Campbell,  duwardc@yahoo.com
"Pilgrim"

 

Poems

Let Me Tell Ya, Pilgrim… by Jo Lynne Kirkwood of Utah
Twenty Years by Jerry Schleicher of Missouri
Life's Long Trail by Jean Mathisen Haugen of Wyoming
Riding with Memories by
Marleen Bussma of Utah
Pilgrim by Robert C. Atkin of Kansas
The Bottomland by Al "Doc" Mehl of Colorado
Pilgrims Both by Susan Matley of Washington
Taking Time by Merv Webster of Queensland
Here to Remember by Susie Knight of Colorado
Pilgrim by Del Gustafson of Washington
Lost Love by Clark Crouch of Washington
J.B.'s Song by Bette Wolf Duncan of Iowa
Pilgrim by Erika Owen of Utah



 

Let Me Tell Ya, Pilgrim…

Well I’m the one that dubbed you Pilgrim, from an old movie with John Wayne
That was made out here in Utah. That was how you got your name,
But you never were no Christian, like them early pilgrims was.
You always had the devil in you, and no arbitration clause
Between what you figured you should be doing and what I thought you ought to do.
But in spite of all your wicked ways, you’ve been family. We love you.

Neck reining ain’t your forte. You’ve always spooked at little things;
Plastic bags, jackrabbits, the creaking of tire swings.
When the kids were home their laughing might have you kickin’ up a fuss,
And the girls were scared to ride you. Like as not you’d toss them in the dust.
But with your nose as soft as velvet, warm against my throat
Blowing hot breath down my collar, leaving snot rings on my coat
You had a way of sympathizing with whatever troubles I might share
And when I needed a willing shoulder, well, Pilgrim; you were there.

But the kids are all grown up now, gone on along their way
And you spend your days in your corral, getting fat on oats and hay.
And Bob Harmston’s got a pack string. He says you would do just great
You’re sure-footed in the mountains; you’ve a strong and steady gait.
And it seems I never ride you. And the price of feed’s so steep
It’s just eating up my wages, paying for your keep

And I ain’t doing you no favors now. You’re just locked behind your gate
And you’d like being with other horses. This should be a simple call to make.
So take ‘er easy, Pilgrim. Your new life will be just swell
And I won’t regret your leaving. I won’t. I won’t like hell.

© 2011, Jo Lynne Kirkwood
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.


 


Twenty Years

How long have we been partners now? I guess it's been twenty years.
Of gatherin' momma cows and calves, and sortin' out the steers.
Or hazin' strays that spend their days grazin' the creek's grassy banks.
And ridin' out in summer's drought to check on windmill water tanks.

Sure-footed, steady, always ready, you were born to this line of work.
You've done everything I've ever asked, and I've never seen you shirk.
With cow savvy by the bucketful, there's no steer you can't outsmart.
And me? Heck, I'm just a passenger aboard an equine work of art.

We've ridden through sagebrush, grass, and golden aspen stands.
Drank our fill from icy streams that rushed over shimmering sands.
We've flushed a million jackrabbits, and dozens of coveys of quail.
And you've sidestepped every rattler we found coiled beside our trail.

We've watched red tail hawks hunting, as they patrolled a sunlit sky.
And crossed high mountain passes where eagles caught our eye.
Lookin' for cattle, we've seen bull elk battle for the right to lead their herds.
And gazed on blooming alpine meadows too beautiful for words.

We've ridden together through all sorts of weather, thunderstorms to hail.
You found the way through a blizzard that day when I couldn't see the trail.
Far more than just a horse, you're my source of confidence and pride.
If each cowboy's entitled to just one perfect mount—
                                                                    —you're the horse I choose to ride.

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


 


Life's Long Trail

He's just an old time cowboy,
who has traveled life's long trail.
He's roped and rode and camped out
and heard a coyote's wail.
He's a pilgrim in his wanderings--
worked from Arizona to Idaho.
He had a family once in Wyoming,
and then felt he had to go
to wander on across the hills
and across the valleys deep,
finding friends both here and there.
Now he's near his final Sleep.
The range has changed though folks have not.
The old west is living still,
though houses crowd the meadows now,
he still wanders where he will.
And he calls his old horse, Pilgrim,
for it seemed a proper name,
for they have long been partners
on the trail of life's long game.

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

 

 

Riding with Memories

Slow footsteps broke the quiet of the early chilly morn’.
The sun had not yet risen on this ranch where he’d been born.
His eyes were dimmed by cataracts and colors bled to gray.
He could not see fine details on this place he’d vowed to stay.

A horse in the corral sent out a nicker as he neared.
Its muzzle snuffed his shoulder as the gate was closed and cleared.
They’d ridden well as partners for two decades on the range.
No plans would separate them, only time would make a change.

His fingers were arthritic and they did not want to bend
as he picked up his saddle from the rack down on the end.
The bridle gave him trouble as he fumbled through the chore.
A daily, sad reminder, he’s no young man any more.

He walked his horse outside into the first light of the day.
The hills of grass called to him as he looked across the way.
They were a lasting presence in his life where he’d felt loss.
The day alone without her was his constant albatross.

They rode down through the valley where he’d picnicked with his bride.
He still heard haunting echoes of her laughter when she’d ride.
They crested Turtle Mountain where she’d picked a small bouquet
of lupines that she braided in her hair that magic day.

They passed the water tank where cattle pushed and shoved to drink.
Time played games with his mem’ry and he had to stop and think.
This was the place she’d told him that a child was on its way;
if he could only have her with him, just for one more day.

He turned back to the homestead where his workday would begin.
There’d be another chance for reminiscing once again.
He’d be back on this range to visit images long past;
another mem’ry round up ‘til the day he breathed his last.

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

 

Pilgrim

I look out over these waves of land
And think, “Pilgrim we've come a long way
I remember us as youngsters
Lord, it seems just like yesterday
The two of us with youth on our side
Played a real life hide 'n' seek game
Covered every trail on this range
And that's why I gave you that name

"You took me on a merry chase
'Til I caught you up one day
Now it was time for serious stuff
No time for your wild horse play
You, the orneriest cayuse I'd ever seen
Gave this cowboy a helluva a battle
But I knew, deep down inside
You'd be a ringer for workin' the cattle

"Oh ya! You were a handful
And as stubborn as stubborn could be
But old buddy you finally met your match
'Cuz there was nothin' more stubborn than me
We fought each other every day
Tryin' to figger who was the boss
Until finally we reached an impasse
You bet; I was the rider and you was the hoss

"After all these years together
You made me a better cowhand
I often wondered as I spoke
If you could really understand
I 'spose that is no nevermind
'Cuz I would rope and you would run
You and I; a single entity
Ridin' hard to get the job done

"Deep down I knew this day would come
I'd subdued the feeling inside
But now reality has set in
Today was our last ride
So Fair thee well, friend Pilgrim
May your waning days be right
This cowboy will never forget you
And your memory will always shine bright."

© 2011, Robert C. Atkin
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.


 

The Bottomland

If you walk across this prairie draw,

though mostly dry, I’d bet

In the nadir of the grassy swale,

the lower spots are wet.

And a little ways down valley,

like a twig joins to a stick,

One small trickle from this seepage

finds its way into a crik.

 

Then, a mile or so down valley,

drawn along a winding seam,

That small crik spills out upon some rocks

to splash and join a stream.

And the stream is drawn down valley,

by an ever-steady force,

’Til it slides into a river,

and assumes the river’s course.

 

From the lifeblood of those waters,

soil emerges from dry sand,

And the banks and nearby pastures

all become the bottomland.

It’s that bottomland we’ve settled,

every tributary’s branch,

Fenced the pastures of that bottomland

to form a cattle ranch.

 

And each drop of rain or flake of snow

contributes o’er the years;

This good West was built on water

more than sweat, or blood, or tears.

From each seep of water life is drawn,

fall’s trickle, or spring’s flood;

If this Western land is now our heart,

that river is our blood.

 

Tracing long curves like a serpent,

pushed ahead, a path to forge,

Ever carves the river deeper

’til she drops into a gorge.

And it’s there, that narrow gap,

like ’tween the curved horns of a ram,

In that gorge, the civil engineers

propose to build a dam.

 

They propose to build a structure

to create a reservoir;

It will serve a thirsty city

that will ever thirst for more.

And the waters will collect and flood

each valley finger’s floor,

’Til the view’s a blue horizon,

and this ridge becomes a shore.

 

We’ve not taken to their plan

to turn this soil to lake-bed mud;

We have measured out our lives

upon the land they plan to flood,

And we’ve squared it off with fence and map,

where measured acres meet.

But the valley’s water, now,

will measure out in acre-feet.

 

They’ve a plan to compensate us

for the land they plan to take;

’Twill no more be bottomland

when at the bottom of a lake.

They’ve a plan to compensate us,

and they claim they’ll make us whole;

They don’t understand that sellin’ out’s

a damned distasteful goal.

 

They don’t understand we’ve lived

for generations with one vision.

We’ve been stewards of this land;

don’t need another subdivision.

What will this good West be comin’ to?

That’s chief among our fears,

When these “water rights” (and “water wrongs”)…

get passed down o’er the years.

© 2011, Al "Doc" Mehl
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.
 


Pligrims Both

The horse is tired, the rider dismounts
To stretch his legs and let his partner
Rest. He studies the range. Paramount
In his thoughts is what lies beyond there.

If nature follows the normal rules
His horse will see what comes after life
Before he does. Small comfort. He rues
The day Pilgrim will go to earth. Knife

In heart is what he feels, the cowboy
Who hopes a good horse, an old friend will
Meet him on the other side. The joy
Of pending reunion helps instill

A calm understanding in his heart.
It’s not their last ride yet. Much to do
In earthly days when bright sunrise starts
Hard but pleasing work ‘til stars shine through.

The cowboy pats the horse, mounts again,
Resumes their progress o’er the range. Light
Hand on the reins, once more they campaign,
Rounding up strays while held in God’s sight.

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

 


 

Taking Time

We’ve seen a lot of years pass by both you and I old friend
and Pilgrim there are times like this when men like me will tend
to pause, regather memories of years spent on this land
and thank God for the gift of life and his supporting hand.

For instance when I first arrived astride your dear old ma
I lay claim to this acreage and called the place ‘’North Star”.
God showed me just what faith can do when one goes forth whole souled,
to fight against the obstacles that nature can unfold.

It’s true that there were tough times too and one would tend to doubt,
but that’s when I fought harder and in time a man won out.
Then God he gave me wisdom how to live a simple life,
content with food and covering and keeping free from strife.

The gift of love and loyalty he gave me in the form
of my sweet, wife dear, Mary and the thought of her can warm
one’s heart despite the stiffest chill upon a winter’s day
and what a treasure that lass is in every kind of way.

And when it came to courage, God he shared that through a mare.
Your mother Pilgrim, bless her soul, a cowboy’s answered prayer.
She carried me full gallop through the night and until dawn;
in time to bring the doctor back when my young son was born.

A moment too that brings to mind the quality of joy;
the miracle of new born life; a healthy baby boy.
Of course there’s you to thank as well as you have shown dear friend
how patience is a virtue and now this chat must end.

I do enjoy these moments when one takes time to reflect
and thank God’s for good virtues and to give him that respect.
But Pilgrim that storm’s closing in and one would tend to bet
If we don’t make a move old son we’re going to get wet.

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


Here to Remember

Well, here we are again, Cowboy,
in this same meadow year after year,
when September days get shorter,
and with afternoon storms blowin’ near.

How many times have we come now?
Seems like a dozen to me.
Once yearly, we ride down this trail.
We pause here; we wait…and we see

into the hush of our mem’ries
that return like an instant replay.
Yes, I was your saddle horse, Cowboy,
when we came here that very first day.

I was still coltish and green then;
wide-eyed and held my head high.
Those were the days when you rode me
all day till the moon lit the sky!

But the day that we’re here to remember,
(the one that we both reminisce)
is the day that we rode here together,
and you shared a delicate kiss

with a lady who rode here to meet you.
She brought you a picnic that day.
I grazed with her Paint in this meadow.
Your voices were happy and gay.

We rode here each Sunday that summer.
We’d wait till she’d lope into view.
The Paint would let out a whinny
while the lady was wavin’ to you.

You’d help her down from her saddle
and wrap her up in your arms.
The flowers you picked made her smile,
and seemed to encourage your charms.

But then on a day just like this one,
the finale of warm summer days,
your voice became stern and unpleasant,
and you turned your back on her gaze.

You shook your head while she pleaded.
You jerked my reins off the ground.
Then, swinging up into my saddle,
you cued me and spun me around.

You spurred with enormous conviction,
so I crow-hopped ‘fore finding my stride.
I could hear her calling your name out
as I carried you far from her side.

My heartbeat was burning inside me.
Still you urged and insisted I race
away from the Paint and the lady
and the love that we found in this place.

My hocks were swollen for days then,
And I needed the “Bute” for awhile.
I’m grateful you never demanded again
that I gallop for more than a mile.

The days ambled on through the winter,
and your countenance slowly declined.
Did the snow and cold freeze your feelings?
Did loneliness muddy your mind?

When we rode again to this meadow,
‘twas one year later, I know.
We waited and waited for hours,
but the lady and Paint didn’t show.

Recently you’ve been selectin’
one of my cousins to ride
when you’re checkin’ the cattle and fences.
I wait for you till you decide

that it’s my turn, again, to be ridden.
I’ve only one purpose, it seems…
to carry you back to this meadow
where you try to rekindle your dreams.

I wonder why we continue
to return to this spot ev’ry year,
and wait while the wind whips our mem’ry
and imagine her riding in here.

Nowadays, we rarely linger.
We wait a mere moment or two.
Each year we come here to remember
though we’re sure she’s forgotten ‘bout you.

But, Cowboy, you know that I’m faithful
and will wait here as long as I must
till you’re certain she’s not on her way here
while storm winds blow hope into dust.

I’m old now, and I’m mighty weary,
but this annual ride I won’t miss.
I’ll carry you here to remember
that lady who gave you a kiss.

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

 

Pilgrim

Old friend, We’ve rode this trail together,
through winter storms and sunny weather,
Bearing summer heat and winter cold,
But along the way we’ve grown old,

No matter how rough the trail would be,
I looked out for you, you looked out for me,
I could never find a better friend,
To share this trail until its end.

A chill has touched the air I find,
Our shadows stretching out behind,
Very soon we’ll lose the light,
This ride ending with the night.

Will we waken to a bright new dawn,
A fresh trail ahead to travel on?
And if I must go before you do,
Somewhere on that trail I’ll wait for you.

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

 


 

Lost Love

Where has it gone, our love,
born of this prairie land
in the days of our youth
on this spot where I stand?

Wand'rin' over these hills,
where we two used to go,
I remember so well
that love of years ago.

Atop this hill we stood
to watch the sinkin' sun,
waitin' for the moonrise
with our lives scarce begun.

Barely out of childhood,
but wise beyond our years,
sittin' in the moonscape,
divorced from all life's fears.

But then you moved away,
so very long ago,
paths not to cross again,
my mood from joy to woe.

Sweet mem'ries linger still
on things that might have been,
hopin' as I stand here
that we might meet again.

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

 

J.B.'s Song
(In remembrance of J.B. Allen - 1938-2005)
 

Ol’ Pilgrim ‘n me—we’re a sky dwellin’ pair.
Ol’ Pilgrim ‘n me preferred loftier air.
Like the scent of the sage or the strains of a song,
no grave could corral us or pen us up long.
There’s a grave with my name-but y’ won’t find me there.
I‘m up in the sky, over Texas somewhere.
In the skies over hills where the blue bonnet grows….
In the skies over rills where the Rio Grande flows….
In the sky-range above where falcons still fly-
with a pony called Pilgrim who’s grazin’ nearby.

There’s a campfire that’s burnin’ a hole in the clouds;
and around it rests cowboys all shorn of black shrouds.
They’re listenin’ t’ me for I’ve taken the stage
on a platform of blue flax and blue prairie sage.
With hearts that are gladdened, they hear this poke sing
how I liked so in Texas, the roundups each spring.
Oh, I liked so in Texas, the roundups in spring,
where life was so rich, and I lived like a king.
Though my pockets were empty and I had no gold,
I was blessed with more joy than this poke’s heart could hold.

I was so full of life that the kindly God gave,
that there’s no coffin made, could keep me in the grave.
Ol’ Pilgrim ‘n me—we’re a sky dwellin’ pair.
Ol’ Pilgrim ‘n me have found loftier air.
Somewhere in the downdrafts where proud eagles glide…
Somewhere in the clouds where the sun sometimes hides….
That’s where you’ll find me. Just look for me, friend,
for the grave doesn’t hold me. My life didn’t end.
There’s a crowd of fine cowboys that still hear me sing
how I liked so in Texas, the roundups in spring.

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


Bette Wolf Duncan notes there is a recording, J. B. Allen reciting "I'd Like to be in Texas for the Roundup in the Spring," here at the Western Folklife Center. A recording of J.B. Allen's recitation is also included on
The BAR-D Roundup: Volume Four.

 

 

 

Pilgrim

Here we are again, my friend. I've got a choice to make.
Our paths are mucked and ruddy, I don't know what road to take.
It hurts to let you go when you've been a pal though it all.
From the times I was at the top, till the times you saw me fall.

The pilgrims got their names, when they traveled on new ground.
And even though you were ornery, I sure liked what I had found.
So I named you for those willful people who loved to roam the prairie.
The first night you were trouble. Till you fell asleep—worn and weary.

We've had a good run hangin out with each other.
Runnin round by the lake. Fishin? We wouldn't bother.
You always did like the wind in you hair.

Pilgrim, I have to let you go now, even though it's been fun.
But I've got to move, pal. It's got to be done.
From the gossip in this town right down to the price of feed.
It's just too much for me. This is not what I need.

I'll miss the nights we camped under the stars.
Singin' songs with daddy, never hearing cars.
It felt like our own place. A home for some fun.
A home where you, him, and I could just get up and run.

But, hey, you'll be happy in this new home I've found you.
The kid is fun, and right nice too.
You'll be havin a good time, and he'll wear you out.
Don't worry though, you'll be happy to have that little sprout.
 
I'm sorry I have to leave you.
 
But things in this life have been torn asunder,
And I'll look to the past and think about my blunder,
and I'll remember the good ole' days.
 
We rode through those mountains- the wind in our hair.
You drank from my Stetsonwe ran from that bear.
You'll wander in the pasture, remembering the view.
Remembering how 15 years ago, everything was new.
 
How the wildflowers tickled your belly while walking through the meadow.
How the eagles soared so high, how the rivers did flow.
How the flowers smelled much sweeter right after morning dew,
How the cows grazed peacefullythe canyon full of happy moos.
 
Yes, things will be tough, Pilgrim.  Even for you.
But even though it hurts, it's what we gotta do.

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

 

Erika Owen is a high school student whose teacher is Jo Lynne Kirkwood.

 

 

Thanks to all who participated.

 

 


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