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Tyler Crow

"At the End of His Rope"



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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-second piece offered to "spur" the imagination is a painting, "At the End of His Rope," by Oklahoma artist Tyler Crow (www.TylerCrow.com).

Submissions were welcome through January 14, 2013. They are now closed. Selected poems are posted below.

© 2011, Tyler Crow, www.tylercrow.com; reproduction prohibited
"At the End of His Rope"

Tyler Crow's work appeared recently in Passing it On; Poetry by Great Plains Cowboys, a collection of poetry—a chapbook with an accompanying CDby Jay Snider and Ken Cook. Tyler Crow's oil and charcoal works appear in black and white in the book, including the cover image, "Cowboy Traffic," and "At the End of His Rope."

A credit to Tyler Crow's technique, "At the End of His Rope" is as alive in black and white as it is in color:

© 2011, Tyler Crow, www.tylercrow.com; reproduction prohibited
"At the End of His Rope"

About Tyler Crow


(Excerpted from www.TylerCrow.com)

Tyler Crow has spent his young life the small town of Apache, Oklahoma.
A 2007 graduate of Apache High School, Tyler always had paper and pencil
with him drawing horses. This childhood interest continued throughout
his high school years. During his Senior year he entered a pencil
drawing in the Oklahoma Youth Expo at the National Cowboy & Western
Heritage Museum. Winning Reserve Best of Show and a scholarship gave
him a chance to attend a weeklong summer painting workshop co-taught by
Bruce Greene and Martin Grelle. This was the first time he had ever
held a paintbrush in his hand.

Since their first meeting, Tyler has attended three more painting
workshops co-taught by Greene and Grelle. In April, 2011, Tyler attended
his second Cowboy Artist workshop taught by Mr. Greene at the Scottsdale
Artists School in Scottsdale, Arizona. In Tyler's two most recent shows,
Bosque Arts Classic and Small Works Great Wonders, he received the
People's Choice Award. His future plans are to continue studying art and
work toward a career as a Western Artist.

Find more about Tyler Crow in our feature here and at his web site,




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© 2011, Tyler Crow, www.tylercrow.com; reproduction prohibited
"At the End of His Rope"


At the End of His Rope by Jay Snider of Oklahoma
Progression by Ken Cook of South Dakota
He's At the End of His Rope by Stuart Hooker of  New Mexico
The Tenderfoot by Marleen Bussma of Utah
 Cow Docs by Del Gustafson of Washington
Late Calves by Susan Matley of Washington
When the Sundogs Danced
by Jean Mathisen Haugen of Wyoming

At the End of His Rope

Handcrafted noose on one end.
The other tied hard to the horn.
Some length of rope between the two
that’s frayed and it’s weathered and worn.

It has not a heartbeat nor semblance of soul,
Yet a lifeline ‘tween bovine and man.
The weakest of critter is hard-caught alone.
With cow horse and catch rope be sure that he can.

This leads us full circle to cow horse.
The last piece of the puzzle now found.
For a cowhand a-foot’s fairly useless
with boot heels not high off the ground.

Combined they are bound by tradition
held deep in his soul and his heart.
All framed in a landscape somewhere in the west.
It’s the template for the finest of art.

No artist paints a sweeter image
than a loop high o’er the band
delivered by a cowboy
with a true and gentle hand.

His catch twine, the inanimate object
that lashes his dreams to the hope
he can pass to the next generation
the life at the end of his rope.

© 2012, Jay Snider
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's permission.



If ever change beckons farewell and adieu
to the burning of hide amongst a good branding crew,
there will be men absent when progress rolls on
their stay feeds the future until cattle are gone.

A scant few will go forth to calve heavy cows
long days and worn leather engraved deep in them now.
At a trot beyond daylight with kids alongside
gonna gather 'em, hold 'em, rope and wrestle each hide.

Dads will dance with daughters, ground crew volunteers,
grab the tail and the twine laugh about bulls into steers.
Sons raised in the saddle good hands with a rope
bow-legged cowpunchers spring work gives them hope.

Old men bask in the smoke consumed by the fire
remembering the season their skills were for hire.
Can't harness a cowboy between progress and change
they'll pull up stakes horseback for a branding crew range.

© 2013, Ken Cook
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's permission.


He's At the End of His Rope

Two ropers, two sets of flankers
and soon we'll get this work done,
But tyin' the big one they're draggin' to us
may not be a whole lot of fun.
He's strugglin' and bellerin,' tryin' to get loose
that calf's plumb full of hope,
Truth is, that calf will get branded today
see, he's at the end of his rope;

He'll fight, he'll kick, he'll try to get up
soon he'll be down and tied tight,
This mornin' he's in the "unbranded" count
he'll be a "steer calf" tonight,
He'll never give up and lay still for us
he shows us his answer is "nope,"
We'll struggle then we'll get 'im down
see, he's at the end of his rope;

I have to admire the fight in that calf
to stay young, wild, and free,
I have to say that fightin' calf
reminds me, somewhat, of me,
I've been in spots I shouldn't have been
sometimes you just have to cope,
He's facin' a change he doesn't want
see, he's at the end of his rope;

Lyin' there, tied, he calls to his mama
from the herd you hear mama bawl,
Soon it's time to untie that calf
after he's been through it all,
He's up, he's headed back to his mama
tryin' a staggerin' lope,
'Cross the pen a roper drags up another
yep, he's at the end of his rope.

© 2013, Stuart Hooker
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's permission.



The Tenderfoot

He throbbed with pain in places that he didn’t know he had.
His days of steady straddlin’ that ol’ jughead had him clad
in saddle sores that stung and sent him seekin’ some relief.
He blamed it all on lowborn, wayworn, longhorn, stubborn beef.

His neck was sore an’ sunburned as he looked around the camp.
It wasn’t even daylight yet with grass still layin’ damp.
The cook was makin’ noise an’ cussin’ life with spit an’ spice.
His words were flittin’, flyin’ an’ they skittered out like mice.

Too bad Cook’s tongue was tasteless in the seasonin’ of food.
His greatest talent was in layin’ out an ugly mood.
Cook’s mort’lly wounded biscuits with a suffocatin’ coat
of carbon scraped an’ scratched like graders on a gravel road

when men allowed the trespass to their tender soft toned yaps.
Some days t’would have been better if they’d eaten up their chaps.
The tenderfoot restored his bedroll to its fence post shape
an’ heard the breakfast call, which was the sound as Cooky scraped

the biscuits from their fiery prison signalin’ to all,
“Get up you lazy no counts. Can’t you hear them dogies call?”
The sun would mark the day with heat that melted fence post wire.
Cook’s mood was fierce and frenzied as he worked nearby the fire.

The greenhorn swallowed coffee hotter than the hubs of hell.
He would have liked to linger; maybe visit for a spell.
He felt all thumbs and awkward like a chicken with a snake.
The closest he’d been to a cow was cuttin’ T-bone steak.

The horse he’d been assigned was lackin’ cordial aptitude.
Cantankerous an’ stubborn was its us’al daily mood.
Each time he turned his back, large equine teeth would chomp his hide.
He wondered ‘bout the punishment for cayuse homicide.

He saddled up and mounted like a man full twice his age.
He rued and then lamented on how life got to this stage.
His luck was runnin’ muddy when it vanished like a steed
with lightnin’ bolts for legs that flashed and dazzled with their speed.

He’d made some real bad choices bringin’ danger to his life.
His saddle was now slippin’ and his future years were rife
with jeopardy and peril since the mobsters wished him dead.
Witness Protection was his Smith an’ Wesson now instead.

The singe an’ scorchin’ of hide hair had choked off most his air,
which gave a bit of clarity an’ looked like answered prayer.
He’d see the boss an’ offer to take on a diff’rent job.
He’ll be the new camp cook or take his chances with the mob.

© 2012, Marleen Bussma
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's permission.


Cow Docs

The day is hot the dust is deep,
the calves are all well grown,
Big. strong and range bred wild,
it's hard to get them thrown.

Wild-eyed at the rope's end,
Bucking and bawling in fright,
Until one snorts and shakes his head,
And then goes on the fight.

Tail raised, he drops his head,
Charging right at the crew,
The cowboys running for the fence,
As the steer comes busting through.

A cowboy tangled in the rope,
Had better try to get unwound.
Before the steer charges off,
Dragging him across the ground.

If a cowboy can't beat him to the fence?
The one thing that you can trust,
The steer will knock that cowboy flat.
And roll him in the dust.

Rope burns, bruises, busted ribs,
Painful stomped on feet,
The cowboys may need more doctoring,
Than the stock they meant to treat.

© 2013, Del Gustafson
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's permission.



Late Calves

At the Flying Diamond J, down Doyle way,
We arrived in early June, on holiday,
Just in time for branding the few late calves.
My ranch-raised husband won’t do things by halves.
Having worked cattle in boyhood plus a score.
Though this spring’s busted ribs still felt kinda sore
He was game, eager, even, to lend a helping hand.

We both helped with the sorting, pedestrian-style with flags.
My next job: noting genders, as I’d no skills to brag.
I entered a hash mark for each heifer, each bull
In a stained, dog-eared spiral notebook, nearly-full
Of doctoring. My husband helped secure each calf
In the squeeze chute, the rest of his job epitaph
To apply antibiotic, the last work demand.

Propane fire and white-hot irons disturbed the mother cows,
As bawls rose loud in response to the events of now,
The coming of age. My count: bulls four, heifers three,
With six to go, in the present necessity
Of branding. But calves have their tricks,
Frightened little boogers, they’d kick
And twist, try to free themselves from the chute and the brand.

But chute flipped to branding table seven times,
Four bulls, three heifers done, with six more in line.
One by sorry one, they were herded to the chute. Cries
Of hysteria multiplied; without compromise
The sad tale of doctoring was told. Third from last
Came a sturdy little bull, who, with one deuced fast
And wily twist, shot the chute. Like lightening, as if planned,

My healing husband lunged and tackled the escapee,
Pre-empting the rally of fierce-hoofed maternity,
A ballet of bovine rage. Calf, wrestled into corral,
Saved the rest of us a chase and boosted the crew’s morale.
And my husband’s ribs? “I never felt better!” he cried,
Rubbing his side and grinning with a healed man’s pride.
It’s just the right medicine; working late calves is grand.

© 2013, S. D. Matley
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's permission.


When the Sundogs Danced

The new year's dawn had come and gone
and sundogs danced in the sky.
It was grey and cold on that winter range,
and ole Jesse was about to cry.

He hadn't even gotten to town,
to celebrate on New Year's Eve.
He was stuck here at the line camp,
and in the evening he'd ponder and grieve.

After all, sweet Sally had been back in town
waiting for him at the New Year's dance.
He asked his boss if he could go,
but grumpy old Jake wouldn't give him a chance.

'Course, Sally was Jake's only daughter—
a pretty girl with long curling hair.
With eyes that danced in the evening light—
oh, how Jesse wished he could have been there.

But Jake didn't think Jess had much luck,
his prospects were poor, just a broke cowpoke.
Didn't stop to think he didn't pay him too well,
and trying to raise some cash would be a joke.

Jesse went out to check on the cattle,
and throw them out a few chunks of hay.
He'd made up his mind he'd have a talk with Jake,
come next morning he'd be on his way,

to tell that old cuss just what he thought
of the blasted way he was treating him.
He didn't have a chance with his Sally sweet,
and Jesse's thoughts were mighty grim.

'T'was just about then Sally came riding up,
on her little roan mare, she'd missed her hope
to get Jesse caught in a permanent way,
she had no idea he was at the end of his rope!

So she and Jesse decided to take a ride
over the mountains to Meeteetse town—
get married up and surprise her Pop,
and then we'd see who'd be feeling down.

Well, a year has passed and Jake's full of pride
at the new grandbaby dancing on his knee—
he forgave poor Jesse and Sally too,
for his granddaughter laughing at him with glee!

This is the moral of this windy tale—
if ya' get to the point where you have no hope—
just pull up your britches and move on ahead—
'Cause there's never an end to a loving hope!

© 2012, Jean Mathisen Haugen
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's permission.

Thanks to all who participated.



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