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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 eleventh piece offered to "spur" the imagination, as part of the celebration of the National Day of the Cowboy (July 28, 2007) is "Great Day to be a Cowboy," a painting by notable Kansas artist, Don Dane.

Poem submissions were welcome from all through July 15, 2007. Submissions are now closed.

Top poems were selected by a blind panel of six, including some judges from the 2007 National Cowboy Poetry Rodeo. Three judges also submitted poems (which were not judged, and are posted in a separate section below).

Selected poems were posted below on July 27, 2007 in celebration of the National Day of the Cowboy.

watercolor 12x18
© 2007 Don Dane Studio
Reproduction is strictly prohibited without authorization from Don Dane Studio
"Great Day to be a Cowboy"

Don Dane told us about the inspiration for this painting:

One of the cowboys I had gotten acquainted with my first trip to the Pitchfork Ranch was Dick Sayers. Dick is kicked back on his horse trying to relax or maybe stretch a little while holding his end of the herd during the spring branding.

The cowboy must do his job in all kinds of weather, but when all the conditions are right there is no better place he would rather be then sitting high in the saddle with a good horse between his knees.

Don Dane is an award-winning artist, with a particular focus on "cowboys, horses, and cattle." His watercolor and pencil sketchesmade often on location, where he also photographs and researches his subjectsprovide studies for his oil paintings. Don Dane's images have been featured on many gathering posters, including those of Cal Farley's Boys Ranch Youth Cowboy Poetry Gathering, Saddle Up!, and Silver Dollar City's A Salute to the Great American Cowboy."

See our feature about Don Dane here.

 Visit Don Dane's web site to view his galleries and more: www.DonDaneStudio.com.

Events across America celebrate the National Day of the Cowboy, July 27, 2007.   

A United States Senate resolution (S. Res.130) declaring July 28, 2007 the National Day of the American Cowboy was introduced by Wyoming Senator Craig Thomas.

The resolution was co-sponsored by Senators Allard (Colorado), Bennett (Utah), Cornyn (Texas), Crapo (Idaho), Byron (North Dakota), Enzi (Wyoming),  Murray (Washington), Salazar (Colorado), Baucus (Montana), Bingaman (New Mexico), Craig (Idaho), Domenici (New Mexico), Ensign (Nevada), Hatch (Utah), Landrieu (Louisiana), Reid (Nevada), and Stevens (Alaska).

The resolution notes "...approximately 800,000 ranchers in all 50 States are conducting business and contributing to the economic well-being of nearly every county in the Nation..." Read the text of the resolution here at the BAR-D.

Read about the 2006 celebration, which included a special Art Spur feature, and a column by American Cowboy magazine editor Jesse Mullins, Jr., about the "National Day of the Cowboy." American Cowboy magazine launched the National Day of the Cowboy in 2004.

See previous Art Spur projects here.


watercolor 12x18
© 2007 Don Dane Studio
Reproduction is strictly prohibited without authorization from Don Dane Studio
"Great Day to be a Cowboy"


Thanks to all who submitted poems and to the judges. The six qualified
judges selected the top poems, which are posted below. Judges received poems
without poets' names included.

Three of the judges submitted poems inspired by "A Great Day to be a Cowboy"
and those poems, which were not judged, are in a separate section below.


Poems from judges:

A Great Day to be a Cowboy, by Yvonne Hollenbeck
A Good Day to be a Cowboy by Jay Snider
What If? by Sam Jackson

Selected submitted poems:

Great Day to be a Cowboy by Diane Tribitt
Great Day for a Cowboy by Rod Nichols
Brothers Stay Together by Ken Cook
A Moment's Grace
, by Jan Price
Partners with the Wind by Glen Enloe
Thank You for the Blessings, by Merv Webster



A Great Day to be a Cowboy

There could be no better feeling than astride a good cow horse,
when you're riding 'cross the prairie all alone.
Where the gentle breeze is blowing as the clouds go drifting by,
and you feel just like a king upon a throne.

Of course the work can be real hard and some days aren't so good
or the weather isn't always like today.
You never know what lies ahead when riding 'round the bend,
and work long days for very little pay.

But, I wouldn't trade one day out here for any job in town,
it's a lifestyle that a rich man cannot buy;
and the grandeur of a city could never quite compare
to living where the prairie meets the sky.

So in essence what I'm saying is "I'm blessed to be out here,
and glad to face whatever comes my way;
'cause nothing's ever perfect, although this is mighty close
and it's great to be a cowboy every day!"

© 2007, Yvonne Hollenbeck
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.


A Good Day To Be a Cowboy

It’s cold and it’s wet and it’s thankless
You toil from can ‘till you cain’t
You’ve vowed a thousand times to quit
Down deep you know that you ain’t

‘Cause springtime brings a resurgence
Resurrection of life all anew
Soon the wagon will roll for the brandin’
Ole’ cousie, the remuda and you

The simple smell of morning air
The nectar from cousie’s ole’ pot
A whiff of smoke from the cook fire
Reminders of just what you’re not

Not a slave to bell or whistle
No captive of men born of greed
No ward to notoriety
Nor to glory, you’ve no need

What we are we chose to be
And would gladly do for free
So, any day’s a good day
If you “cowboy” for your pay

© 2007, Jay Snider
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.


What If ?  

Pushed the herd down off the mountain, finished brandin’, finished countin’,

            summer range has left the critters sleek and fat.

Ain’t nuthin’ much ta do right now, but sit’ma hoss and watch a cow

            and cogitate on where my life is at.


Seems I do my deepest thinkin' when my eyes are barely blinkin’

           and I feel a Cayuse shiftin' 'tween my knees.

Kind'a brings about a feelin', that gives heart and soul some healin'

           an' I'll say for sure it sets my mind at ease.


Thoughts begin to drift and wander as my mind begins to ponder

           on some “ifs” and “whys” and “hows” of yesteryear.

“What If “ I’d been a city dude, an’ sport a city attitude,

           and never seen the likes of life out here?


Or-- “What if” I’d been a sailor, ‘board a three mast Boston Whaler

           roamin’ round the world from sea to shiny sea?

A gallivant, a roving sport, who’d boast a gal in every port--

          That could’a been the sort'a life for me.         


Or maybe sumthin’ really cool, like Hollywood and acting school,

          a rowdy tough guy roll would be my thing-- 

Move over Gene an’ Tom an’ Roy, here comes a genuine cowboy

          ta’ round up all them bad guys, while you sing.


Then after duelin’ with them crooks, I’d autograph some picture books

          then head fer dinner in some swank café.

Whoa hoss!! That be’s the dinner bell, Chuck wagon sounds, I know’em well--

          Great day to be a cowboy‘s what I’d say!

© 2007, Sam A. Jackson
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.




Great Day to be a Cowboy

Holding his end of Texas-cross cows

the cowboy leaned back with a sigh

His young sun-dyed face

held just a small trace

of fun in his dark, daring eye


Riding through canyons thick with mesquite

in scrub oak thickets—and cedars

his best sorrel horse

kept the herd on course

with no breakers or stampeders


He pondered on modern-day ranchin'

with choppers and laptops and such

but there ain't much change

out here on the range

where gadgets don't mean all that much


He had ridden in Texas Northers;

Seen horns lit by St. Elmo's fire;

And raced eerie gales

that chased his coat-tails

but cowboyin' was his desire


He had ridden where there was no shade

'cept the shadow under his hat

and oft' he would swear

that Hade's hot air

was corralled and penned under that


And he rode in some worst stampedes ever

to happen while out on a drive

He hazed at the ear

Rode flank at the rear

The wonder is that he's alive


But ever so often it happens

the weather for gatherin' beeves

is sunny and bright,

ain't a cow on the fight

and a cowboy can roll back his sleeves

© 2007, Diane Tribitt
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.



Great Day For A Cowboy

Lord, would you look at that powder-blue sky,
a-stretching 'cross Heaven for miles.
A painting, I swear, you'd have to declare,
twould make Charley Russell all smiles.

Don't see it gettin' much better than this,
no matter how hard you might strive.
Just mounted like this, a cowboy in bliss,
it's a great day for being alive.

Time seems to settle and pause for a while
a moment or so just to rest.
To capture in art this cowhand's old heart
would take Fred'rick Remington's best.

Feelin's I'm feelin' laid back on my mount,
right now at the end of the drive,
are tellin' me, "Son, the work is all done.
It's a great day for being alive."

Prairie winds blowing a warm, subtle breeze,
a prairie hawk callin' on high,
are sounds of delight few poets could write,
though ol' Badger Clark might just try.

Lookin' back now on the day that has passed,
ahead to the day we'll arrive,
I just have to grin while taking it in.
It's a great day for being alive.

Let the world turn its back on such notions,
as somehow best left in the past.
From where I now sit, I'll have none of it.
To quote ol' Buck Ramsey, "I'll pass."

Don't think I'd trade it for anything else.
Ain't wantin' no old nine-to-five.
Just sittin' up here, it seems mighty clear.
It's a great day for being alive.

© 2007, Rod Nichols
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

Brothers Stay Together
A dozen summers come and gone
Since we gave up where once was home.
Countless hours horseback together
Now herdin' cattle not our own.

Our Papa use to growl straight out
If there's work needs done just do it,
So after he and Mama passed,
We dug down deep and did not quit.

Pa's life stopped when a good horse fell
While movin' cows off summer range.
Ma just gave up her will to live,
Could not go on, it may sound strange

But Lord she loved that tough old man,
We buried them nine days apart.
Then early Fall the notes came due.
Bank took it all 'cept for our hearts

And three unbroken geldings, the truck
And trailer with most of our gear.
Cowboy'd our way past some rough times
But could not separate for fear

Of losin' everything our folks
Prayed nights we'd all grow up and be.
Honest men first and tough cowboys,
But most of all a family.

So we spurred the hair off outlaws,
Roped bulls and tied steers to the ground.
Pushed cows for miles to greener grass,
Always stayin' forever bound

To one another.
Rivers to the sea.

Someday we'll stake us our own place,
Just Buckshot, Charlie and me.

© 2007, Ken Cook
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

A Moment's Grace

When I'm out there workin' on the range
there's nothin' much I'd really change.
Well, sure the weather's oft' unkind
but a better life you'd never find.

The cowboy way don't always shine
but it's what I chose and call it mine.
I'm mighty proud to play my part
and it comes from deep within my heart.

A moment's grace when brandin's done,
while lookin' at the settin' sun,
there's one thing comes to mind with joy,
it's a great day...to be a cowboy.

© 2007, Jan Price
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.


Partners with the Wind

It is an ancient ancestry;
A horse hoof and man's hand

A primal link back to the sea

Blood brother to the land.

It is spring's end for brandin' now,
You stop and take a break

But are you master or the cow?
This life's more give than take.

You lean back slow, now at your ease
To saddle leather squeak

As lowing sun grazes the trees
To find the breeze you seek.

You know that those who share the land
Now seem too far and few

But one thing that you understand,
Is that you're far from through.

You know stampedin' years won't dim
This life that so few chose

Freedom's just like a far off rim
That we too often lose.

Yet, still the range rides in your heart;
Your soul is what it steals

And then you're right back at the start

With wind beneath your heels.

The world throws you and has its say

It's sadness mixed with joy

But still you know it's a great day
Just to be a cowboy.

Yes, horse and man live their seasons,
They know all things must end—
Yet they linger for those reasons

Close partners with the wind.

© 2007, Glen Enloe
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

Thank You for the Blessings

“It’s eighty years or so now Pap, since Gramps came out this way,

and with his bride, a one eyed horse, a cow and ageing dray.

You said they had the basics, and recalled how life was rough,

as living under canvas could at times be mighty tough.


But both of them they had a dream, there hearts were in this land,

and looking round it’s not that hard to say I understand

just how they felt … as mine is too and Pa …you felt the same;

and Sir I don’t mind saying that I’m proud to bear your name.


The old wood hut that Grandpa built still stands down by the stream,

I’ve tried to keep it in repair, respecting that man’s dream.

From time to time I sit upon its stairs and write my songs,

about the way of things today;  life’s many rights and wrongs.


The roses in the garden are from stock that grandma grew

and cared for by my dear, sweet wife as she loves roses too.

The picket fence Ma had you build stands out from way up here

and though Ma’s frail she’s keeping well and always full of cheer.


Its’ must’ring time and both my boys are helping with the mob.

They’re sure content here on the place and do a real good job.

Their hearts are in the land too Pap and things are looking sound.

I’m sure Gramp’s dream will carry on when I am not around.


I miss your guiding hand at times, you’re company as well,

though have enjoyed just sitting here and talking for a spell.

I’d better catch up with the boys and Pap … just let me say,

I thank both you and Grandpa for the blessings I’ve today.”

© 2007, Merv Webster
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

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