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"Heading West" © Molly Morrow, www.mollymorrow.com; reproduction prohibited
© Molly Morrow, www.mollymorrow.com  

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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-fourth piece offered to "spur" the imagination—in celebration of the Ninth Annual National Day of the Cowboy, July 27, 2013—is "Heading West," a photograph by Washington state photographer Molly Morrow (www.mollymorrow.com), widely recognized for her PRCA rodeo photography.

Find the selected poems below.

"Heading West" © Molly Morrow, www.mollymorrow.com; reproduction prohibited

© Molly Morrow, www.mollymorrow.com; reproduction prohibited
"Heading West"

Molly Morrow tells about the photograph:

A yearly event, the crew for the Mert Stampfly Ranch takes mother cows and calves to spring pasture north of Ellensburg, Washington. The photograph shows Mert’s cows and crew, heading west through the wildflower-covered sage.

I was horseback when I photographed this. I was riding my good photo horse, Greta at the time. She had bucked with me earlier that morning, but I held on to my camera and didn't pull leather. She turns 29 this year.

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

Submissions were welcome from all, through July 24, 2013 Selected poems will be posted on or before the Ninth annual National Day of the Cowboy, Saturday, July 27, 2013.

About Molly Morrow

"Greata and Molly Morrow," photo by Connie Bennett
photo by Connie Bennett
Molly Morrow and Greta

A versatile photographer as comfortable working in the studio as she is riding a horse, Molly Morrow has used her camera to capture the Western way of life for more than 30 years. With a creative spark and engaging attitude, Molly specializes in photographing the people, places and traditions of the West. Her portrait work, as well as her images of professional rodeos, landscapes and cowhands, can be found everywhere from print and online publications, commercial advertising and art galleries, to family homes and offices.

“Capturing the moment is what it’s all about,” says Molly, “in a fleeting second the opportunity is gone. My job as a photographer is to save that moment for all to see and share. It doesn’t matter if it is a loving glance or a spinning bull ride, salting away the image is what’s important.”

As a Pro Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA) photographer, Molly shoots rodeos throughout the West, including The National Finals Rodeo and nightly awards presentations, Cheyenne Frontier Days, Ellensburg Rodeo, Northwest Regional Rodeo/Ellensburg (NIRA), Bares and Broncs, Toppenish Rodeo, the Pendleton Round-Up, and Coulee City, Last Stand Rodeo.

“In her seven years as a PRCA photographer, Molly Morrow has proven to be one of the elite chroniclers of the cowboy sport,” said Jim Bainbridge, senior public relations coordinator at the PRCA. “The quality of her photos, her professionalism and can-do attitude separate her from the pack.”

Molly’s images also have appeared in national publications such as Western Horseman, Pro Rodeo Sports News, Cowboy’s Digest, Competitor News, The Basin Business Journal, and Rodeo Fame. Her work has also appeared in Western Way Magazine. She shows annually in October at the Western and Wildlife Show sponsored by the Fred Oldfield Western Heritage and Art Center in Puyallup, Washington. Other showings of her work include this past March (2013) in Great Falls, Montana, at the Great Western Living and Design Exhibition.

“Molly has provided us with great rodeo action shots, and also has been on assignment for us, capturing the unique relationship between rodeo competitors and their horses,” said Susan Morrison, managing editor of Western Horseman magazine.

Additionally, many other artists ask Molly to photograph their work for publication and reproduction, including nationally recognized and award winning sculptor Paul Crites. “I have been a professional artist/sculptor for some 43 plus years and have worked with many photographers. None have had the magic of Molly Morrow. I refer to her as ‘Merlin the Magician,’” Crites said. “Molly is able to capture the vision, passion and quality of what I embed into my work and bring it out to the viewer. I am fortunate indeed to work with a professional such as Molly, and you can underscore professional twice. Plus she is a hoot to work with, nothing dull going on here. And best of all she’s a friend!"

A new project for 2013, Western Artist, Cheryl Volz is working with Molly’s photographs and creating individual drawings of rodeo contestants in colored pencil for the Cow Palace Event Guide. It will be printed in Fall, 2013.

Top rodeo contestants, such as 2012 PRCA World Champion Bull Rider Cody Teel, request and use Molly’s photos for their fan pages and autograph sheets.

To complement her portraiture and action photography work, Molly also offers graphic design and print production services through her full-service studio in Ellensburg, Washington. Folks there know they can trust Molly to bring enthusiasm and professionalism to any project.

“Molly provided creative ideas to bring to life historic photographs of the Ellensburg Rodeo for the Ellensburg Rodeo Hall of Fame photo project,” said members of the Ellensburg Rodeo Hall of Fame board. “Her professional knowledge of printing photos and graphic art techniques made it possible to create beautifully framed images for a future ERHOF museum. We especially appreciate her artistic work and good humor.”

For more information, contact Molly Morrow:
518 North Pine
Ellensburg, Washington 98926


provided May, 2013

See some additional examples of Molly Morrow's work in our feature here.

Find more about Molly Morrow and more of her work at her web site, www.MollyMorrow.com.

"Heading West" © Molly Morrow, www.mollymorrow.com; reproduction prohibited "Judy's Saddle," a tribute to range rider, Judy Golladay  © Molly Morrow, www.mollymorrow.com; reproduction prohibited "Stampede," Beard Rodeo Company's bucking horses. © Molly Morrow, www.mollymorrow.com; reproduction prohibited

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Submissions were welcome from all, through July 24, 2013

Find the selected poems below.


If you enjoy features like Art Spur, please support the BAR-D. 

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Be a part of it all here at the BAR-D.

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  "Heading West" © Molly Morrow, www.mollymorrow.com; reproduction prohibited
© Molly Morrow, www.mollymorrow.com; reproduction prohibited
"Heading West"



Headin' to Mountain Pasture by Jean Mathisen Haugen of Wyoming
Winnin' the Game by Slim McNaught of South Dakota
It's Time by Mark Kerr of Utah
Summer Range by Del Gustafson of Washington
Range Interlude
by Susan Matley of Washington
Dry Pasture by C.W. (Charles) Bell of Utah

"Heading West" © Molly Morrow, www.mollymorrow.com; reproduction prohibited
© Molly Morrow, www.mollymorrow.com  

Headin' to Mountain Pasture
Headin' west at the east end of a herd
might sound real romantic—
but dust and bits of rocks in my teeth,
can nearly make me frantic—
include some hard biting horseflies
munching on my skin,
having a picnic where I don't care for 'em
and my temper gets a' might thin.
Watching those cattle moving ahead,
she's still a pretty sight
moving  them up to mountain pasture
and brings a quiet delight
Headin' west and watch the horse—
he tends to like to bite 
if the ornery cuss can get away with it,
and puts me on the fight.
The cattle have the right of way
out here in Wyoming
and drivers get plumb frustrated
while we go roaming
chasing down a cow and calf
and moving them down the road
back into the herd—
I like it better than a load
of them put on a truck,
smelling of manure and other odors
and leaving a trail of muck.
Headin' west and grandpa would have laughed
at the potato-sack way I sometimes ride—
but then he would look down on us
with memories and pride—
'cause we and the old ranch are still going. . .

© 2013, Jean Mathisen Haugen

This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's permission.

"Heading West" © Molly Morrow, www.mollymorrow.com; reproduction prohibited
© Molly Morrow, www.mollymorrow.com


Winnin' the Game

Walkin’, trottin’, steady, down a badlands trail at night,
          pale moon a’castin’ shadows long and black,
Some folk would call ‘em eerie, I call ‘em signs of home
          ‘cause just a few more miles and we’ll be back.
Tonight I sleep in my own bed, ‘stead of under tarp,
          it’s been a week since I could sleep at home.
Trailed the herd to summer graze, found good grass and water,
          with cowboys livin’ close in case they roam.

It’s more than thirty miles since the mornin’ sun came up,
          that we have kept this steady travelin’ pace.
Our horses know we’re headed home, ready for a rest,
          we’re lookin’ forward to familiar space.
We graze our cows on summer grass, fattenin’ up the calves,
          then trail ‘em home before first snow this fall.
Calves will travel faster, it won’t take us quite as long
          as it does in spring when calves are new and small.

Then comes weanin’, cullin’ drys and sortin’ off the calves,
          good place to put some miles on yon green horse.
Workin’ amongst the cattle will help him learn his trade,
          along with saddle blankets, wet of course.
We’ve lived and loved and learned on this range of short grass sod,
          we don’t know another way of life,
And as generations come and go we surely do feel blest
          to live a life not filled with stress and strife.

How many folks can know the feel of evening cool in draws
          while ridges keep their warmth from daytime sun.
Or smell the smells of earth and grass that comes on gentle breeze,
          ridin’ on a good horse ‘til the work is done.
Or ridin’ through the herd in spring when cows are droppin’ calves,
          and see the mother instinct come to life.
You give thanks up to your Maker for this short grass range
          where you are blest with fam’ly, friends and wife.

Or saddle up ol’ horse on a mornin’ fresh with frost,
          watch him stiffen up his legs, hump his back.
While back skirts on that saddle point upward into space
          you walk him ‘round a bit to get untracked.
Then cheek him short, step aboard, half hopin’ he’ll unwind,
          you never know where things will go from here.
So you line him out to start the day, chin down in your scarf,
          and marvel at this world so fresh and clear.

Some who dwell ‘neath city spires, degrade our cowboy toil,
          they say our way of life to them seems odd.
I dwell beneath these badland spires pointed up to Heaven
          and see each day the handiwork of God.
It’s sad to think how many folks are chained to dreams of wealth,
          or spend their lives in frantic search of fame.
They’ll never find contentment until they realize
          that faith, family, and friends win the game

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

"Heading West" © Molly Morrow, www.mollymorrow.com; reproduction prohibited
© Molly Morrow, www.mollymorrow.com  

It’s Time

Even the old boys said, it’s the longest winter they could remember
Heavy snow and frost, brought dry ponds and short feed by September
And the cold winds herded in work, only the cruelest nature would bring
Searching for the strength in faith, looking for the first signs of spring

But in hardships we hold hope, that seems to be born in this hard land
The cowboy tamed this range, with a strong will and a firm solid hand
For keeping cattle is never easy, when the land has to bend to the weight
Think to the strain of a soul, determined to make and face his fate

But we know spring will come and we’ll push out of that boggy bottom
Move up through the breaks to the high meadows until late autumn
Pushing into the buffalo grass that smells sweet this time of year
Riding in time with the sounds of the leather that’s packing our gear

And time will pass like the breeze that shakes, the cedars up on the rise
Moving the herd to seize the grass and life, under those high desert skies
But the seasons will change as the nights grow long and days turn to fall
And the time will come to push back down and follow the season’s call

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

"Heading West" © Molly Morrow, www.mollymorrow.com; reproduction prohibited
© Molly Morrow, www.mollymorrow.com  

Summer Range

It was time to move the cattle from the range that they were on,
We had them all gathered and started moving them at dawn.
They started off smartly, moving at a trot,
But the pace soon got slower as the trail got steep and hot.

There between the fences on that narrow track,
The cows were getting thirsty and the leaders all turned back.
We worked hard to hold them and they milled around a lot,
So we sent the dogs into the herd to let them break up the knot.

We reached the seep for water and the cattle drank their fill,
We let them rest a little before we drove them up the hill,
Signs of wild horses showed they watered here,
As well as coyotes, cougars, mountain sheep and deer.

So we drove them harder, put more pressure on the bunch,
Until we saw the ranch’s pickup and Cookie fed us lunch.
Then with the cattle rested we didn’t let them stop
We kept that herd moving to the wild pastures at the top.

There the cattle scattered to let the summer pass.
So They could grow and fatten on that hearty mountain grass.
We turned our horses down the hill as the sun dipped out of sight,
I know we’ll still be riding long after we lose the light.

Now there will be chores and haying until the late fall rain,
Then we’ll round up those cattle and drive them home again.

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

"Heading West" © Molly Morrow, www.mollymorrow.com; reproduction prohibited
© Molly Morrow, www.mollymorrow.com  

Range Interlude

It’s time for the annual pageant, a once-a-year event
featuring stars who dim the sun!
Whether this year is a comedy or dramatic lament,
the critics will surely be won.

Spring’s wild beauty in Washington is the backdrop for our scene,
mother cows and calves the actors.
The action: heading west, up Cascade mountain foothills, serene
in ascent. Our play has begun.

The mother cows reminisce about their after calf-hood lives,
the leisure due when branding’s done.
Heifers and steers bawl their lines, trotting faithfully alongside
the sweet, milky scent of mama.

That old red cow with the nickname Bette Davis takes the point.
No bovine bit-player hesitates
to follow the Diva’s tread. No higher power could anoint
a more regal prima donna.

Paparazza plagues these celebrities. Good to countless fans,
they strike the perfect pose for her,
the camera-toting cowgirl. With skill (and luck) she’s one who can
catch them all showing their good sides.

And the cowboys? Sure, they tag along in this drama at drag.
The boys talk big, but ask the cows.
They’ll likely bawl, “Don’t listen when those second-rate extras brag,
those hams are just here for the ride.”

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


"Heading West" © Molly Morrow, www.mollymorrow.com; reproduction prohibited
© Molly Morrow, www.mollymorrow.com  

Dry Pasture

Well, today's another day in the hot summer sun,
I gotta fetch them cows, and it aint much fun.
It's down the hill, across the road ever doggone day
And along a country lane about a mile away

To gather the thirsty herd from the far, dry pasture.
Oh, they'll be waitin' for me, no need to capture.
And back we'll come along the lane again
Across the road, up the hill to the home place pen.

And guess what? When they've fin'ly drunk their fill
I'll round 'em up and once again drive 'em down the hill,
Repeatin' myself, the hill, the road, the lane
Deliver the herd, then it's back to the place again.

It's a hot, dusty, smelly job on a summer's day,
And a kinda dreary way to earn a cowboy's pay.

© 2013, C.W. (Charles) Bell
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's permission.


"Heading West" © Molly Morrow, www.mollymorrow.com; reproduction prohibited
© Molly Morrow, www.mollymorrow.com  


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