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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 tenth piece offered to "spur" the imagination, as part of Cowboy Poetry Week, is Tim Cox' painting, "At His Own Pace."  We are honored to have "At His Own Pace" as the official poster for Cowboy Poetry Week, 2007. 

Read the resulting poems below.

Reproduction prohibited without express written permission
"At His Own Pace" by Tim Cox 

Tim Cox is one of the best known western artists in America. His depiction of the contemporary western cowboy, rancher and the modern southwest strikes a familiar note with thousands of people.

Tim Cox comments on this painting: "This depicts a ranch hand on the T-4 Ranch near Tucumcari, New Mexico. This is during fall works and we were always taught that the fastest way to work cows is slow: at his own pace."

See our feature here for more about Tim Cox, and visit Tim Cox' web site for more about him and his work: www.TimCox.com 

Reproduction prohibited without express written permission
"At His Own Pace" by Tim Cox 

We're honored to have Tim Cox' painting, "At His Own Pace," as the 2007 Cowboy Poetry Week poster art. 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. 

Poetry submissions were welcome from all, through April 2, 2007.  Submissions for this Art Spur are now closed.




Reproduction prohibited without express written permission
"At His Own Pace" by Tim Cox 


At His Own Pace, by Yvonne Hollenbeck
At His Own Pace by Van A. Criddle
At His Own Pace by Michael Henley
Time for Ponderin' by Mag Mawhinney
At His Own Pace, by Rod Nichols
A Handsome Dividend, by Merv Webster
At His Own Pace, by Jo Lynne Kirkwood
At His Own Pace, by Diane Tribitt

I'll Just Have to Pay Myself!, by Paul Kern
Bring 'em Home Slow, by Janice Gilbertson
At His Own Pace, by Robert Dennis
In Their Own Time, by Jan Price
At a Cowboy Pace
, by Slim McNaught
Moving at My Own Pace, by C. W. Bell
At His Own Pace, by Al Mehl
The Surest Way by Glen Enloe
Elder's Pace by Jim Hawkins




At His Own Pace

It looks like a storm might be headed his way
            with those clouds making bag in the west.
They have come a long way since early this morn
            and those cows are deserving a rest.

It seems like just yesterday spring had arrived
            and they turned into grass lush and green.
Those calves have sure grown and with fall ‘round the bend
            they’ll soon have to round up and wean.

He savors each day that he spends on the trail
            …a moment in time he’ll embrace;
and he’ll ride back to camp, just alone on his horse
            and be riding in at his own pace.

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


At His Own Pace

He’d made his early mornin’ gather,
Had a look of peace upon his face,
He let the cattle drift and nibble
Followin’ close at his own pace.

Mornin’ sun reflectin’ on pale clouds
Buildin’ far behind him in the west.
The smells and sites and sounds of Roundup
Make this time of year the very best.

With blue skies stretched out above him,
Yellow, dryin’ grass at summers end,
Pushin’ slowly through the scrub oak
Astride ol’ Suntan, his faithful friend,

Wearin’ a faded Levi jacket
To protect against the mornin’ chill
He drifted red and white ol’ muley’s
‘Cross high prairie and down each hill.

Suntan kept his head up watchin’
Every move those white faced critters made.
Watchin’, checkin’ that little black one,
He pushed ‘em over hill and glade.

Together this trusty horse ‘n rider,
Knowin’ that they wasn’t in no race,
Kept those polled hereford’s slowly driftin’
Followin’ close at their own pace.

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



At His Own Pace

We know some hands are loners
 and we accept that's how they are.
Still, Gary say's R.P. Burnette
 trails a different star.

He's more than a just an odd sort,
  and not just him being quiet.
But it's creepy how he can walk around
  and not make a sound at night.

I've even seen him spook the horses
  as he slips into the pen,
And they're caught before they ever see
  that snake-quick houlihan.

Ain't no questions he can 'cowboy,'
  he's a ropin', ridin' fool.
Sorta calms 'em when he's workin close,
  where some boys lose their cool.

When we're fencin' on the BLM
  and it's hot as 'Old West Hell,'
he's like a piston in an engine
  if he's tired, you shore cain't tell.

So the Boss sends us up last month,
  to start openin' some gates,
So's they might start driftin' lower
  when the snow covers their plates.

 When the weather got some stronger
  we went up to take a peak.
Found almost every head was grazin'
  at the base of Laughton's Creek.

 Now Mr. Arlo shore was tickled
  when he heard that they was down.
"Still we're missin' 30 head I count
  and you can bet they're still around.

So on Wednesday he sends R.P. up
  to sweep them canyons dry.
"Might not find every head he says,
  but I'd be grateful if you'd try."

So on Wednesday R.P. lights out
  ridin' Rex and pullin' Kate.
The November sun was shinin' bright
  as he looked back from the gate.

The first four days, there weren't much said
  'bout the fact he hadn't showed,
but after 10 days Mr. Arlo asked me
  to trail up the way he rode.

I took Gary for some company
  since the chores were gettin' slow,
and we were just out from the ranch
  when we heard singin', don't you know.

A half a mile ahead or so,
  R.P. was easin' down
pushin' 30 head of 'feathernecks'
 just tippytoein' cross the ground.

 "If that don't beat the preacher,"
  Gary hollers as he grins.
As R.P. gathered every one
  and walked 'em in the pens.

Mr. Arlo come off the rockin' chair
  with a big smile cross his face.
Said, "I swear R.P.'s a cowhand
  but Lord he moves at his own pace."

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


Time for Ponderin'

Been ridin' herd near all my life,
must be forty years or more,
wouldn't give it up for nothin',
so I sure ain't keepin' score.

I remember Grampa tellin' me
there ain't much that we own.
This land was here before we came,
truth is, it's just on loan.

"So treat 'er right and she'll give back",
was the message that he gave.
His wisdom will be honored
till they put me in my grave.

We've done no over-grazin'
and the fences are intact,
no urban sprawl can mess with it,
I know that for a fact.

The cows are fat and sassy,
don't need much for winter feed
and the way I look at things right now,
got ev'rything I need.

Just look at that ol' sunset
throwin' colors 'cross the skies
and lightin' up the mesa,
givin' pleasure to my eyes.

Ol' Baldy's chompin' at the bit
'cause the ranch is now in sight.
Gotta keep these cows from strayin'
and bunch 'em up real tight.

Soon I can shake this dust off,
get my boots on solid ground.
Think I'll mosey out to Rod's Place,
shoot the bull and buy a round.

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



At His Own Pace

Havin' time in the saddle beyond a few years,
Ol' JC knew somethin' 'bout workin' with steers.
So more than a foreman, he'd speak as a friend,
and give good advice to the newly hired men.

Now the longhorn or shorthorn or no horn's the same;
they'll move as it suits 'em; no point to complain.
You can swear at 'em cowboy til red in the face,
the thing about cattle they'll set their own pace.

To the stock pen at trail's end that lies up ahead,
a tough call to say son who leads or who's led.
If drovers have one way, the driven another,
it's constant combattin' 'tween one and the other

At point, drag or flanker wherever you'll be,
there's them in that gath'rin' that means to get free.
It's a walk, balk or gambol. Sometimes it's a chase.
The thing about cattle, they'll set their own pace.

It's a tough time at sunup when dew's on the ground:
they'll munch, bunch or scatter when riders come 'round.
They'll quickstep or sidestep or just run away,
a challenge each mornin' to roundup them strays.

They're stubborn, standoffish and skittish to boot;
cause just when you got'em they'll haul off and scoot.
Ain't a cowboy in Texas or most any place
don't know that them cattle will set their own pace.

Now there might have been skeptics that day in the crew
cattle ain't smarter than hands that are new,
and just like a feller's got a real point to prove,
they'd flat show that old man how cattle were moved.

Well a long story short at the end of the day,
them newly hired boys had a cow and a stray.
Ol' JC before them had a dozen in place
just 'llowin' them cattle to set their own pace.

There's a moral here pardner too plain to ignore:
you might learn a bit from a hand gone before,
You don't deride elders then ride off in haste,
or life, like them cattle, will set its own pace.

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



A Handsome Dividend

We’d been mustering in the back blocks for a day or maybe two
and were happy with the numbers, though we sensed we’d lost a few.
“There’s at least a dozen missing!” yelled old Curly from his mount
and the old mate knew his cattle and he sure knew how to count.

With a grin upon his ageing dile he reined up close by me
then suggested that he had a hunch to where the stock might be.
He had hinted that the south-east fence was strung up far to tight
so he’d canter back and check it out; perhaps his hunch was right.

Sure enough there’d been some tamp’rin and as far as he could tell
he would bet the neighbour Wallace had a hand in it as well.
Shifty Wallace wasn’t backward and the old bloke sure knew how
to increase the numbers in his herd by duffing the odd cow.

Now old Curly had been gone a while, but sensed he knew his job.
Hell! he probably would come back soon and with the missing mob.
Sure enough up on the ridge ahead, and at old Curly’s pace,
he was following a dozen head. A grin upon his face.

There was no good taking Shifty on about his slight of hand
‘cause he’d just suggest the cows had strayed and walked onto his land.
But I reckon I was still ahead and won out in the end
as his bull then sired, in the Spring, a handsome dividend.

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




At His Own Pace

I’ve a memory of grass to their bellies
on a good year, like we used to know
Soft gentle rains throughout April,
Mountain tops crested with snow.

I’ve a memory of sweet summer meadows
where bluebells and lady’s slippers hide
in the rich clumps of rye and blue grama.
Fat cattle movin’ slow, sleepy-eyed.

But this summer will be a dry one
I’m afraid.  All the signs point that way.
I’m hearing that the dust on the strip
is a foot deep.  And it isn’t yet May.

And I’m worried.  We say the drought’s over
But God knows we’ve had some lean years
in this decade.  Herds lost both to thirst and to cold.
We’re optimistic, but we ain’t denying our fears.

Seems like the one thing you can count on
is that there ain’t nothin’ that’s sure.
You just hold on to your hat and your pommel,
spit the grit from your teeth, and endure.

I’ll not give advice to my Maker,
I guess that would be out of place
Because the Boss, He’s been mighty busy
And I know He works at His own pace.

But Lord, though I trust in your wisdom,
and I know you have a great plan,
We’ll keep hoping for rain, just like always.
Prayin’ you’ll keep us in the palm of your hand.

© 2007, Jo Lynne Kirkwood
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.


At His Own Pace

He rode near Tucumcari, pushing cattle ‘cross the plains
reflecting on her multitude of remnants and remains:
The Mother Road and railways still caress her mesa thrones;
while tracks of wheels
and dinosaursstill grace her ancient stones.

The cattle ambled onwards in a peaceful kind of way
In mindless, placid promenade since breaking light of day.
The lead cow found Blue Grama, so the herd just milled around,
each momma keeping close tabs on the calves that fanned the ground. 

He felt an odd sensation as he rested on his horse
Like he was in the bosom of some transcendental force
that sent him drifting back in time
to gateways of the past,
where yester-years unfolded as historic scenes were cast.

The canyon walls were echoing with cries of brave, young men
Their Parrott rifles fired and their cannons boomed again.
He swore the wind was whispering of dreams that lived and died
Throughout the ravished canyons as they made their final ride.

He sat high on a mesa, where he watched as two braves vied
The Chief had said the victor would succeed him when he died,
and wed his daughter, Kari
but Tocom was the brave
that Kari loved – she hoped he’d send Tonopah to his grave

But Tocom’s life soon ended as he met Tonopah’s knife
Then Kari killed Tonopah, before taking her own life.
The grieving Chief removed the knife from Kari’s lifeless breast
And cried out, “Tocom-Kari” as he plunged it in his chest 

He felt his body falling, and he woke up with a jerk
He pert’ near fell right off his horse while dreaming so berserk!
A fool he was for dozin’ as the cows spread far and wide!
He shook the cobwebs from his brain and cussed his own durned hide.

He drew upon a lesson that he’d learned so long ago
The fastest way for workin’ cows was that you work ‘em slow.
And with his cleanest dirty sleeve he wiped his sweaty face,
and said, “Cayuse, let’s round ‘em up
but I will set the pace.

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



I'll Just Have to Pay Myself !

The Harrimans and Guggenheims used to congregate.
On their Idaho ranch
a jewel of the old Gem State.
Lee was a workin' cowboy there on the Railroad Ranch,
A simple man, good rider too
decked out in blue jean pants.

One evenin' S. R. Guggenheim had made it clearly known,
That on the morn he'd bring down a herd a ridin' out alone.
Deep furrows then plowed over Mrs. Harriman's brow,
For S. R. just barely knew to tell horseflesh from a cow.

She pulled Lee over tellin' him to take care of old S. R.
Have him ride her blondy mare
don't let him get too far.
Take care of him
not hard for Leefor as the day dawn broke,
S. R. still had not appeared for he still had not awoke.

Lee rode out early on and gathered up a bunch,
Settled 'em down nicely, and then returned for lunch.
S. R. by then was up and ready
to ride on out somewhere,
They rode out both together
S.R. on the blondy mare.

Lee pointed to a place where cattle just might be,
And told S. R. to take a look, he'd wait there by a tree.
S. R. took off all alone astride that gentle mare,
And found to his delight Lee's bunch just a waitin' there.

He hazed 'em down to the pole corral with a little help from Lee,
And got 'em in at their own pace
as easy as could be.
S. R. was proud as any peacock on this earth had ever been,
And quite oblivious to the fact that pride's an awful sin.

Lee came ridin' over just to check on S. R.'s fun,
Do you think they'll pay me for the work that I have done?
Lee said that Guggenheim didn't need much more wealth,
To which S. R. replied
Then I'll just have to pay myself!

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

See photos and read more about this poem here.


Bring 'em Home Slow

Lord, I need a favor and you know I wouldn't ask.
But I think it's time I tell ya, I'm just not up to the task.

I've been trailin' cows forever, 'least it seems that way to me
But a man does have his limits, however patient he may be.

We'll be headin' out come mornin', me and Wade and Stub
An' I'm havin' trouble sleepin', see, there's just a little rub.

You know that orn'ry one-eyed cow, I reckon you'll recall
Well, to bring her down that trail again...that order's pretty tall.

I'm packin' me another year and she's surely one year meaner.
Stub would maybe bring her in...ain't no cowboy any keener.

She's lamed my horse for two years runnin' and busted up my nose.
My saddle tree is broke and my rope's 'bout out 'a throws.

She stomped a half a dozen hats and ripped my favorite shirt.
She's drug me through the thistles, through the creek and in the dirt.

She prob'bly wrecked ten miles of fence and strung it clear to noon.
If I don't have to fix her mess again, it'll be one day too soon.

So when we head out for them cows Lord, I just wanted you to know...
I'd be so awful thankful if I can bring mine home real slow.

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



At His Own Pace
Well here it is our anniversary
Dang, these ol’ cows walk slow!
I got a hot date with the missus
But I reckon these cows don’t know

To them it’s just another day
Lookin’ for water and their feed
Tendin’ after these little calves
A clock is what they need

‘Cuz I got a date with the missus
We do it ‘most every year
When we ship the calves we always go out
Paint the town with a big red smear

These dumb ol’ cows are just pokin along
Like they’ve nary a care in the world
Me, I’m gettin’ plumb ancy
Bet momma’s got her hair all curled

‘Cuz we got a hot date tonight!
After we give the banker his check
And if there’s any left over
We’ll sure go party, by heck

Yup, cows move slower than molasses
So thats the pace I have to go
But just wait until I get ‘em penned
‘Cuz then it won’t go so slow!

‘Course every good cowman knows
Slow is the fastest way with cattle
Non-cow folks don’t understand that
Losin’ pounds is always a battle

Pounds is what we get paid for
So I’ll let these mama’s choose the pace
No need in getting ‘em all excited
After all, this ain’t no race

Yup, I’ll just poke along behind
Cuss and mutter, under my breath
It’ll all be worth it, when we weigh the calves
Soon I’ll be dancin’ with Lilly Beth

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



In Their Own Time

The Lord gave us patience in so many ways
and one of those ways was roundin' up strays.
Those who have wandered away from the herd,
the ones non-responsive to nary a word.
For those not content to follow the line,
it'll be their own pace, and in their own time.

You can't make 'em rush or hurry 'em none,
they won't pick up speed if they don't wanna run.
It's useless to try and convince 'em they should,
 if they had an inklin' to hotfoot, they would.
So those not content to follow the line,
they'll set their own pace, and in their own time.

Tho' down through the years we've seen ranchin' change,
there's part of the life that remains much the same.
It's tryin' to hasten the pace of the cattle,
but still to this day, it's a futile lost battle.
Coz those not content to follow the line,
will set their own pace, and in their own time.

So pards, let me tell you, there's one thing won't change,
somethin' you'll see every day on the range,
it's the battle of minds between cowhand and beast,
one with little hope, that the man will defeat.
For some cows aren't content to follow the line,
they'll set their own pace, and in their own time.

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



At a Cowboy Pace

There's a range of grass, smooth as glass,
     in the dark of an early dawn
Where the days are hot, the nights are not
     and summer has come and gone.
On a crisp fall morn, before day is born
     when the roundup's underway
You roll from your bed, sleep still in your head,
     as Coosie yells "Breakin' day."

The nighthawk rides up, grabs plate and cup,
     and Coosie slaps food in his tin
Beef, biscuits, and beans, with smoke in between
     and coffee that's hotter than sin.
You get the same fare, and eat it there
     by the fire in the crisp dawn chill
While coyote howls, blend with hoot owls
     from somewhere on the hill.

At the wrangled herd, with a soothin' word,
     you rope your mounts for the day
Then finish a cup, as you saddle up
     and you're ready to earn your pay.
You set your own pace, sun in your face,
     a good horse between your knees
And this land of the cow, you ride in now
     is all you want life to be.

You make a wide swing, gatherin' cows to bring,
     from the range you'll cover today
Then trail 'em on down, to the gatherin' ground
     where the river winds its way.
After all that ways, turn your horses to graze,
     while you squat and take on some chuck,
Glad Coosie cooks, much better than he looks
     and thank God above for your luck.

Then stretched in your sack, your head on your kak,
     as the stars light up the sky
You look back on the day, content with the way,
     workin' this range went by.
As you drift off to sleep, you have memories to keep
     of a life in the right time and place
And you're content in knowin', to no one you're owin',
     you done it at your own cowboy pace.

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



Moving at My Own Pace

Ah, those autumn days when nature plays
With colors of earthy hue.
When clouds furl high in the sunset sky
Enhancing that lovely blue.

Then in the fall, with work and all,
The roundup comes to pass,
Herding the cows and letting them browse
Down to the winter grass.

Without a worry and in no hurry,
To enjoy this wonderful place.
The  cows and I keep trailing by
Just moving at my own pace.

© 2007, C. W. Bell
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.



At His Own Pace

That cow’s a yearling, and he’s followed

In the pack all summer, wallowed

In the muddy track where others crossed the river.

And then he bellowed more that cried

As he climbed out the other side,

Just as the Tucumcari breeze brought on a shiver.


But he’s been pushin’ toward the front,

And as the summer fades, he’ll want

To show the herd that he’s put on a braver face.

So, as the others pause for shade,

He steps out front of that parade,

He fin’lly sees it’s time to lead

                        … at his own pace.


That horse has worked ten thousand cattle,

And he’s worn a dozen saddles,

And he’s never cared for ridin’ outside swing.

See, over time, he’s made it clear

He’s best at bringin’ up the rear,

And if you’re sportin’ jinglebobs, he’ll make ‘em ring.


He knows his job, performs it well,

Through winter snow or desert hell,

He knows it’s s’pposed to be a stroll, and not a chase.

He doesn’t mind the extra tack,

Or that there’s some man ‘top his back,

He only lives to work the trail

                        … at his own pace.


That man’s a cowboy in the saddle,

Spent a lifetime herdin’ cattle,

And he seems to think he knows just what he’s doin’.

His subtle moves become the source

Of each reaction by his horse,

And he can hear the mount’s left rear will need re-shoein’.


Some wranglers live a life of worry,

And they’re always in a hurry,

And they think that herdin’ cattle is a race.

But when you’re on an uphill climb,

It’s best to take each stitch in time,

This man will bring the doggies home

                        … at his own pace.


The distant thunderheads are formin’,

By the day’s end they’ll be stormin’,

Towers of white laid ‘top of white, until they’re black.

The horse and cattle sense the change,

The drover pushes ‘cross the range,

A quickenin’ wind bites through the flannel ‘cross his back.


That greater force is there behind us,

And that power should remind us

That our days upon this earth are soon erased.

It’s best we’re followin’ that lead

As we sit mounted on that steed;

These days are meant to all be spent

                        … at His own pace.


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


The Surest Way

There ain't no need to hurry now
Around the ranch from place to place

The surest way to herd a cow
Is at his own pace.

A sorrel thunderhead's brewin'
And changin' colors on the crest

I think there's a storm a stewin'

Ridin' from the west.

I try to poke that herd in now
Down though the canyon, draw and glen

But you can't spur on cows no how
When you trail 'em in.

It seems that life is all that way,
Beneath breech clouds and turquoise sky

We have to live life day by day
Or know reasons why.

The air's newborn but day's near done

Our time on earth is much too short.
A gangrene storm births near the sun
As cows bawl and snort.

There ain't no need for stress or strife

To scurry 'round from place to place

The surest way to live a life
Is at its own pace.

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


Elder's Pace

I remember when I first eyed Elder
In the shack at the Bear Trap camp
He was readin’ an ol’ Kiskaddon piece
By the light of an ol’ oil lamp

I’d heard the tales ‘bout this ol’ hand
And how he’d done it all
From Ol’ Mexico to Sweetgrass
He’d answered the Cowboy call

I was 13 days from 19 years
N’ swore to be buckaroo
I figgered to teach this ol’ cow hand
A real twister’s trick or two

So, with the horses jingled next mornin’
We choked down grub to ride
When I spotted low on the jigger boss
Ol’ Elder’s steady stride

I asked another of the younger hands,
“What’s the ol’ man doin’ there?
Why, he ought to be on the boss’s porch
A-ridin’ the rockin’ chair”

“Let me show ya’ there, Ol’ Timer
How to throw that Houlihan
Fer I’m a young bronc stomper
N’ a real live ranahan”

Not a word was heard that mornin’
When I spewed out my sass
That crew just seemed to know my fate
Would surely come to pass

Well, in the dew and dark o’ morn’
We got dropped off to ride
Each cowpoke on his own circle
To bring in ever’ hide

They’d each rode out ‘cross open ground
With miles o’ sage n’ sand
‘Til come ‘round time fer Elder’s show
We’d found the rugged land

Atop the Butte n’ above the Breaks
The ol’ man climbed aboard
N’ slipped off down this rocky trail
Where only Eagles soared

Well, I busted brush n’ tore up gear
N’ gathered a cow or two
‘Til the sunset beyond the distant hills
Told I was nearly through

I pushed my bunch to the gather pen
N’ gave glance ‘round the camp
To see ol’ cookie by the wagon tongue
A-firin’ the evenin’ lamp

Says he, The boss ain’t gonna like the way
You’ve rode down his good mount
‘N as near as I can surmise from here
Yer bunch won’t make the count

In the spring, we tallied thirty head
N’ turned ‘em out on that flat
Now you show up with half that count
And they’re run down low on fat

“But I rode in first and beat ‘em all
Just like I said I could
Got mine gathered ‘fore even Elder
N’ flat-out told I would”

“Now, they’re out there ‘n I’m back here
N’ my bunch is in the pen
Why’ ‘fore ol’ Elder makes it back
I could do it all again”

Well, cookie just looked straight at me
And never a word was said
Just listened like the others had
To the fuss comin’ from my head

Well, I finally quit n’ ol’ cookie said,
“You reckon that you’re through?
‘Cause I got me a few important things
That need to be said to you”

“Now we’ve all heard yer braggins
N’ the tales of all you’ve done
N’ seen yer jabs at Elder
N’ the pokin’ of yer fun”

“Now Elder’s been hired on with us
Fer purt’ near fifteen year
Been ever’where n’ done ever’thing
We’re lucky to have him here”

“We started to callin’ him Elder
‘Cause he’ll school a younger hand
N’ teach him to earn his wages
When ridin’ fer this here brand”

“His methods are slow n’ easy
Sort o’ goin’ at his own pace
His pride’s not in the winnin’
But in the runnin’ of the race”

“Now while you’re on yer boastin’ run
I’ll set yer story straight
Elder will finish his gather soon
N’ he won’t dare be late”

“The boss told Elder to be in by dark
From his second gather run
Yep, I did say his second run, Slim
That’s two to yer half-done one”

 “See, while you’ve been here a-showin’ off
The few you managed to find
Ol’ Elder’s been out a-gatherin’ up
All the ones you left behind”

“Why, Elder brought in ever’ head
As he rode down through them breaks
In country that was rough enough
To give most good hands the shakes”

“Then, on the tail of a long day’s work
A good hour ‘fore you come in
The boss rode up with another job
N’ called Elder out again”

“He’d spotted from the pick-up seat
‘Neath the hills and in the sage
The cows that he’d sent you to get
In trade for yer day’s wage”

“Now, if you’ll look toward that brewin’ storm
The Lord’s paintin’ on the blue
Purdy soon, you’ll see ol’ Elder comin’
Just seein’ another day through”

“N’ he’ll be in behind those hides
That you missed on yer chase
He’ll be pushin’ ‘em slow n’ easy
Sort o’ goin’ at his own pace”

Those words in cookie’s message
To this day, I still can hear
When I think o’ good ol’ Elder
Been gone now thirty year

I’m foreman on this outfit now
N’ learned my lessons well
From the best o’ God’s own teachers
That ever crossed my trail

See, I changed my tune with Elder
N’ then rode proudly just in back
Of the finest of the punchers
To ever lay a bronco’s track

I stayed right there from that time on
N’ learned ever’thing I could
Up to the day that my good friend
Hung up his spurs for good

So, I live my life in tribute now
To this good man I’ll never equal
As he rides ‘cross the range above
N’ I try to live his life’s sequel

N’ I hope he’s proud o’ what he sees
When he looks down on this place
As I’m workin’ ‘er slow n’ easy now
Sort o' goin’ at his own pace

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

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