About Bob E. Lewis
All his pards miss Bob E. Lewis, a fine man and fine poet who died April 24, 2001. When Bob's friend Louie Carle died in 2001, Bob wrote us "It was an awful sad day in my life when I got the word about Louie. He was my inspiration about my health, my religion, my family, my friends and yes my poetry. . . I always thought Louie would be the one doing the writing. . . I hope Louie keeps the pot full and hot and that the Good Lord sees fit for me to join him. God Bless each and all of you."
And you, Bob. There should be a mighty fine poetry gatherin' goin' on up there now.
Bob's pard Lariat Laureate runner up David Kelley wrote this tribute:
AN OLD COWBOY'S TIME
I beheld the man, and shook his old hand
like many times in the past.
Without spoken word, the thought still heard,
these times he knew were his last.
His face ne'er showed a glossy pink glow
but his eyes wanted for more.
I scarce heard him say, "I'll be on my way,
and wait for the wife on a distant shore.
For this much I know, the place where we'll go
is a mansion by God's own strong hand,
A place made for me, I can't wait to see
a beauty there we'll ne'er understand".
Hands no longer rough, he tries to be tough,
his last fence finally mended.
Asking those close, 'bout those he loved most,
making sure things would be tended.
The arms that should ride, hung frail at his side,
faint gestures now arduous chore.
We read from his rhyme, 'bout a happier time
and we always pleaded for more.
His cowpuncher way, never questioned I'd say,
he's a "shore 'nuff", the old adage goes.
Though his time will pass, his memory will last,
his legacy continues to grow.
He spoke for us all, that some might recall,
western folklore and the cowboy way.
Heritage and honesty, hard work and modesty,
he tried living it every single day.
So, don't be too sad, it ain't all that bad,
these old cowboys don't ever die.
Their spirit lives on, in poem, verse or song,
And his pards will pass it on in due time.
Ol' Bob was my friend, seems he's always been.
He's not known to say a word unkind.
So he'll shore not fail to leave a clear trail
He knew some of us weren't too far behind.
In memory of Bob Lewis, a good cowboy poet
and friend to all.
© David Kelley, April 2001
About Bob E. Lewis
Bob E. Lewis resides on the Rafter "L" Ranch in Sherman, Texas. Bob says "I have worked around or owned cattle all my life and draw upon those memories for my poetry."
(About the photo: The photo above was taken in 1929, the year Bob was born. Bob adds "If you notice, you will see my dad is wearing brogan shoes instead of boots. The brogans cost $.25 while boots were $2 or $3 a pair and this was the real Depression." You can click on the photo for a larger image.)
You can listen to Bob E. Lewis read his poems on his fine site, which includes other poetry and a collection of spectacular photos of the old Matador Ranch.
A Few Poems
King of the Cowboys
The Sour Dough Crock
Little Old Sod Shanty on My Claim
The Boss's New Cowhorse
The Cowboy's Christmas Ball (posted with other holiday poems)
I stepped down, ground tied my pony,
Sat down crossed legged on a small grassy knoll.
I looked out across that old country I knew,
Realizing it had lately been sold.
I was just kinda wondering what my fate would be,
When they told me it was my time to leave.
I'd been there so long, it was my only home,
I just sat there and started to grieve.
I could see several miles to that old canyon wall,
And remembered the trails I'd rode down.
I sure wasn't looking forward at all,
To leave this and move into some town.
I made up my mind right then and right there,
That town deal it just sure couldn't be.
I believed that I'd go stark raving mad,
If a town street was all I could see.
I spotted a rabbit scurrying under some brush,
The shadow of a hawk crossed o'er me.
What in the world would I look at,
When no more sights like this could I see.
I saw that old hawk make a dive for the ground,
A mouse for a meal he had spied.
He swooped down to the ground and picked that mouse up.
If I tell you what I saw you'll say I lied.
That old hawk picked that mouse up with his left foot,
There was no right one that I saw anywhere.
He circled up back to the branch of a tree,
As I sat there and continued to stare.
He held that mouse with only his beak,
Until he got kinda fixed on that limb.
Then he started to eat what he caught,
I sure was full of admiration for him.
That started me out to thinking bout things,
Like me having to move on down the trail,
That hawk, he adapted to his new way of life,
Now, like the hawk I would have to prevail.
One way I was thinking things over,
When it came time for me to adapt,
I could go back to that old Mesquite country,
Trade these chinks for some heavy brush chaps.
© 1999 Bob E. Lewis
The above poem was recognized as one of the 8 Seconds in the first Lariat Laureate contest. When Bob decided remove himself from competition in further contests, we asked him to be our Honored Guest, so that in some small way we could give recognition to his fine poetry.
King of The Cowboys
I guess that I'm one of the luckiest men,
That God put on this great earth.
I've got to meet a lot of people,
And had the privilege to judge their worth.
You've heard of the king of the cowboys,
From all the old movies of long ago.
But they are only the story book kind,
They are made to put on a show.
I met the real live working kind,
That stays in the saddle all day,
That tends the cattle and horses first,
The kind that always earns his pay..
The children all know when he's out working,
His work occupies all his mind,
But when he unsaddles that old horse that night,
He leaves all that work behind.
You can find a lot of cowboys,
That work together as a team
They work out with the old ranch wagons,
It's like living in a dream.
But the cowboy that I'm talking about,
Has to do everything alone.
He has to get what he's doing done,
Before he can ride on home.
If it's roping and doctoring all those big ole sick calves,
Or just checking to see how they do.
He'll do it upright and get home tonight.
Then he can say for today he is through.
On one evening late a neighbor drove by,
On their way home from town.
They spotted the horse standing still at the gate,
The rope it did drag on the ground.
They knew that this was a very bad sign,
They hurried to gather a crew.
To go out and search for the cowboy,
While praying their fears not be true.
One of the neighbors came loping on in,
He said he read the signs on the sand.
When the cowboy started to throw his loop,
The horse and the calf turned but leaving the man.
They said it looked like he just went over his head,
But the man's boss said that just couldn't be.
This cowboy, saddle and horse were just one,
And not any one of the three.
They finally figured the same way as me,
When the cowboy did land on the ground.
The soul and the spirit of this my great friend,
Was already heavenly bound.
So this is my "King of the Cowboys"
One that could get the work done.
He'll always be lodged way deep in my heart.
Till my time to join him will come.
It's with deep sadness that I write this poem for my Sister In Law,
Wanda Nell (McCord) Lewis
In honor of her, her Father and my friend,
© 1999 Bob E. Lewis
The Sour Dough Crock
Our old wagon cook kept his sour dough crock,
Sitting on the back of that old cast iron range.
It smelled like a lot of mighty good eating,
If your smeller was a little bit strange.
About the time that we hit our rolls,
That old fire would be burned down pretty low,
Old cookie would move that old crock up to the front,
Just to take good care of his dough.
One winter night a blue norther blew in,
That old wind was a whistling on down.
Old Bill was sleeping near the back of the tent,
I could hear him start moving around.
He jumped out of bed and ran to the stove,
And he crammed her plumb full of wood,
He then ran and jumped back into his bed,
He was moving as fast as he could.
He forgot about that old crock sitting there,
With that old dough running down all around.
That old lid was sitting on that crock pretty tight,
Pretty soon there came a loud sound.
All the hands sat upright in their rolls,
What they saw was not a good sight,
There was sour dough chunks sticking around everywhere,
And old cookie was ready to fight.
That old cook stove was covered all over the top,
And dough was running off the chuck box door,
Old cookie was crying "Now who did this to me?"
As he sat and he beat on the floor.
Not a sound could be heard from any of the hands,
They just sat there as quite as a mouse.
Finally someone said "I don't know what happened,"
But we'd better help cookie clean house.
They washed and they cleaned and they polished,
Till everything looked like brand new,
No one but Bill and I ever knew what had happened,
That is until now here when I'm telling you,
©1999 Bob E. Lewis
Little Old Sod Shanty On My Claim
When I was just a button
Not more than two or three,
We lived in an old ranch line camp,
Just Dad, Mom and me.
On those old cold and snowy nights,
When all the chores were done,
We'd sit around that old fireplace,
That day's battles we had won.
Mom made me an old sugan
Just for my very own,
That I could wrap all up in,
And man did I stay warm.
After our supper had settled,
My Dad would say to me,
Son, bring me my old guitar,
And lay it right here on my knee.
Then he would play and start to sing,
In a voice so gruff and strong,
That Little Old Sod Shanty,
Which was my favorite song.
It wouldn't be long before my eyes
Got heavy and hard to keep
From closing up and putting me
At the start of a good night's sleep.
Every time I hear that old song,
Fond memories it will bring,
Of when I laid there by that fire,
And listened to my daddy sing.
© Bob E. Lewis
The Boss's New Cowhorse
One day the boss came to the ranch,
Said, "I've got a surprise for you,
I bought me a new machine to work cows,
It's really something new".
About three days later we were up on the ridge,
When we heard a terrible noise,
Our horses were all going crazy,
And so were most of the boys.
The brush was about up to our horse's belly,
It was pretty thick and hard to get through,
The limbs were a sailing all up in the air,
It was scary to all of our crew.
Then suddenly right out of that brush,
Came a wild and unrecognizable sight,
It was a small four wheeled, ugly machine,
It gave our old horses a fright.
It was driven by someone with helmet and gloves,
Had chaps plumb up to his ears.
Had on a pair of tall lace up boots,
And he sure was a changing those gears.
Finally when everything got settled back down,
And that thing had come to a stop.
That feller pulled off that helmet,
Our poor old eyeballs they sure nearly dropped.
For it was our boss sitting up on that thing,
He was grinning from ear to ear,
He said, "How do you like my Four Wheeler,
It's the newest one just out this year".
We all sat our horses, not saying a word,
We kept secret what we really thought,
But we all had the very same feeling,
Wasted money when that thing he bought.
It took all our horses about four or five months,
To get used to that thing being around.
It not only was the ugliest thing that we knew,
But it also made the worst sound.
© Bob E. Lewis
Jake was headed for the line camp
That was 20 miles north of town.
He had to go right through it
To get to the camp where he was bound.
He tied his mount and packhorse in the alley
Behind the cafe where he liked to go.
For there was a pretty young waitress there
That, sometime back, he had gotten to know.
He wore his favorite boots that day
That had tall yellow tops of course.
He just wouldn't feel right without them
When he was sitting on his horse.
The bottoms had been rough out leather,
Although you sure couldn't tell it now.
He'd worn those old boots so many years
They were as smooth as a bald man's brow.
He felt a hand upon him
As he started in the door.
He looked around, saw no one
Till he looked down toward the floor.
There was this young kid with a shine kit
Looking straight into his face.
He said how about a shine man?
A better one you'll not get anyplace.
Now son, I don't think I should change a thing
Of the way these old boots look now.
They have earned the right to look this way.
Or that's how I feel anyhow.
But I tell you what I will do
If it will make you feel any better.
If you'll reach down and unbuckle them
You can shine my new spur leathers.
© Bob E. Lewis, Sherman, TX August 18, 1999
It was time to move the ole wagon,
We had finished all the work we had here.
We would start the move this morning,
The day it broke cool and clear.
The cook he had his things all ready,
Loaded and ready to move out,
The hoodlum was still working on his,
For he had more to do no doubt.
Two boys harnessed the wheel horses,
Two more they harnessed the mules.
They were all just a little mite broncky,
They could use a few more days in school.
But no one had the time for that.
For it was just piddling stuff.
They'd hitch up and move the ole wagon,
It just shore didn't get too rough.
The hoodlum harnessed his old team,
They were gentle as a lamb.
Cause he had to work them nearly every day,
While we were in a camp.
He hauled all the wood and water,
That was used there at the camp site.
He'd keep his horses good and gentle,
He'd hand feed them every night.
Four hands would ear the wagon team down,
Till old cookie would say " let um run",
We'd have one hand a riding the point,
And two ariding the wings for a turn.
The reins that old cookie had in his hands,
Were as useless as they could be.
That four hitch hooked to that old wagon,
Paid no attention to those reins you see.
When we needed to change directions,
Those ole swing men rode in to the mules.
The'd turn them like they would turn cattle.
Cause that old team didn't play by the rules.
The hoodlum was pulling the stove cart,
Tied behind his wagon real tight.
When we got to the new camp some latter,
We'd shore all be ready for a bite.
The wing men rode in to snub the mules,
And help would come get them unhitched.
The hoodlum would start setting up camp,
While Cookie got his ole cook fire fixed.
The cowboys would get their ole bedrolls,
And pick a smooth spot on the ground.
They would get them all lined up in row,
They'd be ready when night rolled around.
They'd spend the rest of that afternoon,
Just checking and patching their gear.
Then they'd be ready to head out to work,
But for now the'd just rest right here.
When they finished their work at this camp,
They'd have to move once again.
They'd do the same ole things once more,
Like they did when this day did begin.
© 1999 Bob E. Lewis
I just don't have the talent for the arts of any kind,
But to listen to this Cowboy Poetry sure does ease my mind.
Although I can't write a single line of all their trouble, fun and strife,
I've just about lived through all of them up to these later years of life.
I've laid out with the wagon on that ole upper Matador,
And spent some long ole lonely nights in an old line camp for shore.
I've been a horseback many times with from eight to twenty men,
And rode a many a mile of fence that I might have to mend.
I've seen some rank ole horses rode when we saddled up some days.
I've seen some sure good riders throwed, some in a comical way.
I've seen them take it all in stride, the pleasure and the pain,
From riding in the blowing snow, the hot sun or the pouring rain.
I've seen some good ole horses slip and fall down to the ground,
Their riders penned beneath them as they too went tumbling down.
The riders would go to them to see what harm was done,
Sometimes just some peeled up hide, other times some broken bones.
But that was part of the cowboy's life and he'd not trade a single thing.
That city life with all it's hustle, well it just didn't ring
True to his way of thinking of how his life it should be run,
All those ole tall buildings standing there just blocking out the sun.
Just living in the country watching mother nature do her thing
Has a beauty all about it that just makes a feller want to sing.
Just to watch a newborn calf a nursing is a miracle to behold,
That he would know just what to do without having to be told.
And when springtime rolls around again and everything turns green,
You get a special feeling like your living in a dream that you
Don't ever want to wake from cause it might not come back home again.
But then you get to thinking bout other spring times where you've been.
And that great big old world out there that you've been living in.
You get to thinking bout the punchers.that have lived their life like you,
But now with other talents,they've found something new to do.
They write this "Cowboy Poetry" with it's rhythm, meter and rhyme.
While me I don't know one from the other, don't guess I've ever took the time,
To think much at all about this old Cowboy life in rhyme.
Can't sing a note that sounds half true, like some of these fellers do.
Like ole Don Edwards, Red Stegall and Jason Jones sings too,
And poets like J. B. Allen, Baxter Black, Waddie Mitchell and the rest,
And ole Michael Martin Murphey they're right up there with the best.
And then there's ole Joe Texas, a very special friend of mine.
And I'm just here to tell you I'm shore glad we have this kind,
To keep this tradition going , just keeping it alive.
But you know there's a lot of old punchers that's nearly just like me,
They kinda shuffle when they walk and some can hardly see,
But we've been in the same old wrecks and some of those same old storms,
We too have rode into those ole camps sometimes with broken bones.
But we can't recite in front of people because we're much too shy,
And we sure don't know nothing bout this cowboy poetry rhyme.
So I just kinda got to thinking since we all came down that old pike too,
That they ought to fence off one corner, with room for one or two.
That like me have tried to cowboy but just never made the grade,
But have spent their lifetime trying just to learn the cowboy trade.
The Cowan ranch near Fulda, Texas,
Had coyotes running by the pack one year,
They were so thick out there on the ranch,
For baby calves the owners did fear.
They bought a bunch of greyhounds,
To take with them when they would ride.
To maybe thin out some of these critters,
And get a bounty for their ears and hide.
There was one real mean and ugly old dog,
You didn't get close to him if there was any other way,
He'd growl real mean and show his teeth,
A good distance from him you would stay.
He was chasing a coyote and hit a barbed fence,
He cut his shoulder from his neck to his knee,
He drug himself back to the ranch house,
And bedded down neath a big old oak tree.
The cowboys would watch from a distance each day,
To see where he was sliced by the wire,
They couldn't get close enough to really see,
But to get closer they had no desire.
One day they noticed he was looking real bad,
There was a look of death in his eyes,
Upon closer looking they found screw worms,
Had been eating away at his side.
They sure didn't want to lose this old dog,
He was the best that they had don't you see,
To see who would doctor this dying old dog,
Heads, you, or tails would mean me.
I got all the medicine that I thought I would need,
And walked as close as I dared,
I said "old dog if you want to live,
From your bites and your growls I'll be spared."
I poured on the chloroform then got me a stick,
Then I dug all those old screw worms out,
Then I smeared it all over with old black "62",
When I finished I was ready to shout.
No more would that dog let me even get near,
After the doctoring I did on that day,
He acted like we could really be friends,
If I just stayed far away.
© 2000 Bob E. Lewis
You can also read lots of other folks' poems, most entered in the Lariat Laureate Competition.
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