Folks' Poems

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Nunnelly, Tennessee
(formerly of Loveland, Colorado)
About Bobbie Gallup

Featured in "The Big Roundup," an anthology of the best of


One of

Lariat Laureate Runner Up

Recognized for her poem, Blizzard Calf


About Bobbie Gallup

When we asked Bobbie Gallup to tell us about herself and her work, she answered: 

I have a lot more of  these, which I call Americana ballads, since I do quite a bit of songwriting  these days.  Poetry and music seem to be such powerful tools to help folks understand the people, places and events of our history . . . and I hope my work does a bit to help preserve some of those fragments of our past.

Having grown up in Michigan and then living in Minnesota for 16 years, my love of the West finally drew me to move to Colorado in 1992. I now live on a small ranch in a mountain canyon northwest of Loveland, Colorado, where I spend as much time as possible researching and writing about the tales and truths of earlier times here in the West. 

For a few years, I had a outfitting business up in the Beartooth Mountains in NW Wyoming where we took guests out for a week long horsepacking trips in the high country. Although I have been an interpretive naturalist since graduate school, this was the first opportunity to research and share the stories of  the West with guests who wanted to immerse themselves in the culture and  history of the area.  I also learned to love cooking on a woodstove from that  experience . . . although I was never totally certain what was due to the high altitude and what to the quirks and foibles of the stove!

A few years ago, I did the interpretive plan for a historic and scenic byway from Ogallala to Scotts Bluff. Doing the original research for that and other byways in Colorado, Utah and Nebraska has provided me with a lot of stories, which often can be found in journals, diaries, letters and old newspapers from earlier times. I find these stories fascinating and I love to help make history come alive for folks who visit the area . . . or who read one of my translations.

You can email Bobbie Gallup.

Blizzard Calf

late spring storms are deadly
much like a loaded gun
clouds burdened like a pregnant cow
before her birthing's done
snowflakes fell at a frantic pace
rushing headlong to the earth
when we looked out we realized
there was little cause for mirth

trapped as we were in my hideaway
this tiny dugout made of sod
two miles from the safety of our parents' home
at the mercy of the hand of God
the fangs of the storm that day snuffed out
the life of many a Two Bar cow
as the wind's bitter snarl
chased them off the cliff at Mitchell's Brow

in a three foot drift just outside the door
we found a nearly frozen calf
when Davey brought it in and thawed it out
its antics made us laugh
for three days we ate unsalted beans
burned chips to keep us warm
the two of us kids and that darned calf
but we lasted out that storm

through the quagmire left by melting snow
we finally found the track
but that fool calf had adopted us
followed us all the way back
the Two Bar hands told us to keep him
cause his mama couldn't be found
some said that calf was lucky to find us
but it was the other way around

        2000 by Bobbie Gallup ASCAP
          This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

This story was an account by Miss Idah E. McComsey of being trapped in a  prairie blizzard with her brother and rescuing a tiny calf.  She had moved to the Panhandle of Nebraska in 1888 with her parents from Stark County, Illinois.

Rustler's Requiem

left my wife and boys in Sydney
till I could fix up what remained
of the old Seven-up ranch
on the wet side of the range
where the lifeblood of the plains coursed
suckling at its flowing breast
a blessing when it nursed the land
madam of the virgin west
now I done time for lesser things
than crossing another man's river
but at two bits a passage
I weren't about to deliver
to old man White's demands
at that bridge at Camp Creek
but a thirsty man'll spill a cup
before he turns the other cheek

I'd learned the code real good
riding surveyor's lines with Mack
and when we found that gushing spring
flowing like eden from a crack
with bottom land spreading out like
spilled whiskey on the table
I figgered to set my wagon brake
and claim it if I was able
five acres had to be broken
each year by homestead  law
I watched as my neighbors dried out
hung on with a sand devil's claw
like a dealer with a loaded deck
counting on that ace
planting by the grace of god
who's laughing in your face

now that prairie wind can charm
with cool breezes in the sun
but behind a winter blizzard
it's as deadly as a gun
those range cows went straggling by
down the fenceline to the east
but when the sun showed its furtive face
there was no sign of the beasts
a week later a thousand head were found
piled at the bottom of Scriven's hill
left nothing but an unproved claim
to pay that banker's bill
but I'd faced lean all my life
so despite the grim news
I sucked my belt another notch
stuffed hay inside my shoes

when corrals and a house of sod
were built by some unfriendly folk
close as a rattler in the bed
I could see their branding smoke
to keep their herd of 'mavericks' out
we began to fence our bottom hay
when this neighbor swaggered in with a 45
you got three days from today
your time is up, move on out
there'll be no more building fence
though I was certain that my Winchester
was more effective than common sense
that very night we heard the bellowing
we heard the drover's calls
as they forded cross the river
we could hear the lost calves bawl

sleep fled like a frightened cat
but dawn arrived with the Sydney train
by noon those cows were back
the sheriff stopped by to explain
seems rustling's still a hanging offense
and our neighbor was in jail
guilty and seven hard labor in the pen
his pleas were to no avail
now time and circumstance
often wield a reckless hand
before appeals were dried like mother's milk
before we could take the witness stand
this rustler and his cell mate broke out
a young man with murder in his eyes
on a night accursed with cold that burned
so daylight brought no surprise

near Hart mountain he'd laid down to rest
weary from the desperate flight
stripped of his overcoat, left lying there
to freeze in the prairie night
but a trail of blood from frozen feet
and the murderer was apprehended
the amputation was done several days
before a rope his neck extended
that rustler's body was turned over
to his relatives for burying
and I got back all my cows he stole
and faced the truth unvarying
the happiest of folks don’t always
get everything they want in life
but being alive serves me just fine
with my two boys and loving wife

2000 by Bobbie Gallup
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

This is actually from an account given by Edward Scriven, a homesteader in the Panhandle area of Nebraska, who came to the area in 1886, after many claims were already taken. Scriven went out looking for a claim with Mack Fairfield, who was the area surveyor.  Water, as indicated in the poem, was and still is, the lifeblood of the prairie area....determining the fate of  many a homesteader.   By this time when fences were becoming the law of the land, rustling was still a fairly common practice but was dealt with in a rather straightforward manner.  I took a bit of poetic license with some of  the details in this rendition of his account. For example, Hart Mountain is actually N of Cody, Wyoming, but 66 Mountain didn't fit the meter of the poem there.

Fighters & Fools

waiting for payment and provisions
that lame cow was an omen
when it wandered into camp
escaped from that trail of Mormons
eight miles east of Laramie
not far from Sarpy's Point
Grattan and 27 soldiers
judge and jury self annointed

Bear Chief of the Wazhazha
Big Thunder and the other chiefs
jaded by years of snake oil promises
refused to let them take the thief
only one round the soldiers fired
whether arrogance or stupidity
surrounded by the strength of the encampment
it was not a case for validity

as Bear Chief and his brother lay
injured by the soldiers' fire
broiled in the oven of the day
injustice roiled the native ire
it was finished in a heartbeat
but when the daylight turned to dark
and the bodies were recovered
twenty four arrows had found their mark

the chiefs and the lieutenant
living by two different sets of rules
but uniforms and regimental cannon
can only make fighters out of fools
by some accounts he died a hero
depends on whose viewpoint you take
with every version of the story
twisted as a ribbon snake

like the furtive moon delivers
light with it's appointed time
ignorance and misguided missions
make absurd but fond partners in crime
history has its way of righting
or obliterating from the mind
accounts unresolved in telling
chronicles best left behind

1998  by Bobbie Gallup ASCAP
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

There are many versions of what became known as The Grattan Massacre...but  the details of what actually happened that grim day, August 19, 1854 were written down by Samuel Smith three days after the event. A lame cow ran into the area where the Indian were camped not far from Fort Laramie, waiting for provisions that had been promised but never received.  They promptly shot and ate the cow. When the Mormons reported the loss of the cow to the fort, Lt. Grattan took 27 soldiers and an interpreter to go and arrest the thief.  There were several chiefs there, including Bear Chief, The Man Who Is Afraid Of His Horses, Little Thunder and Big Pratizan and about 1000 Indians (Oglala, Brule, Wazhazha, and Miniconjou).  When the chiefs refused to turn over the thief, Grattan gave the signal and the soldiers fired on the Indians, wounding Bear Chief and his brother.  They only got off one round before the Indians charged and killed the soldiers.  Grattan alone received 24 arrows.  The Indians then looted the trade store of about $2000 worth of goods. Historical accounts of these events tend to paint the soldiers as heroic and brave and the Indians as savage and treacherous.  Given the facts of the event, however, today one would certainly have to wonder. The intent of this song is to bring into question many of our traditional accounts of such events.

The Demise

the wildcat hills lie sleepless
like the moon on Chimney Rock
no solace for a tortured soul
with an ear hung on a fob
uneasy tales are birthed a running
drumming on the sun baked earth
no fear to shake ambition
or water to slake the thirst

fourteen miles from Horse Creek station
under the brow of Mitchell Pass
tallgrass prophets of the future
scowl from the worst of summer's blast
eyes focused on the distant
signal fires down by Kiowa Creek
well-oiled from sweat of horse and man
that saddle never squeaked

some say Beni deserved his fate
like the devil Slade could be
bottle weak and snake fang fast
persistent as these sand hill fleas
a fevered frenzy of jealous rage
tormented dance by rope and lead
temper honed by cheap whiskey
ended by a bullet to the head

a man shallow like that braided river
like the Platte that alters course
you can’t outrun a prairie fire
or a future changed by man and horse
weighted down by prejudice and perils
mochillas filled with food for thought
eighteen months captivated a nation
even though it was all for naught

caught him like a scourge of locusts
headed west from old St Joe
onslaught was more than they could bear
waiting for news in Sacramento
grizzly trail ended in Montana
a truth not known by half
although the rope whined and whimpered
it was demise by telegraph

2000 by Bobbie Gallup
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

The brevity of its existence (1859-1861) truly is one of the most remarkable things about the Pony Express, considering the way it captivated the imagination of the nation and the world with its imagery and the spirit of the westward expansion. This poem is actually based on a true story of characters who were players in the Pony Express era. Both Jules Beni and Jack Slade were station managers. Slade was a true gentleman (some said) except when he had been drinking. Slade got in a fight with Beni (after whom the town of Julesburg, Colorado was named) and after making him do a pistol dance, killed him, SUPPOSEDLY cut off an ear and used it as a watch fob.   Slade kept moving West for awhile, then moved to MT where he was eventually lynched. Although only in existence for 18 months, I suspect there are few Americans who never heard of the Pony Express, which really did meet its demise as a result of the telegraph.

Beartooth Blizzard

Back in late September
I was working as a guide
Takin' dudes up in the mountains
Had to teach most of 'em to ride
Now there's a lotta city folk
Who pay good money for this chance
But I guess my boss knows best
Cause he makes 'em pay in advance

Now I hadn't seen my sister
In nigh on seven years
An when she wanted to visit
I said "Despite yer fears
Bein' a city gal and all
You'll have to go with me
Up in the Beartooth Mountains.
I gotta work and can't get free"

Now the week she came to see me
I had only one other guest
But this ornery cuss
Was the kind of man I sure detest
He complained about the weather
Even Cookie's finest steaks
And every evenin' round the campfire
We got a litany of his aches

But I hadda grin and bear it
Cause he was an engineer
Sent there by the oil company
So I hadda persevere
He sure put me to the test
With all his poutin' and complainin'
And he never paid attention
To anything I was explainin'

He was s'posed to determine
Where they could drill for oil
And he couldn't care less
When I said that drillin' sure would spoil
The plateau's fragile beauty
In this alpine place so fine
Home to the elk and grizzly
High above the timberline

So I tried to keep my mouth shut
And just do as I was told
But lemme tell ya buster
His attitude left me cold
Each day I took this feller out
To scout the valleys and the hills
Though listenin' to his problems
Didn't top my list of thrills

Now despite her lack of experience
My dear sister came to camp
Rode in thirteen miles
Took it like a champ
Even took to helpin' Cookie
Who fell in love with her on sight
And she caught on to cookin' on that woodstove
Much to everyone's delight

One day the wranglers all went out
A lotta fencin' had to be done
Before we closed up summer camp
Before winter winds begun
Cookie headed to the trailhead
To pick up more supplies
Sis said she'd have dinner waiting
She'd make it a surprise

Now we'd gone about as far
As we could ride out in a day
Just me and this engineer
So he could do his daily survey
He'd take his soil samples
Run some other tests
I tried to help him best I could
Despite his regular protests

We were down in a valley
And I was bent on helpin' him
So we could head on back to camp
Cause my patience was wearin' thin
Now I been workin' in the open
For way too many years
And a high country blizzard
Is this cowboy's biggest fear

I'd felt that temperature droppin'
Felt the wind pickin' up
And my cold fingers was a longin'
For the warmth of a coffee cup
I told this joker we hadda git
Before the storm broke around us
'Cause if we didn't get back to camp
It'd be spring before they found us

Now for an aging cowpoke
Trailin' dudes is purty easy work
But that guy hemhawed and dillydallied
Till I was ready to leave the jerk
He finally got back in the saddle
Just as the first flakes began to fall
But it weren't more'n twenty minutes
Before you couldn't see the ground at all

Now my old bay knew her way home
Of that I was mighty sure
And it was a darned good thing
Cause all the landmarks were obscured
I told this dude to keep on my tail
And lit out as fast as that mare could go
We took off at a fast trot
By now it was blinding snow

We'd gone several miles
When I turned around and looked
There was no sign of the dude
I thought his goose was cooked
But way off in the distance
My mare picked up the sound
Of his appy's whinney
So we had to turn around

Our trail was already snowed over
So finding him was not an easy task
But when we finally got there
I felt compelled to ask
"What in the world are you doing
Just sitting here like this?"
What part of 'keep up with me'
Did your ignorant ears miss?"

He just sat there lookin' stupid
With his little vials of dirt
He said "I can't ride no more
My manly parts are so cold they hurt."
Now I'll never own up to this
So don't nobody rat on me
But I shook that little man
Until his teeth went flyin' free

I said "Buster, I done a lotta takin'
Of your complainin' all this week
But in case you hadn't noticed
This weather's getting' bleak
And I don't aim to die out here
Though I don't care if you do
But my sister's all alone in camp
And she ain't got a clue"

So I'm tailin' your horse to mine
So you better hold on tight
Cause buddy you and me
Are gettin' back to camp tonite
Now we was one mighty sorry pair
When we finally rode in
But when I saw that stove was workin'
I hadda 'low myself a grin

All of us said grace that night
Over a pot of the world's best beef stew
'Cause all the cowboys were accounted for
Everyone had made it through
That dude never said another complainin' word
Till the day I took him back
'Cept "please" and "thank you kindly"
It may sound strange but that's a fact

2000 by Bobbie Gallup
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

Bobbie said that this poem is "a bit of a deviation from my usual historical ballad poems, although this one is also a true, though more recent story.  No names are used to protect the guilty, of course."

The Snow Seems Awful Early

The snow seems awful early
Or could it just be me
These old bones always complainin'
Can predict a storm by my knees

Mebbe it's them long years in the saddle
Or the hosses I tried to break
Or the ones who might near broke me
That's makin' this ol' cowboy ache

There's still a lotta satisfaction
Comes from tightenin' that wire
But it seems there's nothin' better
These days than sittin' by that fire

Me an' my old dog Toby
Prob'ly seen our better days
'Cause I kinda notice him lately
Likin' to sleep in the sun's rays

Gotta say the Lord's been good to me
Seen a lot of His handiwork out there
His painted sunrises and sunsets
And I breathed His mountain air

I've seen things in my lifetime
That I know most folks never will
And I can't complain 'bout nothin'
Though life's picked up speed goin' downhill

Now when it comes my time
To pass from this eartly race
I'll just shake His hand and thank Him
And ask if there's any cows to chase

2000 by Bobbie Gallup
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.



Three Kinds of Men

Not sure what sage man it was who said
That there's just three kinds of men
But I discovered that truth long ago
And to that I gotta say amen
'Cause I've seen guys do a lotta things
Some that's made me shake my head
Some that's really made me question
If their sanity was hangin' by a thread
Now I gotta admit that ridin' cows
Don't leave a lotta time fer folks
But listenin to 'em talk sometimes
I learn things I never had to coax

Most of 'em think if you're listenin'
You must be somewhat impressed
And round most any campfire
You'll be a welcome guest
I just like to keep my mouth shut
That way folks never seem to know
What I'm thinkin' and that's prolly fer the best
Or my company they might forego
But I been tallyin' up some thoughts
About the kind of men I see
And how they learn about the world
Though you may not agree

There's some like Old Bill who loves to read
Anything he sets his eyes on
Then around the dinner table
He'll loudly expound upon
He kin carry on a discussion
About pert near anything
You name it and to Bill it'll have
A most familiar ring
Now I figger Bill's a learned guy
I gotta hand it to him
But when books hold everything you know
Sometimes real wisdom's mighty slim

Then there's Willie, who don't say much
It's hard to get him to say a word
But if there's ever a dispute on who said what
He kin repeat exactly what he heard
He kin tell us what the weather'll do
Cause he's watched it all these years
And he knows when Red the wrangler's
Had a few too many beers
Old Willie prob'ly ain't the smartest
Fencepost in the line
But he learns by watchin' others
Whenever he is so inclined

There's a third kinda fella
That I admit to knowin' all too well
Cause in my younger years
I was always willing to dispel
Any folks good opinions
By just opening my trap
Loved to hear the sound of my own voice
I was a windy sorta chap
Never read a book and never observed
The sorta guy who's really kinda dense
Cause I had'ta try everything fer myself
I just had'ta pee on that electric fence

2000 Bobbie Gallup
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

Moose Amok

Folks don't seem to like my singing
My bellerin' sounds like a moose in heat
Is what I've been told by some
Who don't care to be discreet

Now there's something 'bout the autumn
That may stir the soul of man
But up here in the northland
Is where this story all began

When you've been ranchin' many years
You’re bound to see a few strange things
And though I love the golden aspens
And the sound of elk bugling

I ain't never been a hunter
So I stay outta the woods in fall
But somethin' tells me I won't forget
The night I had too close a call

Now me and my old lady
Had already settled in for the night
When a ferocious noise outside
Gave us both a major fright

I grabbed up my old shotgun
And ran downstairs to check it out
Flung open that back door
To see what the fuss was all about

Now the first thing that I heard
Was the sound of heavy breathing
I figgered the gate got left open
And the horses were just leaving

Then I saw the silhouette
And realized this here was no horse
This heavy breathin' critter
Was a cow moose, of course

In an attempt to drive her off
I went around the corner of the house
And there I came face to face with
A bull moose feelin' amorous

Now in autumn a bull moose
Has only one thing on his mind
And I never knew before that night
It don't matter if you ain't his kind

Now my wife was upstairs watching
She kin see what's going on
And she sees my predicament
The light began to dawn

Here I am between this bull
And the object of his desires
Don't matter I'm not a female
The situation's getting dire

Now I may not be the quickest draw
Or the brightest bulb in the pack
But when a thousand pound bull moose
Is breathin' down my neck

I'm not stickin around
To see what happens next
So I lit out for the barn
Cause I could see he was obsessed

Now I made it to the door
Only seconds before that cow
Who tried to follow me inside
Something I just could not allow

She was desperate to avoid him
And kept pushing on that door
Being as she outweighed me by a lot
Her efforts were hard to ignore

About this time that old bull
Noticed the horses 'cross the fence
Now they'd seen a moose before
But never one quite so intense

When he turned his amorous attention
To the horses for awhile
My wife figgered a call to the warden
Might just be worthwhile

Now me and that warden
Been friends for many years
But when she woke him from his sleepin'
He could not believe his ears

She finally convinced him
We had a problem on on our hands
With me trapped in the barn
And that fool moose makin' his demands

He had a good time chasin' horses
When he broke through that fence
Chased both the females and the males
Seemed to make no difference

When the warden finally got there
That bull was nowhere in sight
But when the two of us went lookin'
We found the strangest sight

That cow moose was so exhausted
She'd passed out on the ground
When we tried to get her to her feet
She made this mournful sound

That worn out moose had a bloody nose
A cut under one eye
Was bleeding from her shoulder
And a gash across her thigh

She was panting like a coon hound
Who'd been run for hours on end
Though where her suitor'd gotten to
At the time I didn't comprehend

With much poking and making noises
We finally got her to her feet
And after drinking from a puddle
She beat a wobbly retreat

It was then we walked around
The corner of the house
And stared into the eyes of my
Incredulous spouse

Who was standing there and pointing
To a bloody hoof print on the wall
That was more than nine feet high
As I clearly now recall

A pillar to the porch was missing
There was blood and moose hair
In bushes trampled to the ground
Pieces of vinyl siding everywhere

But we figured all was finally quiet
We could now go back to bed
But apparently our Lothario
Thought something else instead

We suddenly heard a ruckus
Coming from our neighbors down the road
'Cause our friend the mighty bull
Musta been nigh ready to explode

After failing to win the heart
Of his intended object of affection
He'd turned his attention
In the neighbor's direction

Now they had just returned
From a trip that very night
And were not truly thrilled with
The results of that moose's plight

Their Ford received his affection in
An apparent fit of ungulate pique
Guess that poor moose was beyond caring
For female moose mystique

The windshield was demolished
The doors were dented in
Blood and moose hair on the seats
And the mirror took it on the chin

And I ain't gonna speculate
'Bout that other fluid that was found
Decoratin' that car's hood
But the odor was profound

Now it's never a good idea
To approach a moose at any time
But leave those lovelorn ones alone
Specially one whose lust is primed

Now no one wishes any harm
To these animals at all
But as you can probably guess
We'll be careful come next fall

When cooler temperatures begin 
We only hope next year the pair
Of misguided moose will take
Their lovers' quarrel anywhere but here

2000 Bobbie Gallup
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

Bobbie tells us this is based on a true story right out of her newspaper.

Drive a Little Faster

Those red cliffs turn to lavender
As the daylight fades too fast
The gauge says almost empty
Hope I don't run out of gas
Just breakin' Horsetooth Mountain
I see a sliver of a moon
When regret's your travelin' companion
Nighttime settles in too soon
I hear a calf bawl for its mama
Somewhere on the open range
I know just how he's feelin'
'Cause alone feels mighty strange

I'd drive a little faster
But I ain't goin anywhere
Just runnin' from this achin' heart
That's more'n I can bear
I know every hand is different
Sometimes it don’t seem fair
But I run plumb outta aces
And I hope God's got a spare
Somewhere in this universe I hope
He kin hear this cowboy's prayer

Didn't take much but my old saddle
'Cause I like to travel light
That empty look in her blue eyes said
She knew I wouldn’t be back tonight
In the dusk my lights pick up
A fleeting shadow 'cross the road
At least somethin's headed somewhere
But I can't outrun this heavy load
She needs me to help her through this
But how can I help her with her pain
When I can't fill this emptiness
This guilt that's drivin' me insane

My questions have no answers
What if's and if only's are all I hear
If I'd just come home a little sooner
'Stead of ropin' one more steer
I mighta heard him callin'
From the bottom of that well
In time to keep him from drownin'
But it's too late now to tell
Whoever said that life goes on
Sure ain't been in my shoes
'Cause without our little Jimmy
I know I've got no more to lose

2000 Lyrics by Bobbie Gallup ASCAP
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

This sad song was inspired by Bobbie's friends' tragic experience.

Yellow Shelf Elf

Folks livin' out in the country
Sure do enjoy the peace and quiet
But there are times when it does get to ya
I'd be the last to deny it.
We may go to the post office
Sometimes just to see friends
Catch up on the gossip
Or make our amends

A lot of us who like to read a lot
Don't have to go to the library in town
Cause our little country post office
Has the best deal around 
Over in the corner of the lobby
Is a great little rack of books
And every time we're in the post office
Everyone stops in and looks

There are lots of romantic novels
And mysteries, whodunits and crime
You don't have to check them out
Or sign your name on the line
You can take as many as you want
And there's no limit on time
Just bring 'em back when you're finished
Out here the honor system works fine

Now the library runs this service
At least that's what they'd like us to think
Cause their stamp's in the front of each book
In the boldest of blood red ink
They call this rack the Yellow Shelf
You'd think with time they'd all disappear
But there's something quite strange
That seems to be happening here

It seems to me every time I stop in
There's more and more books on the shelf
Did everyone forget where they got 'em
Or is it the work of the Yellow Shelf Elf

2001, Bobbie Gallup
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.



Cowboys Make Good Preachers

I allus wondered why some guys
Who don't have a lot to say
Are the very ones who think the most
'Bout how things got this way

I've rode the range with Slim and Jim
Sometimes with Windy Bill
When no one seems to need to speak
As a storm slides 'cross the hills

I've sat astride my painted horse
And watched a falling star
And felt a lump rise in my throat
When ol' Slim plays his guitar

I've also watched the hand of God
Paint many a crimson cloud
And canyons carved by time and wind
Have got me thinkin' right out loud

This world's a right amazing place
Can't be no mere coincidence
No more'n keepin' yore cows ta home
Means you gotta tend yer fence

I'm not an educated man
I will never be a teacher
But when you've seen the things I have
You know why cowboys make good preachers

2003, Bobbie Gallup

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


Rocking Horse

The trips we take don't last too long
And never go too far
But to a bright-eyed three year old
I'm her rockin' rodeo star

Grandpa carved me lovingly by hand
And painted me with care
My mane and tail are made with strands
From his palomino mare

Sweet little girl with golden curls
I'm always saddled up and ready
I'm pretty tame but hold the reins
And keep yourself steady

Fast or slow is fine you know
I'll go as far as you will let me
Ride your trusty steed with rocking speed
'Til your eyes are growing heavy

My mane is now a tangled mess
From too many kool-aid kisses
But Grandpa loves to see her ride
He calls her Little Britches

He tells her stories of the old days
When he used to ride the trail
Through blizzard, dust and prairie fire
Carrying the mail

Some Christmas morn a real pony
Will be waiting at the gate
But we'll take many a joyful ride
Before I'm tucked away

2005 lyrics by Bobbie Gallup ASCAP
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.


Bobbie told us: My grandpa was a furniture maker...back when furniture was still made out of real wood with lovely dovetailed joints and hand carving.  As a child, my first love affair with horses was with my rocking horse.  Of course my horse loved
me in return...I had no doubt of that, so this poem is pretty much autobiographical.  When I was three, my great uncle sat me up on the back of one of his huge dappled grey percheron work horses...and there was no stopping me after that!!!  I am a firm believer that a child's imagination is one of the things most urgently in need of nurturing...through books, stories and songs, children come to experience whole new worlds through their imaginations.  I was totally thrilled when someone compared this poem favorably with the childhood classic, The Velveteen Rabbit.  I still get all teary-eyed reading that one. Love does, in fact, make them real!

Dirt Rich

The ground's as dry as talcum powder,
Waitin' styptic for the rain.
Dirt clods turn into sandstone
While the wife, she prays in vain.

My well is sunk eight hundred-foot
And it's startin' to suck air.
Dust storms roll in with every wind,
And I don't rightly care.

Daddy farmed this land before me,
And his daddy before him.
They're buried high up on that hill,
The only place still green and trim.

I walk up there every mornin'
And ask them for their advice.
I've heard their answer a thousand times
If I've heard it once or twice.

Dirt rich and money poor;
I been called that all my life.
I'd love to switch the two around;
Just to see what it is like.

Can't grow hay to feed the cattle.
They're too stringy now to eat.
Half-inch grass on burnt up acres
should be two-foot summer wheat.

They no longer call this just a dry spell
It's now an official drought.
Don't make a nickel's worth of difference
To a dirt farmer with no clout.

Dirt rich and money poor;
I been called that all my life.
I'd love to switch the two around;
Just to see what it is like.

If I had a bit of money,
I'd take the wife away;
Someplace nice along the coast,
Where there's water enough to play.

We'd stay a week and then return,
'Cause this place is still our home.
We'll die with skin like parchment,
And the sun'll bleach our bones.

Dirt rich and money poor;
I been called that all my life.
I'd love to switch the two around;
Just to see what it is like.

2004, Bobbie Gallup and Corky "Dawg" Bernard
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.


Bobbie told us: We all know that dirt farmin' is a tough many variables that the odds sometimes seem worse than those of a gambler. But farmin' is just as addictive. Tough to let go when it's been your family's way of life for generations.  Water seems to be the life blood...and there is usually either too much or too little. This poem was born from a discussion my hubby Corky "Dawg" Bernard and I were having about the addictive nature of loving the land and how you just can't shake it. My beloved writing partner/husband passed away in 2004 and this is one of those that we wrote together.


There's Somethin' 'Bout Old Horses

There's somethin' 'bout old horses
An' old cowboys makes me cry
Like simpler times and honest feelings
An' goin' home to die

There ain't much that anyone can do
To turn back the hands of time
But progress don't always move us forward
And lots of folks still wonder why

We've got things to make life easier
But no extra time on our hands
No matter how much we get done each day
Still can't stop those hourglass sands

Far as I'm concerned, life ain't no race
No need to hurry all the time
Never knew a person who was anxious
To cross that final finish line

I still prefer to ride my fences
On the back of my old mare
It gives me time to ponder on
The reason why we're here

I like to sit back in the evening
In the campfire's glowing light
With my old dog Ben beside me
It makes my day seem right

Some folks may think I'm wasting time
By taking things so slow
But I'm makin' sure my minutes matter
When it comes my time to go

2006, Bobbie Gallup ASCAP
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.


Bobbie told us: The poem, "There's Somethin' 'Bout Old Horses, was precipitated by learning, long after the fact, of the death of one of my favorite ranchers, John Worthington, who had a huge spread on the Colorado, Wyoming border. John and his wife ran about 3500 head of cattle and some of my fondest (and filthiest) memories are of helping with branding and with moving his herds from pasture to pasture on those hot, dry and windy Colorado summer days. When you lose a good friend that you truly loved and respected, it made me face my own mortality, especially coming on the heels of the unexpected passing of my husband and soulmate. Guess it just starts making you really think about making your remaining moments meaningful."





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