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CowboyPoetry.com    Cowboy Poetry and Music and More at the BAR-D Ranch


Sacramento, California
About Billy James

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




They’ve got me runnin’ circles;
I wish that I was free.
I’ve heard they was no fences
In days that used to be.

I’ve heard a horse could rear and buck
And spread his nostrils wide,
Could have a hundred mares along
A’ runnin’ by his side.

I’d lead my herd to water that
Was sweetest on the earth;
I’d be their strong protector, too,
Whenever one gave birth.

He’s left the fence gate open!
Now here’s my chance at last
To be out on the other side!
I’ll look, and then run fast.

Well, I don’t see no water there;
And I don’t see no bed;
And who will put my saddle on?
Who’ll make sure I am fed?

And who will wipe away the sweat,
And curry tangles out?
And where’s the shelter from the storm?
I sure am having doubt.

I guess that being free is just
Words I misunderstood.
Inside I have all those things free.
Outside, I never would.

I guess it all depends upon
Which fence that you’re behind;
And everyone’s behind some fence –
Some here, some in your mind.

God made the man my master, so
With him I am set free;
So I’ll stay here and be the horse
That God wants me to be.

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

I wrote this poem after seeing a horse running in circles behind the fence
in a corral.


I r’member when they burned my hide.
If horses could, I would ‘a’ cried.
It hurt so bad down on my rump;
When it was done I bucked and jump’d.
For quite some days I felt the sting;
But nothing could erase that thing.

Before too long, it was forgot’,
I joined the rest out in the lot.
Then someone came and broke the fence!
It was at night, and made not sense –
They never ride me in the night.
I wondered if they had the right.

They put me, and some others too,
In this big trailer with no view.
They kept us there for three -  four days
And never let us out to graze.
They didn’t even give us hay,
Just water in the heat of day.

Then, someone swung that gate out wide,
It was the man that burned my hide.
“All these are mine,” I heard him say,
As he pointed to my rump that day.
He fed us good, then took us home
Where we had plenty a’ space to roam.

Then I remembered that the sign
He burned into my hide that time
Was there to tell them who I was;
Then, I was proud of it because
Had they not burned it on my hide,
I know that I’d have surely died.

So, sometimes, when it hurts at first,
That pain is not always the worst.
The worst’s not knowin’ whose you are,
Without that you won’t get too far.
The one who burns his brand on you
Is the one who cares and feeds you, too.

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


I can’t rope, and I can’t ride;
Ain’t got no six-gun on my side;
But I got me a hat and pointed boots
‘Cause I’m gonna’ get back to my roots.

I ‘as Texas born’d; and there I grow’d;
They weren’t no places that I knowed
‘Cept Texas land, the land I love,
No sweeter land, but that above.

Then ‘is filly came along and caught my eye;
An’ I jest couldn’t tell her good-bye.
So I tagged along there by her side
An’ we saw Texas opened wide.

From Texarkan’ to El Paso,
From Dalhart down to Laredo,
From Brownsville up to Wich’ta Falls
You name a town; we seen ‘em all.

Then once I looked, and seen a sign;
And questions raised up in my mind.
“What part of Texas is this here?”
“We ain’t in Texas.” Said my dear.

“It’s Hollywood, we’ve come so far,
I’m gonna’ be a movie star!”
Well, stomp my hat!  I nearly cried!
I’ been too long at this filly’s side.

I’m packin’ up, I’m goin’ home.
In Texas there’s ‘nough space to roam.
Back to my roots, I’m on the road
Right back to Texas where I grow’d.

There’s ocean shores, and mountains high,
And big skies where the eagles fly
There’s desert land and plains stretched out,
There’s trees and flowers all about.

There’s rivers north, east, south and west,
There’s plenty places you can rest.
Big cities to the smallest town.
Yea, that’s my home, I’m settling down.

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


As I was layin’ out one night,
The clouds shut out the moon’s dim light.
My fire was all that helped me see;
But that was still ok by me.
The herd was still, all bedded down,
And breezes dancin’ all aroun’
I spied this wrangler in the clear
And wondered, “What’s he doin’ here?”
So I thought I’d palaver make.
I offered him a seat to take.
“Say, Pard, I see you over there;
Come set a spell in this ev’nin’ air
The coffee pot is on the heat,
‘Cept I ain’t got no grub to eat.
But come on over here and set;
I don’t think we have ever met.
Now, by what handle do you go?
My handle’s Jake if you want to know.”
“Who?” was the word that I heard back.
I know that some folk’s hearin’ ‘s slack;
So I repeated “Jake” real loud;
But he was quiet as the passing cloud.
“Now look here pardner, can’t you talk?
You come on o’er.  Ain’t fer to walk.
The foreman’s comin’ soon this way.
If you don’t talk now, he’ll have his say.”
“Who?” was the question in the wind.
I saw him stretch and start to bend.
I felt my Colt, my forty five.
“Ol’ Jim’s the foreman of this drive.
And if you’re here to trouble make,
He’ll shoot you down, your life he’ll take.
So, afore you risk bein’ in the sod
Better say your name, or meet with God.”
“Who?” – That got my goat at its worst!
He asked the question he asked at first!
I fired three rounds to make him skeered;
But he stood still, none more afeared.
Then I rushed forth to knock him down;
And this is what I up and found:
I banged my head as the owl flew free.
“Whoo, Whoo,” he said.  I had shot a tree.

Then, I had to climb that tree real fast
‘Cause since my gun made such a blast,
Them cows thought, Well, it’s time to go;
And they headed straight for me, don’t you know.
I couldn’t even see my horse;
He’d joined that herd of cows, of course.
So I just held on to that branch
And hoped I’d live to see the ranch.
When all the dust had settled down
And others brought the herd aroun’
Ol’ Jim came ridin’ up the road.
He sure was mad, and that I knowed.
‘Cause he had put me there in charge
Of all that beef, both small and large;
And he said any blasted sound
Would start them hooves to stomping ground.
My face was messed up from the fray,
My clothes were torn, hat blown away,
I looked a sight; but that was good
‘Cause he did what I thought he would.
“Where are you, Jake?  How do you plead?
I’ll have your hide for this stampede!”
Then, he seen me, “Jake, ain’t that you?”
I quietly answered him back, “Who?”
“Jake!”  -  “Ah, nah, my name is Sam;
I’m not that Jake you think I am.
And, ah, the reason why that I am here,
Well, ah,  - I was out here huntin’ deer. . .”
He pulled the kerchief from my face.
“Even for a liar, you’re a disgrace!
Why, I’ve a mind to string you up,
Or put some poison in your cup!
We lost ten head because of you!
And you got the nerve to ask me, ‘who!’
So ‘fore I lose my ev’ry wit,
You hit the road!  You’re fired!  Now git!”
Didn’t even ask him for my pay.
Just found my horse and rode away.
Now, if some day I meet with you
And ask your name, please don’t say, “Who?”

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


Me and the boys had gone one night
Down into town, and was we tight!
We drank so much of that town’s booze
I thought our way back home we’d lose.
If my horse hadn’t known the way,
I surely would ‘a had to stay.

We smelled just like a skunk times ten
When that bunk house we entered in.
Well, I just couldn’t take it there;
So I stepped out to get some air.
I set me down beside this tree
And this is what my eyes did see.

The ants were crawling all around;
They was hundreds of them on the ground.
It was their home that I had chose’
So this one ant climbed on my nose.
I couldn’t lift my hand that high
So I jist figgered there I’d die.

Then this here ant, to my surprise,
He looked me right straight in the eyes
And spoke, “What are you doing here?
Don’t bring out here your smell of beer!
You go back in to your own house
And live in there with roach and mouse.

We built this home with toil and sweat.
We travel far our food to get.
We tote ten times our weight to gain
The family food, come sun or rain.
We suffer from the heat and cold
And birds, too, take a heavy toll.

But we keep working, that’s our life.
We work with trouble, fear and strife.”
He raised his stinger and I knew
Jist what that ant was gonna do.
I said, “Now, look here Mister Ant,
Don’t sting me, please; why you jist can’t;

At least before you stab my nose,
Jist listen to some of my woes.
I work hard, too, here on this spread.
I punch them cows to earn my bread.
I mend them fences, round up strays,
I’ve put in lots of real long days

‘A settin’ posts and stringing wire.
I gotta say, I earn my hire.
And brandin’ time, that is the worst;
‘Specially if you get a cloud burst.
I wrestle dogies in the mud
Lose sleep, and time, and sweat and blood.

Ain’t many times, when day is through,
I go to town to get a brew;
But when I do, me and my friends,
We live it up till the night ends.
I didn’t mean to spoil your house.
See I ain’t got no kids, ner spouse.

This ranch here is my family.
And without them, I’d lonesome be.
So me and you ‘s somewhat the same.
Oh, by the way, what is your name?”
“Ain’t got no name, I’m jist an ant.
But I’m real proud of who I ain’t.

I ain’t no cat, nor mouse nor frog;
I ain’t no tree, nor bird nor dog.
I got my life, I live it well;
But here is one thing I can tell
About yourself, and who you are.
You surely ain’t no movie star;

But you got brains, though just a few,
And, though an ant, I got some, too.
You should be proud you got a name,
‘Cause that means that you’re not the same
As some old dog or cat or flee
Or even someone great, like me.

Be glad you got a job, and food;
And that you got a boss that’s good.
Be thankful that the life you live
Is big enough that you can give
To others when you see a need.
Cause, if you don’t, you’d best take heed

That when that Man up in the sky
Looks down on you with His big eye,
Just like you’re doing now to me,
He doesn’t like what He might see.”
I gently put him on the ground
So he could then rebuild that mound.

I moved away and watched them work.
But then I felt this little jerk.
“Hey, wake up man, the sun is up.
There’s hot brewed coffee for your cup.
You slept through night out by this tree
But it’s now time at work to be.”

I felt my nose; it had no sting.
I rubbed my eyes, and heard the ring
Of breakfast bell, time for first chow.
Then off to find some lost, stray cow.
I never told them what I dreamed
Because to me it surely seemed

To be some words that I could use
If once again my way I lose.
And though I’m in my own bunk bed,
Those ant’s words still are in my head.
I’ll jist thank God for what I’ve got
‘Cause to most folks that’s quite a lot.

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



You’ve heard of how the cowboys life is filled with aches and pains;
With sorrows and with bitterness, and yet he still remains
The strong and silent handsome type who always wins the day.
He ain’t afeared o’ anything, whatever’s in his way.
Well, I will let a secret out that’ll set your mind in whirls;
That secret is – he is afraid – yea, he’s afraid o’ girls.

Yea! He may wrestle some mean bull and throw him to the ground;
Or he may ride some wild old bronc ‘till he is brought around.
Why, he can grin a grizzly down, and bring him to his knees;
Or he can bite a rattle snake before that thing can sneeze.
He’s up and tough and at ‘em rough before the flag unfurles.
But there’s one thing he don’t admit; its, “I’m afraid of girls.”

I’ never seen a cowboy shake when trouble comes to town.
But let some filly blink and eye or make some silly frown,
And that cowboy will start to tremble head down to his toes.
He’ll start to mumble frightful things, and forget all he knows.
And, if she smiles when she sees him, well, Lord have mercy, son;
That man will melt there in the dirt, and blush til settin’ sun.

I’ve seen their knees a knocking when they see some purdy lass.
I’ve seen ‘em drool and daydream if some young miss they may pass.
I’ve seen ‘em stumble to the ground to take a second look.
And if she turns to look at him then they get really shook.
If she should say a “Howdy”, then they’d mumble and they’d slur;
And you can’t tell just what they’d say, or what they’d say it fer.

Then, sometime in that cowboys life, his fear of girls will fade
And he will buckle up his girt and out there he will wade
Into that sea of mystery, that’s also known as love;
And some young gal will come along that fits him like a glove.
He’ll turn into a gentleman, he’ll tip his hat and bow.
I’ve seen it happen lots of times; you can’t tell when ner how.

So, what is the solution to this problem that we’ve got?
You can’t just do away with all them heifers in the lot.
That may be alright now, for some, to drive away them fears;
But then you wouldn’t have no one to ride and rope them steers.
So, you still would have a problem, ‘cause no matter what you do
You must always remember that your mom was a girl, too.

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


See the snow!  Watch it flow
From on high to here below!
All the world’s a white pillow
Made of snow, blanket snow.
See the snow!  Watch it blow
Forming drifts in row by row;
Many layers, all aglow
With the snow, blowing snow.

Cattle know ‘bout the snow;
Drop their heads and move real slow.
Hear them low while they go,
Moaning softly through the snow.
Horses know ‘bout the snow;
Turn their backs to that dread foe,
Covers trails where they must go
To and fro, blinding snow.

Cowboys know ‘bout the snow.
Pull their hats a way down low
‘Gainst the snow, and curse the snow.
Got to make them cattle go
Through the snow, drifts of snow;
Got to urge his horse to go
Through the snow, chilling snow,
While those drifts still higher grow.

Don’t God know ‘bout this snow?!
How it chills from head to toe?
How some head get lost in snow?
Trails are covered!  Don’t He know?
Sure He does!  He made it so
In the dark the trails would glow;
In the spring the grasses grow,
Rivers can keep up their flow!

Don’t you know ‘bout this snow?!
That He’s sent it here to show
How He covers sins, although
They are scarlet, with the snow?
Scarlet sins are white as snow!
Let that word from God echo:
White as snow, white as snow,
Snow, snow, snow, white as snow.

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

My Wife

I roped this filly soft as down,
And warm as sunshine on the ground,
Eyes as blue as morning sky,
Cheeks as sweet as cherry pie.

She kicks at danger, smiles at a cloud,
Sighs at rainbows, laughs out loud.
Runs from spiders, loves all dogs,
Talks to cows, but don’t like frogs.

Tied her right up by my side
That day when she became by bride.
She bore my children, wiped their nose,
Tanned their hides and washed their clothes.

She makes my supper every day,
Brings me coffee without pay.
Lord, You gave me quite a gal;
She’s my lover, she’s my pal.

Hair that once was dark as coal,
Is silver gray, but she’s not old.
She’s seen lots of days go by.
I made her laugh, and made her cry.

That knot’s been tied for some time now;
And she still loves me, don’t know how.
She thinks I’m the greatest man
Walking here upon this land.

I think she’s a gift from God
Sent to help me as I plod
Through this land ‘til my last day
When she still will hear me say,


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

Cowboy Dreams

Breathe deep those beams of sunset
    While they blush so quick away;
Then gaze on horses heart beats
    While they munch on their oat hay.
Hold tight those shadows in your hands,
    So they don't flee so fast;
And listen to those twinkling stars;
    Today is now gone past.
Oh, savor long those dreams you have;
    Night too will soon be o'er;
Tomorrow then will be today,
    Things now be things before.

But cowboys?  They're not all gone yet;
    They live on in the heart
Of doctors, lawyers, merchants, priests,
    In songs and works of art.
They live in dreams of children,
    And in words on poet's tongue,
In painters hues on canvas;
    Oh! They are not old; they're young.
That sun of time cannot descend;
    Its shadows cannot hide
The cowboy spirit, heart and mind,
    His courage and his pride.

His faith in God, love for the land,
    His zest for life each day
Are planted here in many hearts
    And will not pass away.
So, now, inhale the sunbeams
    Of a morning sun that's bright;
And listen to that morning star
    That was not dimmed last night.
Then, feel those shadows shorten,
    And see heartbeats just begun
And taste the hope in cowboy dreams,
    And tell me, are you one?

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


"Hammerhead" they call my kind.
Ugly name, but I don't mind.
I got water, grass and mares.
Call me names; I say, "Who cares?"
Tangled mane and scarred up hide,
Back is swayed and head too wide.
Who are they to call my name?
Man, himself, still gets the blame.
Cut my fathers free long past.
Freedom gained, we made it last.
I see fences - push them down,
Lay them flat upon the ground.
We all need to run, be free,
We eat any food we see.
It all comes from Mother Earth.
That's the way I've been since birth.
I fought stallions, won my place,
Lead my band in any race,
Watch for danger, kick at foes,
Find where the next water flows.
I protect each mare and colt;
Fight again when there's revolt.
Men may capture, men may kill;
I'll still roam this land at will.
Captured mustangs they may sell;
That's the story I've heard tell.
They won't buy a horse like me.
I'll lay dead, or I'll be free.
Freedom's not for everyone.
Man may buy it with his gun.
What's that price? And what's that gain?
Freedom costs!  Costs blood and pain.
Fight for freedom!  Pay that due!
Then run free like Mustangs do.

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


The Plight of the Mustang

My days are over, course is run.
That younger stallion finally won.
I'll leave the herd, my mares behind.
I know that he will treat them kind.
Not many left now, anyway.
They have to scavenge food each day.
The water's scarce, and days are hot;
But this Great Basin's what we've got
To call our home, come rich or poor.
So, our whole breed can't long endure.
Man loosed our fathers long years back
And never thought our steps to track.
But then, the land was open, free;
And none could long endure as we.
So, strong and fast, we earned our stay
And grew in numbers ev'ry day.
But, now, the food that then fed ten
Can't feed a hundred; we can't win.
Those men who used us long years past
To carry loads and move them fast
Now hunt to kill us, leave us lay
With life blood flowing to decay.
We're killed, or captured, pinned and sold.
We're fed, or fenced out in the cold.
We've eaten baled hay; eaten sand
'Til bellies bloated, we can't stand.
Man is our master in God's plan;
But we can't learn the heart of man.
He feeds us one day, kills the next;
Our hearts are fearful, souls are vexed.
Young foals abandoned, left to cry,
Alone, forsaken, 'till they die.
And, breathing our last heated breath,
We wander, aimless, hope for death.

God, up above, please show mankind
 That all on earth we want to do
Is live and breathe and have our time
 To do whatever pleased You.

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


The Really Shortest Cowboy Poem

 A poem by Billy James

I got
To go;
I shot
My toe.

Author’s explanation and interpretation:
            Meter of the poem – Iambic, unameter
            Rhyme scheme – a, b, a, b.
            Largest word in poem – 4 (four) letters (shot)
            Smallest word in poem – 1 (one) letter ( I )
            Average size of words in poem – 2 (two, i.e., go)
            Poem class – “Cowboy”  The subject of the above poem must be a cowboy because cowboys wear their six-shooters in holsters where the barrel points downward toward the toe.  Others, such as police, detectives, crooks, etc. wear them on shoulder straps, under their coats, or hidden somewhere else on their person.
            Stated setting of the poem – the old West
            Background for poem setting – A cowboy shoots his toe and has to go to a sawbones doctor to get fixed up.
            Application of poem – If you shoot your toe, you should seek medical help fast.
            Intrinsic value of poem – It describes the romance,[1] and dangers[2] of cowboy life; and reveals his sensitivity,[3] wisdom[4], courage,[5] and love for horses.[6]  

[1] Everybody knows that the cowboy is the most romantic character in the whole universe.

[2] Toting one or more six-shooters on your hip (s) while you do hard work on the ranch, or do hard drinking in the saloon, is certainly one of the most dangerous of life’s varied occupations.

[3] Note that this cowboy is sensitive enough about the feelings of others that he tells them of the purpose of his departure.  Some cowboys just ride off into the sunset with nary a rhyme nor reason for their leaving, as witness the Lone Ranger, Red Ryder, Lash LaRue, et al.

[4] He was smart enough to go the doctor after shooting his toe, wasn’t he?

[5] It takes a lot of courage to do a job that is as dangerous as the cowboy’s (See footnote 2 for an explanation of the dangerous life of the cowboy.)

[6] It is common knowledge that you have to read “between the lines” to fully understand most any kind of poetry, including the class, “cowboy”; and, “between the lines” of this poem you should read:

                While attempting to mount his dearly beloved horse, a cowboy got the trigger of his six-shooter tangled in one of the many, varied purpose straps that hang from the saddle.  The trigger was thereby engaged, which made the firearm discharge.  The projectile (bullet) traveled downward (really fast),  and pierced through the boot of the cowboy at a position just behind the narrow point on the front end of said boot, thus striking the toe of said cowboy.  Then, even though the cowboy was seriously injured, he never struck, nor even cussed at his faithful pony; but he trusted that his stately mount would convey him safely to the aforementioned sawbones doctor.

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



Someday, Goodbye

Someday, you 're going to tell me goodbye;
Someday you're going to walk out that door;
Someday, you're going to make me cry
'Cause I won't have your love anymore

Someday you're going to make me understand that all this time I've been so wrong.
Someday you're going to tell me goodbye; I just don't know the "when" or "how long."

I'm never going to tell you goodbye;
But, Baby, got to tell you, "So long."
I don't intend to make you cry,
Or feel that you've done anything wrong;

But I've just got to get out to Abilene, and pay the fee to get to ride.
I'm never going to tell you goodbye. I'm coming back to be by your side.

Someday, you're going to tell me goodbye;
I feel the pain down deep in my heart
Someday, I'm going to have to try
To find out how to play my part.

I'm playing second place to the rodeo, to buckles, saddles and the fame.
Someday, you're going to tell me goodbye; and leave me all alone in the game.

I didn't want to tell you goodbye;
I go from here up to Santa Fe.
I didn't want to tell you a lie;
But I just didn't know how to say

The circuit has me booked for a hundred days, and then I think that I'll be free.
I didn't want to tell you goodbye, but if I win, you know where I'll be.

I knew that you would tell me goodbye
The minute that you walked out that door.
And that's the time I started to cry
'Cause I don't have your love anymore.

I knew that you would be just a memory of all the times of love we shared.
I knew that you would tell me goodbye; but Honey, you don't know how I cared.

Someday, I'll never tell you goodbye.
Someday, I'm going to knock on your door.
Someday, it will be you and I;
And you won't have to cry anymore.

Someday I'll hang my saddle up on the wall, and I won't ever ride again.
Someday, I'll never tell you goodbye; but right now I just need a big win.

Someday is here; I'll tell you goodbye.
You'll never walk again through my door.
You never thought that you could die;
You only thought, "Well, just this one more."

But that "one more" has turned out to be your last; you never win, you only play.
Someday is here; I'll tell you goodbye; and cry beside the place where you lay.

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


I threw my saddle in the door and tried to snag a rung;
I missed that car but caught the next, and in the door I swung.
Them boxcars ain't the greatest places for to spend the night;
But I'd be up in Amarillo just before daylight.

She wasn't rolling all that fast; but them old boots of mine
Just weren't fast as they was back when I was twenty-nine.
Yea, that's the year I won that saddle down in San Anton'
And that's the year I left and said I had to be alone.

My Mary cried; and John was clinging to his mama's skirt
When I walked out with just that saddle and one extra shirt.
I won two buckles that next year; some money now and then;
And you can't count how many places that this cowboy's been.

I even bought me my own horse, Arabian, real strong;
And Cheyenne was the greatest horse; why, she could do no wrong.
I soon began to see my name on posters here and there.
I rode the circuit, and I'd ride at any county fair.

The folks would stand and cheer and lights would brighten up the ring.
And Cheyenne pranced and bowed; that horse was part of ev'rything.
Yea, things was going really good when I was thirty-nine;
All those ten years a' riding, I'd been treated mighty fine.

I wrote to Mary three, four times; but since I had no home,
If she had tried to write to me, no letters ever come.
That money, lights and fame is not what suited me the best.
I think the Lord above was giving me some awful test.

I spent the money, drank or gambled all of it away.
I had to take some pills to help me make it through the day.
The next ten years were all down hill, I had to sell Cheyenne;
I hocked the buckles, spurs and chaps; I never had a plan.

I never sold that saddle, though; cause that thing was my life.
It gave me hope that I could win; that's why I left my wife.
The rodeo just ain't the place for woman and a kid.
I planned to make it big, and that's the very thing I did.

But then I had to ride the rails to get to my next show.
And if I'd ever win again; well that I didn't know.
It got to morning, I could hear the screeching of the brakes
I'd get my saddle, hit the road before that old town wakes.

I hit the ground when she had slowed to just about a crawl.
But 'fore I reached the car ahead, I had a real bad fall.
I guess I sprained my ankle, 'cause I had this awful pain;
So I just sat there waiting for that train to stop again.

But she just kept on rolling; we had not reached Amarill'
And watching my old saddle leave gave me a scary chill.
I had to have that saddle back to earn a cowboy's pay.
I stumbled toward that last car, but it soon was gone away.

With saddle gone and hungry, hurt and having not a dime,
I guess I'd reached the bottom of the barrel at that time.
I found a mission, got some grub, and listened to a song
And heard the preacher talk about the things that I'd done wrong.

Now, that's the way that things were the year I was forty-nine;
I didn't have a thing that I could say was really mine.
The next few years I bummed and stole to just have food to eat.
I rode the rails a' lookin' for what once had been my seat.

I even looked for Mary some; but she could not be found.
I did find John. I saw him on an old rodeo ground.
I didn't tell him who I was; just saw him in the line
To pay his fee to ride some bronc; this year he's twenty-nine.

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


James M. Daugherty

He may have been a boy one time, but that time's not well known.
This tale's about a Texan who, though young, was fully grown.
At fourteen he enlisted in the army as an aide
To carry the dispatches for Sam Cooper's fine Brigade.
Then when the war was over moved to San Antonio
And hired out as a cowboy and that work he came to know.
At sixteen he drove cattle north upon the Shawnee trail.
Five hundred steers he started with, intent he would not fail.
He gave his word he'd make it and that he could do the job.
He never thought of meeting with a vigilante mob.
From Denton north he took them out across the river Red;
He and his drovers pushed them on and never lost one head
Until Jayhawkers found them; and disguised as hunting men,
They killed one drover, ran off steers; it wasn't until then
They noticed James was just a boy; so, they tied him to a tree
An whipped him hard with switches that were made of hickory.
They ran the other drovers off and left young James for dead.
But though his back was bleeding bad, he never lost his head.
His men came back and loosed him when the Jayhawks went away;
And he was still determined; and no matter what they'd say,
His mind was set the harder for to keep that herd in tow,
And sell them up in Kansas where he knew that they would go
For thirty five a head if he could keep them all alive.
He found three hundred fifty and began another drive
Around those vigilantes that were angry to the bone.
And 'fore they came back looking he had moved the cattle on
At night and to the west a bit another trail he found
An got them 'cross the border before Jayhawks came around.
A  buck a head in Denton was all that he would 'a got;
But thirty five a head is what they paid him in Ft. Scott.
So then, that boy from San Anton' had carried out his plan
To keep his word and do his job; that's what made him a man.

2002, Billy James
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

Billy tells us this story was inspired by the real life story of James Daugherty he read on The Handbook of Texas Online.

I Stand Alone

(When Gen. Sperry came upon the Little Bighorn battleground , where Custer
had met his doom at the sacrifice of many brave soldiers, he found only one
survivor, a Morgan Horse named Comanche, which was the mount for Capt. Miles

I stand alone,
    A Morgan horse, Comanche is my name.
    I fought with Captain Keogh 'til his final summons came
    To travel up to glory where he would receive acclaim
        For fighting 'til his life was gone;
            So, now, I stand alone.
I stand alone
    Amid the carnage of this battle ground
    Where brave men fought, and brave men died, brave horses, too, are
    Their blood is mixed with soldier's blood and poured out all around;
        But with that blood their lives are gone;
            And, now, I stand alone.
I stand alone
    For heritage, I stand alone for pride,
    I stand alone for liberty for which these brave ones died.
    I stand here in the U. S. A. God help her to abide;
        And though my friends down here are gone,
            I'm here, I stand alone.
I stand alone
    To show the world that freedom can't be slain,
    That though the evil forces come, true freedom will remain,
    For when one battle's lost, the free will rise to fight again
        Until that enemy is gone
            And freedom stands alone.

2003, Billy James
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.


Cowboys and Horses

Cowboys and horses, there ain't that much difference
'Cept one has two legs and the other has four.
They'll both run headlong into danger, for instance,
They'll break down the fence or they'll barge through the door.

Cowboys and horses, at working or playing
The sweat and the lather, 'bout one and the same.
Whinnies and laughter, the shouting and neighing,
They'll earn what they're paid, and they play a hard game.

Cowboys and horses, they ain't much at loving;
'Least that's how it seems if you're on the outside.
They're eagles in flight, so there's no turtle doving;
They'll often get hurt, but they won't lose their pride.

Cowboys and horses, they like to go racing.
They stretch every muscle to give it their best
Then finals will show, whether winning or placing,
At honor and valor they pass every test.

Cowboys and horses, like birds of a feather,
You won't find the one without seeing the two.
They're one of a kind , so they must be together.
No one else can handle the things that they do.

Cowboys and horses get tied up in places,
Sometimes they're in places they ought not to be;
So they'll break their ties, run for open spaces,
'Cause that's what to them it means to be free.

Cowboys and horses, if you look real' closely,
You'll find that their heart is as big as the sky.
Their "Howdy" or whinny will show you that mostly
They'd like to be friends if you give them a try.

Cowboys and horses, with saddles of leather
They ride toward the sunset, their shadows get long.
They may disappear, but they're always together,
Cowboys and horses, for right or for wrong.

2004, Billy James
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.



About Billy James

I was born in Howland, Texas.  My dad was a welder/blacksmith and I remember turning the handle on the forge while he made horseshoes and sharpened plows for the farmers around.  I have a wife, Lou Ann, and 2 kids.  I work for the California Department of Food & Agriculture as a grain inspector, which has been my life occupation. 







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