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About Brian Brannon
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About Brian Brannon 

Born into a seafaring family, Brian somehow knew at an early age that he was destined to experience the wilderness in an up-close and personal sort of way, but why not, that's how he does most things.   

He got his Class "A" Alberta guides license in nineteen eighty-five and  has been making his living in the mountains ever since. He's worked in Alberta, British Columbia, the Yukon, and Wyoming; and taught packing, shoeing and horse handling at a well-known guide school. Brian's attitude towards working with horses is "there are no bad horses, just bad trainers."

Brian and wife Jeanette have managed two wilderness resorts, Yohetta Wilderness Adventures and Quesnel Lake Resort, where they did literally everything needed to "get the job done."

Brian doesn't know exactly when he started writing, it's "always been interesting," but he does know that the wilderness and working with horses is a constant source of inspiration. If he ever retires he'd like to breed
the perfect mountain horse.

Brian has co-authored three books with pards Mike Puhallo and Wendy Liddle, Rhymes on the Range, Still Rhymin' on the Range, and Can't Stop Rhymin' on the Range. He is at present working on a solo fourth book and a C.D. both tentatively titled Horse-packin' and Poetry.

 

Poems

The Guide

Of Leather, Hemp and Wood

Phantoms of the Forbidden

Shovel Pass

Hyper Hornets and Hoppin' Horses

Angels A-Hossback

Crossing the Prophet

 

The Guide

There's a different kind of cowboy
that you hardly ever see.
You won't find him in the movies
or watch him on T.V.

He don't wear no fancy Stetson,
no buckles made of gold.
His home is just a wall tent
or he sleeps out in the cold.

If you meet him in the city,
he might hardly say a thing.
But those who think him surly
should meet him where he's king.

You've got to go up riding
where it's high and wild and green
To see his long, ole' pack string
cross an icy mountain stream.
 
Then ... He'll tip his old Resistol
and pass the time of day
With his leg hooked o'er the pommel
till he moves along his way.
 
Because high up and lonesome
is where he lives to be.
High up and lonesome
with the eagles, 'bove the trees;
High up and lonesome
you can see .....
and see ....
and see ....

1996, Brian Brannon and included in Still Rhymin' on the Range
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.


 

Of Leather, Hemp and Wood


When I sit some nights, all by myself,
and think of days gone by
I wonder if things I know
will pass the day I die.

For packin' is a trade of old
a quaint and woodsy lore
Fast goin' the way of honest men
not needed any more.

Likewise gone the land we rode
where needed trees were felled.
A shining wondrous gift of God,
which few but us beheld.
 
We carried the freight of nation's birth
on the backs of ponies and mules.
Threw the hoolihan, basket and diamond hitch
had a "sometimes" relation with rules.
 
Yeah, packers are men like few today,
a dyin' breed it's said,
Who wear our pants from the inside out,
to the mountains we are wed.
 
We'd know the boss-hoss in the string
from an hour spent on the rails.
We'd know who'd stray, and who'd pack eggs,
whose head fit to whose tail.
 
We balanced panniers, without a scale-
fitted saddles like they should.
Brought our horses to camp with nary a sore,
made loads ride like they could.

We carried the map of a thousand trails
tucked there up under our hats.
And those we'd forgot, our saddle horse knew
'cause we chose 'em partly for that.
 
Longshoremen of the equestrian world,
blue-collared folk it's true.
But I never did mind, cause I always could find
myself in the high mountain blue.

1997, Brian Brannon and included in Can't Stop Rhymin' on the Range 
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

 

 

Phantoms of the Forbidden

J.W.'s horses are wildies my friends
they'll get fat on a bucket of water
That's dear to the heart of the Scotsman you see
'cause he don't have to buy any fodder

And their purchase was thrifty for a man who is nifty
with a trap and a lasso I'm told
They was caught in the wild by that old mountain child
and that way he saved lots of gold

Not a wither in sight on a pale moonlit night
as he packs up to head in the hills
With his custom made riggin' that defies any figurin'
on his hunts that don't have any frills

And them ponies are hobble Houdinis
wearin' whatever kind you might choose
They will travel all night in a gait that's just right
to put guides on their knees in the pews

Yeah they'll hide in a mountainside thicket
as the sun's fakin' dawn to the east
With their noggins held still and their bells sayin' nil
all sign of their presence has ceased

Oh they'll teach you a bunch about trackin'
it's the only damned way they'll be found
You'll be walkin' around with your eyes on the ground
and your nose in the wind like a hound

Yep J.W.'s horses are somethin' alright
and so is the Bearman amigos
It's a strange kinda privilege to know either one
and that's how my story 'bout them goes

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

 

 

Shovel Pass

You figure you've done some ridin', he says
well, try this one on for size.
That cavey of ours goes to sleep each night
up there where the eagle flies.

We was standin' that evenin' 'round base camp
up high into Shovel Pass,
Southeast of a town called Jasper
where only the sidehills hold grass.

Them horses'd just naturally wandered
further up for each blade of grass,
'Til with glasses we just barley saw 'em
from that camp in the Shovel Pass.

Try it, he says, in the mist of the mornin'
with only a bridle to hand.
Chase that string down at a lope and a gallop
and see if you're that kind of man.
 
Well, back then, I was rawhide and willful
and maybe some cards short a deck.
So I took up his dare, and said I'd be there
with no fear of a genuine wreck.
 
Next mornin' near dawn, the clouds had sat down
and the dew on the brush mixed with rain.
We set out in slippery, rubber rain pants
and I started to think once again.
 
But the deal had been made. and the cards had been drawn
and no cowboy will take back his word.
So we climbed through the trees, sometimes on our knees
in search of that high-feedin' herd.

We found 'em up there, where the wind blows the hair
of the goats that'll sometimes be seen.
We caught up our rides, both for shortness and stride,
headed down for our bacon and beans.
 
Now, I can't say of course, if you've ever pushed horses
two men on a thirty-nag string,
But some older ones say, that they ain't seen the day
that would be a remarkable thing.

Yet you horsemen will know, that once on the go
that to hold 'em, you've gotta move fast.
If you give 'em the time, they'll turn on a dime
every which way, 'fore moments are past.
 
And I often wonder, if the older ones ponder
on the slope of that ride that we had
Or the grip our legs lacked. on those slimy, wet backs
Against rosin, that rubber's sure sad.
 
No, I can't rightly say, what happened those days
'cause it all went by in a blur.
I remember wet trees, and a horse 'tween my knees
and an instant that somehow seemed pure.

And I seem to recall, what was danged near a fall
with my body wrapped tight 'round a neck,
Of pushin' back in, on a passin' tree limb
and avoidin' a dangerous wreck.
 
All that I know, is that rain turned to snow
and them ponies turned up where they should.
We weathered the ride, never lost any hide,
what luck that we has, it was good.
 
Yeah, I think back to then, when my profile was thin,
'bout those days way back in my past.
and I'm thankful to see, that I ever could be
ridin' high in the Shovel Pass.

1997, Brian Brannon and included in Can't Stop Rhymin' on the Range 
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

 

Hyper Hornets and Hoppin' Horses

Way out in the hills where the grizzlies roam
and the big dog howls at night
There are many things on legs and wings
that'll give brave men a fright

I've lived my life in those high-up hills
and made my peace with most
From owls that glare at the snowshoe hare
to a sad old Indian's ghost

But there's a clan that'll try the hand
of most packers that I know
They like to fight and they do it right
one harsh determined foe

They make their homes in the sandy loam
near the trails we sometimes use
They'll make your string an explosive thing
like somebody's lit their fuse

You'll be ridin' along maybe singin' a song
when them flyin' Apaches hit
Then you're up in the air grabbin' leather and hair
while your string's throwin' cross-eyed fits

And if when you're packin' you don't do no slackin'
so your load's diamonded up like it should be
You both might survive hell's rodeo ride
and be thankin' the gods for their mercy

So keep this in mind 'fore you get in a bind
be sure all your riggin's been fixed
You'll save lots of hide not to mention your pride
'Cause horses and hornets don't mix

2005, Brian Brannon 
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

 

 

Angels A-Hossback

I've noticed a mite of confusion of late
'bout what a cowboy was and should be
Some seem to think they was angels or somethin'
well, that's how it seems to me

You hear 'em blatherin' on and on
'bout the way things used to be
How cowboys kept a civil tongue
and always said tinkle for pee

They seem to know a blisterin' bunch
'bout rangeland etiquette and such
Wear a white hat, wash 'hind your ears
and never touch liquor that much

I wonder who they imagined it was
back in Charlie Russell's day
that chased the big Texas herds up north
and what those gents had to say

I can picture one of them crusty galoots
with a finger caught tight in a dally
Oh Dear, Oh me, Oh drat, My gosh
Please pass the green tea Sally

 Now I've been studyin' on this hard my friends
'cause it reflects just abit on yours truly
'See, I like a beer, and my speakin' coarse
and my countenance's wild and curly

So it's bothered me some the way they go on
made me feel outta place in "the west"
But to prove that I'm learnin' I'll keep my mug shut
'n play these last cards real close to my vest

Sure we all grew up lovin' Roy and Dale
bein' good little cowpokes it seems
But you etiquette folks musta up and forgot
THEY WAS HOLLYWOOD ACTORS ON SCREEN!!!

2005, Brian Brannon 
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

 

Crossing the Prophet

It's a struggle sometime just reachin' the banks
of the Prophet river in springtime
Three muskeg filled days on the back of a horse
with 'most everything covered in grime

To get there you first have to deal with the Besa
which is often a chore on it's own
We just about lost us a horse and a cowboy
young Jim on that knot-headed roan

And if you happen to hit it real lucky
maybe get a few days of rain
You'll remember the trip for the rest of your days
all the heartache the misery and pain

The Prophet snakes out of the far northern Rockies
just south of her sister the Muskwa
And tears at her banks as she roars down the mountain
a naiad who makes her own laws

There's many a bone that litter her shores
placed there at the whimsy of chance
Mute indication of contests of wills
that most understand with a glance

You get there and stare at violence incarnate
and you ponder on folly and courage
And know that if thought about honest and clearly
this ain't worth a year of your wages

But most of that's nothin' a packer considers
it ain't about nothin' real sane
He's drawn to the challenge and scope of the mountains
like an insect is drawn to the flames

We'd only enough hands to halter the leaders
and lead 'em across by their shanks
The others'd follow their pals and their instincts
out there to the fog-shrouded banks

So we headed our thirty head into the torrent
with a prayer to the goddess of chance
Fought to keep heads turned into the current
with teeth clenched in angry defiance

Up on that roan that almost killed Jim
I figured that cull needed schoolin'
Dug my heels in with a venomous snarl
just to show him that I wasn't foolin'

Well, we made 'er across with no human loss
two packnags flew downstream a-twirlin'
Then scrambled back onto our opposite bank
and that set my neck-hairs a-curlin'

'Cause now it was up to at least two of us
to cross that damned river twice more
Whether pushin' our luck or temptin' the fates
she's the gist of a damned evil chore

Yet it had to be done 'cause our grub's on the run
and we can't stand to lose not one cayuse
So, Big Simpson and I hit that flood on the fly
screamin', Packers just eat up abuse

When I wiped out my eyes we were back on the side
where we'd started seemed so long ago
Then we hustled back east and caught up our beasts
headed west to the last picture show

Yep, now she'd come down to this final go-round
if we made 'er we're safe for a year
So, we retied one pack, took up all of our slack
while we're both tryin' to lash-rope our fear

Whata ya think Simpson asked with a wink
are ya primed for a nautical hoedown
Hell, my kin's sailed the seas on Capricorn's breeze
last one across buys drinks back in town

We both hit the Prophet in a near photo-finish
tryin' to bolster up each others courage
But me and the roan took the up-current  side
t'was us faced the naiad's outrage

Three quarters across the roan began to falter
then he tripped on a rock and went down
I jumped at the tail of Big Simpson's packhorse
which pulled me to sweet solid ground

When I looked to the torrent the roan was long gone
so I grapped up a horse from young Jim
Then Simpson and I took off down the river
with hopes of success lookin' dim

We found that damned cull hooked up on a snag
'bout a mile and a half from our outfit
He was dead as hopes of a December bride
this year's sacrifice to the Prophet

S**t, that was cheap, Big Simp said to me
all we lost was a nag full of quit
If that's all it costs to cross this damned creek
we'll soon be in tourists up to our arm-pits

2005, Brian Brannon
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

Brian told us: This is a true tale (with a couple of minor changes) that happened around 1999 when we were pushing the "catch-herd" into the Big Nine for the season. I'd always wanted to tell this tale, but until now, didn't have the words. The "catch-herd" means that Big Nine leaves most of their 300 horses up in the Gatho for the winter, where the feed is good and the winter's easy, but to catch 'em for the season's work, you need horses to ride while catchin' 'em--hence "catch-herd"--which are taken out to the ranch every year. And what a trip chasin' those wild/half-wild horses each year! We live for that week, I can tell you...what a blast! Pure excitement, the cowboy way. Nothin' like it in this day and age.

 

Books   

Brian has co-authored three books with Mike Puhallo and Wendy Liddle:

Click to order from Amazon   Rhymes on the Range  

Includes Brian Brannon's:

Ridin' with Mike
The Outfitter
Copey
The Leppy
The Banker
The Creature
The Farrier
Who's a Cowboy
Quesnel Lake

 

 Still Rhymin' on the Range  Still Rhymin' on the Range

Includes Brian Brannon's:

The Guide
New to the North
Ze Best Cook of Ze Vildness
Ice and Stone
The Guide's Dilemma
My Place
The Bear
Old Blue
Requiem for NR
Goofy
Apostle of the Pack String
A Name Taking

Can't Stop Rhymin' on the Range Can't Stop Rhymin' on the Range

Includes Brian Brannon's:

Of Leather, Hemp and Wood
Shovel Pass
The Stirrup
Ray Anderson
Tommy
Tyson
Jerry
Wild Rags and Silver Hooks
It's Hard to Finger Them Bears
Groomin' Gizmos
Wapiapi Gap
Dawn on the Tchaikazuan
The Tchaikazuan

 


See order information here on co-author Mike Puhallo's page.

Contacting Brian Brannon 

 


photo by Gary Freeman

 

Brian Brannon
Box 8 Site 3 R.R.6 
Calgary, Alberta, Canada
T2M-4L5
 403-293-4368
email

web site:  http://brianbrannon.com/

 

 

 

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