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Big Spring, Texas
About Carl Condray

One of

Lariat Laureate Runner Up

Recognized for his poem, Winter Stampede




Winter Stampede

I will always remember that day in December
when I first saw that wild, raucous sight.
And with nary a word I can still see that herd
and how it moved with a powerful might!

Some cowboys looked tattered and some even lathered
as they fought to gain on the lead.
Yet some seemed quite handy, perhaps even dandy
and sure footed as any a steed.

The leather was slapping and bandanas flapping
As each man rose to answer the call.
The hoots were all hollered and the stray doggies collared
and drug into the midst of it all!

The dust was a flying as onward they were trying
to move the herd steady and sure.
The hooves were a stomping, and dragging and clomping,
it was more than some could endure.

I remember the sound when they made it to town
and how the dear ladies did swoon.
They found themselves swaying to twin fiddles playing
as the caller began a sweet croon.

And such was the night 'neath the winter moonlight,
that I first fell in love with it all.
With the sights and the sounds; with the twirling around's
of a dance called the "Cowboy Christmas Ball."

2002, Carl Bennett Condray
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

We asked Carl what inspired him to write this poem and he told us:

"Winter Stampede" was written after a trip to a local haunt owned by a good friend Jody Nix, his father was Hoyle Nix and wrote "Big Balls in Cowtown." Both Jody and his father were world champion fiddlers.  Hoyle opened the Stampede dance hall as a place for his band, the Texas Cowboys to perform.  It is as down home as they come in Texas, old wood floors that show the scars of spurs and shuffle board wax.  No telling how many miles have been danced since it opened, around the forties I believe.  I love to dance and especially with Jan.  

This one time when we were there we were taking a breather and enjoying how some of the boys were reluctant to dance. Some of them were also just downright dangerous and it amazed me that they didn't trip on their own shadows.  They were stomping and clomping around like a herd of cattle and the ladies or the better dancers were trying to keep them corralled in the middle of the dance floor where they wouldn't hurt anyone.  The "stray doggies" were hanging out over by the wall and they would have a gal who wanted to dance swoop over and take them out for a whirl.  Sometimes over great objection and after some serious bull dogging. It just all seemed to fall into place as that awesome sound of twin fiddles filled the air.  I truly believe that though the violin was invented in Europe, God invented the fiddle somewhere around here in Texas and I know a couple of boys that can sure tear em' up! Anyway I just thought that the twist of comparing this dance to a stampede at the "Stampede" was too good to pass up. 

(This poem is included with our Holiday 2002 poem collection.)


We'll Meet at the Gate

Carl introduces this poem with some philosophy:  I have learned that few things in life can teach the lesson that a simple gate can.  As a child they keep us corralled till we are big enough to roam with the herd.  As we season and grow they are made to swing on. Often they become a welcome destination at the end of a long tiresome journey.  They are a measure in time. They lead to and from the past and the future, from lessons to opportunities. They go from one side to the other. Some of them are fancy and some rather plain.  Some swing while others stretch, some hang and some drag.  All of them though, should remind us that we are going somewhere.

I have learned that our life is like a herd.  We have lean years and fat years.  Sometimes the drivin' is easy and sometimes hard.  The route may change but the direction is always moving forward. We can't back up. Sometimes you ride "point" with a song in your heart and sometimes ya gotta ride "drag" and eat dust.  You have to keep your rigging tight and your mount fresh.  Take care of the stock that brought you in, with out them you' d have been left on the trail.  Always remember though that at the end of the drive will be a welcome sight to trail-sore eyes, that one last gate! IT leads to that golden pasture that lies ahead to those who faithfully follow the trail.

We'll Meet at the Gate

Hurry Son don't be late
The herd's coming in be quick to the gate.
It's been a long hard drive, a long time to wait.
Call 'em on in Son; I'll meet you at the gate.

Those words in my memory have been made fast
From my childhood, from my past
When I was young and couldn't pull my weight
So I was made to stay on back
My father said, "It was for the lack
Of someone he'd trust to tend the gate."

But the years came and went on by
Till on my pony I would try
To spread my wings and learn to fly

So never to look back again
I spurred my horse into the wind.
To show my mettle and worth to men
I drove those "Hides" time, and time again.
And my father's words came back as the herd I would tend.
That C-C Ranch called like a long lost friend
I could not escape from where I've been.

One to another those trails would blend;
My mount and my bedroll my truest friends.
The smell of sage so fresh and sweet
Mesquite and the spring rain were hard to beat
And the feel of a new earth giving under our feet.
While the thunder echoed across the sky
With bolts of lightning on the fly
They'd reach from the ground unto Heavens high!

But the spring did yield unto the fall,
And with the sound of a lonely doggie's bawl
Or that far off coyote's eerie call;
My mind would wish for days gone by
Of wasted youth and back when I
Thought just of adventure or a Lady's eye
And the day would never come that I would die

But this my friend is my last goodbye
Ahead is a sight for my trail-sore eyes
Now my Father's words can be heard again
As the "Trail Boss" calls to his Wrangler friend,

"Hurry Peter, don't be late
My herd is a comin', be quick to the gate.
They've had a long hard life but it has come down to fate.
Welcome home my Son; come on in through my gate."

November 2001, Carl Condray
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

In memory of Al Long


A Wrangler's Thanksgiving

LORD, I'd like to tell you what's on my mind,
but first can I ask ya why you've been so kind?
You see, you have given me much more than I deserve
And like the outfit I ride for, you too I will serve!

You have given me stars so faithful and bright
to keep me company through the deep Texas night.
They twinkle above my earthly bed
at days end, when on my saddle I lay my head.

By the fire, I watch the embers and sparks so light
as they dance from the flames on their heavenly flight,
and the sounds of day all begin to fall
cept' for the night guard's lullaby, or the coyote's call.

FATHER, You allow me to live in your great outdoors;
work with cattle and hosses;  doin' a wrangler's chores,
while other men struggle in the harsh city streets
with nothin' but concrete and brick neath' their feet!

I am sorry that they don't get to feel the pleasures
of earth and sky and nature's treasures;
like the beauty of watching a calf, as it starts to suckle
and the wonder of why it's wobbly knees don't buckle!

I wonder if they've seen the colors of a dusty dawn
or the evening sun as its going, going, gone.
While from horseback, with awe, I get to survey
and I praise you for the blessings you give me each and every day

And LORD, if you don't mind I'd like to ask
that you continue to give me my daily task,
and as my hands grow weary, weak and old
would you allow my voice to stay strong and bold!

So that I can throughout my last of days
continue to sing a never-ending praise
for the life you have given this old cowhand,
and the honor of letting me ride for YOUR HOLY BRAND!

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


Piano Pete's Sweet Finale

In the western town of Prairie View
   lived the Widow Bertha Betternyou.
She was known far and wide for her cuts and snips
   not with razors or scissors, but her own two lips.

Cause it was for "gossip" that Bertha had quite a taste
   and many a fine reputation she laid in waste!
They say she drove her husband to an early grave
   from years of hearing her rant and rave!

Now no one would cross her in this fair town
   for the fear that she would drag them down,
but they talk about the day she met her match
   in a man who lived in nearby "Turners Patch."

He was a widower some called "Piano Pete"
   and a finer man you'd seldom meet!
He lived a solitary, quiet and godly life;
  when after a forty-year marriage he lost his wife.

So now he travels all around
   hoping that work can be found.
You might find him in a church, a school or a saloon
   for hours on end while their pianos he'd tune.

Now one day, out snooping, Bertha had caught
   him walking into the towns only "drinking spot!"
Hours later he came out all tired and hot,
   and he headed straight for his wagon, across the lot.

Well from her vile lips began to gush
   how he must be a drunkard, a sot, and a lush!
Pete stared at her quietly for the longest while
   then across his face came an eerie smile!

The next day he found a way to get her back
   for her cruel and slanderous attack.
Bertha never again talked of him being a louse!
   'Cause he had left his wagon all night.
Parked in front of her house!

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


Taters and Beans

I had spent months on the plains, in the winds and the rains
and scarce would you hear me complain.
I took a lot of guff but sometimes enough is enough,.
So sit back and I'll try to explain.

I worked hard and rode true for the "Rockin' bar Two".
But on that outfit I was considered a rookie.
And though the work wore me down, a few pleasures were found;
like those from the cast iron of "Cookie".

"Ole' Sam" was his name and he'd sure earned his fame.
From his years he'd learned quite a lot.
He'd tangled with horses and cattle, giving both quite a battle.
But now too old, he just wrangles a pot.

With biscuits so light, and his cobblers, just right
when he rang the bell, you came running fast!
Cookie kept us well fed, from our risin' till bed,
for as long as he could make the grub last.

But that drive I remember, went on till November.
The times, they got lean, cold and hard.
Several weeks, along that way, for three meals a day
All we had was "taters and beans" fried in lard!

Now some things shouldn't be, but it weren't up to me.
Ole' Sam did make that point clear!
And though most of that crew would let their gripes spew,
my complaints were met with a sneer.

I guess Sam took note, he dusted of his coat
and pranced 'round like them fancy French waiters!
And for me, his menu did change, that day on the range.
From "taters and beans" to...
"beans and taters"!

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



Read Carl Condray's 

A Wild, Turkey Dinner posted with 2005 Christmas poems


Christmas in the Scrub Oaks posted with 2003 Christmas poems


Things Only a Cowboy Knows, by Carl Condray and Lanny Joe Burnett

from the Academy of Western Artists 1st Annual Cowboy Poetry/Songwriting Team Roping Challenge




About Carl Condray

Carl Condray's poetry has come from his experiences under the West Texas skies of Big Spring where he has lived most of his life.  He lives on a mountaintop ranch at the south edge of town, where he oversees wildlife preservation on roughly 400 acres.  He has worked for the City of Big Spring Fire Department for over 22 years. He is the City Fire Marshall and investigated arson for many years with his K-9 partner "Sidesaddle Sadie Sootylady."  Carl loves to snow ski, shoot Black Powder, and make custom spurs and silver badges. Most of all he likes to visit with people who love life and that is reflected in his Cowboy Poetry, which embodies both the simple and profound views of days gone by.

Carl says "I have always loved history and poetry and 'Cowboy Poetry' just seems to be the best combination of both!  Cowboy poetry is a visual style of communication, best when it is heard and not just read. I hope that the listener can fall into the rhythm of its meter and be lulled away like the sounds of the horse's hoof beats along the trail. I want them to see the colors of the range, taste the trail dust, and find themselves surrounded by its humor. Early Pioneers often found humor in the midst of difficult times. I admire that as laughter is too rare a sound now days and it has such a healing quality to it."

His poetry has been heard all around the West Texas area and is spreading quickly across the state. He has been featured on the syndicated radio talk show, "The Sounds of Texas," hosted by the well-known entertainer, author and acclaimed journalist, "Tumbleweed Smith."  He has also been the subject of the television documentary "Texas Tales." a feature series hosted by John Pronk of WFAA Channel 8 in Dallas. He is a member of the Academy of Western Artists (AWA).   Carl is available to speak to all types of groups and loves to share his poetry and tales with "any" captive audience he meets.  For more information on his programs, or to request a session, give him a shout.

He can be reached at PO Box 3082, Big Spring, Texas 79721-3082;  432-267-1636

You can email Carl Condray.

We asked Carl why he thought Cowboy Poetry was important and why he writes Cowboy Poetry and he told us:

I just feel that progress will regress if it means we lose the lessons of our past.  Cowboy poetry tends to recapture some of the old, timely wisdom and flavor of the days gone by.  I would much rather be entertained by reading a bad poem than playing a good video game.  

I cannot really say that there is such a thing as a bad poem since they are all written as a record of someone's feelings or emotions.  Maybe it is just that their point of view is different than mine but at least they took the time to try to share something with me.  That is what is important, sharing ideas and hopefully humor.  We all need laughter in our lives. It is the best medicine, you know! 

I like to write to explore me feelings or to carry myself away from the daily grind.  I just hope that when someone reads my poetry that it is done out loud.  It is better heard than read and besides what better way is there to irritate your friends and family?



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