Featured at the Bar-D Ranch

About Carole Jarvis
Poems
Book

 

About Carole Jarvis:

I grew up in Southern California, on the edge Anaheim, a relatively small town back then, but that has since earned a place on the map as the home of Disneyland. The orange groves and farm fields that I rode horseback through, are long gone and have been replaced with Tomorowland, Fantasyland, and Frontierland.

My first experience with horses came at the age of three at a little ranch out in the Mojave Desert in California. My folks had friends who, even back then, worked off of the ranch at a paying job so they could support their "ranching habit." A little gentle mustang mare, not more than 13 hands, had raised the owner's kids, and began my love affair with horses. As I grew up, horses were always a part of my life, but I didn't actually own one until I finished school and went to Arizona to work. I bought a two-year old colt because I wanted to "break my own horse."  As I remember, we both got a whole lot of learning that first year!  But he did turn out to be a great little using horse.

The second fascination in my life was cowboys. Like so many of my generation, I grew up in the era of Saturday matinee westerns and for those few hours in the darkness of the theatre, I could be the heroine and the one who lived happily ever after with the noble, handsome cowboy, and his beautiful golden palomino. (In the case of my favorite, Roy Rogers.)

As this same young girl, I dreamed of a ranch, a cowboy, and a horse. Or probably lots of horses. But unlike many other girls who outgrew these dreams, I never did.  So it was natural I would gravitate to places where there was ranching and cowboys when I "grew up." One such place was Jackson Hole, Wyoming. My second summer working there, I met a handsome cowboy who actually came riding by the cabin where I was living, on a gorgeous coal black filly.  I've been teased about whether I was smitten by the filly or the cowboy first!  Well, whichever it was, the cowboy is the one that's still around, after over fifty years. [Sadly, Dan Jarvis died in 2010. Read Carole Jarvis's tribute poem below.]

We've lived and cowboyed in Wyoming, Oregon and Arizona, and there's been a lot of hard work, dusty trails, blisters, sunburns and broken bones along the way, but it's the life I chose and the one Dan, my husband chose, and we wouldn't trade it for any other.

As one of my poems begins, "There's a whole lot of satisfaction in the way a cowboy lives, not the hard work and the danger, but the freedom that it gives."  And it ends with this verse, "When his long days' over, and his pony's turned out to graze, he's filled with satisfaction from the job, not what it pays. And he'll walk through the door of his old bunk house, with his dog just one step behind, content with his life as a cowboy, and the peace it brings to his mind."  I guess that says it all.

Carole Jarvis lives in Wickenberg, Arizona. She is the recipient of the 2001 Gail I. Gardner Award for a Working Cowboy Poet, bestowed at the Arizona Cowboy Poets Gathering at Prescott, Arizona and of the 2003 Western Heritage Award, bestowed at the 15th Annual Cowboy Christmas Poetry Gathering in Wickenburg, Arizona

Poems

 

The Home Ranch

Spellbound

A Desert Cowboy's Christmas

A Style All Their Own

When the Rains Came

Lovin' the Life They're Livin'

Payin' Attention

 Dan Jarvis—February 14, 1926 - March 22, 2010
 

Read Carole Jarvis' poem "I'm Glad I Still Live Where There's Cowboys" 
at CowboyShowcase.com

 

The Home Ranch

It's not much for fancy, as home places go,
     the road comin' in is just dirt.
The outbuildings need a little repair,
     and a new coat of paint wouldn't hurt.

But the yard has green trees you notice for miles,
     and fences all up in good shape,
With a big lodgepole entrance into the place,
     that kinda frames the whole landscape.

A sign hangs from the top, cut out of metal,
     with the name of the ranch and its brand,
And you find yourself thinkin', whoever lives here,
     takes a lot of pride in their land.

The clack of the tires across the cattleguard,
     announce your coming and going.
Plus, two Heeler-crosses alert the whole ranch,
     by the noisy fit that they're throwing.

An American flag hangs on a tall pole,
     ruffling just a bit in the breeze,
On the front of the house is a big screened-in porch,
     half shaded by two of the trees.

It could be in Montana or Idaho,
     any place that ranching survives.
Where cattle are raised and families nurtured,
     and a proud way of life still thrives.

The sandhills of Nebraska, Utah's red rocks,
     Arizona's wide open ranges,
The state will be different, and the name on the gate,
     but the rites and the life never changes.

For the same winds that blow 'neath Montana's Big Sky,
     chase tumblelweeds over the plains,
And rumbling storm clouds, heavy with moisture,
     for all, bring the same welcome rains.

Life out there means cattle, and horses and land,
     and ranchers who still meet the test,
Because somewhere, ever, even as today,
     they remain the soul of the west.

© 2002, Carole Jarvis
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

 

This poem is featured in the 2003 Western Horseman magazine calendar.

 

Spellbound

Seems I've spent a thousand nightfalls
Watchin' evenin' stars grow bright
As the old earth slowly darkens
In the sun's last fadin' light.

It's a time to shed my worries
Let the rest of the world go by
Alone out here, just me and my horse,
Underneath God's big wide sky.

Hear that old coyote howlin', Blaze?
Bet he feels a lot like me
Satisfied with the life he's got,
Content at just bein' free.

'Cuz the trails are never too rough
And the days are never too long
If you're livin' this cowboy life
And know it's where you belong.

I can't see into the future
But I've seen into the past
Through the eyes of cowboys gone now
And the wide loop that they cast.

For their lives were never hollow
And their dreams were never small
But you didn't want to push 'em
With their back against a wall.

Sittin' quiet like, this evenin',
I can feel their spirits near
As though in some mysterious way
What I'm thinkin' they can hear.

Guess it's part of the connection
Us old cowboys come to know
That ties the life we're livin' now
To those days of long ago.

For much of what our life's about
Goes beyond cows and the land
It's bein' in the company
Of cowboys who made a hand.

©  2002, Carole Jarvis
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written
permission.

 

 

The above poem was inspired by artist Bill Anton's painting, "Spellbound," which was the poster painting for the Fifteenth Annual Arizona Cowboy Poets Gathering at Prescott, Arizona. 

Each year at Prescott, poets are asked to write a poem about the painting used as the poster. This poem was chosen as one of the top poems by Warren Miller, Sharlot Hall Education Director and force behind the gathering. An article about the event and other poster poems from the event are posted here.

Bill Anton is also the cover artist of our anthology, The Big Roundup.




Desert Cowboy's Christmas

The bells this cowboy's hearin',
     aren't off of any sleigh.
They're 'round the necks of the old milk cows
     comin' in for their mornin' hay.

There've been other times and places,
     where there weren't snowflakes fallin',
But he can't remember a Christmas,
     when there weren't cattle bawlin'.

The desert air is chilled,
     as daylight tints the sky.
It's plenty cold enough for frost
     but the air is just too dry.

Against the graying pre-dawn
     there's a darker silhouette.
A remuda horse has just come in,
     but he can't tell which one yet.

The faint scent of creosote brush
     drifts on the mornin' breeze,
And prob'ly because of the day
     makes him think of Christmas trees.

Pausing, he watches the sunrise
     break the hold of the night.
Objects begin to emerge from the dark
     changing form in the light.

Saguaro, arms reaching skyward,
     cottonwood trees, bare limbed.
A rooster up on the big corral fence
     sittin' there crowin' at him.

An old cow begins to bawl,
     knowin' it's time for feed.
He breaks the bales and scatters the hay,
     and the others follow her lead.

Cattle and man have a bond,
     they've always been his life.
Over the years they've taken the place
     of a family and a wife.

As seasons follow seasons,
     he's never changed direction.
Horses, cattle, and wide-open spaces,
     the "cowboy connection."

 "Merry Christmas, Girls," he calls,
     "here's a little extra hay.
An old cowboy likes to do his part
     to make this a special day!"

His Christmas seldom means presents,
     or bright lights on a tree,
More a time to pause and reflect
     on the way a man ought to be.

Some folks don't understand this,
     but it really isn't so strange.
It's what a cowboy's life's all about,
     to a shepherd of the range. 

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

This poem is included with others in our Holiday 2002 poetry collection.

 

A Style All Their Own

The cowboy was sitting at a table alone,
in a typical small town cafe.
He'd finished his meal and most of his coffee,
when a stranger walked over his way.

"Excuse me," he said, "hope I'm not interrupting,
but I sure do admire your hat,
And I'm wondering, could you possibly tell me,
where I could find one that's shaped like that."

Well, the cowboy stood up and took off his hat,
studied it, then said with a smile,
"Sorry Mister, 'fraid I can't help you out,
it's one of a kind type of style.

About ten years ago when this hat was brand new,
without all of the sweat, dirt, and grime,
There wasn't too much would have set it apart,
but hats take on character, in time.

They're as much a part of a cowboy's life
as his boots, or his saddle and horse,
And before he ever steps out of the house,
he covers his head up, of course.

From wintery blizzards, to sun bakin' summers,
and everything else in between,
Out fixin' fences, checkin' water and windmills,
punchin' cows from here to Abilene.

A hat and its shape and the way that it's worn,
mark a cowboy, like a brand on a cow,
And Mister, if you bought one new, just like this
they wouldn't be the same anyhow.

The size of the brim or the shape of the crwon,
ain't waht sets an old Stetson apart,
It's the guy underneath it, who's makin' a hand,
with the love of the life in his heart.

Ya' see, some folks say a hat makes a cowboy,
but I don't really see it like that.
So I guess what I'm tryin' to tell you, Friend,
the truth is, the cowboy makes the hat.

© 2005, Carole Jarvis
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

This poem is featured in the 2006 Western Horseman magazine calendar.

 

When the Rains Came

It began so softly in the hours before dawn,
   half asleep, I strained to hear.
Quietly, like cat paws on the metal roof,
    or house-slippered feet coming near.

Then suddenly the volume intensifies,
   becomes a roar in the night,
And I know I'm not dreaming, the rains have come—
   the sound, a rancher's delight.

How many long months have we waiting for rain,
    watching dirt stock tanks go dry?
Seeing "dust devils" dance over bare pastures,
   where grass should be eight inches high.

Hauling our water by truck to our cattle,
   hoping the old feed will last,
'Til the rains finally come and transform this land
   to what it's been in the past.

For water is the measure of life in the West,
   more precious than diamonds or gold,
And unlike the land and the cattle we own,
   rain can't be bought nor sold.

A lightning flash brightens our room like day,
   then the echo of thunder rolls,
And the rhythm of rain, so long awaited,
   soothes our hearts and our souls.

For with it comes hope that the dry years will end,
   and dirt tanks once more overflow,
But whatever happens, we'll have to make do—
   it's the only way we know.

© 2004, Carole Jarvis
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

This poem is featured in the 2005 Western Horseman magazine calendar and appeared in the September/October BAR-D poetry column in Rope Burns

This poem was put to music by Jean Prescott on her Sweethearts in Carhartts recording.


Lovin' the Life They're Livin'

There's laughter out in the dining room
     and I pause in what I'm doin',
And smile, and think about those boys
     who'll be drinkin' this coffee I'm brewin'

There's buckaroos Luther and Corky,
     young Randy from up near Cheyenne,
Deacon, he "jiggers" the outfit,
     gray-haired Mike, who they call the Old Man.

They rode out before dawn lit the sky,
     and rode back as darkness closed in.
After all those hours in the saddle,
     you'd think humor would wear pretty thin.

But Corky is hammerin' on Luther,
     about missin' "a plumb easy throw,"
And Mike adds, "You need a faster horse,
     or ya' better start tellin' cows 'Whoa!'"

And Randy, who barely has whiskers,
     well, he's takin' a lot of flak too.
Seems the tall leggy colt he's been ridin'
     scattered cattle three ways when he blew.

As I bring in the poet of coffee,
     their banter gets kind of subdued.
The grins on their faces still linger—
     but they don't want me thinkin' 'em rude.

These cowboys are gentlemen, always,
     when they come in the ranch house to eat.
Their hats are hung up in the hallway,
     at the door, each one wiped his feet.

"Grab your cups boys, the coffee's boiled twice!"
     I say as I set the pot down.
"There's roast beef, potatoes and gravy,
     and the biscuits are just about brown."

Young Randy, smilin' broadly declares,
     "I could eat my own horse and his hide!"
Corky, with a loud chuckle, answers,
     "He's prob'ly easier to eat than to ride!"

Randy's face flushed, bein' reminded,
     how his cold came unwound that day,
Buckin' thru cows they'd just gathered,
     causin' more than a little delay.

"You cowboys sit down," I tell 'em,
     "I'm sure the biscuits are done."
Deacon takes his place next to Randy,
     and with a grin says, "Don't worry, Son."

"You did a good job with that pony,
     there was no daylight under your seat.
These boys have all been there and done that,
     so pay 'em no mind and let's eat."

I've set food out on the table,
     and five hungry cowhands dig in.
They've put in a long hard day workin',
     and their waistlines have grown mighty slim.

Back in the kitchen I slice the pies,
     and put on more coffee to brew.
Once in a while I catch a few words
     of conversation from the crew.

The tone of their voices has softened,
     content, now their bellies are full.
They're workin' out plans for tomorrow,
     I hear talk of cows and the bull.

This time of night is for strategy,
     and reviewin' events of the day.
Deacon, checkin' his tallybook,
     asks Mike about brands on a stray.

Then supper is through, and hats retrieved,
     and with thank yous, I'm bid goodnight.
Soon their voices fade in the distance
     and silhouettes vanish from sight.

Sleep will be all too brief for these hands.
     they'll be ridin' by dawn's first gleam,
But short nights and long days don't matter,
     'cause they're livin' the cowboyin' dream.

© 2003, Carole Jarvis, from Time Not Measured By a Clock
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.


Payin' Attention

"I told ya' once, it's the second gate,
and leave the thing
open!
Close the one with fingertrap;
that's where they'll water
I'm hopin'.

"Now pay attention; watch fer cows;
   make sure the fences are up.
Keep yer mind on what we're doin' out here,
   and quit lookin' fer buttercup!"

Then off he rides in a cowboy trot,
   his eyes on the trail up ahead.
And me, I'm tryin' to concentrate,
   on all of the things he just said.

But above me there's a red-tail hawk,
   and I watch him circle and soar.
Then into the wind he dips and turns,
   with the grace of a matador!

And what made those tracks in the wash;
   they're not rabbit or coyote I know,
But some kind of critter wandered this way,
   and it hasn't been that long ago.

Guess I really shouldn't tarry though,
   so come on old horse, let's get goin'.
I'm sure by now Dan's halfway there,
   and I'd better be a-showin'.

Okay, this trail is headed right,
   and I can see all the fence from here.
Gee, what a lovely day for a ride,
   oh wow, there's a herd of mule deer!

With three or four does and a buck
   a couple of spikes! Boy they're quick!
Over that ridge and out of sight
   Like kids on a pogo stick!

That buck was a five-point, at least!
   I wonder where he hid last fall?
Wherever it was, I hope he goes back

   uh oh, I think I head a cow bawl!

Oh nuts, that came from way up ahead
   I pray they're not through the gate!
Come on little horse, let's hit a lope,
   I'm in big trouble if I'm too late!

And there they are, headin' straight in
   toward the gate I'm supposed to close!
At a dead run now, it's nip and tuck

   And I beat 'um
but just by a nose!

Wow! That was too close, old pony,
   I'd never hear the end of that,
If they'd gotten through and scattered...
   well, let's go see where the rest are at.

Here comes Dan now with the big bunch,
   ridin' in from the other direction.
"Good," he says, when he sees these cows,
    "looks like ya' paid attention!"

I always do, I say to him,
   and a laugh is his reaction.
Just because on a rare occasion,
   I might have had a distraction.

So I tell him the fence is all up,
   and there's plenty of feed in the draw.
But I keep to myself, all the other things,
   that when I paid attention I saw!

© 2003, Carole Jarvis, from Time Not Measured By a Clock
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

 

 

Dan Jarvis—February 14, 1926 - March 22, 2010

In 1999, Dan Jarvis received the first Western Heritage Award, given by the Wickenburg Chamber of Commerce to an outstanding cowboy poet.

Carole Jarvis has written about their meeting and their life together in her book, Time Not Measured by a Clock, which also includes poems by Dan Jarvis. Carole Jarvis grew up in Southern California. In a bio written some years ago, she tells, "... I dreamed of a ranch, a cowboy, and a horse.  Or probably lots of horses.  But unlike many other girls who outgrew these dreams, I never did.  So it was natural I would gravitate to places where there was ranching and cowboys when I 'grew up."  One such place was Jackson Hole, Wyoming. My second summer working there, I met a handsome cowboy who actually came riding by the cabin where I was living, on a gorgeous coal black filly. I've been teased about whether I was smitten by the filly or the cowboy first!  Well, whichever it was, the cowboy is the one that's still around, after over fifty years..." The two were married in 1957.

An obituary here in the Wickenburg Sun tells much about Dan Jarvis's life and family.

Carole Jarvis shared this tribute poem:

Dan Jarvis—February 14, 1926 - March 22, 2010
For my husband, my best friend, my cowboy

It's not the end of the trail for me,
I'm just headin' out to the light I see.
Beyond those mountains there's a soft glow;
It's gettin' brighter the closer I go.
It's like the beginning of a new day,
And the trail I'm followin' leads the way.
I feel sure there's friends and family ahead,
And they've set up camp on a brand new spread.
Yes, I can hear the voices callin' my name,
sayin', "Welcome Dan, sure glad you came,
This new range is special, you'll like it here,
There's grass for your horses, the streams are clear,
The cattle are gentle and never stampede,
And in every direction there's plenty of feed.
If you're thinkin' it sounds too good to be true,
it's not'cause the Boss made a promise to you.
If you'd ride for his brand, be honest and square,
He'd relive all your pain, and remove every care.
He was mighty pleased with your life on earth,
That you did your best, and proved your worth.
So step off your horse, and tied on up,
Your friends are all waiting to pour you a cup.
We'll talk about old days, as time allows,
'cause startin' tomorrow you'll be workin' cows!"

© 2010, Carole Jarvis

Carole Jarvis gives permission for the use of this poem for a personal ceremony.
Please give the author credit when reciting or printing this poem

 

Book

 


2004

Carole Jarvis' Time Not Measured by a Clock has nearly fifty of her original poems and stories and a few by her cowboy husband Dan. The book is illustrated with Carole's photos and sketches by Larry Bute.  

Gary Vorhes, the retired editor-in-chief of Western Horseman Magazine writes in his introduction:

Selecting poetry was never one of my favorite jobs in my years at Western Horseman Magazine.  Part of that was because you had to tell so many people something they didn't want to hear.  A few of those people helpfully told me that I really didn't know much about poetry.

They were right.  I don't pretend to be an expert, but I did know what the readers expected to see in the magazine.  That's why I was always happy to receive an envelope from Carole Jarvis.  From the first one she sent us, her poetry fit us like a warm coat on a cold morning.  In fact, I had to send some poems back to Carole because I still had several in the drawer that had not yet been printed and felt guilty about it.

The best poetry puts feelings into a package that, when opened and read, delivers those feelings intact.  In addition to the poems used in the magazine, we picked several by Carole to be used on our Cowboy Calendar.

I was pleased to learn that Larry Bute was doing the illustrations for this book, and even more pleased when I saw them.  Larry and Carole each convey their devotion to ranching, the West, and the way of life that so many of us envy.

This book opens a window to a world some of you may never be able to visit any other way.  For others, it provides a look back to a place forsaken but not forgotten.  These poems paint mental pictures and create emotional music.  Thank you, Carole, for this gift.

And there is more praise for Time Not Measured by a Clock, including:

"...Her style is as smooth and easy as a slow lope and her meter and rhyme are tight as new barbwire fence." Chris Isaacs

"...This book honors rangeland, horses and cowboys, and offers a fascinating glimpse into a life only the likewise-blessed will ever know." Virginia Bennett

You can purchase the book on line at Cowboy Showcase ($19.95 postpaid) or directly from Carole Jarvis, 43909 West Highway 60 Wickenburg, Arizona 85390.  

You can read our review here at the BAR-D.

 

Our thanks to Lee Raine of CowboyShowcase.com 
for assistance with this feature.

 

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