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Indian Rain Dance 

Hot, dusty and dry
A typical Oklahoma July
Pop spied a small dark cloud in the sky
So he commenced to give it his best try
"Lord, could you send some water our way?
Could you make it today?
I've got a payment due at the PCA
If things go on like this, we'll run short on hay
We've got to make this place pay
Could you send enough to swell the branch?
Enough to give our little ranch
A better chance"

That small dark cloud with lightnin' sparked
The old dog began to bark
Pop sounded the alarm
As the first sprinkle hit his arm
"IT'S GONNA' RAIN ON MY FARM"
The kids and the cows ran for cover
As the cool rain made them shudder
Pop let out a wild whoop
As he shed socks and boots
He rolled up the cuffs of his pants
And pretended to go into a mystical trance
As through the puddles he did prance
Doin' his Indian rain dance

As he watched the downpour come across his pasture
He'd dance even faster
It brought a big smile to Mama's worried face
As Pop picked up his mud stompin' pace
You could hear him holler
At the thought of makin' a dollar
"We're gonna' show a profit after all
When I sell those fat calves in the fall"
Through the mud he would plod
Offerin' up thanks to God
For that glorious soggy sod
This ceremony was repeated at least once a year
When a hard rain made the summer's drought disappear
Pop wasn't Indian or not that he'd claim
But he sure knew how to enjoy a good rain

Well, it's another Oklahoma July
Hot, dusty and dry
There's a small dark cloud in the sky
Wish Pop was here to give it a try
Oh, for one more chance
To watch his Indian rain dance

June 15, 2002 Paula Sisk
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

Never Forgotten

Justus Allison Hart
1917 - 1992


You can read more of Paula Sisk's poetry here at the BAR-D.

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

 

 

Had I Known

Had I known, or should suppose, it was the last time I would see,
   That old cowboy at the end of Ranch House Road, I'd a not been so quick
to leave.
Certainly no disrespect was meant in the lightness of my ear,
   It was apathy in the belief he'd been...  and would always be there.
I'd inquire on his health.  He's response was as always, "I'm doing fine".
   With a disposition hard spoken and rough but a heart that was easy to
find.

I never told him how I cared, guys don't do that sort of thing.
   Even thought it was the truth in spite of everything.
I always figured deep down he knew, the same as I did of him.
   But now I wish I'd a said it, instead of assuming, as I did.
Had I known his leaving, a more pleasant visit I'd a made it be.
   I'd a been glade to just let him talk of Mom, my brothers, and me.

I'd a been a bit more cheery, as I walked up to his door,
   maybe sat a little closer and smiled a whole lot more.
I might of said I's sorry, for not heeding all the lessons that he taught.
   I'd a taken deeper notice of the things...  he had and had not forgot.
I could have told him of my pride toward what in life he had done.
   I'd a let him have his bragging, instead... recalling times that had gone
wrong.

Thinking there's always tomorrows, another day would come anew,
   Was a way of keeping me from doing those things, I knew, I ought to do.
The grandkids, they all miss him, his play and the holding of his hand.
   Struggle as they will, tears still fell, trying their best to understand.

He was pleasant enough as I left him but I'm guessing that he knew,
   My chore was done, so I had to run, to more important things to do.

"Dad, I know you can hear me and I'm betting you're not alone,
   Mom's standing there beside you, along with family and friends you've
known.
Listen Dad, give Mom my love and say hi to your brother Ben.
   Don't be joking too much, if you get throw'd out, they may not let ya in
again.
One last thing I've got to say, as you're smiling from Heaven's Gate,
  Forgive me Dad...  though I know you have...  I'm asking just the same."

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

 

Mike tells us the above poem "was written with my Grandfather in mind...Grandpa was a father-figure to me much of my life so those thoughts are easy for me to share."  


 

Ben's Family

His wife left him at childbirth.
No... she wasn't the type to run.
The Lord reached down and took her away,
in her place, he was left a son.
A better closeness there never was,
between a father and son.
And to them, ranching was other then work,
so they'd play 'til the work was done.

While mending fence or working stock,
the Dad shared stories of another age,
When a ring of wire couldn't be found
stretched out along the range.
The boy wanted to learn it all,
he's so full of life.
He'd lived more in 16 years
than those confined to city life.

Creating challenges, he worried his pa,
the boy thought himself so clever.
Like bulldogging steers on the open range,
calling out to his Dad to be the timer.
To young the boy was called away,
while doing what he loved the best.
Working cows from dawn to dark
on a day much like the rest.

It was just a ranching accident,
the boy was helping to pull a calf.
The cow kicked, caught him wrong,
went down as if he were dead,
But life left the boy in his father's arms,
Ben felt the spirit go.
Like with his wife, this can't be right,
it was tearing out his soul.

Then, a presence was felt, a whisper he heard,
 Ben uttered the name of his wife.
She was there, telling his heart,
"In time, all will be made right."
But life took more than its share this time.
The lad turned cold in his arms.
And this time the hurt came permanent,
only death would stop the burn.

Next to his mother, the Boy now rests
and has for 30 years.
Ben's only comfort, they're together,
which yielded silent tears.
Tears of both joy and sorrow,
a loss to heaven's care.
Never again, his heart to give,
alone, deaths pain he'd bear.

One more time Ben's left alone,
this would be the last,
He lived his life an honest man,
but his heart stayed in the past.
Help's now hired to work the ranch
but for years he'd gone it alone,
Living in the house with memories,
his wife and son called home.

His brother's kids checked on him,
when ever the neighbors call.
He liked it when they came around
but he'd be OK 'til fall.
When fall came and the leaves turned,
he got cold, stiff and sore.
Well meaning, he's pushed to move to town,
a request he learned to ignore.

And the cowhands looked in on him
but never caused a fuss.
They respected him more then that
though some thought he's nuts.
Cause he spent time in reminisce,
deep...  in his own cowboy way,
Then saddled up to visit those graves,
every couple of days.

Ben wouldn't go, cause what he loved,
was buried on the hill.
Time could not get him to leave
nor the winter's northern chill.
But one cold evening his horse came in,
saddled, dragging a bridle rein.
They found the old man frozen dead,
sitting between the graves.

There seemed to be an air easiness
though his passing was hard to take.
As I approached I thought I heard
a quite discussion taking place.
As others rode up, they stop to listen,
they too, thought they'd heard a sound,
The sound of voices, coming from where...
he sat upon the ground.

The voice of a boy and a woman,
we listened then it was gone.
Words came and went, barely heard,
in wonderment, we listened on.
There was light laughter, distant and faint,
the cold had lost it's bite.
A feeling of being in the presence of good,
that all the world was right.

A rider's sent back for the buckboard
to take him down the hill,
But returned instead with shovels and picks,
which gave the crew a chill.
Cause the boys had already been talkin'
to take him away didn't seem right.
So the cowboys stayed and dug the grave,
through frozen ground, that night.

Now the voices, some say was only the wind
but I say it was more then that.
I seldom speak of it but when I do,
with reverence, I take off my hat.
Figuring out what happened that night,
is speculation at it's best.
But by dawn, between the wife and boy,
the old man was laid to rest.

It's easy to say it was just the wind,
of course, I don't guess I really know.
But the last thing I believe I heard,
was the boy to say, "Dad, it's time to go."
The voices then stopped, air went cold,
there came a feeling of being alone.
The cowboys all stood quiet
while the wind continued to blow.

That night I felt a testimony
to the bond of Ben and his wife,
And for some, families carry on,
into another life.
I visit those graves when the wind wants to blow,
with the hope...  the cold will loose its bite,
And when it does, I listen for the laughter,
as I remember it, so well, that night.

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

Mike told us that the above poem "tells the story of a father's love and commitment.  Stories like this one are often looked on with disbelief, yet the West held many tells with instances that were outside everyday happenings.  Maybe it's the disbelief that prevents our seeing beyond mortality, I don't know.  I believe in a here-after and enjoy sharing stories that touch on those possibilities."  

 

You can read more of Mike Dunn's poetry here at the BAR-D.

 

in memory

he wasn't very tall
this man so complete
but in my minds eye
he stood seven feet

he could ride an ol bronc
on any given day
to show us how
in the old cowboy way

he'd work your tail off
from sun up til sun down
maybe once a month
he'd let you go to town

he was the kind of  fellow
to reach out a hand
take in a stray boy
and turn him into a man

no, he wasn't well off
he wasn't rich at all
but the wealth in his heart
was more than the rich can recall

as I write this ode to him
my memory with longings fill
I'm proud to call him granddad
this man "Bob Gill'

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

Lee told us "My granddad started me cowboying when I was seven years old. I'm 64 now and I thank god every day for him."

You can read more of Lee Williams' poetry here at the BAR-D.

 

 

Daddy's Hat 

Daddy's hat hangs on the elk horn that he used for a hat rack.
When I see it floods of memories come so softly creeping back.
Like the day I saw him crying, and he said my grandpa died.
My mama stood and held him until all his tears had dried.

I'd always seen my daddy as someone big and strong.
But in his heart, he still felt pain.  I'd known that all along.
He'd grieved the day he sold the ranch.  He knew we could not stay.
Though sweat and toil filled his life, he could not make it pay.

And Mom had worked so hard to help.  She did her very best.
But some lean years had settled in, and now she needed rest.
Yes, Daddy's hat had sheltered him through storm and rain and wind.
Although it had seen better days, he'd known it was his friend.

It's battered brim is soiled and bent. It's lining is quite worn.
He'd bought it new to celebrate the day that I was born.
He'd let me wear it as a child, when I would play "pretend"
That my stick horse was very fast, and I rode like the wind.

I'd seen him use it as a fan to coax the sparks to flame,
When a campfire was our only heat, and my pony had gone lame.
Once, he brought it full of eggs, when he'd found a hidden nest.
Then Mom had baked a special cake.  Mom's cooking was the best!

Sometimes the hat held a store-bought treat, when Dad had been to town.
Sugar cookies or lollipops might be hidden in it's crown.
Sometimes it was a cover for a package or surprise,
For Daddy knew of secret ways to light our childish eyes.

He'd wanted to replace the hat upon my wedding day,
But bought me a new dress instead, as giving was his way
Of letting me know that he cared, as it was time to part.
And, although he gave me as a bride, he kept me in his heart.

He'd done the very best he could, when times were mighty tough.
And gentleness had been his way when others found it rough.
So I will keep my daddy's hat, for the memories that hold
The links that bound us heart to heart, I treasure more than gold.

1997, Nona Kelley Carver
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

You can read more of Nona Kelley Carver's poetry here at the BAR-D.

 

 

Wild and Young

My great great grandpa was just a child
When the west was still young and wild.
Indians and buffalo roamed the countrysides
Before they were killed for the land and their hides.

He learned to ride a horse before he walked
Couldn't sign his name so he used a mark "X"
Herd counting was done all in his head,
He knew each animal that he fed.

To bed with the chickens and soon up again
Before the sunrise, his day would begin.
Ropin', and ridin' and brandin' them all
Then round 'em up for the drive in the fall.

If a man worked hard and could stay alive,
It meant his family would survive.
A man didn't rest 'til his work was done
When the west was still wild and young.

March 27, 2002, Julia Cox-Wilson
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

 

Julia Cox-Wilson wrote:  I wrote this about my great-grandfather, Joe Jackson "J. J." Roberts.  An uncle once told me my Grandpa Roberts was the greatest cowboy who ever sat a horse. 

 

You can read more of Julia Cox-Wilson's poetry here at the BAR-D.

 

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