Page Four 




My father loved his cattle ranch.
His life was centered there.
And so, connected to that earth
Knew who he was and where.

He knew about its history,
And its geology,
And how his land had lain beneath
A once vast inland sea.

"The bottom land is rich," he said,
"Where rivers used to run.
The best land in the world," he said.
"This soil is next to none."

He knew each inch of pasture land
And every cow by sight.
He knew how good his corn crop looked
In early morning light.

He'd frozen in the winter cold
On truck beds forking hay.
He'd sweltered in the summer sun
Out looking for a stray.

He'd branded cattle in the spring,
Cut silage in the fall.
He seldom took on extra help,
But tried to do it all.

He'd seen the drought go on and on,
And grass turn brittle-dry.
He'd seen the price of cattle drop,
Expenses go sky-high.

The weather and the price of beef
Were things he couldn't change.
He couldn't keep a grass-fed fire
From burning up his range.

Beyond that, though, there wasn't much
That he could not control
Except the years that went too fast,
And age that took its toll.

He didn't ever plan to leave,
But he left anyway.
Time came it wasn't up to him.
He didn't have a say.

Although his body may be gone,
I feel his presence there.
His sweat and blood are in that ground,
His breath mixed with that air.             

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



The time for branding calves rolled 'round, and Dad was short a crew.
My brother said, "Don't worry Dad, I'll find some help for you."

Bill went around the neighborhood recruiting here and there.
His neighborhood was Country Club, and they said, "Do what? Where?"

"I know that you'll have lots of fun," he told those city folks.
"The ranch is like Bonanza where you all can be cowpokes."

He promised them a beer or two and food fit for a king
If they'd agree to go along and do the branding thing.

Bill could have earned a living selling ice to Eskimos,
So when he took a final count, the yeses beat the nos.

The Greyhound stage that Bill engaged left town at 5
Though some did grouse this mid-night roust came much too soon for them.

They reached their destination in an hour and a half,
And those on board were ready to go out and brand a calf.

Dad met them at the pasture gate, and he laid down the rules.
He clearly didn't trust his cows to all these city fools.

"We'll start by walking cattle from the pasture to the pen."
He emphasized the "walking" part, repeating it again.

"Don't get the cows excited now," he warned the eager group.
"This isn't any John Wayne show. We will not shout or whoop."

They fin'lly got the bunch corralled and cows and calves apart.
The calling and the bawling meant the time had come to start.

Les Hoff, a neighbor, branded while the greenhorns held 'em still.
But when they got both hot and tired, they cursed my brother Bill.

Les quickly burned the CU brand onto the calves left side,
While hands inhaled the dust and smoke that smelled of hair and hide.

They struggled with the calves they held, and some of them were tough.
No matter how they did it though, Dad thought they were too rough.

"Now take it easy with those calves," he told them with a frown.
"I don't want you to stress 'em none.  Watch how you take 'em down."

"Hey, get your butt down in the dirt."  He came on pretty strong.
I figured, whew, his new cow crew just might not last that long.

These bankers, brokers, businessmen weren't used to such abuse,
But Dad went right on yelling if they gave him an excuse.

Bill fin'lly couldn't stand it, so he took our Dad aside.
"You cannot talk to folks like this.  These people have their pride."

"I think you should remember, Dad, they came as volunteers.
You'll never get them back again, not in a hundred years."

So dad kept quiet 'till he saw a fellow on his knees.
"Hey, get your butt down in the dirt!" Then he remembered..."Please."

Now in this world of haves and nots, these people were the haves.
Dad didn't think it mattered when it came to branding calves.

They broke for lunch and feasted on baked beans and bar-b-que,
On apple pie and chocolate cake and bowls of chili stew.

'Course balls and shots and horns and ears were also done that day.
By time hands held 300 head, no calves hurt worse than they.

It was a quiet bunch that rode the bus toward home that night,
And those bone-weary cowpokes were a sad depressing sight.

The calves had kicked and stepped on them.  Their every muscle ached.
New jeans were smeared with mud and blood, new boots manure-caked.

As they departed for their homes when that long day was through,
They told Bill, "Pardner, don't call us.  The next time we'll call you."

And every time that whole year long they needed something done,
Guess who they called.  You're right, my friend.  My brother was the one.

But next year when the days warmed up, Bill did receive some calls.
"We'd like to help on branding day.  Please tell us when it falls."

And when the crowd became so large that things got out of hand,
You had to be invited if you wanted to help brand.

That worked as in the story of Tom Sawyer and the fence.
Folks vied for invitations to the branding day events.

From Canada and Cayman Isles they came by car and plane.
Some came by bus from Littleton.  Some came to entertain.

They even came to like our Dad.  They said that he was real.
I guess that being tactless was a part of his appeal.

All those who helped year after year had gotten pretty good,
Although in the beginning nobody thought they would.

It doesn't happen anymore. Dad's gone.  The ranch is leased.
But this is how it used to be before the brandings ceased.

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


His Tractor

My father's Massey-Ferguson went back to Adam's time.
At any rate it had been years since it had seen its prime.

The neighbors always joked about the bailing wire and gum
That held the thing together and that really made it hum.

Though Dad had fixed it many times, replaced it part by part,
He couldn't get it working right.  In fact, it wouldn't start.

We said, "Why don't you give it up?  It's time to let it go.
You can buy a new one Dad, we know you've got the dough."

He took off his old DeKalb cap and scratched his balding head.
He squinted in the noonday sun.  "Well, I heard what you said."

"But if I bought a new one, then I'd have to fix that too,
Which when the thing broke down someday, I wouldn't know how to do."

He took no break despite the heat--'twas ninety in the shade.
The sweat was dripping from his brow by time repairs were made.

And so he went on driving the tractor he knew best.
He used it for the smaller jobs and farmed out all the rest.

For all I know it might have been a valuable antique,
Except for all the different parts that made it too unique.

And when he died they hauled it to the ranch dump where it lies,
Half hidden by the sage and sand behind a little rise.

Now no one else can make it work.  No one will even try.
Times have changed, and as they did, they passed that tractor by.

It is a monument of sorts to those who could make do.
They used it up and wore it out instead of buying new.

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



"I ever tell you 'bout my dog?" And that's how he'd begin.
We all had heard that story, heard it time and time again.

"Yes, Dad, you've told it many times.  We know it all by heart."
Course nothing would have stopped him, but we knew that from the start.

I must have been 'bout four years old.  I had this dog you see.
I called her Teddy, don't know why, cause Teddy was a she.

We lived out on a country road.  No kids lived close to me.
My Teddy was my only friend.  She kept me company.

I loved my Teddy.  She loved me.  I loved her pups as well.
I played with Teddy all the time.  That dog was something swell.

One morning we were in the yard, and it was hot that day.
Another dog came down the road--a mangy looking stray.

We were near the woodpile then, so Mother grabbed an axe,
And as that dog came closer said, "In case that dog attacks."

But Teddy jumped in front of us, and Teddy fought our fight.
While going for the stranger's throat, my Teddy got a bite.

Well, Teddy hurt the other dog and drove him from the place,
But Teddy had been bitten, and the bite was on her face.

A neighbor came to tell us that the the other dog was mad.
I wasn't sure just what he meant, but knew that mad was bad.

When Dad came home, he shot my dog, because she had been bit,
And then he had to shoot her pups.  I hurt like I'd been hit.

I went right out and found a rope and started from the yard.
I said, "I'll find another dog."  I didn't.  That was hard.

I've thought about that dog of mine for all these many years."
He said it very quietly, as he blinked back his tears.

I can't help think he hurt so much, the day that Teddy died,
He never fully loved again, his children or his bride.

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

A Real Cowman

My dad was not the cowman
The western films portray
Instead he simply lived the life,
And worked it day by day.

The only time he looked the part
Was at the cattle sale.
Around the ranch the rest the time,
It was another tale.

At sale Dad wore his western hat,
The Stetson with a brim,
Instead of faded DeKalb cap,
So much a part of him.

At sale Dad wore his snap-front shirt,
The one he saved for good,
And looked the way most people thought
A Real Cowman should.

The shirts he wore most everyday
Were practically threadbare
Neat patches covered elbow holes,
And hid a barbed wire tear.

At sale he wore his "rancher" pants,
Taupe-colored gabardine.
They came from J.C.Penney's store,
And not from L.L. Bean

He worked in his bib overalls,
So out of fashion now.
The grease stains, dirt, and cow manure
Lent character somehow.

At sale he wore his bolo tie
With polished agate stone,
One half of all the jewelry
My dad would ever own.

He usually wore no ornament.
"Too dangerous," he said.
It could get caught in some machine,
Then he'd be maimed or dead.

Dad was a cowman through and through,
Not eager to impress.
His herd of cows spoke for themselves,
No need for fancy dress.

The reason he dressed up at all
Was 'cause Mom would insist.
He had to bend some now and then
So they could co-exist.

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

Read more of Lariat Laureate Jane Morton's poetry here.

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



Grandad was a special man.
To me he was my dad--
To some he was a friend,
To all he was a top hand.

As a boy he came by covered wagon
To the broad Kansas prairie.
The middle one of nine--
His feet were never draggin'.

At age ten he herded cattle
In the belly high grass.
Alone, doing a man's job,
He had to show his mettle.

Then he saw a hearty band
Leave for the Run of '89
And wondered why any man
Would leave rich Kansas land.

The years passed on by
Including the Crash of '29.
Grandad sold hundred dollar cows
For ten and a tear in his eye.

The bottom had been reached
He said one dark night.
The only way was up
Became what he preached.

So, trailing a herd of cows with calves
From a Texas ranch on the South Canadian
He headed for Oklahoma with a trail boss.
He never did anything by halves.

The trail boss laughed and said,
"You know what they say, my friend.
Oklahoma's full of bootleggers and rustlers.
You'll even be apt to take a few head."

Grandad snorted, cussed and reared.
He hadn't wanted to come this far,
But the bank said he had no choice
For it owned the paper on the herd.

Supper time came as the cattle settled to graze
With the crew eating by the chuckwagon.
Grandad lighted up a cigar and sighed
As two riders came up in the evening haze.

"Hello, the wagon, they hollered.
We're looking for two white-faced heifers--
Thought they might be around here somewhere.
Grandad frowned, coughed and swallowed.

"Sure, got right ahead--
Ride through the herd.
Just a minute, I'll go along
And help count them instead."

Sure enough--the count was long
And soon the riders followed
Two heifers that'd joined the herd.
Grandad wondered where he'd gone wrong.

"I can't believe it," he started to cry.
"The minute I hit the Oklahoma line
I became a dad-gummed cow thief
And I didn't even have to try!"

Years passed on, ten by ten.
Times changed, the bank was paid.
Oklahoma land was good to him,
And he always told this with a grin.

"I never thought I'd admit it--
Not on that day in '89
When all those fellows left
That fine Kansas farming dirt.

"But my life here has been great.
Good enough that I will say
The peace and prosperity I've had
Are right next to Heaven's gate."

So he died at ninety-three
And lies buried in Oklahoma soil
Leaving this truth for us:
When you're down, up is all you can see!

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

Barbara Bockelman adds: I learned a lot of early day Western history from the Grandad who served as my foster father from the time I was two years old. He was a master story teller.  This poem and the illustration are from ON KIOWA CREEK, published by Barbara Bockelman.

Grandad, illustration by Barbara Bockleman

Illustration by Barbara Bockelman


How Did He Know That?

Grandad and I saddled up old Baldy and Bandy
And went out to ride the pasture the other day.
"Let's check the cattle in the east one
And catch the river bottom on our way."

Just beyond the ridge to the south of us,
Grandad saw a big black bird circling overhead.
"We'd better ride over and check that out.
That buzzard may be seeing something dead."

"Yep," Grandad nodded.  "I thought so. Look there.
That old steer got lighting struck last night--
I was afraid that might happen and it sure did.
Pardner, those old buzzards are usually right."

Now, how did Grandad know all that?

Grandad and I went fishing about a week ago.
He said the work could wait for a while.
He and I needed a little rest and some fun
Which made Grandma nod her head and smile.

We sat down on the bank and threw in our lines.
Soon I got a bite and I started to yell.
"Hey, padner, don't do that! Those fish can hear.
Believe you me! Your voice is just like a bell."

"Grandad, fish don't have ears. They can't hear."
Grandad just grinned and sat back on the bank.
Then, I got another bite, but I kept still.
The line went out and I gave a great big yank.

Grandad just grinned at me and that big old fish.
We settled back and caught some more
Including a bull frog with a piece of red cloth
Dangled on my fish hook just off shore.

Now, how did Grandad know all that?

Grandad and I were fixing fence while back
When I felt my belly hit my back bone.
It must to getting dinner time, I thought.
I decided to sorta give a little hungry groan.

Grandad didn't pay attention--just kept right on.
He hadn't worn his wrist watch I was sure.
I was a terrible fix --just starvin' to death.
There's just so much a fellow can endure.

The Grandad took off his straw hat,
Wiped his brow and squinted up at the sun.
"Well, about twelve straight up, pardner.
Let's go and see if Grandma's got dinner done."

Now, how did Grandad know all that?

While back we needed to bring in an old bull
That was crippled and downright slow.
We started out all right it seemed
But soon he sulled and didn't want to go.

Grandad tried every which way to push him
But nothing worked--he just got mad
And tried to butt Grandad's horse in the side.
Grandad's language even got a little bad.

Then just about the time we all gave out,
We saw another bull come over the hill.
"Well, pardner, there's our answer--
If that don't work, nuthin' will."

Sure enough, just like Grandad said,
The old bull turned and lit out
Following the other bull down the trail.
We got both to the pens without a shout.

Now, how did Grandad know all that?

Grandad and I went out to drive some cattle
To some fresh grass along the river west.
I was in a hurry and started to push them
I waved my arms and began yelling my best.

Suddenly, they all scattered all over the place
And we had to ride really hard and fast.
Grandad came by me and quietly said,
"Do that again and you'll have a lesson to last!"

Now, how did Grandpa know all that?

School starts soon and I have to go.
Grandad and Grandma took me home yesterday.
Grandma hugged me and said, "I'll bet Grandpa
Educated you this summer in every way!"

Now, how did she know all that?

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


Trail Drive--Texas to Oklahoma--1932

I remember the trail drive my family made to Oklahoma in the spring of 1932 as thrilling and exciting. My five-year-old mind did not understand the stress my stepgrandfather and grandmother--Ernest and Neva Sitton--endured. Just prior to the drive Grandad had been thrown from his horse sustaining a broken shoulder. He was not fully recovered when the bank at Wichita, Kansas, mandated the move.

Several happenings including a divorce and financial Crash of 1929 had placed Grandad at the mercy of this bank.  He owed it so much money it could not afford to write off his debt. The Dust Bowl and the Great Depression of the '30's added to our desperation.

These two had opened their hearts and home to me in 1928 following their marriage. Both had raised families and were  looking for happiness not found in first marriages, not a ready-made family.  Two months after the wedding, I was on the scene--a two-year old. Grandmother (Doe) was 40 and he was 50. Shortly afterward, we had moved to South Texas where Grandad leased 21 sections of grass green from a recent two-inch rain. No one told him it was the first rain in two-years and it did not rain again as long as we were there. Couple that with having to sell hundred dollar cows for ten dollars and nothing left but debt and the scene was set for what followed. However, the bank respected Grandad's past history of honesty and believed he would eventually honor the debt. He did with the last payment in 1951 after years of careful management, milking cows and selling cream, eggs from our flock of chickens, selling fence post cut on the Y Bar here in the Oklahoma Panhandle, and once peddling garden produce on a street corner on Saturdays.  All this and handling a cow-calf operation with low prices, sweat and tears but boosted with our happiness at being together. But all this came after the trail drive we made to Oklahoma when I was five.

Grandad viewed the move as a disaster, but the bank held all the cards.  When it said move, we moved. After moves to two different ranches west of Canadian, Texas, from Ft. Stockton (made by train), the bank directed another move to small ranch west of Camargo, Oklahoma.  Grandad snorted about this move.  As a boy in Kansas, he had watched neigbors leave good land for the Runs of '89 and '93 in Oklahoma.  At age five he and his family arrived by covered wagon from Missouri. At age 12 he herded cattle for hire on the prairie, living by himself in a line cabin.  He later owned some of that land becoming a prosperous wheat farmer and cattle buyer.  This land went in a divorce settlement. Now, we were going to Oklahoma where he had heard there were mostly bootleggers and cow thieves. 

Not only that!  There was no money for an easy move.  The bank said to locate part of the herd to fatten in the Kansas Flint Hills and trail the rest to Oklahoma. Barely able to move about, he somehow had to manage to "hit the trail." The somehow came through the cowboy the bank had allowed Grandad to hire when we moved near Canadien to the Parsell Ranch with pasture reaching miles back into Cap Rock canyons.

Rusty Fitzgerald was a cowboy of the old school. He tended cattle--not fix windmills and fences. He agreed to be trail boss of the drive, but he made it clear he would not stay in Oklahoma longer than he had to.  He was a "Texas cowboy and that's where I aim to stay 'til I die." Years later, Rusty visited the Y Bar several times.  He shared the trail drive experiences in several letters and the following excerpts are from those letters.  Copies of these letter are in the archives of the NATIONAL COWBOY AND WESTERN HERITAGE MUSEUM in Oklahoma City.  Here's Rusty's story of that drive in the spring of '32.

We drove somewhere close to 350 head of cows--a few more or less--I took 26 loads of cows and yearlings to Sedan, Kansas, for grass before I started on this trip. Mr. Sitton was unable to go. We were on the trail 16-17 days and stood guard on these cattle every night.  On the route we moved the cattle into the Barton creek pasture not far from the house and it was a pasture that they had stayed in.  I did this to get them mated up with their calves and to learn what it was to get bedded down and have night guard around them.  If anything got loose they would not go far because they would be right at home.

Bill White was the cook.  Wes Derrick of Camargo was a cowboy who knew Oklahoma country. Other cowboys were John Archer and Eldon Carr. I was the trail boss. Mr. Sitton would come to us at times.  Of course, they had the household stuff to move while we were on the trail bout they would make it to us when they could get to us and bring groceries and fresh eggs.  Mrs. Sitton always had fresh baked pies and cakes for us.  I know Mr. Sitton spent one night with us right after the herd crossed the Oklahoma line.  As we sat around the chuck wagon eating, two riders came up. Seems the rancher had two heifers missing and wanted the check the herd.

Over my protests, Mr. Sitton got on his horse and went with them only to find the count was two head long.  Those two had joined the herd as we went along.  Mr. Sitton's comment was "As soon as I crossed the Oklahoma line, I became a damned cow thief and I didn't even have to try!

We followed the Canadian River nearly to the bridge on the north side of the river and then picked as smooth a route as we could find to miss those bad sandhills to Glazier.  Then we went to the Lockhart Ranch and headed east from there.  We spent one night on the Waggnon Ranch south of Arnett, Oklahoma.

The cows calved all the way down there, and when it came time for one to calve, we would just let the cows graze and the calves rest until the ordeal was over and the calf had nursed.  We would then look the pair over real good so as to remember them and load the calf into the calf wagon.  Lots of times we had 15-20 babies in there and we all tried to remember and it really helped, but it all lay on my shoulders.

We would split the night into three parts on night guard.  The cook would have breakfast before daylight and everyone ate.  Wes derrick and I would swap off with each other on first and last guards and that left two men for middle guard.  Carr and Archer took it.

I cannot think of anything dangerous or even one horse pitching on the trip.  Lots of days we didn't make over five or six miles. We just grazed the cattle along and made sure we found water.  Animals will not bed down at night if they have not had plenty to eat and drink.  They will try to get away all night.  When we would stop in the evening early, the cows that had calves in the wagon would be brought up to the wagon and her calf released.  Then if the calf started nursing they would be turned back into the herd.  Whenever we stopped this herd, most of the calves would nurse and then those calves would lie down and the cow would go on to graze.

Sometimes there would be maybe 100 head of those calves sleeping and maybe not a cow in one quarter of a mile.  They would lay there for maybe two hours or longer and then they would get up and start to bawl for their mothers.  We would really have to get on the ball then.  Two men would ride around the cows maybe one-half to more miles away and start turning cows back towards calves.  If you didn't get them back in a hurry those little calves would start going back, and if they got away, they'd go clear back to where they nursed last and they would stay right there.

It was rather amusing, after being driven all day and acting like being give out, and some would be, after resting and nursing, about sundown they would start running and playing after nursing.  They were just like a bunch of little children.  Some old cows woould follow their babies just throwing a fit.

With Mr. Sitton's permission I traded off the horse that had bucked him off and injured him before the drive for a young sorrel horse.  I did everything I could to make him gentle, get on him from either side, slide off his rear end, and got him used to a rope and roped off him some and had him watching a cow pretty well by the time we got to Oklahoma.

True to his word after the drive, Rusty Fitzgerald returned to his home town of Miami, Texas, where he worked around on ranches, eventually married and had a small spread.  During WWII he volunteered way past draft age as a medic and served in Europe in some tough battles. He died some years ago in a nursing home in Amarillo, Texas.

I have never forgotten Rusty and the cattle drive nor his place in our lives.  Years later he visited the Y Bar Ranch here in the Oklahoma Panhandle a number of times.  We always relived that drive.

2002, Barbara Bockelman
This piece may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

This account is also posted in our Cowboy Memories project.


Read more of Barbara Bockelman's poetry here.

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


Handing Down the Reins   

He was big ol' stout and broncy colt
So I double-snugged my girth
I shortened my stirrups to keep me back
Over his head will get you hurt

Times were he'd never throw me
Now we'll just have to see
I noticed lately that my reflexes
Ain't what they used to be

I led him out to center pen
And told the boy to get his head
But he just stood there looking at me
Like he didn't hear what I said

I turned ready to make my mount
But he stood right in my way
It's always been just yessir nossir
What's into this guy today

He said okay, give me the reins
And I mean no disrespect
But you know you're a little old
To be getting in a wreck

It was only then I felt the fear
A sudden shortness of my breath
I was raised up riding rough stock
All his were broke to death

He could see it back behind my eyes
And the way my jaw was set
One day I gotta hand'em down
But I wasn't ready yet

He said that sun's thrown three shadows
On the red dirt in this pen
I'll thank you now that you can't argue
Two of them belong to men

I tried not but heard the truth
In the very next words he said
You know I'm the one that got too old
To be the one that's on his head

Still toe to toe and man to man
Like two gunfighters at high noon
But more like Marines trading places
At that unknown soldier's tomb

In life you'll have these kinda days
Something lost yet something gained
I put my hand up on his shoulder
And handed my son the reins

2006, J. Michael Reese 
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

Mike told us,  "Twice now in the last couple of years, when we knew a colt would buck, my son has tried to get me to give him the reins. I haven't handed them over yet, but in the Autumn of '06, I'll be 62 and the day of this poem is drawing near. Thinking about that moment when it does arrive spawned this poem. It wouldn't have to be bridle reins, in a lot of different ways I think both men and women can relate to this day in their lives -- a time for the changing of the guard."

Read more of Mike Reese's poetry here.

A Chosen Few

I used to have a buddy
Who made me walk the line
And walk a straighter path
He laid his tracks in mine

Hunting he walked beside me
His questions came rapid-fire
My answers were his gospel
My buddy never tired

On a horse he rode behind me
My buddy was over-bold
He loved a half-broke skittish bronc
My belt loops were his hold

We waded out among the stumps
Into many a snakey pond 
We tore 'em up with plastic worms
Muddy water sealed our bond

My buddy had the spirit
No matter our enterprise
Menial tasks he made adventures
With the fire behind his eyes

With pickup truck for royal coach
No kingdom was more immense
Those emerald summers when I was king
Because my buddy was a prince

I taught him how to skin a deer
And how to catch a snake alive
I taught him how to throw a rope
Then I taught him how to drive

I couldn't find my buddy
His mother said he'd gone
I couldn't find my favorite shirt
My buddy had it on

I spend these long days by myself
Mighty lonesome if not sad
It's a chosen few who ever knew
A buddy like the one I had

2006, J. Michael Reese 
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

Mike told us: "Such are sons that, as a pre-schooler my boy chose to spend his time with his father. Wherever I was upon planet earth, he was - on the pickup seat beside me, on the back of my horse, in the tractor or combine cab, wading out fishing in some snakey slough or deep in the deer woods. No man ever had a better buddy than I had. For cool swimming hole or scorching-hot hayfield, he was in there with me, and always with the fire behind his eyes. Work and play were all the same to him, and so they became all the same to me. But the years sailed by and one day I would come to that last verse, though words could never tell how it felt."

Read more of Mike Reese's poetry here.



Page Four



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