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The Saddle

Sittin' on a saddle tree, by the fire in Momma's den,
Is a work of art that only gathers dust.
I like to take my coffee there, sittin' by the fire,
And recall what's come to pass for all of us.

Mark George made the saddle for my Dad in '82,
It was his pride and joy from the day he brought it home.
I can see it cinched up on Ol' Skipper with him aboard,
But it looks ghostly in that corner all alone.

Some say Mark was the best saddle maker in the state.
Some say for 500 miles around.
All I know is his shop was a hangout for us boys
And I never failed to stop when I was in town.

He let me hang around the store and gawk at all the treasures,
We talked of spurs and bits and how to shape a hat
While we talked, his hands were makin' magic with a steer hide,
I miss him most whenever I think of that.

Mark had served with the cavalry back in World War II,
And worked with leather since 1951.
I used to sit for hours while he carved and stamped and sewed,
And recalled all the things he's seen and done.

It seemed like all my Dad did was work from dawn till dusk,
Makin' a livin' for Mama and us boys.
Seldom took the time for pleasure or spent money on himself,
Seemed to have no need for fluff or frills or toys.

Mama said it was because he grew up hard, pickin' cotton,
That made him choke a dollar like he did.
If he ever wanted anything fancy for himself,
For our sake, I guess he kept it hid.

But Daddy loved Ol' Mark just as much as me,
And one day when we had stopped by the saddle shop.
He asked about a saddle, brand new one, custom made.
If they'd have looked at me, they could have seen my jaw drop.

They were talkin' bout more money than Daddy's last two pick-up trucks
As they planned out every detail of the kak,
Dad gave him a deposit and the two good friends shook hands,
Then we headed for the pick-up parked out back.

After a long silent moment, Dad began to talk.
Said, "Mark won't be around forever son.
I always wanted me a real good saddle made just right.
I figured it was time I got her done."

After that, he never mentioned it again.
He brought it home and rode it when he could.
But he kept in the den on that oak saddle rack,
And oiled regular, like Mark said he should.

Well, Daddy had a stroke in 1988,
Mark George passed on in '93.
With Dad in a wheelchair and Mark, cold in the ground.
It just a cup of coffee, that saddle there, and me.

I've lived long enough to know that all things have to change,
There's no way to go back to where you've been.
But that saddle in the corner's more than dusty memories,
It's the last bond between me and two good friends.

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

 

Read more of Michael Henley's poetry here.

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


 

Rooster

We called him "Rooster"
for his two bandy legs
and a carrot-top head
and the crow'in he made,
cause like him or fight him
whatever the rules,
that sawed-off runt cowboy
could really shoot pool.

He'd put in a full day
and not miss a lick,
then dude up and brush up
and pick up his stick,
then head into town
to the local pool hall,
drink up and cue up
and challenge us all.

Then one night it happened
a stranger walked in,
with a custom made pool stick
and a yeller-toothed grin,
I've heard bout some rooster
that's known to shoot pool,
and I've come to challenge
that bird to a duel.

Now we called him "Rooster"
but us he all knew,
so he didn't take kindly
to a no-name yahoo,
what is you pleasure
old man with no name,
eight ball said the stranger
get on with the game.

The stranger broke quickly
and three stripes went in,
and two more in order
'fore Rooster began,
that's a fair piece of shootin
I'll have to say,
then he flat ran the table
'fore old Rooster could play.

Then Rooster went for him
with blood in his eyes,
but hugged him instead
much to all our surprise,
boys I've been funnin
and I hope you ain't mad,
cause this orn'ry old cuss
is my pool-shootin dad.

© 1999 Rod Nichols
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.


 

Dad's Way

Now my dad weren't too long on words
when it came to how he felt
but there wuz little need fer them
when dad reached fer his belt.

There weren't no need fer rep-ar-tee
or psy-cho-logic help,
we cut right thru the learnin' curve
when dad reached fer his belt.

Now folks don't get me wrong on this
we never got a lick
but I wuz almost pert near grown
before I learned his trick.

It weren't the pain of leather strap
or rising blistered welt,
we made our minds up rabbit-quick
when dad reached fer his belt.

Now I ain't sayin' that's the way
to raise a kid alright
but none of us had complexes
and we knowed wrong from right.

I love my dad and always will
and thank him fer his help
and fer the man that I became
cause dad reached fer his belt.

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

When Rod sent us this new poem, he said that his father was "younger and wiser than I ever will be...so this is for him and maybe for others too." 

Sadly, Rod Nichols lost his father soon after. Rod says "Dad had a great sense of humor and laughed at 'Dad's Way,' which is absolutely true except I did get some swats but not many. I was a fast learner...He was independent until his death and loved fishing. Dad had a whole host of fishing buddies and took delight in telling stories with his friends. His favorite author was Louis L'Amour, as he reminded me when I first gave him a copy of my cowboy poems. He was an expert marksman and was stationed in Germany at war's end... Like a lot of Texans back then, he was actually named J.C.ójust the initials, but was nicknamed Jiggs over the years."

Never Forgotten

J. C. (Jiggs) Nichols
1920 - 2002


 

A Dad's Prayer

An old man's sittin' here tonight
by news-talk radio
so maybe he will hear some word
on how the war might go.

He's list'nin' hard and prayin' too
his son now in Iraq,
Dear Lord if You might see Your way
to bring him safely back.

He wasn't told he had to go,
he upped and volunteered.
His reasons made his dad feel proud
but that don't ease the fear.

I love him Lord and miss him so,
his smile and youthful ways.
Don't let the cruelty of this war
now harden him these days.

He's never faced an enemy
who values life so cheap.
He's always seen the good in man
his word a thing to keep.

He sees it as his duty Lord
to be the first to fight
and proudly stand to face the foe
of all we hold as right.

But somewhere over there tonight
he might have thoughts of home.
Would you just let him know for me
he's not out there alone.

I thank you Lord and I'll be here
by news-talk radio,
to listen and receive some word
on how the war might go.

© 2006, Rod Nichols
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.


Rod Nichols wrote this poem in October 2006 for his son, Dennis, serving our country in Iraq.  Rod told us it was written, also "for those who have loved ones overseas." Rod adds, "God bless all our  men and women in uniform where ever they may be around the world. They are the best our nation can offer in the defense of freedom."


 

 

Read more of First Lariat Laureate Rod Nichols' poetry here.

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

 

 

Ranch Raised

I was ranch raised,
I say it with pride.
I wanted that for her
Itís eating me inside.

Got a lump in my throat
And a tear in my eye.
I dropped her off
Now Iím cussing, whyÖ

Donít you think it was easy,
Itís not the way of the ranch.
Iím supposed to be the tree
She, the fruit on the branch.

My roots should be deeper
So sheís nurtured with care
Not dropped at the club
Nor shuffled here and there.

Iíd always taken her with me,
I met the bus after school.
Taught her about fawns, frogs
And other things that are cool.

We shifted stockers,
And poly wire for grazing,
Watched red tails swoop
At speeds that were amazing.

We lambed out ewes,
Caught minnows in the creek,
Hauled big round bales,
Played hide and seek.

We watched cranes
Fly North high above.
Just me and a little girl
I cherish and love.

Itís this darn city job
Thatís getting me down.
This is no way to raise her,
Not this living in town.

Aside from grade school,
We were a team beforeÖ
I donít know if I can take it
Iím about to walk out the door.

Sheíll play, make new friends
And go places Iíve never seen
But darn it! Itís summer,
Itís too early to wean.

© 2008, Tom Nichols
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

 

Tom told us, "The inspiration for this poem was the first (and so far only) time that I took our six-year-old daughter to the local Boys and Girls Club."

UPDATE, 2015:  Now Tom's daughter is headed for high school, and his sentiments haven't changed. He wrote on his Facebook page that, "...it is still too damned early to wean."

Tom shared a photo from her childhood, taken at a county fair, with what he remembers as a leopard cub.

He comments, "Do you have any idea how hard it was to keep that girl from petting that cub? We were at the country fair to watch her cousin show sheep and she couldn't wait until the show was over to take me to see the cub...She said, 'They wouldn't let me pet it but I was tickling it through the sheep skin.'"

 

 

 

Read more of Tom Nichols' poetry here.

 

 

The Cowman's Question

His face deep-lined and leathery,
evidence of the West Texas wind;
his deep-set eyes pale and twinkling
and he's wearing a perpetual grin.

His face was shaded by his sombrero
and his arms across the fence's top wire,
looking at the cattle in the pasture
and the calves by his blue ribbon sire.

He was just a hired man on horseback
when my Mom had invited him in,
the only father I had ever known,
he was my Dad as well as my friend.

He squinted up at me in the saddle
then he sprayed a thin stream of brown
said, "Son, now I ain't one fer meddlin'
but there's a rumor spreadin' in town.'

'Th' gal you been seein' says she'll marry
And that the intended groom is you,
Son I have but few words of wisdom,
and on these I'd like for you to chew."

He said, "Will she help you feed in Winter,
will she help the cows calve in the Spring?
Will she doctor and water in Summer,
will she be happy with what Fall prices bring?"

'Twas long years ago when we married,
now 'tis my son in the saddle with a rope.
It's his heart full of passion and love,
and his head filled with dreams and high hopes.

I said, "Son, I ain't one fer meddlin'
but there's a rumor spreadin' aroun'
that little gal that you've been seein'
has been shoppin' for her weddin' gown.'

'I don't have many words of wisdom
but these you can do with what you will,
it's something for you to think upon
when you're holdin' her close and still.'

'Do you think she'll help feed in Winter,
and will she help the cows calve in Spring?
Will she doctor and water in Summer,
will she be happy with what Fall prices bring?"

© 2003, Gene O'Quinn
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

Gene tells us that Gordon Gordon Snidowís painting of ďA Cowman" inspired this poem.       

 

Read more of Gene O'Quinn's poetry here.

 

My Dad's Hat

There is hat hanging on the wall in my shop,
The stories it could tell would be hard to top.
When he got it nobody knows,
But the tales that go along with it continue to grow.

I don't recall when he didn't have it on his head,
He wore it to work & sometimes I think he wore it to bed.
He had it on when he walked out the door,
And he always had it on when he came back in that's for sure.

He had other hats he wore once in a while,
But in these hats I don't remember the smile.
Except for the one with the fish,
I think with that one he was making a wish.

It's kinda small with a narrow brim,
And everytime I look at it it reminds me of him.
He was not very big but he was awful strong,
And this strength he had kept me from doing to many things wrong.

My wife & him had a special bond,
Of her he was especially fond.
They had fun in whatever they did,
The love they had for each other they never hid.

She used to tease him about that hat,
I think he wore it more because of that.
He wore it when they went to lunch,
Cause he knew it bothered her a bunch.

She threatened to take it & burn it one day,
He just laughed & said "ain't no way",
The next time we seen him he had a new hat,
So we just figured that was the end of that.

We forgot about that hat after that day,
Not even a thought till after he passed away.
Mom had passed on two years before,
So no one knew what was behind this closet door.

I was taking things out to keep or throw away,
We have all been there it's not a fun day.
I moved some boxes that for years they had sat,
There in the corner was that damned old hat.

I guess he was so sure she would burn it that day,
He found a spot to hide it away.
I had to smile as I took that hat off the shelf,
My wife smiled too when she seen it herself.

That hat will hang on the shop wall till the day we die,
It has a special meaning to my wife & I.


© 2002, Keith L. Adams
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

 

 


Never Forgotten

Len J. Adams
1913 - 1985

 

 

Those were the days!

Trigger was my space ship then;
Roy my astronaut.
Dale drove her Buttermilk ...
The Princess that he sought!

Second feature, here came Silver;
"Hiiiii-YOOO" ... off he went!
Chargin' straight into the sunset
From which he'd been sent.

Autry was the Gene of choice;
Singin' all around;
Sat beside him in grand entry
When he came to town.

To the world my little Ginger
Was a spotted steed.
But to me he was Mercedes;
All the speed I'd need.

'Twas long before those Little kids
Were labeled for their Britches;
Long before those fancy trailers
Hooked to pickup hitches.

Daddy had a Studebaker
With an old stock rack.
He'd jump pony-Ginger in
From ditch bank where he'd back.

Off we'd go for wild adventures,
Like we had good sense.
Waitin' in the pony paddock
We'd both be intense.

When he wasn't totin' me
'Round the countryside,
Daddy taught me all I know
About a horse to ride.

I was a tadpole, barely three,
When he brought Ginger home.
That feisty pony had a history
Every time he'd roam.

The man that owned that Ginger-boy
Taught him how to kick.
He'd sell that pony, then go back;
Redeem him for a trick.

He'd find out in no short time
My Daddy knew some stuff.
And he was not about to let
That pony get so tough!

By the time the man came back,
That pony to then snatch,
He found out that Ginger-horse
Had finally met his match.

From that day until I was
Half-grown and gone away,
Ginger was an institution;
Loved much every day.

Daddy taught him how to stand
Upon a knee-high box.
I'd stand in the saddle and
Twirl ropes just like a "fox"!

Then we'd run that barrel race,
Lined up three in row.
'Twas long before that cloverleaf
For barrel race in tow.

Although my legs were short those days,
Ginger tiny too,
We'd run those shetland races fast ...
Teach all a thing or two!

I'd bend down on his roached neck,
Whisper in his ear,
He'd stick his nose straight out for me
To win that race and cheer!

He'd prance and dance in all parades;
He'd make me very proud;
And all the time my Daddy there,
Clappin' very loud.

Don't know who had most fun of all,
My Daddy, horse or me.
But to this day I close my eyes
And all that joy I'll see!

Of course, with Roy in my heart
I'd have to try to be
Everything that Roy was
In movies that I'd see.

That cost me my first boyfriend then.
I circled rope on ground
And tried to pull him by his feet
Into a tree I found.

That trick never worked quite right;
Not like Roy's did.
My boyfriend fell upon his face
So I ran off and hid.

But I learned how to jump on Ginger
From the branch of trees;
I learned to jump o'er Ginger's rump
After a few scraped knees.

I could draw my cap pistol
As fast as any boy.
No one told me that a doll
Should be my only toy.

To this day I always look
For guys who wear white hats.
If black is what they want to wear
They all can just go scat.

I finally got that palomino
Horse that I adore.
He can't stand up to Trigger but
He's standin' at my door.

These days those Little Britches kids
Have lots of fancy things.
They're all out there competin' for
A lot of Golden Rings.

No matter what they have to ride
Or what those kids can do,
I only wish that they could have
A Studebaker too!

Its old stock rack would rattle when
We drove it down the road;
And it could not pull along
A big tremendous load.

And sumpthin' 'bout that spotted pony,
On that old dirt track,
Is gonna be sumpthin' that missin',
Sumpthin' they will lack.

I could dream that I had heard
Roy in the stands,
Jumpin' up and down and cheerin',
Clappin' both his hands.

I knew that Princess Dale stood
With Mother near the rails,
Tense and cheerin' as I rode;
Chewin' fingernails!

But times have changed and kids don't know
That much about my Roy.
They do not watch those movies, old,
Or play with all his toys.

He can't be found in their computer;
Video arcade.
That old white hat has gone downhill
From time when it was made.

Perhaps their dreams are just as big;
Maybe even more.
But on the shelves within my heart
I've got my memories stored.

And when my life goes over bumps,
Like the Studebaker then,
I always will remember all
That fun I had ... and when!

© 2001 Rose Mary Allmendinger
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.


Read more of Rose Mary Allmendinger's poetry here.

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


 

 

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