Folks' Poems

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Reno, Nevada
About Dave P. Fisher
Dave P. Fisher's web site

Recognized as one of

Lariat Laureate Runner Up
for his poem, Dawn Riders



Dawn Riders


Latigos pulled tight with fingers gone numb,

Slide ‘em under the pad to warm ‘em up some.

The feel of a horse, the touch of good leather,

And to know that your heart’s light as a feather.

The smell of strong coffee a-drift on the breeze,

Hot biscuits and beef steaks as much as you please.

To stand in the chill and see the morning’s first glow,

And feel the very life blood in you starting to flow.


They say these are times to try a man’s soul,

The pace of today’s world exacts an almighty toll.

Too many men have never stood with a tin cup in their hand,

And watched the silent sunrise bring birth to the land.

They’ve never saddled up with men of their kind,

And dug down inside themselves to see what they’ll find.

Their souls would be healed, the good drawn from the bad,

If ever, just once – if ever they had.


Look to the west, where the mountains don’t change,

To the sage and rimrock where men ride the range.

Their grandfathers knew it and their fathers did too,

The look of the morning and grass soaked by the dew.

Now, their sons take their place or ride by their side,

Like brothers they hold on to the old ways with pride,

For these the days that have passed will never be gone,

The brotherhood of men who ride out with the dawn.


© 2005,  Dave P. Fisher
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.


This poem was inspired by our Art Spur project, which featured Kent Rollins' photograph, "Ridin' Out."

Dave told us more about his inspiration for the poem:

The photo reminded me of the days when I used to ride out in the predawn light.  The cold fingers fumbling with the latigo, and then sliding them under the pad against the warmth of the horse and how good that felt.  The world has pulled us too far away from what is important to us, to be with men of our kind and feel history come alive inside of us.  We have pride and determination in holding onto our values and heritage, when the world tries to throw them back in our faces we stand firm and hold onto them.  My favorite saying is from one of Chris LeDoux's songs, "I'd rather take ten seconds in the saddle than a lifetime of watching from the stands." The world would be a lot different if each person took their ten seconds and felt the pride of having done so.

We asked Dave why he writes Cowboy Poetry and why he thinks it is important:

The West has always been my life's blood.  My maternal ancestors were mountain men and pioneers across Canada and into the U.S.  My paternal grandfather died out west as a telegrapher on the railroad.  My step-grandfather was Blackfoot from Montana and he had a tremendous influence on our family.  All in all I can't help but write abut the history and people of the West.  Cowboy poetry tells our stories, like the village storyteller or the minstrels of old, the cowboy poet tells who we are and where we come from.  Cowboy poetry is too valuable to lose because it tells
the world and our youth what is important to us and why.


He Don't Look Too Good

A feller come drivin' his wagon into town one day,
Said he was new to these parts, come to make his way.
We could tell right off this here pilgrim was green,
Pretty much the same as all the others we'd seen.
He pulled up his team and went on into the store,
Bought some grub and such and a few things more.
When he came out he stopped there a-lookin' around,
Stood there in the street without making a sound.

He then made his way on over to where we were at,
Stepped on up friendly and started in to chat.
Said he needed to pick up a decent horse to ride,
Seems his previous saddle horse just up and died.
I told him, "Zeke down yonder might sell ya one,"
For ol' Zeke was a horse tradin' son-of-a-gun.
The stranger said thank you and headed on down,
To Zeke's livery place on the far side of town.

We looked at each other and we started to smile,
We were headin' out, but that could wait a while.
Ol' Zeke was a tradin' wonder that had to be seen,
When it came to horses he was sure enough keen.
You had to be sharp if you was to deal with Zeke,
For he hadn't one speck of mercy on the mild and meek.
Entertainment is scarce around these here parts,
And folks are quick to jump to it wherever it starts.

Zeke could empty a man's pocket on most any deal,
But it wasn't like he would actually steal.
He just had a way with words, a smooth silver tongue,
And it was that fast talk that was confusin' to some.
Well, the pilgrim was there and Zeke shook his hand,
"Shor I've got horses, very best in the land."
Zeke took him on back and pointed out a few,
But, this pilgrim seemed to know a thing or two.

We just stood there watchin' from across the fence,
The dealin' was commencin' to get a bit tense.
Zeke'd brag big on a horse and walk it around,
Stranger'd look it over, then say it weren't sound.
Zeke was grinnin' and braggin' on some horse's youth,
But that stranger wasn't buyin' one long in the tooth.
This feller was wary of any critter Zeke'd brag on,
He'd have to do something different to move this pawn.

Then the stranger pointed over to one by the wall,
A good lookin' sorrel gelding, long legged and tall.
The feller perked up, "How about that one right there?"
Zeke said, "No, not that one, it just wouldn't be fair.
These others are better, that one don't look too good,
He don't move out or handle the way that he should."
Well, this feller figured he had ol' Zeke by the tail,
And down right insisted on that sorrel for the sale.

The stranger walked off smilin', his purchase in tow,
He'd sure bested that Zeke at this horse tradin' show.
Tyin' that long-legged sorrel to the back of his wagon,
He drove on out with that horse's feet sorter draggin'.
Zeke kept a-countin' that cash with a mile wide grin,
And somehow we knew sly ol' Zeke had managed to win.
Next time in town we heard the story of what we did miss,
That pilgrim came back and it goes something like this.

Well, it seems that this pilgrim wanted Zeke to see,
How that sorrel wasn't what he said it should be.
He went to carring on like a bear hung in a briar,
Rantin' and ravin' and even called Zeke a liar!
Zeke told him, "Now, hold up a minute there gent,
Best settle yerself down 'fore yer skull gits bent."
The feller raged, "I got home and what did I find?
Why, that worthless critter is stone cold blind!"

Zeke insisted, "Now, we made a deal and I never did lie,
You was bound and determined to have that horse to buy.
I told you right up front he didn't move like he should,
And mister, I told you flat out he don't look too good!"

© 2002, Dave P. Fisher
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

Dave says: When I was cowboyin' we used to joke about selling pilgrims blind horses by saying "he don't look too good," which is a way of admitting the horse's eyesight is not the best without actually lying or saying he's blind.  It just inspired me to tell Ol' Zeke's story!


The Western Myth?

I once heard a city slicker speak on Western History,
Claimed it never happened, it was all made up you see.
It was simply amazing, the expertise with which he spoke,
He said it was the "Western Myth," and that it was all a joke.
He was from New York or Boston or some such town back East,
He waved off the stories, caring none for them in the least.
A sudden thought came to me and gave me an awful fright,
What if . . . just what if, this here city feller was right!

Did Lewis and Clark actually go to Oregon on the train,
And made up those stories as they chugged across the plain?
Was the journal just a fake, to make it all look good?
So they could tell Jefferson they did just as they should?

Did John Colter go to Yellowstone on a special package deal?
A one way bus from St. Louie that even threw in a meal?
For a reason to tell wild tales, was this his real goal?
Or was he just wantin' to wet a fly line in the ol' Firehole?

It's amazing how long the tales of mountain men stay around,
Those stories of Bridger, Glass, and Sublette still abound.
If these people never existed, was it all some silly dream?
I must say, men wearing animal hides, that is a real scream.

Now, he must admit to Indians, because I know that they're true,
"Cause I've met a bunch of 'em, Blackfoot, Ute, and Sioux.
But, did they live in buffalo skin lodges or metal mobile homes?
And, were their evenings for the opera and the recitation of poems?

Was Fort Laramie just a stop then, like a convenience store?
Where settlers grabbed a soda pop as they went out the door?
Must be why the army stopped whenever they went through,
To load up on hotdogs when the price was three for two.

Was Custer a big time realtor who sold and dealt in land,
And because of slumping sales did he call it his last stand?
For drumming up business did he pitch some action tales?
And did the Little Bighorn make him rich, due to bonus sales?

Now, those covered wagons that brought the folks out West,
They claimed the Conestoga made travelin' the very best.
And there's pictures of it I've seen with the ox out front a-draggin'
You mean I was actually looking at a covered station wagon?

They said to go across the land took hardship and two years,
Or was this just a story made up from one man's fears?
Did he leave a girlfriend or wife somewhere down the trail,
And did he just tell her that to keep her off his tail?

Was Bill Cody a car salesman using a buffalo in his ad,
Then called himself Buffalo Bill, to spruce it up a tad?
Was Bat Masterson a ball player who hit the ball so well?
I guess the name is obvious as any fan could rightly tell.

No cattle drives to Kansas, no such great and daring feat?
And no Rangers huntin' outlaws through the Texas heat?
Was the Oregon Trail for hikers on their Sunday walk?
And did an insurance company really own Independence Rock?

I'd say that our history looks foolish in this other view,
So, maybe this pilgrim should listen and learn a thing or two.
His haughty eye, lily white hands and rolls of baby fat,
He just sat there lookin' smug and talkin' through his hat.

The names that made it famous and those that made it grow,
Never did exist, because he said - and he's the one to know.
Guess that means I don't exist or the company that I'm with,
For here we stand, right smack in the middle, of this Western Myth.

© 2003, Dave P. Fisher
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

We asked Dave how he came to write this poem and he said: "I've spent a lot of years researching the history of the Western movement, that period from Lewis and Clark on up to 1890.  As a result I have come to believe that most of what is recorded during that time period is in fact true.  Naturally there is exaggeration and flat out lies, but I try to get under all that to the truth of the matter.

One of the things that just raises my hackles is to hear some over-educated Easterner refer to this time period as the "Western Myth," claiming that none of it happened, that it's all Hollywood.  We're talking here about some guy whose most daring exploit was to trim his fingernails and he's trampling down our heritage.

I was listening to such a know-it-all one day and as usual my hackles stood on end.  I got to thinking about all that history and how now of it was suppose to of happened.  Horse Apples!!

So, with tongue firmly in cheek I sat down and wrote "The Western Myth?"  I'm sure all good Westerners and lovers of the West can appreciate the message.

Spooky Ol' Red

Ol' Red was off the Padlock Ranch, from up Wyomin' way,
And he still wears the Padlock brand to this very day.
Ol' Red was a fair size sorrel horse with a fire in his eye,
Who'd just soon buck you down or give it a darn good try.
The man I was packin' for wanted me to ride ol' nasty Red,
"He ain't all that bad," he said, "the last boy's not quite dead.
Even though Red throwed him down real hard and stove him up a tad,
But shoot son, I've heard you're a hand at ridin' them what's bad."

One day I put ol' Red in a trailer and took him for a ride,
So I could check out the trail's snow pack up on the great divide.
I took him from the trailer and said, "Now, Red let's get this right,
I'm the man, you're the horse," and I pulled the cinch up tight.
With a quick move to the stirrup I swung up in the saddle,
He was movin' when I hit the seat and we started in to battle.
I spurred him in the belly and popped him across the tail,
He soon stopped that foolish buckin' and we went nicely up the trail.

No one else would touch him and the boys figured me loose around the brim,
They all shook their heads figurin' how my future was fadin' dim.
Red proved to be a fine enough horse except for one small, bad habit,
Anything would spook him and send him jumpin' like a rabbit.
You had to keep your mind on business and a leg to either side,
'Cause when ol' Red spooked, why, he'd blow right out of his hide.
Now, I'm a man that likes horses with spirit and all of that stuff,
But holdin' a string while ridin' a bronc is a trick that's pretty tough.

When I'd come in I'd tell the boss how ol' Red blew up again,
How he went to buckin' at a snake, but I still managed to win.
It got to be a runnin' joke, "What did ol' Red spooked at today,"
But, the boss was commencin' to think that Red wasn't worth his hay.
I trained him like I wanted and ol' Red came to work out well,
Still, I knew that one day ol' Red was gonna ring my knell.
I really came to like ol' Red; I admired him for his guts,
But, in the morning I'd look in the mirror and wonder if I'd gone nuts.

Then came that day on the trail when I held too little rein,
The lead mule's rope slid under Red's tail and he just went insane.
He blew straight up and slammed his head right back in my face,
Stunned, I pulled myself together and tried to match his pace.
I knew right off I was comin' unglued and was lookin' for open land,
But, all I saw was prickly pear and rocks on every hand.
Across a boulder I saw a spot that appeared to be just fine,
So, I bails out over that rock and landed in a patch of cactus spine.

Ol' Red he stopped his buckin' when he figured he had enough,
I limped on over and mounted and we rode on down the bluff.
I told the boss what happened, that Red had finally chalked up one,
That's when he swore, "I'm done feedin' that worthless son!
No one else will touch him and now he's finally throwed you down,"
And without another word he packed Red up and took him into town.
Next day he came back with a Buckskin, the color of golden pine,
But, that there's another story for another place and time.

The End.

© 2003, Dave P. Fisher
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.


We asked Dave how he came to write this poem and he said: How did I come to write this poem?  Every word of it is true!  The story is a recounting of Red, the gelding I rode while pulling packstring in the Colorado Rockies.  It all really happened, just like in the poem.  I can still see that prickly pear coming up at me and I can still feel it.  I even got spines under my chaps, to this day I've never figured out how it got in there.



Packstring Shoer

They lived across the river where the willow did grow,
They survived wolves and grizzlies and sixty below.
Come summer we gathered and brought 'em on in,
The biggest, toughest bunch of horses that ever has been.

Alaska had called me, come and go forth,
So I packed up my riggin' and headed up north.
Where the land's still wild and the northern lights roll,
And the mosquitoes are so big they can fly off with you whole.

I thought I'd seen tough horses, but they couldn't compete,
For these big rough critters had 'em backed off and beat.
They ranged free all year long, then came in for the hunt,
The one that was fifteen hands was considered the runt.

We ran 'em across the river and into the pen,
I could tell right off most of 'em didn't like men.
They sneered and they glared and they gave me that look,
And I wondered if I shouldn't be back home readin' a book.

But, I figured I pretty much knew what I was doin',
Since I was the guy who was going to do the shoein'.
I'd signed on for the season to pack and to guide,
But now I was commencin' to feel a bit queasy inside.

I walked through the herd like I hadn't a care,
Their tails would switch and their nostrils would flair.
A big bay stepped on my foot and gave me a smile,
I had a hunch this was going to take me a while.

There were twenty-four in all, of mostly large size,
So I figured I'd start out with the easiest guys.
They stood there polite, so nice and so still,
But they were only six and the rest was uphill.

They were shod once a year by some crazy young fool,
Man against horse, one heck of a duel.
Talk about ornery, hardheaded and mean,
Sometimes I felt like I was in a bad dream.

I'd tie 'em up loose and tie 'em to trees,
They'd flip over backwards and fall on their knees.
They'd bite and stomp, they'd buck and kick,
I'd hammer on shoes and they'd fight every lick.

I used every trick that ever I knew,
And when it got tough I invented a few.
I went to envyin' those shoers who refused to shoe,
If the horse so much as stomped a time or two.

Well, I got 'em all shod, but it took me days,
And I think I wiped out the stock of Johnson's band-aids.
I lost enough blood and hide to make a new man,
And I was so sore it was a plum effort to stand.

The horses just stood there defeated and glum,
And I just stood there feelin' all numb.
But the shoes were all on and there they'd stay,
Until I pulled them off on the last huntin' day.

I must have been touched, 'cause I don't know the reason,
But I went and signed on for . . . another season?

© 2003, Dave P. Fisher
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

Dave told us how he came to write this poem:  I had been wrangling, packing, and riding broncs in the grand old West, but ever since I was a kid I had an itch to go to Alaska.  I had heard that the country was what the West was a hundred years ago.  It is, "Check your weapons at the door," is a common sign on the doors of Alaskan bars.  I spent three good years up there before missing the West and coming back. While there I learned the meaning of horseshoeing.  This poem is a true accounting of what is involved in shoeing a herd of Alaska hunting horses. You will never encounter such an adventure as matching wits with these critters.



The Lord's Creation

Now, the Lord had made everything in the world,
Each thing perfectly placed, nothing was hurled.
All was well, each serving the purpose it should,
He looked around, smiled and said it was good.
As He walked through the West he started to think,
On the banks of the Bighorn He paused for a drink.
He wondered what was missing, what still wasn't right?
There was just something needed to equal the might.

There must be something special, a thing that stands apart,
Its greatest value must be to the mind and the heart.
It must be a thing of beauty to match this great land,
As a symbol of this big country it forever would stand.
Then He knew what was missing and what must be done,
For nowhere at all was a place like this under His sun.
He made a creature with strength and heart as its source,
The Lord smiled with pride and called it a horse.

Yet, there is one more thing that is in need,
A creature to love my horse, a different breed,
He scooped a handful of river, between His fingers it ran,
He mixed it with sage and granite and built up a man.
Not just any man, but a man of mountains and sky,
A man of courage who took hardships and never asked why.
The man was placed on the land with the horse to employ.
His West was complete and God called him cowboy.

© 2004, Dave P. Fisher
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

Dave told us how he came to write this poem: We have all heard of cowboy philosophers, especially around a campfire late at night.  A man has a tendency to think deep inside himself out there alone.  This poem is one of the revelations a cowboy philosopher comes up with over those late night campfires.


Juniper Joe

Juniper Joe lived up yonder on the Poudre,
Only company he desired was his old dog 'Hooter'.
Joe was a hunter and trapper by trade,
And many a beaver plew come off'n his blade.
He came to the mountains a lifetime ago,
He trapped where he pleased and hunted the buffalo.
Now the buffalo were gone and train tracks ran in their place,
And the fact that he'd help do that was pretty hard to face.

But time marches on and leaves the past behind,
All the mistakes we make must be settled in the mind.
Joe knew that the times were changing too fast,
And that he couldn't go back and repair the past.
The trapper was gone and now the cattle were here,
His life was about over and the end was near.
He couldn't change the course his life had ran,
So in his old years he became a God fearin' man.

Joe's muscles were still strong in spite of his age,
And the experience of his life could fill many a page.
He had counted coup in battle in many a fight,
But now he read the Good Book by candlelight.
The traplines are shorter than they used to be,
And sometimes he finds it almighty hard to see.
At night the ghosts come when the moon is high,
He sees the great buffalo herds and begins to cry.

He rode with the Arapaho when the land was theirs,
When a good battle and hunting were the only cares.
He recalls the Rendezvous at the Hole and the Green,
The yellow apron dance when he was hard and lean.
On this night, for the first time, he felt afraid,
And asked the Lord to forgive the sins he had made.
The good and bad of his days passed by like a song,
And he sorely regretted all the times he'd done wrong.

Then a man was there smiling and said, "Juniper Joe,
I've come to bring you home take my hand and we'll go.
I'm an angel of the Lord and He sent me for you,
He'd like to sit down and have a word or two."
"But I've lived poorly sir and I fear what He'll say,"
The Angel just smiled, "But He wishes for you anyway.
Joe took the Angel's hand and they went into the sky,
Then suddenly he was before the Lord eye-to-eye.

"Joe," He said, "Welcome home, no you didn't fail,
And I've a place for you, just follow that trail."
So he followed the trail and stopped there in awe,
As tears filled his eyes at the scene that he saw.
The buffalo were in herds, just the way they had been,
And then he was a young man, hard and lean again.

© 2004, Dave P. Fisher
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

Dave told us how he came to write this poem:
  My father was born in 1905 and told me many stories about the old days.  He always said that he got to see the end of the old west and wished he had been born earlier.  He told me that when he died he was going to ride the Breaks forever and would be watching for me to come along.  Juniper Joe is the story of an old man who finds out what's waiting for him.  My dad's watching for me now.

Willard Henry Fisher

As a boy my father worked for a livery delivering horses and drove freight wagons. He was told not to hang around the barn with the other teamsters as they were too rough for him.  He had so many stories of that time.  He saw the Buffalo Bill Show and remembered how Cody looked. A band of outlaws once tried to rob the local saloon and there was a big shootout.  He and the other boys ran to see, he remembered the outlaws laying dead on the boardwalk and in the saloon.  The stories could go on...


The Fifth Ace

Now, there are plenty of ways for a man to die,
And in those old days death rode near as a sigh.
I could run off at the mouth and carry on all day,
The things a man could do to throw his life away.
But most were in fact more concerned with livin',
And not throwin' away what their mothers had given.
Some men naturally pushed it plum up to the wake,
Like cheatin' at cards or finger pokin' a rattlesnake.

Gold and silver brought in the movers and shakers,
Some came to build, but others were just takers.
On the quiet side of town lived the respectable folk,
On the other a man could get killed just for his poke.
The cheaters have a rule not to kill the sheep,
Because then only one skinnin' will their efforts reap.
But sheep can be sheared on every hour of the clock,
So those with marked decks came to fleece the flock.

I'd just quit an outfit west out of Dodge City,
Figured I'd ride west, heard the Rockies were pretty.
Colorado was boomin', just bustin' at the seams,
With men who had shiny rocks dancin' in their dreams.
Towns sprung up over night of tents and rough boards,
And fortune seekers were comin' in by the hordes.
I'm a cowhand, and at times a drifter suits me fine,
But, no way on this earth would I crawl into a mine.

I came to a place with a sign sayin' it was Creede,
It was a place over-run with every sort of bad seed.
Well, rough men are something that I've never feared,
I've left more then one man with dust in his beard.
By nature I'm peaceful and wasn't huntin' no fight,
Just wanted to stop for a drink and maybe a bite.
So I rode my horse on through to the edge of town,
Went into a rough-walled place and set myself down.

The place wasn't much, a board and barrels for a able,
But when your belly is empty you eat where you're able.
Talk was on Bob Ford, they'd heard the last of his jaw-jack,
He'd been braggin' about shootin' Jesse James in the back.
He was runnin' his mouth and dealin' cards in a tent,
When he was killed by the shotgun of a nasty lookin' gent
He had thrown in his hand for the last time on that hill,
And became a name on a slab, just another hole to fill.

Some hard characters had a game goin' right next to me,
Throwin' down money and the dealer's whiskey was free.
Three men were playin' to the calls of a beaver skin hat,
And the pasty faced dude who wore it looked like a rat.
He'd slide 'em from the bottom and then palm a card,
While the man on his left watched him almighty hard.
They just kept bettin' and feedin' coins to that sharp,
And I figured before long someone'd be playin' a harp.

As card cheats go I'd say he was better than some,
But a little too slow and just a whole lot too dumb.
His tricks might have passed by the eyes of a drunken man,
But he got cocky and lost track of the cards he had ran.
The five cards of Stud were down at the end of the game,
When the dude grinned evilly and cursed the Lord's name.
He reached for the coins sayin', "I guess four aces'll do,"
When a cold voice froze him, "Looks like I've got one too."

All eyes were on the hard face of  the man left of the deal,
Death came to roost with a chill all the room could feel.
The card was turned up, the death card, the ace with a spade,
And the dude cursed his stupidity for the error he had made.
It was accepted that in card games someone would cheat,
But if caught, he could expect to be blown from his seat.
The dude knew what was comin', how the hand must be done,
So he kicked back his chair and went clawin' for his gun.

As the gun came clear from under his vest and his shirt,
A Colt's deafening roar slammed him into the dirt.
The thick smoke hung close before it rose up to clear,
To reveal the dude dyin' like a lung shot deer.
The man looked at me as if to challenge what'd I say,
I said it looked straight to me and I'd tell it that way.
Death rides in marked decks and card cheated strangers,
And for those that deal fifth aces to old Texas Rangers.

© 2004, Dave P. Fisher
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.



The Most Important Man in the Outfit

Some young fellers start an outfit with faces shining bright,
They're gonna show the head man that they can do'er right.
They want to make a good impression on the foreman or the boss,
And to show him that theirs is not the stone that's gonna gather moss.
Now, that's the way it ought to be, to do the work you should,
And getting to know your new boss is all plenty well and good.
But, listen to me young feller, cause I've been around the hub,
The first one you make friends with is the one who cooks your grub!

If you've never worked an outfit you might think that's mighty odd,
Cause city folks have been taught to think the boss is some sort-a god.
"Who's the cook?" you may ask, "Why should I make friends with them?"
You shake your head in disbelief, "From where does your thinking stem?"
Well son, maybe in town he's nobody, just another nameless face,
But out here on the outfits he's the one who really runs the place.
Even the boss understands this simple fact, and he knows from day-to-day,
It's the grub and not his charmin' self that makes the hired men all stay!

Now that I've got your attention son you'd better think it through,
And watch your step and say 'please and thanks' whatever you may do.
Smile right nice and sing high praise about his tasty grub and him,
Cause if he goes against you, oh, he can make your life there mighty grim.
Why, I've seen men stand up to the boss and not back down a bit,
Then go to crawfishin' mighty quick when the cook would pitch a fit.
If the truth were to be told, I'd rather be the best friend of the cook,
Then to meet the President and shake his hand, or write the greatest book.

You're gonna work hard for your pay, and son there ain't a lot of that,
But the man in the cook shack can make it right and keep you good'n fat.
If he takes a likin' to you you'll have a friend in which you can confide,
And he'll have hot coffee for you when the winter winds are blowin' outside.
Now, I've been sayin' him a lot, but there's plenty of cooks that's her,
So, don't forget, the rule's the same, you just say ma'am instead of sir.
Well son, I hope I wised you up a bit so's you don't make that fatal mistake,
By tryin' to impress your new boss before you do the one who bakes the cake.

© 2005, Dave P. Fisher
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.




Now, I've guided hunters and city folks all across this range,
My natural conclusion is that a dude's ways seem sorta strange.
Dudes pay big money for grub that once crawled upon the earth,
They give it a fancy name and then charge way more than it's worth.
These dudes'll chunk down a full days wage for some snails on a plate,
Then go to actin' all gaggy when I'd throw prime elk steak on the grate.
I've listened to them brag on eatin' raw fish, and what class it was about.
Then, watch them go to turnin' green at the sight of a cutthroat trout.

I've listened to them brag about world travel, from London to Havana,
But, not one of them ever saw the broncs buck at Wolf Point, Montana.
They'd sigh as they went on about all those romantic Paris fountains,
Then fail to see the beauty as the moon rose over the Rocky Mountains.
Now, what dudes consider to be a good paintin' is a might peculiar too,
A bunch of paint slapped on a paper that looks the same from any view.
They claim to understand the crazy thing and declare it to be a gem
Then shake their heads, "Russell?  Remington?  Never heard of them."

Dudes like to live in the city, the bigger the better, but that's alright by me,
If they all decided to move to the country, the country would cease to be.
They seem to feel safer when they're crowed and hemmed in all around,
Cause I've seen 'em get real nervous on more than an acre of ground.
They look at the wide open prairie and declare its all just wasted space,
They figure shopping malls and houses would be a better use of the place.
Well, as for me, I like lots of land, breathing air that's clean and clear,
If I can hear my neighbor's noise, then he's just too darn near.

I guess I'm just thinkin' out loud, I'm sure they're doin' the best they can,
There's just a whole lot of different ground between them and this old man.
Now, to be fair about it, I've known some city folks that I got along with fine,
Though I didn't understand their thinking, and I'm sure they didn't mine.
Some of them really know their business, and a lot smarter than I'll ever be,
And I'm sure if we sat and talked about it there's much on which we can agree.
Well, it's like I said, I'm just a-ponderin', and with no intentions of being rude,
But, as hard as I try to see their side, I don't think I'll ever understand a dude.

© 2006, Dave P. Fisher
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

Dave told us: Dudes was inspired by my years as a hunting and packtrip guide.  Everything mentioned in the poem actually happened or came across in conversation at one point or another.  Us packers and guides always referred to the clients as the dudes (in the old way, not the new x-generation's where "dude" is the only word they know).  I often sat and tried to understand where their thinking was at and ended up just shaking my head.  Most were good folks, just different in culture from us, but it made for some amusement around the camp.


They Still Do That

A man I once was speakin' with asked the work I did,
I grinned and said I was a cowboy, t'was a fact I never hid.
He looked at me confused and said he didn't understand,
"A cowboy," I said, "cows, horses, those boys who rope and brand."
He stared at me in amazement
—"You mean they still do that?"
"Yep," I said, "someone has to," and I proudly touched my hat.
This ol' boy was from the city and knowing nothing of our lore,
He figured meat came in plastic packs from his grocery store.

For the benefit of those among us who remain so unaware,
Yes, cowboys are still on the range and not exactly rare.
Although not as many, as they once were in the West,
He's still out there a-ridin' with cattle the usual quest.
He's out there in the summer heat and when winter freezes come,
Saving yearlin's from blizzards when their survival's lookin' glum.
The work is still as hard and hasn't changed that much,
But a few things make it easier like pickup trucks and such.

The cattle are still trailed from winter to summer graze,
And the cowboy still puts in his endless hour days.
Death hangs on the fringes of the man and beast and dirt,
But when it comes to danger he's always been a flirt.
He takes the pain for granted and when it's done and said,
He won't be found feelin' sorry for himself or a-layin' in his bed.
The life's never been easy, but he takes it all in stride,
Just to be in God's country with the chance to rope and ride.

The beauty of the land, from the mountains to the plains,
Can right any wrong when weighin' the losses against the gains.
The cowboy he still loves the life and thinks it all worthwhile,
Some kind of American legend with a special flair and style.
Those boys tacked out in leather are still around today,
Because the breed never left, no, he never went away.
Look where the quiet grows, not in the crazy race run by a rat,
Cowboys'll be out there on the land, because
—they still do that.

© 2006, Dave P. Fisher
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.


Post Holes

Ol' Hank Smith was the long time foreman of the Triple X Runnin' Y,
And he figured himself to be just a bit smarter than your average guy.
He liked to pull pranks on the new hands that'd just signed on the place,
Then laugh and howl in pure delight and say, "Gotcha" to their face.

He wasn't a mean sort; he just liked to see a greenhorn's face turn red,
Because they had made fools of themselves by doing what he'd said.
The boys longed to pull one back on Hank, but it had to be perfectly wired,
Cause, he didn't like jokes played on him and no one wanted to get fired.

The chance came when Billy came on, greener than the new spring grass,
And Hank's eyes lit up with mischief, there was no way could he let this pass.
He put Billy to building a round pen for keeping in the mares with foals,
He explained the job then told him to go into town to pick up a load of holes.

Hank hid his grin as the poor guy began to panic, not knowing what to do,
He had no idea what the boss was talking about, and Hank just let him stew.
Being the first day on the job is tough, especially when you don't know the biz,
And then get told to go and do something, and you don't even know what it is.

Finally he said, "Holes?  What are holes?  I've got no idea what you mean."
Hank shook his head, "Post holes, for the posts, son I swear you're green.
Do you really want to dig all those holes when you can buy 'em ready made?
Now, go on down to the Big M and tell Bing, you only want number one grade."

Now, Hank headed off for the north end, and he'd be there most of the day,
So, a couple of the boys stopped poor Billy before he could drive away.
They told him about Hank's prankster jokes and he was set up to be the fool,
But they had a way to fix him and the boys all agreed the plan was cool.

They sent Billy off to town to see Andy Bing and get him in on the plan,
Then they got out the gas-powered auger and in no time the post holes were ran.
The boys smoothed out all the dirt so's it looked like nothing had been dug,
And those holes had been dropped in the ground just slicker than a bug in a rug.

Later that day Hank came driving on down all set to laugh and enjoy his joke,
But, his jaw went slack to see Billy, sitting in the shade, drinking on a coke.
He slammed the truck door like he was mad, then started looking all around,
How could there be all those perfect holes and not a clod of dirt on the ground?

Billy waved, "Thanks for telling me about those holes, they really are the thing,
And these ain't no foreign holes, but American made, well, at least according to Bing.
He said they just got this shipment in, but they were goin' like corndogs at the fair,
And, they were a little spendy, but it was worth it, and I knew you wouldn't care."

Hank stared at him, he couldn't put his finger on it, but something wasn't right,
"Okay pal, that's pretty funny, but I'll tell you what, I wasn't born last night."
Then Billy acted worried, "I did what you told me to do, exactly without fail"
Then he went to fishin' around in his pockets and handed Hank the bill of sale.

He reached out for the paper, like it was a snake, then gave it a careful look,
"A hundred dollars each for twenty post holes, I knew that Bing was a crook!"
As Hank tore off the boys came up, "Bing figure that'd bring him to town?"
Billy grinned, "And everyone'll be there, he figures Hank'll never live this down."

© 2006, Dave P. Fisher
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.


Thanksgiving Grace

As we sit here at this table, surrounded by love,
We are mindful of our blessings bestowed from above.
Lord, we're reminded of all that You've done for us,
And that we have no call to ever complain or fuss.
Before us on this table set the fruits of our toil,
But we'd have nothing if You didn't bless our soil.
For, the year gone by has sure treated us good,
Now let us give thanks the way we properly should.

Our children are blessed to be so healthy and strong,
Good kids with respect who know right from wrong.
On cattle we broke even, on almost every cost,
Nothing was made, but thank You nothing was lost.
We got the rain and the field ditches ran at full brim,
Unlike those years of drought when all seemed so grim.
The crop came in rich, suffering no loss or harm,
And for one more year the bank won't get our farm.

Lord, we work mighty hard, but we still laugh and smile,
We've got a happy family that makes it all worthwhile.
We know You guide our life's steps every inch of the way,
And I try to say thanks at the end of each passing day.
Well, the little ones are anxious for daddy to say Amen,
So they can grab the legs off this ol' turkey hen.
So in this season of thanks, we put away our fear,
Thank You Lord
—it's been a mighty good year.

© 2006, Dave P. Fisher
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

Dave told us, "This poem was inspired by the fact that we need to look at our lives and realize there is always something to be thankful for. Also, us old timers remember the days of the 70's and 80's when so many farms went back to the bank and we all wondered if the bankers were planning on feeding us with the shopping malls they put up on good soil...the days of Willie's Farm-Aid concerts and how the national attention for once went to the man with the sun burnt face and the dirt on his hands.  He was truly thankful for each year he survived."



Booger Red

Ol’ Booger Red was a tough one, running wild through Nevada’s desert hills,
And many a man who encountered him was left with a case of the chills.
He wore no brand and no brand wore him and that just suited him right,
He was covered in dust and he’d chase them mares all the day and night.
Then one day he come to the Runnin’ C ranch followin’ a broomtail herd,
And the boys all stood there watching him and none could say a word.
They never before had seen his like, he was big and rough and bold,
And as he trotted around that pen he was a fearsome sight to behold.
He come to live in that breakin’ pen and the boys got to know him well,
An ornery, rank, son of a gun, plum wild as anyone could rightly tell.
It was clear he was an outlaw, and word had it he had killed men in the past,
And that his name was Booger Red and of his breed he surely was the last.
His reputation grew as a tough one that none could go the distance with,
And his fame in that breaking pen was all truth, and not a bit of it was myth.
It wasn’t in him to ever give up, and few were the rides he didn’t win,
Cause losing one drove him crazy, and made him ten times meaner than sin.
Soon the stories of Booger Red spread like wildfire across the west,
And no man alive was fool enough to come and put ol’ Booger to the test.
Why, they wouldn’t even come to take a peek for fear they’d be prodded into that pen,
Where they’d lose their nerve and then be branded cowards by the other men.
Then one day the story reached a rodeo man who was lookin’ for broncs to buck,
A down and out stock contractor from Texas in need of a bit of luck.
He figured if he got that outlaw in his string folks’d come from miles around,
Just to see that Booger Red throw them bronc riders to the ground.
So he drove on up to the Running C in hopes that horse might be for sale,
He’d give whatever they asked, on this he simply couldn’t afford to fail.
He introduced himself to Ike the Foreman and said he came for Booger Red,
That he wanted to buy him, and take him home, and he promised to keep him fed.
Ike shrugged, “Sure, he’s in the pen with Bud, they’re havin’ a bit of a feud,
And Red’s really blowin’ smoke, yeah, ol’ Bud’s got him plenty stewed.
When they got to the pen they found cowboy and horse facing one another,
Legs spraddled and teeth bared, and growling like an angry grizzly mother.         
Man and horse stood a mere inch apart, eyeballs locked in a blinkless stare,
And the rodeo man saw there was no trace of fear between that stubborn pair
He whispered, “That Bud’s sure got a lot of nerve facin’ down a killer horse like that,
Why, from all I’ve heard about Booger Red, all that should be left of that fella’s his hat.”
Ike turned to the rodeo man, “I don’t believe you’ve got the proper picture here.
And whatever someone’s told you’s wrong or that’s how it would appear.
Then he pointed at the cowboy, still locked eye-to-eye with that ornery stud,
You see mister, he’s Booger Red . . . the horse’s name is Bud.

© 2008, Dave P. Fisher
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.


Dave told us, "'Booger Red' came to me when I considered how many similarities there were between wild and wooly buckaroos and wild horses. In fact, a person could easily mistake one for the other if you were listening to someone talk about them. Then, I thought about how people form a picture in their minds, and things are not always as they appear."


Read Dave P. Fisher's Art Spur poems:


The Kid

Dawn Riders


  Santa and Slim


What Santa Gave Jack



About Dave P. Fisher:

I'm from Oregon, and lived in the West all my life, in fact I've never even seen the east bank of the Mississippi River.  School drove me crazy; it seriously cut into more important aspects of my life -- like hunting and fishing.  As soon as I cut the lead rope that kept me tied to the school building I started looking around for wider ranging adventures - and I found them.  In fact some of them about scared me to death.

I ran with a bunch of good ol' farm boys chasing rodeos.  I rode saddle broncs and had the time of my life. The bronc riders of that day had little to fear from me, although I heard the whistle a time or two; my six-foot-four frame made me less than a stylish rider.

I went on to punch cows for a cattle company in western Oregon, and then moved on to wrangling horses and packing for hunting and guide outfitters. I worked in the wilds of the Alaska Bush for three years where I saw some of the greatest beauty left on earth.  I also served as the official horse shoer at two different outfits.  These horses received one shoeing a year, and except for hunting season, ranged free most of the year fighting off wolves.  Anyone who ever did any shoeing can imagine what it was like to shoe these guys. In Montana I took out ten day, 100 mile trips over the divide through the Bob Marshal.  I later went to Wyoming and ran horses in the shadow of the Tetons.  I finally ended up in Colorado packing for Rocky Mountain National Park, which was the best job I ever had.  Along the way I broke horses in the good old way.  Unlike rodeo, style isn't important when breaking horses to ride, they still bucked as hard, but no one was scoring.

For a good many years I spent more time with horses and mules than people. I could understand the four-legged critters, but to this day I still scratch my head trying to figure out the two legged variety.  I met my wife in Colorado, I was barely housebroke and she came from a cultured background. Over the years she has managed to have some positive influence over me and can actually take me places now.  She is raising our three daughters to be fine young ladies and has succeeded wonderfully.  As I always tell the girls, "Listen to your mother and she'll make ladies out of you, but I'll teach you how to fight."  When she wasn't looking I taught the girls how to spit like a cowboy, but I warned them not to tell their mother.

My other passions are fly fishing and fly tying.  I tied professionally for over twenty-five years and still do.  I've had several articles on fly tying and outdoor pursuits published in outdoor magazines and plan to continue
writing hunting and fishing articles.

My main attention these days is focused on writing Western novels and short stories. I presently have two books out, The Strawberry Mountain War, set in eastern Oregon, and Yates - U.S. Marshal, set in Nevada.  A Man for the Country, the sequel to Strawberry Mountain, is presently under consideration by the publisher.  Another publisher has accepted Where Free Men Gather and has scheduled it for publication this year [2005].  In addition to these my wife and I will be publishing short story collections, novels, and cowboy poetry under our own imprint, Double Diamond Books.  Watch for us at western shows and rodeos and check out my web site, for some interesting reading.

You can email Dave P. Fisher.

Recipient of the 2008 Will Rogers Medallion Award

Dave P. Fisher's newest book, Bronc Buster - Short Stories of the American West, published by Double Diamond Books, is available for $15.95 postpaid from and

Dave points out the the photo on the cover is of his grandfather in Montana, 1920.  From the book's back cover: 

Bronc Buster - Short Stories of the American West is Dave P. Fisher's first short story collection. Sample some of his most popular stories, including several that have been chosen by readers like you for special recognition and awards.

Stories of men like Blake Martin whose buried past won't stay buried, and bounty hunter Jeremiah Barnett who only wants to live quietly in peace but is forced to come forward to rescue a kidnapped child.  Meet lawmen Deputy Matt Darby who takes a stand against a corrupt and murderous sheriff, and U.S. Marshal Nate Walker who returns to his home town to right a wrong done 15 years before. Ride with cattleman Mort Seever to recover his stolen herd, bronc buster Jack Fontaine, and ranch boss Bill Young. Feel your neck chill at Sandy Jefferson's story, or that of Sonny Benson's mysterious visitor. And more.

Written as if you are sitting across from Dave and listening first-hand to the action and adventures of a by-gone era, there are no Hollywood spins or typical Western formulas here. Dave draws from the high deserts, tall timber, and rolling hills of the West that he has worked so long, and knows so well. So, pour a cup of coffee, sit back, and feel the West come alive.

[Read Hal Swift's review here.]

Dave's novel, Yates, U. S. Marshall, which takes place in a fictional town in Nevada, is available from PublishAmerica, where you can order it for $16.95 (ISBN: 1-4137-6149-6).

From the back cover:

"Bring your badge, and hurry!"  So read the mysterious telegram Preston Yates received from his father.  Copper Creek was a town that didn't welcome outsiders and was held firmly under the iron thumb of Noel Quinn and The Council.  Arriving in Copper Creek Preston finds his father missing after his escape from a Council hanging.

Going straight at Noel Quinn and his powerful friends Preston is determined to get to the bottom of the dirty business in Copper Creek.  At every turn he finds his way blocked and his life threatened until an old partner steps forward bringing his friends to side with him.  The sands begin to shift against The Council until the night Preston is swept away by an angry lynch mob and disappears, an event that confuses even Noel Quinn. Is the hard-nosed Marshal at the bottom of a mine shaft or is he somewhere else with an ace up his sleeve?

In September, 2004 Dave's book, The Strawberry Mountain War, about a range war in eastern Oregon, was published by PublishAmerica, where you can order it for $16.95 (ISBN: 1-4137-3389-1).

The site describes the book: 

It was the tough old widow, Abby Chaney, who found Devon McCloud bushwhacked and left for dead on her Double A ranch. The old woman and her daughter had been fighting a losing battle against cattle baron Charles Sampson and timber man Egert Taylor who both wanted their land. On top of that, the Parker clan was cleaning out their cattle. Odds for the Chaneys were considered slim to nothing. It was supposed to be an easy takeover, but the big men never counted on Devon McCloud buckling on his gun and stepping right in the middle of their plans. Sampson and Taylor had no intention of giving up, and Devon McCloud had never in his life backed down. War was about to break out in the Strawberry Mountains. The Chaneys' odds had greatly improved, but were they good enough to win?


Regina Williams, editor
The Storyteller Magazine

Devon McCloud didn't go looking for trouble, but it came to him, he didn't back down. Drygulched by rustler's he's found by Abby Chaney, a widow losing cattle. Once Devon's wounds healed, he goes hunting. Trying to help Abby and her daughter, Katy, they begin a long battle against a cattle baron on one side and a timber magnate on the other. They didn't expect Devon McCloud to make it his fight as well. His Scotsman's blood up, Devon pits his strength and determination against incredible odds. And with a little help from his friends, he just might win.

The Strawberry Mountain War is written by a man who knows the west and what being a cowboy is all about. Mr. Fisher has worked on ranches in several states. He's been a horse packer, guide, horse breaker, horseshoer, and saddle bronc rider.

The Strawberry Mountain War is a can't put down read and the author's knowledge of the cowboy life shines through.

To order your copy, log on to, www.Barnes & or check with your local bookstore.



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