Cowboy Poetry and Music and More at the BAR-D Ranch


Mineral Wells, Texas
David Owens




Hold On!

On the caprock down in Texas,
Perty close to Lubbock town,
Several tough young cowboys
Were movin' some cattle down.

When they came upon some buffalo
About a half a mile away.
Bob said, "those are the toughest critters
You'll ever see any day."

"You'll never see anyone tame'em.
They'll either stay wild or die.
A man would have to be crazy
To ever attempt to try."

"Hold on!" Said young Will.
"They don't look so tough to me.
They got short little horns and short little legs
And they're ugly as can be.
Bet I can dog one around the neck
And bring him to his knees."
"Hold on!" Said young Will.
"They don't look so tough to me."

Will was a raw and a wild young hand.
Too willing to take a dare.
The boys just started laughin'.
They said, "you're head is full of air."

"Why you couldn't even catch one,
Much less, bring one down!
He'll hook you with those little short horns
And put you on the ground"!

You could see Will's face turn red.
Then, he grumbled and he cursed.
He said, "if no one's ever tried it,
Well, I'm gonna be the first!"

"Let it go"! Yelled the trail boss.
"We ain't got time to play!
This herd has to be in Lubbock
Before the end of day!
So, get these cattle movin'
We've got to make hay.
"Let it go!" Yelled the trail boss.
"We ain't got time to play!"

So, the boys went back to workin'.
That is, except for Will.
He turned and headed straight for those critters.
He was yelling high and shrill!

Well, he was faster than they thought
Or he took'em by surprise,
For the next thing the boys knew
He was lookin' one in the eyes.

He slid side ways off his horse
And he grabbed that buffalo's head.
But, when he couldn't get that booger stopped,
His face had the look of dread.

"Hold on!" The boys hollered.
"Don't just give up now!
You've almost got that booger whooped!
You'll get him stopped somehow!
You're gonna have to fight'em harder,
That ain't just some old cow!"
"Hold on!" The boys hollered.
"Don't just give up now!"

Will was crazy, I reckon'!
He just wouldn't let him go.
He'd try to plant his heels,
But, mostly he drug his toes!

The bull turned right and then turned left,
Then, spun Will 'round and 'round.
But, Will wasn't gonna give up
'Till he took him to the ground.

Then the bull started running
Straight for a cactus stand.
Prickly pears and yuccas,
It looked like the devil's land.

"Let it go"! Yelled the boys.
"There's prickly pears ahead!
If he drags you through that landscape,
You're gonna wish that you were dead!"
But, Will just kept holding on
As the cowboys watched with dread.
"Let it go!" Yelled the boys.
"There's prickly pears ahead!"

But Will just held on tighter.
He had ahold of him by his horns!
His boots were plowin' furrows
And his body was collecting thorns!

That bull drug Will plumb through'em!
Will moaned and groaned and cursed.
The boys said, "how can he take it?"
But they hadn't seen the worst!

For, the bull started running eastward.
And that's straight for the caprock ledge!
He planted his hooves on the rim,
And dangled Will over the edge!

"Hold on!" Again they shouted.
"Bear hug that buffalo!
If you lose your hand hold now
There's ninety feet below.
Hey, we'll try and scare him.
Try to make him turn and go!
"Hold on!" Again they shouted.
"Bear hug that buffalo!"

The old bull shook his head.
He snorted and bellered and coughed.
But, no matter what he tried,
He just couldn't shake Will off!

The boys, they started ridin'.
Bob hollered and fired his gun!
It scared the bull so bad
That he flinched and took off at a run!

But, suddenly, the bull just stopped.
And as clear as a spring-fed lake
You could hear the constant buzzing
Of a prairie rattlesnake!

"Let it go!" Yelled the boys.
"There's a snake right at you're boot!
He looks to be a five footer
And he's a mean and a vicious brute!
We don't want to have to dig your grave
But that snake don't give a hoot!"
"Let it go!" Yelled the boys.
"There's a snake right at you're boot!"

Will finally got to his feet,
And he pushed himself away!
He ran about ten yards
And he fell right on his face!

The boys went to help him up.
Will moaned and groaned and wailed.
He was cut and bruised and tired
And the buffalo? He high tailed.

"You crazy loco fool," one said.
"You're as stubborn as they come.
Why didn't you just let go?
Are you really just that dumb?"

"Hold on!" Said young Will.
"I couldn't afford to let go!
This bandanna around my neck
Hooked on the horn of that buffalo!
If I'd a turned'em loose.
He'd a broke my neck, ya know!"
"Hold on!" Said young Will.
"I just couldn't let him go!"

1993, David Owens
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without permission.


About David Owens:

I am an Assistant Park Manager in charge of Interpretation/Education at Lake Mineral Wells State Park in Texas. I help park visitors to understand the nature and history of the park and the area around the park. A large part of the history of this area (Parker/Palo Pinto Counties, west of Fort Worth) relates to the rich cattle ranches and cowboy heritage.  In the 1850s, trail drivers Oliver Loving and Charles Goodnight established ranches in this area, about 12 miles north of Lake Mineral Wells State Park. It was here they meet and formulated a plane to drive cattle to New Mexico and Colorado and the Goodnight-Loving Trail was established. For this reason, I help people to understand and appreciate our cowboy heritage, through interpretive programs in the park, in schools and other civic functions using cowboy poetry and music as a vehicle to preserve our Texas history.

I would never call myself a cowboy. I would never insult the genuine Texas Cowboys by claiming to be one. But, I understand the importance of the Texas Cowboy to our state and our country and am dedicated to preserving that part of Texas history for future generations.

When I began presenting programs in Texas State Parks to help preserve our cowboy heritage, I realized that cowboy poetry was entertaining and informative to our park visitors, and relayed the feelings and emotions of the Texas Cowboy. I researched and memorized several cowboy poems to present to the visitors. The more cowboy poetry I read and heard, the more I enjoyed it. After a while, I decided to try my hand at writing. I finally got an original idea from a trip to the Panhandle of Texas, and I wrote my first cowboy poem, "Hold On."



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