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

Photo by Teddie Daley

Elko, Nevada
About Debbie Burdic


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


The Pack Rat Mine

Uncle Raymond had this tale to tell
Back in 1936
When they moved to Arizona
And lived out in the sticks.

It wasn't such a real great time
To be huntin' jobs and all,
The Depression had made its dent
And caused economy to fall.

So one of the older brothers
Packed up his gear and went
Out in the open desert
To find gold that could be spent.

One starry night a-sleepin'
Under the desert sky,
The moon it was a-peepin'
From her perch away up high.

Suddenly, some sounds were heard
Grunts, puffin', and a wheeze.
He opened up his eyes real wide
He scarcely dared to sneeze.

Cautiously, he looked around
And much to his surprise,
There sat an enormous pack rat,
Right before his eyes.

That pack rat was rollin' sumpin'
Across the desert floor
He tossed aside his bedroll
And went off to explore.

Takin' up the object
Back to his fire he scoot
In his hand a golden nugget
As big as passion fruit.

He stored it in his knapsack
But then he got to feelin' bad
For the pack rat's loss of treasure
And the hard work that he'd had.

So he got his flask of whiskey
And poured some in the cap.
That pack rat came right over
And started in to lap.

The pack rat looked right up at him
In his button eyes a twinkle.
He chittered at my Uncle
And gave its nose a wrinkle.

Then off it went into the night
My Uncle back to sleep
Then several hours later
He heard a kind of cheep.

Startled, he sat straight on up
And looked around real quick
There sat that crazy pack rat
With nuggets layin' thick.

That pack rat took his paw
And placed it on Unc's hand.
Then he pointed to the nuggets
Then to the whiskey can.

So my Uncle poured another shot
For that pack rat to imbibe
Pretty soon the trade got brisk
For that rat had brought his tribe!

So that was how that Burdic
Became a millionaire
By trading hootch with pack rats
For gold both pure and fair.

For those of you who wonder
About how the trend did start
To carry snake bite medicine
Into the desert's heart.

You needn't look farther than this.
Because this tale is true.
You never know when pack rats
Will need a shot or two.

Debbie Burdic
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.


Here are a few more poems from Tales of the Burdics. The first one is absolutely true, with the birth records and old deeds registered in Wickenburg to prove it. The Burdics back then were a wild and woolly bunch, and were homesteading on the Hassayampa Slough where Grandpa Burdic had a claim. You can still see the old foundations of the house, and the three sisters Saguaro Cactus marking the spot.

Dad and the Sheriff's Posse

This is a tale of Dad and Mom
When their marriage was quite young.
They were just migrant workers
In the Arizona sun.
Mostly they would camp outdoors
Where ever work was found.
And lots of times more relatives
Would gather all around.
This story starts near Wickenburg
Up the Hassayampa Draw.
Dad was still a wild one
His temper pretty raw.
One evening he went into town
Up to the bar he went.
He was playing in a band
For money to be spent.
Some guy was in the audience
Requested the same song
Over and over he wanted it.
This went all evening long.
No one knows who started it
But Dad ended in a brawl
He beat the daylights out of him
'Til that guy could barely crawl.
The owner of the tavern didn't
Cotton to the fact.
That Daddy's "main event"
Had left nothing there intact.
So up the draw the sheriff came
With posse, guns, and all.
He told ole Dad to come on out
Dad didn't heed his call.
So then the sheriff cupped his hands
And hollered up the wash
He said he'd flush each Burdic out
Dad thought that this was bosh.
But the sheriff and his deputies
Ranged 'round into the rocks.
He fired a shot right into camp
Knocked dad right off his hocks.
Dad grabbed his rifle, so did Mom
And all the other kin.
They headed for some cover
And the shootin'' did begin.
The Burdics held the posse off
Until the dawn's first light.
Then Grandpa Prose made a flag
Of truce to end the fight.
It seems that Mom was nine months gone
With their firstborn child.
She had started into labor
Would not deliver in the wild.
Grandpa promised he'd deliver Dad
To the jailhouse the next day.
If he could only be with Mom
To see their child well on its way.
That was the year of '39.
Grandpa lived up to his promise.
It was the time our Kath was born
While sheriff's best was hard upon us.
Now I leave it up to you my friends,
Is this story really true?
Well, you can check the records
And the Hassayampa Slough.

Debbie Burdic
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

I wrote this one and I'm not sure if somebody was pullin'' my leg or not. But just to be on the safe side, I changed the names to protect the
innocent, and to keep from somebody getting irate enough to sue me.

The Possum Kingdom Robbery 

Back in the wild and woolly days
When the West was raw.
There was a man named Bigger
Who tangled with the law.
He'd moved on out to Texas
To stake a homestead claim.
He wanted it to prosper
A living was his aim.
Well he built a little ranch house,
And began to work the land
No matter what he tried to raise
It's die beneath his hand.
His life then was a hard one
His attitude got nasty
He started into drinkin''
And he became a patsy,
Of a gang of no good hustlers
Named Jim, and Rick, and Jed.
A bunch who took the easy way,
And went where evil led.
One day they all decided
To rob the local bank.
The plan worked way too easy,
Just like a schoolyard prank.
They took off on their horses,
With the posse right behind.
They went to Possum Kingdom,
All four were in a bind.
The sheriff's men were getting close
So they agreed to separate ways.
They were tired, and hot, and thirsty,
They'd been traveling for days.
They buried all the money,
Under a lightening blasted tree.
They said that they would rendezvous
In a day, or two, or three...
Biggman, he did head on home
And lay low for awhile.
He had some real bad feelings
For days he couldn't smile.
But then he got the gumption
To head back for the cash.
He trusted all his partners
He knew there'd be a stash.
As he got closer to the place,
He looked up in the sky.
The hair rose up on back and neck,
When buzzards met his eye.
He got a little closer
To that barren silver tree.
It bore a very gruesome fruit,
Of corpses swinging free.
The sweat broke out all over
'Cause hanging from the limb,
Were Biggman's trusted buddies,
Jed, and Rick, and Jim.
He turned his Cayuse back around
And headed home once more.
He never touched the money,
And from that day he swore.
That he would live a sober life,
To work his land much harder.
His land began to yield its fruit,
Enough to fill the larder.
So this tale ends with Biggman
A bigger man by far,
Because he walked the straight and narrow.
And wore a Texas star.
Yeah, he became a Ranger.
As many outlaws did.
No one knew about the money.
I guess that it's still hid.

Debbie Burdic
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.



This is my first poem, and it is a humdinger of a tall tale! I knew about it, but when daddy told it, I sat there with my mouth hanging open just like
all the grandkids. He was one heck of a yarn spinner as most Western folk were, and the lucky ones, still are. I call this one simply:

A Tall Tale

This is the yarn of my father-in-law
And the tall tales that he told
About the West when it was raw
Of men both brave and bold.
This first is one I favor most
Of all the webs he spun
He never felt the need to boast
Of his prowess with a gun.
One day ole Dad went for a look
Foe gold in them thar hills
He knew each cranny and each nook
He didn't need no frills.
He took his water and his guns
And he set out on his own.
He'd done this for so many suns
No one had ever known.
He wore his shooters way down low
His hat down on his head.
The land did tell him where to go,
But Daddy never said.
Towards eventide he explored
A narrow, steep, ravine
He got wedged and he deplored
That he had not foreseen.
His arms were pinned down to his sides
He was stuck there good and tight.
That could that with eventides
Made him scared to spend the night.
The more that poor Dad struggled
The worse it all became
He wriggled and he juggled
And thought it was a shame,
For a grown man to get stuck like this
With arms as useless as a frog's,
He looked around in the soggy mist
For sticks or maybe logs,
He needed something to free himself
A lever or some oil.
Above his head there was a shelf,
He was in such a coil.
Just when he thought things were the worst
In things he did that day,
He heard a cough, and then a burst
Of a lion come his way.
There was a shuffle and a step.
And Dad was face-to-face,
With a puma who was full of pep,
Who knew this was his place.
Now Dad was scared because he knew
He couldn't draw and fire.
His many options now were few,
And the lion full of ire.
Then, bless his heart, he was no fool,
He knew what had to be done
Daddy just became real cool
The puma hadn't won.
Because he couldn't shoot straight on
Dad decided on an angle
He knew that somehow that he'd be gone
If the lion won this brangle!
With fingertips, he aimed his guns
At forty-five degrees
He pulled the triggers with his thumbs,
Those bullets fanned the breeze.
They caromed off the ravine's wall
And met right in mid-air,
They joined into one fiery ball
Enough to singe your hair.
It sped right towards that puma cat
And got him right between the eyes,
It dropped that lion where he sat
Dad heaved some mighty sighs.
Dad never told how he got free
But it was plain that he got loose
He lived to tell about that spree,
And how he made a noose.
To haul that puma back to town'
Over fifty miles or more
He became a man of some renown
In Western days of yore.
He tell this tale to every kid
Each mouth was open wide
I listened every time he did
And tried hard to decide,
If this old yarn was really true
Or was it just a fake.
I'm telling it to all of you.
For my Daddy's sake.

Debbie Burdic
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.


Western Symphony

First light, and dawn breaks to the blare of the muted trumpet caw of crows.

The violins of daybreak with thrush, robin, and finch add their notes of sweetness.

The catbird and mockingbird sing whole arias of their own; all in perfect blend.

The rhythm of the rain beats a steady drum on the rooftop as the wind sighs in the trees - Woodwinds?

From the depths of my kitchen, the basso profundo of the coffeemaker underscores this morning melody.

My day has begun.

Debbie Burdic
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.




Daddy and Me 

This story is about so much love,
The tears run down my face.
It's hard for me to tell it,
So I'll try to keep my place.

It was the year of '86,
Around Thanksgiving time.
Bill's folks and I had never met,
We thought that it was time.

We were living near L.A.
And they were north 800 miles.
We drove our bitchin' '98,
Through mountain pass and stiles.

We drove for almost all the day,
And clean into the night.
We ran through thunder, fog, and rain,
And finally saw the light.

We entered through the back door
Mom met us at that place,
She took my face between her hands,
And stared into my face.

I gave her back her look for look,
And she nod her head.
It was as if she saw in me
As if I had been read.

When I met Dad it was as if
He knew of me already.
He smiled and then he took my hand,
His look was very steady.

Now Mom is pretty strong,
And Dad kept a steady pace.
But I kind of got the feeling.
He could keep her in her place.

Daddy used to go and hide out
In his step van in the yard.
To get away from all the noise,
Which for him was very hard.

I did the chores assigned to me,
But when they all were through,
I'd go and seek ole Daddy out
For some whiskey or some brew.

Sometimes we'd sit there in the dark
In silence we would talk.
The peace and calm were shattered
By someone coming down the walk.

One day we went out to the springs,
And to the Glory Hole.
Dad thought a soak in sulphured warmth
Would ease his troubled soul.

We were left inside the car alone
When Dad gave me his blessing
He said he didn't think he'd last
'Til summer to go messing.

He said,"I like you pretty well,
and you'll fit this bunch real fine."
The tears sprung up into my eyes,
'Cause Dad was out of time.

A month later Dad was gone
Up north again we came
Much against Mom's wishes
As the weather was the same.

Having said good-bye to Daddy
We headed back as planned.
I felt that I was lucky
To have met this mighty man.

The weather chased us through the trip
It threatened really bad,
We hadn't any money
But a credit card we had.

We got close into Bishop
On the Nevada side,
The weather started clearing
And the sun began to slide.

I looked up in the silvery clouds
To offer up a prayer
I jumped and beckoned Bill to look
At what was written there.

It was like Dad had guided us
Although the storm got close
He led us both to safety
'Cause the clouds said,"Adios"!

We got on into Bishop
And the headlights went clean out.
We stopped at a gas station
Got them fixed. but had a doubt.

And sure enough a few more miles
When we got to the junction
The car went dead, refused to run,
The engine wouldn't function.

Bill got so mad, he left the car
And went into the trunk
He raised the hood and with a bar
Beat that engine with a thunk.

He got inside and cranked it
And she started the first pop
Just like nothin' happened
And she ran just like a top.

Bill looked at me, I looked at him
And we headed on for home.
Dad never really left us
We were never on our own.

There have been a couple  times
I've sought Daddy's intervention
He's never ever failed me
And though this defies convention.

There was a bond between us two
That never will be broken
With that patriarchal blessing
And the love that is its token

Debbie Burdic
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.


Debbie Burdic's "Tales of the Burdics" come from the lives of her husband's family.  She told us that this poem was written in honor of her father-in-law on the first anniversary of his death.  She says "He was a great story-teller and he was the reason I started to write."

This poem is included in our collection of
poems about Cowboy Dads and Granddads.



Wildhorse Canyon 

The rocks speak in stentorian rumbles
And rich vibratos of ages and eons.
In their memory the rawness of creation
And the evolution of the earth's meld.

An array of strata and striations carry the tale
And crystal's clarity punctuates the story.
Faults describe the chapter and verse.
As iridian colors embellish each phrase.

There are few who understand the language
Who stand rooted in silence as they listen.
Theirs is the message meant for mankind
Ancient in its origin, import, and design.

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

More from Tales of the Burdics

The Evils of John Barleycorn 

This was the time when the clan all was campin'
At the mouth of the old Monarch Wash.
Granpa, Perry, and mel were busy a-tampin'
Some corks in some bottles of slosh.

For some unknown reason a preacher felt called,
To preach gospel to all of the folks.
So on up the wash he slipped and he crawled,
With a tote full of Bibles and Cokes.

They all heard him comin', and decided to hide,
Their bottles of good Burdic brew.
They shoved all the bottles off to one side,
Over all a blanket they threw.

The preacher sat down and then did commence
On the evils of drink and of sin.
Polite to a fault, the folks took no offense
(But deep down inside, they did grin!)

Just as the preacher was gettin' fired up
The bottles started in to explode
That God-fearing man took off like a pup,
That was stung by a wasp's angry goad.

The moral of this is that God doesn't care
If a man takes a drink to make do.
If you don't mind, I think I would dare
To have myself one or two.

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



The Dust Devil Ballet

                              Driving from Twin Falls to Wells,
                               down 93 after a thunderstorm.
                                   my eyes were treated to a
                                       Dust Devil Ballet.

                                     On a ridge to my left;
                                       A pair, just skirling.
                                  furling, swirling.  Slowly.
                                Revolving around each other
                                   like smoke, until they...
                                disintegrate into the heavens.
                                      A graceful pas de deux.

                                    Further on, another pair-
                                    these with more energy-
                                   doing a do-si-do, a rodeo,
                                swinging high, swinging low;
                                         pickin'- out- dough.
                                  Joyous, zesty, life-affirming.

                              Then, what should appear on my right;
                                   the prima ballerina of them all.
                           Gusting full bore, she hit the side of my car,
                                  pebbles clattering like castanets.
                                    Laughing, and with abandon,
                                      she gathers her skirts high
                                   above her knees, and moves on-
                                             full of exuberance,
                                      and her own consequence.

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

About Debbie Burdic

Elko, Nevada poet Debbie Burdic

I live in Elko, NV, but I am not a native westerner.  In fact, I was born and raised in Pennsylvania.  But my love of the West started early.  I had the full regalia of a Dale Evans outfit and wore it constantly when I was little.  I never missed an episode of The Lone Ranger either.  Now, I know that, for the most part, those shows were Hollywood's version of the cowboy. I never thought I'd get to live in the West.  But here I am, and I have to say, I love it!

I started writing stories in rhyming verse about my husband's family about eight years ago.  These are all based on tall tales and true ones told and re-told by family members.  I never thought of it as Cowboy Poetry.  But since they all were cowboys, I guess it is.  I wrote them for my own amusement, but then started to put together a book called Tales of the Burdics. I now have a collection of about forty poems.   



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