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


Tucson, Arizona
Del Warren Livingston



For Tales Untold...

What's a feller do, when he should'a been a cowboy
but he grows up where the longhorn never roamed?
This'n found hisself a breeder and became a stable-boy
sweepin' droppin's up an' keepin' Morgans combed.

He never learned to toss a rope.  He rode on different tack
an' he never did run down a single stray.
He grew up to trainin' Thoroughbreds to run the oval track
('cause a man who loves the horse, he'll find a way).

He done the thing he loved until his body said "no more"
(a tale too many of us know too well!)
but the lovin' never left him.  He was Horseman to the core
and he found, inside, he still had tales to tell.

He set his pen to paper, and a new love came alive;
the tales he spun would do a campfire proud!
But more than that, he set his mind t'help the young-un's thrive
an' thanks to him, new voices sing out loud!

Now, I ain't much fer Yankees.  Drugstore cowboys grind my jaw
but a Horseman is a Horseman; that's the square.
This man's a Horseman, sure as any man I ever saw.
That's one thing I can say and know fer fair!

He might'a never rode the range, nor ever tossed a steer
and no...he never rode for any brand,
but I can say fer certain, if that man was born down here...
Del Livingston, he would'a made a hand!

So here's to PappyDel an' all the tales he didn't tell
that are bein' told, up in that fairer clime.
He'll be waitin' by the stables if I make it there, myself,
an' that man can share my campfire, anytime!

MMV eric lee  


Previously, eric lee sent the sad news of the death of  Del Warren Livingston on September 12, 2005. He was a poet and friend to so many:

Del Warren Livingston was born August ninth of 1944, and raised in a small rural town in the north central part of Vermont where he grew up with a keen eye for good horses, a true love for the Morgan Horses, in particular, and a passionate desire to train and show them. This desire came to fruition for him shortly after high school when he landed a job with one of the most prominent Morgan Horse breeding and training stables in the country located in Duchess County, New York. After a four-year apprenticeship, he struck out on his own following his heart through a 28-year career as a professional trainer of Morgans, Arabians, Saddlebreds, and even some dabbling in the race-horse business with Thoroughbred and Standardbred horses.

In 1983 Del suffered a metabolic accident, which caused him to gain a lot of weight in a very short length of time, and his career as a horseman came to a sudden and sad end. He had never learned the meaning of the word "quit" and promptly began journalizing some of the many experiences he encountered while he was training. Many of his poetic musings are drawn from his early years and are reflected on the pages that follow.

Del is survived by his wife, Anita, his daughter, Dana, and his young son Geoffrey. He spent his last years in Tucson with his wife and young son. Disability retired, he divided each day into spending quality time with his family and writing poetry and short stories. He somehow managed to also post critiques on many poetry sites and was a prolific reader of the works of other writers and poets as well.

To say the least, Del made a second career out of writing and reading poetry, and of lending his time and talent to the efforts of others. He had two books of poetry in print, "A City Dude Goes Riding" and "Writing into the Sunset" and was in the process of assembling a collection of poetry by several of his favorite amateur poets, which he planned to publish at his own expense: such was the heart of the man, though it was, in the end, his heart that gave out on September 12th of 2005.

There will be, according to his wishes, no memorial services, just a party to celebrate a life well lived. His mortal remains will be cremated, and his ashes sprinkled over the Finish Line of the Kentucky Derby...certainly a fitting memorial to a race well run.

We will miss you, Del. You touched more lives than you knew...but from your new view, I'm sure you'll be able to see that, now!

Letters of condolence may be sent to The Livingston Family at 570 W. Mossman in Tuscon, AZ 85706.



A Cowboy Pays His Debt

He rode up on a spotted horse, squinting with both eyes.
His face was cracked and weathered, like old barn paint.
The faded shirt he wore matched his pair of torn Levis.
He stumbled getting off; I thought that he was gonna faint.

He handed me the reins. "What can you give me son?"
He asked. "I need to sell this horse 'n saddle today."
At first I thought he might be someone on the run.
I asked  "Why the hurry?" Here's what he had to say:

"I started at fourteen riding rough stock for a living.
For six long years that's the way I earned my keep.
Then the rodeo bug bit me; the money they were giving,
kept me going for ten years, although the price was steep.

A bronco named Humdinger, flipped over on his back
and landed right on top of me, crushing both my hips.
The last things I remembered, before it all went black,
a smell of sweaty horseflesh, the taste of blood on my lips.

I had to quit the rodeo because of that one wild wreck.
It took almost four full years to mend all my busted bones.
A long time had slipped away since my last paycheck,
I had to figure out a way to pay off those doctorin' loans.

I took a part time job at sweeping floors and washing dishes
in the saloon where all the local cowpokes came to gamble.
I had a room up stairs; but my nights were filled with wishes
for another chance to ride amongst the sage and the bramble.

Well, just as luck would have it, a stranger rode into town.
He ordered up a plate of stew and drank himself a beer.
When I went to clear his table off he told me to sit down.
He asked "What's a cowboy like you doing working here?"

I told him the whole story about my wreck, those doctor bills,
and how I was working to pay them off  to set things right.
He said  "I need someone to ride and fix fences in the hills
south of here.  If you're interested, we'd have to leave tonight."

For the last twenty years, I've been out there riding fences,
at twenty bucks a month and keep; that's pretty good pay.
I've been sending part of it to that doctor for my expenses,
I'd like to make the last payments before I up and pass away.

That feller I rode fences for just laid me off two weeks ago.
He gave me my last paycheck, and threw in this spotted mare.
I still owe that doctor a hundred bucks, that's all I know,
So if you would, make an offer for this horse; just so it's fair."

With that, the old cowboy staggered over and sat down
on a bale of hay.  I took the horse and put her in a stall,
pulled off the saddle and bridle, gave her a quick rub down.
While I was gone that cowboy's Maker "made the call."

I arranged a proper burial and when I went in to pay the bill,
The undertaker gave me a worn out piece of paper. He said,
"That was in his pocket when I got him ready for "Boot Hill."
I very carefully unfolded that old Promissory Note. It read:

For doctor services rendered I do promise to pay, as I can,
the sum of eight hundred twenty dollars with no interest at all.
For twenty years he'd sent three bucks a month; his payment plan
was recorded on the back; one hundred dollars left to pay it all.

That night as I was feeding and bedding the livestock down,
I took a long look at that spotted mare; she wasn't just a cull.
In a few days there will be a doctor in a south Texas town,
with a letter, a hundred bucks and a note marked "Paid in Full."

June 24, 2002, Del Warren Livingston 
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.


A Cowboy's Spirit

On this day in nineteen forty four
they laid to rest, Tom Lattimore.
A rider of the Old Chisholm Trail
whose grave is marked, but tells no tale
of years spent with traveling herds
or worried times and mellow words;
the need for cowboys waning fast
("How much longer would his life last?")
When final steer was pushed through
the Nations on their way to Sioux,
Comanche, pockets of pioneers, the rail
plus others in need along this old trail.

As they laid this gentle man to rest
on Monument Hill very near the crest
with Chisholm Trail there in plain sight
where, if you close your eyes real tight
and listen hard with both your ears,
bawling calves with cows and steers
echo all the things this man lived for
in years gone by till nineteen forty four.
One final jingle of his spur remains;
carried on the wind across the plains
three thousand miles to a quiet place
where lay a woman, in her first embrace
with a boy child born unto her this day;
a buckaroo with a jingle from far away.

I was born with a cowboy's jingle in my heart.
One cowboy's spirit was born, as one departs.

March, 2003, Del Warren Livingston 
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.


Bronc Bustin'

The rope around his neck's the easy part
'cause next ya gotta snub him up real tight.
Any horse that's worth his salt will fight,
and rear and strike at you right from the start.
You "sack" him with a blanket-head to tail
until his "snort" has turned to just a "nicker."
Next cinch the saddle tight; now he's a "kicker"
so let him jump and buck and twist and flail
until he's standing still again.  Now swing
up on his back and turn the critter loose.
Yer gonna wind up flat on your "caboose";
just climb back on and take another fling.

If you survive at least three days or so,
you'll have a ride no matter where you go.

March 2003, Del Warren Livingston  
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

Del says: When I was a teenager in Vermont I had a neighbor who was a bit of a wheeler/dealer in horses. He trucked a lot of "rough stock" in from somewhere in the Midwest and his son and I got the job of topping these broncs off to get them ready for sale at a local horse and mule auction.  We built a 60-foot round pen with a snubbing post in the center and this poem pretty well describes the way we went about things.  Right after I finished high school I went to work on a Morgan Horse breeding and training farm in New York where I was well tutored in the "kinder-gentler" way of training horses.  I thought it would be fun to write about those early days in a sonnet form.  More about the "kinder-gentler" stuff next time...

A City Dude Goes Riding

To ride a horse may seem a simple task.
(Begin by gently brushing off his hide.)
"What part of him is called 'the hide'?" He asks.
(I'm starting to believe he shouldn't ride.)
He's brushed," I said, "now bring a saddle here."
(This tenderfoot is getting on my nerves.)
"Jush lemme take a sec to drink my beer."
(Is he this dumb, or throwing me some curves?)

It's time to see if he can climb aboard;
he swings his leg and plunks his rear-end down.
You might have guessed, he winds up facing toward
the horse's tail; he sat there looking 'round.

There wasn't any point to let him know;
I aimed them west and simply let them go.

  April 30, 2004, Del Warren Livingston
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

Del told us: Got to thinking about some of the "dudes" I have had come to me for a lesson or two on riding in years gone by, and I recalled this experience I once had with a real tenderfoot who had to swallow down a couple of beers to get up the nerve to climb on one of my riding stable horses. Ole "Wilson P" (the name of the horse) was as gentle as a lamb and knew every one hour trail on our 600 acre ranch, so the "dude" was never in any danger, mind you.


Uncle Jeb's Farm

It was springtime in the Ozarks and the Dogwoods were in bloom.
I'd stopped my car to take a photograph.
Just as I snapped the picture, from my right I heard a BOOM!
It startled me...but then I had to laugh.

That boom was just a backfire from my uncle's Model A;
he parked his antique right behind my car,
then placed a stone behind the wheel, (so it wouldn't roll away.)
I wondered what would bring Jeb out this far.

He was wearing coveralls and a wrinkled flannel shirt,
his old hat barely covered his gray hair.
The leather boots he wore were fairly covered with black dirt.
He hollered out, "Hey! Whatcha doin' there?"

"I'm just taking snapshots of that blooming Dogwood tree."
He smiled at me and said,  "Son of a gun."
It was then I knew that his old eyes had recognized me;
ole Jeb had treated me like his own son.

It wasn't long before the two of us were reminiscing
about the many times we'd hunted deer
and turkey on his farm; shooting straight, never missing.
"Let's go on down to my place for a beer."

I wasn't in a hurry so I said, "You lead and I will follow."
He said,  "You better come and ride with me."
"Or have you now forgotten that old road into the hollow?"
I left my car beneath that Dogwood tree.

After half an hour's bouncing down that narrow rutted lane
We made it to the front of Jeb's old shack.
The barn roof was still sporting that old rusty weathervane
I saw his winter woodpile stacked in back.

We sat out on the porch and drank a beer and then another
while talking 'bout the way things used to be;
how he had "took" me in after the war had "took" his brother
and how he tried to be a Dad to me.

He'd taught me how to read the "signs"; anticipate bad weather,
how to string a four-strand barbwire fence,
the quickest way to train a horse and how to soften leather.
To say the least, he taught me common sense.

It had been almost three years since I had been back to Missouri;
we had a lot of catching up to do.
The afternoon had slipped away. He said,  "If there's no hurry,
you stay the night; I'll fix your favorite stew."

The weather outside changed a bit and soon it started pouring.
By midnight Jeb was sleeping in his chair.
I laid back on the bed and listened to his labored snoring
and slept as well as I've slept anywhere.

The rain had stopped by morning; we got up to greet the sun.
Jeb kindly drove me back up to my car.
"It's been good to see you, boy, it's too bad you have to run."
"Come back any time; it ain't all that far."

It was almost one year later when this lawyer sent the news
that Jeb had taken sick and up an died.
The bank had sold his farm to pay the mortgage he had used
for college; it was then I broke and cried.

That night I looked at that ole piece of paper on the wall.
the one that said that I had a degree;
and right then's when it hit me, I'd arrange to chuck it all.
Some folks might say I'd lost my sanity.

When it's springtime in the Ozarks and the Dogwoods are in bloom;
you spot a Model A out on the street,
just follow me to my place, spend the night;  I've got the room.
Be careful on the's mighty steep.

January, 2005, Del Warren Livingston
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

Del told us this poem "is based in part on a true story about a kindly old gentleman I knew while I was ranching in Missouri.  The feller treated me with a lot of kindness and once I started penning the poem his character just took shape and the poem evolved from there.  I spent nearly 15 years in Missouri and loved the place, but my health demanded that I move to a drier clime, so now I live comfortably in Arizona."

Gentle On My Mind

It drizzled dang near thirty days
while I was riding fence
but even through that foggy haze
I never lost the sense
that you were riding there with me,
I felt your gentle hands;
they soothed my aching misery
while I was twisting strands.
The night before I had to ride,
as you lay in my arms,
my heart and soul were filled with pride
as I gazed on your charms.
I memorized each gentle curve,
the dimples on your cheeks;
those memories, I've used to serve
my comfort these four weeks.
And riding down this lane I see
our home come into view;
my heart is pounding wild and free
with thoughts of loving you.
The posts and wire and drizzling rain
will all be left behind.
Tonight your cowboy feels no pain;
You're gentle on my mind.

January, 2005, Del Warren Livingston
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.


About Del Warren Livingston:

Del Warren Livingston:  The eldest son of eight children born to some fine country parents in the hills of Vermont in 1944.  Del took an interest in those Morgan Horses in Vermont from an early age.  He read everything written by Walter Farley at least three times through and then started reading everything he could get his hands on written by the famous western writer; Louis L'Amour.  He says he saw John Wayne on TV when he still had a four-inch cuff in his Wrangler straight leg jeans.  He started writing and journalizing his experiences with horses at the age of ten and spent nearly 35 years as a professional trainer including show stock, race-horses, and general purpose riding stock.

In the early eighties, Del wound up in the Missouri Ozarks where he married a retired rancher's daughter.  Her kind ole Dad took a liking to him and started in teaching him about ranch life and how to keep a few cows from straying off to the neighbor's with bob wire fencing.   One thing led to another til 1993 when the kind ole man moved on to greener pastures.  That's about the time Del moved to the Old Pueblo in Tucson by himself.  He offers no details on the move except that "Sometimes you are the bob wire and sometimes you are the cutters and well...some fences don't get mended."

There must be some unwritten rule that if you live in Tucson, Arizona for more than a full year, the folks who been here since day one start treating you like it was your home, and to say the least, Del has had some warm welcomes here.  He settled into his writing and the natural progression for him was to investigate the history of the "Southwest" and the "Old West" and he has picked up a lot of useful information.  He makes no claim to have "first hand" knowledge but admires those who do and "A Cowboy Pays His Debt" was his first attempt to write about what he has learned, but promises it won't be his last.

August 9, 1944 - September 12, 2005


Writing Into the Sunset

Writing Into the Sunset, a collection of poems and short stories, is available from Del Livingston's web site for $8.95 postpaid.  Visit Del's Converging Roads site for some sample poems.


A City Dude Goes Riding

A City Dude Goes Riding is described on Del Livingston's web site, "Come along with Del as he takes you behind the scenes of the fascinating field of horse racing. Del's time as a trainer has really allowed him to blend his love for horse and writing together and his tales will tickle your fancy and bring tears to your eyes as he writes about the majestic animals he loves and trained."  Available from Del Livingston's web site for $6.50 postpaid.



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