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


Hayesville, North Carolina
About D.K. Osborn





She hated it when he just kept her waiting
in the heat of that south Texas sun
if she'd known how to rangle the reins loose
she'd of called "adios" and been gone
The flies were a swarmed, winged nuisance
on her legs, in her ears, in her eyes
and she baked in the gear she was wearin'
'neath those swelterin' hot, cloudless blue skies.
She called out once more to remind him
that she was still hangin around
but she didn't speak human
and he didn't know horse
and there weren't one spot of shade to be found.

He was just sittin down when he heard her
to the third of his icy cold brews
he'd been out on the range ridin' fence line
he was gettin caught up on the news
the sweat stood in beads on his forehead
his mind reeled from the beer and the heat,
hopin' his legs would still hold him
he put the mug down and rose to his feet.
By her looks he could tell she was sour
tail twitchin' and hears half-way pinned
"Hell hath no fury", ain't that how it goes
he just shook his head and he grinned.

Not three miles beyond the last shade tree
that stood nary a half mile from town
he decided to break for some sagebrush
movin' slow, and down low to the ground
He longed for the cool of the evening
but it was then just barely past noon
and if he didn't find shade somewhere's pronto
he'd be fried, belly up, and real soon
So he slid 'neath the coarse, prickly bristles
half-way in and clean out of sight
turnin' round so he could just see the road bed
then he coiled up, real good and tight.

The sun and the beer had taken their toll
he was sittin wobbly up on her back
the reins in his hand were hardly held
givin' her plenty of slack.
She felt the dull pangs of hunger creepin up
it'd been half a day, since she'd been fed
and she lowered her gaze to a nice little bunch
of sagebrush up ahead.
She picked up her pace, intent on that bush
mouth watering at the sight
and she dove in, head first in the middle of it all
then reared up, as if she was caught.

Instinctively, he pulled back on the reins
tryin'  hard to get some control
but the force of her front, comin' up, off the ground
made him pitch forward hard and roll.
He felt the horn slam in through his gut,
then again, as once more she rose
and the last thing he saw, before hittin' the ground'
was the rattler on the end of her nose.

She screamed and pawed the air in defiance
tryin' to shake loose that big serpent's grip
and in one final act of compliance
he opened his jaws and slid down her lip.
His landin' was a bit of misfortune
fate puttin' him just where it did,
her foot thundered down, crushing the ground
and the skull of that diamond back's head.

She snorted and shuddered in terrror
eyes wild and heart racin fast
her breaths came in short, rapid heavin's
breaths, not destined to last.
The poison was already workin'
like a hand tightnin' over her nose
and with each shallow breath she was takin,
her nostrils were startin to close.

She whirled around sharp, eyeing the man
laying lifeless on that hot, sun cracked ground
the sweat ran in rivers, down her sides, then her legs
and there weren't one spot of shade to be found.

She felt herself startin' to weaken
she was hardly takin in any air
and she lowered her head...
and buckled, her knees....
and laid down, right then and there
Her breaths came and went, ever slower
she struggled once and then, finally gave in
and the only thing movin' on that hot desert floor
was her tail in that south Texas wind....

Now the moral of this poem's not hard to figure
it's more than mere words and they're rhymin'
Life, good or bad
Happy or Sad
is only a matter of timin.

© 2002, D.K. Osborn
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.



The Nor'easter

She tended the horses for the last time that day
makin' sure she throwed plenty of hay
nor'easter was blowin'
wouldn't be goin' nowhere,
"be a bad'n", she'd heard the old-timers say.

She walked slow, all hunched to the wind
the snow bitin' and stingin' her skin
another damn hard winter
she didn't think it was in her
at the last, she'd swore, never again.

She'd left the yellow dog up in the cabin
figured there wasn't no sense in havin'
him out in this mess
he'd be happier, she guessed
when he saw her, his tail'd be waggin.

T'weren't but three hundred yards to the house
she stopped to get her wherebouts
but the snow, like a curtain
made her kind of uncertain,
was the snow circlin' north, or south?

She pulled the brim of her hat  down low
not knowin' for sure which direction to go,
when a mighty gust spun her
and all but undone her
in that whirling and blizzard-born snow

The wind howled in her ears, darn near frozen
and she cussed at the road she'd chosen
to stay out on the farm
Where the hell was the barn?
How many steps had she lost....maybe a dozen.

Snow covered the tracks where she'd been
then softly, above all the din
she heard the faintest of nickers,
sure 'nough, was Old Whiskers
callin' to her, comin' out of the wind.

"Keep on talkin, old boy," she yelled
when of a sudden she fell
landin' hard on the ground
weren't hardly a sound
the snow lay in good depth, by now.

She laid there tryin' hard to get mustered up
figurin' she'd had just about enough
of this damned blizzard snow
if she didn't get up and go,
she'd be frozen right there, on the spot.

Ol' Whiskers gave out one more call
Hell, she was just outside the barn wall!
The door had to be near
her eyes started to tear, her hands hardly felt now,
at all.

Her hand finally found the door slide,
now, if she could just get it open wide
enough to get herself through
wouldn't be nothin' to do
but wait out old Nature's cantankerous side.

She shook the snow off, as best she could
at least inside the barn it was good
and dry, but stone cold
Lord God, she felt old
she hunkered down near an old stack of wood.

While the mare softly chewed on her hay
and while the air whispered the breaths of the bay
in that bitter cold storm,
with no place to get warm,
she slipped quietly.....away...

In the morning, the storm had blown past
it'd come in mighty hard, but fast.
On her chest, laid that dog
felt more like a log
his tail waggin' when she woke up,
at last....

© 2004, D.K. Osborn
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.


Stammerin' Spence

It was common knowledge around the bunkhouse
when the talkin' would commence
over coffee and cathead biscuits
you didn't ask nothin' of stammerin' Spence
most every cowboy'd done it
some more'n once, I guess
but if asked a question, "yes" or "no"
it took five minutes to get a

Now, the rub to this whole situation
was that Spence was a right-smart guy
he not only knew the what and where
but the who and when and why
He know'd ranchin' and farmin' and rithmatic
and every fact about the weather
why, he was a walkin' 'cyclopedia
but with the pages sort 'o stuck together.

He had all the right information
of that there weren't no doubt
and fer sure you'd be enlightened
if he could ever just spit it out!
When you was in a hurry
it just seemed to make it worse
and that stammerin' way about ole Spence
well, it was just a curse.

Some say it happened while just a babe
'cause some no 'count kept ticklin' his feet
some say it happened sudden-like
from a red-hot pepper he'd eat.
No matter, it was downright vexin'
for none no more'n Spence
and at night the boys heard his stammerin' prayers
for some sort of deliverance.

The boys'd all tried to help him
in some strange and imperfect ways
like searin' his tongue with a brandin' iron
and feedin' him moonshine marmalade
But their efforts had gone unrewarded
it seemed Spenc'd never be cured
and life went on in natures way
him the outcast of the herd.

Oh, how Spence envied them smooth-talkin' cowboys
with silver tongues that never got tied
they could spout and recount the most useless of notions
while Spence just shook his head and sighed
he'd shuffle on back to the bunkhouse
feelin' pitiful and downright shame
knowin' that the next day up'd
just bring more of the same

So, Spence stammered his way through the chorin'
ropin', brandin' and bustin' the broncs
heart full of dismay
for what he couldn't say
till The Stand-off at White Oak Stomp...

© 2004, D.K. Osborn
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

This poem is a "pre-quel" to the next ....


The Stand-Off

They were makin' their way up to White Oak Stomp
the day was bright and warm
goin' to check out the timber fields
after one of them hellish, spring storms
there was Shorty, Slim and Marty, Hank and Stammerin' Spence;
all were glad to be makin' the ride
it was better'n buildin' fence.
So they rode out that fine spring mornin'
like so many gone before
light-hearted and laughin' along the way
not knowin' what was in store.

The ride had gone on uneventful
for a couple of hours or so
then the mounts started dancin', some even stubbed up
acting reluctant to go
The horses were talkin' 'mongst themselves
snortin' the presence of somethin there
and even without seein' the riders reckoned
it was wild pig, or maybe bear.

They could feel their ponies tightenin' up
and no sooner'n they'd made the last bend
He crashed out of a thicket with a mighty roar
and hair a standin' on end.
The terrible noise and the rank smell of him
made the horses turn-tail and run
well, all of 'em that his, but to Shorty's dismay
the minor exception of one.
The mare Shorty was on planted her feet
like they was made of lead
and Shorty knew in probly a few minutes
the both of 'em'd be dead.
The bear didn't act none too happy
that that horse still stood in his way
and the recountin' of exactly what happened next
is still told, to this very day....

Well, that bear stood up and stretched to full height
maybe eight feet, maybe more
and he made his way to Shorty 'n the mare
like he was gonna settle a score
But that mare didn't seem to care 'bout the bruin and his size
'cause as he advanced, Shorty felt her rock back
and then she started to rise....

"G...G...Git off'n her Shorty, yer g...g...gonna git kilt!"
But Shorty was plumb numb with fear,
his hands were frozen tight to the reins,
he didn't even hear.
The bear moved in even closer
Shorty was hangin' on tight
the mare, now standin' kept the bear centered clear
and locked in to her sight.
The bear walked one more step her direction
the mare just stood her ground
and for one tiny bit of forever
neither one made the slightest of sounds....
THEN the bear brought a roar, seemin' up from the earth
that made all the trees shudder 'n shake
his hot, stinkin' breath covered Shorty 'n the mare
and it was all that the big mare could take.
She reached up her front feet, as high as they'd go
Shorty felt her suck in all the air
and she let go a scream that rocked all the earth
and struck fear in the heart of that bear!
Almost before the last sound had left her
the bear dropped to all fours and turned
givin' one backward glance, as he trotted away
to the creature, whose respect had been earned.
The mare waited till she saw him disappear in the woods
then she let herself settle down
and one by one, Marty and Slim, Hank and
Stammerin' Spence gathered 'round.
None of them could hardly believe it
not even seein' it with their own eyes
a bear and a horse in a stand-off
and the horse comin' away with the prize?
An encounter that was well-worth the repeatin'
Why, it scared the stammer clean out of Spence,
and from that day on, them boys was well-known
for their expertise in buildin' fence.

© 2004, D.K. Osborn
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.



Tweren't nothin ro-man-tik 'bout it,
I can tell you that fer a fact.
Months of chasin' ornery cows
straddlin' a horse's back
legs so stiff they'd hardly bend
when ya climbed down, off'n the saddle
bones so jarred and knocked around
when you walked you'd hear 'em rattle.
Days so hot in the Texas sun
you swore you was gonna fry
Nights so cold in the Big Sky hills, ya knew
you was gonna die.
Days of rain, runnin' off yer brim
mud suckin' off yer boots
always roamin', never stayin'
nevery puttin' down no roots.
Workin' the range from dawn till dusk
fencin, and ropin, and ridin
knowin' full well it ain't yer own place
but someone elses yer mindin.
The pay weren't nothin' to squawk about
never lastin from month to month
but if you got lucky, there'd be a good cook
and a fair enough place to bunk.
At thirty you'd look like fifty
the weather beatin and tannin yer hide
and ever so often, if fate smiled yer way,
you'd get a good horse to ride.
And then there was the varmints,
you had to keep an eye out for,
the cats, the bears, the wolves and the snakes
and the two-legged ones, fer sure
Willin to knock you in the back of the head
fer what you carried in yer pack
leave ya to like face down in the dirt
and never once, look back.
Of hard times, they was plenty
soft times, plenty few
A trip to town once in a blue moon
for maybe a brew or two
and maybe a dance with a purty gal
who made the wear begin to fade
and helped you spend a fair amount
of the wages you just made.
You rode back to the spread
under a cover of stars
the moon shinin' big as you please
and before shuttin' yer eyes on another day
you'd drop down to yer knees;
Thank the Good Lord for the strength he give ya
and ask for more to come,
for the eyes to see the stars at night
and every mornin' sun
for the challenges that shaped ya
with every passin' day
and most of all, you'd thank God for lettin' ya
live the cowboy way.

© 2004, D.K. Osborn
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.


There Come A Rain

There come a rain
the likes o' which
I ain't seen afore or since
with rain a peltin' down so hard
it made a feller wince
and winds a-whirlin' round and round
makin' the limbs of trees near break
and thunder so loud and forceful sent
it made the earth beneath me shake.
There come a rain so hard and fast
it stung like bullets on my hand
and against it, tail tucked to the wind
I watched my pony stand.
There come a rain with lightnin' bolts
that crackled in the sky
as thick as sheets so's you couldn't see
and birds couldn't even fly
There come a rain so powerful
it trancified my gaze
and when it passed
I felt the calm....
and I watched my pony graze....

© 2004, D.K. Osborn
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.


D. K. told us:  I wrote this poem when a sudden thunderstorm came up, and I was sort of spellbound by its power and the fact that my horse, as do most horses, just turned tail to the wind and bore the brunt of it. It was forceful but short lived and when it was spent, my horse just dropped her head and resumed grazing, like it never even happened.  That never ceases to amaze me. 


What's Poetry To A Horse?
A recurring question comes to mind
as my thoughts take their meanderin' course
I know what it is to me and you...
but what's "poetry" to a horse?
Could it be the wind riflin' a tall stand of grass
all lush and emerald green
or the savorin' of a thirst-quenchin' drink
from a bubblin', cold mountain stream
could it be the sudden unencumberance
of a saddle lifted off of his back
or the gift of welcome freedom
as the reins are given comfortable slack.
Could it be the aroma of fresh oats
bein' poured into a trough
the perfect arc that a cowboy makes
as he's irreverently bucked off.
Maybe it's the sound of a gigglin' child
huggin' tightly at his knee
the shedding of an annoying rider
with the help of the nearest tree.
Maybe it's reveling in the summer sun
during a brief, but welcome nap
perhaps it's givin' the farrier
what's considered a reciprocal "tap."
But, then again,
maybe it's the tranquility of a quiet life on the farm
the gushin' rush of adrenalin
durin' an afternoon ride
as he bolts straight back for the barn!
I wonder...
could it be a steady breeze
that keeps the black flies off his face
spyin' lead-rope in hand as his owner comes close
engagin' in a game of chase!
Is it cicadas chirpin' in the dusky dark,
or fireflies sparkin' light
or the muted daylight of a fresh full moon
or when mornin' ebbs the night...
Is it an itch-relievin' dust raisin' roll
after a long and sweaty ride
trottin' away from a days' worth of work
while a cowboy still thinks he's tied.
It's confusin' and somewhat vexin'
as I try to make this call
and maybe it ain't "poetry"
that's the question here at all!
Maybe what I should be ponderin'
and I should'a  thought of this sooner;
is it possible...
could it be...
that a horse has a sense of humor? 

© 2008, D.K. Osborn
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.


D.K. told us:  As humans, we tend to think that we know just about everything. I wrote this because, I got to thinking that maybe what I think would be poetry to a horse...i.e., drinking from a cold mountain stream, the warmth of the sun, a nice, soft breeze, etc., may NOT be what a horse considers poetry. They do have minds of their own and thinking we know exactly what goes on in those minds may be giving ourselves a little too much credit. Just when we think we've got them figured out...they do something to make us think again.


A Fine Horse
(ode to Kid Curry)

The news carried up from east Texas
'bout the kid and the way that he'd died
not the way that most had expected,
from a bronc in a rodeo ride

A young life just starting to blossom
a cowboy just hittin' his stride
goin' any place life would take him
stayin' true to his heart and his mind

Now he rides across Heaven on a fine horse
coat of silver and hooves made of gold
lightin' stars in the sky as he rides on high....
and the Kid will never grow old
No, the Kid will never grow old

One by one the cowboys told stories
'bout the Kid and the good life he'd lived
never takin' one thing for granted
givin' all that he had to give

they remembered his blue eyes smilin'
the blush that came over his cheeks
his soft-spoken manner and shyness
not a foul word did he ever speak

They recalled how his heart had been broken
by the love that he thought he'd found
a heart so deeply wounded
no comfort could be found

How his ridin' had taken new meaning
as he traveled from town to town
takin' all of his pride in an eight-second ride
the toughest bronc rider all-round

As they talked they could almost see him
walkin' out with the horse that he loved
steppin' into the stirrup and up on his back
strokin' his neck from above

They could see him ride off in the distance
and they knew that his heart was now free
for no pain and no sorrow would be felt tomorrow
the "Kid" in peace would always be...

Now he rides across Heaven on a fine horse
coat of silver and hooves made of gold
lighting stars in the sky as he rides on high
and the Kid will never grow old
No, the kid will never grow old

© 2005, D.K. Osborn
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.


D.K. told us:  I wrote this poem to honor Doug Curry, a local cowboy and bronc rider who died from carbon monoxide poisoning while sleeping in an RV [in 2005]. Both he and a fellow rider died after they had just purchased a new generator that accidentally exhausted back into the RV. He was in his twenties and loved riding broncs and working with horses. He was also a very good person, sort of shy, honest and humble. I have no doubt that he is riding free on a fine horse in Heaven.

The Global Cowboy

My underwear’s made in Honduras
My towels in Pakistan
My jeans “fabriqued” in Mexico
My lariat in Japan
My cowboy hat’s Costa Rican
My cowboy boots Argentine
there’s no U.S.A. stamped anywhere
on any label that I’ve seen.
My shirts are Venezuelan
My kerchief Vietnamese
My socks, they came from Ecuador
My vest is Taiwanese
My truck is now Italian
My saddle shipped from Spain
and rememberin’ that the word “chico” means small
is beginnin’ to be a pain!
But, there IS a bit of “American made”
that will forever and always be
My dog, my horse and of course
the uniquely American me

© 2011, D.K. Osborn
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.


D.K. told us  "I wrote this after a trip to Wal-Mart for a few odds and ends, and after looking at where they were made, the poem just sort of took shape."



About D.K. Osborn

D.K. hails from the mountains of western North Carolina, and says "We are blessed to have endless trails to ride here, as our area is about 65% National Forest."



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