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

Salt Lake City, Utah
Diana Wray

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


A Cowboy's Computer

A long time ago I had a job at a store
Computers were all  that we sold
One day thru the door came a cowboy named "Mike,"
And this is the tale that he told-

I'm interested in them thar contraptions
He said pointing to a Gateway PC
But this computer talk has got me befuddled-
Can you explain them all to me?

I thought about my sales approach,
and then I said that I could.
I started right in to explain
And thought I covered them all real good!

And when I had finished
He still looked like he didn't believe
These terms, ma'am, they  don't seem to  dd up
Listen, now! I'll say what I mean.

To me windows is what we shut when it's cold
The screen is shut during mosquito season,
A byte is what we get if we don't
So it's shut for a very good reason.

A keyboard hangs next to the door for my keys
To my truck that takes me on the hard drive
Through Wyoming snows to get me some wood
That then I hafta download so's we can survive.

I log on when I want my fire hotter
And log off when it's plenty hot
Prompt is what the mail ain't in the winter
When it snows and it blows a whole lot.

Our huge R-A-M lives in the P-E-N  -
It keeps him away from the ewes.
And he'll have to stay there, until he learns
about minding his p's and his q's!

And the mouse in my house lives not on the desk
His mouse pad's a hole in the wall
He's been with us for years. He's happy.
He lives with no cares at all.

He does what he pleases
That mouse causes trouble non-stop
Because my lazy black cat refuses
To give up his seat on my lap top.

And to me those chips you talk about is leavings from the cows
Microchips is leavings from the calves, Mike said
Now don't I make some sense?  he asked.
And from a cowboy's point of view, he had.

After that speech I gave up on that sale
And waited for him to bolt for the door
I was shocked when he reached for his wallet
And said "What the hell!  Wrap 'em up!  I'll take four!!"

Country Genes:  A Tribute to My Dad 

My love of country music
Is genetic and what that means
Is like the color of my eyes
I had no choice.  It's in my genes..

I had no choice because
It goes back many years ago
When I'd awaken to the country sounds
Coming from the radio.

With my dad is where the blame must lay
"Country music's the best!"   he always avowed.
And I guess to make his point with us
He'd always turn the volume up -real loud!

Never mind that we were sleeping
Or that the cock had not yet crew.
"If I like it!  You'll like it!"  seemed to be what he thought
And you know what? He was right!  We did too!

I'd awaken to hear a group they called
The Sons of the Pioneers
Singing about those tumbling weeds. . .
I haven't heard from them in years.

Roy Acuff, Ernest Tubbs,
Don Williams with his voice like cream,
How disappointing!  What a shame!
They're no longer part of the music scene.

Have you noticed how the music's changed
It's still country, or  so they say
But it's not the same sound
I hope it's true what goes 'round
Will return yet some other day!

Don't get me wrong, George Strait is fine
So is Faith,  Martina, those pretty faces
And I rather like that guy Garth Brooks
When he sings about his  friends'  low places!

I don't mind the Dixie Chicks
Into their sound  I can a-buy-a
But my  husband's first choice
He says he just likes her voice
Is that girl who's called Shania

But I miss Patsy Cline
Her "Always," "Sweet Dreams," and her "Cheating Heart."
I miss Eddie Arnold , and "The Tennessee Waltz"-
How did this new sound manage to start?

These new guys, they don't yodel
I'm sure it's something they don't know.
What I wouldn't give right now
For just one "odel-odel-lay-e-o!!"

Perhaps you have to be my age
Somewhere about the age of dirt
To recall those other, older, better
Sounds. .and remember what they're worth. .

Or maybe you just have to have
Some country in your DNA
For me I thank my dear old dad
For genes strong in the country way.

And you know that  I'm not speaking of
The jeans we wear that say "Levi's"
The ones that due to extra girth
We have to buy that extra size.

No, these are the genes that help us to be
The people that we are.
And if you've got country in your genes
You're better off by far!

Yes, they call it country music
But it's really country pop
How I long for the sounds I used to hear
Country music???  NOT!!!


The True Cowboy

Someday I hope that I can meet
What I would call a "true cowboy."
Before I leave this earthly life
To meet just one would be my joy.

The true cowboy, the way I judge it-
Looks like Charlie Russell at his best
Tall, rugged, sitting strong in the saddle
This cowboy's the essence of the American west.

He'll wear his boots inside his britches
On his back pocket there will be a sign
Of the round can of snoose that he's kept there
Available to him at any time.

His cowboy legs will be bowed
From sitting astride his trusty old mare
And the inside of the legs of his jeans
Will be shiny and worn almost bare.

He'll say "Yes, ma'am."  "No, sir."
He'll like to talk about his horse.
He'll tip his hat to ladies
Cause he's a gentleman, of course.

A true cowboy will always be prepared
Loyal, trustworthy, honest and true.
And come to think about it-
I guess he'll be a boy scout too.

He'll know all the words to all of the songs
About cowboys and all of their ways.
He'll play a guitar; he'll yodel some
He'll be at home on the range.

I met one once-or so I thought
On the streets of Jackson in earlier times
He sauntered by; his legs were bowed;
Excited, I looked for other signs-

His boots were worn,  as were his jeans;
His Stetson had seen better days
I knew instantly by his leathered face
He knew the cowboy's country ways.

I saw him tip his hat
To a lady passing by.
I could hear him hum a chorus of
"Ghost Riders in the Sky."

I followed him to shake his hand
Then what I saw did me no favor!!
I cried! I watched in disbelief
He was driving a BUICK LESABRE!!

Oh, I've given up finding the true cowboy
On this earth there are just regular men
I think I'll wait till I get to heaven
To begin my cowboy search again.


Big Red

The door of the saloon flew open.
A hush fell; the look on their faces was dread!.
Activity stopped, all eyes on the door
Into the bar strode, Big Red.

Big Red was an imposing figure.
Tall-maybe 6 foot 3, rugged and tough.
Broad at the shoulder, built like a bull.
One encounter with Big Red was more than enough.

With blazing red hair and eyes that glowed red,
A gaze that would make the strong shudder.
A huge hand drew the gun from its holster
Cowboys dove under tables for cover.

"That varmint-where is he?"
That tone put all on alert!
"He's here.  His horse is outside.
Give him up and no one gits hurt!"

Cowpokes peering from under the tables
Shoved a quivering cowboy into the clear.
"Henry, you left without doing the dishes!!"
She dragged him away-- Him muttering-
 "Yes dear!"  "Of course, dear!"  "No dear!"

2001, Diana Wray

Lili, My Gal...

"That mare's run off again," Pa said.  "We gotta find her."  So the three saddled up for the ride.
There was Lili, the pretty one, barely fifteen.  And brothers Sam and Jack along side.

Lili wasn't the oldest, but she was used to doing it all-everything--
Ever since ma had took sick and died from the whooping cough she caught early last spring.

Pa still wasn't himself--Oh, he was trying.  He was learning to cope.
He almost wished he'd been taken  too when she went, but still, Sam, and Lili and Jack gave him hope.

The boys, one older than Lili, one younger were typical brothers as far as she knew.
Course she had none other with which to compare, so as far as brothers and friends she guessed that they'd do.

That mare had always been independent-Lili called her Jinx-it fit seemed to be clear.
Three times before she'd escaped the corral.  For trouble she had not only a nose, but also an eye and an ear.

Her tracks headed west toward the foothills; she'd left a plain trail they could ride.
"Hey, Pa.  I 'spect we'll be home by dark!" called Jack..  "If not. .."-well, at that point they'd decide.

When they reached the foothills, this trio of riders made a plan for bringing Jinx back.
Her trail disappeared so they'd have to split up--pretty Lili, young Sam, and Jack.

Sam would ride east where the brush became thick; Jack 's ride to the west followed the stream bed.
Lili would search the canyon before 'em, and they'd meet at a clump of old cedars two miles up ahead.

As the sun settled in to mid afternoon at the old clump of trees Jack and Sam met.
But Lili -where was Lili-they sat down to wait--"She's found Jinx-that's why she's late!" said Sam.  "That's my bet!"

Lili knew the foothills they searched, and  she'd found a sign  that might be that runaway horse--
But here she was in a canyon that she didn't know, and-yes-- it looked like she was lost-somehow she'd gotten off course!

"Hello-o-o-o !  Where a-a-a-re you?"  She called out!  " Sa-a-a-m, Ja-a-a-ck!"
But the only sound she heard in response was her echo as it came back.

She was concerned about the time of the day.  She figured she had just two hours of light-
She didn't much like the thoughts of being alone out here and  spending the night!

Since Lili had grown up with two brothers, she'd learned to do things their way
She'd jumped  when they said "Hey, Lil, wanna jump from the top of the hay?"

"Betcha don't dare eat that worm!"  "Betcha I dare!" and she did!
They'd all learned to ride old Rex the plowhorse when each was no more than a kid!

They'd taught her to shoot,-- at 20  paces she'd hit her mark!..
But there was one thing they could not change.--Lili was afraid of the dark!

"Please, Sam and Jack, please find me.!"  She built a small fire to prepare for the night.
Already night gremlins had begun to appear.  And shivering, to keep them away, she shut her eyes tight!

Night gremlins came in the guise of strange noises, or seeing things that in daylight didn't exist
Lili hated the noises the most;  Oh, where were the boys? They'd help her through this!

Then softly she heard the singing begin.   She knew that voice-it was Ma-singing their song.
The same song she'd heard so often before, on nights when the night and the dark seemed so long.

"Lili, my gal won't you come out tonight, come out tonight, come out tonight. . ."*

"Ma!  Ma! " called Lili and she opened her eyes, expecting to see her Ma once again.
But only the darkness and the small lite of the fire were there where she hoped Ma would have been!

Disappointed and biting her lip, she squeezed her eyes shut.  This time to hold back the tears.
"Ma are you there?  I need you!,"   She knew sleep couldn't overtake her fears.

"Sing, Lili. Don't be afraid!" she heard Ma's voice again.  And she thought about the words to the song. . .
"Lili, my gal, won't you come out tonight. . ."*  She knew the words to the song Ma sang were all wrong!

As she got older she discovered Ma'd  change the song from the way  it wuz made!
"Sing, Lili!"  Oh how she missed Ma and her songs and her bein' there when she was afraid.

But slowly Lili started to hum----  Then came the words, quietly at first
"Lili, my gal, won't you come out tonight" *  She sang louder and louder as she sang each verse!

She sang it over and over- - -The louder she sang the gremlins grew faint.
When the echoes chimed in what a chorus they made.  Neither she nor the echoes showed any restraint!

"Come out tonight, come out tonight. . ." *  But there was more.  What were the rest of the words?
"And dance-and dance by the light of the moon"!*  That was it-and she sang it again, this time the whole verse!

"Lili, my gal, won't you come out tonight, come out tonight, come out tonight
Lili, my gal won't you come out tonite and  dance by the light of the moon."*

She looked up to the sky -the full face of the moon looking back.  She could dance by its light-
And was it  Ma's face there in the moon? Was she saying,  "If you sing and you dance you'll get through the night?"

She began-slowly, a bow to her partner then she thought of what the caller might say---"
And she danced; she'd do-ce-do and promenade. She sang and she danced and the night slipped away.

As the morning light softly danced the darkness to dawn, the gremlins were gone-all their sights and their sounds
And the first light of day found pretty Lili--She'd finally fallen asleep next to the fire there on the ground!

She awoke with a start; a noise startled her!  The snap of a branch.   What was the source?
Was it Sam?  Was it Jack? She held her breath-And into the clearing trotted Jinx, that runaway horse!

Lili didn't know which -to laugh or  to cry, and she hugged that mare 'round her neck!
Jinx could help her find the right trail-"You know the way out, I 'spect!"

She saddled up; then stopped and she looked around-"Thanks Ma!" she whispered!
For a short time  it seemed  Ma had come back-

Following Jinx, she rode away singing, "Lili, my gal, won't you come out tonight. . ."*
She'd find the boys, still waiting,  then they'd ride home -pretty Lili,young Sam and Jack!

*Sung to the tune of "Buffalo Gals Won't You Come Out Tonight"

2001, Diana Wray

Buzzard Bait

No one wuz better than Travis as a practical joker
At pullin' pranks he wuz second to none.
He kept the bunkhouse entertained with his antics
But this cowboy's humor wuz about  30 degrees offa' plumb!

Like fer instance-the cook he made real good beans
And we always ate more than we should
Travis thought it was such a good trick
When he closed up the outhouse with nails and a few pieces of wood.

And there was the time he dressed in girls' clothes
And went into town with a fan hiding his face
The boys at The Watering Hole fought to buy him a drink
He was the best looking gal in the place!

One afternoon he announced he had a new prank
This is good, but you be the judge, will ya?
We hadn't seen him quite this excited before-
"This may be my best.  This one, it'll just kill ya'!"

He led us out to the old county road
Route 99--It's not used by too many folks. . .
Maybe a  coyote or two or a rabbit
Or a cowboy named Travis who's into practical jokes.

He was anxious to get his show on the road, --
That would be route 99!
He told us to hide behind the old cedar tree
"Just watch, don't talk, and have a good time!"

First, he took off his jacket
Laid it carefully in the dirt next to his hat
Next he lay down spread-eagle there on the road
One leg going this way, the other leg that.

He skootched and he smooshed himself into the dirt
Then he didn't move -not a hair on his head
He seemed not to breathe, that's what it looked like to us
What it really looked like to us wuz --he wuz dead!

We didn't have to wait all that long
Before a black  shadow appeared on the ground
Then another, and another, and one more beside it
We looked up as we heard the sound

Of four huge buzzards circling above
An awesome, fearsome - looking bunch
They wuz there looking down at Trav on the ground
And to them he wuz lookin' like lunch.

They soared and made circles there in the sky
They wuz hungry.  Appetites pinin'. . .
For cowboy! Yes!  It would be cowboy for lunch!
For roadkill there's no finer dinin'!

Slowly they began their descent
Bankin' and turnin' on their way down
Travis lay still, could he hear their approach?
We wanted to holler. "You fool . Get up off the ground!". .

Lower and lower drifted those buzzards
Waitin' for that familiar, that-mm-- enticing  death smell
As  they got  low we could hear the whoosh of their wings
When suddenly -- Travis jumps up, and he starts to yell. . .

"Ya dumb buzards I got ya!  I got ya!"
 He 's laughing and dancing and waving his arms
Them poor buzzards nearly fell outta the sky.
They was shocked, confused , alarmed!

They wuz scratchin' the air, trying to put on the brakes
Hopin' to get some altitude back--
They flapped like crazy trying to miss Travis,
Who's  still dancing and laughing like a maniac.

They awked and they gawked; they wuz perplexed
Was this the same lunch they'd seen from up several feet?
This wasn't roadkill-- it was ROAD RESURRECTION!!
Does this mean now they'd be nuthin'  to eat?

Their red turkey-like heads flushed a more vivid red
They climbed back in the sky doing whatever it took
They flew off lookin' mighty embarrassed and foolish
At least as embarrassed as a vulture can look!

"I did it!" He was still laughing!  "That was just great!"
We thought it was strange! But maybe it was his culture--
We didn't understand practical jokers.
"I did it!" he laughed again.  "I got the best of a vulture!"

2002, Diana Wray


Madness, Mayhem, and Murder: The Story  of Wild Bill

Gather round buckaroos for a history lesson.
It's a story that may give you a chill
It's a tale of mayhem and madness,
Of murder and sadness
It's a story about a gunman named Bill.

He was christened James Butler Hickock
But early on he became "Wild Bill"
Due to the lifestyle he led:
Cards, drinking ,  women in red
And of course, a few cowboys he had to kill!

A pair of six-shooters  he wore at his side
Pearl handles reversed to make his draw fast
His fame spread far and wide-
He could shoot; he could ride.
He told stories that left folks aghast.

Oft times he'd tell about  the men he'd shot
Close to one hundred, by some accounts
However, Bill loved to boast
And in truth, the attitude of most
Was that 10 was nearer the correct amount.

He was feared, and flamboyant, this teller of tales,
Making a name for himself before 21
Through many a  cow town he drifted--
Proving to all he was gifted,
He became quickly known as the west's fastest gun!

The town of Abilene, Kansas needed a marshall
Someone to keep the town free from trouble
Someone to clean up the streets
To rid the bars of the cheats
Bill was called; he came on the double!

And from a card table in the Long Branch saloon
Bill kept the peace, he cleaned up that place
Then Bill shot and killed a feller,
And due to strange happenings, that tale-teller
Left Abilene. Some said in disgrace.

With his friend Buffalo Bill, he tried show biz
But failure here was marked  by too many signs:
It was clear he'd be no Barrymore
Cuz his voice just wouldn't carry more
And usually he forgot most of his lines!

So he was jobless, and often unsteady with drink
His eyesight  was failing year after year
Now here's a problem, you'll agree
A famous gunman who can't see
Would he just hang up his guns and disappear?

All those questions soon will be  answered
The madness, mayhem, and the murder would desist.
In a short time he'd be gone
Then only his legend would live on
Wild Bill Hickock's life had all come down to this!

At a card game in the Number 10 Saloon
Poor Bill was just 41 at the time
With his back toward the door
Something he'd never done before. . .
A loco cowboy snuck up on Bill  from behind.

He was shot in the head by this cowboy
There at the table,  he died where he played
Scattering cards as he fell,
This bad luck they did not foretell
That shot left the game disarrayed!

But the cards that he held became legend
Aces and 8's were revealed in his hand
The Deadman's Hand it was known  as
From Kansas up  to the Dakotas
It was even talked about in old Cheyenne!

Okay, buckaroos, our lesson is ended-
That's Bill's life and that's what he did-
A sad story to be sure
A sadder life that he endured
In our next lesson we talk about  Billy the Kid!

2002, Diana Wray

The Spirit of the Cowboy

The old cowboy's eyes grew misty
"Cowboyin' as a way of life is disappearin' fast!
Soon it'll be no more than a word--
Not many of today's good cowboys'll last.

"They end up becomin' rodeo riders
Or just dressin up and havin' cowboy fun
They might squire some dude around a dude ranch
It's a shame what cowboyin's become!

"They say it don't pay enough to make it a job
But the real pay you can't bank, take my word!
Then the ranches turn into golf courses
And ya can't afford stock-- enough to call it a herd. . ."

"Hey, old timer," I interrupted!
"I understand.  I hear what you're sayin'
But the cowboy life is not buried yet; there's still hope
You can be sure,  that the cowboy spirit is stayin'!

For you see the cowboy spirit still lives
Where cowboys rode, worked and played
You'll find it if you have a willing heart
Stop! Look! Listen! You'll know that it stayed.

The cowboy spirit lives, won't give up to the dust
Of the Kansas, the Texas plains
Where once cowboys like you trailed those herds
What you thought was gone still remains.

You'll find that it lives in the wind
Stampeding across the Great Plains
Tumbling those weeds for mile after mile
That spirit still feels at home on the range

The wind bullets down red rock canyons
Is it the wind or is it this spirit?
As it ricochets 'round red rock spires
Listen close.  I know that you'll hear it!

And the sidewinder, the antelope
The jack rabbit and grizzly bear
The coyote serenading the moon are all witness
That the cowboy spirit is there.

In the ghost towns sprinkled thoughout the west
The spirit won't give up it's cowboy ghost.
It lurks in doorways and hides in dark places
But it's there for those who look and believe the most.

You'll find that same spirit "holed up"
In the jagged peaks of old Jackson Hole
And there's many a small Wyoming  town
Where there still dwells  a true cowboy's soul.

Like the eagles of the  Rocky Mountain forests
It soars through miles of spruce, fir,-- endless trees
Through the tall aspen that sparkle and shine
That look more like jewels in the sunlight than leaves

The cowboy spirit blankets the West
And rolls out 'cross the great divide
If you look and make sure your heart is true
You'll soon be satisfied

It's there-Look in the Valley of the Rio Grande
Then it wagon- trains west to the Oregon coast
Where cowboys still ride and sing their songs
You'll hear them if you listen close.

The spirit of the cowboy lays wait in the sagebrush
And the greasewood on that ole Chisolm  Trail
To ambush those looking for truth of the life of the cowboy
Listen!  It's wanting to tell you his tale.

And so , old timer, I say to you-and to others
--the way of the cowboy will endure
Because of what I've  already mentioned
And because of one thing more--

The country musicians and the poets
Because of what we write and sing and  play
Folks like me and all those others
Will assure that the cowboy spirit lives and never goes away.

2002, Diana Wray

About Diana Wray:

Living in Salt Lake City is not the easiest place to be inspired for subject matter suitable for cowboy poetry; therefore, I've had to resort to other sources: country music, old movies, etc.  I'm new to the business of cowboy poetry, beginning to write only after attending my first country music "revival" in the past year.  I was intrigued by what I heard, have always dabbled in verse, and thought maybe I could be part of the fun.  Let it not be said that I'm not qualified to write about country.  I've country in my DNA (See my "Country Genes").  Since my husband and I are both retired, we have tried various writing genres in the past couple of years.  I am charmed by this medium-and the people I've met since getting involved.  I am a retired high school English teacher;  I taught creative writing and wish I had had experience with this verse at that time.  The students would have loved it.! What do I do now?  The following answers that question.  It is something I wrote a few years ago, but is still very true.

A Beader's Lament

Like Mother Hubbard's my cupboards are empty.
Check the fridge, there isn't much there.
Though the family thinks eating's essential
For groceries, I've no cash to spare.

I've cancelled all hair-do appointments.
My nails, now there's a real mess.!
And now I shop at the thrift store
When I really need a new dress.

The car won't run; the bills aren't paid;
The tv-we need a new one.
I haven't told my husband yet
We face financial ruin.

I've given up golf; gave up on the bridge.
My friends don't call any more.
For I've become a real recluse
"Go away!" reads the note on my door.

All my time, all my money , they're gone!
I don't tend to family needs.
I've also become a real junkie
But POT it's NOT; my addiction is BEADS!!

Besides a retired husband, I have 3 adult children, all of them single, and 2 cats.



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