Featured at the Bar-D Ranch

photo by Bill Paterson

Oakesdale, Washington

About Dick Warwick
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About Dick Warwick:
provided 2012

I was raised amid the rolling Palouse Country hills of eastern Washington, and I still live on the home place. Although we almost always had animals, this is mostly farm country, producing fine dryland crops of wheat, barley, lentils, and peas. Though I have tried out places like California, Pennsylvania, New Mexico and the wet side of Washington, the Palouse will always be home. The landscape is ingrained in my brain and its rhythms are as familiar as my heartbeat.

I have written poetry of one kind or another since my school days, but did not happen onto the cowboy variety until 1990, when I heard that some Australian poets were coming to Elko, Nevada. I had become a fan of Australian bush poetry suddenly, one evening in 1981, in Perth, Western Australia, while on a rain break from a job driving “header” in the wheat harvest. Then later, in Elko, I heard some cowboy poets and decided that I was one, since I had been writing similar material for some time. And so it goes.

I’ve shared my poetry with audiences at the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering, Australia’s National Folk Festival, and loads of other places, but somehow have not managed to stem modern culture’s flood tide of folly, flummery and foolery. Could be I’m simply a contributor to it. I have participated in thousands of conversations about the weather, politics, commodity prices and punctuation—but again, to little effect. I shall have to be content with my role as Barnyard Yarnbard, optimist and prognosticator of doom.

Although I have spawned a few CDs and a couple of books, my best writings were penciled onto the bulk tank of a John Deere 55H combine which, unfortunately, was eventually sold for scrap. And at a pretty low price, too.



Secret Places
The Old Meeting Hall
A Western Idyll

Secret Places

Far from the city and highway,

Well removed from the traffic and crowds,

Where migrating birds of the flyway

Travel the wind and the clouds,

There are places where creatures throughout their span

Have scarcely seen nor heard of man.

Such a place may exist not far off the trail

In a brush-choked, rocky ravine;

Or up on a ridge, or down in a swale

By a spring-fed garden of green.

And whether it’s viewpoint, outcrop or rill

It’s usually a place that’s quiet and still.

A cowboy, during a day of riding

To round up the stray whiteface

May seek one lost or hiding

In such a silent, lonely place.

Now the spot may intrigue him just for its own sake

And he’ll rein in his mount to pause for a break.

For a time he may drift in a daydream—

At length, he speaks to his horse

And they resume their working regime

And continue on their course.

But the rider may not know, or mind,

That a part of him has stayed behind.

Now the trails may take him to faraway regions

From which he can never return;

He may find himself lost amid legions

Of strangers who show no concern,

And where time isn’t measured by ancient routines

But is told by the ticking of countless machines.

Then his thoughts may lift him and carry him back

To that place to which once he came

When he followed a whim or a stray steer’s track

To where the land and his soul seemed the same.

And though years and miles now stand between

He’s still part and parcel of that scene.

Yes, a place he saw maybe once or twice

In some remote terrain

Becomes his secret paradise

And is his soul’s domain.

It is what sets each person apart—

The hidden landscape of the heart.

So anywhere in the solitaire,

Though you may not see nor hear it,

You may chance upon a province where

There dwells a cowboy’s spirit;

For with this earth we each connect—

Treat each portion with respect.

© Dick Warwick
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's permission.

The Old Meeting Hall

An old grange hall stands bereft

In a field of waving wheat;

The people all have long since left,

Where once with flying feet

They danced the fiddle’s lively reels,

And do-si-doed in squares;

But television and automobiles

Have ended such affairs.

The neighbors all came from their farms

For camaraderie;

From tiny newborn babes in arms

To the deaf & doddery.

And they knew each other well, with all

Their virtues, strengths and faults;

They’d get together in the hall

For the foxtrot and the waltz;

To share their pies and socialize,

Talk of kids and kitchens—

Of critters, crops, and days gone by;

Mark births and deaths and hitchin’s.

For we were all one family then,

Though perhaps not blood related—

Yes, I remember way back when

We all cooperated.


We helped each other in a pinch

Or sometimes just for fun;

If you needed help it was a cinch

Your project would get done.

Though times back then were somewhat lean,

Entertainment—it was free;

When folks would in that hall convene

And friends and neighbors see.


And that old grange hall speaks to me

Of things gone quite askew

In our present-day society

With its hype and ballyhoo

For folks now travel fast and far,

Meet schedules with precision;

And when they’re not out in the car

They’re watching television.

The art of actual conversation

Is rather antiquated—

We’ve lots of information,

But can’t communicate it.

Oh, sure, we can download it

And shift it place to place;

But there’s few who can decode it

Into words of style and grace.

So I miss the meeting hall of old,

And I wish you could have known

How it was to cross the threshold

Of that place, now overgrown,


And dance all night with the neighbor gal

That you’d known since you were small;

Or meet your fated femme fatale,

And in love forever fall.

Now that old building stands forlorn

Yet still foursquare and sound;

Though by the wind and weather worn

It could someday rebound,

For it hasn’t yet been set aflame

Nor from its footings torn,

And it may yet achieve acclaim

From dancers yet unborn.

So keep the roof in good repair

And doors & windows sealed;

For past and future meet right there

In that grange hall in the field.

© Dick Warwick
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's permission.


Beneath a rocky outcrop

Somewhere far outback,

Where a traveler might stop

To rest beside the track,

There is upon the stony face

Outlined in spray of paint

A very dim and ancient trace

Of a handprint—weathered, faint.

A human hand it is, although

The gender can’t be told;

Nor is there any way to know

If the hand was young or old.

Somehow, though, it reaches out

Across a gulf of years

And to someone on walkabout

Suddenly appears

And seems to say, “I am still here,

In spirit if not mass;

Take a moment to revere

This place before you pass.”

It reminds me of the fragile span

Of generations gone;

And of the woman or the man

Whose handprint passes on

A warning or a greeting,

Perhaps the only sign,

And one well worth repeating,

That this place is a shrine.

Yes, even this unlabeled cleft,

With rocks and tiny soak,

Tells by the token someone left

That here a spirit spoke.

A spirit that is speaking still

If we but apprehend

The insight that it might instill,

A truth that can transcend

All differences of class and race,

Gender, wealth and creed;

Of identity; of time or place; 

Of totem, tribe, or breed.

Stop and rest, close your eyes,

Let the silence swell;

As breaths of air in gentle sighs

An ancient tale tell.

You may not even be aware

That you have been addressed;

But the message you are given there

Will live within your breast.

Your pausing there ordains your fate

As if touched by that hand;

You’ve been made initiate—

Bonded to the land,

This land of rock and sun and light,

Of desert, range and shore;

Yes, you are now an acolyte

With permanent rapport;

Whose soul is ever with this land,

Whose heart is held in thrall;

May all the signs left by your hand

Help others hear its call.

And as the ancient, outlined hand

Slowly fades from view,

May it help others understand

As they are passing through. 

© Dick Warwick
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's permission.

A Western Idyll

I bought myself a mini-ranch out in the rural West—

Ten acres with a view in which I did invest

A portion of my assets, and also built a home,

And fenced the whole durn spread where both my calves could roam.


Everything went pretty well throughout the verdant spring;

I collected monthly pension checks and lived just like a king.

I bought a brand new pickup, Stetson hat and Wrangler jeans,

And subscribed to ranching catalogs and western magazines.

Along about June the tenth my pasture land turned brown—

It had been quite a while since any rain had fallen down.

I got some hose and sprinklers and watered day and night

And my water bill went up until it disappeared from sight.

The guy I bought my calves from said they were a thrifty breed

Could live on brackish water, alkali and jimsonweed;

I don’t remember hearing him at any moment state

That “thrifty” meant they’d never gain a single ounce of weight.

Because the pasture was defunct I had to buy some hay

But I likely should have fed them more than just one flake per day,

They soon broke through the fence and mingled with the neighbor’s herd—

That’s when I found my baby bulls had sexually matured.

They were busy servicing the neighbor’s cows for free,

A job which I imagined might command a hefty fee;

But my neighbor showed up angry and complained about the deed,

Insisting that my animals were an exotic breed

Whose genes were pure pollution to his papered breeding stock—

I must admit his tactless allegations were a shock.

I thought out in the countryside folks were the friendly sort,

But it seemed that every new idea they always tried to thwart.

Like my gorgeous ornamentals, imported from abroad,

That I planted as an accent to my marbleized facade.

They’ve spread throughout the region now, despite the lack of rain

And brightened up the grassland that was once so bare and plain.

But all I get is criticism, cold shoulders, frowns and scorn;

I think perhaps they're jealous because I was better born.

Well, they can have their feedlot smells, their dust and lousy cattle—

I sold my ranchette for a loss, I’m going back to Seattle!

© Dick Warwick
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's permission.

CD and Book

Cowboy Poetry Lite



Buckskin Bill
The Barnyard One-Step
Said Hanrahan
A Western Idyll
A Marked Man
A Toothsome Talle
Buckaroo Braggadocio
The Bane of My Existence
A Sad Sea Story
Parking Lot Pandemonium
A Tale to Roo
The Robotic Wrangler
The End User

Available for $16 postpaid within US & Canada.

P.O. Box 111
Oakesdale, Washington 99158


Out West to Outback & Beyond



The poems in this collection are all written in traditional rhyme and meter, a style for which I had little appreciation until an evening in late 1981. On a whim, I applied for and got a job working in the wheat harvest in Western Australia. A rainy spell freed me to drive the 150 miles into Perth, where I happened into a pub in which the Mucky Duck Bush Band was belting out old-time Aussie folk music to an enthusiastic crowd. Suddenly they stopped playing music and one of their members, Roger Montgomery, stepped forward and recited, from memory, A.B. "Banjo" Paterson's "The Man from Ironbark." It was a riveting performance which changed my life.

Shortly after returning home, a couple of musician friends and I stared the Urban Coyote Bush Band,.I memorized some Australian poems with which to spice our performances and also began writing a few of my own. It was not until 1990, though, that I became aware of a home-grown American tradition paralleling the Australian "bush poetry" phenomenon. It is called cowboy poetry. Hearing of a gathering of such poets in Elko, Nevada, I drove down to the event and was amazed to witness recitations rivaling what I had heard in Australia, to sold-out venues. I presented a few of my poems in an open session, and the following year was invited as a featured performer. I've been writing and reciting ever since, including four return trips to Australia in the past decade to perform poetry and songs in folk and bush festivals.

Some of the poems in this volume are pure fantasy; others are part truth and part fiction; a few are strictly factual. Mostly they are for entertainment. If a few minor snippets of wisdom somehow slipped in, well and good. But I leave the deeper insights to writers with greater perception and talent than I can muster. I composed these poems for the ear, not the eye; for the stage, not the page. Most cowboy and bush poets memorize their material so as to relate more effectively to their listeners, without an intervening podium or piece of paper to detract from the performance. These poems are meant to be read or recited aloud. My hope is that readers may find some of these selections worth sharing with others.

The book contains 40 original poems, written between 1990 and 2007:

Out West

The Brutal Boss
Secret Places
Cowboy Heaven
The Bovine Systems Engineer
Cowhands, Drifters
The Dollar Watch
Once Upon a Time in Texas
A Western Idyll
A Broke Cowboy
A Cowhand's Farewell
The Wide Land
Christmas in a Line Shack
The Old Meaning Hall
King of the Rodeo
The Morning After
On the Plains of the Free Range Chicken
When Harley Faced the Bull
An Offer He Couldn't Refuse

To Outback

Double Love
I Wish Sometimes That I could Be
A Tale to Roo
Half a World Away
Nancy of the Internet
A Tale of Two Trees
My Mates
The Geek from Cabbage Creek
Moama Night

& Beyond

My Old Chevy Truck
Biotechnology Blues
The Coup of '63
The Mayfly
Don't Box Me In
The End User
A Toothsome Tale
A Sad Sea Story
The Trail I Took
Saving Time

Available for  $22 postpaid within US & Canada.

P.O. Box 111
Oakesdale, Washington 99158



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photo by Jens Lund

Dick Warwick
P.O. Box 111
Oakesdale, Washington 99158







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