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Allen, Texas
About David Kelley

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


One of

Lariat Laureate Runner Up

Second Lariat Laureate Runner Up

Recognized for his poem, The Burial of Ol' John


David Kelley



(A one act play)

"Hey Preacher, wait up a minute, I need to talk to you a short,
‘Scuse me, my throats a little dry, I just need a little snort.
Anyway, I reckon you heard my brother died the other day,
And I was hopin’ you’d do the funeral, I would expect to pay.
What do you say Parson, aw’.. I know John weren’t too pious,
But he was blood, and through it all, he was all right by us."

"Well now, Brother Bill, I can’t, in good conscience, do John’s last rites,
The way he blasphemed the Church openly and completely for spite.
Oh, I’d love to, I think a man ought go to his own eternity well,
And while I ought not judge .. I think you know he’s headed for Hell."

"Well Preacher, reckon I know how you feel, I’d feel the same way,
..But your building fund could be runnin’ over after funeral day,
If you could find it in your heart to do John this one last boon,
And say at least ONE worthy thing about him, Friday, at noon."

"I do believe you’re tying to bribe this poor man of the cloth.
You think your money will lure me in like a flame draws a moth?
However, give me time, and I’ll consult with the almighty now,
And ask his approval of one final act of kindness somehow.

Lord what in the WORLD could I say, good, about this retched outlaw,
Speakin’ kindly of this scoundrel, will evermore hang in my craw.
But Lord, if you’ll just help me this one time, we could use the cash
To build some Sunday school space, if my motives don’t sound too rash.

Well, Bill I believe the Lord would have me accede to your desire.
Furtherin’ the Lord’s work seems fittin’ for John in this last hour."

"Well, Preacher .. it’s time, and John shore would appreciate this final deed.
Remember, just ONE GOOD thing about John is our everlasting need."

"Brethren, we’re gathered, to lay to his final resting place, ol’ John.
We know John, as a contemptible, no good, convicted, ex-con,
Prone to beat his wife ever so often, and drank like a skunk.
Fight like a badger, and in all his ways, was nothing but a punk
Blasphemous to the end, and known far and wide, as out and out scum.
But, compared to his brother Bill here, John was as sweet as they come"

11/99 All Rights Reserved, David Kelley



This story's told, and told for fact..the tale I'll tell to you.
Its merit here for you to weigh, to test the tale for true.
The rain had failed, the story goes, 'twas strange around those parts.
Lizards licked their eyes for drink, and riverbeds were parched.

The church folk set about to pray, and incense filled the sky.
Still, the bleakness cracked and seared and everything was dry.
A call went out to all the land, dire portent was in reach,
Without the nurturing gift of rain, death stood in the breech.

When, in their midst, a Shaman came, from whence they wouldn't find.
Footmen left and right, and a silver stallion close behind.
Deerskin robes that drug the ground formed a stately hallowed frame.
A reverence not demanded, somehow granted all the same.

English was unknown to them but the Shaman made it clear
With graceful dance of aged hands, told the rain was why he's here.
His eyes were sad, though full of life, generations lay therein,
Wisdom in his furrowed brow, rusty hue in leathered skin.

Rain was cast in stone, said he, 'twas at his beck and call.
The price for such a service would be costly to them all.
A bag of beads and a mirror, would not this tariff pay.
You will pay the toll within, said the Shaman on that day.

To live in peace and harmony with the trees and hills and grass,
Honor to all men, white or red, no matter rank or class.
City fathers lied and said his charges were fair and true.
Knowledge throughout the land of the witch doctors contract grew.

Conditions met, the Shaman set about his puzzling chore.
The silence on a hill nearby was as a thunderous roar.
He simply sat in stillness, falling deeply in a trance.
His footmen left and right, beheld the Shamans' spirit dance.

As morning beckoned the clouds from West across the sea,
Amid the cries of townsfolk, the rain spattered cold and free.
The Shaman..still attended on his left and on his right
Remained in seeming prayer, soaking wet into the night,

And in the morning sun, 'twas seen, the Shaman's life was gone.
The look about his footmen, one of fear in the light of dawn.
They told a story fraught with dread and both the men then cried.
They said the spell was n'er reversed before the Shaman died

So the rain would fall forever, the legend now is told,
Until the coming of the Great One declared in tales of old.
It's said that's why the great Northwest is pummeled now by rain,
Summoned by an old Shaman in deerskin free from stain.

The rain comes down slowly from the heavens in sheets and shrouds,
Halting only briefly while the Great One refills the clouds.
This story's told, and told for fact..the tale I've told to you.
Its merit here for you to weigh to test the tale for true.

10/99  All Rights Reserved, David Kelley
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.


Steppin' off my gelding, I could see there
was trouble on the home front.
Sue's shoulders were squared to mine, no doubt
I'd soon be bearing the brunt.

God she was gorgeous, her long blonde hair
out shown the sun a mite.
There were tears, I could see them shimmer
in the evening's dying light.

It was evident her graceful fingers were
trembling as I grew close,
And I pondered what distress had caused
her emotional overdose.

How long had she been waiting...could our love
recover from this plight?
I know it's tough for her, with me gone all day,
sometimes through the night.

Running the place took time from her, and
occasionally dang the cost.
I could see I'd shore have to weather 'this'
storm, or likely dang the loss.

The closer I got, I marveled how small she was,
although she was tough.
I'll never understand where females get their
inner strength and stuff.

I could hear her crying softly now, her fair
face a terrible sight.
Whatever the wreck, it would test my skills to
make this problem right.

She ran to me and buried her face in my chest.
knowin' she was secure,
I held her close, and it was enough, standing
quietly she would endure.

I lifted her angelic face and kissed
away a lingering tear,
"Don't fret your pretty head darlin', it's all right
now..Grandaddy's here."

9/99 All Rights Reserved, David Kelley
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.




A feller' once told a story 'bout ropin'
a big ol' Grizzly Boar.
Now, I ain’t here to testify whether that’s
true or false for shore,

But there are some things you should learn,
when you share the range with ol' Bruin.
Certain things you should or shouldn't do,
to prevent ol' Smoky from chewin'.

You near have to be a tracker of sorts,
knowin' facts that most men don't.
The habits of them ‘Bar's’, and things they'll
do, and things they normally won't.

Knowin' what critter you're dealin' with,
whether it's Griz', or Black or Brown,
What they'll eat, and when, and even the type
of "SCAT" they leave on the ground.

Bears are solitary critters, and most times
they'll leave a cowboy be,
Even if they're on the 'mate', or on an
extended huntin’ spree.

A cowboy best do his homework though,
when workin’ in ol' ‘Bar's’ back yard,
'Cause a feller' could lose the breath of life
by simply droppin' his guard.

Black or Brown, they’ll mostly run, but now,
a Griz’, he ain't afraid you see,
So I'll tell you a little secret about him,
and the information's free.

So called experts say, "..wear bells in Griz'
country, and carry pepper spray"!
And with a straight face, claim that’ll keep
the cowpuncher out of harm’s way.

I tell you true neighbors, knowledge and
preparation, that’s where it’s at,
If you want to know what ol’ Griz’ eats,
just check out his Grizzly scat.

Black bear scat will contain berries, and
squirrel hair, maybe red or gray.
Ol' Griz's droppin’s may have BELLS and
smell a ‘little’ bit like pepper spray.

10/99 All Rights Reserved, David Kelley
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.



I topped out on Razor Ridge tryin' to push a few strays down low,
Since bottom pasture held the herd when the winter winds would blow.
Out the corner of my eye, I see this commotion down at the creek.
Makin' out Parson Pickle's surrey, my interest was now at a peak.
But them strays still needed my attention, 'till another form I see
Alongside the Parson stood a grizzly; I first thought it was a tree.
Now, the strays would play second fiddle to the doin’s at the creek.
That grizzly was stickin' to the Parson like a blush on his cheek.
Bein' a quarter mile away did leave out some of the detail
So I touched up ol' Blackie, trying to locate a closer trail.

Through the trees, I see the Parson is down in the creek a'breakin' ice.
Then he turned to the bear and motioned as though to entice
That critter to venture in there to his highly frigid swimmin' hole.
To my surprise, the grizzly joined Parson Pickle and, bless my soul
I do believe, as best I can tell, the Parson's baptizin' the bar'.
Now, I've seen peculiar sights before, but this here was flat bizarre,
All of a sudden that griz' come roarin' up out of that icy pool
Raisin' his huge paws to the heavens, hoppin' and bellerin like a fool.

Then, the hair stood up on my neck as I saw the bear turn to attack
And, while knowing I had to act quick, there would be no turning back.
There was no choice but to make an attempt to save Parson Pickle.
With that ol’ griz’ riled up, the poor Parson’s life ain’t worth a nickle.
I busted ol' Blackie down off that ridge as quickly as I dared.
It was some steeper’n I wanted to go, and to tell the truth I’s scared.
As I caught sight of 'em again, the bear had the Parson in a hug,
Slingin' him around the creek bank like a hound playin' with a rug.
I pulled my trusty carbine when me and ol' Blackie bottomed out,
Blastin' away and yellin', I was figgerin’ that grizzly bear to rout.
I hit the crik' in a dead run, and the bear throwed the Parson down
And I thought, "..ol' bar', me and you and Blackie's fixin' to go a round."

To my surprise, the bear and the Parson took refuge behind the wagon.
As we came in to camp, ol' Blackie set down hard with hocks a'draggin.
I shucked another round in my carbine, and took dead aim at the bear
When the Parson run to my side and throwed my shot high in the air.
He said "Good Lord, a’mighty Slim, what in heaven's name are you up to?"
Now, I been in similar situations, but they's far between and few.
"Parson, get behind me man, I'll save you from that bear, have no fear,
I know you ain't armed.." says I, "’re shore plenty lucky I was near."

Parson Pickle commenced to laugh, and to my surprise, so did the bear,
And I been laughed at before, but not by such an unlikely pair.
"Slim, it ain't no bear you're savin' me from, it's a feller, name of Ben,
A passin' buffalo hunter that the Good Lord saw fit to save from sin."
I must of looked some sheepish, as Ben stuck out a soppin' wet paw
That wrapped around my little hand .. he’s the biggest man I ever saw.
A mop of hair to his shoulders, a beard and mustache never trimmed,
A buffalo coat draggin’ on the ground and, through it all, a soggy grin.
I hung the carbine in the scabbard, embarrassed by my hasty choice.
The Parson continued laughin' till I was sure he'd lose his voice.
After all was said and done, everything turned out pretty fair,
I pushed strays to a lower pasture and Parson Pickle baptized a bear.

11/99 All Rights Reserved * David Kelley
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.


David Kelley's web site tells how he came to write Trails End in response to Ben McKenzie's poem Another Old Cowboy Has Died.  He starts off by saying   "HEAVEN OR HELL, an age old question, explored through the eyes of a couple of old wore out cowpokes!"  When David Kelley read Omar's poem Salvation, he thought it was time to share these poems with us.  Ben McKenzie, one of our honored guests, gave us the go-ahead to post his poem along with David Kelley's.


Another Old Cowboy Has Died

By Ben McKenzie

Sit down on that old saddle,
Put all your doing aside,
I only rode out here to tell ya’,
Another old cowboy's died.

I know its getting hard for the taking,
All those empty saddles hanging off the corral,
I like to think of them in heaven,
But you know there'll be cowboys in hell!

His death sorta’ got me to thinking,
Of everyone I ever called friend,
That have already gone to the Great Beyond,
And I'll never see again.

Cause they were the right kind of fellas,
And heaven is where they belong,
I treated them right in my passing,
And mourn for them now that they’re gone.

Our trails will never cross again,
They'll rope a different spread.
They won't remember this outlaw,
Or see me again when I'm dead.

I hold no remorse for the things I've done,
That cut me out of the herd.
I always played the hand I was dealt,
And never went back on my word.

Now I ain’t just jacking my jaw bones,
A man can't deny what’s true!
I just got to thinkin’ it won't be long,
Till you'll be going too.

That's why its such a welcome sight,
To see you standing there now,
With that old pitchfork in your hand,
And the sweat beading up on your brow.

I remember the times we throwed together,
And a lot of things best left unsaid.
I rode the trails again with you my friend,
Last night while I lay in bed.

There was Curley Joe and Toothless Pete,
Sam, Sunny, Kindle and Tex.
Talking as though they was still in the go,
Reliving life's little wrecks.

I thought of the day they'll lay you away.
I'm ashamed to admit I cried.
Then I just rode over to tell ya’,
Another old cowboy's died.

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



Ben you let the air out of me, with
the news about ol’ Hank
The older I get the harder such news
gives your heart a yank.

I’ve lost count of the old crew…
must be about eleven,
Yea’ yer’ right some’r going to hell,
n’some are going to Heaven.

Speakin’ of that, did you know, a
preacher’s what ol’ Clem come be?
In light of his unruly past, that was
wonderment to me.

I throwed all them things up to him,
the last time he come by here,
What he said got me thinkin’ and seein’
things a mite more clear.

He said trails might no longer pass
but trails run trough all time,
And follerin’ the right tracks is the
path to heavenly climb.

Bein’ a varmint here and now is a
cancer ripe for the cure,
Just findin’ the right physician can
make it right and pure.

See, he said I couldn’t ‘do’ anything
that would get me in the door,
and then he said a shocking thing, I
ain’t rightly heard before;

He said I also couldn’t ‘do’ what
would erase me from the roll,
However bad we think we’ve been,
that’s NOT the fiery toll.

Our entry into hell, was sealed in
a garden long ago,
Our only ticket out is the Lamb that
washes white as snow.

Clem showed me how to miss on hell
so I flat refuse to go,
Ben it ain’t the thing you did or didn’t
it’s purely Who you know.

I appreciate you comin’ by, and I
always bawl a bit too,
When old cowboys die without the Lord,
It hurts me through and through.

8/99 All Rights Reserved * David Kelley
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.



“Never be guilty of askin’ a man what he’s payin’
Just put in a hard day, and you can figger’ on stayin’
It all pays the same, so don’t complain about your given chore,
Brandin’ or post holes, it’s all work that needs doin’ for shore.

Never be cruel to animals, it don’t seem fittin’ somehow,
Fer’ a man to be whuppin’ a dog, or horse, or an old cow.
Don’t always be first to chuck, but be the first to get mounted,
And when there’s extra chores, you be the first to be counted.

Take good care of your tack, and tools, and it’ll take care of you,
And never sell your saddle, a good sayin’, and always true.
Be openhanded to the cowboy that’s down on his luck.
Except for God’s grace, someday it’ll be you needin’ a buck.

The Good Book was right when it come to lovin’ your neighbor,
Mind what it says, and be ever ready to do him a favor.
Never start a fight…most of ‘em will find you easy enough,
But when it starts you finish it, without bein’ unduly rough.

Treat a lady like a lady, and leave be them women of the night.
Tryin’ to please two women is neither possible, or right.
A foul mouth shows ignorance and needn’t be used on the square.
If you must, use it in the pasture, no one can hear it out there.

Don’t wear your hat in the house, and pay heed to the old hand,
He’s already made the dumb mistakes you’ve yet to understand.
Don’t be a coward, but don’t be reckless, I’ll tell you true,
Because wrecks are like fights, and for sure they’ll find you.

Live to ride another day, but never leave your pardners side,
So when the storm clouds gather, you can take it all in stride.
Give the Good Lord credit, all your strength comes from above,
And find a regular time to thank Him for his grace and love.

I reckon that’s all I know, if I think of something else I’ll call.
For now just pay attention to these things, it about covers it all.”
That’s how Dad left it, and he never thought of anything more,
It was pretty sound instruction to live on, that’s for shore.

Dad,  you left a real good trail, and it weren’t too hard to find.
I hope you’re lookin’ over your shoulder, I ain’t too far behind.

9/00 All Rights Reserved * David Kelley
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

This next poem is a true account of the breakfast us “Cowboys” had at the National Cowboy Symposium, in Lubbock, Texas.


We rode in on the flatlands and got ‘em gathered round.
The nighthawks sang their quiet songs, to keep ‘em settled down.

When the songs run out, they’d quote some verses soft and low,
The herd lay hushed and calm as the harvest moon did glow.

We broke our rolls upon the dirt, with tarps to guard the damp,
And gladly welcomed sleep as it overtook the camp.

We dreamed of Cookie’s breakfast with coming of the morn.
The best sourdough biscuits since the day we all were born.

Coffee stout enough to float the boss’s Spanish spurs,
Now and then some fatback in the redeye gravy stirs.

Morning seems to never come, the night is long and drear,
At last ol’ Cookie squeals “ come and get it ya’ hear!”

And we scurries to the wagon, those visions still in mind,
But surely ‘twas a nightmare the things we all would find.

No biscuits, cowboy coffee, nor gravy with a ladle,
Just fruit and sparklin’ water, cream cheese and a dadgum’ BAGEL!

9/00 All Rights Reserved * David Kelley
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.



A farrier of renown, came here to our town,
and let it be known in a proud boastful way;
“Not a road I ain’t trod, nor a hoss I can’t shod,
my name is Ben Brown, and I’ve come here to stay.”

The bellows blew loud, white steel drew a crowd,
and hangin’ up his shingle, Ben set up his trade.
Then McPeak came callin’, with Ben’s hammer fallin’,
said, “I’m here checkin’ out the boast that you made.

I got an ol’ hoss, and you’re in for a loss,
you’ll never drive a nail in that ol’ cayuse.
A strawberry roan, and bad to the bone,
so, you’ll be needin’ to make up an excuse.”

“I heard ‘bout your pony, hear tell he’s a phony!”
said ol’ Benjamin, tryin’ to rile up McPeak.
“If that roan can walk, I’ll back up my talk,
why, I can nail shoes on the Rio Grande creek.”

McPeak said, “My place, if you’ll not lose face,
there’s a feller gonna’ ride that roan in the morn’,
and in the rare case, he rides my ol’ ace,
you’ll regret the day ol’ Strawberry was born.”

The biscuits weren’t cold, as the day took ahold,
and Ben’s ol’ wagon come rattlin’ to a halt.
McPeak said “Say Ben, the roan’s in the pen,
fer’ this bronc peeler to show forth his salt.”

They throwed off the blind, the roan lost his mind,
but ol’ Ben simply set there dippin’ his snuff.
The roan left the ground, fer some places unfound,
and Ben said “Why shaw, he’ll be back soon enough.”

As Strawberry flails, Ben grabbed up some nails,
placin’ them neat in four shoes, shiny and bright,
and checkin’ for breezy, said “This job is easy.”,
throwin’ out them shoes, with nails pointed upright.

With the roan headed down, Ben’s plan was now found,
‘cause them shoes was aimed up at Strawberry’s feet.
His ol’ spavined legs, landed right on them pegs,
and the shoein’ of that ol’ Roan was complete.

“I don’t know it all”, says Ben with a drawl,
“But that Roman nose hoss, did put on a show,
But ‘tain’t all what you do, that makes your pay true,
Sometimes you get paid for the things that you know.”

10/2000 All Rights Reserved * David Kelley
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.



A Cowboy's First Love

Lord that gal was the purtiest thing I believe
my eyes'd ever seen.
So it was all important this jewel was polished
and bright and clean.
I spit and rubbed and fussed at it until I was
sure it would clearly be,
The perfect gift for my newfound queen, to
entice her eyes t'ward me.

'Twas found upon the prairie, this bright red
jewel of no equal match.
Perhaps it was destiny, finding it there amongst
the rocks and thatch.
A perfect plastic heart, it was, but in my mind
it was purest jasper,
And just the thing to bestow on the prettiest
little gal in Casper.

A valentine beyond compare, she'd never see
another like this.
While only eight years old, there was already
thoughts of wedded bliss.
I would certainly be a shoo-in to garner this
sweet lady's hand,
Red haired, with dimpled chin, the purtiest
little gal in the land.

My heart raced, and hands were shaking while I
gave her the precious gem,
The, oh so perfect red plastic heart, with the
lacy white plastic trim.
She took it and she smiled at me, OH LORD,
what a splendid toothless smile.
I skipped away, YES SIR, I skipped, Lord,
I was ever a happy child!

No longer wanting to be Hopalong, or Roy,
or even Lash Larue.
All I wanted at that time, was to be somewhere
near my sweetheart true.
Then dash it all, woe unto me, I was jilted on
the very same day.
I saw Lucy with Teddy.and she had give my
plastic heart away..

My first love a disaster, now, how would ol'
Hoppy handle this chore.
Well.I'd be tough, and she'd not know my heart
was crushed for shore.
While Roy might have blasted that varmint
right between the eyes,
Instead I just up and told 'em, I found that
heart in a fresh COWPIE!

1/01 All Rights Reserved * David Kelley
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.



I rode a lonely prairie, 'tween heav'n and God's good earth,
And yearned again for times long past when Mama gave me birth.

Innocent times of play and romp along the riverside,
With Jack my pony underneath and Tige along for the ride.

But, time escapes ne'er to return, so I would onward go,
And mem'ries of those precious times are all that I would know.

I dragged thousands to the fire; their bawl still rings my ear.
The din of a hundred works linger somewhere at the rear.

I wore out a few old horses searchin' for strays in the hill,
And rode 'em out the tree line, never tiring of the thrill.

I put ol' Jack in rocks so high it scared me half to death.
I tell you, lookin' down on eagles, takes a fellers breath.

Jack's step was sure and steady, he brought a mule to mind,
A more sturdy friend than Jack was shore 'nuff hard to find.

My lungs half full of's God's way of scrubbin' em out,
The mark of ridin' drag for years along a cow camp route.

A horse-worn stoop scarred my stride.numb and calloused hands,
A couple of missin' fingers, only a cowpoke understands.

The sparkle in my eyes had dimmed, but not from lack of hope,
And it was time to check it in, so I would onward go.

The Cow-Boss met me at the gate, saying "Well done ol' friend.
I see you've made reservations pard, you just come on in."

We talked for ten thousand years, a mere twinkle of the eye,
And then I took a break, gazin' out o'er a bluebird sky.

I've never seen as much as now, but I can plainly say,
"Looking down on eagles.still takes my breath away."

3/2000 All Rights Reserved * David Kelley
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.


King David

He was seated like a sultan in that
beat up straight-back rockin' chair,
A venerable patriarch intent on
surveying his inner lair.

Tattletale lines around his eyes
alluded to the fact he was tired.
The strong angular jaw still framed
the cowboy still very much admired.

A broken neck at The Matador Ranch
caused his gray head to tilt left.
The two missing fingers there, evidence
of a dally none too deft.

His pelvis crushed bad at The Spur,
resulted in his ponderous limp,
And his old Stetson, disheveled and soiled,
told that he'd long ceased to primp.

The Pitchfork damage was knees,
adding to an already gimpy gait.
Before he busted up his body, his walk
was regal, proud and straight.

"M.L. Leddy" zippered his high top boots,
just so he could wear 'em still.
Usin' his old cane, he thought
demeaning, like wearin' a lacy frill.

His strength certainly wasn't what
it was, but embers smoldered midriff.
He was constantly hurtin' but a
toothy grin always gave a lift.

He'd completed the itinerary,
with his last roundup rode well,
Any who rode with that cowboy
had no untoward stories to tell.

There sat a bonafide cowboy folks,
and we were proud to call him ours.
I remember my Grandpa..., cowboy
'extraordinaire', King David Myers.

4/1997 All Rights Reserved * David Kelley
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.



Cowboy Reflections 

The mirror is cloudy and worn, and he peers hard through its haze,
Looking deep into his own eyes, the tunnel of bygone days.

He remembers a song heard once in the twilight of passing years.
Something in the melody or words...then he blinks at the tears.

The opening verse lingers hard in his memory, then fades to black.
The chorus leans on his soul and causes the cowboy to think back .

His first love was his last, as wanderlust was never his thing.
His helpmate, long at his side since givin' her that golden ring.

Her vision is still with him, perhaps stronger than ever he thought,
Yet it's merely a snippet of the past that his mind has caught.

Memories are elusive things, clouded in the cauldron of time,
Mental stragglers skilled in  the imitation of life sublime.

A thoughtful gaze across a grassy plain is cause to reflect,
On the good times he'll hold on to, and those he'd rather reject.

Tattered illusive remnants of his mind, may or may not fit right.
Enduring treasures, nonetheless, and through them his heart is light.

When prairie shadows descend, and the call comes to leave the land,
You'll know the treasures most precious, cannot be held in your hand.

The happiest cowpuncher, when he's ready to breathe his last,
Knows his best friend is smilin' back at him in the lookin' glass.

2001, David Kelley, All Rights Reserved
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.


Chili Ain't Got No Beans! 

Me and my pony Star, we drifted awful far,
searchin' for the remnants of the cowboy way.
From Texas to the west, to places I love best,
and in my travels I found something to say.

When it comes to a meal, I must seek to repeal,
a crazy concept that's purely quite silly.
So listen up real tight, and I won't be contrite,

Where'd that custom begin? I tell you it's a sin,
to mess up the cowboy's chili that-a-way.
Now don't misunderstand, I believe beans are grand,
but cookin 'em in chili is flat the wrong play.

It's just meat and seasonin', so don't lose your reasonin',
puttin' in a bunch of stuff that don't belong.
A dab of onion can go, a FEW peppers or so,
but don't try cookin' paint remover, that's wrong.

You ought not to suffer, while eating your supper,
spoonin' up some good Texas Red in your jaw.
It's just plain ol' good food, not some acid or crude,
so, anything else is against Texas law.

Aw, nothing's wrong with spice, the pure fact it's quite nice,
But it's something you're gonna' to put in your MOUTH.
So hold down the hot stuff, by not makin' it TOO rough,
For even the sweetest young gal in the South.

Cookie still has a choice, and he'll often rejoice,
To make his chili by several different means.
But one rule will remain, as I end this refrain...
Without any doubt, CHILI AIN'T GO NO BEANS!

2001, David Kelley, All Rights Reserved
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.


It's All Behind Us 

Heinz Mercantile was the socially prominent place to be,
A meeting place for big and small, the rich, or the poor in need.
A source of juicy gossip, or spreading the news of the day.
A place to buy your supplies or to collect your hard earned pay.

The best of 'chaw' from St. Louie', or simply a place to wait,
Or acquire the very latest of the Eastern fashion plate.
And that was what Miss Sadie Thompson was in the store to do,
Trying on every frilly dress ol' Tom Heinz said was new.

One was too high of collar, and another was far too cheeky.
One too lacy, one was plain, another was just plain creepy.
Sadie wore 'em plumb to a frazzle trying to buy her dress,
With costumes laying here and yonder, leaving the place a mess.

Some she tried on several times, trying to make up her mind,
Looking in the mirror checking out both front and behind.
It was clear she had plenty of time, wasting away the day,
Till one finally caught her eye, and slowly she paused to say;

"I like this outfit really well, but I most certainly divulge,
The bustle gives the appearance of great posterior bulge."
"Well, Miss Sadie," ol' Heinz said, in the midst of all the hustle,
"I hate to break the news, but that dress ain't got no bustle."

2001, David Kelley, All Rights Reserved 
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.


Read David Kelley's My Cowboy's Night Before Christmas, and Bigger Than Ever, posted with other Holiday 2000 poems


read David Kelley's tribute to his friend Louis A. Carle, 1924-2000

and his tribute to his friend Bob E. Lewis, 1929-2001

and his tribute to his friend T. R. Stephenson, 1935-2002

About David Kelley:

Howdy! my name is David Kelley, and I was born in the panhandle of Texas in 1943, west of Lubbock, Tx., in the thriving metropolis of Levelland, Tx.. Yes Margaret, there really is such a place as Levelland. I’ve been writing cowboy poetry off and on for twenty years, mostly off. I came to know some of the older lingo, due to my surroundings, and as I got into poetry, it just came natural to write the way I talked. I came by most of my stories honestly, by the limited experiences I've had, and the fact that one side of the family was almost all cowboys. I spent a good deal of time as a child on The Pitchfork Ranch, (as we called it back then, actually The Pitchfork Land & Cattle Company) near Guthrie, Texas. I had a dear uncle who was the "Farm Camp Manager" for the "Pitchfork" for years. He and his brothers, Porter, Jack, and his dad, King David Myers, cowboy'd all around the Caprock area of Texas all their lives. They're all dead now and I felt an obligation to put some of their stories, as well as some of my own, down for my kids, and others who might be interested. Some of my wife's family are subjects of my poetry as well. I feel blessed and honored by the interest in my work thus far. I have made every attempt to be accurate, and authentic, as well as informative and entertaining. It is my desire that you would see our poetry as your introduction to the past, and to the future as well. My attempt in writing this poetry is to immortalize the working cowboy lifestyle, and his forefathers. While the cowboy is not perfect, he certainly embodies the spirit of goodness and fair play that we could all use in this imperfect world we live in. 

I write about the working cowboy because I should have been one, and blew my chance, and because folks on the street today need to remember what the cowboys down through history have done for them.  I write about the working cowboy, and perform at gatherings when I get the opportunity, because it's one of the last forms of entertainment, void of the filth and garbage in most other forms of entertainment today.  I write so little Johnny down the street can find out about his grandpa, or uncle, in an amusing, or even a serious way, without having to wade through trash to get there.

You can email David Kelley.

Read David Kelley's report on the 2001 National Cowboy Symposium
 in Lubbock, Texas here.



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