Folks' Poems

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AJ Ranch
About McCloud

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

One of

Lariat Laureate Runner Up
Recognized for his poems, Big Roan and Hoss Fer Sail
The Newfoundlander and the Bull

(This is page two - see page one here.) 


About McCloud (aka Davey Lee George)

McCloud (also known as Davey Lee George) is the foreman of the AJ Ranch, a place somewhere between Calgary and Dallas.  He has several poems to his credit.

When we asked McCloud why he writes Cowboy Poetry, he replied

I find it fascinating that I can dream up and relive all the things I saw in the movies well over sixty years ago.  I just wish they still made those old movies because I learned so much about the old West and the scenery was so great.  I learned that good was good and bad was bad, and never the twain should dwell side by side.

You can email McCloud:


Visit McCloud's site to read about, browse through, and obtain his new book, "Sailors, Lovers and Cowboys" published by Writer's Club Press,




Hoss and Rider

The hoss was big, an' meaner'n hell,
an' his ears wuz always laid.
He wuz ready to fight the whole dam' world,
...  a bony-fied renygade.

At eighteen hands an' a thousand pounds,
an' teeth right razor keen,
he had no match in his domain;
 ... a reg'lar killin' machine.

He'd come in off the open range,
caught up as ridin' stock.
By accident he'd tangled up
with the regular remuda flock.

We all wuz skeered to death of him,
fer his rep to us wuz knowed,
as the outlaw of the Shaskau range
"the hoss that couldn't be rode." 
The cowboy sauntered in to set
up on the corral's top bar,
whar nobody but the best should be,
but he plunked hisself right thar.

An' then he took a look around
at us as if to ast,
who would tell him to git down,
but we jest stood aghast.

Cause we all knowed jest who he wuz,
an' knowed why he were thar,
we wondered who would take the day
an' who would quench whose fire.

Fer settin' up yonder on that thar pole
was the best bronc rider I knowed,
he warn't none other'n Cayuse Pete,
"the rider thet couldn't be throwed!"

Well, we knowed his rep, and the hoss' too,
and we 'speked it could go each way,
but what little money any of us had
wuz bet largely on the bay.

Then after a while the two of them
took a look in t'other's eye,
an' I knowed right then it wuz gonna be
the day fer one to die.

One of the hands got a real good holt
on the outlaw hoss's ear,
an' helt it tight as ever he could
whilst Pete clumb up fer fair.

When all at onct, the hoss got loose,
an' roared out like a blur,
but Pete wuz ready fer him then,
an' raked him with his spurs.

An' then all hell broke open wide,
as each of them bored down,
to see the which of them two toughs
wuz laid out on the ground.

The whole thing went better'n half a hour,
an' we wuz amazed they both should last,
but ever time it seemed the end,
they'd give another blast.

But finally we could see the starch
was slowly simmer'n out
of thet mean hoss, the big ol' bay,
an' we started to give a shout.

But then we looked an' seen ol' Pete
looked near about to die,
as we noticed a glaze was coming fast
across his frantic eyes.

At last they stopped an' stood real still,
an' we thought thet Pete had won,
but of a sudden the hoss went down,
an' we knowed they both was done.

Fer as he died, ol' Pete died too,
settin' right thar on his back,
and we buried them both just like they wuz,
in their last an' final act.

Riding in the Rain

The drivin' rain comes down in sheets an' drenches to the bone.
My saddle slips like it is lard an' my poncho, it's all torn.
'Ten gallon hat's' a dam' good name, fer it seems to hold inside
its brim at least thet much, or more, to dribble down my hide.
Thank Gawd fer holes worn in my boots thet lets the water out
an' thanks Gawd too, fer all the creeks overflowing hereabouts.
I wouldn't have it another way, fer if a choice wuz give
of whether I was in this mess or in another place to live,
I'd surely say I'd ruther be right here whar I am at
than any dry an' snuggy place a'living on the fat!
Now take this hoss beneath my seat; why, if'n he could talk,
I know he'd say thet mud an' rain is the bestess place to walk;
thet slippin' on the windswept plains, or slidin' down the scree,
is lots more fun than sweet dry grass, why, any fool can see
thet he's enjoying all this fun an' would surely shun the barn
if he wuz give the chance to choose betwixt the rain an' whar it's warm.
Yessir, we sure get pleasure from this muddy, dripping mess,
an' as we slip and slid along, I must say I confess
thet I would rather be, by far, a cowpoke in the rain
than anybody, anywhars, thet's got a bit o' brains.


Dark Trail

Silence whispers through the trees and echoes back to me
as I ride along this trail so dim,
and in the growing darkness I find it hard to see
the shapes that shadow from the rim.
The sun has fallen now behind the ramparts far above
and the twilight around me grows and grows,
as I yearn to find a way that leads me out of here
so I can once more ride the trails I know.
I sense foreboding shapes that are reaching out toward me,
and the horse is shying frightfully.
Every movement, every shaking, every trembling leaf nearby
is enough to make him want to bolt and flee.
In the willows by the stream bed, in the thickness of their wands,
the devils wait to touch my hand,
and I know they're in there for I see their burning eyes,
and can almost feel the irons they use to brand.
In the hush of every thicket lies a nest of rattlesnakes,
and I know as well as anything they're there,
for I hear their buzzing rattles and can even smell the things
as they rustle, relentless in their lairs.
Oh, I wish I hadn't come here, into this awful place,
where the banshees of hell are all around,
and I'd give my very soul, if I had such a thing,
to be away from here and on familiar ground.
If I live until the morning, when the sun is up once more,
and I see the trail that leads me out of here,
I will change my ways forever and will make my peace with God,
if He will just forgive me now and quell my fear.


Mountain storm

As dust rolled in from off the range an' clouds of ominus gray
formed in the passes of the hills we knowed thet soon our way
would be the way of death fer us an' fer the cattle, too,
cuz when the two of them collide, (as they right often do),
it's time to git a hump into the way you move around
an' you'd best to git yer spurs to work an' cover lots of ground.
So with our loops, our blankets an' with our blazing guns
we started in to roust the herd an' get 'em on the run.
But steers is often funny things an' when they git real skeered,
it's any guess jest what they'll do, an' knowin' thet we feared
to git into the way they run, or even git too close,
cuz they's like as not to run you down, an' onct you git a dose
of flyin' feet an' bawlin' cows, an' feel their weighty girth
you've seen the last you'll ever see upon this pleasant earth.
So shoutin' loud an' flappin' wild, an' firin' in the air
we finally got 'em linin' out, an' got 'em out o' there.
An' jest in time, I wanta add, cuz as we cleared thet draw
all hell broke loose as water, rocks an' timber formed a mighty wall.
Cuz the rain had started well before, up in the higher pass
and when it got to where we wuz, it was a killing mass.


Morning on the Trail

it seems so long
this ride i'm on
along the rimrock trail
the sun is now
jest peepin' out
through a hazy veil
the nighttime birds
are still around
but mutter sleepily
as we go by
a'clippity clop
it seems a harmony
i see the glitter
on the rocks
as sunlight strikes them there
an' then I see
the last remains
of some coyote's fare
it looks so sad
but then i think
how critters has to live
an' in my heart
i know its right
an' so I must forgive
then going on
i see the sign
of eagles risin' high
an' know that daylight
soon will be
alightin' up the sky
an' too i know
another day
will come jest like the rest
an i will do
the thing I do
the thing I do the best
a'punching cows
an' riding fence
an' campin' by the stars
where things move slow
where songs are sweet
around the evening fires


Mean Hoss

The saddle galled each step he took,
this hoss I drew today,
and for some reason unknown to me
he seemed to like the way
I bounced around and almost fell
when he faded towards the right
and then he'd on a sudden move
turn his head and try to bite.

I know I'm new on this here spread,
and have a lot to learn,
but one thing I don't take in stride
is a hoss without concern,
for neither rider or hisself,
nor even for the stock,
or a hoss that makes believe he's dumb
with a head that's like a rock.

He must be dumb to think of me
as some kind of tenderfoot,
or somebody who don't know how
to give a hoss the boot.
He may think that, but soon he won't,
cause I'm about to take the quirt
and show this stupid nag I'm on
how other things can hurt.

He was offered as the best they had,
and being I was new,
they said he'd be an easy ride
'cause I had other things to do
besides look out fer foolish nags,
or crowbait mavericks
that tried to buck their riders off
like some fool hayseed hick.

Well, after we had left the place,
and was moving out to work,
this wonder here, with an arching neck,
tried to pull a buck and jerk,
and then he went into a spin
calculated to unseat
the best of riders anywhere,
I'd be just his meat.

But what I hadn't told them pokes
was that I was better known
in other parts as Bronco Joe,
who'd always held his own
in any contest with a hoss,
never mind how hard to bust,
and they was few and far between
could put me in the dust.

So when we got outside a ways,
and the rest had gone ahead,
there was just me and this thing left there,
so I began to shed
the awkward, amateur way I'd been
a'riding in the bunch,
and started bearing down a bit,
and then he got a hunch!

He thought he'd try to stand up straight,
on jest two legs and air,
but I had seen that trick before,
and let him have it fair.
Before he even got back down
I'd rammed them spurs in tight,
and when he hit the ground again
he got another fright.

'Cause I had reached away up close,
and took a'holt his ear,
and when I bit fer all I'm worth
if a hoss could learn to swear
this'un would have been a champ,
but all he had was scream,
and then I let him have the quirt
right across his bean.

But I weren't through, not even then,
cause I owed this crowbait nag
fer all the folderol he'd tried,
and meant to make him sag.
He acted like he'd had enough,
but I weren't set to quit,
and so I hauled the reins in hard,
and sawed a chafing bit.

I knowed then that he was mine,
but still I kept it going,
and drove him hard into a wall,
just the way that he'd been doing
when first we come to meet back thar,
and he thought hisself so tough,
but now he was starting' to see the light
and knowed that I was rough.

By now, the rest was coming back,
to help me get to bed,
but when they seen me still onboard
they got it in their heads
that maybe they had figgered wrong
about the hoss I'd drew,
and as I cantered slowly by
finally ... they knew.


Prairie Fire

Strong wavering sounds come to my ear and dust is in the air,
then as I look toward the west, o're range so dry and bare,
I see the cattle starting up, as each one finds its feet,
and then like floodstreams gathering strength, they turn toward the heat.
Far off across the rolling plain, the grass has caught on fire,
as then I see the billowed smoke and know our way is dire.
There's nothing else in all this world that brings terror to the mind,
and sets the neck hairs tingling, or tauts the bowel so fine,
as seeing fire in cloudless skies that seems to stretch for miles
to right and left as if it plans to surround us like an isle,
then finally, in gleeful play, to ingest this last small place,
engulfing all within its lust; its grinning devil face.

But now the cattle start their run, and as they usually go,
they head toward the rising fire, into the burning glow.
Then laying leather to our mounts, who themselves are fraught with fear,
we ride them in to turn the herd; to drive them out of here.
With blankets flapping loud as guns, and ropes all bloody streaked,
we work our way up to the front to where the lead cows freaked,
and started in, instead of back, away from dangers path,
while as we do the heat bores down much like a fiery bath.
But go we must, and so we do, to roust the foolish cows,
and then at last they heed our sign, though still we use the rowels
against the horse's heaving sides, and still we badger them
until we get them running hard away from dangers whim;
toward the safety of our hope; our one and only scheme;
toward salvation in a draw across a running stream.
Then as we sit and mop our heads and watch the fiery death
we feel our revelation and draw an easy breath.


The desert sun beats down a force that mimics hammer blows,
and swirls of dust dance on the sand while ripples of it flow
like tiny waves seen on the sea, and I am mesmerized
to where I think I'm gone from here; this place I so despise.

Far up ahead, and to the east, a thunderhead has formed,
and as it rises in the sky I know that I'm forewarned
to find some place to shelter in, but too, I think that I'm
miles from where the danger is, that still there is some time.

Then as I slowly pick my way across the burning waste,
and urge my horse, with nudging knees, to make a little haste,
I look again toward the cloud and see a fearful thing
for it's increased in magnitude as breezes start to sing.

When next I look the sun has dimmed as darkness filters in,
and I see the desert plants lean hard as stronger winds begin.
So now I know the time is ripe to seek a shelter place;
to hide us from the growing storm within some rocky face.

And then by chance I happen on this arroyo's opening
where we can gain some refuge from the sandy, burning sting
of wind that now has grown to shrieks that howl in banshee voice,
and drive the desert's emptiness by strong, unbridled choice.      
Within the arroyo's open mouth, the calmness beckons me
to enter and escape the storm; to relieve my misery.
With trepidation I go in, as I think about the rain
that's falling up above, which this draw will soon contain.

For just a while we keep our place within the shelter there,
and then I feel a changing that is coming on the air
as a chill replaces stifling heat, and then begins a wail
like a fright train screaming through the night along a lonely rail.

In urgency I spur the horse to leave that place at last,
but in his eagerness to mind he turns and starts to pass
the way that leads us out of there onto the desert sand
but at last I get him turned again and nudge him with my hands.

As we reach the opening of the draw, I can hear the flood behind,
and kick the horse's ribs again as further to remind
him of the death impending if he tarries just a tad,
but he's as frantic now as I, and all out running mad.

Just in the nick of time we gain the entrance to the draw,
and as I heel him to the left I give the reins a saw,
and though I know it hurts his mouth as I pull the bit so tight,
I guide him away from death in that wild and dreadful plight.

Then as I slow our pace a bit I see the storm retreat,
but again we're on the desert and again within the heat,
and so I slowly pick my way among the cactus thorns
across this burning desert so forbidding and forlorn.

Getting Home

Short, mincing steps took us across the quick and treacherous stream
toward the far horizon like in a vivid dream.
Gaining then the other side and climbing up the bank
we encountered rugged passage among the brush so rank,
I thanked my star for chaps so strong that cactus spines intent
upon invading tender skin, were caused to circumvent
and scratch the horse quite harmlessly as we hurried on our way
to where the trail was easier and the homeward prospect lay.

Then gaining that for which we'd strove, (the horse, as well as I),
we felt relief from agitation, and breathed a hopeful sigh.
I even deemed to rest a while and allowed the horse to crop
upon the meager grasses as we both enjoyed our stop.

Then moving on we made our way again toward the ranch,
and as we eased along the trail, and watched the devils dance,
I noticed that where we had left, (the badlands there behind),
were growing ever darker as a cloud bank, once supine,
was now a towering thunderhead and leaning toward the place
that we had just departed from, and on its evil face
the lightning bolts were wrought like spears, like flaming, winging hordes
that I supposed were meant to stab us both like bright, sinewy swords.

Hunching then in lower stance, and letting out the reins,
I gave the little horse his head to scurry o'er the plains,
and as he felt my spurs contact his tough and brawny hide
I clenched my knees in tightly to survive the speedy ride.

As thunder rolled and lightning spewed and rain came pouring down
I could feel his hooves a'pounding on the hard and gritty ground,
until at last I looked ahead and there before my eyes
stood the ranch house and its buildings, I knew then we'd survive.


This mustang hoss I ride today, onct wuz free to roam;
to run at will, o're vale an' stream, an' never had a home.
But don't you know the animals don't have no special need,
like all of us, we human folks, who have a place to heed
as being some familiar, a place we wants to be,
a place to keep our stuff in, a place to come an' see.

No, hosses likes to run in herds, in bunches, as it were,
with mares an' foals catered to by a stallion stationed there
to ward off other stallions that likes to sneak around,
an' steal whatever they can get, an' off'n think they've found
a way to start their own small herd, with a mare or two they steal,
but like as not, the other one gives them his pointed heels.

But anyway, as I wuz saying, this little hoss I ride
was onct as free as any bird to come an' go with pride.
An' too, he had the choice to run, or face up to the threats
that wanted bad to kill him, while other things beset
his freedom an' his very life, not to mention all the harm
thet comes to them thet has no friends, or no place to keep warm.

But then one day I throwed my loop an' it fell around his neck
an' for a while 'twas him and me, but then I slung a check
around a stob of dead oak tree an' snubbed him up a bit
until the thought come at last thet he might as well to quit,
'cause as you see he's pretty bright an' knows a thing or two,
an' the thing he learned right quick wuz to bid his ways adieu.

For a while it seemed a little hard for a hoss who'd been so wild,
an' I had to handle him gentle like, almost like a child.
But by an' by, he come around an' began to face the end,
an' as my hands wandered him he knowed I was his friend.
Until at last he'd foller me, almost everywhar's I went,
an' too, at last, he trusted me, an' became a perfect gent.

Now this mustang hoss I ride, seems more like human folks,
an' wants his grub brought to him, an' loves the curry's stroke.
He waits each night for me to come an' put him in a stall,
an' sometimes in the coldest times he stays all day a'tall.
Then in the springtime of the year he eats the sweetest grass
while I have to work an' slave an' often times bust my ... tail!


My cowboy days is numbered now, but I remember when
I couldn't wait for springtime, an' the roundup to begin.
The wonder of the great outdoors drawed me like a rope,
an' in ever'thin' I seen or did, I found a lots of hope.
The snow thet makes the ground so soft wuz jest a kind of laugh,
an' the cold thet froze the waterhole at whar I'd take a bath,
(thet's if I wuz inclined to do a foolish thing like thet),
wuz jest another thing to me, like the wearin' of my hat.
The wind thet comes down off the peaks an' chills me to the bone,
wuz nothin' to me at the time when I rode the rim alone.
An' blizzards, as they wander in an' fill me full of fear,
wuz just an imposition an' I gave thum little keer.
The noon time sun a'beating down with merciless intent
is enough to make me want to cry an' huddle in my tent.
But it don't seem so long ago thet a thin' like thet wuz naught
an' in them times I'd chuckle some, but give it neither thought.
Now rain thet falls in bucketsful an' splatters all around
causes me to have lumbago an' want to lay down on the ground,
but back thar then, when I wuz young, a little water fallin'
didn't bother me a teeny bit; in fact, I'd go a'calling!
Why, back a ways, when I was young; jest a shanklin' of a boy,
the fact thet Alice warn't thar wuz a chance to have some joy,
'cause then we'd take the Winchester an' kill a buffalo,
an' always eat the very best, then as we'd get set to go,
we'd see the wolves an' buzzards come to eat up all the rest,
an' didn't even think about we may have been a pest.
But nowadays the buffalo is gone to its demise,
an' I doubt thet sight will come ag'in to these wore out old eyes.
Yes, I am of the dyin' breed, jest like them buffalo,
an' to tell the truth about it, I'm 'bout ready fer to go.

(Note: No matter what the trail cook's name might be, he was always called
Alice, but I don't know why).


Night Thoughts

As I lay here against my saddle, beneath the stars so bright,
I watch the sky an' as I do I often see the light
of shootin' stars thet come to earth from places I can't say,
but still I wonder where they're from, an' how they got that way.
I've heard it said thet once, like us, they wuz a planet too,
thet might have circled 'round a sun in jest the way we do.
I know it sounds so strange to say thet it could really be,
but I wuz never much in school, though watchin' I kin see
thet one by one the little things, no bigger than a pin,
flash on as if a magic match had made their light begin.
An' just as quick, thet light goes out as if their life wuz done,
but even I know thet ain't so, 'cause watchin' our own sun
I realized thet life goes on, all through the unyverse,
an' as one body wheels around another one might burst,
an' send its parts to kingdom come, into the smallest bits,
thet eventually come rainin' down on whatever world it hits.

I see, as well, the jillion stars thet crowd the night time sky,
an' it make me feel so downright small I sometimes want to cry.
I wonder how, of all them stars, our planet found its own,
an' started in to circlin' it, way out here alone.
From what I hear our set of worlds, an' moons all on display,
are off a long ways from the rest of our own milky way.
An' too, I hear thet after 'while, the whole durn unyverse
will fall apart, as worlds collide an' stars start in reverse.
But thet's a long, long time from now, accordin' to the boss,
an' I'd do better to worry myse'f 'bout jest stayin' on my hoss.


The glint of gold came to my eye from within the runnin' stream,
an' though I seldom look fer it, it's alway in my dreams.
Like others here around the mines, abandoned long ago,
I think thar still might be a vein, a tiny hidden flow,
of ore the miners never found, a pretty little streak,
thet I could find all on my own.  Why, maybe in this creek!

So gettin' down from off my horse, an' kneeling by the brook,
I grab a clutch of gravel to give it a better look.
An' Glory be!  Within my palm, all shiny, yeller pure,
I see a tiny nugget thar, an' then I know fer sure
thet I will soon be very rich, an' sitting to the table
of them who owns near everythin'.  Thet is, if I'm able!

But first I need to find the place from whar this nugget came,
an' then I'd have to go to town an' register my claim.
An' soon I'd have to buy the things a fellow always needs
to do the diggin' an' the totin', an' all the other deeds,
thet takes such time an' energy to git the gold to town,
an' jest the thought of all them things began to get me down.

So jest to rest myself a spell I sot down on the bank,
an' gave some thought to being rich; both the rum an' rank.
But as I pondered on the thing, a thought came stealing through
thet I would lose as much or more of what I'd always knew.
Which wuz that I had always had the easy way of life,
of pushing cows an' riding through a way without no strife.

So gittin' up I tossed thet chunk of purty yeller gold
back to whar I'd seen it lay within thet stream so bold.
Without another look at it, I went an' fetched my horse
an' rode away from whar it layed, but still I thought, of course,
thet later on someday, when life wuz gettin' tough,
I'd wander back to this here place an' maybe get enough . . .



Cowboys sing in an off key voice an' strum on cheap guitars.
They wear tight pants an' hang around in smoky, sleazy bars.
Their hats is strange an' way to big, but what's their main design
is to hide their ugly, baldin' heads an' not to stop sunshine.
They wear high boots in case of snakes thet sometimes want to bite,
but the heels is odd an' when they walk, my gawd, but they're a sight!

They tie their nags to rickety poles thet any kid could bust,
but the things is just as dumb as them so consequently must
stand around an' feed the flies an' other kinds of pests,
or feel the rain an' snow pour down while hopin' fer the best.
Their sides is sore from bein' spurred as they get near to town,
but they gits to eat their fill of weeds when Sunday's roll around.

Cowboys rate the things they git, because their minds is dull,
an' sometimes just to prove their smarts they tries to ride a bull!
But, somehow in the dimness of their feeble, shaller minds,
they fergits to put a saddle on, but just a rope behind.
Now, don't forget their sulky bronc's who stand an' watch the fun
an' wish they had their own slim chance to try a'riding one.

Fer work the cowboy an' his 'steed' prefers to ride the range,
in hopes of finding cows thet seek quaint places thet are strange,
to hide theirselves, an' their calves, from ever'thing but wolves,
an' buzzards, cougars, coyotes or things without no hooves.
Their preference fer grub has been, fer years an' years gone by,
the taste of half cooked bacon an' beans thet's much too dry.

Give any cowboy a roof thet sheds near 'bout all the rain,
or a bunk thet has a bit of springs an' you'll hear him complain
thet they's to soft an' easy like fer a tough guy like hisself;
thet he would much prefer to sleep outside with all the elves
an' fairies an' bugs an' skeeters too, thet enjoys the open air,
an' if I wuz you I'd help him out an' gladly leave him there.



The Three Year Old

I first seen him in the springtime when the grass wuz comin' green,
but even then his coat wuz sleek an' silky sheened.
He warn't nothing but a yearlin' there beside the chestnut mare,
but I knowed who had sired him 'cause he had a certain air.

Ol' Satan wuz the stallion thet wuz king of this here bunch,
an' I'd seen him off an' on an' had a hunch
thet the colt would take some watchin' as he growed to meet the age
when he'd start to lookin' 'round an' his fires commenced to rage.

Wal, I waited through the winters with their dreadful ragin' storms,
then the springs thet brought the insects by the swarm;
through the summers with the lightnin' an' the many drenchin' rains,
an' finally the fall times thet start the winters up ag'in.

When at last the time had come thet he wuz a three year old,
an' the grass was greenin' from a sun thet shined like gold,
I got to studyin' how to go about a tidy little scheme
to take him 'for he felt his daddy gittin' mean.

I had seen him from a distance as he run within the band;
he wuz usually amongst the ones thet run so grand,
an' though he never tried to beat 'em at their runnin' game
I could see thet he was ready jest the same.

On the day thet I decided it wuz time thet he be caught,
it wuz coming to the stage when battles would be fought
for the rights to have the mares as all their very own
by the stallions who tried to keep their bands alone.

So I rode amongst the horses, 'fore they got a chance to bolt,
an' started sidlin' in towards the sorrel colt.
As I throwed my loop around him I wuz 'vera' much amazed
by the way he'd growed an' finally come of age.

Somehow, someway, the thoroughbred, from way back in his past,
had come forth ag'in an'  wuz shinin' through at last.
An' the light was glitterin' from his coat like a million tiny stars
as the muscles of his body rippled hard.

The length of his big body was half ag'in as long
as the mustang I wuz a'sittin' on.
Each leg was like a chiselin' by Mic'al Angelo hisself,
an' his eyes shone like they wuz full of elves.

As I drawed him in t'wards me with the lasso 'round his neck
I was s'prised he come so easy an' unchecked,
'cause it almost seemed to me thet he wanted to come home,
an' give up the way he'd always had to roam.

So now he's here beneath me an' it feels is though I'm on
some mighty locomotive a'waitin' in the dawn
for a high ball signal flag to be raised up on its beam
to turn us loose so we fly like in a dream.

The Pinto Mare

Stark white the drifts of snow I see, an' frigid is the air,
as I go out to look fer strays upon this favored mare.
Amongst the hosses on this spread, the best of all the lot,
fer weather like we're havin' now, (an' we're having more'n we ought),
is Beulah Mae, the pinto mare thet I picked out today,
fer she is sure of foot an' more, an' slowly picks her way
through tangled brush now hidden well beneath the powdered snow,
an' she seems to sense the treacherous rocks layin' jest below
the movin' drifts now carried along by whistlin', bustlin' wind,
an' I have faith in her to bring us both back home ag'in.

She come to me some years ago from a game of blackjack cards.
The man who bet her 'gainst the house was bettin' on the shards
of all he owned in this here world, an' sweat was pourin' out
from ever' pore upon his face an' I knowed he was about
to shoot the dealer if he lost, yet still he bet the mare,
an' lost his bet, an' didn't shoot, but played it on the square.
Then turnin' 'round he looked at me as if he meant to cry,
but he brushed on past an' stroked the mare an' said his sad goodbye.
Then movin' on he walked away but even as he did
the mare's eyes follered him jest like a heartbroke kid.

The dealer of the blackjack game, (a fancy dude named Joe),
wuz laughin' at the cowboy's loss, an' offered to let go
the mare to anyone around thet would pay the same amount
of what the cowboy's bet had been, so I commenced to count
out the dollars, (fifteen, it wuz) to pay the card sharp off,
an' as I did, I realized ... I had another hoss!
But whut I didn't really know wuz the kind of hoss she were,
but ridin' home thet afternoon it come to me right clear
thet I wuz settin' on a hoss most cowboys dream about
'cause she wuz ever'thin' you'd ever want without a bit of doubt.

We started out towards the ranch, (I'd turned my old hoss loose)
an purty soon, ol' Harry Jim, (who spits tabaccy juice),
spurred up his mount with them Mexican rowels he's so prone to wear,
an' hightailed it fer Kingdom Come whilst throwin' down a dare.
He knowed his hoss could beat them all by even startin' last,
but jest to be more ornery he set a fearful blast,
an' alls we seen wuz his hoss' dust as he took off from thar,
but don't you know afore a mile he wuz behind that pinto mare!
I ain't never seen a hoss like that could cover so much ground,
an' still be ready to work all day when sunup come around.

Once when roundup time wuz on an' strays wuz ever'whar,
Beulah Mae took charge of me and took us very near
to whar a bunch of mavericks had hid out in a draw,
an' wuz keeping silent 'bout the place, ever' one an' all.
But that pinto mare, she knowed the ways of how a steer will do,
an' afore they realized whut wuz what, before they got a chew
of thet sweet grass up in thet draw, they found us on thar tails,
an' quick as anythin' atall, they wuz headin' fer the rails.
But I wouldn't want to bore you with all of Beulah's days,
so I'll jest say adios to you and go along my way.


Going to Tucson

The ride to Tucson is long an' slow
an' dusty too, an' don't you know,
the desert heat intensifies;
(likewise do the swarmin' flies),
as the sun gits higher in the blue,
revealin' things I hardly knew.
Like lizards warmin' on the rocks,
or buzzards circlin' 'round in flocks,
an' rattlers, wrapped in tightenin' coils,
perhaps to deftly stop an' foil
the roadrunner's quick dart an' jab,
its killin' way a blurrin' stab.
There's also brush thet rips an' tears
at man an' beast, who in despair
go around them if they can,
though usually thet way is banned
by brush as thick as what's before.
So on I go as more and more
of the very sameness I have seen
continues on an' stays between
myself an' where I want to get.
But, it is distant an' I have yet
to travel on for many miles
across this place thet so beguiles
with painted scenes almost as if
the artist saw, though he was deaf.
Because no sound is ever heard,
not a whistle, nor yet a word,
except the few I mumble out,
(that strangely seem to be a shout),
but they as well are swallered up
by a quickness so abrupt
thet scarcely the words are said
then they are gone an' thar instead
is the same still silence I beheld
deadly an' ... unparalleled.



A sallow sky foretells the wind thet comes acrost the plain,
an' brings the dust thet chokes us both as hopes begin to wane
fer showers from the reachin' heights, from off the crownin' peaks,
to quench this thirst of man an' beast; so droughtful days will cease.

Four months has passed since last it rained; since last we seen the sight
of water fallin' on this land an' now we're in a plight
thet soon will know the smell of death as beasts fall one by one,
'til finally they all is dead, an dryin' in the sun.

Dust devils dance across the ground like banshees uncontrolled,
as waterholes begin to fail an' join the dust patrols.
The buzzards circle in the air in seemin' merryment
an' wait their time to feast at last like mourners in repent.

Old Dan an' I walk very slow an' watch each clump o' grass,
'cause rattlers show contempt fer us as they search fer their repast.
They seems to be as dazed as us, from all this bilin' sun
an' show no fear for me nor Dan, as if we two is one.

The leaves has fallen from the trees; whut few thet is not dead,
an' ever'whar the scorchin' sun has turnt the jimpson red.
Its normal hue is bluish green but now it can't abide
the heat thet seems so furnace-like it blisters lizard's hides.

I guess I'll mozzy off this place, an' move on down a ways,
to whar the water laps the land an' balmy are the days,
an' whar the trees stays green all year, an' hosses shows some life,
away from all the dust an' heat; away from all this strife.

But I can't leave, 'cause don't you know, I'd never be content
to sit around in peacefulness whar easy time is spent
a'watching waves come rollin' in, or watchin' Dan get fat,
so I'll just hope an' pray fer rain an' stay whar I am at.

Frosty Morning

Clear weather greets me on my chores this early winter day,
'though frost has covered everything I see along the way.
I noticed even as I rose ol' Jack was on the prod,
for all across the window panes I saw where he had trod.
His foot prints on the frigid glass were feathery and light,
for he was tired from all the work that he had done last night.
Each little scroll of twinkling etch was filigreed and fine,
and as I stood there looking I was moved by their design.
Then as the bunkhouse stove warmed up, and heat began to flow,
the pretty pictures he had blown commenced to melting slow;
then ever quicker, until at last not a thing remained
but tiny drops of water upon the window pane.

Now as I sidle 'round the barns, and see his work first hand,
I marvel at the pretty things he's done across the land.
Just yesterday a clump of grass, dried up and winter scorned,
sat rejected near the dogrun, looking sad and quite forlorn.
But now it's pretty as a pence, all shiny-like and bright,
with jewels of icy crystals woven through with sparkling light.
Across the pond, the cows are drinking from the nearby well,
where pools of water in the trough are laced like fairy spells.
And as the beasts push in their mouths to suck the water, sweet,
they find a brittle, icy piece a strange and tempting treat.
Above the gate the mounted horns hold claim to winter's scheme
where frost has christened them so grand with a shiny, sparkling sheen.

Then as I move along the way and come up on a rise
I see the day's first sunlight as it mounts into the sky.
It seems to flash like lighthouse beams across a darkened night,
yet there I know the thought is wrong for the sky itself is light.
But what I mean is that the rays seem singled to a chore
just like the beams the lighthouse sends keeping ships from off the shore.
These sunbeams send a bit of warmth into the frigid air,
and too, they bring a little cheer that starts the day out fair.
It's now I see, though far away, a single flying bird
as it finds a bit of updraft above a resting herd.
And then at last, I hear the gong ring at the cookhouse door,
so turning 'round I head on back to where I was before.

Lookin' 'round

From whar I set up on this hoss, (thet wants so hard to buck),
I kin see fer 'bout a hunderd miles near ever' way I look.
Before me lays the Teton Range, a glory made by God,
thet needs only to be seen but onct to put the mind to prod.
Thar ain't nuthin' anywhars, thet kin come as close as them
to put my thoughts to thinkin' whut God's notion musta bin
when he planned the gates of heaven fer the few thet gits to go
to set with Him ferever an' gaze so fondly on this glow,
as the last rays of the sunset sparkle sharply on the peaks,
an' dwindle slowly up their sides as the dark begins to seek,
an' fin'ly shade the last short rays into a twilight haze
thet turns so softly gentle-like in the linger of the day.

Turnin' round, and lookin' back, (someday I'll kill this nag!)
I look out on the wide, wide plain thet rises from a sag
into a high embankment, thet they calls the Great Divide,
whar the water sources pick an' choose their preference of the side
thet they will flow to seek low ground, be it east er west,
but either way, is just the side thet God has chose as best
fer them to move along an' join in others, one by one,
as they race along in rivulets from whar they have begun. 
Then seekin' out their fellow streams an' joinin' as they go,
they fin'ly reach the lower heights an' form to mighty flows.
At last they start their way along towards a distant sea,
whar they meld into the salty brine, jest like they wants to be.

Jest south of hyar, an' off a ways, (ol' hoss will you be still?)
the sunlight falls in torrents as if to break the will,
an' make the desert even more a devilish sort of place.
I see the torture as it sears upon thet burnin' face,
an' too, I see the cactus standin' tall an' oh, so fierce
almost as though their spikes are tryin' hard to pierce
the very heat thet smothers them an' to make it go away;
to take its morbid agony to someplace else to play.
But then I see a distant cloud thet's full of soothin' rain,
an' I know thet it will git thar soon an' help to ease the pain.
Lookin' 'round into the west, towards thet burnin' sun
I see the day is passing on, so now, crowbait, let's run!  


Come set by me, down on this log;
now look out o're the plains,
to whar I'm pointing at right now,
an' watch the fallin' rain.

It's odd the way some clouds can do;
they come and go alone,
to whar it's dry as powder hyar,
but pouring down below.

Now take thet big'un over thar,
so white an' marvelous,
you'd think it'd be the one to watch;
the one to bother us.

But it ain't full up to the brim
with water from afar,
like the flat an' sullen darker ones,
(like tipping up a jar).

An' too, them little ones up thar
close by the mountain peak,
they jest like to ride the wind
(they're so dry they near 'bout squeak).

But down thar near the winter pass,
whar the grass is green an' tall,
is whar the clouds all come the most,
whar we get the heavy fall.

Kin you see out beyond the clouds,
whar the sky is blue an' fair?
To whar the sunlight seems to spill
around most ever'whar?

Well, thet's the way I feel 'bout you,
when e're I hear yer name,
'cause you are like thet sky to me,
some ways, yer near the same.

2002 McCloud (Davey Lee George)

Ageless Beauty Fair

Thar's silver strandin' through yer hair, an' crow's feet etchin' too,
beside yer lovely broodin' eyes, though love comes shinin' through.
Around yer waist, once quite severe, now thickenin' is seen,
but it can only add to whut my love has always been.
Youthfulness still comes alive in ever' word you've spoke,
as aga'n yer eyes assay each word in compliment to 'smoke'
thet always comes along with fire, an' in yer special way
this applies to you as well, in ever'thing you say.
With whispers from yer full, sweet lips comes honey, like the comb,
thet disregardin' struggling bees, is stolen from their home.
Yer hands, with fingers worn a bit from life in constant stress,
still give yer touch a marvelous feel an' a pleasurable caress.
To know you like I've come to do is the answer to a prayer,
an' I'll cherish you forever more, my Lovely Beauty Fair.

2002 McCloud (Davey Lee George)


Gittin' Away

Ol' hoss, move on, don't tarry so,
an' leave thet clumpa grass to grow.
Walk keerful now, an' watch yer step
lest you make me git upset.
I knows yer tarred, but so am I.
If it would help I think I'd cry,
jest like you snuffle as you plod
acrost this endless prairie sod,
It's bin ten hours, maybe more,
since when we left Missouri's shore,
an' still we got a ways to go,
'fore we feel a campf'ar's glow.
I hate the thought of why we left
thet ranch back thar in the cleft
of them hills, all wooded o'er,
right from the summit to the door
of the bunk house whar I stayed at night,
whilst you was stabled nice an' tight
against the winter's freezin' winds,
away from all the howlin' din
thet sometimes come roarin' down
from up on Canady's frozen crown.
But then the meanness thet I done
come back to put me on the run,
an' the feller thet I shot an' killed
was starin' off a new handbill.
I knowed it then, the jig was up,
I felt jest like a holler cup
thet onct was brimming to the edge,
but now was empty as a pledge
them politicos give the Injin Chiefs.
So I took off like ary thief
thet knows the sentence he'd be gave;
A high branched oak an' a shaller grave.

2002 McCloud (Davey Lee George)


Lineshack Rider

I seem to be a'turnin' numb, an' cain't even feel my feet,
an' ever' icy blast of wind near knocks me from my seat.
My pony, he jest plods along, but I 'spect his end's in sight,
an' if we don't find some shelter soon; somewhars to spend the night,
we'll both of us stay here 'til spring, when the strays is hustled in,
an' our bones'll be all scattered by the wolves an' other thin's.

We've come from up along the ridge; from the line shack to the east,
whar we meant to spend the winter lookin' out all them beeves
thet harbor thar beneath the cliffs jest out of blizzard's harm,
but the cabin stove exploded an' the sparks flew in a swarm
thet soon had burnt the line shack down, an' the pole corral as well,
in a swirling, devastatin' mess thet took on the face of hell.

Jest whut I'm wearin' is all I got when the thing went up in smoke,
an' even when the flames had died an' I took a stick to poke
amongst the char an' cinders thar, 'twarn't nothing left to keep,
so I saddled up an' left the place, (I sure do need some sleep).
But on we go an' hope to Gawd thet soon we find some place
to rest the night an' light a far. It's up to His sweet grace.

I thin' I seen a glimmer thar, 'way down near the creek,
whar the forde is always runnin' fast, an' never very deep.
Whar ever' roundup, ever' spring, the cook sets up his shop,
an whar the cowboys congergates, an' make a 'howdy' stop.
By gum, it is!  And hoss has seen, or maybe caught the smell,
'cause he seems to have a bit more life, an' is movin' now right well.

2002 McCloud (Davey Lee George)


Canyon Madness

Thunder rolled among the rocks with a bowling alley peal
that rumbled through the canyon walls with a deafening anneal,
while lightning stabs, with rapier darts, rent the sky above,
and sent the birds to shelter; the hoot owl and the dove.

And too, the air, with furnace heat; an open gate of hell,
clutched all within its deadly grasp like a deep, restricting well
that, confining water down inside, refuses its release,
and keeps it there impeded; with nary mind to cease.

Yet never drop of rain fell down from roiling, churning clouds
that mustered to the distant hills, their peaks in tight enshroud,
and neither bit of mist came in, to the canyon's burning core,
to ease the searing heat; to lend coolness to the floor.

In all of this a horseman rode upon a frightened mare,
whose nostrils flared with snorts of fear within the heated air,
while frantic drummings of her hooves beat tattoos as they fell
upon the quartz and sandstone in her race along that hell.

But miles were left untraveled yet before the end was reached,
while now the horseman cursed aloud, and finally beseeched
to any god whose handiness might help them find the gate
before the clouds behind them poured down their deadly fate.

As another mile was swiftly gained; the clouds in sullen form
belied the sultry heated place and muttered 'breaking storm.'
But still no rain had come to earth, and yet its time was near,
and it drove the rider and his horse to agonizing fear.

At last there seemed to be respite as they knew the entrance loomed
within an earshot of their race against the pending doom,
but then a sudden roaring sound dispelled their fervent prayer,
and dashed it into nothingness; and filled them with despair.

When the storm was finally over; in the coolness of the morn,
the devastation was displayed, wrought by the raging storm.
In a tangled mass of leather shreds; of tree limbs and debris
were found the last remains of the horseman's try to flee.

2003 McCloud (Davey Lee George)

Sights and Sounds along the Trail

As I sit up here upon this mare and watch the scenes go by,
I marvel at the things I hear, and sometimes wonder why.
Right now we're crossing o're a bridge of sturdy wooden planks,
and as her hooves tap each of them her ears begin to rank
as though a fly was touching down, but then I realize
the sound is what annoys her as she hesitates and shies.
As each foot touches to the wood, and makes its hollow sound,
an echo starts within the board and then the noise rebounds
against the running stream below, then, twisting off the stones,
it wonders back to start again as another one bemoans.

I look away from where I had and see instead the stream,
where little fishes swim and play, and to me somehow it seems
as if I hear them down in there, though silent as it looks,
its hard to think that sounds would come from pretty little brooks.
But listening close, quite soon I hear all the things that cause
a watery place like this one is, to be a lovely pause.
I hear the droplets, one by one, as they dribble from the plants,
that once were dew, but now they join the brooklet in its dance.
Though faint each splash upon the facet of the rivulet
their multitude gives rise to sound and to the minuet.

As we come closer to the edge, where shrubs and grasses grow,
I notice movement on the bank and soon I come to know
that frogs are there beside the stream, and in their wariness,
they croak a song known just to them, but then their restiveness
sets them to flight and I hear plops, increasing as we near
the firmer ground, and nearer them, as they leap and disappear.
Meanwhile, the brooklet hurries on, toward its further goals
with swifts and turnings mentioned loud; past timber roots and boles,
and ever singing o're the rocks or whispering by the reeds
that grow along its very edge; green, water loving weeds. 

Moving on, across the bridge, beyond the running stream,
we come to where the brush is thick and sheltering it seems,
in such a way it's tunnel like, all shaded by the leaves,
that thickly cover limbs and twigs so well that it achieves
a sense of hushing, well described, by murmurs soft and low
as zephyrs ply in gentle vein, and drifting very slow,
bring forth the scent of jasmine vines now bursting full with bloom.
And too, there's rustling in the trees, within the wooded gloom,
as birds flit by from branch to limb; from sunlight into shade,
and instill a music to the ear within the lovely glade.

Her hooves now beat, in muted drum, upon the giving sand,
as the mare releases pent up strength that she had kept in hand
while worried by the planking with its fearful echo sounds
the bridge had sent to startle her from within its wooden bounds.
But freed now from the abject force of hoof beat onto wood
she feels the freedom through her feet as only horses could.
Now stretching muscles held in check she lets her breathing race,
and stretches too, her every stride as if to keep in pace
with the rustling of the heightened breeze now wafting through the trees
as I drop the reining straps from hand and let her run out free. 

Her feet, like pistons thrusting home, give rise to rushing sounds,
as each in stride, with lightest touch, kisses to the ground.
And wind thrills past her flowing mane, that like a banner bold
salutes the air through which it streams as in the days of old
when armies crowded to the fore, beneath their blazoned flags,
to strike with rapid driving force; to claim the crowning crags.
Then, as she spends the great release of energy reserved,
she gives me back her licensed chance that in itself had curved
through independence, back to love, for she and I are one,
and as I ride upon her back I sense it as its done.

But as we drop to canter speed I easily can feel 
the muscles tensed between my thighs like tightly twisting steel,
and know that with a bound she could just as quickly go
into another burst of flight ... I know, I know, I know!
So now I take control of her and picking up the reins,
I cluck for her to settle down and we listen to the plains.
For this is where we've now come to, from the winging of her flight,
and even as we move along there's sound with every sight.
For instance, in the scraggly brush, there beside the trail,
I see the mottle of a snake and hear its rattled tail. 

The sandy trail is far behind as we strive to gain the heights,
where a sharper wind whips at my sleeve and I can feel its bite,
for we have started through the pass where the mountains open wide;
and we can see the desert floor down o'er the other side.
We hear the wind that leaps at us and tries with shrieks and moans
to turn us back; to make us go away from where it owns
the crags that beetle higher still; the boulders lying bare,
the snow that cowers cunning like where it is sheltered there.
But the mare and I are unafraid and persistent in our climb
as we scale the rock face daringly from the ease we left behind.

At last we gain the very crest and pause to watch the duel
as twilight penetrates the hills in contrast to the jewel
of sunlight slanting from the west, where each desires control,
but time is on the darker's side, for ever it must roll
across the land to hide the scenes that happen in the night
when timid things, with final screams, perish in their fright
as killing beasts search out their lairs with strength and tooth and claw
to devour them in lusty way beneath the nightly pall.
The mare can sense the coming dark and fidgets with her feet
to let me know that we must go and make our ride complete.

It's downward now that we must go, where few have ever trod;
where every step sends sparkles out from hooves all steely shod.
But sure of foot the mare remains, and as she clambers down
we feel the heat come flowing up from the warmer prairie ground.
And then we find the well worn trail, away down here below,
far beyond the icy winds, the crags and peaks and snow.
Where pleasant breezes stir around, perfumed by prickly pear,
and hinting too of prairie sage that scents the evening air.
The mare reflects the place we are by instincts in her mind,
as she tends to lunge and hurry forth and leave this place behind.

I hold her gait to galloping, with now and then a trot,
for it is yet a distance home and just as like as not,
we'll find the darkness all around before we find out beds;
before we settle in to sleep, and to rest our weary heads.
But now I see her ears prick up for she has sensed the way
and leaning hard against my hand she wants to have her say.
And I can see, a way off there, the smoke that's curling high
and too I scent the smell of it wandering to the sky.
So now I let her have her head, and urge her with my knees
to the barn where I shall rub her back, to let her know I'm pleased.

2003, McCloud


Read McCloud's Cowboys and Christmas Happy New Ya'r posted with other Holiday 2002 poems;  A Christmas Story, and A Small Miracle, posted with other Holiday 2000 poems; and Bunkhouse Christmas Eve and Christmas Eve, posted with Holiday 2001 poems.

(This is page two - see page one here.)



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