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Walker, Kansas
About Don McCrary

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The Death's Head Bull
(Based on a true story - The names have been changed to protect the

The Death's Head bull
Was a tremendous brute
Who'd never been rode
Three jumps from the chute!

Fifteen hands high,
And half as wide --
A full ton of dynamite
In a black bull hide.

A bone jarring bucker
With a cyclone's whirl.
A neck snapping twister,
With a sunfishing curl!

From Texas to Montana,
He'd bucked his way to fame.
(And killed five good cowboys
Whilst livin' up to his name.)

But, his day of reckoning arrived,
(As it must, indeed)
When Ol' Shorty drawed his number
At the Miles City Stampede.

From somewhere "south of yonder"
Ol' Shorty had been grown.
And he'd earned a rep for ridin' bulls,
And he'd done it on his own!

With steel coils in his muscles
An' no bigger than a pint of gin,
Shorty rode his share of bad 'uns
But he never lost his grin.

And so it came at Miles City
At the big Stampede and rodeo
That Shorty drawed the Death's Head Bull
With the crowd screamin' fer' a show!

His buddies slapped him on the back
An' wished him lots of luck,
While the Doc got out his stretcher.
('Cause he'd seen ol' Death's Head buck!)

They rosined up the bull rope
An' Shorty gripped it tight.
The Death's Head bull just snorted
An' Shorty grinned, "All right!"

The starter hollered, "Let 'er go!"
And the gate man swung it wide.
And in a swirling cloud of dust,
The bull and Shorty went outside.

The Death's Head bull stood on his nose
An' Shorty raked 'im high.
The Death's Head bull then spun like a top
('Til Shorty toed 'im in the eye!)

The Death's Head bull next sunfished
An' Shorty hung on with his hooks.
That ol' bull next done some things
What ain't yet been wrote in books!

But somehow Shorty rode him
An' even fanned his hat!
An' raked him high an' hooked 'im low
Quicker'n' a scalded cat!

The buzzer fin'ly blasted loud
An' the clowns come runnin' out;
When that little cowboy left that big bull's back
The crowd rose up with a shout!

They cheered him back to the chutes!
(The judges called his ride a win.)
And while that entire arena broke out in pandemonium,
All Shorty did was grin...

His buddies come 'round him hollerin'
"How you done it, I dunno'!"
"Yer the only one, ever rode him out!"
"Shorty, you gived that crowd a show!!!"

Shorty cocked his big hat back,
And his grin split his face in half.
"Well, I knowed ol' Death's Head from before...
Ya' see my Dad raised him from a calf.

"Now, I rode 'im out fair and square!
But stickin' wasn't just dumb luck --
That ol' bugger's picked up some purty mean tricks,
Since that summer I taught him how to buck!!!"

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


Bull Rider's Prayer

Lord, suffer me to ride
The bulls I've drawed today.
The prize money's awful high -
But it's more'n' just the pay;

My buddies is rootin' for me, Lord -
They've helped me all they can.
With spurs an' rosin'd bull rope,
An' a brand new hat to fan!

My wife an' folks is in the grandstand, Lord,
They've come to watch the show...
Lord, help me 'member all the tricks
Pa taught me so long ago...

The grounds is hot and dusty, Lord.
The bulls is thin and mean.
And Lord? I could use a little somethin' extry
To fork 'em high, wide an' clean...

Lord, suffer me to ride
All the bulls that come my way.
'Cuz... Well, ya' see, Lord, my son was born last week -
An' he'll be watchin' me here today...   Amen...

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


My First True Love

Well I reckon I knowed her before I could even talk --
She always was a friend.
Mom said she was a bitch, but 'course
I wasn't worldly enough to know what a bitch was back then.

I just knew I loved her with all my heart.
There was never any doubt -
She'd look at me with those big brown eyes
And I'd just let my feelings out.

Dad and my big brothers loved her too,
I guess for different reasons than I did -
I 'member how they'd take her out in the woods behind the house,
When I was just a kid.

'They'd tell me, "You're not big enough."
And I'd have to stay behind again.
Then, in a couple hours, she'd come back exhausted.
And they'd come back and grin!

Dad said, "Mom, she's turnin' our boys in to men,
She really laid 'em down!
Even taught me some things I didn't know..."
And I'd just stand and frown!

I didn't know what he was talkin' about,
Or why my brothers now was men.
I was feelin' all left out, then she came and kissed me,
And made me feel like I was part of things again.

This went on for several years, till finally Dad said,
"You're big enough to tag along" one day.
And I got to watch the greatest hunting dog that ever lived.
Her name was Ellie Mae.

She wasn't much to look at, small and slick haired,
And black and brown with a little white.
'Course she had them big brown eyes,
But tryin' as I might,

I can't think of any one particular breed she was,
Or from where her bloodline came.
But she had the poise and grace of a high bred pointer
And a nose that'd make a blood hound flush with shame.

She was just that good, though as far huntin' goes,
I don't reckon she ever had any formal kind of trainin'.
But she loved my dad and she loved to hunt,
And didn't care if it was snowin' or a rainin'.

'Course growin' up in Kansas, you never knew
If it'd be rainin' or blowin' snow --
I 'member times we'd go out huntin' the snow was high,
And the temperature sure was low!

But Ellie just loved it! She loved huntin' rabbit and
squirrel and pheasant and quail
And, well I guess about every other kind of critter.
Then we'd come home and dress 'em out,
And she'd go and nurse her latest litter.

That was something else she was good at --
Seems like she could always make the boy dogs smile.
'Course most of her pups we gave away,
But there were some we kept a while.

But they were never quite as good as Elli Mae.
She just always was the best;
I 'member one time when Dad shot a squirrel,
Just before it reached its nest...

We was huntin' cross the river from the end of First Street,
East of my hometown.
The river was up and runnin' hard,
And the snow was comin' down.

And, well, the squirrel landed in the water --
Started floatin' around the bend.
'Course it was too swift and deep and cold to wade,
But Ellie dove right in!

We just stood there in amazement! She'd never done
anything like this before,
But watchin' her sure was neat!
She retrieved it, climbed the bank and looked up at Dad
Then laid the squirrel at his feet.

Then she wagged her tail and gave a yip
Just as clear as I'm tellin' this to you --
She said, "Come on Old Man, pick the damn thing up and reload!
We got more huntin' left to do!

...Well, I reckon there's a thousand other stories...
But there's no need to tell the rest.
She loved my dad and she loved to hunt,
And she just always gave her best.

She's been gone... It'll be 29 years in fall of '01,
And I'll still never forget that day -
I was in sixth grade and I went out one morning to feed her
And found that Ellie'd passed away!

And I went runnin', bawlin' back inside
To tell my dad his huntin' dog was dead!
And he went out and called her name - then stroked her fur
As he sadly shook his head.

And, well I ain't sure, but I thought I seen a tear
In the corner of his eye...
'Course I was standin' there snifflin'... And he hugged me,
Told me, "Go ahead and cry."

She was the first creature I ever remember knowin' how to love
And the best present a kid ever got on his very first birthday...
She was the greatest huntin' dog I've ever known,
And her name was Ellie Mae...

1997, Don McCrary  
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.


My dad passed away in Spring 2001 and now, more than ever, this poem is dedicated to him.

A gentle, softspoken man, Pop - While in possession of an Irish temper, was not given to emotion. I can recall having seen tears in father's eyes on only two occasions in my life: Once on the day Ellie Mae died, and again twenty five years later, when I had the honor of reciting this poem to him over Thanksgiving dinner.

The following is a poem written by my dad in the mid-1970's as a way of ribbing my brother, Shorty, after his first child (a daughter) was born.

The Riders

Ya' see that cowboy over there?
The one buyin' all the beer?
The way he's grinnin' you'd think he'd been named
Grand Champion Rider of the Year!

The reason he's so fired up,
An' havin' so much fun?
The telegram he got this morning
Was signed "Your wife and brand new son!"

Now, ya' see that other rider 'gainst the back bar there?
The one who's eyes is droopin' low?
HE's Grand Champion Bullrider,
But from his looks, you'd never know!

He's ridin' well, but he's in the dumps,
An' he's forgotten how to grin...
The way his steps is slow an' draggin'
You'd think it cain't be much fun to win!

The reason he's so down an' out,
An' drownin' his sorrows in the wine?
The telegram HE got this mornin'
Just said, "Wife and Daughter doing fine..."

An so it goes an' God only knows
What makes a rider tick.
Some ride 'em for the money,
Some'll ride 'em for a chick!

Still they ride 'em every weekend,
And, win or lose, at least they've tried.
They're just a bunch of average cowboys...
With lots of EXTRA guts and pride!

1976, William Donald McCrary
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.



Not Yet...

We 'uz bendin' elbows an' swappin' lies
Down at the Come On Inn,
Presidin' over us an' expoundin' facts
Was Encyclopedia Jim.

He was called "Encyclopedia" 'cause there just didn't
seem to be
A single thing he didn't know.
He had a brain just crammed with knowledge...
An' he often told us so!

We'd tried to stump him from Mobeetie to Dodge,
An' tried to trick 'im a time or two -
But he 'uz just too smart for the likes of us!
(An' he often said that, too!)

So we paid close attention that evening
When this feller come walkin' in.
He looked around the bar room -
Then headed straight for Jim...

He looked like most any other cowpoke,
In his spurs an' boots an' chaps.
...Had a newspaper tucked up underneath one arm.
We thought; "He's a educated man, perhaps!"

Says he, "Well i-danged! Encylopedia Jim!
You just the one I been lookin' for!"
Jim said, "Well ya' found me - Whatcha' wanna' know?"
And the stranger's jaw dropped near to the floor!

He stammered, "H-how d-did you know I wanted to
We all pushed in close to watch the show.
Jim says, "Well you wouldn't be lookin' for me if ya'
didn't have a question -
So go ahead an' ask... I'm bound to know!"

The cowpoke regained his composure and asked a
That I never will forget!
Says he; "Encyclopdia Jim, can ya' tell me, Sir...
Where is a woman's yet?"

"WHAT?!!!" "A woman's yet, Y-E-T
Can ya' tell me where it's at?"
Well, Jim's eyebrows shot up so fast
He like to darn near lost his hat!

"Well of all the foolish..." The feller said, "I asked
a civil question, Sir,
You promised me you'd know!
But if ya' don't, then just admit it,
An' I'll take my leave an' go."

Now Jim seen this feller was about as serious as...
Well... A cowpoke'd ever get.
Says he; "Mister, I don't know who you been talkin'
But women... They don't got no yet!"

"Why yes they do!" the man replied
"No, no  they don't." Says Jim.
The feller looked around an' winked at us -
We just stared straight back at him.

"Why sure they do!" "Sure they don't!"
"Yes, by gosh they do!"
And "No they don't!!!" And back and forth,
Til Jim's face was turning blue!

And still, "By Gawd, they do!" and "By Gawd, they
And even so forth, on an' on:
"Heck yeah!" "Heck no!" "Hell, yeah!" "HELL, NO!"
Til Jim's voice was nearly gone!

The stranger said, "I've got a fifty dollar bill,
If you'd care to make a bet!"
Jim says, "Friend, I'll tell ya' one last time -

"Just put yer money where yer ol' smart mouth is!"
The stranger there replied.
In one hand he clutched a fifty,
The other still held that newspaper at his side.

Jim stared straight ahead for ten long seconds,
Then dug his money out at last.
Says he; "Yer bet's covered - Now whar's yer proof?"
And the feller grinned! "I thought you'd never ask!"

He whupped that paper up and folded it out, says;
"Now, cast yer eyes on this!
You'll see a woman's got a Yet...
Tho' I still don't yet know where it is!!!"
Jim stared at the paper and shook his head.
His smile was soft and sad...
He layed his money on the bar, an' says;
"Boys - I know when I've been had!"

He shrugged into his duster,
As his eyes drooped to the floor.
Says he; "Congratulations, boys! Ya' finally done it!"
Then sloped on out the door.

Well, we framed that newspaper and hung it where all
could read
Them words I'll not forget...
The headline said simply: "YOUNG WOMAN HOSPITALIZED
(..."And the bullet is in her yet!")

2001, Don McCrary
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.



About Don McCrary:

I'm a forty year old ex-cowboy, ex-truckdriver, ex-hell raiser and part time "Buckskinner," historian and poet. I live in Walker, Kansas, which ain't quite the end of the world, but you can see it from the front porch.

I grew up reading S. Omar Barker, Robert W. Service (my Dad's two favorite
poets) and Louis L'Amour. I'm the fifth of five son's and each one of us was a little bigger and better lookin' than the one before ... So I ain't exactly perfect, but I am right up there!

My father is one of my favorite poets. The poem Death's Head Bull was a collaboration between me and my late father, William Donald McCrary 9/16/24 - 4/28/01. "This one's for you, Pop!"

Don had some interestin' words to say about how he "writes" his poetry:

Since I don't rodeo any more, myself, I don't write much that actually deals with real honest to goodness Cowboys. I do write what I guess you'd call "Buckskinner" or "Mountain Man" poetry, since I spend quite a bit of time workin' with living history programs and goin' to "Rondyvoo." For what it's worth, most of my "writing" has been done sitting behind the wheel of an 18 wheeler. Consequently, I write more to be heard, rather than read. (I talk my way through my poetry, commit it to memory and with any luck put it down on paper 2, 3, or 6 months later...)



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