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

Paul Harwitz

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

About Paul Harwitz
Some Poems

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About Paul Harwitz

When we asked Paul to provide some biographical information, he told us that "the only time I have difficulty writing is in writing about myself."



Ride for the Brand
The Cowboy & the Dream-Girl
The Gallant Stallion
A Cowboy Needs Wide-Open Spaces
I'm Just a Young Cowboy
The SOL Ranch
Whirlwind Romance
Foaling Season
There Are No Fences In Heaven
I Saw an Angel Out on the Range
Cooking Buffalo with Julia
Cowboy Troy
A Cowpoke at the Opera
The Robot Rodeo
The High Lonesome

Spirit Horse


Ride for the Brand

The dismounted young cowboy asked the old hand,
"What does it mean when they say 'Ride for the brand'?"
The grizzled old-timer's age seemed to drop years,
And he sat straight up in the saddle as he surveyed the steers.

"It means a lot of different things, son.
It has a lot to do with what's lost and what's won.
I ain't talking about gambling, but earning a living,
Hard work, trust, respect, taking, and giving.

"It means you don't never foul up the land,
And you don't take unfair advantage or rob.
You work hard, even when the work's rough as a cob.
That's part of what it means to ride for the brand.

"It means you help your neighbors and your friends,
And you help even strangers just passing through.
It means you hire on a hungry saddle-tramp
Who needs a place to winter past the cold and damp.

"It means you don't let the poor folks go hungry
Just 'cause they're down and short on grub and luck.
And it means that you don't work just for a buck,
But 'cause you need work like water's needed by a tree.

"It means you can be trusted, and that you trust each pard,
To do the chores that are needed, no matter how hard,
'Cause you're all riding for the same outfit,
And you're all striving together to benefit it.

"It means you keep searching for that one last stray,
Even though it's the end of the day,
Even though you'd rather stop and go to town.
It means you don't lay your responsibility down."

"It means you give an honest day's work for an honest day's wage,
Whether you're in the corral or out riding the range.
Every job's important, and there ain't none that ain't.
It's not the cowboy way to quit though it'd be easier to say 'I cain't.'

"It means you'll not complain when you help dig a well,
Nor even have to be asked to spell a tired cowpoke who's stove-up.
It means you'll work with others as well as you'll work alone,
And that even when you're tired to the bone, you'll cowboy-up.

"That's what it means, that, and a whole lot more.
It means that you've got pride in yourself, your job, and the land.
So saddle-up. Toughen-up.  Cowboy-up.  Be a man.
Ride for the brand."

1999 Paul Harwitz All Rights Reserved.
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

The Cowboy & the Dream-Girl

Walking into the Moonlight's dimly-lit bar,
I saw a vision that entranced me from afar.
A shapely female figure sat coyly on a seat.
I thought to myself, "That's a lady I've got to meet."

From the back, she looked incredibly svelte,
And I guessed she'd have a face that would make my heart melt.
Two cowpoke pards at the far end motioned me to join them.
"Don't look right at her yet," whispered Clem.

"Yeah, if he sees you eyeing her, he'll fight you," warned Ty.
"Who?" I asked. "The one next to her, is he the guy?"
"And don't dare act like anything at all is wrong,"
Added Clem, "or he'll start a one-man riot before long."

"Is he that jealous?" I asked, "like in a sad cowboy song?"
"Just follow our lead," cautioned Ty, "and play along."
"You can take a gander real fast now," Clem said,
"'Cause he's making a quick trip to the head."

I started with her beautiful, silky, long blonde hair,
But when I got to her face, I stopped cold right there.
"Boys," I whispered, "lessen I'm crazy, she's made of wood!"
Ty said, "Yep, she's a timber version of beautiful ladyhood."

Clem explained, "His girlfriend ran off with a bull-rider
The day before yesterday, and he went plumb loco.
He bought this wooden gal and he keeps staying beside 'er.
He'll get violent if you act like you know."

"He keeps buying everybody drinks," Ty detailed,
"So that's another reason not to let his delusion get derailed."
"He's a cowpuncher named Henry," Clem said, "and he's coming back."
So, I sat in silence and spied like nothing was off-track.

Henry apparently thought he was having a sparkling conversation
With that gal whose upright parents were of a forest derivation.
The dress looked expensive and slinky, and fit her right good.
It seemed a durn shame that instead of being human, she was wood.

The Moonlight's staff let their arriving patrons know on the sly
Not to let on they thought anything was wrong with this girl and guy.
I don't blame them.  He was buying drinks for everyone there who was alive.
And besides, Henry had blacksmith-wide arms and stood six-foot five.

Every night he was in there with his new sweet-heart,
With him buying drinks for everybody and acting the part
Of a devoted, lucky, fully attentive boyfriend.
I thought to myself, "This story's bound to have a tragic end."

He kept buying her pretty dresses to wear,
And sometimes at the bar, he would gently stroke her golden hair.
But when the next full moon came, Fate his fair dream did dash,
Cruel as the woodsman's ax when he fells a tree to make it crash.

I came into the bar early for a change, and saw him sitting alone,
Like a repentant sinner who feels for his misdeeds he must atone.
"She left me," he moaned, "and I'm the saddest of all men.
She forsook me and ran off with that handsome cigar-store Indian!"

1999 Paul Harwitz. All Rights Reserved.
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.


I was between jobs and money was getting real tight,
So until I found work at a new ranch, I took a job at night.
Things had gotten so bad, I'd even begun thinking about selling my saddle,
And you know for a cowboy to do that, it just ain't right.

They said it was some kind of telephone service.
"Well, Mister," I said to the phone-room foreman,
"I gotta confess, my voice twangs and drawls and like that."
"Don't worry," he said, "you'll be a winner the first time at bat."

"What exactly are we selling?" I inquired.
"The job agency didn't tell me quite what."
"Cowboy," he answered, "what we're selling is you,
And in this room, every single other buckaroo."

"What?" I demanded.  "You mean I'm gonna be
Some kind of cowpoke gigalo?  Like some kind of outcall?"
I thought to myself, if the women are good-looking,
This might not be bad work at all.

"No," he said.  "It's in-call.  These East Coast women
Are tired of the Yuppie men in whose circles they're swimmin'.
They pay to call a real, live cowboy,
And I'll tell you, it's a hell of a marketing ploy."

"We don't have to talk dirty or nothing, do we?"
"No," he said, "keep it clean."
"That's good," I said, "'cause I don't want to talk mean
To womenfolk.  If I did that, I'd be morally broke."

"Look over these sample scripts," he said.
"By the time you cowboys have these all read,
You're usually ready to wing-it and ad-lib,
'Cause at romantic ranch-hand dialogue, you're all so glib."

Soon, I took my first call.
"1-900-A-Cowboy," I answered, in my most appealing drawl.
"Are you a real cowboy?" she asked.
"Ma'am," I replied, "I'm as real as an exciting bronc ride.

"I'm so real, that I hanker and pine,
For female companionship that's oh-so-fine.
I can tell you're a lady of impeccable taste.
For you to lavish affection on a lonely cowpoke like me would be a waste."

"Oh, no," she said, "you're more attractive to me,
Than all these pretty-boy actors on prime-time TV."
"Well, ma'am, that certainly warms this old range-hand's heart."
"Tell me," she asked, "how does your day start?"

"This morning," I answered, "I rolled out of my bunk well before sunrise.
In fact, some of the stars were still in the skies.
I grabbed a quick breakfast from the spread's Cook,
And then out for strays I rode to look."

I told them gals stories.  Some were made-up.
Some were true.
But when I got done talking with them,
There wasn't one of them that was blue.

Now, some men will call up women who'll talk to them nasty.
But ladies want to hear a man talk to them nice and polite,
So they can have wholesome romantic fantasies in dreams at night.
Women know that cowhands'll be alluring instead of uptight.

Isn't it amazing that what an East Coast man thinks sounds "hick"
Makes a lovely, lonely lady's pulse race real quick?
If those Eastern dudes didn't spend all their time chasing the dollar,
Those lonely ladies wouldn't have to give "1-900-A-Cowboy" a holler.

1998 Paul Harwitz. All Rights Reserved.
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

The Gallant Stallion

He was the finest black stallion I had ever seen.
His flanks and legs bespoke power and speed.
In his wild, outlaw, open-range eyes flashed a fiery, proud gleam.
To capture his wildness and tame it, I felt a burning need.

I almost didn't want to catch him, with his midnight coat.
I almost hoped he'd continue to elude me in the mountains and plains,
In the cool-watered meadows, and then I'd remember the reins,
The reins I wanted to gentle him to, and not just for gloat.

He was a wily devil, cunning, quick, and sure,
Fast as the wind, but I knew the salt-lick that would lure
That gallant stallion, for I too knew the land,
And that savvy would help me capture him with a rope in my hand.

Many times I'd tried to catch him before,
But he'd always, just at the last moment, escape.
Yet, this time, somehow I knew I would finally win,
And that this brave black stallion I would bring in.

My heart raced as I spurred my mount to wear my quarry out.
I'd remember to slow down my breathing, then I'd shout,
And hoorah him and harry him without remorse or relent,
For my plan was to get his vast, wild energy spent.

He was slyly circling towards his favorite salt-lick,
And he thought he could lose me, but I was too quick.
Just as he reached it, I captured him with my catch-rope.
His eyes showed he knew that of escape there was no hope.

I brought him to the home ranch with pride and respect.
Though courageous, he worried, 'cause he didn't know what to expect.
There'd be many a brag around campfires as that story I'd tell.
In my cowboy heart, I felt my pride start to swell.

"Oh, there you are," my Mother said as she walked out the kitchen door.
"I'm going to need that mop after supper to clean the floor.
Now, please give me back my clothesline, my little buckaroo so bold."
You see, I was a brave cowboy, even though I was only eight years old.

1999 Paul Harwitz. All Rights Reserved.
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

A Cowboy Needs Wide-Open Spaces

A cowboy needs wide-open spaces.
A cowboy needs wild, untamed places.
A cowboy needs untrammeled trails.
A cowboy needs grassy hills and dales.

A cowboy needs meadows that have never been plowed.
A cowboy needs room to roam freely around.
A cowboy needs to be where deer and antelope abound.
A cowboy needs to be where only the grazing's cowed.

A cowboy needs water clear, pure, and bright.
A cowboy needs to look up at the stars at night.
A cowboy needs to breathe air that's fresh and clean.
A cowboy needs to see he's part of Nature's scene.

A cowboy needs the panoramic vistas of the open range.
A cowboy needs to see the seasons change.
A cowboy needs to have all these things that Nature's arranged,
'Cause if he doesn't, that cowpoke'll become plumb "de-ranged!"

1997 Paul Harwitz. All Rights Reserved.
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.


I'm Just a Young Cowboy

I'm just a young cowboy.  I'm just starting out,
With a yip and a holler and a bodacious shout.
I'm just a young cowboy, and I want to say,
Thank God I'm a cowboy on this glorious day!

Everything's new, and nothing is old,
Except for the jokes and the stories I'm told.
I'm good with a catch-rope and I'm good with a horse.
I love working cattle from my saddle, of course.

I'm just a young cowboy, I'm just breathing free.
I don't need no towns or much of humanity.
You go be a doctor, a lawyer, or judge.
From this cowboy life, I'll never budge.

I love the freedom and I love the range.
There's not a single thing that I would change.
I'll never marry, I'll never settle down.
But I'd like to see that pretty new schoolmarm in town.

1997 Paul Harwitz. All Rights Reserved.
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.


The SOL Ranch

In the middle of the State of Wyoming, in Natrona County,
Sets a ranch which puts the "SOL" brand on nature's bounty.
The SOL's a brand that's known far and wide,
All throughout the countryside.

The current owner's great-grandpappy won it in a poker game,
And since then, that family's life has never, ever been the same.
You see, things just don't often turn out the way you'd expect they should
For a ranchin' family to earn sufficient livelihood.

The patriarch of the family narrowly escaped a stock detective
Who claimed that the old gent and his neighbors had brands defective.
Then he had to stand trial for the investigator's death,
Which he said was owin' to a stumblin' horse fall removing breath.

The great-grandpappy was acquitted, but was so elated,
That he was just plumb loco over-joyed,
And 'cause of that, he from a heart-attack expirated.
Needless to say, his wife and kin were exasperated.

Next came the grandpa, who found more mavericks than anyone,
Which more than a few times, almost cost him his health.
Some larger outfits cast a suspicious eye on his wealth,
Then  laughed when hoof-and-mouth condemned his cattle every one.

The pappy always dressed and acted right snappy.
He charmed the ladies a mite too well.
But a glib tongue could not a shotgun blast dispell,
So the other woman's husband made the widow unhappy.

On the son's shoulders rest the name and brand,
Both known throughout all Western land.
He's also inherited his ancestors' work-habits and pluck,
Which explains why he's so often, uh, out of luck.

1998 Paul Harwitz. All Rights Reserved.
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.


Whirlwind Romance

I'm a cowboy and you're a cowgirl.
What say we give some dancin' a whirl?
I don't get to the city all that much,
What with ridin' and ropin' and mendin' fence 'n' stuff.

You sure are a pretty young thang,
And you don't seem to mind the way I twang.
I ain't much to look at, and I'm damn near broke,
But I ain't one to think that love is a joke.

So do you think that you might maybe possibly could
Find it in your heart to love a cowboy who's good?
I know it's kinda sudden and all,
But if we had each other, I'd sit in the saddle real tall.

And I'll respect your wishes if you cotton to modern ways,
And don't want to just sit home a-churnin' butter,
And milkin' cows one after the other through all the days,
So if you don't want to marry, just be my "significant udder."

1997 Paul Harwitz. All Rights Reserved.


Foaling Season

Foaling season's here again.
I've been doing this since I don't know when.
You have to give God thanks, glory be,
For creating the horse that you now see.

They say the horse evolved here in the West,
Over millions of years, in the land it loves best.
Then some went to Asia, while ones here all died.
Then the Spanish brought the horse back with their conquering tide.

Whatever way God first made them, He must've knowed
Of all the work and the pleasure they would now have bestowed,
And all the horses that would gallop through many an ode,
And of all the bucking broncos, and the riders they've throwed.

There's been many a song, and many a story,
About the cowboy, the horse, and their glory.
Some say God must be a Cowboy, though I don't rightly know,
But I think He must surely smile when He sees a rodeo.

1997 Paul Harwitz. All Rights Reserved.
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.



There Are No Fences In Heaven

I was still right young when Grandpa died.
In a dream not long after, he visited me from the Other Side.
He looked like the pictures of back when he was in his prime.
"Grandson, don't mourn me any more.  It was my time."

"I miss you, Grandpa," I said, trying to hide a tear.
"Grandson, I'm always around, even though I'm not here.
I'm in the little whirlwind that you'll see appear and disappear.
I'm in the river's ebb and flow, and the greening of the grass each year."

"I'm just a little boy," I said. "Who'll teach me what to do?"
"You've got your parents, and your siblings, and your uncles, and your aunts.
You just listen to them, and to all the poems and songs and stories, too.
And remember not to hate anyone, no matter how much he yells and rants."

"But you know so much!  You still had so much to do!"
"No, Grandson, it was my time to go, and my life on Earth was through.
Besides, on the Other Side of the Great Divide, I've got the life that's true."
"Before you go back," I asked, "tell what it's like across the Great Divide."

"There are no fences in Heaven.  The range is free and wide.
The grasslands are all well-watered, there on the Other Side.
The buffalo number in the millions, as they thunder across the Plains.
And no cowpokes get struck by lightning as they ride herd when it rains.

"The wells never run dry, and the crops ripen in bounteous pride,
'Cause there's never a flood or a drought.
And our friends from the Tribes are happy to hunt, fish, and ride,
As freely as they please, all round about.

"There's no war, or disease, no hatred, no strife.
We're all God's children, and know it, in the true life.
There's no feuding, no squabbles, no scrambling for wealth.
There's no injury or malady, and there's only good health.

"There are no fences in Heaven.  The range is free and wide.
The grasslands are all well-watered, there on the Other Side.
Now, when you wake up, you smile and do your chores,
'Cause you don't need to cry for me any more."

1998 Paul Harwitz. All Rights Reserved.
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.


I Saw an Angel Out on the Range

I saw an Angel out on the range.
It appeared silently, and my mount didn't balk
As the Angel glowed softly while I rode night-hawk.
My horse stopped and bowed his head, and it didn't seem strange.

"Don't be afraid," the Angel said.
He was dressed in white from foot to head.
His outfit was all cowboy and it shone with light.
He had wondrous wings, a glorious sight.

I doffed my hat and said, "Mister Angel, if it's my time to go,
You just lead the way, and I'll follow."
"It's not your time," laughed the Angel.  "I was just sent by God on high
To tell you He's heard your prayer, and to give you His reply."

"He was impressed that you didn't ask for fame, or fortune, or long life,
But for peace on Earth, blessings on all, and an end to all strife.
The only thing you asked for yourself He grants, out here under the sky,
You'll be a cowboy till the day that you die."

1997 Paul Harwitz. All Rights Reserved.
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

If you've ever seen "Cooking with Julia Child" on PBS, you'll know that the final line of this poem is consistent with her customary tag-line.   Buffalo tastes really good, and the cooking instructions given in this poem are the standard ones for bison. I like to cover different topics in cowboy poems, and this one seemed like a "natural" one to do.  Most people don't know that Julia Child did extremely dangerous spy work for Allied Intelligence behind enemy lines in Occupied France during World War II.

Her performances on her cooking shows are so energetic, what with all the knives, cleavers, mallets, etc., and her dialogue is so clever and entertaining, that you ought to watch one of them every so often even if you're not that interested in French cooking.   I haven't seen that many of her shows, but they are extremely informative and entertaining.

So, it hit me that I'd like to see her do a show about cooking the North American buffalo.

Cooking Buffalo with Julia
               ("Julia Child Cooks Buffalo")

Hello, I'm Julia Child.  Today what I want to show
Is how to cook the North American buffalo.
The bison which provided the meats for today
Were slaughtered with respect, the Native way.

Because buffalo has much less fat than cow,
You must remember not to use too high a temperature,
And not to overcook it anyhow.
It's low in cholesterol, fat, and calories.

Never over-cook buffalo.  Cook rare or medium-rare,
To conserve the vitamins and wonderful taste in there.
For buffalo steaks, move your oven rack
From the heat source, about one notch further back.

In place of the wild onions we're using today,
If you want to substitute shallots, that's O.K.
For side-dishes, consider squash, beans, and maize,
And your guests will praise your meal for days.

Cooking buffalo produces a feast that's a feat.
Those who dine upon it will enjoy a great treat.
For meals shared with others, buffalo can't be beat.
And that is tout le table.  Bon appetite!

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

"Cowboy Troy" appears on my other Cowboy Poetry Page, Raucous Ranch, which is designed to help students in grades K through 12 learn how to learn more about a wide variety of subjects through the use of humorous Cowboy Poetry.  There's a Study Guide for the "Cowboy Troy" poem there.  It also has "The Mechanical Cow-Dog" and "The Space-Critter in the Feedlot."

Cowboy Troy

Cowboy Troy sometimes seems to be
The epitome of outlandish stupidity.
He's not a bad cowboy when he's doing his work,
But thinking things through is a duty he'll often shirk.

Cowboy Troy works all right in the saddle,
But common sense will often skidaddle
When he hatches one of his hare-brained schemes,
And people laugh so hard they near bust their seams.

Like the time he thought he'd invent a beauty-cream
And went to the General Store to see what ingredients he could glean
From the list of things on the jars of stuff there,
Then got a well-worn chemical recipe book out of who knows where.

He decided to use an old tool-shed quite a ways from the bunkhouse,
And said that's 'cause he didn't want us disturbing his inventing anyhows.
He figured he'd invent this new stuff without even a plan.
"Why, heck," he said, "they's mostly gliss-sireen and lan-o-lan."

He grinned.  "I'll add in some rosewater and sagebrush,
And secret ingredients, and them cosmetic companies'll just rush
To buy my beauty-cream's formulary,
Or maybe I'll sell jars of it myself to every store and apothecary."

"Cowboy Troy," I said, "you don't know nothin' about chemistry,
Or about the women's beauty concoction industry.
They's got it down to a science, and there ain't no way,
They'll shell out a fortune to a hayseed cowpoke anyway."

"I'll show y'all, " he said to us other cowhands, "and then you'll repent
That you ever doubted my natural-born inventin' talent.
On the fairer sex's moisturizin', prettifyin' market I'll make quite a dent.
It'll keep gals' skin young and healthy, and also wrinkles prevent."

With that, he traipsed off to that lonesome tool-shed.
He's a stubborn cuss when he gets some lame idea in his head.
Now this was the exact same day we were expecting a whole load
Of new irrigation equipment and pipe to be brought in by the main road.

We heard the trucks coming even before we saw the convoy,
And you could tell they were turning from the highway
And would be directly coming over to the ranch's way.
From that distance, each gleaming truck looked like a toy.

The nearer they got to us, the more the ground seemed to shake,
Till something totally unexpected our attention did take.
The tool-shed blew up in a spectacular way
That all of us still talk about to this day.

All of us, that is, except Cowboy Troy.
He flew through the air with unwanted ease
And his arms and legs were windmilling and flailing
Like he was trying to get a hold of a non-existent railing.

Pieces of the tool-shed were still sailing away
And a compact object of some sort jetted my way.
I jumped back, and it landed almost at my feet.
It was a book.  Of chemical formulas, it was replete.

Then I saw one page which was dog-eared and marked.
"This must be Cowboy Troy's," I casually remarked.
"Let's see where he landed, and if he's still livin'.
If he's not, on his saddle, my claim I'm givin'."

We ran over to where we'd allowed he must've alighted.
It was just a ways beyond the main stable.
Someone had done a right good job of mucking out that barn.
Troy had landed in a pile of horse manure and looked quite benighted.

"Git me out of here!" he yelled, so he was still alive.
And the boys were buzzin' like bees in a hive.
"We can't move you, Troy.  You'll just have to lie there real nice and still,"
I said, "till the ambulance gets here, which I hope it shortly will."

"What!?" he shouted.  "You want to leave me lying in this mess!?"
"Troy, it's a medical precaution.  If your spine or neck is bollixed,
To move you without proper skill could cripple or kill.  I confess
I'd like to help you, but we're all just range-hands, not trained medics."

"Oh, that's wonderful!" he shouted, and some nasty words I won't relate.
"That horse-doo saved your life," I countered.  "Don't be such an ingrate.
That and the hay and all
Surely saved your life by cushioning your fall."

I looked at the page of that book, and my eyes grew wide.
"Cowboy Troy," I asked, "were you trying to commit suicide?"
"What do you mean?" he demanded in an angry tone.
"Do you have any idea what you were mixing out of this chemistry tome?"

"You know I was inventing a super beauty-cream."
"Troy, this page tells how to make nitroglycereen!"
"Well, yeah," he said, "but I only made a little bit.
It was just another secret ingredient."

"Don't you know nitro's a dangerous explosive?
The vibrations from the trucks must've set it off!
Don't you think at all?  Or are you just a dummkopf?"
"I'm not stupid," he said.  "Don't insult me with words corrosive!"

"Well, what were you thinking, to put nitro into lady's beauty-glop?"
"They also use it," he argued, "in those little pills so the heart won't stop.
I figured if it keeps the heart young, it'll work even better on skin."
We all laughed so hard, he got even madder lying in all that slop.

"You're lucky you weren't killed outright,"
I said, "or from the fall from your unscheduled morning flight.
Now, your sensibilities I don't mean to rattle,
But, Cowboy Troy, if you die, kin I have your saddle?"

Well, at that, he fussed and fumed and cussed
So much that it kept us in stitches till the ambulance got in sight.
The paramedics said it was a miracle, but that he'd be all right.
They strapped him into the stretcher real tight.

He was still cussin' a blue streak when they drove him away.
When the Admissions Nurse got told the reason for his hospital stay,
She laughed so hard that they still talk about it today.
Me and a couple of the other boys went to see him the next day.

"We brought you clean clothes 'cause they're cuttin' you loose,"
I said.  "The doctor allows it's a good thing you landed on your caboose."
He got real sullen and wouldn't talk at all on the long drive home.
He was pickin' at his indignity like a cowdog pickin' at a bone.

He sat silent even all through the welcome-home supper.
The evening meal at the Raucous Ranch is usually a picker-upper.
Later on, he was still in quite a blue funk,
But even more so when he got ready to get into his bunk.

For under his pillow, some too-clever cowpoke
Had put something he thought was a real good joke.
A hand-made label graced a jar of something his ego to ream.
It read, "Famous Cowboy Troy's Nitro-Glyer-Cream."

1998 Paul Harwitz. All Rights Reserved.
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

A Cowpoke at the Opera 

Well, pards, I was over to Denver when last the hay'd been mowed,
And that town sure as shootin' has growed.
And I seen signs all 'round town
That some big old opry had done come around.

Well, I ain't never before seen no opry,
And to get culture's better than a bar-room fightin' spree,
So I figgers, what the hay,
And so I done bought myself a ticket that day.

I come back there that night and got showed to my seat.
From the way people looked at my outfit,
I reckoned I better just go ahead and sit.
They was wearing fancy duds, an' I looked like Cowboy Pete.

Then the lights done dimmed down,
And the great big old band started to play.
At first it was kinda soft, but then
Them cymbals clashed like a storm a mountain had just found.

Then some great big-chested gal with a shield and spear
Started singing real purty in some fur'n language and walkin' around.
I think it was German, 'cause it sure did sound
A lot like what in towns in the Dakotas I used to hear.

She was wearing a metal bonnet with horns on her head.
So I figgered if this opry's got cows, it must be an oater.
Near's I could tell, some powerful old guy owned a big spread
And was in a terrible choler and kept singin' up a storm to holler.

There was a lot of guys swinging swords and axes and what-all,
And since there weren't no six-guns a-tall,
I reckoned it was some ancient Old World story,
Plumb full of blood and guts and glory.

The durn thing lasted so long a spell
I thought this opry's a bargain for what you spend.
But it was gettin' kinda late,
And I asked a feller next to me when it would end.

He said it was a-comin' on, and to have no fear,
For it wouldn't be too much longer
'Fore I'd be gettin' outta here,
And to look for that big lady with the flyin' horse, shield and spear.

That huge ol' white horse sure 'nuff had wings!
And the big-chested lady warbled
But like that city feller done said,
It ain't over till the fat lady sings.

2002,  Paul Harwitz (All Rights Reserved.)
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

The Robot Rodeo

You'd really enjoy the action and the thrills  at the Robot Rodeo.
It's held every year in the town of Casper, Wy-o.
Gleaming steel cowboys ride ornery mechanical bull beasts.
It's so exciting, the crowd jumps right out of their seats.

Pretty metal cowgirls execute amazing barrel racing.
The cybernetic barrels have little feet and wheels a-pacing.
Those barrels try to barge into their way.
The cowgirls try to outsmart 'em, and it's quite a fray!

Metallic mustangs try to throw off each shiny cowpoke.
Those bronc-riders try to stay on and not to get broke.
The iron horses shimmy and jump and buck
So much that sometimes parts fly off 'em like offen a truck.

The stainless calves try to outrace the sly, agile, robot ropers.
Those computerized cowponies work with their riders as one.
The composite cowboys rope and throw each whirring, whirling calf.
Then all the competitors enjoy a refreshing hot-oil bath.

2002,  Paul Harwitz (All Rights Reserved.)
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.



The High Lonesome

You can feel all alone in a city that's big,
Where people will walk all over someone
And not care a fig.
You see that, and your nerves come undone.

You need to light out to the High Lonesome.
Come out to repair the rips in your psyche and soul.
Better that than to bury yourself in some city hole.
Come out to the High Lonesome, and be back in control.

Look at the forest, and don't miss the trees.
Smell the freshness in the mountain meadow breeze.
Spy a stag unawares drinking from a stream with no cares.
Wonder at the stars, and forget about putting on airs.

You're a part of all this grandeur, this vista, this view,
And remember, now and forever, it's all part of you.
Whenever the city and civilization seem too much to take,
Remember the High Lonesome and take a wilderness break.

2002,  Paul Harwitz (All Rights Reserved.)
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

Spirit Horse

My horse died today.

Tonight, I see him running

In the moonlight, free.

2009,  Paul Harwitz (All Rights Reserved.)
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.


Paul comments: I had finished reading Kim Sheridan's book Animals & the Afterlife. A friend's elderly dog had recently died. I have always believed that animals have souls, and I have on some occasions seen the spirit of a dog or cat. I had never seen the ghost of a horse, but the concept of the spirit horse is a recurring theme in Western North America, Europe, and elsewhere. The poem "Spirit Horse" came to me in a flash. It was all at once, quite sudden. I seemed to be experiencing the subject matter exactly as depicted in the haiku. It was an extremely powerful, emotional experience.



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