Folks' Poems

Back to Lariat Laureate Contest
Back on home
Back to the list of Folks' Poems

Jim R. Anderson's Palo Duro web site
About Jim R. Anderson

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





The Great Circle

Though the calendar said early spring,
That night wind had a cold low moan.
And as I stood in awe of the full moon,
That breeze sent a shiver to the bone.

I don't know if it was the cold air
That brought about that shake,
Or the feeling that something from the past
Was near for remembrance sake.

Suddenly the ground shook and there was a rumble,
And a vision unfolded before my eyes.
The light was dim, but I could see a herd of buffalo
Racing across the plains in endless lines.

Then I saw campfires dot the horizon,
They were here and there, but whose were they?
Cowboy, Calvary, or Comanche perhaps.
Or maybe even before that, maybe Anastasi.

Then I realized that the source of the tremor
Was only the train about a mile away.
And the campfires were just lights from houses,
The city, and cars making their way.

I looked around quick for a trace of the vision
But only the grass rustled from the breeze.
And as I looked into that clear starry sky,
I could see the great circle with ease.

Now in that circle shines the stars and the moon,
They've made no changes since time began.
They saw this land free of asphalt and fences,
And as for me, I wished I could have too --- again.

© April 29,1998  Jim R. Anderson
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.


Today, the vogue is to "imprint" a colt with a human,
So he will grow up trusting the imprint as Maw.
Well, I think of that when people don't understand how
I can love West Texas, when empty desert is all they saw.

Sure, I've read the account of "Trail Blazers" saying,
This was the only uninhabitable portion of Texas.
And I've seen the scars they left in the ruts of the Santa Fe,
As they rushed across making their quick exits.

But I've also read that the stone rejected by the builder
Will be chosen for the capstone, mighty and bold.
That could have been written about these plains
Hurriedly cast aside in a rush to some motherlode.

Plains, Just the sound of the word inspires visions of
Vast, boundless vistas, with fiery sunsets against cobalt sky.
Its power to throw man back upon himself, feeling alone and small,
Is mingled with a feeling of freedom to those who pass by. 

For I remember standing in silent awe of a moon rising,
To gentle evening breezes, after a windy front had passed.
Then feeling I was not alone, that the plains were filled
With kindred spirits who by choice lingered, free at last.

I know this land imprints people for I have watched
Many of them fight and struggle, vowing to leave;
Swearing never to return, only to discover too late,
That what they sought was here all along and was free.
How many times I have watched a sleeping brown pasture
Awaken -- overnight, by spring rain, into brilliant kelly green.
Then felt tightness of throat as the sun broke over grazing
Mamas as their babies played and bucked at things they'd seen.

Or watched a steaming colt being urged to uncertain legs
And silently praised God on a chilly winter night;
While holding the lantern, and shaking uncontrollably
From a mixture of cold, amazement, and delight.
Yes, these plains imprinted me, yet some will never understand;
The peace I feel knowing, when I'm planted beneath the sod,
It will be on these wild and wind swept plains,
Where I can spend eternity in this land free and blessed by God.

© November 5, 1999  Jim R. Anderson
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.


It was the summer of '70 as I recall,
My partner and I were finally riding for a brand.
For the past two years we day worked,
Topped broncs, and hung iron, to eat, you understand.

Now that pay came at regular intervals,
We dreamed of all them luxuries long since neglected.
 I bought some Wranglers and a new "silk Manila",
Partner put his kack in the shop, the tab, 125 projected.

Well, the fourth of July was soon to arrive,
And the owner wanted to butcher a beef to celebrate.
He picked a crossbred bull, just coming two,
So we cut out and pinned that barbecue candidate.

Now it had been a spell since either of us had dined
On beef in a form other than balona or burger.
So after we'd pinned him, we set around discussing
The fine cuts we'd have, right after the murder.

Now I have often been told "animals are dumb"
But that bull must have understood our conversation.
'Cause next morning, when we went to load him up,
The pin was empty; he had jumped the reservation.

The rest of that day and all of the next,
We spent mounted, in search of that fugitive culinary delight.
Finally, in the afternoon of the third day,
We spotted the runaway, for the first time since taking flight.

He stood in the shade of a small thicket,
Behind him was heavy brush, the river on his side.
His position would have made General Patton envy,
Its no wonder there was no fear in this boy's eyes.

We needed a plan quick, lest he vanish again.
A frontal attack meant a rough ride through thick brush,
Now that's a game we figured he would win.
So we came up with a good cowboy strategy, in a rush.

As the summit adjourned, we rode away with confidence,
Why, the idea was fool proof, nothing was left to chance.
As I eased in behind him, partner would block the river.
With two loops around his head, he' learn a new dance.

We built our loops as we moved into position.
I was riding a full double rigger, throwing grass,
 My partner was on his overhauled in-skirt, and
He had thirty foot of nylon tied hard and fast.

By the time I got to where that critter had been,
The chase was on and my partner was closing fast.
I sunk my spurs to catch up 'cause the bull was circling
And as soon as he caught, I had to make my cast.

Partners' loop was big so as not to miss,
So there was no surprise when the catch was deep.
 Well he pitched his slack, he turn his hoss
Sunk his spurs, figuring he'd jerk him into a heap.

Now I was still out of range when that nylon went tight.
Then, like a shot, the "Dees" from his rig went flying.
The saddle now worked like a catapult, the projectile was the rider.
 Watching his heavenly arch, I thought he was dying.

Gone the front cinch and harness, but not the flank.
The saddle, now on its back, hung over his horse's rump.
And that pony left no doubt of his opinion on wearing tack,
'Cause pitched a fit, until that cargo he could dump.

Well my partners body, showed no real damage,
He'd bounced right up from his meeting with the ground.
Now on foot, his horse and saddle he was pursuing.
Running behind yelling whoa, as leather rained all around.

And what about the object of our excursion, well,
He had stopped to admire his work, and give himself a pat.
Well, its true bulls can't laugh, but I am sure he wore a grin,
And the expression on his face said, "damn, did I do that"?

Partners work as a team if ever there's a storm,
To cover one for the other, that's only right and true.
So after I caught my breath and wipe my eyes,
I retrieved his naked pony; it seemed the least I could do.

As I returned the mount, my partners' face shown red,
He was now glaring at the ruins at his feet.
So I bit my lip, and hid my grin, I figured
More snickers probably weren't to discrete.

As the horses blew, and the dust began to settle,
Without a word, toward the pickup my partner started walking.
And, somehow I knew not to follow, after all there are times,
When things get out of hand, a man prefers quiet to talking.

Now this story is getting long and needs concluding.
So more details there's no reason to supply.
My partner returned from the pickup, with a 30-30,
And plugged old Erkile right between the eyes.

© 5/7/98, Jim Anderson
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

Horse Time

Last Saturday morning, as I was watching the sunrise while
taking my coffee out on the porch,
The steam from the cup and the nip in the air started me thinking
'bout lessons I'd learned on back of a horse.

When I was just a button, helping gather for the first time, I was
too green to be very much trouble.
I'd always lay back trying not be seen, afraid I'd do something
wrong and get sent home on the double.

As time went by and my interest turned to football, cars, and
girls, I just wanted to get through and go to town.
I'd push my horse in close and crowd the herd, I was in a hurry, 
but he just kept trying to back off and slow down.

Well, I had just kicked him in closer when that wild-eyed cow
Broke out and I tried to run her back.
But I was too close to get the angle and while I was chasing her, 
at least hand full more made tracks.

It took more than an hour just to get back to where I had been, 
So this time I listened to my pony.
If I hadn't been in such a rush, this bunch would have already
been home, just like he'd told me.

As the years fell away, the pursuit of wealth replaced horses,
To achieve my goals, I had to quicken the pace.
Check the water, line out the hands, and get to the bank,
Rest could come later, but now, just win the race.

About then the creator must have figured I was due a reminder,
He knew I didn't remember that first course.
So like a patient, loving parent, he sent me out for a refresher
And again used the same teacher, a horse.

The lesson was given in a wilderness area, high in the Colorado
Rockies, on horseback, hunting Elk.
It was the first time I had been off the place in years but I still felt
a little guilty taking pleasure for myself.

Our camp was six miles from where we planed to hunt, and in
My "got to  hurry" state of mind,
On opening day, I left camp in a trot, it was like there was some
kind of desperate dead line.

But that was when the lesson began, those mountain trails were
steep, and a slip could easily be fatal.
Those horses would only go as fast as was safe, so I
Had to accept this slower rate of travel.

Well it took several days for the feeling of urgency to ease, and
For my mind to grasp this new concept of time.
I began to notice the sunrise and the sound of birds and the
wind; I even caught the sweet smell of pine.

So as I sipped my coffee and reality set in, I thought of all the
Times I had ignored this lesson divine.
When the Master set man on earth, he also created the pace,
Now I know, the race is won, in horse time.

© September 15, 1998, Jim Anderson
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.


"You know why jockeys are so small?"
A friend of mine asked the other day.
"Lighter load on them horses,"
I thought was a proper thing to say.

"That's what the public believes,
But, think hard, I know you can tell,
They know so many ways to cheat,
Naw, its so they can all fit in Hell!"

Well I'm not sure what brought on
Such a vicious verbal attach.
But it did remind me of my experience
With jockeys, not so far back.

I was running arena pony express,
A sport some say is only for the crazy.
My horse was a 15.3 chestnut gelding,
Weighed about 1150 and was a bit lazy.

Like anyone involved in a sport of racing,
I would try about anything for more speed.
Once I even tried a shadow roll to stretch him out
And get just a little more out of that steed.

At the time I knew some trainers at the track,
And maybe a winning jockey or two.
If any one knew how to inspire a lazy hoss,
The answer would come from that crew.

After buying a few rounds to loosen their tongues
I worked my problems into the conversation.
And just as I figured, with the next drink they agreed,
With their plan, ole Red would be a sensation.

Why all I needed to inspire some more try,
Was a "little" something to provide incentive.
Well of coarse they had just the right tool
And for only fifty dollars, sure I could rent it.

But what could this thing be that
Was a sure-fire cure so quick and nice?
They called it a "bug," it wasn't as
Big as a class ring, this shocking device.

I was the first to arrive at practice that night,
With the bug in hand, and great anticipation.
And as I saddled the sorrel I had a feeling,
Soon I'd see him run hard, without reservation.

All I had do was just "plug him in" a time or two.
Then any time I needed, just whisper in his ear.
No need to shock him again, just touch his neck
And whisper a buzz, he would find another gear.

I took him around the pattern about three times,
We went easy just warming up for the lesson.
When I was sure he was loose, I ask him to run
A surprise was waiting if he loafed this session.

As we turned the third barrel, I assumed the position,
My mouth to his ears, the reins on his neck.
At the stretch, as usual, he started dogging,
So I "plugged him in," o.k. let's run by heck.

I was watching his ears when the bug I applied
But they disappeared along with his head
Cause when I touched him with that shocker,
He didn't speed up, he broke into instead.

I flew at least thirty yards cross that arena,
Then plowed a good ten or fifteen more.
I staggered to my feet and started pouring dirt
Thinking, those results seemed a might poor.

Now I am not given to using excuses,
Nor looking somewhere else to pin the blame,
But I believe for a fact, I know a trainer
And two jockeys, that'll fit that eternal flame.

© June 19, 1998, Jim Anderson
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

The New Bull

The turning of a New Year always gives cause
To reflect on the last one, it seems.
To think about the trials, the tests,
The wins, and unfulfilled dreams.

Last year about this time, I remember
Thinking, it'll be better in '98.
Prices were poor, but the moisture was good,
So, that ain't too bad, right out of the gate.

As I was lookin' over the books, I got the idea,
A new bull might improve our bottom line.
And when I run it by my banker, he agreed, you see,
He's also a friend and a neighbor of mine.

So, after pouring over volumes of reports,
I was sure I had found the winning protégée.
It was obvious his lineage would boost performance,
And to improve profits, that's the key.

Terms were agreed to and papers were signed,
His breeders arranged to ship him straight away.
Now for his arrival, all my neighbors came by,
All of them, even the banker stopped in that day.

It might have been late winter, but felt more like spring.
The day was warm, the cloudless sky bright and blue.
And as I turned him in with some open heifers,
Everyone stepped to the fence to see just how he'd do.

I'd been told this line weren't real aggressive,
That should make work a lot less of a fight.
Well, he was so passive; he passed the herd,
Found a patch of grass and just took a bite.

At last his attention showed signs of turning,
For several hours, he had done nothing but eat.
But now he sniffed the air and approached a heifer,
Then carefully picked his spot and went off to sleep.

Now a week had past since he arrived
And he ain't touched a heifer yet.
So probably to protect his investment,
My banker suggested I call a vet.

On the phone, I carefully related every symptom,
Trying not to omit the smallest detail.
As I spoke, he was silent, then confidently said,
"We can get him on the right trail."

That vet was here in less than an hour,
Just like he had said he would be.
And by then I had pinned that bull,
In hopes of saving some time and fees.

Ole Doc put the eyeball on him,
Said his apparatus looked just fine.
Then he poured something on his feed.
Said, "We'll try this one time."

He left me the concoction with these instructions,
"Put about the same on his evening feed,
Come mornin' turn him out and watch him."
Said to call him back if there was a need.

That medicine didn't effect his appetite none,
Cause by morning he had cleaned that trough.
But when I open the gate, instead of shoving me
To the feeder, he throwed up his head and was off!

I watched in disbelief as he built right to them heifers.
I celebrated as he covered each and every one.
Then I watched, helpless, as he jumped the fence,
And headed for my neighbor's cows, at a run.

I called my banker, embarrassed and with regret,
"Forget the cows," he yelled, "what was in that cure?"
I said I didn't rightly know, then I thought,
"But the taste sorta reminds me of chocolate for sure."

© January 8, 1999, Jim Anderson
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.


In A Way

Well the wind quit blowin' 'bout two this mornin',
          Don't know when the fire went out.
But the coffee in the pot is solid now and
          I can see my breath when I'm about.

I have to get wood from the pile outside,
          But, my boots have froze to floor.
In my bare feet, I made the discovery
          The snow had drifted half way up the door.

Oh well, we need the moisture, and there's plenty of hay.
          And the snow is sort of pretty... in a way!
My hands are numb, but the stove is loaded,
      And it sure feels good givin' that fire a pokin'.

If I thawed my gloves, I'd find some comfort,
    The fingers was gone by the time they quit smokin'.
 The batteries are dead on the truck and the tractor,
      And to charge 'em would sure be nice.

But since the electricity just went off,
       I might as well get started busting ice.
Oh well, we need the moisture, and there's plenty of hay.
          And the snow is sort of pretty.. in a way!

The layer on the tank was holdin' the mare,
      But a twelve-pound sledge should work nice.
 The first blow ricocheted across my shin,
      The next one broke... the handle, not the ice!

I shook the Bees from throbbing hands,
     Then stepped over to retrieve the head,
The hammer had failed the desired result
     Now my boots went through instead.

Oh well, we need the moisture, and there's plenty of hay.
          But, I sort-a wish this snow would go away!
I reached the shack too stiff to limp,
    But feeling no pain in my shin,

From the knees down, my legs were numb,
    And something had froze to my chin.
Just let me lay on the floor 'til the aching subsides.
     The stock's watered and there's feed in the bin.

I just need a minute, and I'm sure I'll survive,
     Oh hell, its 3 o'clock, time to start all over again!
Who cares about the moisture, and I stacked all this damn hay.
        It's the first week of November, how long 'til May??!!

© November 7, 2002, Jim Anderson
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.


About Jim R. Anderson:

The “Elder Statesman” of Palo Duro comes in the person of Jim Anderson, singer songwriter, poet, and storyteller. Raised on the family owned farming and ranching operations in west Texas and Colorado, and having run the operation for fifteen years, his songs and poetry reflect his feeling for the land and its heritage that can only come form first hand experience. Jim started riding calves on the family ranch in Alamosa, Colorado at the age of three, and never got over the experience. He continued to ride and participate in the every day working life on a working farm and ranch for the next forty years. Successfully working his way through college as a cowboy, shoeing horses, breaking and training horses, rodeoing, and day working on ranches in the area, and coming home to work when needed.  After college, besides working the family business, he organized and competed in arena pony express and saddle bronc riding until a back fusion ended the ruff competition in 1977.  

To Jim, music has been just as important in his life as was the freedom of rural life.  As far back as when he was six years old and his father gave him his first guitar, any time people gathered at the house, or barn, or behind the chutes, there was music and Jim was there to sit in. He won several FFA area talent contests when in High School, as well as earning Star Lone Star Farmer Award, which shows a remarkable diversity of interest. He has been involved in playing in groups in some form or another since the age of 14. Forced to leave production agriculture in 1985, Jim was put in “Purgatory” in Illinois until he could finally return to his beloved Texas in 1997.  That was when he discovered his real passion is Western music from swing to sage. His composition of the song “Comanche Moon” won national acclaim by receiving West Quests Historian Award, and his poetry has been published in “Farm and Ranch” magazine. It is easy to see the influence of his deep rooted western background in his manner and performances. 


comanchemoon.jpg (25116 bytes)  Palo Duro is a Western music trio dedicated to authentic western entertainment, performing traditional cowboy classics as well as some of their own original material. Featuring lead singer/bass player Cody Anderson, 14-year-old violinist Erica Swindell, and "elder statesman" singer/guitarist Jim Anderson, the group's popularity has been spreading like the great canyon they are named after.

Palo Duro's new album, "Comanche Moon," contains fifteen tracks that tell the story of the Texas panhandle in song and poetry. The album recently received West Quest's Historians Award for preserving and promoting the history, heritage, tradition, and spirit of the American West.

See the Palo Duro web site and listen to some tracks from "Comanche Moon."


See They Call Him a Cowboy, by Cody Anderson and Jim Anderson

from the Academy of Western Artists 1st Annual Cowboy Poetry/Songwriting Team Roping Challenge



 What's New | Poems

 Features | Events  

The BAR-D Roundup | Cowboy Poetry Week

Poetry Submissions 

Subscribe | Newsletter | Contact Us

  Join Us!


Authors retain copyright to their work; obtain an author's
permission before using a poem in any form. is a project of the Center for Western and Cowboy Poetry, Inc., a Federal and California tax-exempt non-profit 501 (c) (3) organization.  


Site copyright information