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About Joe Bob Kinnaman



The Pipe Fence Range

The feedlot cowboy’s life is great,
The real top end of duties.
All dancehall girls and big blue skies,
Just like in those old movies.

There ain’t no race discrimination—
Out here everybody’s brown.
From sweat and dust and rain and sun,
From sunup to sundown.

With busted pride and pockets,
You keep on trottin’ on.
From pen to pen to pen to pen,
The pay’s short—the hours are long.

Bill finally got “retirement”
When his arthritis got just right.
Now he drives the nightwatch pickup truck
And drinks a fifth a night.

In March it’s cold and windy,
And it aggrevates my gout.
But it June it’s just so gawdamn hot,
I guess it evens out.

Some ride some outside horses,
Some shoe ‘em on the side.
Some spend their pay before they get it,
Ridin’ high and wide.

From shippin’ on a two year old
At 4:30 in the mornin’,
To puttin’ down your best old stick
Who colicked without warnin’.

There’s never no monotony
Out on the pipe fence range—
Unless you count 10,000 fats
Who all look just the same.

When I retire in a few years
I’ll know how to pass the time.
I’ll lay under that big cottonwood
And stare up at the sky.

And the temperature will stay the same,
Season after season.
And I won’t have no cause to bitch,
‘cause I won’t have a reason.

© 2009, Joe Bob Kinnaman
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.



The Cowboy Poet

You ask me why I still do this?
Said the cowboy to the poet.
I guess if you don't know by now,
you ain't never gonna know it.

It's the only kind of life I know,
was my Dad's and Grandpa's too.
Dad worked till he was eighty-three,
Gramps died at ninety-two.

You get up tired and work all day,
buildin' fence and ridin' herd.
It's hard for you to lay off Sunday,
but you know you need The Word.

Your fingers hurt and your knees are sore
from years of easy livin'.
But you wouldn't trade not one small piece
of this gift that you've been given.

See you never have much money,
or drive a fancy truck.
But your house is full and so's your heart,
Feller that ain't just dumb luck.

My kids ride right beside me,
my wife does her share and more.
And we'll all walk in together
when we're at the Father's door.

Now what's that worth in money?
Can you figger me a price?
When you come up with a number
let me know—I'll pay it twice.

So I sit here at the table,
thinkin' on what my Dad said.
My wife's doin' supper dishes,
and the kid's are all in bed.

And our house it ain't real fancy,
and our ranch is gettin' smaller.
But the wheat is comin' up real good,
and the kids are gettin' taller.

So I'll get up in the mornin',
just like the day before.
And be proud of all the stuff I've got,
you can't buy at the store.

© 2009, Joe Bob Kinnaman
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

Joe Bob about his inspiration for this poem: "My close relationship with my Dad and Grandpa, along with the way people (including myself), sometimes get caught up in the materialistic way of living...There is a simple honesty to working hard and raising a family the traditional cowboy way."



About Joe Bob Kinnaman:

I am a native of the Texas Panhandle. I grew up ranching yearlings and pairs with my Grandpa until I graduated High School. Now, I live the cowboy lifestyle after work and on weekends through team roping with many good friends, both old and young. The feedlot operation is big business in this part of Texas, and many of my friends spent some amount of time both enduring and loving the feedlot cowboy life.



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