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

New Mexico
About John Duncklee
John Duncklee's
web site




Chico was a cowboy, the only trade he knew
He rode in to my camp one day, from then our friendship grew

His home was down in Mexico, where the Rio Yaqui flows, but he
crossed the "line" when just eighteen with his saddle and his clothes

He'd heard they needed mountain hands to tie the wild ones down
He found his way to Tucson and wandered through the town

Before the day was over he had joined up with a crew
And headed for the mountains the kind of country that he knew

The boss cut out five horses, and told him where to ride
pointing out the canyons where the wild ones liked to hide

Chico used his rawhide well, and threw it without fear
not caring if his partner was far away or near

He'd bust the wild ones every day, and bring them in alone
at the end of his old rawhide rope, 'till he became well-known

He was the toughest of the mountain hands who tied the wild ones down
and he'd ride for months in the mountains, never seein' town

One day he found an old black steer a hidin' in a draw
with one horn up and one horn down, he threw rawhide before he saw

The look the old steer had in his eye, a look he'd seen before
in the eye of a brindle bull one day, so he knew what was in store

The rawhide sung and found its mark around the black steer's horn
then all hell broke loose as the black steer charged through the cactus trees and thorn

The steer kept comin' straight at his horse and hit him in the chest
The upturned horn ripped through his hide and tore in to his flesh

The horse went down and Chico fell, as the old black steer turned back
to take another run at them, and he heard his leg bones crack

The horse got up, and with the steer, they both ran far away
They found Chico with both legs broke, in the morning the next day

Chico healed and soon got back to tiein' the wild ones down
until there no more wild ones left, and he wandered back to town

The day he rode in to my camp he'd turned eighty the month before,
and through the blurr of time, he remembered the wild ones once more

He'd ride with me rememberin' the times he'd tied the wild ones down
He told me of the old black steer, and the times he'd had in town

He rode with me for near two years, ridin' herd on two hundred head
Then one mornin' as we saddled up, I looked over and he was dead

The day he died was sad for me, I said good bye to my best friend
The little man from Mexico, who threw his rawhide to the end.

© 2012, John Duncklee
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.


John told us: Chico was real. Chico Leyva worked with me during the drought of the Fifties on a tough ranch on the Sierrita Mountain Bajada. The poem is based on his story of his life and is as accurate as possible. He held the reputation of the best mountain hand in southern Arizona roping wild steers in the Catalina Mountains with a rawhide reata and snaking those critters out of their mountains to make room for the tamer cattle shipped in by Bill Huggett a rancher who lived in Oracle, Arizona. His real first name was Francisco, and he was Yaqui from Sonora, and my best friend.


     About John Duncklee:
provided 2013

John Duncklee is an award-winning author of twenty-six books. His published work covers fiction, non-fiction, satire, short stories and poetry. Prior to his writing career, John was a university professor in both the United States and Mexico, a cattle rancher, Quarter Horse breeder, designer of mesquite wood furniture, and served his country in the U.S. Navy during the Korean War. He lives in New Mexico with his wife, Penny, an illustrator and artist.

Awards and Recognition:

$5,000 Unrestricted fellowship for excellence in poetry: Arizona Commission on the Arts.

Author of the Year: Friends of Branigan Memorial Library, Las Cruces, NM

Member of the Authors Guild and Western Writers of America

Spur Award for best western poem 2008 Western Writers of America  (“El Corrido de Antonio Beltran”)


Find more about John Duncklee at his web site,



 What's New | Poems | Search

 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