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About John Gentry



Cowboy Slam

Well, I rode through the west just to have a look
    For myself at a cowboy's life
On the open range where the wind blows free
    And the lonesome trail is rife

With the perils of the desert sun by day
    And rovin' wolves by night,
In wild harm's way of the hoof and the horn
    And the quick sidewinder's bite.

And I watched him rise at the streak of dawn
    And blaze a small campfire
For bacon and beans and a black joe pot
    Hangin' by a twist o' wire.

A little white smoke rose up in the air
    From the cowchip fire he'd made,
And he saddled a pony with a stockin' foot
    As the dawn began to fade.

Then double-checkin' the cinch and the reins,
    He swung up on that bay,
And twelve hard mile he'd ride, or more
    Before the end of day.

And I wrote down all I larned on a pad
    Of a cowboy's life out west--
From his wrangler ways to the ring of his spurs
    And the leather fringe on his vest.

Then I worked for a week on yarns and rhymes,
    Which I finished one afternoon,
And brought 'em down to the Cowboy Slam
    At the Buckaroo Saloon.

But I wondered some if the real cowboys
    Would cotten to my prose,
Or my cowboy poems and stories when I
    Weren't wearin' any cowboy clothes.

But up I went in my city duds
    When they called my name at last,
And I spun 'em a yarn of the trail in rhyme
    Of old cowboys from the past.

And as they twirled their mustachios
    They listened with squinted eyes,
Then roped, hog-tied and branded me
    And told me I'd won first prize.

2005, John Gentry
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

This poem is also included with our Poems about Cowboy Poetry.


Cowboy Movies

I was a cowboy movie kid
   In nineteen fifty-one.
The movie house was a darkened school
   Where I learned how the west was won.

Tuition was only fifty cents,
   And a popcorn lunch was a dime.
I watched every lecture from reel to reel
   And gave no thought to the time.

There weren't any bells and no homework,
   And nobody made you stay.
My teachers were Hop-A-Long, Roy and Gene
   At the Saturday Matinee.

They taught me the ways of the mountain men,
   The beaver and the wagon trains,
And the cruel barbed wire, the John Deere Plow,
   And the buffalo on the plains.

I heard the bugles at the Little Big Horn
   Where the arrows and the bullets flew;
The tribal tongues I understood--
   The Commanche, the Crow and the Sioux.

The gunplay in the streets I saw,
   Where the roar of a forty-four
A hair's breadth quicker than someone else
   Would settle a personal score.

The Homestead Act, the range wars,
   The pioneer endeavor;
I heard the words of great Chief Joseph:
   "I will fight no more for ever."

Of books on the West, I hardly read any,
   'Cause most of what I know,
I learned in the dark at the Roxy Theater
   In Lewiston, Idaho.

2005, John Gentry
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.


John adds:  I really did watch old black and white westerns at the Roxy Theater in Lewiston, Idaho from 1946 to 1952, at which time the family moved down to Arizona following my high school graduation.  The old theater has since been turned into a teen center, but the ghosts of Hop-A-Long, Roy and Gene are still around for anyone takin' the time to stop, look and listen.

About John Gentry:

I live in Ventura, California, a retired elementary school teacher and ex-navy before that.  Grew up in Washington state and Idaho (that's where I larned about cowboys) before moving down to the Southwest (Arizona, New Mexico, Texas and California).



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