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JOHNNY D. EATON

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

 

The Buffalo

If I could live my life all over, I'd take myself back a hundred years or so.
When the plains were dark as a clouded sky with herds of buffalo.
Long before the white man knew of this magnificent beast true worth.
This noble creature that left its hoof prints carved on God's green earth.
They that supplied the daily needs for the Apache, Sioux and the Crow.
Before the plains turn red with the blood of the mighty buffalo.

Warm thick hides hung outside, clothes they'd make to ward off ice and snow.
For the mighty braves who measured time by the moons soft glow.
By glowing embers they talk of the white man in distaste and disgust.
He that bleaches unpicked bones to leave snow white out there in the dust.
The white mans thunder sticks could far outreach the arrow and the bow.
So the plains turned red, they're all dead, the mighty Buffalo.

They dreamed not nor could they foresee the greed the white man would show.
He that raped the red mans land not so very long ago.
Mighty warriors sat by campfires where the growing pains of hunger thrust.
As they look across the plains at sun bleached bones rising from the dust.
At night the young they cry, from pain we hope to never know.
Just as the store closes down the street so goes the Buffalo.

What if the white man knew famine or that mournful sound of woe.
Would he not reap the wretched deeds that his own two hands did sow.
The herds they took and left to die in the name of fun.
That left only hunger in its stead for this our native son.
Have they deprived the spared few, a few more days to grow.
Then raise up from the sun bleached bones of the mighty Buffalo.

2002, John D. Eaton
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

 

Triple Three

A young cowboy went riding, out on his Pinto one day.
For to see a young cowgirl who lived some few miles away.
As he rode he thought of her beauty, he then gave his Pinto the reins.
The tall prairie grass they then parted, as they swiftly rode cross the plains.

These last long months he'd rode with the remuda, he rode for the triple three.
Inside he was lonely as he rode for his sweetheart to see.
It was then his Pinto found a doghole, so the story would tell.
The cowboys neck would be broken, he lay still in the grass where he fell.

As he lay there on the prairie, his life left him there where he lay.
He'd not see the smile of his young love who now was but a short ride away.
On the front porch, she stood waiting for her young cowboy to see.
The one that had branded her heart and rode for the ole triple three.

It was the next day that they found him, his Pinto stood lame by his side.
With a blanket, the young cowgirl him she did cover, wet from the tears she had cried.
Tomorrow he'd be wrapped in white linen, then to the graveyard he'd go.
A cross with his name you could see, so all of his friends they would know.

There's still talk of the young cowboy, who's life now no longer sings.
And how he rode up to Heaven on a Pinto with wings.
Of the cowgirl who still goes to the graveyard for the young lover to see.
The one that had branded her heart and rode for the ole triple three.

2002, John D. Eaton
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

Death of A Cowboy

A cowboy lay dying,he'd rode his last ride.
His horse ran without saddle,in the corral just outside.
His saddle lay empty there at the foot of his bed.
But no one would cry when this ole cowboy was dead.
 
Not a tear could be seen as they walked down the street.
Not one single rose would they toss at his feet.
Oh,tougher than leather for life he had been.
But the life of a sixgun had now done him in.
 
Pain is brief, memories eternal somewhere I've read.
His pain would be forever in this life he had led.
They took him to the graveyard, that's where he lays still.
A cross for a headstone up there on boothill.
 
Before his hair had greyed he died by the gun.
Even though notches on his sixgun had reached twenty-one.
He knew not the speed of this young stranger called Jack.
So when he turned to leave he put a bullet to the back.
 
The next day the law came, they too packed a gun.
This time he'd wait, he knew not to run.
He reached for his pistol, he could feel the hot lead.
Before he hit the ground this young cowboy was dead.
 
The moral of this story, I'll not have to tell.
For when you live by the sword, you wind up in hell.
He was tougher than leather, he chose not to run.
Before he was thirty, he died by the gun.

2002, John D. Eaton
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

 

Barefoot Cowboy 


He came into the room a big smile upon his face.
Said Pa-Pa I'm a cowboy, as he ran around the place.
As I looked I could see that his outfit was not complete.
For he was a barefoot cowboy with no boots upon his feet.
 
He's my barefoot cowboy and he's almost three.
A little bitty cowboy that means the world to me.
A cap gun hangs on his hip, a hunt gun lays near by.
I laugh when I look at him and he wonders why.
 
He's off to capture bad guys when he's out at play.
Chasing them from room to room at the end of the day.
Best danged lawman this ole town will ever see.
He's just a barefoot cowboy and he's almost three.
 
He'll saddle up his ole broom stick, then off on a chase he'll go.
I bet he wins the cowgirls hearts when he rides the rodeo.
If he can't find his boots by then, he can borrow some from me.
He's just a barefoot cowboy and he's almost three.
 
Someday he'll trade his broomstick for a pick-up or a car.
Be the best danged cowboy that ever wore a star.
But now he's just a little guy that means the world to me.
He's just a barefoot cowboy and he's almost three.

2002, John D. Eaton
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.


 

 

Shorty's Last Ride

                            
Shorty was a cowboy, riding herd on a starless night.
When to the west and to his left, there came this blinding light.
The herd she's growing restless, Shorty yelled at me.
We'd better get the boys up, there's trouble brewing don't you see.

Another flash tore thru the night, just like all hell broke loose.
Shorty broke from riding herd and yelled, what's the use?
Take the wagon, " Cookie " ride like hell from here.
We won't find these critters till about this time next year.

Running hard down this gully, it was a dark and dreary night.
Shorty and his paint was running hard, there came this flash of light.
That ole paint found a dog hole, I heard poor Shorty yell.
A thousand longhorns across his back, we left him where he fell.

In a shallow grave we left him, with but a word or two.
We rode away in silence, turned to whisper a fond adieu.
A young boy not yet a man, a brave and restless breed.
Died there in the dark of night, in a thing we call stampede.

Ride hell bent for leather when you hear your pardner yell.
Ride to slow the lead cow down, least you spend your time in hell.
Yours may be a shallow grave on some ole dusty cattle trail.
A hardened man before your time, too brave to turn your tail.

Ride hard to meet your maker, I've heard many a cowboy say.
I know cowboys go to Heaven, ole Shorty's on his way.
If I should go to Heaven, I'll say Shorty from the trail dust you wre freed.
The night we rode together, the night of the ole stampede.

2002, John D. Eaton
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.



                            



Missouri Cowboy


Some think of me as a cowboy, when they see my western clothes.
Some they laugh, others grin, some look down their nose.
Of my raising they know not, nor of my family roots.
But make no mind, I'll be sticking to my Stetson hat and my cowboy boots.

Oh, I don't wear the stove pipes that come up about knee high.
Those handmade boots I can't afford, they cost too much to buy.
Just give me a pair of peewees, with pull holes on each side.
A Pinto horse with Angel wings and to Heaven I will ride.

With my old hat and boots I care not how you feel.
Inside this ole Saddle tramp, you'll find someone that's real.
Not an imitation you can't see what's inside.
I'm a Missouri cowboy but I walk with a Texan's pride.

Now I'm not downing Texas, that's the lone star state you know.
But Missouri has cool, clear water, a state where the rivers flow.
And Missouri cowboys are just as great, not one of them is a fool.
Strong of heart and just as stubborn as the ole Missouri mule.

So give me a pair of Peewees, and an ole Stetson hat.
Even tho Texas is a wondrous state, I'll stay right where I'm at.
So it matters not that you smile, I'm a Missouri cowboy with pride.
And that I will always be until that part of me has died.

2002, John D. Eaton
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

 


"3-7-77"

They hung a sign upon his door, so the story is told.
He that was a thief by night and stole the miners gold.
Three hours, seven minutes and seventy-seven seconds to get out of town .
Or three feet wide, seven feet long, seventy-seven inches deep, we'll lay your body down.

Buckle on your pistol, make for the horses tied out back.
Make sure the saddle bags are full, as you head for the line shack.
Every man that put on this earth in someway is condemned to die.
We know not the time, nor method, could it be from a hangman's rope close by.

Run your horse like crazy, the vigilantes are hot on your trail.
They'll leave your body swinging in the breeze on some hot dusty trail.
In the distance there's the rumble as a dozen horses pounding the hard earth floor.
The night comes bright with gunfire, a dozen rounds or more.

One takes you in the arm, two others in the back.
And you just a half hours ride from the ole line shack.
You feel yourself grown weaker, you slip from saddle to the ground.
From the leader of the vigilantes came that last and final round.

Your stealing days are over, this was your last and final ride.
There on a dusty trail, with a bullet in the back, a helpless cowboy died.
Across the saddle they took you back for your long, last final sleep.
In a grave three feet wide, seven feet long and seventy-seven inches deep.

2002, John D. Eaton
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.



Lonely are the Brave

He was a tortured man with the soul of a hero so the stories told.
Aged far beyond his time, he that walked the streets of old.
He was among the young and restless, he'd heard the night herders song.
He'd felt the sting of a Yankee minnie ball when the Confederate states were strong.

Now it was a badge of courage that on his chest he proudly wore.
Many times death had stood before him and his long barreled forty-four.
Now his gun hand how it tingled, Father Time had dimmed his eyes.
Tomorrow there'd be a showdown under his beloved Texas skies.

For a young gun stood in waiting, news was of his agility and his speed.
He too was brave at heart but of the daring reckless breed.
Once before he had met the challenge and stood there at death's door.
Then walked away the victor with his long barreled forty-four.

The badge of courage would not see the old man falter nor show one sign of fear.
For he knew his eyes would not be with him as he faced another year.
One more slug of whiskey bartender, death waits for me outside I know.
Here buy one for the undertaker, when it's time for me to go.

He loosened the tie down on his pistol as he faced the younger gun.
Already at a disadvantage as he walked into the sun.
His hand went for his pistol, there was the speed he'd not seen before.
Then came a sound of thunder, that sound and nothing more.

The young gun stood in silence, a legend lay dying at his feet.
And it was he that wondered, would he be the next to die on some dirty street.
An epitaph for a lonely soul, a lament from a cold, dark grave.
That has a cross made of wood that reads, "Lonely are the Brave."

2002, John D. Eaton
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.



 

Billy and the Devil

The bunkhouse filled with laughter, as they poked fun at him that day.
But Billy was a spunky cowboy, these words I heard him say.
I know none has ever rode him, there's devil in him you bet.
But today I'm feeling lucky and I'm gonna ride that rascal yet.

So throw your loop around him, saddle the devil up for me.
I'm gonna ride that rascal before I'm twenty three.
He tightened up his belt a notch, then I heard him yel.
Tonight I'm gonna ride that horse straight up to the gates of hell.

He sat there on a coal black horse, the devil was between his knees.
Said I'd like to ride him Lord, if it's to your liking, hear me please.
Billy spurred the devil hard to him it was do or die.
Tonight the devil would meet his match or know the reason why.

The bunkhouse that once filled with laughter was now a solemn place.
Not a smile could be seen as I looked from face to face.
The devil stood without a rider, Billy was laying dead.
When the Devil fell hard upon him, it crushed poor Billy's head.

They carried him to the graveyard in a small box made of pine.
Wrapped up in a plain white sheet and a borrowed shirt of mine.
His name is carved on a wooden cross for the world do see.
A young cowboy named Billy died before the age of twenty-three.

2002, John D. Eaton
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

 

Rodeo Star

He was there in the chute, and ornery brute, they called him one-eyed Jack.
And you can bet, there was regret, by the cowboy there on his back.
He sat tight, there that night, just waiting for that ole boy to explode.
But if all was right, he'd ride him tonight and Jack would know he'd been rode.

He got hold of the crown, pulled his hat down, I'm ready now, open the gate.
And don't you know, he'd put on a show that the crowds would appreciate.
He could hear the crowds loud and clear, he'd rode him in eight seconds flat.
But out there on the ground, mashed and no longer round, his brand new cowboy hat.

Now he walks with pride, cause he did ride that critter called one-eyed Jack.
And he'll not let it show, though it hurts him so, the pain down deep in his back.
Now the trophy he won from riding that son-of-a-gun, sits on his mantle with pride.
Carved in gold, his story's told, and it tells how this cowboy can ride.

As he walks down the street, the people he meets, they all call him by name.
And that pride inside, he cannot hide, he won it all from this rodeo game,
But I must confess, I once failed the test, my bottom soon hit the dirt.
Now I'm headed home, sore to the bone and trying to hold where it hurts.

2002, John D. Eaton
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

Shorty

Shorty was a cowboy, he stood about five foot four.
There was nothing he couldn't ride this side of Heaven's door.
Oh, he'd been thrown a time or two but he'd get up and grin.
And you knew the second time around that ole Shorty'd win.

After the days work was over, to the bunkhouse they would go.
Wild stories you could hear, half you knew were not so.
Yea, wild stories they were for sure and bigger than them Texas skies.
But no one dare question them or dare to call them lies.

Then Shorty from the corner said, boys I guess I've rode them all.
And I'm mean as a West Texas tornado, even if I be small.
I guess I've rode a million miles across this Texas country side.
And their ain't nothing that I've found that ole Shorty couldn't ride.

Ole snake he stood up tall as a rope was long.
Said Shorty let your ticker rest and join us in a song.
Once there was ole Shorty mean as a Texas quake.
But I'll wipe the floor with his five foot four, cause he ain't half as mean as snake.

Snake I know your meaner than a diamond back and cruising for a fight.
The foreman says you settle down, there'll be no fighting here tonight.
Shorty might be little, Shorty might be small.
But it will be your hide that I tack to the bunkhouse wall.

For you see half them miles that Shorty went I was by his side.
And half the time I was near scared to death, but I never cried.
Yea, Shorty might be little and ole Shorty might be small.
But one hair on his head you shouldn't touch, for Shorty is my Pa.

2002, John D. Eaton
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.


Billy Brown

He strapped on his lead-pusher, then tied his holster down.
He was out to find an outlaw by the name of Billy Brown.
He saddled up his mockey, grabbed his hard-twist, slammed the bunkhouse door.
He was an old limb skinner that was about to even up the score.

Billy Brown will hunt for a harp in Heaven, I heard the old cowman say.
He's seen his last tomorrow, soon will be his judgment day.
Step out of sight boys, no need to stand in my way.
Billy Brown will be going down, for sure he's gonna pay.

No need to bring your lead-pusher, for you see I'm lightning fast.
Your an ole bushwacker and your days will end at last.
They might take my hard twist and from an old tree hang me high.
But this ole line rider not afraid of death, I've watched a lot of good men die.

Grab your ole lead-pusher Billy Brown, if your looking for a fight.
If not grab your salty bronc and like a lead plum take to flight.
There's not a place you can hide as you run from town to town.
The hound of Hell will be waitin, Billy for sure I'll hunt you down.

The dusty streets of El Paco, these two men came face to face.
Forty-fours hung on both hips, but would soon come into place.
When the smoke and thunder had cleared from this desert town.
There on the street lay a wrangler and that of Billy Brown.

So goes an epic tale of the west and of the western lore.
And how death came at the end of a smokin' forty-four.
Vengeance will be mine he said as he roamed from town to town.
At two o'clock death it came to the outlaw Billy Brown.

             
Legends or Lies 

I'm a celluloid cowboy but I know somewhere deep within my roots.
There was somebody somewhat like me that walked with hat and boots.
So it is I often read and wonder are they legends or are they lies.
Men that tamed and famed the wild West and rode the Western skies.
So take me back a hundred years when the law of the land was a gun.
Men lived by the code of the West, tied down their holsters that's how the West was won.

Men that rode hard under skies that stretched forever, land that could never end.
Guns rode low on every hip and considered very few as a friend.
The famous and the infamous that came to light in the Western lore.
Men that came to a quick demise at the end of a smoking forty-four.
Quick tempered, quick to rile but also men that were quick of hand.
Adventures that rode from cowtown to cowtown as they traversed the land.

I've read of Allison, Hardin, Hickok, Earp, gunfighters one and all.
Some rode with a badge of courage, and others rode outside the law.
So lives the Western legends that's read with leisure still today.
Reputations that were made and some that lost and fell by the way.
Their names carved on a wooden cross on a place they call Boot Hill.
Men that stood to face forty-fours, death left them laying still.

Frank and Jesse, Billy the Kid, the Dalton gang that outside the law did ride.
An epic tale of yesterday, Western lore of men that lived and died.
Places like El Paso, Waco, Dodge, Tombstone, made famous by the gun.
A rough land, rough towns and rough men, but brave men everywhere.
A time of the Calvary, the Red Man, and the famous hanging tree.
All makes for some classic reading, I'm sure you must agree.
Legends or Lies I wonder, life to be as it is now, their life they gave.
I wonder if the truth we'll ever know, for secrets are carried to the grave.

2002, John D. Eaton
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.


 

Cowboy's Prayer

Now Lord I ain't much good at praying, I know that you can plainly see.
And you know churches ain't a place for an old cowboy like me.
As soon as I walk through that ole church door and try to find a place.
I see that little smile that comes on each and every face.
Them town folks turn their heads and quickly look the other way.
Not one word of kindness, not even how are you today.

On every back I see brand new clothes, and gee I must confess.
They sure look much nicer than the way this ole cowboy has to dress.
But Lord me being an old cowhand don't mean that I don't care.
If I was to pray I'd ask only good for all men everywhere.
I'd ask for only the best things for man and woman, young and old.
That not one soul have a bitter heart and not one child be cold.

Just you take the wealthy man, reckin what he'd do.
Wouldn't he change his way of thinkin if he was a poor man too.
Would he not be the same and walk in dirty boots like me.
A better man and a humble man, I know that he'd surely be.
I did not ask to be this poor, Lord I'd change things if I could.
I'd like to wear me them fancy clothes, Yes, I surely would.

Now Lord I ain't never ask for riches, and I think you know that's true.
I know that even if I ain't nothing but an old cowboy that you love me too.
Lord if man would take the time to ride and look out across the land.
Take time to see as I have seen, I know that he too would understand.
Take time to look upon the evening shadows "man" it's plain to see.
My heart grows all aglow inside when I think you made this for me.

Oh, I know that I wear patched bluejeans, not brand new like other folks.
But just because I ain't got money, that don't mean I'm broke.
Well "Lord" I'd better be ending my prayer, I should be getting back.
There's a few strays I need to round up down by the ole line shack.
Now "Lord" you know I'm getting older, so when my life no longer sings.
Can't you let me take my last ride to Heaven's place on a Pinto horse with wings.

2002, John D. Eaton
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.


 

 

 

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