Featured at the Bar-D Ranch

 

Jay Snider,   Lariat Laureate

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

of Cyril, Oklahoma

Lariat Laureate

recognized for his poem
My Old Amigo Lum

www.JaySnider.net


Jay Snider was named
Top Male Poet, 2008
by the Academy of Western Artists

About Jay Snider

Poems
below...
My Old Amigo Lum
Four Little Words
The Cattle Market
Two of a Kind
Dying Breed

The Pearly Gate
A Tribute to Tom
Banjo and John
The Twister
A Real Cowboy Poet

The Dream
Shorthorn Pete
Rainy Day Prayer
Biscuits
Three Hundred Miles to Go

Of Horses and Men
Progress
Tyrone and Tyree
Burning Daylight
Minor Adjustments

He Always Rode Good Horses
Small Town America
Cowboy Logic
Renegade Cow
Ode to the Line Shack

The Cowboy's a Legend
Horse Sense
Where's the Cook
Dust

At the End of His Rope separate page
A Good Day to be a Cowboy  separate page
Santa's Helper
separate page
Never Shop on Christmas Eve
separate page
 

Picture the West

Book and Recordings

About Jay Snider:

Jay Snider was born and raised in southwest Oklahoma and calls Cyril, Oklahoma home. Born to a ranching and rodeo family, his dad a top roper and rodeo cowboy and his granddad a brand inspector for the Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association. He rodeoed throughout most of his early years and now stays busy raising ranch horses, cattle, and team roping. Jay continues to judge a few amateur rodeos around home and hosts the annual Invitational Rafter S Ranch Cowboy Reunion.

Some of his recent performances include the Chisholm Trail Stampede in Duncan, Oklahoma; the Western Heritage Classic in Abilene, Texas; and the National Cowboy Symposium in Lubbock, Texas. Jay is a six-time nominee for male poet of the year by the Academy of Western Artists. His album Cowboyin', Horses and Friends was nominated for best poetry album for 2001. 

Jay recently appeared on Country Music Television's, Christmas in Cowboy Country hosted by Clint Black. He was a Silver Buckle winner at Kanab, Utah's Cowboy Poetry Rodeo in 2004 and was a featured cowboy poet at the Ozarks Fall Roundup Cowboy Gathering hosted by Shepherd of the Hills Outdoor Theater in Branson, Missouri. Jay also was a featured cowboy poet in 2005 at the Kamloops Cowboy Festival in Kamloops, British Columbia and at Cal Farley's Youth Poetry Gathering near Amarillo, Texas. Most recently, Jay was awarded the "Best of the Best" trophy at Kanab, Utah's Cowboy poetry rodeo and was invited to be a featured poet at the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering in Elko, Nevada in February of 2006. Jay released his second cowboy poetry CD, Of Horses and Men, in 2006.


We asked Jay Snider why he writes Cowboy Poetry, and he replied:

I'm not sure my old English teacher would consider it poetry, but I have been researching the cowboy way of life for nearly fifty years. I wrote my first poem for my wife for Christmas and it's been all downhill from there.

I felt like I needed to preserve some of the old stories I had heard from the "old timers" and try to relive some of my own personal experiences through poetry. My thoughts are, "Folks, if you hear a story from some of the 'old timers,' you had better write it down." You see, when they are gone, so goes the story. The challenge, for me, is to take those stories or experiences and put them down in the form of poetry.  Fortunately, cowboy poetry seems to appeal to most people and I thank God for the greatest super-hero of all times: the American Cowboy.

 

My Old Amigo Lum

He ain’t much on conversation
His old mind, it wanders some
But a better compadre ain’t lived or breathed
Than my ole’ amigo Lum

Now Lum, he’s plenty punchy
Ya won’t find a tougher old coot
But down right, plain old common sense
Ain’t one of his stronger suits

You won’t find a better feller
To have round ya in a pinch
His head’s as hard as granite rock
And he won’t give an inch

We were cowboyin’ up in the Keechi hills
It was one of our lighter days
But we’d ‘bout had our bellies full
Of cuttin’ those cedar stays

The weekend, now was comin’ up
Time for the big rodeo in town
Been quite a spell since we’d been in
Lum and me would ride on down

Now Lum ain’t no spring chicken
But he acts just like a kid
When the bullriders finally mount the beasts
Used to twist ‘em himself, he did

The crowd gathered ‘round the buckin’ chutes
They  were thick as bitin’ fleas
And Lum, his stature’s lackin’ some
Makin’ it tough for him to see

Ol’ Lum sure ain’t no genius
But what next he did made sense
He climbed up near the buckin’ chutes
And sat upon the fence

The fence sure ain’t as comfy
As his recliner back at the shack
And the cable through the cross-tie posts
Seemed to be a little slack

Now ole’ Lum, he’s kinda portly
Of a diet he ain’t thought
So the cable strand he sat upon
Down the line had been drawn taught

The announcer’s voice boomed loudly
Of the high horned brindle beast
Two thousand pounds of ragin’ hell
Was soon to be released

On Widowmaker, they kicked the latch
He followed the gate around
Then planted his feet and sucked back left
And slammed that cowboy down

He gave the clown a hookin’
Made a lap around the pen
But there ain’t a fence for a hundred miles
That could hold this brindle in

The Widowmaker, he sized it up
Then made a fitful run
He was intent on clearin’ that fence
Just four posts down from Lum

He quit the earth in one great leap
Now comes the change of events
A solid ton of snortin’ beef
Hit smack on top of that fence

Ole’ Lum, he’s cool, just sat there calm
With both hands in his pockets
But a ton of bull on that cable strand
Shot Lum off like a rocket

Now Lum survived the launchin’
And annihilation merely by chance
But he didn’t make re-entry
‘Till halfway through the dance

Lum told me it wasn’t the launch
Nor the fallin’, nor the drop
The thing that hurt his ole’ body so
Was that mighty sudden stop

Lum believes the moral here
Needs tellin’ to all you fans
It’s best to watch the rodeo
From somewhere in the stands

1999, Jay Snider, All rights reserved
These words may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.


Four Little Words

Four little words have stuck in my mind
From the time I was just a small child
“There’s a good feller” is what he would say
When he talked of the men he admired

I remember those men he talked about
Sure ‘nuff cowboys, tough, but kind
They said what they meant and meant what they said
These men are gettin’ harder to find

“There’s a good feller,” meant he was true to his word
That’s all you expect of a man
You knew for sure he was proud to meet you
By the genuine shake of his hand

“There’s a good feller,” meant you could depend
On this man no matter the task
Never got too tough, too cold, or too late
For his help, all you need do is ask

“There’s a good feller,” meant he had a light hand
Be it with horses or cattle or crew
He spent most of his life learning this cowboy trade
And he’d be honored to teach it to you

“There’ a good feller” meant don’t ask him to do
What ain’t on a true and honest track
He knows it’s easier to keep a good reputation
Than it is to try to build one back

“There’s a good feller,” meant he’s a fair-minded man
He helped write cowboyin’s unwritten laws
He won’t ask you to do what he wouldn’t do
Yet knows, at times, the short end you’ll draw

“There’s a good feller,” meant, when he’s down on his luck
He can still hold his head way up high
‘Cause he did his best and gave it his all
He knows with faith and God’s help he’ll get by

“There’s a good feller,” just four little words
And their meaning won’t run all that deep
But when Dad would use ‘em to describe certain men
You knew they were at the top of the heap

“There’s a good feller,” just four little words
But they’ve always been favorites of mine
If after my trails end, my name’s brought up
“There’s a good feller” would suit me just fine

  Jay Snider, All rights reserved
These words may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

The Cattle Market

Me and the cattle market need to get in synch
This terminal poverty is a bunch of bull
When the market goes up, I won’t own but three
When it’s down, my pastures are full

Now I’m not one for gripin’
And I dearly love this life
But fifty- cent calves and ten dollar feed
Is hard to explain to my wife

But she wouldn’t trade it for a job in town
The new babies, she names ‘em all
And she’ll be mad for two months runnin’
When I sell ‘em off in the fall

I’ve read and studied genetics
I think my breeding program is keen
But I have an idea I’m missin’ something
Cause my calves all looks Holstein

Blacks and baldies are the packer’s choice
I thought I’d have ‘er made last fall
But calving time proved disappointing
The neighbor’s longhorn had sired ‘em all

This year’s crop is a sight to behold
I’ve been assured they’re some of the best
But my banker will get almost all they bring
And Ivomec will get the rest

My fences are in need of major repairs
And I’m just nearly out of hay
But if the market stays up, I won’t own but three cows
And I won’t need fences anyway

Forty- percent cubes are the best you can buy
To hear the man at the Co-op tell it
But I buy the cheap twenty- percent kind
So my cows can have more than one pellet

My banker agrees that I need some help
But that ranchin’ sure ain’t my callin’
He allows I ought to sell off my cows
Cause the darned market’s started fallin’

If the bottom falls out of the market now
I’ll have way too many again
So I’ll sell ‘em off and cut my loss
But now I’m right back where I’ve been

When spring grass comes, I’ll buy some back
Cause without ‘em I’d sooner die
I’ll bet a hundred the market will be up
And they’ll be too darned high to buy

So I’ll patiently wait till the market goes down
And I can buy ‘em real cheap you see
Then I’ll keep ‘em and feed ‘em till the market goes up
Or till my banker takes all but ‘bout three

2000,  Jay Snider, All rights reserved
These words may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

                       

Two of a Kind

I thought he’d lost his mind
That cold December day
When he came draggin’ in
That little snake poor bay,

Lord, what a sight
He looked near dead
And there ain’t no way
That neck will hold up that head,

For a two year old past
He wasn’t very big
And those little old legs
Why they’ll snap like a twig,

Now this man knows horses
At least I thought he did
But, I sure think he missed this one
When he turned in his bid,

Said, “He don’t look like much now, son
But a good worming, plenty of feed and hay,
This little ugly duckling
He’ll make a good one some day!”

Well I’ll take your word
Sure hope you’re right
He said, “Son you’ll find out later in life,
It’s not the size of the man in the fight.”

He said, “Merry Christmas son”
But some rules I enforce
Keep him fed, keep him shod, treat him kind,
Fact is, every kid needs a good horse,

So I set about doing
The task at hand
I gave him a name, fattened him up,
And turned him out with Dad’s band,

He was a pleasure to break
Never offered to buck
Sure had an easy way of moving
I don’t think this was pure luck,

Yeah, Grandad could sure pick ‘em
A mighty fine cowboy in his day
And if he told you something
Pardoner, it would be that way,

We’re sure gonna miss him
We lost him last spring
And it’s sure rough on me
When those Christmas Bells ring,

He knew good horses, good saddles and cows
A good judge of character in a man
He taught me patience, determination
And the worth of a gentle hand,

Lord, the cowboys in this country
We’ve lost a good hand
But somehow it’s easier knowing
Now, he rides for your brand

Well, me and Ole Bay are still riding pastures
Man, what a pleasure to ride
He does all that you ask him
Seems to do it with pride,

He helped me raise two fine sons
Never complained or backed his ears
He took care of those boys
Through their learning years,

Sure, he’s getting a little harder to keep
But for twenty-five years, he’s been a good friend
Could have sold him a hundred times,
But he’ll be with me to the end,

Lord, Ole Bay is loping up your trail now
And me and Ma and the boys, we’ll miss him of course
   Lord, would you ask my old Granddad
   To take care of this good horse

1998,  Jay Snider, All rights reserved
These words may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

 

 

Dying Breed

The note was neatly written
On an old brown paper bag
Bound and nicely folded
Inside a little American flag

We found it on the mantel
Near some pictures that he had
Of an old bay hoss he used to ride
His wife, his mother and his dad

It was pressed beneath a Bible
That sixty years ago was new
He often said when it was with him
He felt the Lord rode with him too


The note read smooth and easy
The words were simple, plain, and true
Reflections of a lifetime
Of an old time buckaroo

It read: "I'm just a simple cowboy
I've grown accustomed to meager ways
Cause it's sometimes hard to make ends meet
On what punchin' cattle pays

"But if wealth is somehow measured
By the many friends you've made
And success is hitched to freedom
Then I reckon I've been well paid

"But I've heard we're nearin' extinction
The cowboy's just a vision from the past
His ways are old and antiquated
That our future is fadin' fast

"But in my mind," the note read on,
"I tend to disagree
Cause I see the cowboy in the young bucks
The ones who follow you and me

"I've seen 'em ridin' rangy broncs
And spur 'em jump for jump
Then loose the rein and pet 'em some
When they've ridden out the hump

"I've heard 'em hoop and holler
Bustin' brush and dodgin' trees
Stand hat in hand and reverent
Old Glory wavin' in the breeze

"I've watched 'em tradin' horses
Swappin' lies on a cattle deal
Then sign it proud and proper
With just a handshake for the seal

"I've seen a sadness in their eyes
For an orphaned calf in pain
When in spite of their compassion
All efforts were in vain

"I know they treat their elders
With respect and dignity
Still tip their hats to womenfolk
Just the way that it should be"

It read: "As long as little buckaroos
Dream of ridin' wild and free
There will always be good cowboys
To follow you and me

"These words I write, though roughly penned
I hope fit somewhere in the cowboy creed
The cowboy will live eternal
We darned sure ain't no dying breed
"

2002 Jay Snider, All rights reserved
These words may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

 

The Pearly Gate

My mind began to wander once
Is there just one Pearly Gate
In my minds eye I can see it there
Standin' strong and true and straight

The paint weren't chipped nor faded
And it swung real smooth and free
But is this gate just for city folks
Not for worn out old punchers like me

See I'm not accustomed to gates so grand
Round this ranch we merely make do
They're not real neat nor fancy made
Most have a broken rail or two

So I wonder, if I make it there
To that gate so grand and fine
Will the good Lord let me ride on through
Or send me 'round to one like mine

Like this one here at the brandin' pens
With it's worn and splintered rails
Lord, if that old gate could talk
It could tell a million tales

Like at brandin' time when the wagon's out
For weeks there in the spring
Or when the hands play a cowboy symphony
As their rowels begin to ring

Or in the winter when it's feeding time
Cause the snow is driftin' deep
And you're wonderin' where the remuda is
Roll out cause you can't sleep

Cause that old gate ain't hung real sturdy
It blows shut when it ain't tied
So you brave the bitter cold and snow
To push that gate back way out wide

Cause the horses know protection's waitin'
Through that gate if there's a need
And there's trust and admiration there
When they come in to feed

See this gate is mighty special
Though it's seen some better days
In the spring you see revival through it
In the valley beneath the haze

At this gate, if you listen closely
A wealth of laughter fills your ears
Must be old friends that happened by
For all those many years

This ranch breathed life a lot of years
Into kids and calves and foals
And sunrise still takes your breath away
From atop those rocky knolls

So this gate must be the Pearly kind
Though it's rough and loosely tied
Cause when I'm standin' there a lookin' through
I can see heaven on the other side.

Jay Snider, All rights reserved
These words may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

 

A Tribute To Tom

We didn't know where the kid called home
He just wandered in one day
Begged and pleaded with the wagon boss
Said he'd dern sure earn his pay

We could tell he weren't a cowboy
By the way he spoke and dressed
But something 'bout him struck a note
He's sorta different from the rest

We could tell ole' Tom was leery
Cause he kid was dern sure green
But he had a kinda sincere way
That we'd seldom ever seen

We convinced ole' Tom to hire him on
He said he'd make the kid a place
You could have lit the darkest room
With the light in that kid's face

Tom cut him out a seasoned horse
So's to keep the kid alive
By break of dawn that frosty morn
The kid was makin' his first drive

Tom sent him on a circle
Said to ride the canyon rim
By the time he made the brandin' pens
His horse was leadin' him

He'd wade right in, I'll give him that
Be it luck or be it fate
Cause every time we'd cut a dry
He'd be standin' in the gate


At the brandin' fire, he seemed compelled
To sure 'nuff make a hand
So we stuck him in the flankin' crew
So's to really test his sand

The first calf run him over
Kicked the pocket off his shirt
By the time he got him flanked and held
His ears was full of dirt

Ole' Tom had yelled to bring the iron
The kid was Johnny on the spot
The end he grabbed was cold as ice
The end he handed Tom was not

But what the heck, the kid's got spunk
He heeled ole' Nasty's calf
Then dragged him through the brandin' fire
Promptin'  me and Tom to laugh

Till ole' Nasty come a huntin'
Fer the thief that stole her kin
She give ole' Tom a hookin'
Launched him up and out the pen

So Tom commenced to school the lad
On vaccinatin' calves
Now  ole' Tom will be bangs free
And the black leg he won't have

Croppin' ears we thought his lick
But it gave the boy the heaves
And in between convulsions
He swaller-forked my sleeve

The boys agree, he'll make a hand
On that I'll bet my life
But we figures till he seasons some
We'll not give the lad the knife

Then my head began to reelin'
Swellin' up with cowboy pride
Cause the kid's success ain't relevant
It's just simply that he tried

But facts is facts and I'm proud to say
We kept the kid alive
But had we had to school him twice
Poor ole' Tom might not survive


Jay Snider, All rights reserved
These words may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.


 

Banjo and John

Tales of good cow ponies in our country abound
Distinguishing truth from fiction is sometimes tough I've found
Good horses are made by good men ,as a rule
I've got a tale to tell ya' so drag up a stool

Ole' John could sure brag about his ropin' ace
He said none could compare when he's givin' chase
Banjo can foller a rabbit right into his lair
And squirt out the other side without mussin' your hair

I had occasion to witness such deeds
Twas early a fall morn while gatherin' steeds
John was behind 'em a pushin' 'em down
When this rabbit cut loose, a gatherin' ground

This may sound strange, but I'll assure you they're facts
Ole' Banjo fell in, knockin' out the hare's tracks
The rabbit's sly as a fox and quick like a cricket
So he ducked off to the right into a sand plum thicket

Into that thicket, Banjo plunged like a deer
John lost his reins so he couldn't steer
The plum bush thorns was as sharp as a knife
Ole' John was beginning to fear for his life

Then "Bugs" cut a trail into the wide open prairie
And the site that befell me was truly quite scary
John's clothes was all gone, 'cept for his old Stetson hat
But Banjo wasn't quittin', I'll assure ya' of that

Ole' Bugs, being agile, led most of the time
Banjo on his tail, till John gathered his lines
Battered and bruised, the blood runnin' red
They slid to a stop there in the riverbed

But off to the north, they'd spooked a buck deer
Guess Banjo thought it was a yearlin' steer
Zero to fifty in six seconds flat
John settin' there naked, 'cept for his ole' crumpled hat

The deer hit the ground just as light as a feather
Banjo behind him, John still grabbin' leather
The wind in John's face upturned his hat brim
Guess John hadn't noticed that underslung limb

The thud was as deafening as a rifle shot
I'd never seen such a whoopin' as the one John got
He lit flat on his back there in the prickly pear
I just knowed John was dead 'till I heard him swear

Then relief and elation was the feeling I had
John's as close as I got to being my dad
But had he not revived, we'd have buried him down south
Cause the thought was sure sickenin' of mouth to mouth

As for Banjo, his pony, his trackin' is fair
He'd tracked rabbit and deer without mussin' John's hair
Not a hair out of place, the gospel I'm tellin'
Cause upon losin' his hat, John was slick as a melon

Jay Snider, All rights reserved
These words may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.


The Twister

If he bucks me off, he’ll have to shed his skin
Was the claim the twister made
He said,” There ain’t a bronc that’s drawed a breath
Can shake me loose from this Wade"

Strong words like those need provin’, son
Are you sure you’re up to the test
He said “Let’s catch one up, ya’ll stand aside
Watch this bronc rider do the rest”

Well, we were impressed by the twister’s sand
Thought, heck, this might even be fun
So we bunched ‘em up and circled ‘em round
And cut out the little red dun

He’s a spindly, sorta wild eyed colt
Long necked and a little light boned
But every puncher that had tried him before
In one jump, had been dethroned

“He’s bad as they come in these parts”, I said
The twister just shot me a grin
Said “Bad broncs are my business, if he bucks me off
He’ll have to jump right out of his skin”

So Charlie Bob roped him and snubbed him up close
Ole’ Slim got a mouthful of ear
It took Rusty and Bub and ole’ Jake to hold him
While the twister stacked on his gear

Then the twister stepped on, took a mighty deep seat
Charlie Bob pitched him his head
The colt went from round pen floor to tree top high
Then his north end went south instead

I’ve seen cowboys throwed higher and harder
But I can’t remember just when
And I reckon, Ole’ Snake, be a fittin’ name
Cause this colt just shed his skin

The twister, you see, learned his lesson well
‘Cause he now sings a different song
“It takes a plenty bad hombre to throw me off
But it sure don’t take him long”

Jay Snider, All rights reserved
These words may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

This photo of Jay Snider is from Lawton, Oklahoma, 1979. He told us that the bull "belonged to F&F Rodeo Company and was simply called #33." See more photos of three generations of rodeoing Sniders in a Picture the West entry here.


 

A Real Cowboy Poet


This cowboy poetry phenomenon
Can sometimes be the pits
You write and write and mostly erase
It causes uncontrollable fits

The words come out all tangled
Ya stutter and stammer a lot
And about the time ya get on stage
Your ol' tongue'll tie up in a knot 

Your knees get weak and start to knock
And the crowd begins to shout
Your lungs have collapsed; ya ain't got no air
And the words just won't come out

Ya calm a bit and catch your wind
But still you feel so lost
Looks like now there's twice the crowd
Cause your ol' eyes have done gone crossed

Now you've got it, regained your cool
Your tongue now ain't so thick
Ya stand up straight and give your BEST
DEAD SILENCE: they ain't clappin' a lick

Ain't got a clue what you're gonna do next
Ya wish now you'd gone and got ripped
Ya peer at the crowd ; by the look on their faces
Your zipper must have come unzipped

So ya swoller hard and mop your brow
Reach way down deep and wail
But halfway though your most touchin' prose
Your ol' memory begins to fail

Praise the Lord, you've stumbled through
Only lost ten or twelve pounds or so
From out in the crowd, ya hear the clappin'
Grandma's givin' you a standin' O

With  a tip of my hat I'll ease off stage
Cause the crowd's begin to doze
Fact is ya see, I wouldn't make a pimple
On a REAL cowboy poet's nose

Jay Snider, All rights reserved
These words may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

 

The Dream

Way up at the Winter Creek place Ol' Walt was the boss
He'd cowboyed there for forty years
And I'd  rode for this outfit most of my life but
Walt says I'm still wet behind the ears

The country's rough and broken 
There on the Winter Creek place
It's got nearly as many wrinkles
As Walt had in his face

Walt rolled me out 'fore daylight
He'd already jingled the horses up
Ol' "cookie" fed us one fine breakfast
Then we choked down one last cup

Walt roped out the big bay named Sampson
Caught me the gray we called Jake
He said we had a roguey bull to catch and
No idea what trail to take

About half way down the south canyon trail
A blindin' flash caught my eye
It couldn't have been lightnin' though
There wasn't a single cloud in the sky

In an instant I looked over at Walt
He was already lookin' my way
 He said "I saw that same flash as a lad son
Today may be our day"

Then suddenly, there on the canyon floor
Stood a mammoth longhorn steer
He just stood there, sorta frozen in time
As me and Walt rode near

His head was as wide as an oxen yoke
His eyes steel gray and cold
Bewilderment soon turned to disbelief
Cause his horns were solid gold

They call him Goliath, Walt whispered low
I've heard he's the ghost of the trail era past
They say he longs for the open range
Before fences, when this land was vast

But my only thoughts were those horns of gold
Visions of riches danced through my head
Of finer things, handmade hats and boots
I'll be the wagon boss of my own little spread

I quizzed Ol' Walt if he was up for the chase
He snugged his cinches and nodded my way
He said" You rope the horns and I'll get the feet
Son, today may be our day"

So I shook out a loop
Fed 'er out just a bit
I'm gonna make dern sure
That this first loop would fit

Out of the brush we made our charge
Headed straight Goliath's way
He'll be no match for the likes of us
Me on Jake and Walt on the bay

Big of heart and sure of foot
Jake nipped at Goliath's hip
No truer loop had I ever thrown
An extra turn so my dallies won't slip

And Walt, he never faltered
I saw him swing in from the right
His heel loop fit perfect, our ponies set
We stretched Goliath out tight

But before I could calm and catch a breath
All my wishes and dreams and hopes
Went trippin' off across that canyon floor
Walt rode up and cut our ropes

Well, the old man's finally lost his mind
Our fortunes made had instantly fled
I explained of the wealth and the fame and the riches
But this is all Walt said

He said "Son, rich is different for different men
As for me, I'm rich as most kings
I've lived a full life, rode good horses
Son, wealth can't be measured by material things"

"Ya see, dreams fulfilled are no longer dreams
Sometimes the dreams are grander chased
Goliath still runs these canyons now and
Other cowboys he can taunt to race

Ol' "cookie" rudely shattered my dream
Hammerin' and bangin' that bell
Roll out boys, we've got work to do
You can sleep when you're dead, he'd yell

Then reality hit like a slap in the face
Walt had passed on a week ago today
I know he's ridin' with good men on good horses
We're all richer that Walt passed our way

Walt's wife stopped by and left me these things
She was truly the love of Walt's life
"Walt made it plain that you'd need 'em" she said
This new rope and his old pocket knife

2001, Jay Snider
These words may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

 



Shorthorn Pete

Imagine you're a cowboy
Breakin' colts is what you do
You've honed you're skills for years and years
Other cowboys look up to you

Now imagine it's late October
It's just now breakin' dawn
The first blue norther's blowin' in
Warm summer days are gone

You've roped yourself a flea bit gray
A rangy, wild eyed colt
Hand o'er hand you've walked you're twine
Just about to take a'hold

When from underneath the loafin' shed
Ya hear a voice, not soft and sweet
But loud and overwhelming
It's you're neighbor, Shorthorn Pete

Pete neighbors to you on the north
Across Persimmon Creek
When you're in the breakin' pen
He's by ten times a week

His physique, let's call it picturesque
No, let's just tell it straight
His waistline measures forty six
The inseam twenty eight

His hair is wild and kinky
Against his head it's matted flat
It's filthy, greasy, grimy
Like the sweat ring 'round his hat

The snoose has rotted most his teeth
On one he must depend
Yet he can spit tobacco juice
Ten yards against the wind

He talks real loud and boisterous
Cause his hearin' ain't so great
His voice is shrill and squealy
Like a pig hung in a gate

When ya need him, you can' find him
When ya don't, he's under foot
But when the goin's rank and scary
Ol' Pete he won't stay put

Now imagine you're the flea bit gray
And you're just past two years old
And some bad, bowlegged cowboy's
Got ya roped and in his hold

You don't take it kindly
You miss the freedom of the range
But, if this puncher gets his way
That's all about to change

He's smooched ya 'round the round pen
For seems three weeks now and a day
And his saddle's got ya sored up some
By gosh, somebody's gonna pay

Then Pete stops by to visit
Amakin' matters worse
And the puncher's left ya bitted up
And you're about to die of thirst

Your attitude adjusts itself
Cause, now Pete, HE wants to ride
And Pete don't seem concerned at all
His gut hooks crease your hide

Then Pete begins to squealin'
In that loud, obnoxious way
And even though you've gentled some
Fact is, ya just can't stay

So ya scatter rocks and kick the moon
Show your belly to the sun
Ya bawl and squall and beller
Like a banshee on the run

Pete's backside kissed Ol' Mother Earth
With an awful, deafenin' smack
He bounced just like a Shawnee Mills
Half empty flour sack

I think Pete has learned a lesson
That a trainer he won't be
Unless he learns to whisper
'Round two year olds like me
 
2001, Jay Snider
These words may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

 

Rainy Day Prayer

I'd like to thank ya kindly Lord
For sendin' this good rain
It'll quench the thirst of a drought we cursed
Ease heartache, fear, and pain

It'll bring the grass on early
Paint the slopes a velvet green
There's no more precious sight than a drought in flight
No sweeter smell than air washed clean

It's sure a welcome sight to see
Stock tanks full and runnin' 'round
And cool winds blowin' and creeks aflowin'
Is a truly joyful sound

The drought seemed never endin'
Each day we knelt to pray
But dern the luck, the spigot stuck
It's rained three weeks now every day

Excuse me, Lord, don't get me wrong
We're no gripin' nor complainin'
Cause crops'll sew and grass'll grow
Lot's better when it's rainin'

I fear the water gaps will all be out
But we'll patch 'em when we can
These precious rains revive these plains
It's the lifeblood of this land

Lord, if you've a mind, just let 'er rain
Cause in You we put our trust
We'd sooner trudge the mud and the sludge
Than to choke on blowin' dust

But the boys are getting' antsy, Lord
We've been cooped up here for days
There's fencin' needs doin' and hosses needs shoein'
Lord, we know, you know cowboy ways

If we stray, as cowboys might
I hope a guiding hand you'll lend
Thanks again for the rains and these wide open plains
Ride point for these punchers
                                              Amen


Jay Snider
These words may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

 

Biscuits

I've been eating biscuits for nigh on fifty years
So I figure a biscuit expert I am
And I'm probably the leading authority
On gravy and jellies and jam

Biscuits come in a host of shapes
They'll appear in a number of sizes
And my favorite time for their consumption
Is just before that ole' sun  rises

Their shape, for sure, means nothing
But size is another matter
On a good day I'll eat six or eight
And most times it's the latter

The ingredients of which a biscuit is made
Will tend to vary greatly
There's buttermilk, plain, and  sourdough
Can't say I've turned one down lately

I've had big ones and small ones
Some seem to swell up in your throat
Some so light they seem to float
A large percentage would sink a boat

I've topped 'em with gravy, so creamy and smooth
Shoveled 'em full of strawberry jam
I'll not forget 'em with Briar Rabbit syrup
Or Grandma's great country ham

Grandma's biscuits outshined 'em all
Even the great one's, her's were above
'Cause Grandma had one special ingredient
Every biscuit had a cupful of love

Those early morning breakfasts
In my memory will never fade
My favorite kind of  biscuits
Are the ones my Grandma made

2002, Jay Snider
These words may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

(Posted also in the collection of poems about
Cowboy Moms and Grandmoms)

 

Three Hundred Miles To Go

Had I been born 100 years before I was, I would have been 17 years old in 1870. During that era thousands of longhorns were being driven from Texas to the railheads in Kansas by drovers around the age of 15 to 20 years of age. There is not a doubt in my mind that I would have been one of those drovers had I been there. I have often wondered what went through those young men's minds along the trail.

 

Three Hundred Miles To Go

Three hundred miles behind us
'Bout the same still lay ahead
Trail boss says in three more days
We'll reach the "Mighty Red"

He says the Red's a bad one
When it's deep and on the rise
A dozen boys all prayin'
We'll just make it through alive

If the river smiles upon us
And we dodge it's deathly lair
Will we make it through the "Nations"
With our lives and with our hair

The ghostly sounds of evening
In a land that's wild and mean
Are sounds that make your blood run cold
To a boy of seventeen

It makes you long for mornin' light
And though you're not alone
Your mind will take you back again
To fond memories of home

The trail boss is a mean ole' cuss
It seems he's always mad
But he's the closest thing we've got
To bein' like a dad

Ole' "Cookie" told us straight and true
Without no reason and no rhyme
Do what the "Old Man" tells you
Do it each and every time

He's made it six and sixty years
By bein' no man's fool
The lessons he can teach you
Won't be taught in grammar school

So study hard your lessons
Make note the dangers that you've seen
With God's grace and that old man
Chances are you'll make eighteen

The herd is restin' easy now
That's sure a welcome sight
They ran for four and half a mile
In the lightnin' storm last night

The canyon helped us turn 'em
The lightnin' helped us see
The canyon walls were sharp and steep
We saved 'em all but three

A dozen boys rode out last night
We rode just like the wind
Young Billy turned the leading steers
All the boys but him rode in

We found him there next mornin'
Near the rim he'd made his stance
Two thousand hooves, a thousand horns
Billy never had a chance

His grave's a simple mound of stones
A marker near it stands
It reads: This boy of seventeen
Would have been a right fine man

The "Old Man" quoted scripture
From the Bible that he knew
Said "his momma's gonna miss him
I know these MEN will miss him too

Then he told us, "daylights burnin'
Best get these beefsteaks to the rail
Saddle up your ponies, boys
Throw the herd out on the trail"

2003, Jay Snider
These words may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

                     

 

Of Horses and Men

The inspiration for this poem came to me on December 7, 2002. I had to put down a little bay stud that we owned for near a dozen years. Cancer had invaded one of his kidneys and the vet gave him little hope. It truly was a sad day for us. I remember telling my wife and sons, "Doc sure was a good one. He's the kind you hate to lose."

That same day, I had been asked to do a poem at an old man's funeral that lived north of where we live. He was as good a cowman as ever came out of our country. After the service, his eldest son said to me, "Dad sure was a good one. He's the kind you hate to lose."

I could not get those words out of my mind. I started this poem that night; however, I could not finish it until March 19, 2003 when we received word that Larry McWhorter had passed away. Then it came to me what I had been trying to say all along.


Of  Horses and Men

It's been told of good horses lost
In simple words that cowboys use
He dern sure was a good one
He's the kind you hate to lose

He's the kind you could depend on
In the river and the breaks
In rough country and wild cattle
He'd be the one you'd take

His efforts weren't ruled by stature
With him you'd finish what you'd start
His limits were governed only
By the dimension of his heart

His expectations were simple
Merely fairness from a friend
But when he'd feel the need to run
It's best not to fence him in

Pure poetry in motion
As across the plains he'd fly
A tried and true compadre
In a seasoned cowboy's eye

His courage was unmatched by mortal men
From conquistadors to kings
Cowboys sing his praises
At roundups in the spring

Ain't it strange how thoughts of horses lost
Mirror those of men passed on
And though they've gone to glory
Their spirit's never gone

Sometimes simple words seem best
When final words we choose
He dern sure was a good one
He's the kind you hate to lose

2003, Jay Snider             
These words may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

 

Progress

Concrete covers the old wagon yard
Time has torn the old pens down
Progress, or so it's called
Shrouds sacred, hallowed ground

The sound of steel-shod horses hooves
Now fail to greet the dawn
Melodic ring of spur rowel
On the boardwalk now is gone

Gone but not forgotten
Those old cowboys from the past
Whose works and deeds, like a giant oak
Have cast a shadow vast

Time has honored their traditions
History tells us where they've been
Their course forever blazoned
Though the trails have since blowed in

For them, progress swarmed like locust
On howling winds of change
Reminiscent of another time
When barbed wire carved the range

The constant bawl of cattle
Of longhorn herds of old
Is silenced now by progress
Or so the story's told
 
Time was when grass abundant
Covered every hill and plain
Progress plowed it under
Built avenue and lane
 
Scattered few remember
'Cept through written verse and song
Those valiant men whose spirits yet
Ride wild and free and strong
 
Their spirits ride in harmony
In the souls of horseback men
Who daily fight the battle
That progress strives to win
 
Though their forms are in the present
Their hearts are with the dawn
'Fore progress took the rangeland
So the war still rages on
 
Progress marched in sometimes blind
And would only a deaf ear lend
And staked claim to the sad beginning
Of the cowboy's mournful end
 
Still, the end, defines finality
Or existence nevermore
Progress may have won the battle
It shall not win the war
 

2005, Jay Snider             
These words may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

 

Jay told us: I couldn't begin to tell how many times I've heard old cowboys say that they were born a hundred years too late. I've thought it or said it myself a thousand times but it became more vivid for me when I read the introduction to the book, The Trail Drivers of Texas. Larry McMurtry wrote, "Cowboys are romantics, extreme romantics, and ninety-nine out of a hundred of them are sentimental to the core. They are oriented to the past and face the present only under duress, and then with extreme reluctance." Call me a romantic for I fight that battle too. The book is such a great book and, in my mind, should be required reading in every school in the nation.




 

Tyrone and Tyree

I've learned lots of lessons
'Bout cowboyin' up
Cause I've been a cowboy
Since I was a pup
 
And my dad taught me
Just like his dad taught him
Rewards without effort
Come seldom and slim
 
And if workin' for wages
Or bossin' a crew
A job left half finished
Reflects upon you
 
And good leaders of men
Who while bossin' the crew
Won't ask of their men
What they wouldn't do
 
Cause men are just men
And it's by God's design
We all pull on our britches
One leg at a time
 
But some men are leaders
While others hold back
They stray off the trail
And are hard to untrack
 
But with proper persuasion
Will likely fall in
Cause that's just the nature
Of hosses and men
 
Which put me to thinkin'
'Bout Tyrone and Tyree
The best team of Belgium's
You ever did see
 
Why they'd lay in those collars
And pull stride for stride
Work sunup to sundown
'Till the day that they died
 
But Tyree would get balky
Not pull like he should
So Tyrone would reach over
And scold him right good
 
Then the load they were pullin'
Would even right out
That's the lesson in life
That I'm talkin' about
 
Cause some hosses are leaders
While some will pull back
They'll stray off the trail
And are hard to untrack
 
But with proper persuasion
Will likely fall in
See, that's just the nature
Of hosses and men
 
Which put me to thinkin'
'Bout what dad had said
And a couple of visions
Then danced in my head
 
In my mirror, while shavin'
Which one will I see
Could I be Tyrone
Or would I be Tyree
 
And to leaders of men
Let's all raise a cup
Here's to pullin' your weight
And to cowboyin' up
 

2005, Jay Snider, All Rights Reserved             
These words may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

 

 

 

Burning Daylight
For Don Dane

Though we saddle in the darkness
That’s just the way it’s done
We hear no bell or whistle call
Just the rising of the sun

The colors in the canyon
Paint pictures in my mind
Of the days that Charlie Russell rode
Of the tales he left behind

Vermillion cliffs of grandeur
Climb to plateaus up on high
Sunrise paints a mural
In an early mornin’ sky

Between sunrise and the sunset
Freedom courses through our veins
It’s the smell and the creak of the leather
The touch of our hands on the reins

Fleeting moments just at sunrise
And as sun sets in the west
Revered by men on horseback
From plain to mountain crest

Is the saddlin’ in the darkness
Just unwritten cowboy law
Or is it for the chance to see
What Charlie Russell saw

2005, Jay Snider, All Rights Reserved
These words may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

Jay Snider wrote this poem inspired by Don Dane's painting, "Burning Daylight":


Burning Daylight
2007 Don Dane Studio
Reproduction is strictly prohibited without authorization from Don Dane Studio

Don Dane is an award-winning artist, with a particular focus on "cowboys, horses, and cattle." His watercolor and pencil sketchesmade often on location, where he also photographs and researches his subjectsprovide studies for his oil paintings. Don Dane's images have been featured on many gathering posters, including those of Cal Farley's Boys Ranch Youth Cowboy Poetry Gathering, Saddle Up!, and Silver Dollar City's A Salute to the Great American Cowboy."

See our feature about Don Dane here and visit Don Dane's web site to view his galleries and more: www.DonDaneStudio.com.

 

Minor Adjustments
For Don Dane
 

He’s grown half a hand in stature
Since I turned him out last May
To rid his tail of cockleburs
Took nearly half a day

He’s fat and slick and gentle
Just the way I knew he’d be
He’s had some time to let it soak
The saddle, the bit, and me

I watched him from a weanling
How he’d run and buck and play
His actions told me early on
He’d be a champ one day

I’d like to take the credit
For all the things he knows
But his bloodlines tell the story
His heritage, it shows

His gentleness and kindness
And his pride are plain to see
These attributes, I’m hopin’
Are the ones he learned from me

2005, Jay Snider, All Rights Reserved
These words may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.
 

Jay Snider wrote this poem inspired by Don Dane's "Minor Adjustments":


Minor Adjustments
2007 Don Dane Studio
Reproduction is strictly prohibited without authorization from Don Dane Studio

Don Dane is an award-winning artist, with a particular focus on "cowboys, horses, and cattle." His watercolor and pencil sketchesmade often on location, where he also photographs and researches his subjectsprovide studies for his oil paintings. Don Dane's images have been featured on many gathering posters, including those of Cal Farley's Boys Ranch Youth Cowboy Poetry Gathering, Saddle Up!, and Silver Dollar City's A Salute to the Great American Cowboy."

See our feature about Don Dane here and visit Don Dane's web site to view his galleries and more: www.DonDaneStudio.com.


He Always Rode Good Horses

He always rode good horses
From my memory as a kid
I aspired to have my horses work
The way his horses did

But my youthful lack of patience
Left me standing in the road
That same old lack of patience
In my horses plainly showed

So I sat down at the drawing board
He'd built throughout the years
His words, though not abrasive
Only reinforced my fears

(CHORUS)
"It's gentle hands that make good horses
Not fear nor fight nor dread
Good men ride good horses
That's all that need be said"

He said "Trust ain't freely given
It's elusive, slowly earned
A man's the mirror image of
The things his horses learned

"With trust, respect soon follows
Like a wobbly legged foal
They both are most important
If good horses is your goal

"If he rebels from disrespect
He's trying hard to say
Let me spur you in the shoulder
And see how long you'll stay

"But given half of half a chance
He'll rise up to the task
And die a thousand mournful deaths
Just doing what you ask"

(CHORUS)
"It's gentle hands that make good horses
Not fear nor fight nor dread
Good men ride good horses
That's all that need be said"

"Then ask yourself this question
Of this gallant, noble steed
Would you do the very same for him
If asked a fearful deed"

His choice of words cut fast and deep
Just like a surgeon's knife
Yet changed a kid's perspective
And rearranged a life

At his service, just this morning
A tear fell as they read
He always rode good horses
That's all that need be said

(CHORUS)
"It's gentle hands that make good horses
Not fear nor fight nor dread
Good men ride good horses
That's all that need be said"

2008, Jay Snider, All Rights Reserved
These words may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.


Jay told us this song (looking for music) was inspired in part by an introduction Joel Nelson gave him at the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering, saying that Jay "rode good horses." Jay comments, "To a horseman that is the ultimate compliment, especially coming from a horseman such as he. It stuck with me and looking back on the years, most all the 'great' men I've known have ridden good horses."

 

 

Small Town America

They’ve built a brand new bypass

That skirts the edge of town

The welcome sign we planted there,

The road crew cut it down

 

A small reflective exit sign

Now stands there in its place

Directing would-be visitors

To enter, just in case

 

They’re curious, or have the time,

Just need a change of pace

Observe “small town America”

And see its smiling face

 

The more things change, it’s written

The more they stay the same

But hard times are still hard times

No matter what the game

 

Widow Beeson’s Hardware held

A quitting business sale

It’s rumored Brooksie’s five and dime

Is near about to fail

 

Old man Rollins closed his steakhouse down

His fare’s the best around

But less traffic means less patrons

So his ship has run aground

 

Nelson’s Grocery Store has barren shelves

The motel changed its name

Try as we might, I ask you friend

Where do we lay the blame

 

Some folks call it progress

But it may have sunk the boat

Next time they build a bypass

 We’d like the chance to vote

 

As you journey down life’s byways

You may spy an exit sign

Embrace “small town America”

Could be yours or could be mine

2009, Jay Snider, All Rights Reserved
These words may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

 

Jay comments: My wife and I went to Abilene, Texas a few weeks ago to the Western Heritage Classic...We always go through Seymore, Texas on our way down. It's about half way down so we usually stop for coffee and such. I nearly got lost because they had just finished a new bypass around town. I told Sandi that the bypass would probably make a ghost town out of Seymore in a few years. To make a really long story short, I wrote this little piece.

 


 

Cowboy Logic

Airports get his “Irish” up
The way they operate
You’ll stand in line to stand in line
Then hurry up to wait

But they’ll take away your birthday
Or they’ll cuff you then and there
If procedure isn’t followed
‘Till they get you in the air

They’ll ask your Grandma’s maiden name
Her year and day of birth
Then ask your daddy’s gender
And IQ, for what that’s worth

They’ll ask to see a birthmark
Or an ear tag or a brand
Then run you through a dippin’ vat
Reverse the sequence when you land

You’ll shuck boots and belt and buckle
Feel plumb naked after that
Then violate your cowboy pride
By peelin’ off your hat

But a puncher’s plenty cagey
When his savvy kicks in gear
He can solve most any problem
That’s sired by grief or fear

You may question, some, his vision
When his logic turns the crank
But his form won’t be mistaken
You can take that to the bank

His next trip through security
I’ll bet won’t take so long
Cause you can’t hide a weapon
Wearin’ flip-flops and a thong

2009, Jay Snider, All Rights Reserved
These words may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

 


 

Renegade Cow

She can hear your trailer rattle
From a way back up the trail
All you'll see is heel dust
And the nine throwed in her tail

She'll hit the timber runnin'
Then just vanish like a ghost
And leave you standin' slack-jawed
Like you's dallied to a post

She appeared one day from nowhere
She's stayed three years, now, and a half
She's eat ten ton of cattle cubes
But she ain't produced one calf

She's got the reputation
With good cowboys in the land
That she rose from fire and brimstone
Packin' El Diablo's brand
 
Her left horn plunges downward
It's cracked and splintered from within
Her right horn honed to razor sharp
Ideal for hookin' hoss and men
 
Her good eye never closes
So, ya wonder when she sleeps
The contusions on her mangy hide
All ooze or drip or seep
 
She haunts your dreams most ev'ry night
And cuts in on your sleep
You dream she's tearin' fences down
When you could be countin' sheep
 
She's the kind that runs the fences
Does the hoochy-koochy dance
To entice your neighbor's longhorn bull
To visit on your ranch
 
If human, she could peddle
Snow and ice to Eskimos
She convinced your fat and gentle cows
To skip three roundups in a row
 
I'd love to have her butchered
Send her carcass to the bunch
That caters PETA meetings
They could serve her up for brunch
 
I'd be within my lawful rights
To blast her ornery hide
But admitting I can't catch her
Insults my cowboy pride
 
So, today I turned the tables
At the moment my mission made sense
I trailed the old hide to the corner
Cut a hole in the BLM fence

2010, Jay Snider, All Rights Reserved
These words may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

 

 

Ode to the Line Shack


Tumbleweeds blow in through a saggin’ screen door
But it’s been home sweet home for six months, maybe more

There’s no insulation in the walls of this shack
You can throw a big cat through most all of the cracks

There’s a leak in the roof, when it rains it’ll pour
But it runs out real fast through the cracks in the floor

The snow will drift in ‘round the windows with ease
But in autumn there’s always a cool gentle breeze

An old, cold north wind will stand the curtains out straight
But the chimney won’t draw so the fresh air is great

Stockin’ grub in the pantry is an every day chore
Cause the mice carry it out through a hole in the floor

The stove in the kitchen ain’t worked in a year
So we eat lots of jerky and chase it with beer

The freezer don’t work and the furnace won’t heat
The bedroom stays cold so it’s safe to hang meat

My pocket knife vanished from on top of the chest
I found it next mornin’ in a fresh pack rat’s nest

A horrendous odor surrounds all the bunks
Cause beneath the plank floor dwells a family of skunks

A trip to the privy concludes in a rush
The sink never drains and the toilet don’t flush

My pard’s a good hand and I like him doggonit
But I’m down to one nerve and by golly, he’s on it

I hear the wagon rolls out in a week, maybe two
I intend to go with it and the rest of the crew

I’ll sleep at the wagon, on the plains, with my hoss
I’ve had all I can stand batchin’ here with the boss

2010, Jay Snider, All Rights Reserved
These words may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.


Jay told us about the poem's inspiration: "It’s kind of a little nonsense piece but was actually inspired by a story my mother told me many years ago about some experiences she and dad had while he was working for the Anchor D ranch west of Lovington, New Mexico. Dad had hired on to cowboy and mother was expecting my older brother Monte. The “Shack” (her exact words) they lived in was below the cap rock with very few conveniences. To make matters worse a family of skunks had moved in under the floor of the shack and the smell was horrific. The “icebox” was a wooden box attached to the outside of the window and covered with chicken wire. A wet canvas tarp was draped over the box to allow the breeze to keep the “icebox” cool. She remembers those days as being some of the most lonely times of her life. The rest of the poem is plain and simple, premeditated, nonsense. A bit of truth to it but mostly nonsense. "
 

The Cowboy's a Legend

Granddad told stories that his granddad told
Of raging stampedes, the rain and the cold
Of herds pointed north and the rivers they crossed
The deep, muddy water. The good cowboys they lost

Chorus
The cowboy's a legend, conceived by the trail
Cut short was his life by the wire and the rail
His laws, plain and simple, passed down to the rest
No title, no chapter. That's the code of the west

He knows what he stands for. Won't veer from that trail
Distinct in his vision as a coyote's wail
Can't stand rude behavior toward horses or men
Has no place in the world that he's living in

Chorus
The cowboy's a legend, conceived by the trail
Cut short was his life by the wire and the rail
His laws, plain and simple, passed down to the rest
No title, no chapter. That's the code of the west

Some are cowboys by choice, others born to the breed
They'll ride, when they die towards the nearest stampede
The cowboy lives on yet today and beyond
Though the ruts have blown in and the trail herds are gone

Chorus
The cowboy's a legend, conceived by the trail
Cut short was his life by the wire and the rail
His laws, plain and simple, passed down to the rest
No title, no chapter. That's the code of the west

2009, Jay Snider, All Rights Reserved
These words may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.


Texas singer, songwriter, musician and Wrangler Award winner Dale Burson includes this song, renamed "Code of the West," on his 2015 Heart CD. Dale Burson first played the song several times at events at the November, 2010 15th Annual Working Ranch Cowboy Association (WRCA) Ranch Rodeo Finals in Amarillo.

Jay commented on the song's inspiration, "... I'm a huge fan of the cattle drive era and had I been born a hundred years earlier than I was, I would have been the prime age to have driven cattle up the trails. There's not a doubt in my mind that I would have been right there. In reality, we're only two generations removed from that timeframe so it stands to reason that my Granddad's Granddad could have told him stories from the trail drive days. I truly believe that many of the 'unwritten laws of the range' were forged in those days, hence, 'No title, no chapter, that’s the code of the west.' And, if you look closely, it's plain to see that the cowboy is alive and well though the ruts have blown in and the trail herds are gone."


Horse Sense

My grandpa called it horse sense
From way back in his day
And unless you had a tubful
Chances are you couldn't stay

Gramps was lackin' some on patience
His compassion fuse was short
If you was due a pint-sized scoldin'
He might serve you up a quart

But when it came to common sense
He championed one and all
So I'll give you some for instance
And I'll let you make the call

We raised Ole Stewbone from a colt
He took two years to break
If wild cattle was the menu
Then he'd be the one you'd take

He never got plumb gentle
And he'd kick at foe or friend
Gramps would say "Use common sense
Stay off the kickin' end"

Once he threw his worn out leggins
Underneath my green broke colt
Every jump I could hear him yell
"Use common sense, son take a holt"

Grandpa's favorite was the "Devil" cow
They both had that far off look
She'd raised good calves; and easy
But they all was bad to hook

Gramps would say "It's simple son"
Some common sense he'd lend
"Those horns ain't made for honkin' son
Stay off the hookin' end"

My ole Grandpa tells the story
Of buckin' off Ole River Rat
He'd say he flew so high a blue jay
Built a bird nest in his hat

He said "Lord, please forgive me"
Just before he hit the dirt
And said "It's plain and simple horse sense
That the stop was bound to hurt"

He thought common sense was teachable
I tried it and I cain't
Common sense is like red hair
You've got it, or you ain't

2011, Jay Snider, All Rights Reserved
These words may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.


Jay told us, "I had wanted to write something about plain old common sense. I find myself wondering, where has it gone and can it be taught? To a certain degree maybe it can but the best teacher is the ‘School of Hard Knocks.’ I have only picked up ONE hot horseshoe with my bare hands."




 


 

Where's the Cook

The firewood’s all wet from a sudden spring rain
The cook’s dancing’ the green apple trot
So the cow boss informed me this mornin’
I’m the closest to a ‘coosie’ he’s got

The boys all rode out for the gather
They left before dawn for the drive
I’m stuck here in camp with Ol’ Grumpy
Who’d smell better dead than alive

The cook fire just lays there and smolders
Fills the "kitchen" with smoke black as night
But if supper’s not ready this evenin’
It’s run, try to hide, or it’s fight

I needed spontaneous combustion
Some fuel for the fire you might say
So I dug out the fuel for the lanterns
And dowsed from not too far away

I learned kerosene thrown on hot embers
Turns kindlin’ to a range fire right quick
It’ll burn off the curl in your mustache
Turns eye brows to hide greasy slick

Now the coals are all red and a-glowin’
Like sun spots on a ragin’ hot sun
The crew’s trailin’ in from the gather
And the beefsteak and beans are near done

The biscuits I whipped up this evening
Are the kind that’ll change a man’s luck
They’re black as the sole on a coal miners boot
And tougher’n a hockey team's puck

The crew’s just a bunch of ol’ waddies
I’ve grown to admire quite a lot
If they keep on insultin’ my cookin’
They’ll find refried beans in their cot

I explained to the boss man this evening
I’m a puncher, a "coosie" I’m not
He threw back a slug of my coffee
Said most diplomatic, ”So what”

So I reckon I’ll keep on a-cookin’
Till "cookie" recovers somewhat
Cause the view lookin’ out ‘neath this cook fly
Still beats what a city boy’s got

2011, Jay Snider, All Rights Reserved
These words may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.


Jay comments about the poem, "It’s probably more nonsense than anything else but most cowboys I’ve known over the years don’t play by 'union rules.' They do what they have to do given the situation. I’ve also spent enough time around Kent Rollins’ chuckwagon to find a little humor in most anything that happens."
 

 

Dust

When we call back old mem’ries of the fellers we’ve known
recounting the days of our youth.
The stories, still vivid, yet somewhat askew.
How much was pure fiction and how much was truth?

We savvied the catch rope, the spur rowel, and quirt
and rode with a vengeance from daybreak to night.
Our ponies were agile and keen to the rein.
We longed for one glimpse of a cow brute in flight.

We were wild as the Comanche that once ruled the plains
yet rode by a code that the old ones passed on.
Their voices still echo from the canyon to plain.
Their deeds n’er forgotten; they’re here but they’re gone.

We stayed with the wagon when it rolled in the spring
and we followed it in after fall.
Lord, those were the days and we’d do it again
with no hesitation at all.

Now we dream of a rangeland un-cut by the wire
and grasslands not scarred by the plow.
Most is covered in concrete or divvied up small
with no room for the cowboy or cow.

So we sit by the fire on those cold winter nights.
Raise a cup to good cowboys and the horses we cussed.
We whoop and we spur and we fan the bad broncs.
and ride the old ranges never makin’ much dust.

2012, Jay Snider, All Rights Reserved
These words may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.
 

Jay told us this poem was inspired by the 2012 National Day of the Cowboy Art Spur image, "Dust," by Nikole Yost Morgan.

 

 

Jay Snider was featured in a video and article in January, 2010
in Western Horseman.

 

Read Jay Snider's

At the End of His Rope in our Art Spur project

and

A Good Day to be a Cowboy in our Art Spur project

and

See Jay Snider's Santa's Helper, posted with the 
Holiday 2001 poems and Never Shop on Christmas Eve posted with the Holiday 2004 poems 

 

Jay Snider has shared photos in Picture the West:

  Pictures from the Chisholm Trail in October, 2009

  Generations of Snider family cowboys in April, 2009

  Photos of Jay's mother, rodeo queen and good hand, in September, 2009

  Photos and stories about Jay's grandfather, Marvin Turner (1905-1976), who was a brand inspector for the Texas & Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association, in May, 2008

  Three generations of rodeoing Sniders, and four generations horseback in September, 2007

Jay Snider's Rafter S Ranch Cowboy Reunion in August, 2007

 


Book and Recordings

 

The Old Tried and True

 

Includes:

"The Old Night Hawk" by Bruce Kiskaddon
"The Bronco Twister's Prayer" by Bruce Kiskaddon
"The Gold Old Cowboy Days" by Luther Lawhon
"The Pearl of Them All" by Will Ogilvie
"Old Fort Phantom Hill" by Larry Chittenden
"Bill's in Trouble" by James Barton Adams
"When They've Finished Shipping Cattle in the Fall" by Bruce Kiskaddon
"The Sheep-Herder's Lament" by Fletcher Fletcher
"Alone" by Bruce Kiskaddon
"Forgotten" by Bruce Kiskaddon
"The Shallows of the Ford" by Henry Herbert Knibbs
"When You're Throwed" by Bruce Kiskaddon
"The Bear Tale" by Sunny Hancock
 

The Old Tried and True is available for $18 postpaid from:

Jay Snider
22112 State Highway 19
Cyril, OK 73029-5606

www.JaySnider.net

jay@jaysnider.net


 

Passing it On

Of Horses and Men

A book and CD with Ken Cook

Illustrations by Tyler Crow (tylercrow.com) and Roger Archibald (westernpencilart.com)

Book includes:

"Dying Breed," by Jay Snider
"The Conversation," by Ken Cook
"Cowhand," by Ken Cook
"Four Little Words," by Jay Snider
"Heroes," by Jay Snider
"Burning Daylight," by Jay Snider
"Grandpa's Spurs," by Ken Cook
"I'm Gonna Be a Cowboy," by Ken Cook
"Bloodlines," by Ken Cook
"Kill This Cow," by Ken Cook
"Minor Adjustments," by Jay Snider
"Of Horses and Men," by Jay Snider
"Home," by Ken Cook
"Come with Me," by Ken Cook
"Cowboyin', Horses, and Friends," by Jay Snider
"Rainy Day Prayer," by Jay Snider
"The Broncho Twister's Prayer," by Bruce Kiskaddon
"The Ranch Up Yonder," by Ralph G. Coole

On the CD:

"Dying Breed," by Jay Snider
"The Conversation," by Ken Cook
"Cowhand," by Ken Cook with Robert Dennis
"Four Little Words," by Jay Snider
"I'm Gonna Be a Cowboy," by Ken Cook
"Bloodlines," by Ken Cook
"Of Horses and Men," by Jay Snider
"Rainy Day Prayer," by Jay Snider
"The Broncho Twister's Prayer," by Bruce Kiskaddon, recited by Jay
Snider
"The Ranch Up Yonder," by Ralph G. Coole, recited by Ken Cook


From the back cover:


In order to be accurate and specific, folks who write about a particular way of life need to know what that way of life is all about. Jay Snider not only knows about the life of a cowboy, he lives it. He's very particular about making sure that the folks who work cattle horseback are portrayed in a factual and positive manner. A true student of the cowboy way, unbelievable poet, and a professional working cowboy, Jay Snider takes us on a poetic journey that you don't want to miss.   Red Steagall

 

Ken and Jay—two of my favorite poets and two of my favorite people—belong to the hard-working, real-deal variety of cowboy, not the shiny millionaire kind. That works to the advantage of discerning poetry fans, because these two cowboys spend words like they spend hard-earned dollars: wisely, frugally, creatively. Each metaphor is an investment in the bigger picture. Each verb does a job. Every rhyme is cinched up just right. Like their fences and their gear, they take care with their poems and build 'em to last. Plus, they know when to let loose and splurge just for the heck of it. I'm a millionaire for counting these two fine men among my friends. We're all the richer for a book from not one, but two of the West's best contemporary writers. This collection proves what every Westerner already knows: some things in life are priceless.  Doris Daley


Passing it On (book and CD) available for $20 postpaid from:

Jay Snider
22112 State Highway 19
Cyril, OK 73029-5606
 

www.JaySnider.net

jay@jaysnider.net

Passing it On on Facebook

 


 

Named
Academy of Western Artists' (AWA)
Best Cowboy Poetry Recording
2006

"Jay Snider is the real deal. He seems to have it all: the ability to write good poems, he knows what cowboying is all about, and can recite it with the best of them. If you find a cowboy better at any of those three, I'd like to meet him.” Pat Richardson

 

includes:

300 Miles to Go
A Tribute to Tom
Tyrone & Tyree
Rainy Day Prayer
I Rode Through the Valley
The Dream
Short Horned Pete
The Pearly Gate
Heroes
Of Horses and Men
Dying Breed
Progress
Champion
Two Prayers
Bankers

CD available for $15 postpaid from:

Jay Snider
22112 State Highway 19
Cyril, OK 73029-5606
 

www.JaySnider.net

jay@jaysnider.net

Read our review here.


Cowboyin', Horses & Friends

Jay Snider's "Cowboyin', Horses and Friends"

Nominated for best poetry album for 2001 by the Academy of Western Artists.

includes:

Cowboyin', Horses &, Friends
Biscuits
Cattle Market
Team Ropin' by Number
Added Money
Banjo and John
Four Little Words
Two of a Kind
Twister
Rodeo Judge
My Old Amigo Lum
A Legend is Born
A Real Cowboy Poet
A Brisk Walk

Cassette tape available for $10 postpaid
CD available for $15 postpaid
 from:

Jay Snider
22112 State Highway 19
Cyril, OK 73029-5606
 

www.JaySnider.net

jay@jaysnider.net

 

 

 

 

www.cowboypoetry.com

 

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