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LANE LUTTRELL
Prairieville, Louisiana
About Lane Luttrell


Lane Luttrell on Papoose, circa 1978, shipping calves
 3 Circle Ranch Arlington, Wyoming

 

 

Haying, me, and Bill and Wayne

3 Circle Ranch
Arlington, Wyoming, circa 1963


The sound of thunder drifts down
through the canyon
as if the mountain had gently cleared its throat
The first soft drops of rain fall
becoming a wet canvas onto which the valley is painted
We stand beneath the trees that follows the creek along side the meadow
that holds our fresh mown hay
the 3 of us
sun tanned from thirty days on a tractor, no shirt
cool and wet from dripping leaves
talking that cocky young man talk
watching our cigarette smoke curl up
dissipate into the air
laughing like school yard clowns
finishing up for the season
mowing, raking, stacking
soaking up all of life
driving to the cook house with a beer
from our stash in the creek
planning the night
on our way back in
from haying
Me and Bill and Wayne

© 2008, Lane Luttrell
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

 

 

Lance Paul and I

Young Ranch Management Trainees
Diamond Ranch
McFadden, Wyoming, circa 1964

Lance Paul and I are riding Foot Creek
have been since 5 a.m.
22 sections of land 350 head of cattle
two young cowboys on the range
talking about life
swapping lies
becoming one with this great vast land
I check the shadow of myself on horseback
looking good

To the side of us a pickup truck
squats down to a sliding stop
a dust cloud follows  the vehicle
and engulfs us
from this, Lance Paul’s father and our boss, Dale
emerges—like God

Dale suggests, not warmly
that if Lance Paul and I were to ride together
on the same horse then we could
save on horses
and that he would be glad to take the other horse
back to the ranch—or—
we could split the hell up
continue to live
and start gathering cattle like he is paying us to do

These options are presented to us in what I think in music
is called some kind of ascending crescendo
we choose the split up and live option

Lance Paul and I head, separately
to the far corners of Foot Creek
to start pushing 350 head of cattle
back to the Diamond Ranch

I get lined out and start thinking
about Dale’s speech
Did me good, by golly
he is paying me
and I am the best young cowhand
he ever hired

I start moving cattle
a few try to head back
they run along the rim of a deep gully
My horse and I cut around them on a small trail
just below the rim
We’re haulin’ and I’m whooping and hollering
just so they know who is boss
the edge of the trail collapses
we roll down to the bottom of this deep gully
my horse and I
I am off the horse laying on my back
kinda sucking air
still holding reins
My horse is on his side
sucking air
We look at each other

At this moment in time
I think I, conceptually at least
pioneered the terms "adrenaline high" and "career decision"

I realize that my horse is going to be up in a microsecond
and I had better be on him—else
I’ll be facing Dale
on foot
in Foot Creek
with no horse
Lord Help Me
I am swinging into the saddle at the same time my horse is getting up
Old Pony Express Riders up in heaven who may have been watching
were high fiving themselves
cause’ folks this was good
My horse and I
we lunge back up the side of the gully
like it's all part of the deal
snortin’ sweatin’ pawin’ our way back up
and the cows do not stand a chance
because Lance Paul and I
are two young cowboys
working for the Diamond Ranch
herding cattle on Foot Creek
young ranch management trainees

© 2008, Lane Luttrell
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

 

Lane told us: After college and the Navy I left Wyoming and returned to Louisiana. Lance Paul became a rancher in Wyoming like his father and grandfather. He also was a deputy sheriff in Albany County.

I attempt to write realistically, sometimes with humor, about my time on three family ranches in south-central Wyoming during the 1960s and early 1970s. All of my recollections of that time are based upon actual happenings. All of the wonderful people whom I rode with, hayed with and  who watched over me are forever etched in my mind.

 

 

Thoughts on Cowboys

Yes, it does have to do with freedom
but mainly little things
like how you hold the reins
loose enough so your arms don’t get jerked out
when your horse stumbles
but not so loose
that you’re reeling in leather
when you skid down from
full out

A cowboy has unflinching confidence
in himself
and his horse
as they burst through some Aspen stand
full gallop and welded
trying to cut the angle on some crazed steer
oblivious to the limbs tearing at their face
or if there is barbed wire
or a canyon that’s awaiting their fate
It’s not a conscious thing
when the earth falls away
it’s a moment
that’s pure
and lasts not even that long
or a moment that’s frozen in hell
and all of time has gone

Thoughts on cowboys 2

A cowboy is riding some spring green meadow
lost in thought
his horse has his head down
trying to grab a bite along the way
(remember the reins thing)
when the most beautifully colored
and sweetest little baby deer
just jumps right out from under your horse’s feet
cause he was about to get stepped on
and you never seen him
Now you remember
you saw momma acting weird just a little while ago
so you shoulda known she had a baby around
as your horse jumps about 10 feet up and  5 feet sideways
You are no longer lost in thought
You are now completely focused
on riding this thing out
Your horse is bucking for saddle bronc of the year
and yet while you're riding this out
You kinda wonder if maybe Fredrick Remington
is around to bronze this thing

After you’ve gathered everything in
and your horse is settled down
you look around for the instigators
of this singular national championship saddle bronc ride
and there they are

momma and her pretty little baby 
looking back at you from the edge of the tree line
just as they disappear
You swear you and momma make eye contact
like the two of you had shared a little secret something about life
and you know that mamma and her baby had a little talk
and probably a laugh or two at you and your horse’s expense
Course you’d never tell anyone this

And you feel pretty good
You made a hell of a ride
And you were part of something real nice

Cowboys think like this
—they just never admit it
They look at you with a face like stone
like they wouldn’t know which end of a horse to rope
But they’d have a big ol’ grin in their heart
and within themselves they’d say
Me and this old horse
we pulled it off

© 2008, Lane Luttrell
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

 

Lane tells us that this poem is written in memory of Del Esquibel, "a true and kind cowboy whom I had the privilege of riding with and being tutored by in the 1960s. It also is about real events that happened to me while riding for the 3 Circle and Diamond ranches in the Arlington-McFadden, Wyoming area during that time."


Del Esquibel and Red, circa 1960's; Del was the ranch manager in the 1960s for the 3 Circle

 

The Red Horse

The darkest part of the morning,
A small cloud brushes by a cold dying moon.
Silent, but for the sound of snow
Squeaking as it compresses under my boots.
In the barn a dull yellow light glows over the hay manger,
hinting at warmth.
I enter the corral
Holding a bridle under my arm
By the steel of its bit.
The horses stamp
Breath frozen breathe clouds
And huddle in the furthest corner.
As I approach,
The roan, the buckskin, the gray and Old Tom
Trot by in single file
Kicking backwards slightly as they pass me.
I spread my arms and corner the big brown horse
He settles, understanding that he is chosen
I offer a bridle whose cold metal has been warmed by my body
I wonder if he appreciates the thoughtfulness
I flip blanket and saddle onto his back
He swells himself as I pull the cinch
I curse him and jerk the cinch tighter.
Outside we settle down to riding the fence line
The brown horse and I becoming one
With the dark, the cold
And the purpose of the morning.
A calf bawls, the wind blows through us
I ride hunched, the brown with his head down
Little swirls of snow dance
Stinging our eyes shut occasionally
The brown horse and I ride with the last light of the morning
pale off the snow.
The purple darkness of the horizon beginning to flicker
As new light slowly dissolves the darkness
The ridges of the eastern hills focusing it into a singular light
That shines down the fence line
Becoming bright
Bouncing off wire and crusted snow.
The brown horse and I come to a place where the wire is broken
I dismount, cursing the cold
I remove the wire stretcher and fence pliers from my saddlebag
The brown stands where I leave him
Ground reined.
I put the stretchers on the broken wire
tie in a splice
"Hold barbed bastard wire"
it breaks, cuts my ungloved hand
Fingers hurt from the cold
Blood feels good, it is warm
I stretch the wire again
It holds.
I release the wire.
I get back on the brown
Pull a piece of hard cake from my jacket
 and tap the brown horse on the shoulder.
He reaches back for his treat.
The wind is softer
The sun fuller.
I think about the red horse
For twenty years you rode the red horse.
Then I rode him
Cause you knew he would not hurt me
I thought it was you who taught me
Maybe it was him
I did not know that then.
I think about the day I had a calf the red horse and my arm
All wrapped up in my rope
Hard and fast.
The red horse did not move.
You rode up, untangled us,
Both cursing and chuckling,
The buckskin would have hurt me
Maybe killed me
He would not have stood still
I did not know that then.
Eventually we put  the red horse out to pasture,
A place we called The Long.
You and I would ride through
and like an old friend, The red horse would trot slowly up to greet us.
You would always say “Well hello Red’
And talk nice to him
The red horse would follow
As we rode through his place
On our way to other chores.
One day we rode through the Long
The red horse did not come to greet us.
On our way back from the day's work 
we found him.
Standing alone.
Frail and pure,
Staring through hollow eyes.
The next morning you strapped the Winchester
to the roan I had saddled,
We didn’t talk.
We found the red horse standing in his final small place.
He was standing proud, I thought
And stronger.
His eyes were bright
The early morning sun flashed and shone off his coat
Like he was that young red stallion,
Pivoting right and left, squatted down
Front feet light.
Putting you on calves faster than any horse in the territory
Cutting off wayward cows so quick
You could only hold on.
You dismount and hand me the reins to the roan.
I hold them
As you slip the saddle gun out.
I watch from the brown horse
Taking a tighter grip on the reins of both horses
In anticipation.
 
You lever the Winchester,
The red horse watches this.
He looks straight at you,
With a calm recognition.
The brown horse throws his head and dances a little
The roan pulls back.
I use reins and soothing words to settle them,
But my eyes never leave the red horse
Red goes down to his knees,
almost as if you had trained him
To do just that.
 
I had never known sadness before.
 
The brown horse and I come to another place
Where the wire is broken
And the snow has drifted packed.
Tracks show that cows have crossed over
Into White’s place.
We fix the wire.
Tomorrow I’ll load the brown horse into the back of the pick-up
And the brown and I will push the wayward cows back to our place.
The brown horse and I return,
finished with our work for the day.
I think of that young red colt,
Soon I’ll bring him in.
Maybe he will be another
Red Horse.

© 2010, Lane Luttrell
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.


Lane comments, "He was a great horse, taught me and saved me."
 

See Lane Luttrell's

photos from his cowboying days in a May, 2009 Picture the West entry.



  About Lane Luttrell:

I currently reside in Prairieville, Louisiana. In the 1960s and early 1970s I had the privilege of working on three family ranches in south central Wyoming. I worked on Lee McQuay's place, the Diamond Ranch and on Howard and Audrey Brokaw's 3 Circle Ranch. The 3 Circle is where I worked the longest. I started out working in the hay fields. Through the patience and tutelage of those I worked for, especially Howard Brokaw and his foreman Del Esquibel, I progressed to being a cowboy/ranch hand. Even in my youth, I knew that the Arlington-Mc Fadden Wyoming area, called "the valley," was a special place. I did not know then how much the people there would forever affect how I would live my life. "The valley" is a beacon that over 30 years later, still shines out to me.

 

 

 

 

 

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