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About Larry Mapes




The Last Link

I think the trailer is sold,
Its the last link in the chain.
It breaks my heart to see it go,
things will never be the same.

I seems like only yesterday,
we were loaded and ready to go.
The empty corrals reminds us now,
that those days were long ago.

I rode my mare for twenty years,
and he rode his bay sixteen.
We covered most of this country,
some of the prettiest I've ever seen.

We experienced some sites,
that few if any have seen.
On top of the world
where the air is fresh and clean.

The turning leaves of amber,
are telling of the seasons change.
The gray in my hair and age on my face,
came honest with years on the range.

We carried water for the dogs,
in some places that country gets dry,
They can't even jump in the truck today,
it brings a tear to my eye.

The line camp days and friends collected,
provide some comfort now.
They still occasionally stop for coffee,
and reminisce 'bout some ole cow.

But it's just not like being a part,
It brings a loneliness to the soul.
That somehow your worth is less,
maybe you've lost sight of the goal.

I suppose I should treasure the moments,
and remember all that we've enjoyed.
That maybe a cowboy and his wife,
are really never employed.

To think that we got paid for that,
far beyond mere dollars and cents.
A lifetime of value not measured in gold,
and all that it represents.

Seem to be leaving in that old trailer,
I shouldn't be angry I know.
I just wanted to tell you,
I sure hate to see it go.

2002, Larry Mapes
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.



Phone on the Range

It was on the West Side
Of the south San Joaquin
at a ranch in the Temblor range.
A large group had gathered
to work fall calves
When we heard a sound so strange.

The cattle all stopped
And the ground crew stood still,
And a roper was almost thrown.
But when the dust had all settled
Much to our surprise
A cowboy just reached for his phone.

Ignoring the scowls
From the rest of the hands
He said the call was to important to miss.
His business complete
He gathered his rope
And caught two hind feet with a hiss.

Modern technology has made it
To the land of peace and quiet
No longer is there calm on the range.
Where cowboys with cell phones
Can check on their stock
On the Chicago and New York Exchange.

It's just not the cowboy way
It didn't seem quite right,
In the land where the curlew's scream
In the midst of a branding
With much work to do,
To hear that darn telephone ring.

We come out here
To these wide open spaces
To think and reflect in the quiet
We should have known though
That it wouldn't be long
Before some good ole boy would try it.

Oh, the work continued
And by the end of the day
Several more calls were received.
Although he did his fare share
When his battery went dead
All his ole pards were relieved.

So give me a range
Without a cell phone
Where the ropin' and brandin's the same
And until such a time
When we're all better prepared
May the horses and cattle be tame.

04/04/03,  Larry Mapes
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.



Gettin' Old

I rode in here in '34
It was gray, rainy and cold
Everyone wants to live a long life
But it sure is hell getting' old.

I've spent my life on horseback
And know this country like the back of my hand,
But nobody much needs old cowboys,
It's hard to understand.

I could teach them a lot
If they would only listen
But they think because of my age
I surely must be slippin'

I know cattle and I know horses
I learned a lot about people too
The years I've spent were a real education
They're probably worth a degree or two.

Opportunities just aren't there
to demonstrate my ability
They all just shake their head
Sayin' I'm to much a liability

I can still ride with the best of them
And for dang sure wouldn't get lost
Why me and one good dog
Could do it for half the cost.

It's hard to sit and watch
I get so discontent
Someone should be benefitin'
From all the years I've spent

So won't you stop and listen
To the knowledge that I hold?
The danger of long life my son,
Is that one day you get old.

2005,  Larry Mapes

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

Line Camp Cowboy

There's a camp in Jordan Meadows
Apart from the maddening throng,
Where all you hear are dogs and cattle
And a lonesome cowboys song.

You just don't see many people
In a camp so far from town,
The border collies make good company
And keep ya from getting' down.

We make a pretty good team
They do the work of several others,
Why, they're almost like family
I worked with both their mothers.

Oh sure, I get a little lonely
I read most every night,
After supper and dishes
Until night puts out the light.

Ridin' fence and checkin' cows
Provides a lot of time for thought
Of friends, of horses, and families lost
And about this "cowboy life" you've sought.

About the woman who couldn't stay
About the children she took away
About the benefits you always thought
Would surely come - someday.

There's no better place to reflect
Than before dawn in the wide open spaces
Of what I could have done differently
God, I miss their faces.

How could I have loved her more
Or made a compromise,
But the answers just don't come
And the sun begins to rise.

You greet the day alone again
Except for the company of your best friends,
It'll be a long day before its through
And night will have fallen before it ends.

I so wish that she'd be waiting
When I get in tonight
And that the soft warm glow of home
Would call -  from the window light.

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

One More Time

If I could do'er one more time,
What one thing would I choose.
I'd go an chase some mustangs, and
Catch some good ones to use.

Well, I remember some years back,
We were saddled and ready at dawn.
Out on the flats near Rye Patch, the
Line in the sand was drawn.

We were in it till the finish;
We were bound to go home with some.
Ole Walt had his eye on several, I'da
Been happy with one.

His lass rope was tied hard and fast.
Some habits are hard to break.  He
Shot off after a coal black stallion; his rope
Flew out like a snake.

He caught that big stud just before he jumped,
A little wet stream on the flat.
But Walt's big sorrel sank up to his knees,
And boy right there he sat.

Until that stud hit the end of the rope,
And launched em' both on high.
A prettier somersault you've never seen,
I just knew they'd die.

But they hit the ground a runnin'
Didn't even lose his hat.
A great big smile upon his face,
Just like that Cheshire Cat.

Several more were gathered,
And corralled by the end of the day.
That old willow pen looked shaky;
I sure hoped they'd stay.

Ever led wild horses, he said.
Well no, but I'm willin' to try.
Get the ropes and we'll watch a while,
And sort from hardy to shy.

We'll start with that big black stud,
He's surely the strongest beast,
Then we'll work through the bunch by size,
From the strongest down to the least.

We roped and laid each one down,
And with work put a loop in each tail.
Then we hooked em' all together,
Like an old train deliverin' the mail.

We left them to work out their differences,
As they kicked and squealed and fought.
And next mornin' they just fell in line,
Just like they'd all been taught.

All the fight, for now, was gone;
They followed like an old pack string.
Too tired and sore from the nights events,
To do much of anything.

He said, do you remember that?
That's what I'd do if I could.
But those times are long since past,
Just like I knew they would.

But before you go, just sit a spell.
Did I ever tell you how,
How different and how hard it is,
To lead an old wild cow?

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



About Larry Mapes:

I was born and raised on a working cattle ranch in central California.  I have been involved with livestock and ranching all my life. I am a product of Cal Poly's Agricultural Business Management Department and have been in Agricultural Banking for the past 31 years.  I am employed by Farm Credit West as a Vice President in their Risk Management Department. Farm Credit West is part of the nationwide Farm Credit System providing rural America with a dependable source of credit.  

My poems are based on experiences I've had and the people I've met.  The poem "The Last Link" is based on a letter I received from an 82 year old cowgirl in Nevada, the day she sold the trailer.  I try to use humor and real life drama and am committed to preserving the "cowboy way."



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