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Houston, Texas
About Lawrence Swearingen




Hard Candy

In my other life I owned a few nags,
Most hard to beat, though, I’m not one who brags
Some easy to ride and mighty handy
Never forget the one called “Hard Candy!”

A gift from Dad hand selected and bred
No finer horseman around it was said.
She moved like a cat, and she’d been well trained;
But a real hellcat when she was unchained.

Speed and agility—there’s nothing she lacked;
 ‘Cept one bad habit called being “cold-backed”
She loved to buck when you got on her first,
Of rough stock I’ve ridden, she was the worst.

When she had finished having her rigor,
Her buck gone after pulling the trigger,
You could work her on cattle the whole day,
And bet your last dollar she’d earn her pay.

Hot for reunion on my wife’s side,
Cooking for a crowd, I took it in stride.
I was kicked back watching brisket smoke,
Then my wife walked up and gave me a poke.

My hopes for relax’n began to sink,
Up walks Bob and Skip—or Skippy I think.
They want to ride, so saddle up Candy.
I’ll get ol’ Sis he looks like a dandy.

She gave a look like a Banshee from hell!
Sometimes actions say best what words can’t tell.
“Ok, you win, but I’ll give her a spin,
Take off the edge and she won’t buck your kin!”

Saddl’n her, I saw signs a cowboy knew,
White -eyed, backed ears as ‘bronky’ horses do.
Tugged the cinch as she gave her tail a twirl,
Leaned over and said, “Feel froggy ol’ girl?”

As I mounted Candy, she gave out a blow.
I knew right then, we were in for a show!
I took a deep seat, kicked her up and said,
Its show time ol’ girl!—she swallowed her head.

Heard the crowd gasp as she gave out some snorts.
She kicked and turned, did didos of all sorts!
I stayed top-side, I know not why or how,
And thought to myself, beat ya—you ol’ sow!

Sweat rolled down my face as I made a round
Got control of her when her head was found.
Kicked her up in a run, fifty yards out,
Sliding stop to show them what she’s about.

Spun her left and right, then a three sixty
Ran her full speed t’ward cousin Skippy
Sliding stop again, couldn’t be more pleased.
“Now who wants to ride?”—Skippy said, “NOT ME!”

I’ve given it thought and had some concern,
About whys? how comes? And lessons we learn.
It seems simple—explanation?—no need.
When a Cowboy speaks, ya better take heed! 

© 2007, Lawrence Swearingen
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

Lawrence told us, "When thinking about what inspired me to write this poem I have to mention the one who inspires my life—my soul mate and wife, Julie. Julie and I found each other after both of us had gone through long-term failed first marriages. I started writing poetry to Julie during our first year of marriage four years ago.This poem, “Hard Candy,” was a story of my past and of my experiences with my second love—horses. When a horseman thinks about the many mounts he has owned, the ones that stand out are not just the good ones, but also the “outlaws.” Candy was one of those outlaws; however,
she served me well this particular day. My first wife, my two sons and I lived on a small East Texas ranch. I owned and operated a large feed store in a nearby town. As most people who live in the country know, there is a constant stream of visits from friends and family who live in the city. The first thing these visitors usually want to do is demonstrate their vast knowledge of horses.  On this occasion, I was host to a crowd of my wife’s city-slicker relatives, and my wife wasn’t much help in discouraging them from invading our stable. As I said in the poem, “sometimes actions say what words can’t tell” and Candy and I reminded them of their inadequacies.  I hope readers enjoy the ride as much as I did that day.


Read Lawrence Swearingen's:

A Legacy Passed Down in our Art Spur project.


  About Lawrence Swearingen:

I am a Deputy Sheriff for Harris County Sheriff's Office in Houston, Texas. I am the second youngest of five children raised on a small East Texas ranch. My father ran a few head of cattle and operated a commercial hay baling business, among a dozen other things to make ends meet.  We trained our own horses, “cowboyed” for other ranchers in the area and generally lived a good, but simple life.

I attended Texas A&M University and finished my degree at Sam Houston State University in Criminology. I have a combined total of 27 years
of Law Enforcement experience with two different agencies, and owned and operated a feed store during a large portion of those years. I
also had an expensive bout with “horse-fever” where I and my family raised and showed Quarter Horses. 

After a 26 year marriage, I divorced, and later met and married my true love Julie. We’ve been married for four years now. Our relationship saved my life and gave me an inspired outlook on life. Thus, began my new found interest in poetry. I started writing poetry to and about my wife, then to close family members, then branched out, broadening my subject matter to draw from my cowboy experience.  I like telling stories about the people and horses I’ve known, whether it be heart-warming, humorous or sad...mostly, I’ve found a fun, self-rewarding way of expressing myself.

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