Cowboy Poetry and Music and More at the BAR-D Ranch

Beaver, Oklahoma
About Layne Konkel



We Are the Exalted

We are the exalted
A statement once made
By a Nevada cowboy
When asked of his ways.

A slick asking question
About his hard life.
He doesn't see it that way,
He missed out on the strife.

The exalted is a term
Reserved for the kings.
Does it fit on a cowboy?
Let me try and explain.

There is not much money.
Time off is unheard.
But, what else would he do
If he wasn't riding herd.

Wasn't doctoring sick calves,
or out building fence.
An air-conditioned office,
That doesn't make any sense.

Why put walls around you
When there's a breeze in the air.
The prairie is his office.
The saddle is his chair.

A life truly lived,
No deadlines to meet.
Only seasons of the year,
And midsummer's heat.

Office meeting on the range,
Branding crew meets at dawn.
Over by the old schoolhouse,
Just up from Miller's pond.

A power lunch you need?
A spread fit for kings. 
Lunchmeat and coffee,
Wash your hands in the spring.

You want to work out?
To stay fit and trim?
Pack hay bales all day,
Don't quit till light dims.

The therapist couch,
An urban tradition
For over-stressed player
Whose emotions need fixin.

If the sweat isn't enough
To put your mind right,
Old Jim he will fix you
"toughen up, get on with life."

Yes there is pressure,
And it's often life and death.
A life in the balance,
That's pressure you bet.

It's not about money,
Position, power, or greed.
It's about independence,
To live a life that is free.

Hard work there is plenty,
Most times dawn to dark.
Hard, long, monotonous.
A quick joke to add spark.

His wit understood
By men of his breed.
Not by the urban,
They just haven't seen:

That sunrise that morning,
When a bronc ride was made.
Caused by a rabbit
Running out of the sage.

They can't understand
The true nature of a cow.
They haven't worked the hours,
Therefore, they just don't know how.

We are the exalted.
A statement once made
By a gathering of cowboys
At trails end, end of day.

We are the exalted.
It never rang so true
As when spoke by a cowboy
When the days work is through.

2010, Layne Konkel
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.


Layne comments, "A documentary was done about a Nevada ranch. I never actually saw the film, but some friends of mine were talking about it. A lady reporter asked an old cowboy on the ranch why he did it (endured the hardships of a cowboy). His response was 'we are the exalted.' That phrase stayed with me, one night as I was thinking about that phrase, this poem happened. I don't know if I wrote it in the way that the old cowboy meant it, but this is how it fell from my pen. Standing in the dust and sweat of a branding pen, this term rings very true."




  About Layne Konkel:

I was born and raised in Kaycee, Wyoming. I ranched in that area for several years out of high school before moving to the Oklahoma panhandle. I have ranched in big country, turned out wheat cattle, fed cattle, owned a sale barn, and ran sheep. There are very few aspects of the cattle industry that I have not been involved in. I love the lifestyle, and the principles that are found in it. My family is also an important part of my life, my four kids are a wonderful reason to wake up every morning. Seeing them grow up with the same work ethic, morals, and skills that I knew as a child is very important to me. Seeing our traditions and culture through to the next generation is an exciting task, one that we are all responsible for.




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