Folks' Poems

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Lander, Wyoming
Lynne Hendrickson Lucas

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




From Hell to Heart

    We'd watched the herd for weeks on end and learned their habits good.
Lead mare was smart and cunning, the stallion extra shrewd.
     His chest was wide, his legs were black from knees down to his hooves.
His eyes were wise and his blood bay coat was scarred with scrapes and grooves.
    "He's all your'n," my pardner said, with a crooked half-way grin,
"But just in case this don't work out, I'll notify your kin."
    Bay 'peared to be 'bout 5 'r 6--with wild ones ya just cain't tell.
His image was hard and he was sly.  He was the stud from hell!
    Ol' Jake 'n me, we dogged that herd for nigh on 4 'r 5 days.
We took turns keepin' 'em movin' and when they were water crazed
    We eased 'em to the canyon where they'd always gone to drink.
They all were tired and thirsty, their flanks a showin' shrink.
    We'd built a brushy rampart near the narrows goin' in.
The canyon walls would hold 'em fast and make a dandy pen.
    The stud was actin' wary, he knew it wasn't right
But the water scent was in his nose and almost in his sight.
    Lead mare was sippin' from the spring, the herd was closin' fast.
The needed water cold and clear was their reward at last.
    My prize stepped forward, rattled his nose--we rushed to fill the gate.
He whirled around to get away, eyes filled with fear and hate.
    He tried the fence, we waved and yelled, hopin' it wouldn't fail.
The air grew thick as the whole herd spooked creatin' a dusty gale.
    Ol' Jake's a hollerin', "Git the ropes, Catch 'im b'fore he drinks!"

We roped the stud midst all that dust hopin' the ropes don't kink.
    Jake dallied round a cedar stump, the rope smokin' as it slipped
But he dug in with all his might and finally got a grip.
    The stud hit the end and flipped around, bawled and tried again.
The ropes held fast and the horse went down but leaped up fit to win.
    His ears laid back, he gnashed his teeth, white foam of anger flyin'.
He chose to fight an get away or damn sure die a tryin'!
    We got 'im down and tied his legs and gave ourselves a rest.
Those weary days of doggin' herd had put us to the test.
    We let Bay up and snubbed 'im close and tied up one of his feet.
Threw on the kack an' cinched 'er down as he quivered in the heat.
    "OK Slim," ol' Jakey says, "Git ready fer a ride
I'll drop the poles to let ya out and keep the herd inside.
    That hoss'll go who knows how long, but he's yourn' when he's done.
Hang on to whatever ya can.  That hoss is gonna run!
    Step up and take yourself a seat,  then I'll cut 'im loose
God have mercy on your soul!"
    I did my part, Jake dropped the poles
And the stud saw the hole!
    He stood there for an instant as he felt me fork his spine
Then hell broke loose as he bawled and bucked and raced for timberline.
    I don't recall the course we took but that cayuse gave his best.
He bucked and run and run and bucked without a second's rest.
    I was a hangin' onto whatever I could grab
Hopin' he didn't stumble or we'd both be one big scab.
    Ol' Jake was follerin' some behind to gather me if I blew
But I stayed put a hearin' his words, "That hoss belongs to you!"
    After what seemed eternity and I felt my body spent,
That wild horse stopped in his tracks and to his side he went.
    I rolled aside and let him lay, he closed his eyes with a moan.
I laid there stiff, too tired to move.  Jake jogged up on his roan.
    "Is he daid?"  Jake drawled as he reached me his canteen.
I shook my head, Bay flicked an ear as I swallered down a stream.
    I rubbed his face with my wet kerchief and wet his lips and gums.
He wanted more and his tongue licked out so I rubbed it with my thumb.
    I held him down and wiped him more and talked to him real soft.
He was so tired and thirsty he couldn't even cough.
    At last he gained a bit of strength and stumbled to his feet.
He stood there kind o' wobblin' but still a true athlete.
    I coaxed him with the water to take a step or two.
He fought the lead half-heartedly but knew that he was through.
    That was back eight years ago and the memory's clear as glass.
We've been a team most every day and he's turned first class.
    Some of his mares and colts we kept to give the ranch a start,
And the stud we thought had come from hell turned out to be all heart.

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


The Saddle at the Gate

An old dried up saddle hangs on a pole across the road to our place.
     It'd been there when Dad made the deal mostly just takin' up space.
As a kid I'd looked at it often wonderin' if it could talk
     What kind of tales would it tell me?  How many head of stock
Had the horse it'd forked chased down a steep draw?
     How many wrecks had it suffered scarring the cantle so raw?
Was the soft creakin' of leather company ridin' herd in the night?
     Or had it served as a pillow to a puncher by campfire light?
Did it carry a Pony Express rider across sage on a dead run
     While bein' chased by Comanches as he raced for a garrison?
Had it been thrown on a mustang that bawled and bucked to the end?
     Or had it been ridden double while hitchin' a ride to a friend?
Had a cowhand goin' courtin' polished it till it shown
     Not lettin' on he was broke and this was all that he owned?
Today it's just sun-dried up leather over rawhide withered and old.
     Cinched to a pole in the wind, witness to accounts untold.

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


Savin' the Herd

Tracks showed the rustlers were headed t'ward a canyon up ahead.
If he didn't get 'em stopped soon his herd could wind up dead.
He pressed his mount even harder, the little horse had lots o' heart.
Bill hoped Buck didn't wind break, the rustlers had a good start.
They topped a little ridge, then a bullet whizzed by Bill's hat!
He swerved Buck into a washout and under the bank they sat
Ponderin' what to do next so's neither one of 'em got shot.
Bill follered the washout down a ways, then up a low rocky spot,
He left Buck there and went on foot. Keepin' his head down low
He peaked through some cedar trees; saw the outlaws there below.
Sneakin' back he swung on Buck, tore over the hill shootin' fast
Hopin' his pistol didn't run out and his pony's wind would last!
He saved the herd as Buck galloped wild, but turnin' he had a wreck.
Bill felt the ground come up hard; a wonder he didn't break his neck.
He rolled over and winced at his bleedin' skinned up knees.
Heroes didn't have this happen in the Saturday matinees.
Lookin', his gallant Buck laid there--Bill worried just what to do.
This was a BAD predicament--his stick horse was broke in two!

2003, Lynne Hendrickson
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

Lynne says "I remember riding a stick horse and how real in my mind our adventures were. A vivid imagination kept a country kid like me busy and my faithful stick horse was a part of all that..." 


Ridin' To Do

Times were tough when Pa was comin' up, tryin' to make a livin' on a spread.
Grandpap had homesteaded by a cold spring, built the cabin up near the head.
Snaked in the logs with a team o' half broncs.  Hard work was all that they knew.
Built corrals, a barn, and trailed in the cows.  There was always a lotta ridin' to do.

The years passed by, the grandfolks 're gone.  Pa took up t' running' the place.
Brought a sweet bride to the old Circle L.  Side by side the work they embraced.
Through good times and bad they both stuck it out makin' hay, pullin' calves and they knew.
Together, they'd make it and no matter what there was always more ridin' to do.

Though the hours long and the income short there was peace at the end of each day.
Pa, my two brothers and me drivin' in talkin' pastures, cow prices, and hay.
After supper Pa'd go for the horses--he always saddled up just two.
"Hurry up Hon, the sunset's a beaut!  We got some ridin' to do!"

We kids always knew it was their time.  They'd done this year after year.
The ranch was their life, they knew every hill.  Each rock and tree they revered.
Then Ma took pneumonia last winter; passed away and we bid her adieu.
Pa kissed her good-bye, "Soon be joinin' ya Hon, got a little more ridin' to do."

We went on together Pa, me and the boys, workin' and doin' our best.
Pa just existin' from habit-lost with his Hon laid to rest.
One mornin' he was late from grainin' the colts.  I found him sittin' in the sun,
Leanin' peaceful-like 'gainst Ma's headstone.  He'd got all his ridin' done.

2003, Lynne Hendrickson
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.


You can read Lynne Hendrickson's Reindeer Disguise 
in the 2002 Holiday poem collection.


About Lynne Hendrickson Lucas:

I grew up here in the Lander Valley and have always been close to the ranching community since my father and husband were both Brand Inspectors.  My parents were also involved in a little summer fishing resort where I wrangled horses and dudes.  We always had horses and a few cattle and I've seen and been in some dandy wrecks.  The mountains and nature are my first love and I'm out enjoying both as much as possible. I don't have a horse at present but I have friends who do so I still ride.  I've always loved to write and poetry seems to come easily.  My audience for new poems is a  21 lb. calico cat named Neeka who has extra toes on all her feet.

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Lynne Hendrickson's poetry is included in Wyoming's Cowboy Poets. The 201-page book contains brief profiles of 28 Wyoming cowboy poets, their photos and samples of their poetry. The introduction is written by Montana humorist/poet Gwen Petersen.  The editor, Jean Henry-Mead, is a novelist and award-winning photojournalist, founder of the Western Writers Hall of Fame, and former teacher in the Wyoming Poetry in the Schools Program with Peggy Simson Curry. Read more about the book and at Jean Henry-Mead's Sagebrush and Sleuths web site, where you can order the book.  Wyoming's Cowboy Poets is also available by check or money order from Medallion Books, 8344 Shady Lane, Evansville, WY 82636 for $19.95 postpaid (paperback) or  $27.45 postpaid (hardcover). Please add 5% sales tax if ordered within Wyoming.



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