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

Spanish Fork, Texas
About Mark A. Wright




Not a Cowboy Yet

He was hard and scarred happy
Old before his time
Live'n life the way his daddy did

Spent decades in the saddle
At a walk, a lope or trot
And had done it ever since he was a kid

His daddy was a cowboy
And he had spent his life
A' raisen cow's as he sang a cowboy song

And it seemed kinda natural
Just to follow in his boots
Not a cowboy yet, but he'll do till one comes along

He never was a slinger
Saw his rifle as a tool
For shooting supper, dieing cows and snakes

He loved the baby Jesus
Tried hard not to cuss
More than dangit, shoot, my lands Or goodness sakes

He rode the Palodura breaks
The Cimarron, the Platt
Avoided towns and never fell in love

He's ate hardtack, beef and bacon
Enough beans to fill his hat
Seen the prairie sky Completely filled with dove

He's branded, dehorned, castrated,
Roped, pulled calves, fixed fence
From early morning till the day lights end

Spent the evening by the cook fire
Just A' mend'en up his tack
And from time to time helped mend a wounded friend

And now he's way past fifty
Rode near a hundred thousand miles
A punch'n cows as he sang a cowboy song

But if you ask him how he stacks up
To his dad you'll hear him say
Not a cowboy yet, but I'll do till one comes along

© 2005, Mark A. Wright
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.


Mark told us:  This poem is mostly about my step Dad, Floyd H. Begley Jr.  When my daddy died God must have really took a shining to me because he sent Floyd along to help me keep both feet in the stirrups.  He was a huge man, 6'7" and weighed 309 pounds... but was as gentle as a lamb with children, horses, ladies and life it's own self.  He was one of those kind cowboys who just didn't think there was much that was worth doing if it couldn't be done from a horse.  Needless to say, I got to do a lot of ground work.

Floyd was a top hand, an danged good heeler but was never prone to brag and did not tolerate it much from others.  Because he was so big, and of course always had on wranglers, thick western shirts that had to be hand made for him because his size just did not exist and had the bright eyes and frost bitten cheeks of a working cowboy, people in big cities would always stop and ask him if he was a real cowboy.  His reply was always "Well, I'm not a cowboy yet, but I'll do till one come along".  Well, he WAS a real cowboy, and he made a pretty good hand out of me also.

We had 300 acres and leased a bunch more for raising stockers.  After Floyd rode the rough off me and showed me the value of just being an honest, hard worker he farmed me out to Lec Combs and I got to see the high side of raising a boat load of cattle.

Floyd died about 8 years ago. He truly was hard, scarred and happy when he went and the 3 crosses ranch is a lot stronger since he signed on there.


The Last Place First

Have you ever been a search'en
For a' something that was perch'en
Off in some forgotten corner of your mind

You tried looking up and down
Searching over and aroun'
But that critter, rope or gadget you cant find

You've tried clean'en and a' cuss'en
Road through cactus thickets busten
Over hills and rocks through barns and creeks and worst

But I finally found out how
To find that bridle, cinch or cow
And that's simply look'en in the last place first

Now every cowpoke can relate
To that searching that you hate
You know you've seen it recently but where?

It's not where it aught to be
It aint anywhere you see
It aint here and it sure as hell aint there

So you finally stop a' look'en
Cause your pressure is a cook'en
And you're just about to close the whole danged book

But you remember one last spot
Where your completely sure it's not
And it's in the very last place that you look

Now I'm done with all of that
And you can bet your hat
My searching days are over..There just done

No more moving 80 bales
Tossing harnesses and pales
Trying to find out just which hideout is the one

So forever and now on
When something's up and gone
And I'm thinking that the whole danged spread is cursed

I'll just calmly count to three
Walk to the place that it can't be
And I'll find it.... look'en in the last place first.

© 2005, Mark A. Wright
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

Mark told us:  "The Last Place First" was inspired by my cousin, Linda ... And of course by everything that I've looked for my whole life.  It's common knowledge that when you're really looking hard for something that you'll find it in the last place that you look, which usually is the last place you would ever imagine "it" being.  Countless people have read the poem, remembered, and then laughed at themselves because of some wild haired search through the barn, house, back 40 and pickup only to find the item off in some forgotten corner.  You don't even have to be a cowboy to relate to this.  Now of course it's impossible to look in the last place first, but just think of the gray hair and wrinkles it would cure if you could.


The Hat

A hat that looks the same as when it walked out of the store
Is a hat that ... well it  ain't quite right with God

You see it's just a piece of head tack fit for Sunday-go-to-meeting
Till it's seasoned right with sleet and sweat and sod

Till it's scratched along the brim where it busted through the wesatch
And the crowns been baptized water'en a horse

And the crud line's crawled at least two inches from your rawhide hat band
And you've used it as a rifle rest of course.

And it's shaded your two peepers from the hot west Texas sun
Or the white and blinding north Montana snow

Or you've used it as a wind brake as you held your new born baby
That was born out on the prairie long ago

Till it's been tossed and bashed and stomped on crushed, stampeeded, dipped, in mud
Then washed out in a cool clear mountain stream

Or you used it as a pillow when you finally bedded down
Plum tucker out to a peaceful prairie dream

No, for sure it's not as pretty as when you pulled it from the box
But I'll tell you with the view from where I'm at

Each and every work'en Cowboy who lays eyes upon your prize
Will with honor say "Now brother, that's a Hat!"

© 2005, Mark A. Wright
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

Mark told us:  I had a silverbelly Stetson that had so much "personality" that I was the only person who would get close to the thing.  The head band and liner had rotted out of it and I had cut the bill off of a welding cap and sewed it into it.  It had a crud line that reached a good two inches up the crown and down the bill.  It had watered horses, been a pillow for my head, stopped the bleeding from my head wounds, shaded my eyes, protected my face from mesquite and weshatch thorns and served every other function that a good hat was and was not meant to serve...The last line says it all. 



Before the Fence Post and the Wire

I’ve never seen the open prairie
Except for B.L.M.
But that is just a ghost of what had been
Where a man could ride for days
And never cut a sign
Of houses, fences, cattle guards or men.

I’ve heard all of the stories
Read of it in books
But all that does is fill me with desire.
To ride a speckled pony
Through big blue stem bluestem belly high.
In the land before the fence-post and the wire.

You see, there was a time
When all there was out there was land
With grass enough to feed 10 million head.
They shared it with the buffalo
Comanche and the Sioux
With stars and grass for blanket and a bed.

And every now and then
you’d find a solitary herd
Surrounded by twelve good cowboys for hire
Slowly headed north at a steady grazing speed
In the land before the fence post and the wire

No for sure it wasn’t easy
There were stampedes, drought and storms
And a thousand ways to die along the trail.
You could fall off in a gully...
or get bit by a snake
Or have your head bashed in by rock-sized hail.

You could go out with and arrow
Or just die of old age.
But the prairie ain't a bad place to expire.
If you’ve spent your life a cowboy
Living on the open range
In the land before the fence post and the wire.

Now we “ranch” in small square pastures
With each thing in its place
The pickup has replaced the horse and tack.
And the roads are lined with Johnson grass
Big bluestem's almost gone
Replaced by fancy grasses from a sack.

But someday I’ll leave this life behind
Cross that Jordan River
And be welcomed by a singing angel choir
Where I’ll find old Bandit waiting…
And together we will ride
Through the land before the fence post and the wire.

© 2010, Mark A. Wright
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

Mark told us: This poem came about one morning when I was looking out across our back pasture. The little dips in the land were just right so I couldn't see the fences for a long ways out there. The coastal was growing well but off in the distance I could see one of our wilder pastures of bluestem. I remember saying out loud, "I wish I could have seen this place in the time before the fence post and the wire."

Every cowboy that I know looks longingly at the way things were when the horse was the king and the Big bluestem stretched for miles. Ranching is much easier now with pickups, fenced and managed pastures, round bales and tractors. But we all love to ride out on the most private part of our own spread and try to imagine that we are herding cattle in the time before the fence post and the wire.


Sometimes it Takes an Ass

A horse is very useful
They can jump and pull and run
Great for working cattle
Or just to have a little fun
but to pull a heavy load
Up a narrow mountain pass
for this job... a horse won't do
Sometimes it takes an ass.

Take a strong young filly
Headstrong... full of sand
Set to do things her own way
Won't yield to any man
But tie her to a donkey
And just let a few days pass
She'l' turn out nice and gentle
'Cuz sometimes it takes an ass

A horse runs from a coyote
An ass will kill it dead
Where horses get the jitters
An ass will keep its head
A horse is great.. don't get me wrong
They're in a special class
But a horse just cant do everything.
Sometimes it takes an ass

Down through the years
There's many a fighting man who owes their life
To a crusty, mean old Sarge or Chief
Who was not kind or nice
Who pushed them hard
Through test and trial that no one thought they'd pass
But he brought them home... against all odds
Sometimes .... it take an ass

© 2010, Mark A. Wright
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

Mark told us: Bob Dyar, another cowpoke friend of mine, and I were talking one day and he brought up his daughter's college softball team coming from almost last to first in the nation. Neither Bob nor I were much good at anything other than growing cattle, hay, building and fixing fence, pulling calves, managing pastures, cussing the lack of rain and how much ethanol has driven the price of corn through the know, cowpoke stuff. He mentioned that their coach wouldn't even let them stay out late the night of their big win because they were going to have to practice in the morning. The words "Well, sometimes it takes and ass" came rolling out of my pie hole....and that was it. I have been around donkeys and mules a good portion of my life and had seen the pure value of both. Love horses but I cant remember ever seeing a ass spook without a good reason. I have seen with my own two peepers an ass literally stomp a mud hole out of a coyote during calving time. They can pull anything... including a head strong colt around the pasture...they are sure footed and yes, sometimes a little cranky. I do love horses, but a horse just cant do everything the pasture, ranch headquarters, and in battle... sometimes it takes an ass.



About Mark A. Wright

I have spent the last 23 years in the United States Navy and am about to retire from that and get back to my roots. The best part of being a cowboy is all the dirt stays on the outside.  People who live their lives chasing the corporate dream have clean hands and faces but the dirt they carry around is in their soul.  Cowboys don't have to worry about the soul dirt all that much.  Nothing like hauling hay all day long and sleeping soundly because your are plum tuckered out but the hay is in the barn and it can rain all it wants now.

I have 3 small children and I want them to learn the same lessons about life that can only be learned looking at the South bound end of a north bound cow. I want my son to be able to say with pride "Well, I not a cowboy yet, but I'll do till one comes along."



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