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Ranch Rain

The sun squints, clouds rollin’ in
Smell it coming, carried on wind.
Sprinkle, drizzle, hanging there.
Its in currents.  Moist full air.
Button up, tie it down.
Storms coming.  Hear its sound.
Droplets drip on my Rodeo King,
splatter my slicker, it begins to sing.
Branches break.  Crops sway.
Sweet torrents drown sound away.
Pouring puddles, carving ruts.
Cow dogs, just drenched mutts.
Cross the creek and up the hill,
it’s bringin’ cold, feel the chill.
Mud squishes with each stride,
steady, the big Quarter’s Cadillac ride.
Collar up. Saddle creakin’.
Murky sight.  Boots leakin’.
Drop my blade in the muck.
Wise guy chimes ‘nice day for duck’.
‘No kiddin’,  heard that before.
Bucket rain, big floods...great lore.
Flora and creature soaked in strain.
Mostly I enjoy it, old bones though pain.
Flash and rumble from dark sky.
Likely a message from on high.
"Here’s your water, mind it well."
Life without is dust bowl hell.
Gone as quick as it came.
Nothing untouched, not the same.
The aroma, it lingers still.
Just weather, or God’s will?

© 2008, Mark Munzert
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

Mark comments: "Ranch Rain" was inspired by the wind through the trees of the Adirondack Mountain home of the Circle B Ranch. I was pleased to share the sacred bond of man and horse and the ways of a cowboy as a wrangler upon a trail ride as gusts brought rain and we hands scurried to get city slickers back to the ranch. Nearing the end of the trail I could see the flash of heat lightning, smell the moisture in the air, and feel the wind kick up. I tugged my brim down and threw my slicker on as I watched a white-tail disappear into the woods. The clouds began to empty as we turned and crossed the creek back toward the barn. I squinted through the blowin’ rain as I watched preparations being made ahead. We made it in just in time to ascend the porch, pull up a rocker and enjoy the storm’s beauty.

Broncs' Life

When I cross over and then come back
Gonna be a bronco with rider on back.
Waitin’ the chute with a smiling heart,
"This 'poke won’t finish, he’ll barely start."
Back to the ranch, a parcel, my own.
Buff, tough, quarter. Handsome and roan.
Withers to haunch, big, full and round.
Likely the strongest pound for pound.
Eyes deep, lively, and telling.
People, some close. Others, send yelling.
I move pure, regal, honest and true.
Knowin’ cowfolk turn for a view.
The mares love me an’ the fillies flirt,
Foals look up, "Howdy Squirt."
Ain’t jus’ brawn but whole lotta head.
Out brain ya, toss ya, leave ya fer dead.
Snort, stomp, buck, an prance.
Spur cowboy? Ain’t even a chance.
I work'd a few seconds. You was beat.
Run along buckaroo. Go have a seat.
Kicked up my heels, ornery an’ mean.
Damn, that was fun, good an’ clean.
All done here, another go.
Off to my custom trailer tow.
Another stop, another win.
Why ha never seed a horse grin?
Onto lush grass, cool water, an’ grain.
Rough stock life? Naw, the gravy train.
When I cross over and then come back
Gonna be a bronco, no rider on back.

© 2008, Mark Munzert
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

Mark told us this poem was "...inspired by a conversation I had with a good friend.  We were discussing the treatment of rodeo stock at rodeos and less informed folks' impression of the 'poor animals.'  She thought it would be pretty cool to be a bucking horse, 'they get fed well, travel the country, and only work for about eight seconds at a time.'" 



Good Hand

Three days draggin’ plains and ridges. Brung seventy down a muddy draw.
North winds blowin’ cold and early. More ‘an one calf we found raw.
Me an’ Marly figure another thirty stranded beyond dried up Kuske Lake.
Be a full day trudgin’ ta get near. It's what you do for them cow’s sake.
The grass was really nice up there, rode through a week or so ago.
Up there, gets cold so fast, falling leaves land as frozen snow.

We dug one out a drift clear about its’ head.
Nearly left another one, givin’ her up fer dead.
But her Momma went to ballin’, tellin’ us not to go.
I looped her neck, dalley’d tight, and drug’ her through the snow.
Them cows knew right then we was there to head ‘em home.
Not one of ‘em slowed a piece or looked about to roam.

Didn’t take much push, we kept the pace right brisk.
Short cuttin’ from Widows Ridge was surely worth the risk.
Now the stove wood is crackling, we’re finally warming up
A chance to sit a spell and down a hot bitters cup.
Tired bovine is in-close and the horses are chowing too.
“Eat, sleep, we’ll pack on wakin’…jerky, coffee, biscuits, an’ some chew.

We’ll let out at dawn and head south along the rail,
Break away where she rises near ol’ Hank’s trail.”
Dawn breaks bleak with a fresh blanket on the ground.
Pony’n extra mounts, muffled hooves the only sound.
Daylight catches up as we cross into the pines.
Cold crisp air lends echo to distant battling tines.

Beyond hoof drops on nature’s layered compost debris
I listen further than my eyes can see.
I hear beyond my geldings’ breath and the saddle squeak.
No sounds, but death’s stench as he balks crossing McMullen’s creek.
Ice tinged banks line rushing water of early snows and thaws.
Blood stained melting slush don’t mask tracks of lion’s paws.

Horses ears alerted and their nostrils flaring wide.
Takes a little bump to cross ‘em to the other side.
Up the bank, drag marks, clearly a fresh kill.
Traversing pines, paw prints and blood spots stain the rising hill.
“What’s it got, a young cow or deer?”
‘Reckon it don’t matter now, but it’s close. Horses showin’ fear."

Marly slides his ‘chester from its scabbard “just in case ya see.
‘That cat’s already got its’ meal. We need to turn, ought let ‘em be."
A few more hours hoofin’, ‘cross the lake, there hunkered in the trees.
Some needs doctoring, in snow up past our knees.
We high string the horses and set camp upwind from the cattle.
Too tired to be hungry, piled boughs make a bed, pillow is a saddle.

About three hours of shivering cold shut-eye.
Waking up to fast fallin’ flurries from the sky.
Fire up the coffee. Distant yelps tell coyotes found their prey.
Snow turns to pelting ice as we head out on our way.
Push ‘em past the lake bed and over rolling hills,
Crossing windy ridges where iced ground causes spills.

Nightfall finds lower land and livestock quickens pace.
They know the winter pasture as a more forgiving place.
Finally the cows are safe, horses watered and feedin’.
Lurch over to the bunk house for eatin’ then deep sleepin’.
Just doin’ the best we can do for livestock and the brand.
Pride in what we do, being a good hand.

© 2013, Mark Munzert
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

Mark told us, "This poem was inspired by the days spent dragging and retrieving cattle... My memory of these events was jogged and brought to the fore with the sudden and impacting storms of 2013 that devastated so many ranching families in the Dakotas."



 When, Then, Smile Back

When your ear lobes are a’ fire of the slow burning freeze.
And you can’t feel your fingers for the blowin’ polar breeze.
When every step you worry, your toes might fall off.
And regular, your lungs, put out a raspy cough.

When you get thirsty n' can give your tongue a slip.
And melt a chunk of ice hangin’ off your hairy lip.
When you dress yourself in layers and it don’t do no good.
And ya shoulda quit a little early, but you never ever would.

When the diesel needs a warm up and batteries are shot.
And you got a month long head cold an’ your nose is full of snot.
Then you get to feelin’ sorry and you’re full of whiny pity.
And you get ta thinkin’ of a cushy job over in the city.

Then you start to ponder ‘bout tradin’ in your trade.
And findin’ an easier, with a plumper payin’ grade.
Then you sit in traffic for an hour, maybe two.
And your cellular engaged whilst you crawl a mile or a few.

Then a fancy swivel chair cushions your tenth floor view.
And you got a staff of kiss butts that want to wait on you.
Then you are a Doctor, lawyer, or some high-fluting pro.
And you schooled at Harvard n’ there’s nothing you don’t know.

Then you’re toolin’ down the highway in your luxury sedan.
And you’re late for a meeting where you lay ‘n a bed and tan.
Then you stop at Starbucks for espresso machiatto latte panna.
And lunch is a tofu burger with sprouts, and desert, a banana.

Then the office political machine cranks up an’ puts you down.
And the market goes to pot and you’re run right out of town.
When you welcome back the frostbite haulin’ water through the snow.
And you’re fixin’ frozen fences where only Eskimos should go.

When the troughs are iced over an’ the ‘lectric ain’t workin’ right.
And coyotes come a callin’ so you’re sleepin’ half a night.
When you turn on the hose and it splits right in half.
And just what you needed, a half frozen calf.

When the wind whips and bellows, scaring stock to a dash.
And the water pump goes and you’re left with little cash.
When you’ve had your fill of this awesome winter fun.
And it’s been a week, no, a month, since you saw the shining sun.

Then you get to scheming about that cushy job once again.
And you’re brought around by the whinnies from the pen.
When your horse comes over, to share some affection.
And reminds you, you’re meant to live of this direction.

When it is the ‘simple’ that makes your world go round.
And the ‘easy way’ is the trail you’ve never ever found.
When the day is finally over and your butt is in the sack.
And you look upon your day, with a smile you look back.

© 2014, Mark Munzert
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

Mark told us, "The inspiration for this particular poem, as with most of my poems, is personal experience. Perhaps an additional spur to my thoughts was the seemingly unending challenges and difficulties of ranch work in bitter cold and deep snow. Thoughts of earning wages easier and a more comfortable station entered the mind but quickly dissipated with rousing from equine kin.



About Mark Munzert:

I began writing as a means of self-expression in a journal and it has gotten to the point where I write for enjoyment. I truly enjoy sharing my writings and am thankful for the creative outlet it has provided me. Many of those I have shared with have encouraged me to do more and I am currently compiling some of my efforts. I am a proud "back-east cowboy" and appreciate and promote: the tradition; the value-centric, pragmatic, disciplined, measured evolution; and down-to-earth ways of cowboy life.





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