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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."


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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