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About Michelle Turner



 Mesquite Cowboy

Itís been a hundred years or more, since drovers ruled this land
Moving herds of longhorns across the Texas sand
Heading north to Abilene, avoiding farm blockades
Mile after dusty mile, to reach the waiting trains

Today I ride across the ranch, just one end to the other
Culling stock and cutting calves, away from frantic mothers
At noon the sun was blazing hot, sweat dripping from my brow
I tipped my hat to wipe my face and spooked an orníry cow

She kicked her heels and spun about, sights set on yonder plain
I reined around at break neck speed, my horse had ground to gain
We blazed a trail through prickly pear, and thickets of salt cedar
Then galloped down a smooth gulch bed, going Ďround to meet her

The white-face cow was just ahead, atop a small plateau
I spurred my heaving, snorting Paint and left the dry arroyo
With just one swing I threw my rope; loop sliding off her horns
My hasty toss fell to the dirt, amidst the mesquite thorns

I coiled up the lariat, dismounted and dismayed
Then saw a sight that chilled my bones; a cause to be afraid
Beneath the gnarled mesquite tree, at rest in dappled shade
There lie an olí time buckaroo, right where his grave was made

No doubt a wrangler from the past, his bones a chalky white
A toothless grin and hollow eyes just added to my fright
His leather chaps were cracked and worn, half buried in the earth
Within his grasp, his worldly goods: a saddle, hat, and girth

A kindred soul, I dropped my guard; my thoughts began to drift
How did he meet his sad demise, had death come slow or swift?
Was he riding on a cattle drive? Did a stampede seal his fate?
I wondered if he thought of kin, while at St. Peterís gate

Did he beg, with dying breath, for burial at home?
Or did they lay him here to rest, where only mavericks roam
I bowed my head and said a prayer; I hoped his soul content
To sit along the cattle trail, eternal time well spent

Heís watching over green-hands, a knowing spirit guide
Making sure they move the herd, and have a solid ride
A modern cowpoke I might be; a debt to him I owe
He helped begin our western ways, of this I surely know

A final nod, I mounted up; I paid my last respect
I had a herd to get back to; a rogue cow to collect
But as I rode, I swelled with pride; my back straight in the saddle
Iím living proof and legacy, for drovers of the cattle

© 2015, Michelle Turner
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's permission.

This poem was submitted for the 2015 Cowboy Poetry Week Art Spur.



Dust Upon His Boots
Tribute to Mike Stevens

Sitting high up in the saddle,
a proud tilt to his chin
With legs too short for stirrups
a cowboy life begins

A rough and ready cowpoke,
right from the very start
Firm hands would guide his pony
yet kindness ruled his heart

Predawn chores and trimming jobs
consumed his every day
With hours tooling custom tack
Itís just the cowboy way

A lifetime in the saddle,
he lived the cowboyís dream
To wrestle steers and rodeo
and lead the roping team

Itís time to throw a final rope,
to hear the buzzer sound
The barrier is broken
Heíll ride the next go-round

A ride into the sunset
through golden gates and chutes
With angel wings across his back
and dust upon his boots

© 2015, Michelle Turner
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's permission.

Michelle comments,
"I wrote this poem as a way of honoring the memory of an Iowa cowboy, Mike Stevens. He was our friend, neighbor, and a true cowboy. He lived the cowboy life, going to rodeos, operating Stevenís Equine Services, and making custom tack in his leather shop. An active member of the U.S. Team Roping Association, he enjoyed teaching kids to rope and sharing his enthusiasm for the sport. His legacy lives in all of those whose lives he touched."




  About Michelle Turner:
provided 2015

As an active member of my high school FFA in Punta Gorda, Florida, I couldnít get enough of horses and cattle. My very first job was working on the school ranch for the summer. I got my MS in Agriculture Education at Kansas State University, and taught Vo-Ag for 15 years. My husband and I moved the family to a farm in Iowa back in 2001, and Iíve been working for the Jackson Soil and Water Conservation District ever since. I wrote an agriculture column in the local paper, and currently do feature articles related to conservation. Iíve been writing poetry for years, but only recently decided to share my work.




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