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Sante Fe, Texas
About Mike Moore

One of 

Lariat Laureate Runner Up

Recognized for his poem, "21st Century Cowboy"


21st Century Cowboy

The electronic age is rooted down deep,
We've entered the new century.
Cowboying has changed, the world moves too fast,
It's near about run off and left me.

We were riding the backcountry and got turned around,
Lynn never showed signs of distress.
He just opened his saddle bags, punched in the right code,
We found our way way using his GPS.

Out on the saltgrass, pairing cows with their calves,
Old Hank let out a mournful moan.
A cow quit the herd, Charlie let her get by,
He was busy talking on his cell phone.

On payday the young hands all gather 'round,
Talk of "margin," "CD," and "IRA."
Up on this old horse, I feel kinda behind,
Riding fence for long hours and short pay.

And their words sound the same, but their meanin' sure ain't,
As new ways and old try to meet.
Words like "Bear," "Bull," and "Stock" take on a new life,
When they're talking it down on Wall Street.

On rodeo night I cinched him down tight,
Climbed aboard and hollered, "Open the gate!"
I had to spur high, I needed the win,
The feds just raised the prime interest rate.

The old hands are gone - Buck, George, Shorty, and Slim.
The good Lord took 'em all way back when.
It sends chills up my back to think of this age,
And what it would have done to those men.

I'm behind times you say; I need to catch up.
There's no use living in the past.
Well, you may be right, but my mind stays in a fog.
This world's moving too darn fast.

Well, I need to get going; it's way past sun-up.
The hay pasture's cut and ready to bale,
But I'm downloading stock prices off of the web,
And I still need to check my E-mail.

2005, Mike Moore
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.



The Mule Skinner and the School Marm

I once knew a sure-enough mule skinner,
A freight hauling man of the west.
I teamed up with tough old Muley,
'Cause I heard he was one of the best.

Muley knew how to pair 'em and hitch 'em,
He had the patience of Job it would seem.
He knew how to load the wagon,
To get the very best out of his team.

He knew more about mules and freight hauling,
Than anyone I'd ever known.
He was hard as a rock and sharp as a tack,
A mule skinner right down to the bone.

Muley put up with no shirker,
Only your best would do.
If you gave him your best, he'd give you his right back,
And share his knowledge with you.

But Muley carried a secret,
Like a treasure tucked under his arm.
He had a yearning in his heart for Miss Ida,
The town's one and only school marm.

It was an amazing transformation,
To see in this old mule man's eye,
The change from hard as steel to soft and misty,
When he watched Miss Ida walk by.

Broken leather, hard trails, and bad weather,
Down many a dusty mile,
I'd catch him staring off into the distance,
And I'd see old Muley smile.

And I knew what he was thinking,
Or at least who he was thinking of.
Who in the world could ever have guessed,
This tough old mule skinner could fall in love?

I'd see a tenderness in Muley,
When the team was bedded down for the night,
Checking withers, hips, and tendons,
Making sure his mules were all right. 

Fed and watered and staked out safely,
He once again would check all of the legs.
It was like those rough, thick and calloused hands,
Were handling little fragile bird eggs.

I wondered would Miss Ida ever know,
That kind and gentle heart,
Hidden deep within that tough old hide.
He just didn't look the part,

To ever make his home under a roof,
By the hearth in a rocking chair,
Away from the mules and sweat and leather,
And sleeping out in the open air.

Muley would speak about Miss Ida,
Being proper and refined,
How she had a certain calling,
Of an extra special kind,

To cultivate the minds of youngsters,
And plant seeds of knowledge there.
Too him, Miss Ida was a treasure,
With a gift both sweet and rare.

"When we get back to town," I once said,
"You should tell her what's in your heart."
He looked down upon his team of mules and said,
"I wouldn't know where to start."

"Put it in a letter," I said,
"You can write it out tonight."
"It wouldn't work out," he softly replied,
"I never learned to read or write."

"She's way too fine a lady,
For a rough old cob like me.
It's enough to know I'll see her in town,
So please, just let it be."

The rest of the trip was quiet,
Even the mule team seemed to know,
That their good old friend and master,
Was feeling awful low.

We finally made it back to town,
And delivered our load of freight.
I loafed around town and swapped stories,
With the drivers at the wagon yard gate.

I signed up for an overland haul the next day,
I'd be gone for a month or so.
I went to say goodbye to Muley,
And told him I had to go. 

We spoke of mules, wagons, and weather,
About when the first snow usually comes,
While across the street in voices sweet,
The school children were reciting their sums.

When I finished the haul and got back to that town,
I went straight to the old wagon yard,
And asked where I could find Muley,
I was anxious to see my old pard.

The freighters all got quiet,
One said poor Muley died.
A bridge gave out under his load of freight,
He might've made it if he had tried.

But he tried to cut loose his team of mules,
When the timbers gave way with a shriek,
Then the bridge collapsed and they all went down,
To the bottom of Cripple Woman Creek.

With head held low, I turned to go,
And those drivers all knew why.
A tough, young freight-hauling mule man,
Doesn't want to let folks see him cry.

I found myself out by the schoolhouse,
For Muley I sent up a prayer,
While the voice of Miss Ida, the school marm,
Drifted to me on the cold winter air.

I think of Miss Ida and Muley,
Though now it's been many a year.
I'll always regret they never had met,
And I still choke back a tear.

A story about a friend of mine,
That I knew long ago,
And the love of a master mule skinner,
That a school marm would never know.  

2005, Mike Moore
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.



20 Some Odd Years Ago

Twenty some odd years ago, I thought I could ride them all;
A bronky colt would find me pretty hard to beat.
I was plenty tough and strong back then, could bounce back from a fall,
On the rare occasion when I'd lose my seat.

Twenty some odd years ago, I'd shoe horses all day long;
Rank or gentle, I'd work hard to shoe them right.
I would study their way of travel and help them when I could;
I took pride in a job well done, no matter the fight.

Twenty some odd years ago, I could work from sun to sun,
Through blistering heat or freezing cold without a break.
Hauling hay or working cattle, sleeping out beneath the stars,
Back then that life didn't make these bones of mine ache.

Twenty some odd years ago, I played pretty hard,
Burning up my youth in town on Saturday nights,
Belt buckle polishing with the pretty girls, walking tall and talking loud,
Too much drinking, dancing, flirting, and friendly fights.

Twenty years from then to now, it seems a lot of me has changed;
Though the will to try them all I still don't lack.
Just the other evening, a frosty colt surprised me some,
And left me laying in the dirt right on my back.

I tried to bounce up like I used to, but my bouncer must be broke,
'Cause it took a while to get back on my feet.
The next day I was awful stiff and sore, couldn't hardly stand up straight,
But real pain would come in admitting I'd been beat.

I climbed back on that frosty colt, but the want-to wasn't there.
Had he broke in half, it was doubtful I could stick.
I've got good years yet left in me, I ain't ready for the rocking chair,
And the thought of giving up kinda makes me sick.

The young bucks turn their heads and snicker when they see me coming now.
I just pretend that I don't notice and limp on by.
Twenty some odd years ago, I could show those youngsters how;
Maybe tomorrow I'll feel good enough to try.

2005, Mike Moore
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.


About Mike Moore:

I live in Santa Fe, Texas and I'm a 45 year old (most of the time anyway) oil refinery worker. A lot of the time ferrier (since 1982) and all of the time fool for mules and horses (mostly mules).

I got introduced to cowboy poetry while riding the Caprock Canyons in the Texas Panhandle where I met up with a fellow rider who is just as feverish as I am about seeing Gods country one trail at a time. We sat around camp fires, swapped some pretty good lies and listened to hours of tapes by some of his favorite cowboy poets. I've been hooked ever since.

Most of the poems and stories I've written were inspired by trails I've ridden and mules and horses I've known. I submitted "The Mule Skinner and the School Marm" at the urging of a cousin, a school marm named Idabeth, who lives in Alvin, Texas who has been after me for some time to send something in.



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