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Happy New Year!

Below are New Year poems and toasts from the BAR-D archives. 

Below:

Old Favorites

James Barton Adams
A Cowboy Toast   

S. Omar Barker
 Cowboy's New Year's Resolutions

Janice Gilbertson 
Night Time's Promise

Jack Thorp
The Cowboys' New Year's Dance

Rod Nichols
New Year's Eve

Hal Swift
New Year's Eve in Austin

Bob Schild
Ode to an Old Friend

Maynard Dixon
To an Old Timer on New Year's Day
 



Toasts

 


An end-of-year appeal

 




 

Old Favorites

 

A Cowboy Toast

Here's to the passing cowboy, the plowman's pioneer;
His home, the boundless mesa, he of any man the peer;
Around his wide sombrero was stretched the rattler's hide,
His bridle sporting conchos, his lasso at his side.
All day he roamed the prairies, at night he, with the stars,
Kept vigil o'er thousands held by neither posts nor bars;
With never a diversion in all the lonesome land,
But cattle, cattle, cattle, and the sun and sage and sand.

Sometimes the hoot-owl hailed him, when scudding through the flat;
And prairie dogs would sauce him, as at their doors they sat;
The rattler hissed its warning when near its haunts he trod
Some Texas steer pursuing o'er the pathless waste of sod.
With lasso, quirt, and 'colter the cowboy knew his skill;
They pass with him to history and naught their place can fill;
While he, bold broncho rider, ne'er conned a lesson page,—
But cattle, cattle, cattle, and sun and sand and sage.

And oh! the long night watches, with terror in the skies!
When lightning played and mocked him till blinded were his eyes;
When raged the storm around him, and fear was in his heart
Lest panic-stricken leaders might make the whole herd start.
That meant a death for many, perhaps a wild stampede,
When none could stem the fury of the cattle in the lead;
Ah, then life seemed so little and death so very near,—
With cattle, cattle, cattle, and darkness everywhere.

Then quaff with me a bumper of water, clear and pure,
To the memory of the cowboy whose fame must e'er endure
From the Llano Estacado to Dakota's distant sands,
Where were herded countless thousands in the days of fenceless lands.
Let us rear for him an altar in the Temple of the Brave,
And weave of Texas grasses a garland for his grave;
And offer him a guerdon for the work that he has done
With cattle, cattle, cattle, and sage and sand and sun.

James Barton Adams, 1889

  James Barton Adams (1843-1918) cowboyed for a short time in New Mexico and later was a Denver journalist. He published a book of poetry, Breezy Western Verse, in 1889. 

The editor's introduction to a 1968 publication of the Socorro County (New Mexico) Historical Society, "Some Letters and Writings of James Barton Adams" comments:

The letters of James Barton Adams (alias Jim Carlin) are here published for the first time...For several years he lived and worked in the rugged San Andres mountains of central New Mexico on a ranch owned by Captain Jack Crawford, famous Indian Scout and Poet. The land was harsh, the climate equal in its intensity and variety to the harshness of the land, and human companionship was only an occasional experience. Adams, educated and having an unusual way with words, was able to capture in his letters the spirit of this one small segment of the American Frontier.

A biographical sketch adds:

Adams was employed by Capt. Jack Crawford at his Dripping Springs, N. M. ranch from 1890-1892, and for reason or reasons unknown used an alias during this time. He chose to be called James "Jim" Carlin, and it is doubted that it was a pen name. Many of his poems were probably drawn from his life and experiences during this period in New Mexico. Adams wrote the foreword to Capt. Jack's book Whar the Hand O' God is Seen, published in 1913.

A biography in The Mecca, February 3, 1900, tells that Adams was born in Ohio and moved with his family to Iowa, "...when that state was 'way out West.' He enlisted at the first call for troops in 1861."  The Socorro County biographical sketch tells that at age 75, during World War I, he volunteered his telegraphic services and "was probably the oldest telegraph operator working the key in the U. S...."

Adams became a newspaper columnist, and wrote poems still recited (and put to music) today. Read some of his other works, including A Cowboy Toast, The Cowboy's Dance Song" ("The High-Toned Dance"), and A Song of the Range here at the BAR-D.

Find two extensive obituaries and more on our Strays page here.

In 2008, Scott E. Lusby shared photos of James Barton Adams, who was his great great grandfather, in Picture the West. The photos also include Adams' friend, Captain Jack Crawford. See those photos here.

 


 

Cowboy's New Year's Resolutions

As one who's been a cowhand since the wildcats learned to spit,
I've made some resolutions for the comin' year, to wit:
Resolved, to ride a shorter day and sleep a longer night;
To never come to breakfast till the sun is shinin' bright;
To draw a top-hands wages when they're due or quit the job
And hunt a wealthy widow or an easy bank to rob.
Resolved, to quit the wagon when the chuck ain't up to snuff,
To feed no more on bullet beans nor chaw on beef that's tough.
Resolved, to straddle nothin' in the line of saddle mount
That ain't plumb easy-gaited, gentle broke, and some account.

Resolved, that when it blizzards and there's stock out in the storm,
To let the owner worry while I stay in where it's warm.
Resolved, that when it comes my turn next spring to ride the bogs,
I'll don the bib and tucker of my town and Sunday togs,
And tell the boss, by gravies, if he craves to shed some blood,
Just try to make me smear 'em tailin' moo-cows from the mud.
Resolved, that when a thunderhead comes rollin' up the sky,
I'll lope in off my circle to the bunkhouse where it's dry.

Resolved, to do such ropin' as a ropin' cowhand must,
But never when the air ain't free from cattle-trompled dust.
Resolved to show no hosses, and resolved, to swim no cricks;
Resolved, no dead-cow skinnin', and resolved, no fence to fix.
Resolved, to swing no pitchfork, no pick, no ax, no spade;
Resolved to wear my whiskers—if I want to—in a braid!
Resolved, to take this New Year plenty easy through-and-through,
Instead of sweatin' heavy like I've always used to do.

As one who's been a cowhand since before who laid the chunk,
It may sound like I'm loco, or it may sound like I'm drunk
To make such resolutions as you see upon my list,
And others purt near like 'em that my mem'ry may have missed;
But gosh, they sound so pleasant to a son of saddle sweat!
And New Year's resolutions—well, I never kept one yet!
So why make resolutions that bring furrows to your brow?
Let's make 'em free and fancy—'cause we'll bust 'em anyhow!

© 1966, S. Omar Barker, from Rawhide Rhymes
reprinted with the permission of the estate of S. Omar Barker; further reproduction without explicit permission is prohibited.

 

See our feature about S. Omar Barker here.


 

Night Time's Promise

Let's ride at night through a blue-shadowed canyon under a night-light sky.
Let's choose a trail that is North star bound under a high moon's watchful eye.

Ride your best horse and I'll ride mine too, and we'll trust them to travel a surefooted trail.
Let's use fancy spurs we've been saving for someday and silver bridle that hangs from a nail.

Let's laugh at old stories sing old cowboy songs and share hopes for time still ahead.
We'll shed daylight worries, sad thoughts and bad thoughts and wrong things that somebody said.

Let's take this ride together, giddy on fancy and freedom and dreams.
Let's shoot for the stars up that silver-lit trail, track promise by the light of moon-beams.

We'll ride a good ride through the night time air t'ward the renewing dawn
With reinchains swingin' and spur rowels jinglin', let's meet the new day head-on.

© 2004, Janice Gilbertson
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's permission.


Read more of Janice Gilbertson's poetry here.

 


 

The Cowboys' New Years' Dance

We were sitting 'round the ranch house some twenty hands or more
Most of us Americans but a few from Arkansas
One Dutchman from the fatherland one Johnny Bull from Leeds
A Cornishman from Cornwall all men of different creeds.
They were a sittin' an a arguin' busy as a hill of ants
How they'd get rid of the money they had buried in their pants
That they'd made by hard cow punching working all the year around
From sunup until sundown an' a sleepin' on the ground
Where at night the polecat saunters round the chuck box after grub
And in passing by your hot roll gives your head a friendly rub
Where the rattlesnake lays dormant his fangs are like a lance
'Twas with them that I attended The Cowboys New Years Dance.

The town it was Roswell City old Chaves' county seat
Where they raise fine shorthorn cattle that are mighty hard to beat
Where they send the frail consumptive in search of instant health
And the hills is just a bustin' with their pent up mineral wealth.
Where the wells are all artesian and flow fish and water too
'Least so says the Roswell people so I sorter guess it's true
Where laughin' Joe the darky bust up Mulkey's show one day
By laughin' at prayer meetin' and old Abe he went away
Charles Perry he was a sheriff and G Curry county clerk
Where they caught Bill Cook the outlaw and sent him off to work
Where the moonbeams on the Pecos seem to glitter and to glance
I received an invitation to the Cowboys New Years Dance.

The boys had been invited and they just come in herds
The ladies more numerous had flocked to town like birds
Old Roswell was just crowded there was horses everywhere
Looked like some long procession headed for a county fair
Where everything was orderly as I remember well
Invitations were extended to the Roswell Stone Hotel
The music was a fiddle a guitar and a banjo
And the way those three boys played em'
It was fully half the show the women folks set together
All the boys stood in the door 'till the caller commenced yellin'
For just one couple more
And the music started windin' an' a wailin' like some hants
That had come to cast their hoodo on the Cowboy New Years Dance

The caller was a feller one of Atkinson's men
Who had the reputation of once being in the pen
His outfit sort of gaudy big spurs an' concha's bright
Fringed leggin's and gold buttons six feet about his height.
He was tall an' angular an, a broncho buster right
An' at callin' out the dances he was simply out of sight
Soon he commenced to beller now fellers all begin
Grab your lovely partners an' every one jine in
First bow to your partners now four hands cross an' change
An' chase those pretty footies once around the range
Join once again your partners around the circles prance
It was getting interesting the Cowboys New Years Dance,

Next dance will be the Lancers round up your ladies boys
Cut them all to the centre and never mind the noise
Chase your lovely critters all into the branding pen
Everybody swing everybody else's girl and swing them once again
Dash your line on the nearest filly and drag her from the herd
Re-sume your former places and swing her like a bird
Now Brownfield strike out in the lead all grand right and left
Swing each one when half way round never mind their hat
Now ladies to the centre all hands do se do
Right hand in left hand out swing and let her go
Trail block Jack to your settees for that winds up the lance
My but it was getting furious the Cowboys New Years Dance.

The refreshments came round often till all hands had their fill
Past round uncerimonous like by Broncho Buster Bill
Though his gait was quite uncertain he never lost his feet
And at complementing ladies he was mighty hard to beat
To close up the night proceedings we ragged "Turkey in the Straw"
Till we wore out musicians and they could play no more
We were served with soda water red eye and pilsner beet
And the conversation never lagged 'twas most penetrating clear
'En those who never danced before would dance with all their might
'En the most peaceably inclined citizens went hunting for a fight
So we saddled up our horses drifted homeward to the ranch
With a happy recollection of the Cowboys New Years Dance.

from Jack Thorp's Songs of the Cowboys, 1908

 

Thorp attributed "The Cowboys' New Year's Dance" to "Mark Chisholm" in Songs of the Cowboys, but evidence indicates it was Thorp's work.  Mark L. Gardner, editor of the 2005 book and recording, Jack Thorp's Songs of the Cowboys, comments:

"The Cowboys New Year's Dance" was one of several songs that Jack Thorp sent to music publisher Kenneth S. Clark in 1934 and claimed as his own.  "The Cowboys' New Year's Dance" is mentioned at least twice in correspondence between Thorp and Clark, now in the Thorp collection at the Huntington Library.  Here's a telling quote from a letter from Clark to Thorp of June 22, 1934:

As to the verses in the book [1908 edition of Songs of the Cowboys] which were written by you, can you tell me if the following were written to any particular tune or if some tune has been set to them: "Chopo," "Pecos River Queen," "The Cowboys' New Year's Dance" and "Speckles."  If so, I'd be glad to reproduce them in the new book with credit to you as the author.

Thorp seems not to have had a tune or melody for "The Cowboy's New Year's Dance," and Clark, in a letter of July 7, 1934, wrote that he tried to compose an original melody for the song but "...came to the conclusion that the best plan would be to publish it in the book to the tune of 'Turkey in the Straw,' which fits it perfectly and which, indeed, is mentioned in the song."

Later that same year, Clark did publish "The Cowboys' New Year's Dance" to the tune of "Turkey in the Straw" in his The Happy Cowboy and His Songs of Pioneer Days (New York: Paull-Pioneer Music Corp., 1934), pp. 5-7.  On page 5, under the title of the song, it states "Words by N. Howard (Jack) Thorp."

 "The Cowboys' New Year's Dance" is a parody of Larry Chittenden's "The Cowboys Christmas Ball," which you can read in our feature here

See our feature about Jack Thorp's Songs of the Cowboys here and an additional feature about Jack Thorp here.

 



New Year's Eve

I'll saddle the roan then ride out alone
'neath a clear moon with frost on the ground,
to a high ridge I know
through the dark pines and snow
far away from the dim lights of town.

In a short space of time a hillside I'll climb
to the top with my face to the wind,
and there I'll just wait
as the hour grows late
and a new year once more will begin.

I'll take a look then on where I have been
and the changes the old year has brought,
the good times and bad
some happy some sad
as the faces of time fill my thoughts.

In the silence of night from that small patch of white
I'll say "Adios" to lost friends,
with a small prayer at last
for the present and past
then I'll ride down that hill once again.

© 2000, Rod Nichols
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without  permission.

Read more of Rod Nichols' poetry here and find tributes to him here. 

 



New Year's Eve in Austin

I'm settin' in the station in Austin, Texas,
waitin' fer m'bus t'come in.
It's New Year's Eve an' no one's here,
except fer a couple old men.

This ol' cowpoke comes wanderin' in,
his saddlebags 'round 'is shoulder.
An' lookin' at 'is boots it's hard t'tell
whether him or them is older.

He stops by me, his eyebrows up.
I says go ahead an' set down.
Y'look like y'oughta git yerself some rest.
What is it that brings you t'town?

He sez, "I'm leavin' the job I worked this year,
a youngster's replacin' me.
"I'm movin' to a town called Memory," he says.
"It's a place where I wanna be."

I says, "Wait a minute, have I got this right?
Yer boss is jist lettin' y'go?
Cowboyin' is tough when y'start t'git old.
Y'don't fire a good hand cuz he's slow."

But the ol' cowpoke, he says, "Calm yerself
Ain't the boss's fault at all.
It's a fact a nature that when yer time is up,
we all gotta answer the call.

"Y'see, I'm the year that’s just windin’ down,
an' t'night's when I hafta be gone.
There's a kid'll be ridin' the next bus in.
I'll hand 'im my load an' move on.

"If y'wanta do somethin' t'help me out,
an' y'got a little time that's free,
give the kid a hand with these saddle bags.
Don't stand aroun' wavin' at me.

"These heavy ol' bags hold alla the jobs
that I never got t'git done.
This New Year comin's gonna need yer help;
Like a war that's still t'be won.

"Well...here comes the kid. Help 'im out if y'kin.
That ain't too tough a job, is it?
But don't fergit, I'll be livin in Memory,
if y'feel like y'wanta come visit."

© 2001, Hal Swift
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without  permission.



 

Read more of Hal Swift's poetry here.

 


 

Ode to an Old Friend

This life's been a grand undertaking
On a long and a tortuous trail;
Emotions and dreams kept us floating
Like ships breaking waves at full sail.

We've partaken of visual wonders...
Watched the trout rise to harvest a fly

While mountains--shaken by thunder

Flashed neon 'neath lightning-framed sky...

We've thrilled at the elk's lusty whistle
Marveled at spots on a fawn;
Then, quick as a shot from a pistol:
These symbols of freedom were gone.

We've rigged a team in dray trappings,
Sowed joy from a buckboard behind,
Motivated by multitudes clapping,
In response to old ballads aligned.

We've sought for the fruits of the forest

These ravaged and gutted by man,
Whose intentions
not always the purest,
Embrace his municipal plan.

We've seen sections of lush vegetation

Which loss we may never atone,
Yield to a civilization...
Its asphalt, skyscrapers and stone.

Ox wagons, once truly symbolic...
A vestige of migrations west,
Wore wheels that preceded the frolic
of autos man soon would possess.

Songs Written in Delicate sonnets,
Harmonized in a warm hearted swoon,
Emphasized a pure life on the planet

While rockets raced up to the moon.

We've seen the invincible humbled,
Our century three quarters gone,
From the full bloom of youth we have stumbled
And still times march presses on.

Now fanatics die by the legion;
They call this, "Allegiance to God,"
Others leap to defend each his region;
It's the righteous who bloody the rod!

It's peculiar, the road we have traveled,
And, no doubt, we'd transverse it again.
Do not bolt as the world comes unraveled,
But, drive on, for great goodness remains.

© 2006, Bob Schild
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's permission.


Read more of Bob Schild's poetry here.

 



To an Old Timer on New Year's Day

What news, old timer? True that line and fence
Now subdivide the prairies and the hills;
A web of worries and machine-made ills
Denies our freedom without recompense;
That little people crowd and trade—and pass—
Nor lift their eyes beyond the day that brings
Their petty profit of the little things.....
Where once the west wind turned the prairie grass.

And yet I know, remote, a country where
God's desert peaks unmoved, outstare the sun;
And still in lonely unsought valleys run
The distant antelope; and flashing clear
The running mustangs from their dust-clouds dim
Wheel and are gone across the broken range;
Where the New Year brings the hidden ranch no change
No blurs the silence of the lava rim.

So somehow faith believe, though sense denies,
That while these peaks are free, these heavens pure,
Still something of their nature must endure
In men who meet silence of these skies;
That here these greater-hearted ones shall find
Where lesser men their lesser fortunes seek,
A mighty upland, clear from peak to peak
The free unfenced republic of the mind.

by L. Maynard Dixon, Sunset, January, 1922
 

Historian and musician Greg Scott (Cowboy Poetry, Classic Poems & Prose by Badger Clark) shared the poem above, which appeared in the January, 1922 edition of Sunset Magazine.

Modernist Western painter Maynard Dixon (1875-1946) is the subject of several recent exhibits and books, including A Place of Refuge; Maynard Dixon's Arizona from the University of Oklahoma Press. Top cowboy troubadour Don Edwards performs the voice of Maynard Dixon in the recent documentary,  Maynard Dixon: Art and Spirit, which received the 2008 Spur Award from the Western Writers of America.

A 2010 documentary, Child of Giants, by Tom Ropelewski, focuses on the children of Maynard Dixon and his wife, renowned Depression-era photographer Dorothea Lange. Richard Chon (www.saddlecats.com) wrote the film's score.

Greg Scott has also shared two Thanksgiving poems, both illustrated by Maynard Dixon, here.

 


Toasts

 

May you never lose a stirrup,
May you never waste a loop;
May your can stay full of syrup,
And your gizzard full of whoop!
                      
© S. Omar Barker

 

To the rewards of bein' a cowboy
And to livin' a cowboy's life
With only the fear of bein' afoot
Or saddled down with a wife
                                   
© 2007, Diane Tribitt

 

May all that you reap be righteous and fine
Like your woman, your horse, and your hat
As long as you keep your hands off of mine
Then By Golly, I'll sure drink to that.
                                               
© 2007, Diane Tribitt

 

May you never burn your biscuits,
Never let your beans boil dry.
May your steak be to your likin'
And your coffee strong as lye.
                                      © 2008, Jane Morton
 

 

May your horse never slow,
May your loop find its mark;
May your Get Up have Go,
From morning till dark.
                 
© 2007, Victoria Boyd

 

Here's to good water,
and to rest in the shade,
and to total success
for the plans that you've made.
                                     
© 2007, Hal Swift 

 

May your ropin' hand stay steady,
and your cinch stay good an' tight.
When you get to where you're goin'
may you sleep in peace tonight.
                                     
© 2007, Hal Swift 

 

May your days be filled with usefulness,
your nights be filled with rest.
May your life be filled with happiness,
and all that you love best.
                                     
© 2007, Hal Swift 


May your love be as wide as a Western sky
And your blessings stacked high as a mount.
May your lives be as long as the Rio Grande
And your friends be too many to count.
                                               © 2009, Dale E. Page

 

 

May your horse never stumble,
Your spurs never rust,
Your guts never grumble,
Your cinch never bust!
                          
© S. Omar Barker

 

May your spring storms be gentle.
May your summer rains be plenty.
May your calves be born just eighty pounds
and wean at seven twenty.
                             
© 2007, Michael Henley

 

May you never lose direction
may you never take to flight
as you make a slight correction
if your horse bucks to the right
                                 
© 2007, Pat Richardson

 

Here's to colic, strangles, and scours,
Founder, prolapse, and pink eye;
Greasy grub, poor pay, ridiculous hours
May we be cowboys until we die!
                                          
 © 2007, Rod Miller

 

May your cinch never loosen,
may your saddle never turn,
not too proud to pull leather,
until you reach point of no return.
                                     
© 2007, V. June Blevins Collins

 

May your mustache grace yer upper lip
And always hang with a majestic curl
But feel free to discount this advice
If you happen to be a girl
                                     
© 2010, J.D. Siebert

 


May hot coffee be a brewin'
On the campfires of your friends

May good Mulligan be stewin'
When you reach your last trail's end.
                                       
© 2007, Glen Enloe

 

May a Stetson lie close to your favorite boots,
May a saddle be where you sit.
May you always remember your Western roots,
Full of try and empty of quit.
                                    
© 2007, Lincoln Rogers

 

May the warm winds of heaven
blow softly on your house
and may the Great Spirit
bless all who enter there
               
Indian blessing by way of Jeri Dobrowski

Authors retain copyright to their work; obtain an author's
permission before using a poem in any form.

 

See a complete list with links to all the holiday poems posted starting in 2000 here.

 


 


 

Thanks to all who share poetry, songs, stories, art, photography, and news; to all who take part in Cowboy Poetry Week activities; to all who take the time to send comments and suggestions; and to all who visit throughout the year.

To all of you who support and Sponsor our work, in a shared commitment to promote and preserve cowboy poetry and the life and arts of the West, thank you! You make CowboyPoetry.com available to all, every day of the year. And, you make possible Cowboy Poetry Week, its Western art poster, The BAR-D Roundup CD, the Rural Library Project, and all the Center for Western and Cowboy Poetry does.

Thanks to everyone for being a part of it all here at the BAR-D.

 


 

Make it your New Year resolution!

This past year, did you find something at CowboyPoetry.com that interested you? Did you visit for poetry, news, event information, features? Was your own poem included at the BAR-D? Was your local gathering announced, or were you a part of a gathering report? Did we share your news with our many readers? Your support is vital.

We need your support to be able to keep bringing you the features you value.

If you enjoy features such as Christmas at the BAR-D,  there's no better time to show your support.

All that happens at the BAR-D is made possible by the essential contributions of generous supporters: CowboyPoetry.com; Cowboy Poetry Week and its annual Western art poster; The BAR-D Roundup compilation CD; and the Rural Library Project that distributes posters and CDs to rural libraries. We've received generous donations of $10 and donations of $1000; and we are grateful for them all. 

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