Cowboy Poetry and Music and More at the BAR-D Ranch

Paul Bliss

Featured in "The Big Roundup," an anthology of the best of

Named Top Male Cowboy Poet
by the
Academy of Western Artists, 2014



The Bust

Yur ridin' through the cedar's, the wind is in yur face.
      Yur hart is beatin' wildly, az ya anticipate the race.

You've tracked the band for miles, az ya wuz up before the dawn.
      Und ya finally gottem' spotted now their down on Swasey's pond.

The sun juzt toped the mountains, az the rays sine through the mist.    
      Ya pull yur pony's cinch up tight, und the latago ya twist.

Then ya slide inta yur saddle, und az yur rope und fingers meet.
      ya separate those coils, und ya build that loop up neat.

Then ya ease yur pony down the draw, az ya stay close to the trees.
      Ya move yur horse around the rocks, az ya guide him with yur knees.

Now yur almost out of cover, und theirs forty yards to go.
      Yur pony's actin' snorty, he's ready for the show.

He's all legged up, un full of grain, he's ready for the bust.
      Und soon the rough yur ridin' through, yur horse u'll have ta trust.

Now the mares move off the water, their belly's lookin' tight.
      The stud horse comes between ya, az ya ramble in to site.

The lead mare jumps out ta the front, az the Stallion screams his cry.
      Und the mares fall in line, one by one, az manes un tails they fly.

Yur in a world, its all yur own, serenity at its best.
      Ya close the gap ta fifteen yards, un now yur ready for the test.

Ya taste the dirt their kickin' up az off the ledge ya fly.
      The Stallion squeals un bites a mare, az rocks, un brush flash by.

Down the canyon rim the chase goes on, az ya hold yur pony back.
      Till ya finally reach the bottom, then ya feed yur horse some slack.

Yur pony's lathered, he's all but spent, az the mare's ya pass them by.
      It's that Stallion, that ya wanted, he's the one that's got yur eye.

Yur standin' in yur strips, az ya let that lasso sail.
      Und ya watch it float around his head, az the Stallion flags his tail.

Then ya pull yur slack, un take yur wraps, to the left yur pony turns.
      Und ya feel the strain up on yur rope, az through yur hand it burns.

But ya bear down on those dallys, till he finally comes around.
      Und now he's their a facin' ya, a pawin' up the ground!

He shakes his head, he snorts, he squeals, his eye's ur glowin' red.
      His front end up un leaves the earth, his ears pined to his head.

He charges, up the rope he comes, his mouth is opened wide.
      Und juzt before he hits ya, ya spur yur horse, he jumps a side.

Well, the Stallion he juzt blows on by, he thinks he's free at last.
      Ya lean out of yur saddle, square yur horse up for the crash.

It's a violent jerk when he hit's the end, und it shakes ya to the bone.
      He slams down in a pile of dust, the Stallion's now been throne.

Az ya ease off of yur pony, und ya pat his lathered side.
      Yur proud that yur a Cowboy, un thank God that yur alive.

© Paul Bliss, All Rights Reserved. 
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

Paul comments, "Out where we run horses, if you control the stud horse you control the whole band."


This poem is a letter to my three year old son telling him where Old Doug is. I was unloading horses after checking permits on the west mountains, and my son Hagen asked Where's Old Doug

Where's Old Doug

Well, son I was out in the Deep Creek Mountains.
Just south of that old Hay Stack Peak.
     Ya’ see I spent a cold night wrapped in blankets;
     Under the cover of trees.

T’was about the end of November.
Just after a blizzardin’ snow.
     The sky was so clear and the stars were so bright!
     The temperature about five bellow.

The coyotes were howlin’ and singin’;
The horses a crunchin’ the snow.
     A tryin’ to get to their feed son;
     That was covered with eight inches of snow.

I was wrapped in two old woolen blankets.
That was found in the notch of a tree.
     Left their by some thoughtful cowboy.
     And my life saver now they would be.

See I was riding my old faithful pony.
Twenty years he’d been by my side.
     Through the rough, and the rocks, and the timbers.
     We’d always come home alive.

Though I’d rode him many a mile;
Through rough, and steep mountain trails.
     And sometimes we’d get to the top son;
     With me hangin’ on to his tail.

Oh, he’d never quit fer a minute.
He was faithful right up till the end.
     He was quick, he was strong, he was gallant
     He was more than just a close friend.

Well, ya’ see son, he fell with me up in those mountains.
As we rolled down the steep rocky side.
     We came to rest next to a pine tree;
     With a tree limb stuck deep in his side.

He was hurt, we were stuck, he was painin’.
We were hung by the limb of that tree.
     So I pulled from ma’ side my knife son;
     And cut my old buddy free.

Through the hair, and the hide, and the muscle.
I cut till my buddy was free.
     Then down to the bottom we tumbled.
     My buddy, my best friend and me.

Oh I could tell that he never would make it.
With the snow and the trail that was steep.
     But he got up and started towards me;
     then stumbled and fell at my feet.

So I moved him on in to position.
I hugged him and said my good byes.
     Then Holdin’ my gun in my right hand;
     While the left wiped the tears from my eyes.

Then I hiked on up out of that canyon;
To the colts left two canyons away.
     Tied to a tree where I’d left’em;
     Early on in the day.

With the day almost gone, and soaked to the bone.
I knew that I’d have to think fast.
     For the sun’s goin’ down, and it’s getting’ dam cold!
     And I knew that I’d never last.

When I happens to spy and old lean too.
Some cowboy had built years ago.
     So I hobbled on over to see it;
     A trudgin’ on through the deep snow.

There in the notch of that tree son;
Was the answer to one of my prayers.
     Was stuffed two green woolen blankets.
     See God listens, he answers, he cares.

So I pulled off all my wet clothin’.
My boots, and my socks and my pants.
     And I wrapped up tight in those blankets;
     While the stars were begin’ to dance.

Well that night I dreamed of wild horses;
Runnin’ in pastures on high.
     And there in the lead was my buddy;
     Racin’ that herd through the sky.

© Paul Bliss, All Rights Reserved. 
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

Trailin' 100 head horses up over the Beaver Mountains, down into the Bryce Canyon area I wrote this poem.

Cowboy Poetry in Motion

Well, the mornin’ starts at four am, the cook he rings the bell.
     “Come ‘on get up ya cowboys,” comes a loud persistent yell!

“Come on shake out the coffee's hot, don’t lay there in yur soogans.
     “Get’em up, roll’em tight, all bed rolls to the wagon!”

Ya can smell the food a cookin’; feel that chill that’s in the air.
     As ya’ gather round that chuck box, with un emotionless stare.

Ya’ grab biscuits drowned in gravy. An' ya thank the God above.
     Fur givin’ ya the peace of mind, to do the things ya love.

The cook calls out for seconds, “Better git it while it’s hot!”
     While the hoodie loads the bed rolls up, pulls the tarp down, ties the knot.

The jingler brings yur horses in, while the night hawk grabs some chuck.
     An' ya ponder 'bout the last few weeks, how yawl got by on luck.

The mountains that ya trailed across, the rivers, streams, un’ swells.
     The thunderstorms, the dust, an' sweat. Some days it felt like hell.

An' yur muscle sore, and tender, from a colt that bucked ya down.
     An’ knowin’ today is the last day, an’ you’ll arrive in town.

Two hundred an’ ninety miles, wranglin’ horses all the way.
     There’s un emotion that can’t be denied, when ya call positions fer the day.

The team is almost harnessed up, the leaders start to paw.
     “Make circle boys start ’em slow, head ’em up that draw!”

In the East the stars, they disappear, a blue gray takes its place.
     An’ the pink cliffs now are standin’ out where before there waz no trace

The herd busts an’ thunders towards the draw, ears alert, an' noses flared.
     An’ Cowboys racin’ for the pass, with hard determined stares.

They glide through rock an’ timber, with a ballerina’s grace.
     Over logs, an’ brush, an’ ledges, like a royal steeple chase!

The dust it starts to foggin’ up, ya smell leather, horse, an’ sweat.
     An’ horses crashin’ through the brush. But still there’s no regret.

Manes an’ tails a flyin’ spurs a ringin’ out a tune.
     It’s un elusion watchin’ horse an’ man race towards a fadin’ moon.

Down through the pines an’ cedars, where the scrub oak slaps yur chaps.
     Ya memorize this picture boys, for time has seemed to lapse.

With cowboys in position, the herd’s now in control.
     Ya watch the horses all line out as single file they go.

The sun it tops a ragged ridge, an’ the rays come bustin’ through.
     Ya watch the herd snake down the trail, in solemn overview.

It’s a picture that can’t be described by just anybody’s notion.
     Cause pardner it’s a feelin’, ”cowboy poetry in motion”

© Paul Bliss, All Rights Reserved. 
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

In notes to his 2013 CD, Pure Bliss, Paul writes:

In 1998, with help from my wife Stacy Lynn and our brandin' crew (Brad James, Marion Manwell, Dirk & Cole Palfreman, Lars & Dana Woolsey, Dave ( Skinner) Collins, and Bill Lewis), we trailed a 100-horse remuda out the gate of the Lady Bug Ranch, from Salem to Kanab, Utah, 290 miles. Through the meadows of Central Utah. Across steep passes on the edge of the Wasatch mountains. Swimming the Sevier River. Over the pink cliffs of Bryce and Johnson Canyon. Down Main Street of the ghost-town film site outside of Kanab where Gunsmoke, The Outlaw Josie Wales and The Lone Ranger were filmed. Through the town of Kanab, which had its first celebration of the Western Legends Round Up when we arrived. Ending up at Fredonia, on the edge of the Arizona Strip. Two empty saddles rode with us in memory of Toby McDonald and Fay Hamblin, former Cowboys who had worked that area for years. Toby’s 7-year-old great grandson (Toby Wern) was able to ride that same horse (Peek a Boo) last year when we met his parents. This poem was penned about that ride.

"The Ranch" is my little peace of heaven, it speaks for itself.

The Ranch

Out in this western desert, wuz this little rundown ranch,
      most cowboys und the cattle men, wouldn't give it half a chance.

What fences that's were standing, wuz in bad need of repair,
      The barns un outer buildin's sure would leave one in despair.

The water in the ditches wouldn't travel very fast,
      With what the russian olives over took, along with all the grass.

Their wasn't any money in it, it wuz all just dream und hope,
      Und lots of hard work dallied up to sixty feet of rope.

Why the pastures ain't seen fertilizer in forty-seven years.
      Just the looks a this old beat up place would bring a man to tears.

Well, We worked out the arrangements, und we bought the ranch in tow,
      Along with all equipment from a hundred years ago.

A standin' their a ponderin', 'bout all the work there wuz to do.
      I realized that some cowboys dreams really do come true.

© Paul Bliss, All Rights Reserved. 
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

This is my first shot at a love poem. But you'll have to look real hard to find it. We wuz up in the Unita Mountains at the base of Kings peak 13,528, the flowers up that high have heads as big as snuff can lids. But the stems are only about a inch an a half tall. Our flowers are about four an a half feet
tall now. 

Where Love Flowers Grow

Up above the timber line, on lonely mountain rim,
      One hundred miles form any town, where the oxygen gets thin;
Where the white, un' yeller daisies, und the edelweiss's bloom,
      Where the brush, un' wild flowers make nature's own perfume.

The grass is green, un' thick, un' lush, but it ain't very tall,
      Where their only is three seasons pard, its winter, spring, un' fall.
Snow never melts, nor sees the sun on the northern rocky side,
      Where if a man ain't always careful, he's apt to lose his hide.

See, I wuz up there with a pack string, in July one after noon,
      With ma' new bride their beside me, ya know, a cowgirls honeymoon.
Had the herd pig'ed tailed together, all cept the bell mare nag,
      So's ma bride stayed plenty busy, back there ridin' drag.

The wind wuz kinda shiftin', dark clouds were on their way,
      I new ew'd better make camp quick, un' finish out the day.
So, In a little cove of clustered pines, we throwed' er soogans down,
      Then striped the saddles, gear, un' packs, un' staked the horse's to
the ground.

We'd just 'bout finished up 'er chores, un' grabbed a bite to eat,
      When the rain it started pourin' down, in big ol' thunderin' sheets;
Well, We dove in to those soogans, un' braced against the storm,
      To body's snuggled tightly, tryin' to keep each other warm.

Now, The storm wuz pickin' up sum, und the temperature wuz chill,
      If it wasn't fer the lightin', we'd camped higher on the hill.
The wind got whipin' fiercely, apt to bare the mountain side,
      Und that rain came horizontal, in those soogans we did hide.

After a while the ground turned soggy, un' the wet wuz soakin' in,
      We had to rub each other, to keep the coldness off 'er skin.
Then the ground turned to a river, un' the wind would make a wave,
      That would crash against 'er soogans, through that storm we'd try un'

Like a boat out in the ocean bein' tossed upon the sea,
      The crashin' swells, un' drivin' rain, wuz cover comin' me;
Und the waves kept gettin' higher, un they tried to pull me down,
      But I had to over come it, I had to either swim 'er drowned.

Und I fought to keep us up right, un' I tried with all my might,
      But ma body's gettin' weaker, un' I just might lose this fight.
Und the storm kept gettin' stronger, un' the lightin' flashin' round,
      Und then the waves of passion, nearly swept us of the ground.

Und just at that last moment, yes just beyond despair,
      She kissed the wet from off ma lips, un' run her fingers through ma
Then just like that, the rain quit fallin', un' the wind wuz almost still,
      Un' the clouds a started partin', showed the moon above the hill:

Und I laid there semi concious, takin' in the sites, un' smells, un' sounds,
      A wrapped up their in nature, in ar' soogans, on the ground.
Un' the mornin' came so quickly, un' the night had thus depart,
      Un' the stillness of the mornin', canceled by a meadowlark.

The sun rose up real early, bringin' hope to all of life,
      Az' I laid there plum exhausted, in the arms there of my wife.
With the warmth from that ol' sunshine, un the earth now all a mist,
      I leaned over to my sweet hart, und her sleepin' cheek I kissed.

Now, I look about ar' children, watch 'em grow with lovin' care,
      Und I think about that stormy night, in the mountains way up there.
So when I smell's the fragrant beauty, of nature all in tune,
      I remember it's those summer storms, that make love flowers bloom.

© Paul Bliss, All Rights Reserved. 
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.


There’ll Never Be Another Ewe

We were out in Sunbeam Colorado, for a band of ewes to load.
Four big semis all but loaded, 'fore we sped off down the road.

Those ewes were coming of the range, 'cause their feed was goin’ fast.
So they called for us to haul ’em down to California grass.

We were on our last compartment when this big ewe jumped the chute.
But old Lester Branch, with cat-like skill was there in hot pursuit.

He runs her to a corner where she had nowhere to go.
So she turns around to face him, now they're standin’ toe to toe.

She’s movin’ quickly to the left, and then changes towards the right.
That ewe is headin’ for the only open hole in sight.

She’s headin’ for that open hole, her eyes a-seein’ red,
as she dives between old Lester’s legs she elevates her head.

Lester’s body’s in a rack of pain, his eyes are somewhat blurred.
He screams out You, You somethin’. But his speech is kinda slurred.

He grabs a half a finger tuck. She stretches out his arm.
And that ewe, she takes old Lester on a tour up on the farm.

They scatter through the chickens, feathers flying everywhere.
Then down on through the clothesline for some women’s underwear.

He’s got’em draped across his face, they're flappin’ down his back,
and his pants is slipin’ from his hips, and you can see a partial crack.

His toes are bruised and bleedin; he’s got red bumps on his shin,
he loosens up his left hand grip, and takes one on the chin.

Now Lester, he’s just stubborn, and his jaw is really set.
That old ewe’s run him through the gauntlet, but he ain’t give up yet.

Now they're splashin’ through the puddles, through the mud, an’ muck and slop.
Old Lester’s suckin’ oxygen; I believe he’s goin ’a drop.

Then on down through the granary, over all those old feed sacks,
they up and do a ewe turn, and now they’re comin’ back.

With the thrill and the excitement, all the boys begin to cheer,
but it up and startled that old ewe, and she grabbed another gear.

Lester’s coiffin’, whizzin’, chokin’ in between his cussing spells,
and the sound "go get 'er’ Lester" can be heard amongst the yells.

Then they comes around the corner, she stomps hard on his boot,
he hollers out, and raises his head and bangs it on the chute.

Now he really starts cussing it’s just flowing of his tongue.
Now I know a lot of cuss words, and hell he never missed a one.

His hat is sittin’ crooked, sort of sideways on his head.
We cheer him on encouragement, but he don’t hear a word we said.

Because he’s got determination written well across his face.
But his body tells his mind, that he just can’t keep the pace.

And his pants is slippin’ farther, kind’a baggy in the back.
You can see about a half a moon, with a good three quarter crack.

And that slip’s still draped across his face, and the rancher’s wife, she comes along,
and she wants to know "Just what the hell is going on."

Now Lester; well he’s really red, sweat streaming down his face.
He’s headed for the finished line, but he’s still in second place.

Round and, round and, round they go their stirring up the dust.
Then Lester trips upon his pants and lands right there in front of us.

Yes his wizzin’ in a pile, I believe that he’s all through.
And that ewe climbs up in the truck like she’s supposed to do.

Now we're laughing, teasing, joking, but you can bet this story’s true.
And old Lester Branch, there’ll never, ever be another ewe.

© Paul Bliss, All Rights Reserved. 
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

In notes to his 2013 CD, Pure Bliss, Paul writes:

This is a true story. We were called to help a rancher save his ewes from poor range conditions, when Lester Branch shows up to show us how it’s done. Lester is a long-time Livestock Transportation Specialist who has been everywhere, seen and done everything...



  About Paul Bliss:
             provided 2014

Paul Bliss
Cowboy Poet and….


That’s how you feel with Paul Bliss…because Paul is comfortable inside his own skin.

As poet, cattleman, horseman, family man, or man of faith, Paul is comfortable, because his roots run deep in all those roles.

Paul’s grandmother, Lydia Lyman Finlinson, wrote poetry in quiet moments at her mercantile in tiny Oak City, Utah, between visits from the children who brought eggs to exchange for penny candy. Paul grew up on her poems and pithy maxims. (“It’s a poor pie that can’t grease its own pan.”) A high school English teacher coerced Paul into writing a story to save his grade. The story ended with a poem. Though it came back covered with red ink, he got an A-minus on it. That eventually nudged him into poetry, which now is how Paul chronicles his life.

Ask Paul about his influences in cowboy poetry and he mentions Omar S. Barker and Bruce Kiskaddon, but it’s Sunny Hancock’s “genuineness” that moves Paul most.

Paul the cattleman sets his schedule by feeding time, calving time, roundup time, breeding time, shipping time. If you can’t fit in between those times, you likely won’t see Paul. But his cows and cattle will. And Paul’s Bliss Cattle Company has run cattle operations in several western states for 35 years.

Paul can also explain the complexities of modern agro-business, where the calves may be weaned in Utah, fed on winter grass in California, then summer grass in Utah and Wyoming, fattened on corn in Nebraska, and slaughtered in Colorado in time for the grilling season. And Paul can take them on each leg of the journey, 35 to 155 animals at a time depending on their size, with his Kenworth W900L. So add trucker to that list of roles.

Paul the horseman has rodeo trophies and buckles from his youth, and original rodeo songs on his CD, which was Western Music Association’s #1 Cowboy Poetry CD of 2013. The songs are authentic because Paul is. There’s as much tack in his home in Salem, Utah as there is clothing. His grandfather’s saddle holds a place of honor. Several times Paul has been hired to lead wagon trains on re-enactment treks, some as long as two months. So add wagon master and logistics and permitting process manager* to that list.

Paul’s smile broadens when he talks about Stacy, his wife of 22 years, who cajoled him into his first public recitation of one of his cowboy poems and tricked him into the second—at the Elko Cowboy Poetry Gathering! The smile broadens again when he talks about his children, who have shared the hardships and satisfaction of rural ranching life with him. He’s proud of them, and lets you know it. And his living room wall bears the marks of the family brands, extending back generations. Family runs deep with Paul.

Paul’s poems are a true reflection of his life. The faith that naturally finds expression in them is at the root of his comfort with who he is. He trusts that Providence will see him through anything. And his poetry proves he’s seen almost everything.

But Paul still has a few new experiences he looks forward to. March 28th he flies down to Irving, Texas to receive the Academy of Western Artists Will Rogers Award as Cowboy Poet of the Year. And in November Paul flies to Chicago to lecture to the National Dance Organization Conference about “Cowboy Poetry in Motion”—which is also the title of one of his poems that was used as the title piece in a BYU Dance Department concert last year.

But there’s one more role Paul plays constantly. It’s a role that comes naturally and without fanfare to this unassuming man…friend. And you’re a blessed man or woman if you can play that role in the life of Paul Bliss. Because you’ve got a friend for life.

And that's a very comfortable feeling!

You might call it “pure bliss.”

Note: Find Paul’s #1 WMA Poetry CD Pure Bliss at To contact Paul, email

* To move hundreds of horses and people across tortoise-inhabited country today permits must be acquired from the Bureau of Land Management, the Forest Service, the U.S. Military, and multiple city, county, district and state governmental agencies.

(Used with permission from an interview with Clive Romney of Utah Pioneer Heritage Arts for Story Road Utah.)


Pure Bliss


From the producers:

Fans of this well known, respected cowboy and poet from Salem, Utah will be delighted with this collection of some old favorites that Paul has performed at numerous poetry gatherings—but the big news and pleasant surprise is the new material that Paul has written and performed with music and song for the very first time!

Paul Bliss has a unique talent for describing the everyday life of this Western-bred rancher, rodeo performer, wrangler and Trail Boss. When he composes poetry, and now music, he truly is speaking from experience from years of living the ranch life and dealing with cattle, horses and people on a daily basis. You can’t go wrong listening to this latest offering from a past WMA Utah Poet of the Year. He’s admittedly more comfortable on the range than in town. Paul considers himself “just a cowboy,” a little hard to catch up with maybe, but when you do …. it’s Pure Bliss.


Cowboy Poetry in Motion
Bronc Ridin' Shuffle
California Dreamer
Resting Springs
Salem on the Mountain
Dream Mine
There'll Never Be Another Ewe
Turtle Soup
The Old Four-Holder
Old Doug
John Hard Hack
Appy Spots
The Bust
Bull Boogie

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