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PETE EVANSON
Salem, Connecticut
About Pete Evanson

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

 

The Odyssey

Back in time many years ago, when Buck was just a boy
His Gran Pap gave him a maverick calf, which filled the lad with joy
This little cow was not a gift, old Gran Pap had a plan
The problems he'd have to face, would help him grow into a man

Buck gave him food and water, and brushed his coat to shine
Until a warm springlike day, when Gran Pap said, it's time
Get a rope and tie him down, the fire's hot, let's start,
He had a special branding iron, for burning in a mark

Buck finally grabbed the iron, knowing what must be done
He'd seen it happen many times, but this time he was the one
The smell of burnt hair hovered, the calf bellered and kicked a bit
Untied his feet and let him up, off  he went, a Rockin' B on his hip

Buck's stomach was all in knots, but his heart was filled with pride
He'd passed his first big test, with his Gran Pap by his side
His second test was underway, the calf was now free to run
What kinds of lessons could be learned, to make a man of this Grandson

Buck often rode out with his Dad, to check up on the herd
He searched and searched everywhere, his Dad said not a word
The calf was Buck's responsibility, the sagebrush was dense,
A cow won't come when it's called, was there a hole in the fence?

Maybe a coyote took down its meal, if the youngster ran off to play
The herd would take care of its own, but not if he'd wandered away
That's part of the lesson for Buck, be careful in what you do
Things have both a time and place, otherwise, trouble will surely find you

Pretty soon Buck spied the calf, kinda playing hide and seek
He and two others of his kind, drinking down at the creek
Well Buck cut them back to the herd, his Dad smiled and shook his hand
Then showed him some animal tracks, outlined there in the sand

A great big  mountain lion, lives somewhere near by
Up in the hills, where the rocks meet the sky
He'd come down to water, so the danger was real
A small calf like his, would make an easy meal

Over the summer they grew a lot, both the boy and his calf
Trying to keep the maverick clean, caused old Gran Pap to laugh
It won't be long until it's fall, a chill was in the air
Buck's calf would try and win, the blue ribbon at the fair

The calf would not cooperate, had a mind of his own
He didn't like the halter, or all the curry comb
But Buck had it in his mind, the calf would win the show
He kept him in the barn at night, bawling 'neath a lantern glow

The calf wanted out of there, to join the others like he
Grazing on the hillside, a life of being free
Buck himself was feeling low, he'd been working long and hard
He spent his time training, the calf to parade the yard.

Gran Pap took the boy aside, to explain the task at hand
Many jobs that need doin', would help him grow into a man
A rancher's life ain't easy, but some good times can be had
It might be hard to see the joy, through the eyes of just a lad

Buck he said, you're doing fine, and the calf might not even win
The fact that you gave your all, is what we're  interested in
I gave your Dad the same test, when he was as young as you
He didn't like the halter either, but look at the man I grew

I have no doubt you'll be the same, when you're growed up and tall
The same as that calf of yours, that's penned up in his stall
Once he grows into a bull, and you set him free to roam
He'll wander back remembering, lessons learned at home

Summer passed into fall, a winter smell was in the air
Everything was ready, for the Carbon County fair
The calf had surely grown a lot, and the same for young Buck
One hundred  pounds of calf, wasn't gonna get in the truck

With Buck at the halter, his Dad pushing from behind
Not til Gran Pap twisted his tail, did they get the calf to mind
Two youngsters rode in the back, Buck was having a ball
The calf stood there bug eyed, he wanted back in his stall

They arrived at the fair grounds, people were milling all around
The calf suddenly liked the truck, he didn't want to get down
Buck lead him to the barn, and found an empty stall
The calf had already decided, he didn't like the place at all

The calf took off on a run, dragging the boy behind
Buck's mother hollered, let him go, but the boy made up his mind
They finally came to a stop, Buck was red faced and mad
How could this have happened, in front of Gran Pap and his Dad

Well Buck led him back in the stall, brushed off the dust and dirt
His Mom was just a little mad, because of a tear in his new shirt
He got the calf cleaned up, then led him to the parade
His heart was beating loudly, as the judges choices were made

He didn't win the red ribbon, not even the blue or yellow one
His Mom  gave the boy a hug, thinking that he hadn't won
Then the judges all walked up, and Gran Pap started to laugh
They handed Buck a gold ribbon, awarded to the boy and his calf

Best of his class it said, Buck's stomach felt nervous inside
He had gotten the highest award, Gran Pap's chest swelled with pride
His father had yet to speak, words don't always come easy to a Dad
A lump grows in your throat, to see a son do better than he had

His Dad finally shook his hand, then hugged him for all his might
They took a lot of pictures, of every thing in sight
A day to always remember, long after others are gone
The boy had taken another step, another test had been won

The years passed by quickly, Buck's  testing was over
The calf retired as a range bull, feeding on sweet clover
Buck did become the man, big and strong like his dad
When his Gran Pap passed away, Buck felt really sad

The hardest test finally came, one cold September morning
It hit him hard, without having any warning
The bull had came into the barn, laid down in the hay
Buck was kneeling there, when the old bull passed away

Like his Gran Pap had said, the bull would recall
All the love Buck gave him, inside the stall
The bull must have known, the end was very near
The trust between calf and boy, abundantly clear

Buck had him buried in the meadow, brushed a tear away
His final test of manhood, he knew Gran Pap would say
It took over twenty years, for this odyssey to end
Boy to calf, man to bull, life, death; they won the gold ribbon.

 2000,  Pete Evanson, All rights reserved.
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

SUNDOWN AT TULSA

Me and old Jack are riding down
The burning hills to Tulsa town
On my waist a big 44
Gonna even up the score
Before the sun goes down

Had a woman in my life
Since last year she was my wife
Dressed in Gingham, not too bold
All the woman I could hold
After the sun goes down

I was working in the field
Too far away to hear her cry
Three men came and had their way
Left her dead in shame that day
Before the sun went down

I picked her up so carefully
The ache inside was killing me
In her hand some curly hair
From the man that killed her there
Before the sun went down

As I placed her in the grave
I took a look, I hoped to save
The memory of my loving wife
Gone forever from my life
Before the sun went down

I'd have no help, there was no law
Tulsa town was wild and raw
I hoped the men would still be there
I'd be strong and show no fear
Before the sun goes down

Rode up to the town saloon
A hitching post, I tied Jack there
Saw three strangers at the bar
The biggest man had curly hair
The sun was going down

I stepped inside, they noticed me
My pain of death was plain to see
I called them out to face a man
Who had a mission, but no plan
The sun was going down

They stepped outside and made their play
My aim was quick and sure that day
When the ruckus settled down
All three men were on the ground
Before the sun went down

Yep - Me and old Jack, we rode down
The burning hills to Tulsa town
Did the job that I cam for
Put away my 44
After the sun went down.
After the sun was down!

 Pete Evanson, All rights reserved.
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.



Bunkhouse Boys

A cowboys life ain't all that grand
It seems his body is always saddle-sore
Days and weeks out herdin' cows
Once a month a day of rest, then back for more

When out on the range, ridin' the line
Makin' sure that the fences were all right
With just a tarp for warmth and cover
And the cows a-bawlin' half the night

With his hoss stompin' trying to shake the cold
A man gets to thinkin' about his workin' load
Wishin' he was bedded down somewhere's else
Like in the bunkhouse at his "at the ranch" abode

Every cowboy had a place to call his home
Somewhere to hang his coat and hat
Where he could sleep and sometimes dream
Without a worry 'bout this and that

Out of a storm, warmed by a fire
Swappin' tales with his bunkhouse pards
Listen to the winds howl and moan
Playin' poker with a deck of worn out cards

The bunkhouse gave a sense of home and comfort
A feeling that that he belonged there
He could fix his wore-out socks and pants
And sleep in a bed or sit in a chair

Best of all came in the early mornin'
When the cook rang that sweet soundin' bell
Come and get it ya' mangy cowboys
Hot steamin' coffee and fixins' with a heaven-like smell

Ain't nothin' bettern' bunkhouse livin' for a cowboy
Except for a few nights spent in town
Where the money spent on gals and whiskey
Leaves empty pockets but smiles all around

Forget the stuff that you've seen in the movies
Ain't no bad guys givin' other's a hard time
Real bunkhouse buddies stick together
Cause they'll all need help, somewhere down the line.

 Pete Evanson, All rights reserved.
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.


Rocky Mountain Cowboy

I've spent a lifetime just gettin' by
tending cows and playin' solitare
Rocky Mountains, up near the sky
Where the water's clear and so's the air

I got a horse to git me along
and a mutt dog for my company
Together we sing a mornful song
in two part odd harmony

I'm just an old Rocky Mountain Cowboy
Hanging on to a way of life
It's  peaceful and gives me some joy
but at times gets lonely at night

Every day livin'  is what I do
and I love the life that I lead
On a high prarie with changes few
movin' slow, like an ol' tumble weed

Doin' the best the best I can
in this life I chose to lead
no more, no less, just a man
Living free without much need

My home's a wagon on wheels
that gets towed from place to place
With a stove to cook my meals
and heat my treasured space

I got no TV or ringing telephones
but a radio to keep me informed
No feathered bed to rest my bones
but gives comfort in a raging storm

Before long I'll have to make a change
and move myself into town
I know that it will feel strange
being a cowboy's all I've ever known

The back is bent, my legs are bowed
and my eyesight's nearly gone
My horse got meaner than I've ever rode
and the dog and he don't get along

So it's time to settle me down
spend some time in an easy chair
In a tiny  Rocky Mountain town
Just me and my dog sittin' there

We'll be livin' a life of ease
takin' wonder at the western sky
Howlin' at the moon if we please
Rememberin' the times gone by.

 1999, Pete Evanson, All rights reserved.
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

 

Ol' Slim

Leaner than a piece of straw
Dry as a desert wind
Ears that stick out to far
Everybody calls him ol' Slim

As a youngun' he was six  foot and two
Bein' a cowboy sure shortened him
His bowed legs made him five foot five
But he still answered to ol' Slim

He's known all of life's ups and downs
Hard livin' can't do him in
Months at a time, alone on the range
With no one to call him ol' Slim

He sang everyday to the cows
Sometimes they mooed along with him
On stormy nights he'd calm em' down
With a ballad or two by ol' Slim

Back on the ranch, needin' a fling
Wearin' a new hat with a puckered brim
Fightin' or drinkin', he didn't care
Just don't mess with ol' Slim

For fifty odd years he cowboyed
Led a life not empty of sin
Just too much creak in his saddle
So they finally fired ol' Slim

He missed his life on the prarie
Knew that death was now stalkin' him
So he and his horse headed out
That's the last we saw of ol' Slim.

 Pete Evanson, All rights reserved.
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

Yancy

Yancy was a giant of a man
Stood about six foot four
Two hundred forty pounds of cowboy
Filled up most every door

Loved to brawl with others
Told em all to wait in line
Punchin' gougin' and kickin'
He'd take em on two at a time

Now Yancy wasn't made of  flint and steel
But full of  bravado from within
When people were a lookin'
His tender side was hidden in

Out on the range he was different
Where no one could see his gentle side
He'd often sing a happy tune
As he tended  cows with pride

He'd think about his raisin' some
When he had time on his hands
He remembered life as a child
And beatings from his old man

As soon as he got big enough
Along about sixteen
He gave his Ma a kiss goodby
and went to wipe the slate clean

He rode right into town
Somethings you can't let pass
He drug his Pa into the street
And tearfully kicked his ass

From there Yancy headed west
Doin' odd jobs here and there
That's when fightin' became a way of life
and takin' chances on a dare

Then he took to ranchin'
Had a thousand head or more
Yancy gave up livin' in the past
Somehow he closed that door

We learned difference things
About this fightin',  cussin' man
Cause if we had a problem
He'd be the first to lend a hand

A big change came over him
When he met a gal named Tilly
Bitten by that old love bug
Yancy started actin' silly

Washin' out his shirts and things
Bathin' every other day
Frisky as a week old calf
Even went to church to pray

He built a cabin just for  two
They got married in the fall
What a celebration we all had
As we danced the square dance call

Fightin' was not allowed
Yancy wanted it that way
Together they made quite a pair
On their wedding day

A fitting end to this tribute
Might be to summarize the latter years
How they raised a herd of kids
and overcame troubles and fears

He lived a long and fruitful life
With sweet Tilly by his side
Giving thanks to the Lord
For sending him his bride

Instead there's one thing left to know
Then the story will be complete
My friends full and complete name
Was Bernard Yanceforth Chauncy DiPrete.

Boy, He hated that name. That's how most fights got started..

 Pete Evanson, All rights reserved.
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

 

 

Little Cowboys

I found out that I lived with a cowboy
When my son Billy had just turned three
He showed an interest in horses
And said Daddy get a Horsie for me

So I made a stick horse from an old broom
Kept it secret 'till the fresh paint had dried
Well he jumped for joy, put on a hat
And the two of them went for a ride

Down the hall, in and out of each room
Then back to the kitchen at a trot, when
Suddenly in his deepest sounding voice said
Thanks pardner, then off they went again

Then I made a big mistake
By putting a noose on an old jump rope
Well he lassoed everything standing still
Can't recall all the things that he broke

He started calling his stick horse, Horsie
I guess that's natural for his young age
They ate together, even slept together
Drove his Mother into a silent rage

Get them outside She hollered to me
So I turned my shed into a barn
I thought to myself, that being outside
There was nothing he could harm

WRONG

He roped the Dog till it growled at him
And the Cats were kept on the run
He broke the aerial on my wife's car
Said that he was just haveng fun

Then I made another mistake
The kind that'll turn dark hair gray
His eyes suddenly filled with tears
When I took old Horsie away

He quickly rushed into his room
I heard things being thrown around
When He came out, his bag was packed
He was moving to another town

By then my wits were tattered
How could I fix a broken heart
He wouldn't look me in the eye
I didn't know where to start

Then inspiration grabbed me
I said pardner, let's go for a drive
I know where they have real horses
Maybe you can go for a ride

Well his eyes got big a saucers
When he saw other kids riding
For the few dollars it cost me
Old Horsie could now stay in hiding

Every Saturday from that day on
We'd take a drive to the park
For a dollar or two, he'd ride a Horsie
And he'd be happy as a lark

Well that was thirty years ago
Now he has a son by his side
He took old Horsie from the shed
And Junior is learning to ride

I know history will no doubt repeat itself
Because the little guy is like his Dad
They'll  ride Horsies down at the park
Dad's are  the best pardner a son ever had

 2001, Pete Evanson, All rights reserved.
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.


A Hard Life in the High Country

The chill in the air, matches the ache I feel
A north wind is blowing, a coldness that's real
High up near the clouds, a lonely cabin stands
'twill be my winter home, the range boss commands

On the weather side, five hundred head of sheep
Headed to winter pasture, a brook running deep
I call my horse Buck, my faith is with him
Two dogs for compadres, one's Bill the other's Jim

Once we make the lee, the wind slows a bit
The cabin's in sight, too thirsty to spit
The woolies settle down, been here before
Double check the herd, then close the door

Buck's in the lean-to, out of the cold
He ain't a colt no more, but really not that old
Me, I'm on the inside, holdin' only one desire
Warmed by hearth and whisky, two kinds of fire

Bill and Jim watch over me, as I sit and dream
Not fully understandin', what it all means
I'll let 'em out, least once during the night
They'll circle the woolies, n' bunch 'em in tight

A high country winter  don't bother the sheep
But it's tough on me, in charge of their keep
There's plenty of grass  n' they're dressed fer the cold
My bones are complain in'  about bein' too old

I thank the lord fer Buck, he does my walkin'
I thank the lord fer the dogs, they do my talkin'
All I have to do is give a wave and a whistle
Bill and Jim keep em' out of trouble and the thistle

Sheep up on the hill side, beeves down on home ground
Come warmer weather we'll turn it all around
Cold weather don't bother sheep at lambing time
Herd em' down in warm weather fer the shearin' line

After the beeves have their calves in the spring
We'll do the ropin' and brandin' thing
Then we'll drive em' up to the high meadow passes
Let em' graze and get fat on the sweet spring grasses

I'm hopin' this is my last winter  in the high hills
Can't seem to git warm without my whisky pills
Gotta let the younger guys take em' up higher
It's time fer a rockin' chair, next to the fire.

Yeah, I'm dreaming, wantin' and wishin'
Do a little work but a whole lot of fishin'
A hard life don't get easy, because of gettin' old
Just gets harder to do, 'specially in the cold.

 Pete Evanson, All rights reserved.
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

 

 

About Pete Evanson:

Pete writes:  I was raised in Wyoming in the 40's and 50's. My uncle had a ranch on a river* near Casper and a summer place on Casper Mountain. I had some great cowboying experiences as a child there (Roping, branding, etc.).  My cousin is married to a rancher on the Laramie River. More fun experiences.  Although my life's work took me away, my heart still resides in the West.

*Powder River, A mile wide and an inch deep. Too thick to drink and too thin to plow according to A. Simpson U.S. Sen. Ret.   

 

 

 

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