Honored Guest


Beloved New Mexico poet Ray Owens died April 6, 2007. Ray, a gentle man, gentleman, and friend to all, will be missed terribly.

Services were held Monday, April 9, at the First Baptist Church in Artesia, New Mexico. Jean Prescott and others were a part of the service.

Read an obituary here, where you can also sign a guest book.

You can write to Verna Owens at 1305 East Castleberry Road, Artesia NM 88210.

Yvonne Hollenbeck shared this poem:

Heaven's Blessed Today
written April 6, 2007, the morning after the world lost a great cowboy poet,
Ray Owens, by one of his greatest fans, Yvonne Hollenbeck

When I heard the sad, sad news that Ray Owens passed away
I could not help but think how richly heaven’s blessed today.

I can just about imagine what a gather there must be
with Ray and all his buddies making perfect harmony.

He must have been elated when he crossed that great divide
and I’ll bet that J. B. Allen was soon riding by his side.

Then to gather at the wagon with old friends who’d beat him there
and rekindle those old stories …like when Sunny roped that bear.

But perhaps the greatest joy, if the truth was only known,
was Larry McWhorter waiting there to meet him at the throne.

Oh, there must be joy and laughter as they gather on that shore,
but our world is draped in sadness and we’ll miss him evermore.

Though a lot of tears are flowing when we think how we’ll miss Ray,
we find comfort in just knowing how much heaven’s blessed today.

© 2007, Yvonne Hollenbeck

Nona Kelley Carver shared her poem:

Ray Owens

A man of faith and wisdom;
a cowboy in his heart...
whenever there work to do,
he always did his part.

A family man, a father,
a dear and trusted friend.
One who always let us know
on him we could depend.

A poet, storyteller,
a man who shared his life
with those who came to know him
and his loving, faithful wife.

A man of deep reflection,
who gave to life his all.
A man who helped his neighbors...
No task to great or small.

A man we will remember,
who always did his part
to share with those around him
the treasures from his heart.

© 2007, Nona Kelley Carver



About Ray Owens 
Some Poems
Books and More 

Back to Honored Guests
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About Ray Owens 

Ray Owens was born in 1934 in Brownfield. Texas and grew up in west Texas, Oklahoma, and southeastern New Mexico.  Although he never had a full-time ranch job, he was raised with and has been involved with livestock, primarily horses, all his life.

Currently retired, Ray and his wife, Verna, live southeast of Artesia, New Mexico where they raise registered quarter horses.  They have  two sons, two granddaughters, and two grandsons.

He began writing and reciting cowboy poetry in 1993 and has performed throughout New Mexico, as well as in gatherings in Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, west Texas, and Wyoming. He has been a featured performer at the Arizona Cowboy Poets Gathering, the Arizona Cowboy Classics, Cochise Cowboy Poetry and Music Gathering, the Wickenburg, Arizona Cowboy Christmas Gathering, The Bootheel Cowboy Poetry Fiesta, the Superstition Mountain Gathering of Cowboy Poets, Apache Junction. Arizona;  the Gilbert, Arizona Cowboy Classics, the Silver City, New Mexico Festival of Cowboy Poets, The National Cowboy Symposium and Celebration, Lubbock, Texas; Mountainair, New Mexico Ranch Days, The Ozark Folk Center Cowboy Gathering in Mountain View, Arkansas and the Cheyenne, Wyoming Cowboy Symposium.

Ray was invited to the 2006 National Cowboy Poetry Gathering in Elko, Nevada.

His cassette tape, "Some Boots Are Made For Keepin'" was nominated for Album of the Year in both 1997 and 1998 by the Academy of Western Artists. Ray one was one of the 10 finalist nominees for Male Cowboy Poet of the Year as chosen by the Academy of Western Artists for both 1999 and 2000. 

Ray hosted a wonderful session at the 2001 Arizona Cowboy Poets Gathering and his own impressive performance is mentioned in our report on the gathering, here.

Sadly, Ray Owens died April 5, 2007.

Some Poems

 The Saddle His Granddaddy Rode
Tracks that Won't Blow Out
Are You A Cowboy, Mister?
The Boy In The Little Black Hat
Some Things Just Never Change
January Roses


The Saddle His Granddaddy Rode

Just a dusty old saddle with rolled under skirts
Its fenders were curled up and cracked
It hardly resembled how it looked in its prime
When it sat on a good horse's back.

The care it once got had been traded
For heedless neglect and abuse
A cast off, discarded old relic
For which no one had any more use.

A pair of rusty old spurs were a-danglin'
From the horn which was rope burned and scarred
'Cause its owner had taken his dallies
'Steada tyin' his line fast an' hard.

The off-side stirrup was missin',
The latigo age-cracked and worn
And the FOR SALE sign taped to the cantle
Somehow made it look more forlorn.

For more than a year it had been on display
And only a few had inquired
'Bout its price, its condition, or hist'ry
What events in its life had transpired.

Then one day a young man came into the shop
And asked if the owner was there.
The shopkeeper said, "Yessir, that would be me,"
As he slowly got up from his chair.

"How much for this saddle?  This old one right here,"
Asked the lad in a soft-spoken tone.
"That's an antique for sure,"  the shop owner said,
"But one that you'd be proud to own."

"I'll take one hundred dollars, no less and no more.
An' throw that old pair of spurs in the deal
I should be askin' more but I'll let it go cheap;
At that price it's really a steal."

From his pocket the young man pulled out what appeared
To be just about a month's pay.
He laid out the cash in the shopkeeper's hand
And seemed ready to be on his way.

But the way that he picked up the saddle,
In a manner part reverence, part awe
Caused everyone watchin' to wonder
If there wasn't more here than they saw.

Still, the onlookers snickered and one laughed out loud
While the shopkeeper tried not to smirk
Many times he had offered to sell it for ten
And folks told him he'd gone plumb berserk.

So the shopowner ventured a question,
"What's so special about that old kak?
You handle it like it was made outta gold,
Maybe I should be buyin' it back.

The young man said, "Well sir, I'll tell you
Somethin' I reckon nobody knowed.
 To me, it's dirt cheap at five times the money- - - - - -
That's the saddle my granddaddy rode

© 1997, Ray Owens   
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.



Tracks that Won't Blow Out

I didn't know him all that long
And maybe not that well
'Cause how good you really know someone
Is sometimes hard to tell.
But on this one thing I'm certain
There ain't the slightest doubt
He made some footprints in my mem'ry
And left some tracks that won't blow out.

She was someone extra special
When I met her, way back then
Over forty years has passed now
But I can still remember when
She was young and shy and smilin,'
The prettiest thing for miles about
That mem'ry still walks through my mind
Leavin' tracks that won't blow out.

There's been a lot of happ'nin's
I remember through the years
Times my cup was runnin' over
And some times that brought some tears.
It's gettin' on toward evenin' now;
The sunset could be soon
But somehow I'm still feelin'
Like it's early afternoon.

I guess that's 'cause of bein' blessed
With havin' lots of friends
And some understandin' family
On whose love I can depend.
If I was gonna make the trip again
And travel the same route
I'd maybe try a little harder
To leave some tracks that won't blow out.

© 1996, Ray Owens  
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

Are You A Cowboy, Mister?

"Are you a cowboy, Mister?  You're dressed like one I see.
I'm not s'posed to talk to strangers.  That's what Momma says to me.
But I thought that I could ask you 'cause you don't look bad or mean
In your Levis, boots, and hat, you look like cowboys that I've seen."

"Are you a cowboy, Mister?"
  Dark brown eyes smiled up at me
And his manner, so in earnest, made it plain for me to see
That a cowboy to his notion, was a special kind of man
I was just about to answer when his question came again.

"Are you a cowboy, Mister?  That's sure what I'd like to be.
When I grow up I'm gonna be one; that will be the life for me.
Have you got a saddle, Mister?  And a horse that you can ride?"
He paused to catch his breath and then continued on, wide-eyed

"When I'm grown and I'm a cowboy there's a lot of things I'll do
But I've gotta go now, Mister; sure was nice to talk to you.
My momma told me don't be long, I don't want her to worry
I'm glad I got to meet you but I guess I'd better hurry."

He stood up straight to his full height of maybe three foot two
Stuck his hand out and I shook it just the way that grown men do
He looked back, waved, and disappeared behind the closing door
Leavin' me to stand there wishin' he had asked one question more.

As I came back into the dining room I took a look around
But the small boy and his mother were nowhere to be found.
I paid my bill and walked outside but no one was in sight
My little friend had vanished in the cool October night.

Sometimes I think about that meetin'; wonder what he's doin' now
And if, as he gets older, he'll remain true to his vow
Whether he'll become the cowboy that he dreamed of in his mind
And my money says he'll make it 'cause he sure seemed like the kind.

© 2000, Ray Owens 
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.



Pretty Yellow Flowers

"Grandmom!  Come, and lookie here!" called the happy little girl
Her eyes were brightly beaming, and her smile lit up the world
"I picked a pretty flower; it's just for you, from me!"
As she held up a pretty flower for her Grandmom to see.

"I found it growing in the grass.  I picked it just for you.
Can we put it in some water, to keep it fresh and new?
Her Grandmom's heart was gladdened as she took the child's bouquet,
Remembering another time, another place, and day

When the little grandchild's Daddy, nearly thirty years ago
Brought her tiny yellow flowers, his dark eyes all aglow
From the smile of joy and pleasure he'd see on his Momma's face
And today his little daughter had come to take his place.

Dim but not forgotten mem'ries once again were bright as day
And the pleasure of the moment took all her cares away.
They placed the flowers in a vase and to the child's surprise
She watched her grandmom blink away the tears from misty eyes.

I've heard folks cuss dandelions; fact is, I've done it some.
That just goes to show how ignorant that us grown-ups can become
'Cause they ain't just a nuisance in your yard a-growin' wild;
They're pretty yellow flowers when picked by a little child.

© 1994, Ray Owens
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.



The Boy In The Little Black Hat

A while back I was reminiscin', just sorta goin' back in time
And recallin' special mem'ries that make up this life of mine
While siftin' through the veil of years, a recollection hit me flat
'Twas the image of a little boy wearin' his own special hat.

The hat was black in color, 'cause that's the color he selected
So a size was found to fit him and the purchase was effected
The store clerk creased the hat to order, just as he was told
By the boy who did his best to act like he was grown-up old.

From that day on that hat became a part of his reg'lar dress
He wore it ev'ry wakin' moment that he could, and I'll confess
It took a good deal of persuadin' to help that boy to see
That you don't wear a hat in church, or at the table when you're three.

That hat was hot in summer, and the sweat would be a-pourin'
Down his face in little rivers as the temperature was soarin'
But the suggestion of a straw hat didn't suit his fancy none
He'd say, "I don't need another hat.  I'll Just wear this one!"

He wouldn't wear suspenders.  His dad and granddad didn't, too.
So sometimes he'd show some cleavage when his backside came in view.
But if his britches slipped a mite, he'd no concern for that
The only thing that mattered was if he had on his hat.

Time passes by, and boys grow up, and soon become a man
And I wonder as I'm writin' this, what caused my mind to span
More than a quarter-century backwards; and pause, and then stand pat
And linger on a mem'ry of a boy and his black hat.

© 1995, Ray Owens
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.



The poem below was written for the Poster Theme Session for the 10th annual Arizona Cowboy Poets Gathering, August 14-16, 1997 in Prescott, Arizona. The gathering theme was "Some Things Never Change."  The theme poster for the gathering was a picture of a cowboy carrying a little calf across the swells of the saddle as they rode through the snow-covered countryside.

Some Things Just Never Change

"Looks like we'll make it little feller.  Just a few more miles to go
Then we'll be outta this old howlin' wind and cold, bone-chillin' snow.
That old blizzard was a curly-wolf but it's easin' up some now
Just in time, in my opinion.  Enuff's enuff, 'swhat I allow.

"Guess you know your pore old momma froze an' you're an orphan now
Wish there woulda been a way we could have saved you both somehow.
But I guess that there'll be dogies long as cows run on the range
It seems it's always been that way and some things never change.

"Betcha Coosie goes to cussin' when he sees us ridin' in
He'll holler he weren't meant to labor in no dogie wet nurse pen
That he hired on to feed the critters with two legs instead of four
Then he'll bottle feed you warm milk 'til you just cain't hold no more.

"Then one day, when you're older, a loop will sneak up 'round your hocks
When we're finished workin' on ya, you'll think your life is on the rocks
Your hide scorched by a brandin' iron, your ears notched by a knife
An' some other major surgery will forever change your life.

"But your hide and ears and pride will heal much sooner than you think
While you're lookin' for some grass to eat and water you can drink
You'll spend the entire summer growin' up and gettin' fat
Livin' life serene and tranquil, like a bovine plutocrat.

"Then a cattle pot will haul you to a feed lot where you'll be
Fed out for the slaughter, sure as birds nest in a tree
And when your freshly butchered carcass is inspected one last time
I'll give odds they'll prob'ly stamp you USDA Grade A Prime.

"Well, that's the future, little feller; least as far as I can tell
Makes you wonder, was it worth it, for us to go through all this hell
To save you now from freezin' on this cold and blust'ry range
But that's the way we've always done it, 
                            - - - - - -  an' some things just never change!"

© 1997, Ray Owens
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

Alibi Ike 

There's no way to tell of the number of men
I've met in my lifetime and won't see again
But there's sure been some characters come down the pike
And one of the strangest was Alibi Ike.
Now Ike was a feller quite skilled in the art
Of makin' excuses; plus, he was smart
So whatever problem he might bring about
Ol' Alibi Ike was real quick to point out
Just why he had done what he'd done at the time
Explainin' his doin' so wasn't no crime
And further declarin' with self-righteous zeal
If you'd been in his boots that's how you would feel.
If he left a gate open which should have been closed
Ike's answer was, "Well, pard; that's 'cause I supposed
You was right close behind and would want to get through,
So I left the gate open especially for you.
"If you'd been where I thought no stock would have got out
But since you wasn't there; that's the reason, no doubt
That those steers now are scattered all over them hills
And havin' to find 'em don't give me no thrill."
Whatever the circumstance, weather, or season
Ol' Alibi Ike had an iron-clad reason
For why he was blameless in ev'ry degree
As much without fault as a feller could be.
But we fin'ly got even when one fateful day
Ol' Alibi Ike just plain passed away
Expired in his sleep sometime in the night
An' his goin' away party was done up just right.
The fun'ral was proper and quite well attended
And solemnly all of the mourners extended
Their sincere compassion to Ike's next of kin
Includin' a feller some said was Ike's twin.
But when it came time to place him in the ground
The casket, and Ike, were nowhere to be found
In our haste to get ready; to bathe, shave, and comb
We just plain forgot and had left Ike at home.
So his fun'ral he missed, and as sure as I'm livin'
I'll betcha that somewhere ol' Ike is now givin'
The blame for his unique departure from life
To somebody else; most prob'ly - - - - - his wife!
© 2002, Ray Owens
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.



First You Feed Your Horse

A cold and blust'ry, bitter night
The boy was nearly froze
His hands were numb upon the reins
No feelin' in his toes
He struggled just to stay aboard
His stumblin', jaded horse
As they plowed through wind-blown, driftin' snow
But somehow kept their course.
They headed toward a beacon
Flickerin' faintly in the night
Through the howlin', swirlin', icy hell
They traveled toward the light
And the welcome, sheltered safety
Of a barn and cabin warm
Where the horse and half-froze boy could start
To thaw out from the storm.
His pa was watchin' for 'em
And he met 'em at the gate
"Your ma was gettin' worried, son;
It's gettin' kinda late.
Got some beef stew simmerin' on the stove,
Fresh coffee in the pot
'Pears to me that you could prob'ly use
Some vittles nice an' hot.
"Let me help you strip that saddle off
And dry 'im off a mite
Then we'll brush 'im down a little
Man! that blizzard is a sight!
An extra scoop of grain might help;
He'll like this fresh, clean hay
A good long rest and he'll be fit
To work another day.
"And, son, you might be thinkin' now,
Myself, I'm kinda tired.
My hands near froze, my feet like ice
Is all this work required?
But son, you know the custom here
Though we say it kinda coarse- - - - -
'Fore you back your butt up to the fire,
First you take care of your horse.
"Ya see, he's why you're standin' here
'Steada out there in the snow
He brought you home safe through the storm;
It weren't no easy go.
Ev'ry step he took was forward,
No balkin', no complaint.
A man can claim to be well-mounted
When he's ridin' this old paint."
A lesson learned when just a youth
Still shapes his code today.
A grown man now, his word's his bond;
Each day he earns his pay.
And no matter what the weather,
Or if the hour 's late
He takes care of his horse before
He goes to fill his plate.
I wonder if this world might be
A kinder, gentler place
If more of us embraced that code
'Steada tryin' to erase
The truths and values of our youth
And followed straight the course;
Think we'd 'preciate life more today
If first we'd feed our horse.
© 2001, Ray Owens
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.



January Roses

"Red roses mean I love you," he'd always heard 'em say
That's why he'd parked his pick-up at the flower shop that day
It was deep in January and roses weren't in season
But prices and the time of year did not affect his reason.

He bought a dozen long-stemmed beauties, and drove out to the grave
Blinkin' hard to clear his vision, which was blurrin' from the wave
Of memories floodin' over him, and with an achin' heart
He placed the roses on the grave and started to depart.

But he turned around, and then knelt down and said a little prayer,
Humbly askin' God to always keep his loved one in his care.
A long time passed, but still he kneeled, unmindful of the snow
Then whispered softly, as he left, "I'll always love you so."

He walked back to his pick-up and got in and drove away
He's not been back in forty years, not even to this day.
Just livin' lonesome, by himself; no woman at his side
He never quite recovered from the loss of his young bride.

In good weather you can see him sittin' in his rockin' chair
On his front porch just a-rockin'; gazin' off in space somewhere
And folks say he's told 'em sometimes he thinks that he can hear
A lovely angel singin' in a voice that's pure and clear.

© 1995, Ray Owens
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.



Read Ray Owens' Spellbound, a poster poem from the 
2002 Arizona Cowboy Poets Gathering.


Book and Recordings


Tracks That Won't Blow Out

Named top Cowboy Poetry Book, 2009
Recipient of the Buck Ramsey Award
from the Academy of Western Artists



Cowboy Miner Productions has published Ray Owens' poetry, in a volume titled Tracks That Won't Blow Out.

The 248-page hardcover book also includes illustrations (by Kenneth Wyatt) and photographs. Red Steagall, Joel Nelson, and Randy Rieman add their endorsements for Ray Owens' work, and write about their friend and fellow poet. Red Steagall comments, "In this presentation, Ray brings us a picture of a young man's pride in 'The Saddle His Granddaddy Rode,' the goodness of heart in 'Good Sam Mary,' and the pride of accomplishment in 'A Tour Around The Homeplace.'"


Foreword by Red Steagall
Introduction by Joel Nelson

Tracks that Won't Blow Out
An Ever Dwindlin' Breed
Color Blind
Are You a Cowboy Mister?
A Man to Take the Tally
Men to Ride the River With
A Real Man
Drugstore Conversation
Grandpa Was a Cussin' Man
Alibi Ike
Death Came Callin'
A Sound on the Wind
Pretty Yellow Flowers
Reflections of a Granddad
The Special Magic Room
Holdin' Hands
Sparkin' Dark Brown Eyes
Shelby's Hill
The Old Cowboy and His Quilt
Coffee Break
Rememberin' Buck
The Schoolmarm
Good Sam Mary
Grandpa's Dime Store Glasses
The Boy in the Little Black Hat
The Saddle His Graddaddy Rode
Conversation with a Friend

Tick Pickin' Time
Lucy at the Gate
Leadin' the Way

First You Feed Your Horse
Some Boots are Made for Keepin'
Some Things Just Never Change
The Saga of Sandhills Pete
Where Do We Go from Here?
An Inch of Rain
The High School Class Reunion
The Legend
The Marriage Proposal
Ben and the Bikers
The Bull Kitty
Fixin' to Get Excitin'
January Roses
Ridin' for the Brand
The Encounter
Graveside Meditation
The Intellectual Conversation
One Bygone Fourth of July
Question Answered
Makin' Money Backwards
Silent Eloquence
Why Not?
When the Parson Went to Church
Just Come on as You Are

It Ain't Nuthin' But a Thang
A Better Way
A Hundred Years Ago
Christmas Time
When a Daddy's Feelin' Helpless
To the Class of '52
Double Hitch
Life as It Is
All in a Day's Work
Truth in Labeling
A Different Point of View
Both are the Same
Something of Value
Ridin' Tall Thru Time
Please Pass the Confusion
Someone Always Tops Your Story
In the Evenin' After Supper
Strong Enuff
Where is Heaven?
What it's All About
Visitin' a Friend
Fifty Some-Odd Years Agao

Destiny (The Perfect Husband)
It Ain't Fair if You Cain't Cheat
Bein' Me
Inside by the Fire
The Secret of Longevity
Advice Ain't Always Advice
How Come You Did it That Way, Lord?
My Facial Growth Dilemma
No Place to Park a Horse
20/20 Vision
Could Be Worse
Is Right Wrong?
Just Be Patient
Mashed Taters

A Tour Around the Homeplace
Nature's Bounty
Peace in the Valley
The Gates of Home
Folks I've Met and Places I've Been

Afterword by
Randy Rieman
About the Author
About the Illustrator
Alphabetical Index of Poem Titles

Tracks That Won't Blow Out is available for $30 by mail from Verna Owens, 1305 E. Castleberry Road, Artesia, NM 88210; or phone 575-746-3694; or on line from www.rayowens.net and  www.cowboyminer.com.



Ray Owens has two cassette tapes, each with 18 original poems (no repeats on either tape).  


Image courtesy Silvercreek.  Click to order


Some Boots are Made for Keepin'

Image courtesy of our SilverCreek pards -- Click to order

Nominated for Album of the Year 1997 and 1998 by the Academy of Western Artists

There is a printable form on Ray Owens' web site, along with details about the recordings.




Ray Owens' web site has more poetry, background , details about his recordings, a printable order form,  and a guestbook. 








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