CowboyPoetry.com    Cowboy Poetry and Music and More at the BAR-D Ranch

 

Rod Nichols



Lariat Laureate
First Lariat Laureate Winner

of Missouri City, Texas
recognized for his poem Rooster

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

We're proud to have three pages of Rod Nichols' poetry.  See a complete list of his poems at the BAR-D on page one.

On this page:

Boots
Faded Love
Odie's Bath
Poker Night
The Last Cattle Car
Style
Salt Grass Trail
Cowboy Poetry
Cowboy Heaven
Grandpa's Trail
Pedernales
The Cowboy's Sailor
A Cowboy's Letter
Romancin' the Stone
A Fine Romance
A Visit to the Camp
Bucky
The Thing Upon the Trail
Windy
Three Godfathers
Rivers of Texas
A Sea of Grass
A Cowboy's Poem
The Line Camp Cat
Trail Cook
Bunkhouse
Texas Saddle
Bull Rider

See the complete list of poems on page one.

 

Boots

Now some cowpokes swear by their saddles
while others their guns or their rope,
still others the horse that they're riding
and some by the brand of their smokes,
but I can't go long with them, no sir,
to me they're just hot air galoots,
cause when it comes right down to useful
there ain't no comparison to boots,
for comfort and ease they're the answer
no matter with blue jeans or suits,
and I'll challenge the rest of them yahoos
to do anything else without boots,
don't matter the style or the leather
elk skin or snake skin or buck,
there's nothing so good for a feller
while riding or walking or such,
now my boots aren't custom or special
like Roy's or old Gene or some star,
just good old American cowhide
but I'm grateful for just what they are,
so hold up your saddles and lariats
and tie down your horses and guns,
cause when it comes right down to useful
why boots man is "A" number one.


1999 Rod Nichols
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

 

Faded Love

One eve'nin after supper late
when the herd was bedded down,
a grizzled Curly Adams
took his place upon the ground.

"Boys," he says," I'm awful tired.
These bones have seen their days,
and after a life of ridin herd
I'm putting things away."

"If I should go before we're through
just put me under deep,
and as a sort of thanks to you
why all my goods just keep."

"Except for one this locket here
that holds a tiny ring of hair
from the only woman I ever loved
and I'd like you boys to spare."

Well none of us could say a word
he'd caught us all off guard,
and at the thought of such a wish
I had to swallow hard.

As if ordained by some strange fate
old Curly didn't make the night,
and as coyotes raised their howl
that haggard cowpoke lost his fight.

So as he wished we buried him
and his worldly goods we split,
except for a locket ring of hair
we wouldn't have him part with it.

I guess you never know a man
or what he's like inside,
though you've known him for a lifetime
and have shared a hundred drives.

Sometimes it takes his dying
to make you really see,
that deep inside some sunbaked hide
is a man like you and me.

1999 Rod Nichols
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

Odie's Bath

Now I ain't no rosebud and that's the straight truth
after trailing beef cattle I'm a dusty galoot,
but that ain't to say that I'm agin baths
in fact on a weekend there's no need to ask.

But once in awhile when you're out on the range
you'll meet a ripe hombre whose problem is plain,
he's give up on bathing and brushing and such
til the headiness pardner is really too much.

So it was that in '60 on the Old Brenham Trail
we met up with Odie whose name fit him well,
cause for nearly a month not one of us saw
old Odie change clothes or clean up at all.

But the worst of it was for most of the men
when Odie rode by and they were downwind,
so we made up a pact round the campfire at last
at the first chance we got we'd give him a bath.

Well we waited and plotted and held to our plan
and laughed at the thought when we'd take him in hand,
then one day it happened we camped by a stream
and each of us knew what the eve'nin would bring.

Soon after old Odie had turned in for bed
six of us crept up, put a bag on his head,
then rushed to the stream and tossed him right in
and followed with soap and a brush for his skin.

Well Odie near drowned but soon it was done
we'd scrubbed him up good and had us some fun.
"Fellers," said Odie, "I'm a mangy old cur,
you've taught me a lesson I rightly deserved."

And true to his word from that very day
old Odie cleaned up his hide and his ways,
in fact he got married and right out the gate
he became Gov'ner of the whole entire state.

Now I ain't no rosebud but hear me out son
this bath that I've poured is a much needed one,
just think of old Odie and what a bath meant
with a tad more of scrubbing you could be President

1999 Rod Nichols
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

Poker Night

Now I like draw poker
but not nearly so much
as the night Buck McHenry
drew a royal straight flush

The game had commenced
with the usual crew
Shorty and Briscoe
and a loner named Lew.

There was Smitty from Texas
McHenry and me
and a dozen more yahoos
in that ripe company

When late in the eve'nin
for reasons unknown
old Smitty dropped out
and took his cards home.

But Shorty allowed
he'd a deck not as new
but for playin draw poker
they probably would do

So the game kept a go'in
and the pot fairly grew
til two men were left
McHenry and Lew.

Well Lew asked for two cards
old Buck just for one
then he let out a breath
and a single word,"Son."

Old Buck upped the ante
every chip that he could
but Lew challenged back
course we knew that he would..

Now everyone gathered
around in a hush
when old Buck McHenry
showed a royal straight flush.

I'll never forget
the look on two faces
when Lew turned his hand
to reveal those four aces..

Then all hell broke loose
as each drew his gun
then we all started laughing
cause it all was in fun.

Old Shorty and Smitty
had hatched out this plan
then dropped out and waited
til the end of that hand..

Old Buck finally cooled
and Lew started grin'in
there's a lot more to friendship
than there ever was in win'in.

Now I like draw poker
but not nearly so much
as the night Buck McHenry
drew a royal straight flush.

1999 Rod Nichols
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.


The Last Cattle Car

The cattle were loaded and the tally was toted
when the trail boss he took me aside,
he'd been called away and decided to stay
and he wondered if I'd care to ride.

Well I'd never been past a railhead back then
so I had some misgivings you see,
but out of respect I said, "What the heck,"
and after a bit I agreed.

Course I didn't know which way I would go
but I figured a good way by far,
but that weren't the kind the boss had in mind
when he showed me the last cattle car.

Now I don't mind critters and I ain't no quitter
though I'd sure miss them San Antone bars,
but I'm here to tell you don't miss a smell
downwind in the last cattle car.

My "Pappy" had told me how things used to be
San Antone up to old Abilene,
now that was a Trail but soon the iron rail
came south into Texas it seems.

Our drive in the spring was a much shorter thing
compared to the Old Chisholm Trail,
but from Old San Antone that train ride was long
to the North where the cattle would sell.

Did I say the spring that don't mean a thing
when the winds of the North start to blow,
I'll tell you son when that train trip was done
it felt more like forty below.

I'd run out of food and was in a bad mood
when that engineer stopped for a rest,
and I swore me an oath that's never been broke
I'd never again leave the West.

There's a lesson in this you'd better not miss
'bout a train neath the moon and the stars,
if the trail boss should ask just tell him you pass
if the ride's in the last cattle car.

2000 Rod Nichols
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

Style

There's a lot about cowboys
that folks ought to know,
'sides rid'in and rop'in
and the rodeo shows.

Like what makes him proudest
or brings on a smile,
I can tell you that pardner
in a single word, "Style."

It's the way a man does things
that's just like his brand,
he's an easy-go-cowpoke
or a top-leathered hand.

He's a no-nonsense hombre
or a will-of-the-wind,
a tightlipped plain talker
or a disarmin grin.

He's a man-among-men
or a sugar-foot tease
a tornado whirlwind
or a summertime breeze.

He's a steady oldtimer
or easily riled,
the difference old son
is that single word, "Style."

2000 Rod Nichols
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

Salt Grass Trail


There's a wind that blows out of Mexico
'cross the Gulf to a land so fair,
where cattle graze just beyond the waves
on the salt grass growing there.

Neath a raucous sky where seagulls cry
and the shrimp boats often sail,
there's a wagon crew all set to move
down the famous Salt Grass Trail.

In a line that files down the coast for miles
ride a hundred cowboys strong,
like their early kin they're lusty men
as they urge their train along.

From a hundred bays all along the way
come a thousand native sons,
a thousand cheers falling on their ears
taking note of what they've done.

It's a pledge of faith a cowboy makes
and he's not about to fail,
it's a sense of Texas pride inside
at the end of the Salt Grass Trail.

2000 Rod Nichols
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

Cowboy Poetry

Just what is cowboy poetry
I've many times been asked,
why might a cowboy start to write
and will that writing last.

I've had some time to ponder this
as the years have drifted by,
so if you'll sit and rest a bit
I'd sorta like to try.

When you've spent a lifetime pardner
doing what you love the best,
there's a thing inside you can't deny
that's a truth about the West.

He wouldn't trade a single day
for the mem'ries he has stored,
the men he's known both young and grown
fill a life with cowboy lore.

He's ridden herd and mended fence
cut 'em out and branded steers,
been wet and dry with grit in eyes
when the trail dust finally cleared.

He's lived outdoors neath starry skies
round a campfire blazing bright,
sung cowboy tunes neath a prairie moon
seen the face of God at night.

He knows his place without a doubt
in the circle we call life,
it's no surprise to reason why
a cowboy starts to write.

And will it last I'd have to say
til the cowboy life is gone,
and even then in the hearts of men
it'll always find a home.

2000 Rod Nichols
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

Cowboy Heaven

On the western side of heaven
where the streets ain't paved with gold,
there's a red-dirt trail and open range
and a place for cowboy souls.

There ain't no shiny mansions there
nor a harp or halo found,
just a clearing with a campfire
where cowboy souls sit 'round.

As for wings you'll find there ain't none
nor a set of robes or shoes,
'cause cowboy souls ride hosses
and boots are standard too.

Never mind a heavenly campmeet
set behind some pearly gate,
'cause cowboy souls like jawin
neath a moonlit sky real late.

Don't be lookin fer no cherubs
floatin 'round on fleecy clouds,
'cause cowboy souls like tendin
to a herd of white-faced cows.

Don't go frettin for them fellers
like they somehow got much less,
'cause cowboy souls in God's own way
lead a life that's doubly blessed.

2000 Rod Nichols
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

Grandpa's Tale

He came down from Waco with a string that he owned
lookin fer a buyer 'round olde San Antone,
a leather-tough cowboy just ridin along
with a chestnut, a buckskin and a strawberry roan.

He first saw her sittin on the porch of her home
churning fresh butter and hummin a song,
so he stopped for a "Howdy" but not fer too long
with his chestnut, a buckskin and a strawberry roan.

She was a real beauty the fairest he'd known
and his heart from that moment was never his own,
he knew that beside him was the place she belonged
with his chestnut, a buckskin and a strawberry roan.

Well that was Gramp's story how Grandma went on
to share life together and make him a home,
course he traded her pappy all the wealth that he owned
his chestnut, a buckskin and a strawberry roan.

I miss those two dearly though many years gone
their teasin and laughin and carryin on,
and I thank the Good Lord that my Granddaddy owned
that chestnut, a buckskin and that strawberry roan.

2000 Rod Nichols
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

Pedernales

Lord, the Pedernales River and a Carolina 'poke
both seem somehow out of place
like a badly 'tempted joke.

Cause Carolina ain't a place where cowboys often roam
and that river looks more like a creek
than any river I have known.

But that just goes to show you how an hombre can be wrong
cause that river runs a hundred miles
and that cowboy stands alone.

Like the lifeblood of the land it flows in a cool and winding stream
and there ain't a man who's tended herd
that don't know what that means.

And that Carolina cowboy resting by that riverside
is the man who taught me everything
that a man should be inside.

Lord, the Pedernales River how I love to watch it flow
like the mem'ries of a lifetime
and my Dad so long ago.

2000 Rod Nichols
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

The Cowboy Sailor


Now I know you got this image of a cowboy
jest a ridin' high and dry as he can be,
and it doesn't make good sense
why he'd up and jump the fence
to find hisself upon the seven seas.

But I'm here to tell you pardner that it happened
to a cowboy up from Texas don't you know,
he'd trailed a herd for shippin'
then was told that he'd go with 'em
'cross the ocean to the Outback down below.

When the ship left port some sailors started talkin'
how they'd have a little fun with "Pecos Bill",
with no sealegs they all reckoned
he'd be at the rail in seconds
jest a heavin' and a feelin' mighty ill.

Well as fate would have it up there 'rose a tempest
that's sailor talk for oceanic storm,
and even them old tars
was throwin' up their arms
and cursin' out the day that they was born.

But that cowboy to their 'mazement never whimpered
in fact he didn't seem to mind at all,
he jest headed for the bow
threw his saddle 'cross the prow
and began to ride that storm down to a squall.

Now I know you're thinkin' this is jest a windy
but I swear it really happened jest that way,
when that vessel regained course
he jest rode her like a horse
near fifteen hundred miles to Bot'ny Bay.

...did I mention he was from Texas?

2000 Rod Nichols
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

 

A Cowboy's Letter
  
(A cowboy love poem)

Dearest,

I got a piece of candle
from the cook the other night,
he reckoned how I'd need some help
to write to you by light.

There really ain't no other time
not in my normal day,
and so I have to write at night
the things I want to say.

First of all I miss you
and I'm looking for the time,
when this long drive is over
and you once more are mine.

It ain't so much the work dear
this is my way of life,
and some day I'll have set aside
enough to take a wife.

But that don't make it easy
to be so far apart,
the trail might have me darlin'
but you still have my heart.

That lock of hair you gave to me
I've got it in a ring,
I wouldn't ever part with it
it's such a precious thing.

That little song you sang for me
I hear it even now,
you know the one about true love
and all true lovers' vows.

I keep you in my thoughts dear
no matter where or when,
I see your face in mornin' sun
and when I'm headin' in.

This candle piece is almost gone
and soon I'll have to close,
I'll put this letter safe away
before I start to doze.

I'm holdin' it until the time
I see you after spring,
but I'll be back tomorrow night
to talk to you again.

                Love,
                        Louie

2000 Rod Nichols
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

Romancin' the Stone
   
  (A Cowboy Valentine)


Valentine's? Well it's been quite some time
since I had any call for romance,
jest workin' these cows
is all I know how
and that sorta cuts down my chance.

But I do recall after herdin' one fall
I did find myself with some time,
ole Pete dragged me down
to a social in town
and that's where I met Miss Devine.

That gal was so pretty she plum made me giddy
those doe eyes and lips painted red,
that sweet little rustle
she made with her bustle
put visions of love in my head.

My feet left the ground and my heart started poundin'
my temperature rose ten degrees,
my mouth jest dropped open
not one word was spoken
when she turned and smiled sweetly at me.

Now I may not seem it but I'm a tad squeamish
when it comes to the opposite sex,
so there I was son
tongue-tied and dumb
my total composure a wreck.

Ole Pete started grinnin' from the very beginnin'
he'd seen the glazed look in my eyes,
a man of some fame
in the romancin' game
he'd offer his pard some advice.

If you want to win her then you gotta send her
some flowers or candy delights,
some toilet-cologne
girls like to put on
if you're aimin' to do the thing right.

Well that sounded good and I understood
so it was then I see'd me a chance,
I'd go on and flatter
then straight to the matter
and ask her to the Valentine's  dance.

Now I ain't no piker and I really did like her
but I jest wasn't  rollin' in dough,
I'd go some a bit
on a buck fifty cents
and get her the best that I knowed.

I started off good and bought what I could
then headed on down to her place,
I tied up my nag
marched up with my bag
and knocked with a smile on my face.

The evenin' was damp when I rode back to camp
but Pete was still waitin' to see,
had his good advice
made everthin'right
and jest what had happened to me.

How was it son did you have any fun
now I want you to tell me the truth,
so I couldn't lie
and had to reply
she cracked two and lost a whole tooth.

Pete sat there stunned jest what had I done
to that filly so young and so fair,
with two big doe eyes
and lips that I prized
and the love that I'd wanted to share.

It's hard to relate her terrible fate
on account I still miss Miss Devine,
but the truth although sad
for the money I had
rock candy was all I could find.

2001 Rod Nichols
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.
           


 

A Fine Romance
    
(A cowboy love poem)


When yore sittin' round a campfire
as we do most ever' day,
the subject "Love" jest don't come up
cause it ain't the cowboy way.

We might talk cows or hosses
and sometimes gals and men,
but that's just mainly jawin'
and always with a grin.

So we was rightly taken back
when a young cowhand named Slim,
jest up and started talkin'
'bout a problem botherin' him.

You men are all much older
and you've been around a bit,
so you might have an answer
to a thing that's give me fits.

I come up on the short end
when it comes to love and such,
I'd take it kindly if you men
could get me out of dutch.

What is it 'bout the female mind
and the things they do not like,
what sof'ins up their stubborn side
and stops a senseless fight.

This gal I know gets all huffed up
each time I come to call,
she says I smell to heaven
but I'm jest like each of y'all.

She's awful cross and snippy
when I say I like her lots,
she says my breath is put-er-fied
but better than my socks.

She's mad about the boots I wear
they's somethin' bout the mud,
she frets about my denims too
what she calls pri-mal-crud.

She says my nails are somethin' else
they's always dark as sin,
but on my oath I swear to you
they's jest like all you men.

She says my face is scan-da-lous
my hair must loathe a brush,
my whole outside reads fu-mi-gate
before I'm fit to touch.

So I leave it up to you men
cause yore purty much the same,
what kin I do to please that gal
and win this romance thing.

Well on that thought we pondered
til the hour grew real late,
but none of us could rightly say
what steps that boy should take.

He's jest like us old Smiley said
that's right enough as rain,
now why'd that gal git so riled up
kin someone please explain.

I started then to say a word
but I had to stop I fear,
the headiness of that there crew
had caused my eyes to tear.

Then jest like that it hit us all
what a bunch of toehead dopes,
the only thing that romance lacked
was a homemade bar of soap.

And so we let him know right off
he grinned and told us thanks ,
rode off to get that bar of soap
and join the lovers' ranks.

The next we seed of that young sprout
was later on in town,
he looked the worse for wear alright
his face was hangin' down.

What happened son we all inquired
where is yore prairie rose,
she slammed the door right in my face
her love fer me is closed.

You fellers gave me good advice
it's only now I see,
that bar of soap I gave to her
was really meant fer me.

2001 Rod Nichols
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

 

A Visit To The Camp

"Hello the camp! "a voice called out,
from somewhere in the night.
"I seen your fire from off the ridge.
Could you boys spare a light?"

"Come ahead," the trail boss said,
"let's have a look at you.
You're welcome to some coffee pard,
could be a bite of stew."

From out the gloom a man appeared,
on foot but not alone.
He led a burro loaded down
with all the goods he owned.

"I thank you kindly," spoke the man,
"it's good to see you men.
My conversations with this ass's
like talkin' to the wind."

The trail boss had to laugh at that,
"Well make yourself to home.
It ain't a night to be out there:
a storm is comin' on."

"What brings you out among these hills?
You're not a cowhand plain."
"Silver," laughed the stranger now,
but I ain't found a thang."

"You'd think a feller old as me
would have a bit more sense,
but when it comes to stubborn mule,
there ain't a head more dense."

Again the trail boss had to laugh
and likewise did the crew.
They liked this stranger and his ways
his talk was somethin' new.

"Now this reminds me of a time,"
then off the man would go.
One story, then another one
around the campfire's glow.

The rain came on, but neath a tarp,
the stranger told his tales:
'bout jumpin' frogs; a golden arm,
and river boats he'd sailed.

His stories seemed to never end,
but to the crew's delight.
There weren't a hand among that bunch
had had a better night.

When mornin' came the stranger left,
but not before each man
had thanked him for his wondrous gift
and offered him his hand.

"Stranger," said the trail boss now,
"I don't know how you came,
but 'fore you go I'd like to know
what is your given name?"

The stranger offered up his hand,
"Sam Clements is the name,
but when I get the chance to write,
I'm sometimes called, Mark Twain."

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


Bucky

His day was almost over
when Bucky got the news
an old cowpard named Smiley
had passed away at two.

It caught him without warning
Old Smile' had been a friend
he knowed all things must pass away
but that don't ease the end.

So as the dawn that Sunday came
he brushed and washed and combed
put on the only coat he had
and rode toward town alone.

The church was packed with other folks
when Buck' at last stepped down
he had to take a seat in back
this cowboy new to town.

He did not know a single soul
and he felt a tad bit lost
but he had come to pay respects
and see his old pard off.

Then the choir commenced to singing
On A Solid Rock I Stand
and ever'one seemed truly moved
when the eulogy began.

We're here today the preacher said
to send unto the Lord
this soul we all have come to love
a man who labored hard.

He always had a gen'rous heart
a pious man and true
no curse words ever crossed his lips
nor hint of devil's brew.

A man of faith he never slid
a model for us all
he never held a single grudge
nor caused a single brawl.

He always showed a great respect
for man and beast the same
a credit to his family
a credit to his name.

Would anyone who's here today
like to say a word or two
Old Buck stood up let go a laugh
that ain't the man I knew.

That hombre weren't no gentleman
but a bob-tailed buckeroo
a bigger liar never lived
the best I ever knew.

No one could ever drink him down
nor best him in a fight
so if you're gonna say a thing
let's get the details right.

And could he swear I'm here to tell
til lillies lost their bloom
and had his way with ever' gal
that's sittin' in this room.

Old Buck was gettin' warmer now
he'd say a thing or two
they'd know the Smiley he had known
whenever he'd got through. 

Now talk about a roving eye 
then someone tugged his sleeve
this service here's for Deacon Brown
old Smiley's set fer three.

2001 Rod Nichols
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

 

The Thing Upon The Trail

The cattle trails have a hundred tales
and a truth behind each one,
'bout things unknown
in the days now gone
when the West was wild and young.

I've heard them too and not a few
when the cattle drives were on,
'round an open fire
'fore we retired
in a story or a song.

Sometimes the best were told in jest
and the laughter done us good,
but then sometimes
they held our minds
in a way that few things could.

A cowboy's not just a rugged lot
he's a man of flesh and bone,
and alone out there
he has his share
of doubts 'bout things unknown.

Oh he might scoff and laugh it off
as just some other myth,
while deep inside
his sunbaked hide
he tries to deal with it.

On one such night by campfire light
we were swappin' tales we'd heard,
'bout things gone strange
and unexplained
and I guess we'd hit a nerve.

Cause young Bill Bruce had left the group
saddled up and rode away,
we had to grin
at his leavin' then
but each man has his ways.

The moon was lost when young Bill crossed
the shallows of a stream,
and then stepped down
on a piece of ground
in a spot he'd never seen.

It was only then he felt the wind
had changed from warm to cold,
then the moon came back
and the things once black
now shone in a moon-white glow.

Now as a man he could understand
the tricks that a wind might play,
and Bill weren't one
to come undone
when it carried on that way.

But somehow this seemed all amiss
in a place he'd never been,
and his horse grew tense
from a thing it sensed
then the hair rose on his skin.

There arose a wail by that moonlit trail
that no earthly source could make,
Bill's eyes grew wide
and deep inside
he could feel his whole frame shake.

It was then he smelled a stench from Hell
and a presence yet unseen.
he turned to stare
at a thing out there
a nameless, formless thing.

Bill grabbed the horn and was saddle borne
full gallop with a scream,
his clothes were soaked
when his pony broke
and dragged him 'cross that stream.

Young Bill had fled as from the dead
without a place to go,
a headlong flight
into the night
til morning cast its glow.

When Bill rode in like most the men
I questioned where he'd gone,
he looked like hell
and tried to tell
then begged to be alone.

Now Bill was wet but mostly sweat
and his rig and pony dry,
but even so
not one would go
so far to say he'd lied.

There weren't no signs that we could find
though we searched an entire day,
just where he'd roamed
is still unknown
and it's better left that way.

There's another thing I can't explain
when Bill came back at light,
that cowboy's hair
coal-black I swear
had gone completely white.

The cattle trails have a hundred tales
and a truth behind each one,
'bout things unknown
in the days now gone
when the West was wild and young.

I've heard them too and not a few
yet there's one still gives me chills,
how a thing from Hell
on a moonlit trail
left its mark upon young Bill.

2001 Rod Nichols
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.



Windy

Old Windy couldn't read or write a letter
he only made a mark when payday came,
but when it come to jawin'
we had to stand jest awin'
at all the things that little feller 'splain'd.

When we'd hunker 'round the campfire after supper
there weren't no nevermind about one thing,
with jest a tad of tryin'
we'd start old Windy lyin'
and brighten up the night fer all us men.

Like the time he swapp'd a plug fer this here pony
an Appaloosa stallion of renown,
but when he crossed the Conchos
that river washed his haunch off
and left him on a sorrel painted brown.

Or the time he bought this Blue-tick from a feller
a hundred-dollar hound fer only half,
but when he went to trail
that dog had lost his smell
and that's when all us fellers had to laugh.

Once he told us 'bout a gal that he had courted
a looker with the most invitin' curves,
but when he went to pettin'
the message he was gettin'
was none of those was really rightly hers.

Then he'd recollect a time he met this preacher
who wanted him to own up to his sins,
but when Windy started 'fessin'
that parson learn'd his lesson
and plum gave up religion there and then.

Now I ain't one to criticize my betters
them writers got a whole leg up on me,
but it would be a sin
to leave out folks like Wind
who made the trail a better place to be.

There's a lot about an hombre 'sides his cover
and beneath the hide we're all about the same,
but it takes a special way
to brighten up a day
and all the folks be thankful that you came.

So I wrote these lines in truth for good old Windy
cause he couldn't write a letter if he tried,
and I wanted jest to share
this man fer whom I cared
and keep his place in histr'y still alive.

2001 Rod Nichols
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.


 

Three Godfathers     

Sam knowed it might happen that one day
this livin' alone might take hold,
but that wouldn't matter so much then
if he was still young and not old.

But when you've got little to look to
and the best of your years are behind,
the solitude works like a millstone
and whittles you down over time.

That's how it was then for this cowboy
a lonely old man turnin' gray,
a former top-hand in his prime once
in a line shack just wastin' away.

His mem'ries were all that were left now
from a life only few men would know,
with no one to do for a fam'ly
and few friendly places to go.

The daylight was not all that diff'rent
but the line job made use of his time,
the nights were the worst for that season
how the emptiness preyed on his mind.

It was on such a night in mid-winter
Sam was dabbin' a bit at some beans,
when a noise brought him out of his stupor
and finally broke through his routine.

Someone or something was out there
and pawin' the latch on the door,
Sam rose up to answer in some way
when a figure fell in to the floor.

Sam rushed past the half-frozen stranger
shuttin' the door from the wind,
then turned to this late-night intruder
the light from his fire growin' dim.

The woman, herself, was past savin'
but she held to her bosom a child,
God knows just how long she had struggled
out there in the dark, frozen wild.

He thought about lookin' for others
but not with a babe left behind,
his charge was to care for the livin'
and pray for the ones surely dyin'.

He gathered the babe in a blanket
a tin of warm milk had to do,
the one that old Sam saved for coffee
but that was the best that he knew.

Sam buried the woman at sunup
then backtracked to where she had come,
he found the fool corpse that had brung 'em
and cursed it for bein' so dumb.

From where they had come was uncertain
and why in a storm heaven knows,
but that was a tale beyond tellin'
and buried with them neath the snow.

The onus was now on old Sam though
how to care for an infant up there,
without the experience or how to's
the worst was near certain for fair.

One thing that old Sam had decided
a trip to the ranch house was out,
twenty-five miles in a snow storm
and neither of them would come out.

He looked for some answers that evenin'
just what could a man alone do,
the only book there was a Bible
but Sam started readin' it through.

In Psalm 8 he ran on a passage
from out of a babe's mouth it said,
the strength of the Lord might be his then
and a plan slowly formed in his head.

Sam looked at the babe there beside him
the wonder and awe of the thing,
he smiled and the baby smiled at him
they'd make it somehow til the spring.

The snow was in drifts but now meltin'
when the crew finally found them one day,
they'd come on the loss of some cattle
and feared that old Sam'd passed away.

The sight of that infant so stunned them
like the magi they made not a sound,
then the questions began quickly flowin'
just how had that baby been found.

Sam answered as best he was able
and the wonder of all fairly grew,
just how had a grizzled old cowboy
come up with the things he should do.

Sam smiled as he pondered a moment
"Well fellers it wasn't jest me,
that sweet little babe had three nannies
the Good Lord, that Bible and me."

2001 Rod Nichols
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

 

 

Rivers of Texas

The rivers of Texas don't have rules
that's a fact and I guess I should know,
I've travelled the length of a hundred or more
and crossed ever'one that still flows.

Some come a rushing like nightmares
destroyin' and swellin' with rain,
some drift along like a soft dream
placid and tranquil and sane.

The life blood of all they encounter
like veins through a body immense,
like arteries all through the heartland
or capillary trickles neath fence.

Some have a voice overbearin'
thunderin' and braggin' "I'm here,"
some have a song they are singin'
melodic and flowin' and clear.

There are rivers that tell a great story
of the men and the cattle and wealth,
there are rivers that now have grown silent
of all things that matter bereft.

Some are vast like a great inland ocean
ebbin' and flowin' at will,
some are more like a creek than a river
meanderin' and wendin' or still.

There are rivers that wear a name proudly
the sculptors of countries and state,
There are rivers that bear a name only
and nobody knows of their fate.

Some are deep as the land that they travel
and blue as the sky will allow,
some are brown in their quicksand and eddies
and shallow and deadly and foul.

The rivers of Texas don't have rules
that's a fact and I guess I should know,
I've travelled the length of a hundred or more
and crossed ever'one that still flows.

2001 Rod Nichols
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.


A Sea of Grass

An old covered wagon all dusty
jest rollin' along to the west,
with beddin', utensils and whatnots
and an old spotted hound fer a pet.

Not a tree nor a cloud to hide under
the sun beatin' down on their bones,
one man and a wife and their fam'ly
jest seekin' a place to call home.

There were three little babes in that wagon
one was jest startin' to crawl,
propped up by an old feather piller
in case little Matthew should fall.

Them hosses had come to a standstill
jest prairie fer miles was in view,
it was then they decided to stay there
where nuthin' but prairie grass grew.

Not one tree fer lumber was out there
so they fashioned a place out of sod,
then plowed up the land fer the plantin'
and prayed for a merciful God.

It's a story that needs no repeatin'
it numbs in the tellin' somehow,
that land meant for cattle and grazin'
weren't never intended fer plow.

That soil 'reft of grass for a coverin'
became only dust in the wind,
a fam'ly now facin' disaster
and three little babes growin' thin.

The struggle at last was too costly
his wife and two children were gone,
jest him and a starvin' young infant
left out on that prairie alone.

Three riders one day found a sod hut
a man nearin' death on a bed,
a note was still pinned to the infant
"I'm Matthew" was all that it said.

They buried the husband soon after
near three little markers they found,
they carried young Matthew away then
away from that unyieldin' ground.

          ~~~~~~~~~~

Some twenty years later a cowboy
rode up to that same spot again,
and took off his hat in remembrance
of the fam'ly he'd lost to that land.

Then looked to the west and a sunset
o'er the prairie he'd now come to know,
where cattle now grazed in abundance
and a sea of green grass fairly flowed.

  May 2, 2001, Rod Nichols
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.



 

A Cowboy's Poem

When a cowboy sets his mind to write a poem
he don't just take a pen and start to write,
he thinks about those things that he has known
so words are true and gets the mem'ry right.

He don't just try to come up with a rhyme
or count each line to set a metered beat,
or cater to whoever might be buyin'
with pretty paint or duded-up deceit.

A cowboy's got a lot  more sand than that
he shows it in the thoughts that he may write,
a way for him of holdin' on at last
to mem'ries of a passin' way of life.

It ain't you see to always get a laugh
or cause someone to shed a tear or two,
or glamorize some tale by clever draft
or try to take a lie and make it true.

A cowboy says at last what's deep inside
you'll find in truth that ever' thought reflects,
a greater depth of character and pride
for a life he loves and men that he respects.

2001, Rod Nichols
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

 

The Line Camp Cat

Most fellers dread a line camp shed
and there ain't no shame in that,
cause I'd be one
I'll tell you son
if it weren't for my line camp cat.

Jest a cabin bare with table, chair
and a lantern fer my light,
some grub to cook
and a couple books
for a long, cold winter's night.

Small wonder then it's shunned by men
as a lost and lonely life,
without no one
to talk to son
or the comfort of a wife.

It used to be that way with me
how I prayed for a simple chat,
when jest by chance
neath a cedar branch
I happened on this cat.

A wet-nosed stray in tabby gray
not a fam'ly to his name,
so I jest gave in
and took him friend
cause we both was 'bout the same.

It weren't too long til he caught on
and became a friend like that,
there weren't no name
that he could claim
so I jest called him "Cat."

Now there were times I'd ride the line
and the work might keep me late,
but there he'd be
jest waitin' me
no diff' how long it'd take.

He'd come up slow and rub his nose
all across my worn old boot,
to check and see
if it were me
then off he'd finally scoot.

You couldn't say he'd ever play
he wasn't much on that,
he might not stir
jest sit and purr
while I had a nice long chat.

Or I might read and never heed
as he moved beneath my chair,
jest bein' round
without a sound
I knew someone was there.

And so at last it came to pass
the winter snow was gone,
I left that shack
not lookin' back
and left old Cat alone.

All that spring was cattle things
and the roundups fairly grew,
then summer passed
and fall at last
then the snow before I knew.

Then once again I was the man
who drew the shortest straw,
and to the shack
I'd travel back
til spring had brought the thaw.

And sure enough as I rode up
as though I'd never gone,
old Cat was there
upon the chair
to welcome me back home.

Most fellers dread a line camp shed
and there ain't no shame in that,
cause I'd be one
I'll tell you son
if it weren't for my line camp cat.

2001, Rod Nichols
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.


 

Trail Cook

Oh fill my cup with coffee son
hot steamin' thick with cream,
some biscuits please with honey squeezed
er peppered gravy lean.

Some bacon cured in mesquite smoke
a slab er two will do,
then let 'em cook til they is crook'd
and I'll be 'bliged to you.

I'll take some eggs no matter how
a dozen from the nest,
then scramble, fry or at least try
and I'll do all the rest.

Some grits would suit me to a "T"
with red-eyed gravy son,
a big ham steak upon my plate
now that's what I call fun.

Instead we got this half-baked cook
who never heard of that,
they's jest one thing on his pea-brain
that's hard-tack, beans and fat.

That brew he touts as coffee
is shore some fitful stuff,
at least four times on one old grind
I think is long enuff.

Those rocks he claims fer biscuits
are hard enuff to eat,
I've lost a tooth and that's the truth
the second one this week.

You'd think them beans was bad enuff
before they're boiled er baked,
but cooked in lard and bullet-hard
is more than I kin take.

I don't want you should fault me son
fer speakin' ill of Slim,
but if I could I surely would
feed all this meal to him.

2001, Rod Nichols
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.
 

 

Bunkhouse

I'll tell you boys the gospel truth
a bunkhouse ain't no fun
and them that begs to disagree
ain't spent no time in one.

I've worked a lot of outfits boys,
the largest right on down,
some paid to me a decent wage
and some jest keep and found.

They might have differed in their size
dependin' on the spread
and that includes the bunkhouse too,
from saddle-bag to shed.

No two were ever quite alike
except fer one thing though,
the smell that filled them all alike
and wronged  a cowboy's nose.

That earthy smell was sweatin' men
all tinged with cow manure,
a coal-oil lamp and rancid feet
fer which there ain't no cure.

The bunks wuz likely old cowhide
jest stretched between two poles,
they had a sort of mustiness
from dust and grit and mold.

Sometimes we got a whiff o'skunk
jest passin' past the door,
you ever try and get some sleep
when eighteen fellers snore?

The worst wuz on a rainy day
when we wuz kept inside,
the headiness of that there crew
could tear an onion's eye.

Small wonder that a cowboy's life
wuz on the open range,
a bunkhouse weren't no place to be
and that I 'spect is plain.

Jest spread my roll upon the ground
between the earth and stars,
it might not be no feather bed
but it suits me by far.

I'll tell you boys the gospel truth
a bunkhouse ain't no fun
and them that begs to disagree
ain't spent no time in one.

2001, Rod Nichols 
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

 

Texas Saddle

"I'm sellin' my saddle come winter"
I remember the words my dad said
but dad cashed in later that summer,
that saddle became mine instead.

The horse that he rode was the comp'ny's
but the saddle was his all alone,
he prided himself in its keepin'
the finest one he'd ever owned.

From sunup to sunset for ten years
and that saddle was his second home,
of custom-made leather from Texas
it suited both cowboy and roan.

The first time I cinched up that saddle
I remember the fit and the feel,
those wide Texas stirrups so sturdy
steam-molded for boot and for heel.

The saddle-horn larger and stronger
for the ropin' and holdin' it done,
the fit of the seat and the cantle,
a man and a horse moved as one.

At night when the day's work was over
and that saddle would pillow my head
I'd think on the cowboy who left it
rememb'rin' the words that he said.

A man all alone with his mem'ries
'bout a cowboy he loved as a lad
a part of his life still remainin'
that Texas-made saddle of dad's.

For twenty-some years it's been mine now
from the wearin' and use it's grown thin,
I'm sellin' that saddle come winter
then waitin' for time to cash in.

2001, Rod Nichols 
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.


Bull Rider

A Texas hat with attitude
the brim tipped down a bit
as black as sin with subtle bend
"Bull Rider" in its fit.

A chiseled face deep resolute
with eyes as hard as stone
said, "If you're wise, you'd be advised
to leave this man alone."

A brahma bull of ill repute
was placed into the stall
as ugly-mean as ever seen
pure hate for one and all.

A mottled gray in attributes
of thirteen-hundred pounds
would climb a stand to gore a man
or stomp him in the ground.

The riders drew for random bulls
and when the draw was done
that Texas hat just chewed and spat
he'd drawn that orn'ry son.

Each rider settled in his chute
before he shouted, "Now!"
then left the gate to tempt his fate
and hang on board somehow.

A Utah man now held the lead
his ride was rated best
the Texas hat aware of that
now moved to meet the test.

He settled on to get a grip
the bull rose up instead
he eased on back adjusted slack
then gave the go-ahead.

That nettled bull flew out the gate
a cyclone with each spin
a snortin' fire with one desire
to do that hombre in.

The riders who had had their turn
now clamored up the fence
they'd never seen a bull that mean
and they ain't seen one since.

That critter was a ragin' storm
he never had been rid'
he'd find a way to make hat pay
the last damn thing he did.

The buzzer rang to end the ride
but them was human rules
no pickup men or clowns' pretend
could stop that angry bull.

A single launch in altitude
had cleared an eight-foot space
the Texas hat allowed for that
and held on to his place.

That orn'ry bull then crashed a fence
while cowboys jumped and fled
but it was then he met his end
that bull just dropped down dead.

The rigors of that final lunge
brought death so quick and crude,
yet on him still by force of will
that hat with attitude.

The crowd went silent for a bit
then roared in gratitude
for the bull that died and winnin' ride
that hat with attitude.

A Texas hat with attitude
the brim tipped down a bit
as black as sin with subtle bend
"Bull Rider" in its fit.

2001, Rod Nichols 
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.
 

 

This is Page Two.

Read about Rod Nichols' book and recordings on page one.

where you'll find a complete list of his poems at the BAR-D.

 

Page Three

 

 

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