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.

This is page three.

On this page:

In God's Hands
Cowboy Service
The Space on the Bunkhouse Wall
Dad's Way
Roundup
Talent
Angels Round the Campfire
Old Hand
Yep
Cheyenne Buckle
Autumn Cowboy
Texas, From a Saddle
Hidalgo
Cowboy 4th of July
The Book That Coosie Left
Home from South Dakota
A Pinpoint of Light
Full Circle
A Penny's Worth
Tipperary
A Little Bit of Shade
Mudslinger
Easter Sunday Mornin'
 

See the complete list of poems on page one.

 

 


In God's Hands
(A cowboy's poem)

There was laughter and trail talk that evenin'
as the campfire had slowly grown dim,
then the usual joshin' and grumblin'
as the boys got themselves settled in.

I could see by the small fire still burnin'
that one of the boys was up late,
he was writin' a letter I reckoned
with his paper laid flat on a plate.

I watched for a spell then I drifted
these old bones just needed to rest,
and I slept through til daylight was breakin'
then washed off my face and got dressed.

Two biscuits and one cup of coffee
some sidemeat and breakfast was done,
a blanket then up with my saddle
firm cinched for a brisk mornin' run.

The day started off like the others
I'd chased down a couple of strays,
when I spotted some cowboys a-wavin'
so I headed my pony their way.

There's a hundred bad things that might happen
when a man's herdin' cattle it's said,
and a cowpoke had slipped from his saddle
been dragged, broke his neck and was dead.

There wasn't much talkin' among us
we each saw our end in his fate,
then I got a good look at that cowboy
the same one I'd seen stirrin' late.

I spotted the note he had written
in the dirt by his tattered old jeans,
"What's that?" asked a hand as I read it
"A poem he had written it seems."

"Well read it fer us," said another
"Jest what did the boy have to say?"
"It ain't very much," I responded
"but I think he would want it this way."

"There's a time in each life," the poem started
"when a cowboy has done all he can,
and it's then as he faces the long night
he puts all his cares in God's hands."

"That's it?" asked a soft-spoken cowboy
"That's it," was my only reply,
"That's enough," said a somber-faced trail boss
"and more when it comes time to die."

So we buried him there before sundown
with a marker of stone for his head,
the date of his passin' and three words
"In God's Hands" was all that it said.

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

 

Cowboy Service

One Sunday mornin' mistin' rain
beneath a Texas oak,
a canopy had been set up
where cowboy poets spoke.

Some cowboys had already 'rived
this early time of day,
so I sat down to rest a bit
and hear what they might say.

"Dear Lord" I heard a cowboy say
"We thank you for this time
and for the chance to praise your name
and speak our hearts and mind.

To some a cowboy may seem rough
and not what folks might say
would be the type of character
to ever stop and pray.

But Lord you know the hearts of men
and you know that ain't true,
no man could live the life we live
and not believe in you.

Perhaps it takes a cowboy Lord
who lives close to the land
to see the handiwork of God
and understand his plan.

Our work is neverending seems
and sometimes we forget
and sometimes we might slip a tad
or wander off a bit.

But given time we will return
on such a day as now
and raise our voice in thankfulness
beneath these oaken boughs.

And so we come in praise of thee
our Father's will be done
and ask your blessings as we go
God keep us ev'ry one."

I sat there at the service end
in silence, not a sound
and prayed dear Lord I thank you for
this cowboy church I'd found.

2002, Rod Nichols
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

(This poem was written about the New Braunfels 2002 gathering and was cited as a Favorite Poem in the Favorite Cowboy and Western Poem project.)


 

The Space On The Bunkhouse Wall

There's a space inside the bunkhouse wall,
in storms the rain comes in,
and when it snows upon the ground
you feel the winter wind.

But sometimes on a sunny day
when nuthin's left to do,
I sort of like to sit and watch
whatever comes in view.

Sometimes it's jest a cow or two,
a hand jest walkin' 'long,
it's kind of like that real tv
them folks make money on.

I even got commercials too
that change from time to time,
the boss rents out the whole barnside
fer folks to put up signs.

Why if the wind is blowin' right
I even get some sound,
like when the boss and missus fight,
I hear it round fer round.

And when it's late I get to watch
the stars come out at night,
then if the moon is full enough
I get this wondrous light.

Now some might turn their nose at this,
it's jest a simple space,
but that might be what's wrong, I guess,
with the whole blame human race.

We work ourselves to early graves
for more "High Tech" and speed,
when God, for free, has given us
the things we rightly need.

There's a space inside the bunkhouse wall,
it ain't no cause fer fuss,
I sort of like to think that's where
the Lord looks in on us.

2002, Rod Nichols
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

 

Dad's Way

Now my dad weren't too long on words
when it came to how he felt
but there wuz little need fer them
when dad reached fer his belt.

There weren't no need fer rep-ar-tee
or psy-cho-logic help,
we cut right thru the learnin' curve
when dad reached fer his belt.

Now folks don't get me wrong on this
we never got a lick
but I wuz almost pert near grown
before I learned his trick.

It weren't the pain of leather strap
or rising blistered welt,
we made our minds up rabbit-quick
when dad reached fer his belt.

Now I ain't sayin' that's the way
to raise a kid alright
but none of us had complexes
and we knowed wrong from right.

I love my dad and always will
and thank him fer his help
and fer the man that I became
cause dad reached fer his belt.

2002, Rod Nichols
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

 

This poem is included in our collection of 
poems about Cowboy Dads and Granddads

 

Roundup

The long days of summer were over,
the winds of the fall had arrived
when eight of us saddled our ponies
and rode out for roundup and drive.

Our spread was the Lazy 2 Diamonds
the owner an elder named Sloan,
a roundup could make him or break him,
it told him the beef that he owned.

Last spring we had seen to the brandin'
but now with the autumn arrived,
we'd round up and cull out the cattle
we'd take to the drovers to drive.

Now being that we were in Texas
our cattle had plenty of range,
the problem of cuttin' out neighbbors
had seldom gave cause to complain.

Course I had spent time in Montana
where ranges were closer than sin
and roundups were more of a challenge
and often used hundreds of men.

But we'd none of that here in Texas,
each spread with its water and grass
kept most of the cattle from strayin'
the size of the range was too vast.

So here we were eight proven cowboys
our reason for bein' was plain,
to harvest a year's growth of cattle
and drive 'em to market again.

The youngest among us was Freckles
a toe-headed scamp of a boy,
the son of the owner and special,
ol' Sloan's greatest pride and his joy.

There was Badger, Denton and Sully,
Bucky and Tyler and Bee,
no closer crew had ever rode out
and all of 'em best friends to me.

We spread out to look for the cattle
the cows and the calves and the steers,
the bulls that were scattered among 'em
on ponies with ropes for our gear.

Each hand knew his place in the pattern
we'd been there and done that before
but life ain't that steady or certain
and no man knows all that's in store.

A calf's made a steer to be gentle
grow fatter and less of a pest
but given the temper of many
no one ever told 'em I guess.

Ol' Sully rode into a dry wash,
a steer was holed up in the brush,
it charged at the horse and the rider
and Sully got throwed in the rush.

Then suddenly Freckles was down there
between that ol' cowboy and steer
a yellin' and ridin' and ropin'
as Sully jumped up and got clear.

In less than a heartbeat it happened
that longhorn had caught the boy too
and gutted both horse and the rider
then run off and left 'em askew.

We found Sully holdin' young Freckles
a grown man with tears in his eyes,
"He saved me," ol' Sully was sobbin'
"it ain't right this young'un should die."

We took the young boy and we bound him
while Tyler rode off for his dad,
the vigil we kept was a long one
he never said nuthin' that lad.

Then Sloan come a ridin' with Tyler
and soon he was at Freckles' side,
they only had time for a few words
then Freckles at last closed his eyes.

That winter was long and a hard one
and then it was April and spring,
time for the roundup and brandin'
and all of the usual things.

We saddled our ponies and rode out
the men of the 2 Diamonds' crew,
a routine we'd often repeated,
the only real life that we knew.

There was Badger, Denton and Sully,
Tyler and Bucky and Bee
and ol' Sloan a wavin' and grinnin'
at that rascal Freckles and me.

2002, Rod Nichols
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

 

Talent

Lord knows why the boss ever hired him,
he wuzn't what you'd call a hand,
he stayed in our way or in trouble,
not much of a cowboy that man.

I think that the boss would've fired him,
just waited to find the right way,
til after our supper one  evenin'
he took a mouth-organ and played.

It might have been Red River Valley
or Down In The Valley so low
or Kathleen or Come To The Bower,
to this day I don't rightly know.

But that doesn't really much  matter
cause whatever tune that he played,
when that rascal pup started playin'
we all wuz right glad that he'd  stayed.

Have you felt the warm wind on the prairie,
the soft mourning call of a dove,
then you may have some sort of feelin'
for what we wuz all thinkin' of.

The cares of the day soon forgotten,
they vanished without any trace,
there wuzn't an hombre among us
without a big smile on his face.

The Lord gives to each man a talent
to use or to hide as he may,
there wuzn't no doubt 'bout his talent
whenever that feller had played.

Lord grant me just one little favor,
please help me a bit now and then,
to call on just half of such talent
to shine as a light before men.

July, 2002, Rod Nichols 
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

In introducing this poem, Rod told us "... I have never seen so much interest in cowboy poetry, story telling, music and western art as I have seen since the Sept. 11th attack. I think folks are beginning to look for answers in our past and the American cowboy fills the bill. Here is one more that speaks to the use of the talents that the Good Lord has given us all whatever they may be."

 

Angels Round The Campfire

It was fall and the roundup was over;
in a short time the snowflakes would fly.
We packed up our gear for a long ride
to a warm place til spring would arrive.

We rode through a town as we travelled;
it was late afternoon I recall.
In a house of bare windows I saw them:
the faces of children so small.

A sign on the fence read as "Orph'nage."
I turned to the boys to say so,
but ever' last one of them cowboys
was smilin' and wavin' "Hello."

I don't know what happened just rightly,
or which of us said the words first.
I just know I heard someone sayin'
"You know, boys, it could be much worse."

We camped for the evenin' soon after,
As the coffee and grub went around,
our thoughts were the same for each cowboy:
them faces we'd seen back in  town.

"Lord knows," someone whispered, "they touched me:
them sweet little faces we seen,
and I ain't a man who gets choked up.
Do you fellers know what I mean?"

"I felt the same way ," said another.
You boys know I got an idee:
somethin' fer all of them young'uns
if all of you hombres agree."

Next mornin' we rode to the orph'nage.
We told the head mistress our plan:
We'd invite them all to a cookout,
the kids chaperoned by each man.

The mistress, at first, was reluctant,
but seein' the joy it would bring,
she thanked ever'one of us cowpokes
fer wantin' to do such a thing.

That night after supper we sat 'round
with stories and laughter and song.
I'll never forget them small faces,
the wonderful smiles they had on.

As I looked 'round that campfire aglowin'
on the faces of children and men,
I swear I could see by each cowboy
an angel of light there and then.

Now, the wonders of heaven are many
and more than the heart can desire,
but nothin' will ever seem dearer
than the night angels sat 'round our fire.

It was fall and the roundup was over;
in a short time the snowflakes would fly.
We packed up our gear for a long ride
to a warm place til spring would arrive.

2003, Rod Nichols 
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

 

Old Hand

It was nigh on to evenin' when he got the word,
the Bar-T was hirin' ag'in.
They'd got up a herd, now, for one final drive,
and figgured they'd need a few men.

To his way of thinkin' this news sounded good.
'bout time for the life that he knowed.
He'd dust off his saddle and fix up his gear,
clean up and be ready to go.

Then came the mornin' and with it his chance
to sign on and join in the crew.
Jest bring on them cattle and stand aside boys.
He'd show what a top hand could do.

"I'd sure like to use you," the trail boss explained,
"but, pard, you're a little bit late.
I hired what I needed  by late, yesterday,
and the owner says keep it at eight."

He looked at the trail boss. He'd been there before,
but this time it came as a blow.
He wasn't as young as he once was, he knew,
and now there was no place to go.

The trail boss now ordered the men to choose mounts.
The wrangler would bring 'long the rest.
All livestock belonged to the comp'ny, you see.
A rule that the owner thought best.

Now, cowboys and horses are somethin' to see:
some boys got the knack and some don't.
While each has his own way of dealin' with that,
there's horses that will and that won't.

The early guffawin' and billows of dust
caused even the old hand to grin,
but one man was cussin and whippin' his mount
and that's when the humor grew thin.

The old hand just rushed in, not stoppin' to think
that he wasn't part of this crew,
but he weren't  about to see any horse whipped.
He'd did what a cowboy should do.

The new man was raisin' his rope for a blow
when a firm hand arrested its flight.
Then a voice that conveyed all the strength in a man
said, "Hombre, you ain't doin' right."

The new man was younger and able to boot,
but somethin' he saw in those eyes
told him to listen 'cause anythin' else
weren't healthy and not very wise.

The old hand then settled and spoke as he left,
"Takes patience, ol' son, but you'll learn.
Treat a hoss decent and show him respect,
and he'll do the same in return."

"Hold on," said the trail boss in passin',
"I don't see a lot of your kind.
Jest pick out the mount of your choosin'.
We jest raised the limit to nine."

2003, Rod Nichols
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

 

Yep

"It's been awhile," the cowboy said.
"Yep," replied his friend.
"It must be nearly fifteen years."
"Yep," he said again.

"I guess you been a driftin' some?"
"Yep," his friend replied.
"I guess I've done about the same."
"Yep," the old friend sighed.

"Remember Shorty Winkleman?"
"Yep," friend answered slow.
"I hear he up and passed away."
"Yep," he answered low.

"Sure looks like we may have some rain."
"Yep," his friend allow'd.
"Lord knows that we can stand relief."
"Yep," the other scowled.

"I guess you need to head on out?"
"yep," his friend intoned.
"I sure am glad we got to chat."
"Yep," the old hand droned.

The cowboy, after supper, said
he'd run into Ray.
The other boys now gathered 'round.
"What'd he have to say?"

"He said that it had been awhile,
nearly fifteen years.
he said that he had drifted some
workin'  with them steers."

"He said he knowed 'bout Shorty's death,
 that it made him sad.
He figured we was in fer rain,
fer relief was glad."

"He said he was a headin' out,
glad we got to jaw.
Ol' Ray is quite a talker, boys.
Beats all I ever saw."

2003, Rod Nichols
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

 

Cheyenne Buckle

They stopped for gas that summer's day,
two cowboys in a truck,
a-headin' to a rodeo
and, maybe, change of luck.

While one went in to get a drink,
the other stayed close by
and struck a conversation with
the gas attendant guy.

"You fellers bound fer ol' Cheyenne?"
the gas attendant asked.
"Yep," the cowboy volunteered,
"ain't been since summer, last."

"You're goin' to the very best.
I guess you fellers know.
A buckle won in ol' Cheyenne
is world class rodeo."

"There's nothin' like the big one, boys.
You're up against the best.
A man who wins in ol' Cheyenne's
a head above the rest."

"Like ridin' high in fields of green,
a star within the game,
them sponsors, boys, will seek you out
to ride upon your fame."

"You'll think you got the 'He-bull's tail.
Ain't nothin' half as nice.
Them magazines and sport show guys
all askin' your  advice."

"Enjoy it boys fer all it's worth.
Accept the plaudits, proud,
'cause life ain't ever quite the same
as when you got the crowd."

The other cowboy now returned
to take his shift to drive.
The bill was paid. The tires were checked.
The cowboys waved goodbye.

"Who was that you were talkin' too?"
the drivin' cowboy asked.
"A fan, I guess, of rodeo
who works a pumpin' gas."

The gas attendant stared awhile
until the truck was gone,
removed the rag that covered up
the buckle he had on.

The Cheyenne buckle he had won
in younger, better years
before the night a Brahma bull
had ended his career.

He changed the station's uniform
for jeans and boots and shirt,
then, started up his faded truck
and headed home from work.

He thought about the two cowboys.
A smile came to his face.
"God bless you both. Now cowboy up,
and may you win first place."

2003, Rod Nichols
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

 

Autumn Cowboy

When summer is over, and fall heads our way,
and brown, red and gold paint the leaves,
I guess that's the time that I'm feelin' my best,
just an ol' autumn cowboy, that's me.

The Lord has His reasons for each time of  year,
for each thing a time, if you please,
but I'm kinda partial to a nip in the air,
just an ol' autumn cowboy, that's me.

In spring there's the new calf and brandin' to do,
and a warm up from winter's deep freeze,
but fall ain't got summer to follow with heat,
just an ol' autumn cowboy, that's me.

The seasons that follow are like a man's life,
he's born, grows and spreads like a tree.
Then watches the branches grow withered and bare,
just an ol' autumn cowboy, that's me.

My summer is over. It's the fall of my life
and you know, it's a good age to be.
Life is now mellow and more to my taste,
just an ol' autumn cowboy, that's me.

2003, Rod Nichols
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

This poem is cited in our
 Favorite Western and Cowboy Poem Project

 

Texas, From A Saddle

There's a feelin' that comes stealin'
o'er my heart and o'er my mind
as I'm ridin' out across this land I see.

It's tellin' me and I agree
there ain't no better way.
Seein' Texas from a saddle, that's for me.

When it's dawnin' and the mornin'
has a sky that's all aglow
and the wind kicks up an early prairie breeze.

Ain't a place on earth that's worth
even half of what I'll find.
Seein' Texas from a saddle, that's for me.

A prickly pear's awaitin' there;
the sagebrush is in bloom.
A mornin' dove is callin' tenderly.

No paradise could be as nice
as where the Rio flows.
Seein' Texas from a saddle, that's for me.

With the cattle grazin' lazy,
while I hum a little tune,
all the world is just the way it oughtta be.

Ain't a reason to be grievin'
over things I never done.
Seein' Texas from a saddle, that's for me.

Just my pony and me only
as we're headin' up the trail,
all of nature seems in perfect harmony.

Couldn't ask for better weather
if you'd care to ride along.
Seein' Texas from a saddle, that's for me.

2004, Rod Nichols
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

 

Hidalgo

In the year, 1940, an elderly soul
with pen, ink and paper at hand,
set down for the reader, a fabulous tale,
and this is the way it began.

My name is Frank Hopkins, as men know me now,
but there was a time in the West,
when out of the riders and shooters of fame,
I was considered the best.

Some called me, Lone Rider or Laramie Kid,
the fastest and surest of shots,
but it was my racin'  that won me my fame
on a horse that must not be forgot.

Hidalgo, the mustang, of Spanish descent,
he stood only fourteen hands high.
He weighed a bit under some nine hundred pounds,
strong hearted and willin' to try.

The races we entered weren't run on a track,
endurance and distance the test.
The first race we entered was Texas-Vermont
my mustang outrunnin' the rest.

We won ever' race that we entered back then.
It seemed we had no place to go.
Then Buffalo Bill took us in as an act,
and we became stars of the show.

We traveled the world, my Hidalgo and me.
Our fame kept a growin' each day,
til fin'lly a challenge was issued to us
to race the Arabian way.

Three thousand miles 'cross a desert it was
fierce heat in the hot, burnin' sand,
ninety-nine riders on Arabian steeds,
and one little mustang and man.

The race now began and the horses took off,
the Arabs full gallop in haste.
Hidalgo, as usual, was back in the rear,
content with his own, steady pace.

Arabian horses are stalwart and strong,
a mustang is smaller and lean.
His gait is much smoother and born to endure
still  fresh when the Arab's lost steam.

Now Arabian stallions are kings of the wind
well known  for their grace and their speed,
but give me a mustang for distance each time:
ain't no horse comes close to that breed.

With nomads on camels for water to drink
and scrub grass we found 'long the way,
that mustie got all of the fuel he would need,
for sixty-plus miles ever' day.

Two weeks had gone by when we started to catch
then pass ever' rider we met.
The looks on their faces was stunned disbelief
 I'll bet they ain't over it yet.

Then, fin'lly, the leader had come into view,
he too was astounded, but grinned.
I still hear his words as I write this today,
"Allah has blessed you, my friend."

Hidalgo, the mustang, of Spanish descent,
my stallion, my mustie, my friend.
He carried me safely 'cross three thousand miles,
the first of the steeds to come in.

That night on the desert we bedded at last,
the cheerin' still rang in our ears.
The first time a cowboy and mustang had won,
a race that stretched one thousand years.

The time has now flown  since that wonderful day
when glory and honor were mine.
And now I have come to the end of my tale.
I bid you farewell with this line.

In the year, 1950, that gallant soul died
his story now part  of the West.
Hidalgo, a legend once rode by a man
the Good Lord had chosen  to bless.

2004, Rod Nichols
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

 

A Cowboy 4th of July

In the life of an early-day cowboy
the only two days he could rest
were Christmas that came in the winter
and July the Fourth which was best.

Cause no one could ever out-holler
or let his whole spirit soar high
as a just-off-the-range happy cowboy
when it came to the Fourth of July.

Independence was more than a "Day," boys:
twas his way of life, don't you see,
and he weren't about to miss showin'
just how much it meant to be free.

The cow towns knew that much about him;
they plum went all out for the Fourth.
They opened the town to the trailhands,
who'd come in by wagon or horse.

Tweren't nuthin' could dampen their spirits,
or keep any trailhand away,
and no one could hold back a cowboy
from kickin' his heels up that day.

There was music and dancin' and fireworks,
declarations, and, not just a few.
a free-for-all town celebration,
all decked out in red, white and blue.

They were proud of this land and this nation,
and showed it for any to see.
Today we might bolster our own pride
rememberin' our own history.

In the life of an early-day cowboy
the only two days he could rest
were Christmas that came in the winter
and July the Fourth which was best.

2004, Rod Nichols
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.



The Book That Coosie Left

      Ol' Coosie had a catalog,
      a Bible and a book,
      among a pile of possibles
      when all had had a look.

      He had a weathered barlow knife,
      a skinnin' blade and such.
      but from a life of servin' men,
      there wasn't all that much.

      The only thing that seemed amiss
      was just that single book,
      but one thing they were certain of,
      it weren't on how to cook.

      For Coosie was a legend, then,
      the best trail cook around.
      They thought a lot about that man
      they'd buried neath the ground.

      And when it fell upon the boys
      to gather up his goods.
      They'd placed them in a little pile,
      and that's where things now stood.

      The trail boss opened up the book.
      He thumbed it page by page.
      There wasn't any title, though,
      the cover, worn with age.

      "What is it you are readin', 'Cap' ?"
      a trailhand now inquired.
      "A journal," came his short reply,
      "It starts when he was hired."

      "I think you, boys, will want to share
      this book from start to end.
      Ol' Coosie weren't too big on words,
      but he sure liked you, men."

      "I don't suppose you'd care to read ?"
      an older hand remarked.
      "I sure do miss ol" Coosie, boss.
      It's weighin' on my heart."

      "Well, I can't read the entire book,
      but maybe this will do.
      He wrote it on the very day
      he signed on with the crew."

      "It's Sunday, Lord, and here I am
      upon your day of rest.
      I've joined up with this cattle drive,
      them boys sure look a mess."

      "But, on my oath, I promise, Lord,
      I'll do the best I can
      to feed 'em and to be a help
      to each and ev'ry man."

      "I need to ask a favor, though,
      a big'un, if I might.
      You think that you could help me out
      to get the rec'pes right?"

      The trail boss had to swallow hard.
      "I'll leave the rest to you,
      except for this, one final line,,
      'God bless this orn'ry crew."

      Ol' Coosie had a catalog,
      a Bible and a book,
      among a pile of possibles
      when all had had a look.

      He had a weathered barlow knife,
      a skinnin' blade and such.
      but from a life of servin' men,
      there wasn't all that much.

     
2004, Rod Nichols
        This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.


 

A Pinpoint Of Light

A cowboy sat stirrin' a campfire,
as sparks and smoke rose in the night,
alone on a prairie for hundreds of miles,
from heaven, a pinpoint of light.

He listened to sounds on the night wind,
some close and now driftin' away.
He thought of the son he was missin' tonight
and lowered his head, then, to pray.

By a monitor station in NASA,
a young engineer looked at lights,
received from a satellite's cam'ra
recording the path of its flight.

He heard the Director explaining
to the current Commander-In-Chief,
"The cam'ra is so sharply focused,
it can show a man's face in relief.

The President looked at the image.
The Earth seemed all lit up by night,
except for a fairly dark region
and one tiny pinpoint of light.

"Zoom in on that one darkened section.
Let's see what your cam'ra can do."
The engineer did as was ordered,
a cowboy, at prayer, came in view.

"Just where is that image located?"
"A prairie down in the Southwest,"
"Texas," affirmed the Director,
"most likely a drifter's my guess."

"No, sir," said the stunned engineer, now,
"I don't know how I can explain.
That cowboy, at prayer, is my father,
where we used to camp on that plain."

The President pondered a moment.
"It's more than a man could expect.
Between those two worlds of a cowboy and space,
the Lord found a way to connect.

A cowboy sat stirrin' a campfire,
as sparks and smoke rose in the night,
alone on a prairie for hundreds of miles,
from heaven, a pinpoint of light.

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

 

Home from South Dakota

Rod Nichols was the featured poet on Jim Thompson's September, 2004 Heritage of the American West show in Spearfish, South Dakota.  The show takes place before a live audience at the High Plains Heritage Center and is broadcast simultaneously on the web.  

Rod told us "The Heritage Of The American West show was a great evening. The singer/musician, Justin Mills, was absolutely terrific.  I met a lot of folks and made a lot of friends. South Dakota is beautiful. I had no idea how awesome it is. One of the highlights of the trip was to see the area that Badger Clark loved and and had spent the last thirty years of his life."  

Rod wrote the poem below as a thank you to Jim Thompson and to share with the poets his poetry board, "The Ol' Rockin' R."  

The Heritage of the American West show is archived and you can listen to Rod's performance and other past shows here at the show's web site

Home from South Dakota

I'm home from South Dakota, boys.
It seems like yesterday.
 I've brought a lot of memories
'bout South Dakota ways.

The Black Hills and the canyons, dark,
with ponderosa pine,
are deep within my heart, tonight
and etched upon my mind.

Clear lakes beneath a sky of blue
are ripplin' with the wind.
The people, whom I've come to know,
I hold them now as friends.

The majesty of buffalo,
the land that Badger loved,
are now a part of what I see
and will be thinkin' of.

Of course it's nice to be back home,
but , boys, I have to say,
the Lord has surely blessed them folks,
up South Dakota way.

        2004, Rod Nichols
          This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

 

Rod in South Dakota, where the buffalo roam...

 

Full Circle

Some poems are never written down,
some tales are never told,
yet in the silence of a thing
a story may unfold.

In a corner of a pawn shop
an old guitar now hung,
unclaimed and left abandoned
its strings now loosely strung.

The cowboy who had pawned it was
a man down on his luck,
for an entry fee and breakfast,
he'd sought an extra buck.

But cowboys aren't all heroes seems,
it's hard to reach the top.
Forget the times they're thrown ol' son,
they ain't about to stop.

His hopes were pinned to rodeo,
top hand or singing star.
He had no time the last go-round
then lost his ol' guitar.

He'd have to find an odd job soon
to make it back again.
His pickup truck would be his home,
the way it'd often been.

But this time it was diff'rent though;
he sat there all alone.
At thirty-nine a kid no more,
those salad days were gone.

He tipped the waitress his last dime,
He'd sell his saddle now,
and head on back to Abilene,
to make amends somehow.

He passed the pawn shop as he left,
one look then drove away.
His ol' guitar was left behind,
and rodeo that day.

"I'll have a look," the young man said,
"that guitar on the wall.
It looks like one I seen before,
a concert back last fall."

"You know I won the last go-round.
They say I'll be a star.
Why I might be a Chris LeDoux
by playin' this guitar."

One cowboy headed home at last,
another new to town.
It's funny how two lives may cross
to make the circle round.

Some poems are never written down,
some tales are never told,
yet in the silence of a thing
a story may unfold.

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



Rod told us: I wrote this poem after listening to a line in a Chris LeDoux song that said "cowboys aren't always heroes."   A slice of rodeo life.

 

 

A Penny's Worth

Somewhere, way up in Heaven, boys,
an angel sits with pen,
and keeps a daily record of
the words and deeds of men.

It's sort of like a tally book
of what is said and done,
for which we are accountable
when life down here has run.

The angel dips his quill in ink
before each stroke of pen,
in diff'rent shades that will reflect
an act of love or sin.

" A penny's worth," the young boy said.
The storekeep had to smile.
He hadn't heard, " A penny's worth,"
since, he, had been a child.

But, there he stood, a lad of ten,
before the candy cases,
while on the outside window, pressed.
two more, expectant faces.

"You must be new to town," he said,
" I've not seen you, before.
New customers are welcome here
at Brussell's Gen'ral Store."

" Now, let me see," he thought out loud,
" A penny's worth should be,
about two sticks of peppermint,
but, as you're new, say, three."

The sale now done, the storekeep watched
the trio gather, then.
Each child received a candy stick
with faces all a-grin.

The storekeep had to smile, once more,
" A penny's worth, indeed."
But, if his Missus were alive,
she would have, soon, agreed.

The old man now returned to work,
a loss from what he'd sold.
An angel dipped its pen in ink,
then wrote the lines in gold.

A penny's worth don't seem a lot,
but, fellers, don't you see,
that penny's worth had blessed three lives,
and one of them, was, me.

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

Rod comments: The early cowboy had few places that offered him a welcome change of pace. While saloons and pool halls were attractions in the trail towns, it was the general store that offered the cowboy, ranch wife and kids a special place that holds an attraction to this day. I remember such a store and the couple who kept it. 

 

Tipperary
( Belle Fourche, S.D., 1920 )

Twas a sunny day out Belle Fourche way
for the Roundup Rodeo.
From across the State came small and great
for that South Dakota show.

For the billed affair beyond compare
had the best for every fan.
A horse full growed and never rode
and a great Snake River hand

That bronc by name, Tipperary, came
out of Hardin' County boys,
no meaner ride under rough stock hide
South Dakota's pride and joy.

For he'd earned his fame and gained a name
in the town of Camp Crook, when,
from a main street view he bucked and threw
Edward Marty there and then

When ol' Marty hit though stunned a bit
he was heard to call out plain
"it's a long, long way, I'll have to say.
Tipperary's a good name"

From that 1915 try it seems
not a rider had success.
Now another man with steady hand
came to take that whirlwind test.

The rider's claim was a well-earned fame
that had spread across the land.
For already he'd made history
on Bootlegger in Cheyenne.

So all was set for the best ride yet
and the fans now leaned to see
would the rider ride that saddled pride
or the great horse toss him free.

Then the snub was off and they soared aloft
as the multitude broke loose.
Up into the air that well matched pair
mighty rider and cayuse.

That bronc came down made a spin around
head low and rear hooves high,
then a full reverse and even worse
came a leap and headlong dive.

Ever trick he knew and it weren't a few
was tried by that there hoss.
Many men had strove but not one rode
or survived that skydive toss.

Surely this young man though a real top hand
would be thrown like those before,
but on he hung til the bell had rung
and the crowd began to roar.

That gallant steed had been rode indeed
and history made to boot.
Tipperary's pride and the whirlwind ride
by one, "Yakima" Canutt.

Though the years have flown, the truth be known
that ride is remembered still.
On a sunny day out Belle Fourche way
when two legends topped the bill.


2006, Rod Nichols
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

Rod comments about the poem: "It was written about one of the all-time great bucking horses, Tipperary, who was unridden until a young man named Yakima Canutt did it in 1920... Yakima went on to become a western star then stunt man doubling for John Wayne among others. Later he became a great action director and was most notable for staging the chariot race in 'Ben Hur.'"

After artist Mick Harrison painted "Tipperary's Genesis." The painting was commissioned by Alvin Cordell of Camp Crook, who did much of the research on Tipperary and the people involved with him.

Rod wrote, "He chose to depict the day in 1915 in Camp Crook, South Dakota, when the first man to try riding him was thrown off in Main street. As the rider, Ed Marty, landed, he called out, 'That's a long way from Tipperary,' and that was the name given the horse. Tipperary remained unridden until the events in my poem in 1920."  With the urging of rodeo and radio broadcaster Jim Thompson, who introduced many of his listeners to the story of Tipperary, Rod revised his poem to reflect the story in the painting.


2006, Mick Harrison, reproduction prohibited
"Tipperary's Genesis" by Mick Harrison

"Tipperary's Genesis," gouache, 31x17 is available in a limited edition. View the painting and more of Mick Harrison's work at his web site.  

Mick Harrison's painting, "A Christmas Tale," was an Art Spur subject in December, 2005.

 

 

A Little Bit Of Shade

Gets weary in the saddle Lord
on such a day as this.
The sun so hot above my head
that life can scarce exist.

Though it may seem a little thing
compared to all You've made,
I sure do thank you for this one,
a little bit of shade.

This tree out here ain't 'posed to be
where none have grown before,
it seems a blessing to me now
too plain to be ignored.

Cause nothin' could I want more Lord
than respite in this glade,
a cowboy's own oasis in
a little bit of shade

I know I got to get along
them cattle need me too.
I sure appreciate this time
I got to spend with You.

I'll see You down the road again
before the sunset fades.
I'll look for You as always neath
a little bit of shade.

2006, Rod Nichols
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

 

 

Mudslinger
 (A tribute to "Mossy Oak Mudslinger,"  PBR's  Bull Of The Year 2006 )

Mossy Oak Mudslinger, man what a ride,
the pro-riders' pick of the year.
For fellers all know he's the draw of the show
a high point in any career.

Twistin' and leapin' and spinnin' around
winnin' top  marks  as a ride,
and knowin' that bull  isn't rode as a rule
is reason enough to take pride.

Ratin' the bulls is a yearly event
it takes a high score to prevail:
the energy shown when riders are on
and how many good men have failed.

Trailin' behind  are a string of tough bulls
includin' one Ol' Doctor Proc.
As orn'ry a ride as ever rubbed hide
except maybe pandora's Box.

Though winnin' the title of Bull Of The Year,
he's retirin' much later tonight.
The men of the game recallin' his name
will vouch for  the strength in his fight.

Sayin' goodbye isn't easy at times,
to bulls that have won your respect,
for bullriders need a rip-snortin' breed
so fans get the thrill they expect.

Soon he'll be turned out to do his own thing
like rollin' about on the ground,
throwin' up dirt with horns at a jerk
a fav'rite of that brindle-brown.

Mossy Oak  Mudslinger, man what a ride,
the pro-riders' pick of the year.
For fellers all know he's the draw of the show
a high point in any career.

2006, Rod Nichols
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

 

 

Easter Sunday Mornin'

On an Easter Sunday mornin'
'fore the sun has yet to rise,
the roundup crew will gather 'round
to await the newborn sky.

It's a cowboy sunrise service
neath the purple, gray and gold,
in remem'brance of a story,
that's the greatest ever told.

Someone may say a word or two
in a simple, cowboy prayer.
Another hand may lead a hymn
for the boys still kneelin' there.

Then the sun will climb toward heaven
from below the eastern range,
like the Lord's ascent in glory
as it lights the darkened  plain.

When the service, then, has ended,
and the day has been reborn,
each man will know the gift of life,
on an Easter Sunday morn.

2007, Rod Nichols
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.
 

 

This is Page Three.

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 Two


 

 

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