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Riley County, Kansas

About Ron Wilson
Ron Wilson's web site




Coyote Choir Practice

There’s something you hear when darkness comes near,
In a country Kansas twilight,
Which will not be found in the urban sounds
Of some big city’s night.

It’s when a big full moon casts an alabaster loom
Above the grassy hills.
The critters are fed, we’re headed for bed,
And the ranch is quiet and still.

At the end of the day, from miles away,
We begin to hear a faint sound.
It starts tiny, then fills; it jumps and it builds,
And grows with a leap and a bound.

It begins with a yip, for a second will skip,
And resumes with a yelp and some more.
Then it grows again as the coyotes join in
Like a tidal wave pounding a shore.

Through the night comes to me a cacophony
Of sound rising up to the skies.
Coyote howls and shrieks ascend to a peak
In a crescendo of blood-curdling cries.

My heart somehow thrills to the sound in the hills,
As the coyotes sing in the moonlight.
Then the awesome sound begins to die down,
And gives way to the still of the night.

The darkness moves in and the night once again
Is placid, quiet and clear.
The stillness grows but the sound’s echoes
Still ring in my heart and ear.

Through the years it’s a battle protectin’ the cattle.
The coyote preys on the weak and the lame.
He’s my sworn enemy, but without him, you see,
The night sounds would not be the same.

Oh, the coyote’s cry to the late night sky
Is a defiant call of zest.
So I lay down my head, secure in my bed,
And know I’m at home in the west.

© 2007, Ron Wilson
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.


Ron comments: At the first of 2007, my wife and I moved back to my original home place, the Lazy T Ranch near Manhattan, Kansas.  It is situated in the Flint Hills above the Kansas River valley.  We have four kids, and it spooked them the first time they heard the coyotes howling up in those hills, but it also inspired this poem.




  About Ron Wilson:

Ron Wilson lives with his family on the place where he grew up, the Lazy T Ranch.  The ranch is near Manhattan (no, not Manhattan, New York) in Riley County, Kansas.  He was proclaimed by Kansas Governor Bill Graves a "Poet Lariat."

Ron has a B.S. in Agricultural Education with an animal science specialty and a masters in mass communications from Kansas State University.  He was legislative assistant for agriculture to Senator Nancy Landon Kassebaum in Washington D.C. He worked for the U.S. Senate Agriculture Committee, the National Council of Farmer Cooperatives, and the Farm Credit Bank of Wichita. Since 1990, Ron has been director of the  Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development at Kansas State University.

He has been writing cowboy poetry since the mid-1990s. Ron won first place at the Kansas Cowboy Symposium in Dodge City and won the Horizon Award from the Heartland Chapter of the Academy  of Western Artists [read his poem here]. His original poem about the National Day of the American Cowboy was posted on the national website for that event. Ron has performed on television and in horse trailers. 

More information about Ron can be found at



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