Folks' Poems

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near Moab, Utah
About Rusty Salmon



Mornin' Musings

I sit on the porch and gaze out at my land
The canyons and mesas, arroyos and sand
The sun soon to be up, the rooster's not crowed
Smellin' hay in the pasture that needs to be mowed.
It's that time of the morning when life seems suspended
You forget about fences that need to be mended
You think about days when the cowboys rode hard
Creatin' a whirlwind as they circled the yard
Laughin' and joshin' and lookin' for chow
But time's left them all old and grizzled by now
Like me, they've grown gray and some lie in the ground
They ride only as memories, creating no sound.
But I know that they're watchin' this same dawn somewhere
Thinkin' of days when the mornin's were fair.
The breeze just as fresh and the cattle still down,
Them workin' for wages for trips into town.
Never knowin' that this was really the pay,
A mornin' like this, a new summer day.

Thought they'd always be young and strong in the saddle
Handsome and toughened from long days with the cattle.
Complainin' when eyes got filled with the dust
As the herd moved and milled and sometimes just fussed.
Pushin' those steers in the hot summer sun
Or freezin' their butts before winter was done.
Always a-thinkin' that one day they'd not work
In the wind and the storms, the sleet and the murk
Of a winter's day when the fog rolls in thick
Makin' findin' your cow a really tough trick.
When the heat of the summer with the sweat just a drippin'
Would be a memory past. They'd be lemonade sippin'
And sittin' on a porch, perhaps in some town,
Havin' nothin' to do, no cows to bed down.
No more ridin' the range, they thought they'd be glad
But, now that they're done, I know they're all sad
Each mornin' when dawn glows pink in the east
They're rememberin' days of famine and feast.
For each tough day was balanced with wonders so grand,
The canyons and mesas, arroyos and sand.
Their comrades, their life, this was the best pay
And a mornin' like this, a new summer day.

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


My Introduction to Rural Life

I was only six and a chubby little kid
Wonderin' what folks on this ol' ranch  did
                                To pass their day
                                Fritter time away
But... they had dogs.

So I wandered around outside with my folks
Not listenin' much to the talk or the jokes
                                'Bout the ol' ranch land
                                I didn't think it too grand
But... they had cats.

My uncle waved his hand, pointin' to the shed
And was tellin' my dad 'bout the life he led
                                Took a tour out back
                                By the stalls and the tack
Hey...they had horses.

Then I spotted the chickens scratchin' in the dirt
Tried to catch one and not get stuff on my skirt
                                They fluttered and ran
                                I gave up the plan
'Cause...they had a rooster.

Then I noticed the stench comin' out of a pen
Wandered too close, got grabbed back and then
                                He said "Not there!"
                                N' I'd better beware
'Cause...they had hogs.

Now my folks hadn't meant to really stay long
But the other kids asked to take me along
                               As they walked out the door
                               Parents said "Sure!"
'Cause ....they had cows.

So I followed them all happily down to the field
They threw open the latch, then turned and squealed
                                Cows headed for the gate
                                I wasn't gonna wait
Since....they were big!

I ran up the road, just as fast as I could
On my fat little legs, didn't do no good
                                They were after me still
                                I screamed quite shrill the herd!

Then m'uncle was there at the front of the yard
Ran t'him for protection so he could stand guard
                                He laughed at the joke
                                And gave me a poke
'Cause was milkin' time.

Those cows went on by, shouldn't a-let 'em all run
But the joke was on me and my cousins had fun
                                And that's the way that it went
                                On the day I was sent
T' learn...about rural life.

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

Rusty told us: I really was a dumb city kid visiting my Uncle Larvin and Aunt Eva with my folks when this happened and this is pretty much how I remember it. I worked my way through all those things kids like about a farm or ranch but was scared to death of the cows even years later when I started spending summers at their place.  Nowadays, of course, I don't ever let a cow or a bull get the upper hand simply because I still remember this little incident and how dumb I was!

Read Rusty Salmon's

Never Too Late in our ArtSpur project



About Rusty Salmon:

Rusty Salmon lives in Canyon Country, about 30 miles outside Moab, Utah, surrounded by exquisite views of red rock spires and mesas as well as the towering La Sal Mountains nearby. Ruled by an overweight Kuvasz who thinks he's king (that's a big dog, folks, not a term for my spouse), Rusty finally has time to do those fun things that lots of us put off for too long. These include now being a part-time curator for the local museum in Moab, and writing both historical non-fiction and fiction as well as poetry "because poetry exists for me as compact windows on wonderfully memorable slices of life. As we get older, I believe the introspection I mentioned in this poem becomes more consuming and we either despair or celebrate what we remember about our lives." Here's to celebration!


The sunset from Rusty's front porch


Member of the
Cowboy Poets of Utah



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