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Lariat Laureate

Sam A. Jackson

of Utah
recognized for his poem
Midnight on the Kaibab 

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



Mornin' Songs
"Sure Fire" Signs
The Reminisce
My Pal Gus

On Page 1:

Midnight on the Kaibab
Ol' Taupe
Becky O'
Cowboy Poetry Competition
A Cowboy Poem
Reel vs. Real Cowboys
Poetic Stimulation
Western Legends Roundup
New Year
's Resolutions for Cowboy Poets
Cowboys! Cowboys! Cowboys! (prose)
Comfort First

 Mornin' Songs

Those of you who have ever reined a horse on a desert trail at first light will most likely relate to these lines.  For those having missed this pristine experience, here is a glimpse (however brief) of some sights and sounds you might encounter.

  Mornin' Songs

            In the stillness of the mornin', just before the break of day,
            as the sky begins to lighten and the stars are put away.
                        I ride easy in the saddle as my pony moves along,
                        set to listen as the Desert sings its early mornin' song.

            Hear that den of pup coyot-ees, that'er whelped out every spring,
            with their mama beltin' out the lead, them puppies sure can sing.
                        'Cross the canyon, now the neighbors wake and join the lonesome cry,
                        silhouetted, pointy noses raised to greet the ashen sky.

            Starts my Aussy pup ta singin' right along with their chorale
            she's a howlin', yippin', yappin' as we skirt the chaparral.
                        When the broomtail that I'm ridin' adds his equine baritone,
                        "Now hold on a minute hossy--- let's leave well enough alone!"

            Ain't no singer, but I'll whistle, as we bid adieu the moon.
            Hooves a drummin' on the trail, [sorta] keeps us all in tune.
                        Mournin' doves join in the chorus with their quiet mournful coo,
                        as they gather in the hedges set to guzzle mornin' dew.

            Now some chuckers start ta chuckin' out their seven noted song
            seems they's in the best of spirits just as daylight comes along.
                        Sweepin' down the rocky canyon comes the early mornin' breeze
                        bringin' cool and dapper tidings as it stirs the pinion trees.

            If I was a man of letters, there's a song I'd surely write,
            of these sounds that greet the mornin' as the Desert sheds the night.
                        Bet the music would sound noble as it mocks those wild throngs
                        that'er howlin', chippin', chirpin', singin' Desert mornin' songs.

© Sajac '04
        This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.


“Sure-fire” Signs  

The coat of my pony is growin' out long.
A change in the pitch of the prairie hens song.
     Fine crystals of ice form a strange lookin' cloud.
     And lately the thunder ain't nearly so loud.

A faint wisp of steam risin' off'a the creek.
First traces of  white coat the tip of  squaw peak.
     The pelt of the muley turns buckskin to gray.
     All signals-- that winter ain't too far away.

The Juniper berry fades green to light blue.
The pinion pine opens its cones up fer view.
     The squirrels a'cartin' them off to their fold.
     Hints; warm days are fadin', it's gonn'a get cold!

The leaves of the maples show tinges of red.
The beaver drags limbs to its submarine shed.
     A warm place fer loafin' gets harder to find--
     Sure signs,  frosty weather ain't too far behind!

The boys in the bunkhouse start darnin' wool socks,
an' diggin'out flannels stored deep in their box.
     Skim ice on the trough brings ta mind one more thing---
     Jump in there and scrub or-- no bath until spring!

The boss settles up with the summer range crew,
They draws all their pay as the high work is through.
     Not one of them waddies seem 'down-in-the-mouth'--
     Come daylight their tracks will be pointin' due south.

High time fer decidin' what I'm gonn'a do--
 Skedaddle till spring? Or, hang in with the crew?
     The weight of the years that I'm packin' somehow
     takes all of the fun out of 'roughin'-it' now.

Though campin' in town ain't the macho way out,
it sure beats a gimpin' all winter with gout.
     Costs most'a my wage hibernatin' 'till-grass'--
     An' "flabby-sets-in" from four months on my - -(rhyme with grass)

I shows up come spring, claimin' that I'm still one--
hard workin' an' scrappy ol' son-of-a-gun.
     Boss sizes me up,  I can read in his eyes--
     "Ain't much of a jaunt 'til we'll all be old guys!"

Still trades a days work,  fer a days pay exchange.
At nursin' sick critters, the best on the range.
     Can out buckaroo, half the 'twenty-some' crowd--
     or night herd the cavvy, hell I ain't too proud!

He hires me back,  knowin' well, 'come-first-snow',
I'll head into town 'fore the bitter winds blow.
     My annual migration, jist like them ol' Deer---
     A 'sure-fire' sign- boys, that winter is near!

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



The Reminisce

The second year of WWII saw hired hands off to the fight, leaving the family ranch with little help other than just us kids. The summer I turned eleven, and the three following, saw me high in the mountains of the Manti La Sal national forest, living in a tent and riding herd on  twelve hundred head of range ewes and lambs-- About once a week Dad would show up with a string of pack horses bringing supplies and a bit of 'moral support.' Over the years circumstances prevented me from visiting the old campsite, in the spring of 2003--nearly sixty years later--I again made the ride.

The Reminisce

The trail is dim and overgrown,
     long rid of horses gouging tracks.
Some sixty years since it has known
     a thinning from the rider's axe.

Maple, brush and gamble oak
     have long ago reclaimed its way.
The foliage now a tighter cloak
     than I recall from in my day.

I'm prone to think these hills have grown,
     each ridge we climb now seems more steep,
more detours caused from fallen stone,
     across ravines, more wide and deep.

The horse beneath me, travels strong,
     while I, as master, guide its way.
Whoa! Back! fine steed, I've reined you wrong,
     the years have dimmed mind's trail, I'd say.








We top the ridge and wind along
     through stunted brush and sandy shale.
A diamondback rings out his song
     with rattles from his vibrant tail.
Ahead the rocky barren dome,
     of Baldy mountain standing guard.
Wind seems to whisper, "Welcome home,
     a long time since we've seen ya pard."
The campsite lays beyond the knoll
     where once the canvas castle stood.
My home, as I pursued the goal
     of moving on from childhood.

Beneath the cape of fallen leaves
     that hide the history of this grove,
excitement shows at my retrieves;
     a crumbled hulk of rusty stove.

A canteen once of coated steel
     is pulled from out its leafy bed.
Still clinging to its cork lid seal,
     the canvas strap mere rotted thread.


Poles lashed to trees where once was stored
     the saddle horses' breakfast oat,
the chance they now could shield a hoard
     from deer or squirrel, is quite remote.
A promise made has now been kept,
     to ride these hills before I die.
To stand again where once I slept,
     beneath the bright and starry sky.

If nothing more than just an hour
     recalling youthful days I miss,
'midst wild rose, and mountain flower---
     hold back a tear-- and reminisce. 

© Sajac '03
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.



My Pal Gus

Once I had a cowboy pal who went by name of Gus.
Stood a whoppin' six-foot-six, and weighed three hundred plus!

Now, he was quite a humble man in spite of giant size.
He'd walk a mile to help ya out. Would never criticize.

A quite, smiling, funnin' soul. A gentle sort'a dude.
He always had a compliment, no thoughts of bein' rude.

We'd palled around for many year. One day he had to go.
Rode off south towards his home to bid his folks hello.

No news came back fer quite a spell, then a pilgrim' s sayin':
"Gus had joined the ministry, is preachin' and a prayin'."

"What better for a man to do," says I, about my friend.
Though figured this would mean adieu, our friendship 's at an end.

A dozen years went rollin' by and nothin' more was heard.
Still figured, Gus the preachin' man, was puttin' out the word.

Now, this is where the story turns into a tale of wonder.
But I have proof to back me up and set your doubts asunder.

I'z standin' at the whiskey bar a talkin' to my buds,
when just beneath me, near the floor, I heard some tapping thuds.

Glancin' down, I saw some boots, a holdin' up a hat.
I knew I'd seen them duds before and tried to think-Where at?

I picked him up most carefully and stood him on the bar.
Said; "Now let's have a better look, and see just who you are"

"Good Lord!" says I, "My long lost friend, the Sunday school scholar!!
Well Gus, it's been a danged long time, but seems to me--- you'z taller???

"Ya'll set'em up, I'm buyin' boys" shore 'nuff,  his Texas drawl-
"Then while we sip, I'll tell the tale of why I'm two feet tall."

"Things were goin' pretty fair, I'm preachin' every Sunday.
Some said I had such a flair I should be preachin' Monday.

About that time there came to town a bunch of poet folks,
sporting fancy boots and hats with claims to be cowpokes.

They said if I would pay ten bucks and join their lofty crowd,
I'd see my name go up in lights and make my momma proud.

That sounded pretty good to me as I had written verse.
And judgin' from the stuff they did-mine couldn't be much worse.

Well, things were movin' right along. I had a nightly show.
To put it bluntly-I was good!! and all the world should know!!

One evenin', half-way through my act, my hat got fittin' tight.
My head was swellin' at a rate that's givin' me some fright.

The doctor said it baffled him, offered no prognosis,
but sent me to a friend of his suspectin' some psychosis.

So take a look, my shepherd friend, here's all that's left of me---
and hope ta heck you never need- an ego-ec-tomy!!

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



Wild and Woolly Western Verse 
and other Sagebrush Yarns

Wild and Woolly Western Verse and other Sagebrush Yarns is full of Sam Jackson's meticulous, always-entertaining poetry. Sam writes "Some of the stories are true, and shouldn't be.  Some are not true, but perhaps, should be! All are meant to entertain and enlighten readers to a view of life from the perspective of those spending their lives in the West..." Nearly 70 poems in 166 pages are collected in  chapters such as "Frozen Tales," "Poetry for Reflection," "On the Lighter Side," "Scientific Musings" (with pieces such as "Time," "Wind," "Creation" and "Sheepherder Geology") and a first chapter, which shares the book's title.  Pages of "poem narratives" include notes and asides on many of the poems.  An special feature, an essay, "Writing Cowboy Poetry," explores his wealth of experience on the subject.  Those familiar with the annual CowboyPoetry Rodeo -- an event conceived and produced by Sam Jackson -- know his commitment to excellence, and he practices what he preaches.  The illustrations, photos, and the cover art are by his talented wife, Renee Budge Jackson.  

Read our review here.

Wild and Woolly Western Verse and other Sagebrush Yarns is available postpaid for $14 plus $2.35 first class postage from Sam Jackson, 4675 E. Vermillion Avenue, Kanab, Utah 84741.  

Visit Sam Jackson's web site.

Read Sam Jackson's essay about Competition among Cowboy Poets here and his essay, Writing Cowboy Poetry.

See Sam Jackson's Where's the What??, Rhymin', and Beyond?, all included with a feature about the Kanab, Utah Cowboy Poetry Rodeo.

See Sam Jackson's Country Christmas in the 
collection of Holiday Poems from 2001


This is Page 2 of Sam Jackson's poetry.
Page 1 is here.



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