photo by Dan Jones


About Shadd Piehl
Contacting Shadd Piehl


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About Shadd Piehl

A fourth-generation North Dakotan and third-generation rodeo cowboy, Shadd Piehl grew up near the Mouse River south of Minot, North Dakota. He has been a ranch hand, stockyard bird, hog hide shaver, warehouse lumper, teacher, and rodeo cowboy. As a saddle bronc rider, he competed mostly through the Dakotas, Montana, Minnesota, Manitoba, and Saskatchewan in various amateur rodeo associations and the PRCA.

A graduate of Magic City High School, Minot; North Dakota State University, Fargo; and Minnesota State University
Moorhead, Minnesota; Shadd has taught English at Belcourt, North Dakota; Casselton, North Dakota; and is currently employed by Aakers College in Fargo.

He has attended Elko's National Cowboy Poetry Gathering as a featured poet three times and has also appeared at the annual Dakota Cowboy Poetry Gathering in Medora, North Dakota. In 2004 he was named an associate poet laureate by North Dakota State Poet Laureate Larry Woiwode. His poems have appeared in the anthologies
Between Earth and Sky; Poets of the Cowboy West, Maverick Western Verse, and the magazines Aluminum Canoe, Pemmican, Red Weather, and Dry Crik Review. In 1999 he published a chapbook of poetry, Towards Horses, with Aluminum Canoe.

Shadd lives in Fargo with his wife Marnie and sons Owen, Wyatt, and Ryder. He divides his free time among his family, his horse Blue, and rehearsals with his cowboy-poetry-folk band Frog Point Landing. He is the son of cowboy artist Walter Piehl. He also wishes to acknowledge the support of his mother Becky, brother Levi, and sisters Crystal and Cota.


Rider's Lament

Sweetheart of the Rodeo

All My Relations



Rider's Lament

Once we were reckless bullriders with little regard
For the past or future. Alive, we experienced the ride
As an explosion of hair and hide, sinew and muscle,
Flashes of color, jolts of power pure and electric.
Weathering that storm, sitting there and letting it happen,
Bull and rider were conjoined; we were changed.
Thrown, then, from that perfect world

Time and spur holds lost, spun out of control,
Hung up, gloved hand suicide-wrapped and
Rosined tight, tied to a thing uncurbed

We learned to submit, to pray to the rodeo gods,
To get to our feet and stumble along,
To blindly grasp the tails of our ropes
And pull ourselves free, to walk away,
No regrets, wiser, yet still just as wild for the ride.

© Shadd Piehl
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without written permission.

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Sweetheart of the Rodeo

The devices on my chaps were hearts,
One torn in two, the other red and full.
A romantic take I thought, metaphor,
For rodeo and loves, fits and starts.
Back when I could spur the baddest buckers,
I wrote on the rolls of my Salisbury
Six-O-six roughout kack an inscription,
Something from Ezra Pound, a translation
From the Latin on the Medieval sword:
If your heart fails you, trust not in me.
Oh, words to live by! To say that you're scared,
Ain't nothing wrong in that. But to flee
In the face of chance? C'mon, cowboy,
Roll 'em! Shake your face and let them have you.

© Shadd Piehl
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without written permission.

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All My Relations

My father tells me he has written an epitaph,
And so I set it down:

            Here, where as a boy
            I watched the swans,
            I sleep the big sleep.

And I know that "here" as the Lakeview Cemetery
In Marion, North Dakota; our folks there are close
To where the sorrel and dun, out West-of-Town
In a dry slough, weather, bleach, and break apart,
Only a crow's mile from that small lake and view.
But, hoka hey, this poem is not about last words;
Ask the Hunkpapa—a death song is a song of triumph!
After all, the work is what remains. Those endless
Rounds in the hayfield, like mornings in the studio,
Produce the feed that will winter the horses.
My father, his lesson: The art is found and built
Upon the errors.
All my relations, listen—
Let us ride our lost ponies into eternity.

© Shadd Piehl
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without written permission.




Shadd Piehl's work is collected in anthologies, including:

Click to view at  Between Earth and Sky; Poets of the Cowboy West includes an article about Shadd Piehl with photos and the poems "My Grandfather's and Father's Horses," "Storm Front," "Towards Horses," and "Winter Breaks." 

  Maverick Western Verse includes "My Grandfather's and Father's Horses," "Paha Sapa," "Riding Song," and "Towards Horses."  

  A number of poems by Shadd Piehl appear in issues of Dry Crik Review.



Contacting Shadd Piehl

shaddpic2.jpg (28435 bytes)

Shadd Piehl
338 Elmwood Ave
Fargo, ND 58103




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