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Shad Pease

Shad A. Pease

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

About Shad A. Pease
A Few Poems

Contacting Shad A. Pease


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About Shad A. Pease

Shad is a Wyoming cowboy who began his poetic career in 1991 while still in the Marine Corps.  His unique style of delivery and poetic form can alternately tear at the soul or tie the stomach in knots of laughter.   Using a combination of contemporary and classical verse structures, and through vocal inflection and gestures, he creates visual images that draw his audience into his tumultuous grasp. 

He has been featured at gatherings and shows throughout the western states.  In addition, he has set the stage for Michael Martin Murphy, and shared it with notables such as Chris Ledoux, Waddie Mitchell, Don Edwards, and Red Steagall. 

Famed movie star and cowboy singer, Rex Allen (God bless him), proclaimed him “...one of the finest and funnest cowboy poets I’ve seen.”

In addition to his powerful performances, Shad has written over two hundred poems and recorded three albums:  Cowboy Stuff, Sagebrush Philosophy, and Passin’ it Down.

A Few Poems

Christ Died for Cowboys Too
Phantom Gold

Passin’ it Down
Panic in the Privy

The Chill
Time to Ride


Rusty spurs a' squeakin'
and saddle leather creakin'
in the faded, angry glow of the settin' sun

Restless long-horns bawlin'
overwhelm the night-birds callin'
Now the day is through, but the cowboy's work is far from done

Thunder clouds abrewin'
have got the foreman chewin'
on the corners of his handle-bar mustache

"Boys, we're doublin' up the guard
Best be ready to ride 'em hard
when the lightning strikes and the thunder starts to crash"

No sooner had he spoken
than the tension, it was broken
and the sky was filled with jagged bolts of blue

and the peace of night was shattered
as the cattle quickly scattered
and the cowboys to their haggard ponies flew

and the ramrod called above the din
"Go to 'em boys and bring 'em in
God grant us luck upon this fearsome night!"

There was no time to talk
as we charged out on our stock
our leaden hearts jammed in our craws from fright

So began the race all cowboys dread
'cuz someone always ends up dead
with naught to send back home except a name

Yet any cowboy worth his sand
who claims he's ridin' for the brand
would rather chase that devil's herd than die in shame

So we raced into that thundering night
with the static 'twixt their horns for light
and sent our ponies surging for the lead

then amidst the lightning and the rain
three thousand head were split in twain
and two separate herds were running in full speed

O'er the rock and sage we bounded
and I found myself surrounded
by a sea of surging horns where blue light danced

No man has ever stopped the ocean
from goin' where it takes a notion
and no man amidst a stampede has a chance

Yet, I drew my six-gun and it spoke
with a flash of fire and smoke
and the steer beside me nosed into the dirt

and a second bullet behind the ear
dropped another insane steer
and I edged my pony closer to the skirt

Then in the flash of light ahead
I saw another rider sped
and I watched in horror as his pony fell

No sooner had his steed stumbled
than Charlie, from the saddle tumbled
and disappeared...beneath the cloven hooves of hell

So I raced on, amidst this bovine flood
their horns tearin' gashes and drawin' blood
and neither my steed nor I dared slow our stride

Then of a sudden we were free!
of that ring-tailed, wild-eyed sea
and found ourselves abreast of the lowing tide

So we resumed again, our chore
which was to race up to the fore
and turn the steers whose pace the rest had held

and as the leaders were nearly expired
only a few shots needed fired
to turn the steers and set them wheeling upon themselves

Myself and five good cronies
sat upon our winded ponies
as the thousand head we'd captured slowly milled

How many cowboys would be missin'
when the sun had fully risen
How many men had this night's foray killed?

For tattered rags alone remain
of those men who rode in vain
to stop the maddened rush of the devil's breed

and sometimes, still, I wake a'screamin'
from a fitful night of dreamin'
that again I ride...amidst that wild stampede

Rusty spurs a squeakin'
and saddle leather creakin'
in the frosted, yellow light of the rising sun

Restless long-horns bawlin'
overwhelm the night-birds callin'
now the night is through...but the cowboy's work...is far from done.

Shad Pease
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

Christ Died for Cowboys Too

When he stepped in through
the doors of church
the folks all turned to stare

and there was surprised and angry eyes
when they realized
who was there

He stood in the door
with his hat in his hand
and pale dust covered his clothes

the folks that didn't glare
at the cowboy
turned away and thrust up their nose

The cowboy took a ragged breath
and started down the aisle
his calloused hands never once stopped shakin'
and his lips bore a determined smile

No one attempted to quiet the whispers
or the snickers caused
when his footsteps faltered

but an eerie silence descended
when he knelt
before the altar

He crossed himself and folded his hands
and slowly he bowed his head
when he spoke, his voice was soft and low
but everyone heard what he said

He said "Lord,
I'm sorry to interrupt you
I know that you're a busy man

I've never been
inside a church before
my house of worship was always the land

I've knelt and prayed
on the prairie,
on a mountain, and beside a stream

and in the winter storms
of my life,
you've stayed 'till the grass turned green

you've always stood beside me, Lord
you're the closest friend I ever found
and when I failed in life's travails
you never let me down

I've ridden beneath
a cloudy sky
and watched as it turned blue

and it just occured to me
dear god,
that I'd never said thanks to you

So I guess the reason that I'm here,
inside this church today

is to say "Thank you Lord,
for over-lookin' my faults
and for lovin' me anyway""

Then he lifted his head
and with the sign of the cross
he whispered the final amen

and there were tears in his eyes
when he turned from the altar
and walked down the aisle again

But this time
as he passed each pew
nobody said a word

until he'd reached
the very last bench
and a little girl's voice was heard

She said "Mommy I don't understand
why's that man sad and blue
don't he know that he's not alone?
...Christ died for cowboys too"

1990, Shad Pease
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.


Phantom Gold

Men have traded life and laughter
men have given up their souls
in their search for hidden treasure
in their search for Phantom Gold

In their dreams of fame and fortune
they've spent the wealth they cannot find
while wandering through this world of beauty
with fevered eyes that have gone blind

to amber hillsides rich with sunsets
to autumn leaves that fall with dawn
to silver dew-drops shining wetly
here today, tomorrow gone

Leave no clear blue stream untested
let no cave go unexplored
leave no mountain unmolested
in your search for yellow ore

seek the stones with silken luster
with whose shine none can compare
let greed, not conscience, be your master
and when you find it, never share

trod upon this earth unthinking
and from her beauty turn away
after you have marred her figure
she will have the final say

for while your bones melt within her
in a world gone dark and cold
do you think that it was worth it
to follow the lure of Phantom Gold?

you who struggle now, look behind you
to all the places that you have seen
for here's a secret I must tell you
Phantom Gold in spring... is Green.

Shad Pease
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.



Passin’ it Down

In the tack-shed there’s a saddle
in which my father carried me
when he’d ride out to check the cows
and I come ‘yay’ high to his knee

His father had given that kak to him
when he was just a lad,
and he rode it for nearly thirty years
‘twas the favorite of all that he had

I remember settin’ in front of that saddle
and gazin’ off down the hill
watchin’ the cows graze in the pasture
and listenin’ to Meadowlarks trill

Pa’s voice was made of iron
but, he’d speak to me with pride
when he talked about those cows
or about the land we’d ride

It wasn’t often I heard him speak
in an easy, gentle manner
his tone was often harsh and short
and left no room for banter

his demands were said but once
and I’d best be quick to learn
if he had to repeat hisself
my backside’d tend to burn

So respect and responsibility
I learned at a young and tender age
yet, I often wondered what I’d done wrong
  Pa seemed always to be in a rage

...He could gentle a colt with an easy hand
but kids wasn’t his cup-o-tea
and I look to the future and wonder now
if this, too, has been passed down to me

‘cuz that saddle’s mine now
and each time that I ride it
a voice tremors inside my heart
“When I become a father
will my son and I grow apart?”

because I couldn’t find the words to praise
or let him know I care
because I didn’t take time to hug him
or let him know that I’d be there.

Will I be able to say “I love you”?
or in anger curb my tongue
will I remember how it felt to be
defenseless, small, and young

...I love my father.  I always have
but these words he’ll never hear
‘cuz of all the men upon this earth
he’s the only man I fear

and I can’t fault him for how he raised us
though sometimes I feel the need to blame
truth be known, He didn’t know better
his pa raised him the same

...Well, I hope, Dad, that you’re proud of me
but, I think it’s time things turned around
‘Cuz I want more than a saddle
     and some hard memories...
         ...for my son...to be passin’ down.

Shad Pease
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.



Panic in the Privy

I was perched upon the port-hole
in the privy near the barn
singin’ songs one autumn morning
and contrivin’ clever yarns

I’d tied my stick-horse to the hitchin’ rail
underneath the trees
and my boots was bangin’ idle
on the wall beneath my knees

Now the privy’s in the pasture
and the pasture’s our back yard
it’s also where the orchard lies...
and when the apples are ripe and hard

the bears come down from the mountains
and they’ll wander from the hills
to admire all them granny smiths
and to eat their frivolous fills

now, I’s a lad of maybe seven
long of leg and narrow cheeked
and the hole on which I’m perched
lies above the irrigation creek

and the rushin’ of the water
through the privy makes a breeze
which causes tiny parts to shrivel
and can make a feller wheeze

it whispers through the outhouse
as it passes through the chute
and through holes that’s partly covered
tends to whistle like a flute

It flutters pages on the catalogs
and planks within the floor
then seeks escape through narrow cracks
and batters at the door

The sound it makes is quite distinct
this ...rushing of the wind
so when I heard the second sound
I got goose bumps on my skin

for the whuffin’ and the wheezin’
was the sound that bears’ll make
when they eye elusive apples
and must give the branch a shake

and the grunt and grumble that I heard
was the unmistaken call
of Mr. Bruin’s Frust-r-ation
when the fruits refuse to fall

Then he passed before the outhouse door
and the chills run up my back
He stood moon-high at hip and thigh
and I’s sure I saw fur through the cracks

then a shiver rent the outhouse walls
as he raked ‘em with his claws
...it’s a good thing that I was sittin’
in the position that I was

but, then my toes began to tingle
and the tears submerged my eyes
for the blood that rushed throughout my veins
was stopped up at my thighs!!

My legs was goin’ number
I began to feel light-headed
and slivers of ancient outhouse wood
in my bummer was embedded

but little adrenalized children
have no fear at all of pain
when imaginin’ big ol’ brindles
with breakfast on the brain

gimme half a tiny heartbeat
or maybe a little more
and that ramshackle privy’d
be sportin’ a new back door

Then the bear gave out a mighty roar
and the door flung open wide...
and my old man with hat in hand
stood laughin’ on the other side

did you know...?

that Sixty-five pounds of skin and bone
when hurling at high speeds through space
can silence a chuckle and cut short a smile
...so long as it hits the right place

Twas a lesson that my father learned
it left him gaspin’ for breath and dizzy
but no longer did he give me a fright
when I’s busy in the privy!

1999, Shad Pease
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.



The Chill

Cloudless nights are always coldest
and the campfire fails to warm my veins
strange...that August should be so cold
‘pon these barren Texas plains

how often have we parted, love,
as I head northward toward the rail?
how you must have wept and cursed me
each time I stepped upon this trail

yet, our souls are bound together
and I pray they always will...
    I’ll just pull your memory closer
    to ward against the chill

Cattle drives are never easy...
many men have lost their lives
falling ‘midst the racing herd
to hooves as sharp as knives

you wouldn’t know by lookin’ now,
‘cause the stars are shinin’ bright
but we were struck by heavy clouds
and the day turned black as night  

The cattle, they stampeded
and my pony slipped in the mud
when he fell....I was beneath him
...Lord, I’ve never smelled such blood

Make no mistake about it love
cattle drives can kill
    I’ll just pull your memory closer
    to ward against the chill

I did not leave the scene unscathed
...my legs don’t seem to work
I rattle when I breathe
and there’s stains upon my shirt

Billy writes this letter
'Cuz my hands don’t have the skill
    but my mind can pull your memory closer
    to ward against the chill

I can almost feel your sunburned skin
and your lips pressed ‘gainst my own
I’m tired of punchin’ cattle, love...
and wish I’s with you at home

I see sunlight dancing on your hair
and starlight in your eyes
the tears that stain these dusty cheeks
I wish I could disguise...

The boys are gathered ‘round me now,
...I can hear a night bird trill
    I’ll just pull your memory closer
    to ward against ..............

1997, Shad Pease
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.



Time to Ride

Heaven knows I hate the darkness
When it comes my time to ride,
I'll just saddle up for night guard
And push these fears aside.

Some folks may think I'm singing
To keep these cattle bedded down,
To keep 'em quiet, keep 'em silent
And let 'em know that I'm around.

But in truth, I'm chasing shadows
That come creepin' through my mind,
When the moon and stars are hidden
And the trail is far behind.

For when that night wind starts to speakin'
And the air starts getting colder,
Those long lost ghosts of yesterday
Settle down around my shoulders.

And I can hear their voices whisperin'
On the soft and silent breeze,
Weaving a tangled tapestry
Of one man's legacy.

It's nothing big or fancy
Just a simple cowboy's dream,
That someday I'll wake and find
My life's more than what it seems.

That I've given my wife and son
A little bit more room to hope,
'cuz I've done more on this outfit
Than just busted hump and rope.

And that the seed I've planted
Stems from more than cowboy pride.
Heaven knows I hate the darkness
When it comes my time to ride.

For the rights and wrongs of days now gone
Come crashing through my head.
It's times like these I wish I's home
And lying in my bed.

Or beside a blazing campfire
That could scorch these fitful fears,
But, I'm out here riding night guard
On another herd of steers.

Just wondering what tomorrow will bring
And what choices I'll make then,
When the sun breaks from the chains of night
And I'm free to breathe again  . . .

But dawn's a long time coming
I just hope I'll see the light.
Heaven knows I hate the darkness
When it comes my time to ride...

But then again, my future's waiting
In the figure of my son.
And everything I am today
My wife's helped me to become.

With images of him and her
To lift me off the ground,
Ain't no demon born in hell
Can keep this cowboy down!

Now my heart starts beating faster
As their laughter fills my soul.
This cowboy life ain't easy
But it's the best of those I know.

So I'll sing a little louder
And I'll play the cards that's dealt,
And hope that I won't have to fold
Or even tighten up my belt.

'Cuz life don't quit when the sun goes down
And I've go no reason to hide,
So I'll grin like hell and saddle up
When it comes my time . . . to ride.

1999, Shad Pease
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.



Brandin' time

A coffee can of calf fries
a pocket full of pills
burns along your backside
a shot to cure your ills

a pocket knife in one hand
a needle in the other
another steer to roam the land
lookin' for its mother

                sushi bars and caviar
                cannot hold a dime
                to the rocky mountain oysters
                that are plucked at brandin' time

Fire spittin' sparks
and smoke that fills the air
a mangy cur that barks
and the stench of burning hair

The music of a lariat
the bawlin' of a calf
the pointy horns of mama
when she pokes your lower half

                Orchestras and symphonies
                cannot hold a dime
                to the melodrama of the west
                that's sung at brandin' time

Branding irons in the fire
burning brilliant red
cowboys callin' cuss words
boss's purple head
Angry words a flyin'
tempers gettin' hot
dogs are kicked and cryin'
and fixin' to be shot

                corporate cuts and down-sizing
                cannot hold a dime
                to the fever-pitched anxiety
                that's found at branding time.
Raw-hide ropes a reachin' out
tyin' hard and fast
if it slips beneath your pony's tail
he'll dump you on your _ _ _(gasp)

dehornin' tools and iodine
hot-shots, prods and guns
silken threads and fishin' line
green stuff on your buns

                computer bugs and Y2K
                cannot hold a dime
                to the cowboy tools of yesterday
                that's found at brandin' time

Puncture wounds from needle points
pebbles in your boots
blistered hands and swollen joints
scrapes from running chutes

Sticky clothes and streams of sweat
slivers in your thumb
aches and pains you won't forget
your legs are going numb
                Your business suits and beemers
                usually cannot hold a dime
                though they look a little better
                when they're seen at branding time

but now the day is finally endin'
and the bar-b-que begins
wounds are needing tending
as we set around with friends

we'll laugh and tell a tale or two
joke, and shoot the breeze
or watch the risin' of the moon
shimmer through the trees

                neon lights and city life
                cannot hold a dime
                to Cowboy days and Country nights
                that's found at branding time

So keep your hectic battles
of city streets and over-time
I'll live my life a'straddle
of my trusty old equine
Keep your cell-phones and your cadillacs
I'll use 'em when I must
keep your clauses, laws, and contracts
don't foist them off on us
                Cuz that city life your leadin'
                simply cannot hold a dime
                to the feelin' of a job well-done
                and not just...at brandin' time.

1999, Shad Pease
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.


Tapes and Such

Shad A. Pease has recorded three tapes: Cowboy Stuff, Sagebrush Philosophy, and Passin’ it Down. You can get them directly from him (see the information below).

Contacting Shad A. Pease

     Contact Shad A. Pease for his albums and appearance schedule at:

Shad A. Pease
843 Mystic Horse Lane
Corvallis MT,  59828








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