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STUART HOOKER
New Mexico
About Stuart Hooker

 

 Recognized as one of

Lariat Laureate Runner Up
for his poem, "Ever Seen a Cowboy"

 

 

Ever Seen a Cowboy

 Have you ever seen a cowboy on a windswept ridge alone,
Starin' across the country like he's chiseled there in stone,
His horse standin' beside him, ears up, he's lookin' too,
And way off, in the distance, are the mountains, far and blue;
 
Have you ever wrangled horses in the dim pre-light of dawn,
Smelled woodsmoke from the cabin where there's hot, black coffee on,
Have you climbed into the saddle with your fingers stiff and cold,
Then felt your sorrel hump up, so you took a real good hold;
 
Have you ever roped a "big 'un" when no one knew where you were at,
Then had to go back lookin' for your "stompled" trompled hat,
Have you ever heard the wisdom in an old hands' tales,
Then had to run from a mad old cow, when that wisdom fails;
 
Have you ever wished for a faster horse, or at least, a slower steer,
Have you looked back up the trail and wondered, "Can I get outta here,"
Have you ever seen a bad old cow guard her sickly calf,
Or watched a youngster smile 'cause he made an old hand laugh;
 
Have you ever seen a cowgirl when she brought a wild one in,
Or heard her Daddy proudly say, "She did it, again,"
Have you ever seen a dust cloud boil behind a herd of steers,
Or seen a rancher smile at the first "good" rain in years;
 
Have you ever stood in a dry corral with so many calves to brand,
That you couldn't see how you'd get it done, then a kid makes a hand,
Have you ever tracked a wild cow wonderin' who's gonna find who first,
Or drank from a murky dirt tank 'cause you had to quench your thirst;
 
Have you ridden back to cow camp after you turned the cattle out,
Knowin' you've done a good job, that's what cowboyin's about,
Have you sat outside the bunkhouse after all the chores were done,
Thinkin' the roan did good today, watchin' the settin' sun;
 
Have you ever seen a cowboy on a windswept ridge alone,
Starin' across the country like he's chiseled there in stone,
If so, well, we've been blessed, my friend, to know the cowboy ways,
I've seen that cowboy, on that ridge, I've helped him gather strays. 

2007, Stuart Hooker
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

 

Stuart told us: My grandfather, Joe Hooker, and my brother, David Hooker, were my inspiration for this poem. Their dedication and hard work at raising cattle have always amazed me. I can still see my grandfather on a ridge looking for cattle during a gather. My brother has followed suit and can still be seen out in the pasture working cattle.

 

All My Cowboys Were Girls

I didn't think about it, when we saddled up that day,
Tammy rode her palomino, I picked out my bay,
Sandra caught her dun, Holly got the roan whose mane has curls,
I never thought about it, but all my cowboys were girls;

We piled into the four-door, the trailer was loaded down,
We stopped to get some diesel, as we drove through town,
The only station open was that rundown place of Earls,'
It still hadn't hit me, that all my cowboys were girls;

By noon we had 'em gathered, then took a break for lunch,
We's laughin' and relaxin,' that was sure a topnotch bunch,
After brandin,' headed home, listenin' to a song of Merles,'
Holly laughed and said, "Grandpa, all your cowboys, are girls;"

It shocked me when I heard it, then I laughed out loud,
The way they worked them cattle would make my grandpa proud,
I had to quote a great cowgirl as we cleared a cattleguard,
"To cowboy up isn't bad, but to cowgirl up, that's hard;"

I've rode with lots of cowboys, lots of cowgirls, too,
It's never about gender when there's work to do,
I've learned a bit of wisdom, through life I've heard some pearls,
Don't judge someone 'til you've rode their trail, some of the best cowboys, are girls

2007, Stuart Hooker
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

 

Stuart told us, "Working with my daughters, Tammy and Sandra, and granddaughter, Holly, is always a joy. One of the best cowhands I know, besides my brother David, is his wife, Paula. She really understands cattle, horses, and any other 'critter' you can think of. My niece, Belinda, is good help too. She can help get a pretty big animal down, and hold its head down while I tie it. There are many women, and girls, around here who can hold their own when it comes to working cattle, or any other ranch work. I see more and more women working on, and running ranches. It's a great time to be a cowboy, or a cowgirl!"

 

 

The Boss's Saddle

It was winter-time and it was cold,
That fencin' job was gettin' old,
I put the tools back in the truck,
Drove to the ranch, and just my luck;

The other hand was late, again,
I opened the gate, let the horses in,
Threw out hay for the horses and cattle,
Then stopped to look at the boss's saddle;

It was carved with acorns and leaves of oak,
I'd get one like that, 'cept I was broke,
See, a workin' man don't make a lot,
But he takes pride in what he's got;

A friend said once, when we's in a drought,
I's born with a silver spoon in my mouth,
I's the only one he ever knew about,
That took that spoon and spit it out;

Well, I was raised on our family ranch,
I was in line, on the workin' branch,
But, Grandpa died 'fore he got it all set,
They split that ranch and we're fightin' yet;

So, I'm off workin' for another man,
And it's hard to pay for a good top hand,
As ranchers go, this one's top-notch,
Like a good calf horse, he doesn't scotch;

But, I'm not gettin' ahead this way,
I'll go find somethin' else, some day,
I've got to settle in and work right now,
Aw, get outta the tack room, you danged old cow.

2010, Stuart Hooker
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

 

Stuart told us: "The Boss's Saddle" is very personal to me, as I am still attempting to settle my part of our family ranch in New Mexico with a family member. I have been working away from the ranch during this prolonged attempt. It's easy to get "wrapped up in" the work, but once in a while I get to thinking of how it should have been with us all working together like we used to. Then, suddenly, something happens to pull me back into the reality of my job and situation, like the old cow sticking her head into the tack room.

 

 

Night Herd

There's a half-moon shinin' so I can see a bit,
Though I don't like night herdin,' I know I'll never quit,
Workin' for some rancher, carin' for his cattle,
Miles away from town, spendin' hours in the saddle;

(chorus:)
There's a fire up near the wagon where the boys are gathered 'round,
'Fore they crawl in their bedrolls scattered on the ground,
I hear 'em softly laughin,' but I can't make out a word,
'Cause I'm out in the darkness, keepin' watch on Night Herd;

I picked out my grulla, 'cause he sees good at night,
Slim's a-circlin' to the left, I move out to the right,
We moved them cows off water to where we've held 'em up,
There's coffee at the fire if we really need a cup;

A big, old brindle steer gets up, some yearlin's follow suit,
As I ease out around 'em, an owl lets out a hoot,
I let 'em hear me comin' so they won't all run off,
Slim has seen 'em movin' too, I hear him softly cough;

The cattle graze a little while, then they bed back down,
Later my relief shows up wearin' a sleepy frown,
Slim and I slip back to camp as quiet as can be,
Glad we're done Night Herdin,' it ain't our cup o' tea.

2011, Stuart Hooker
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

 

Stuart told us,  "On our family ranch the wagon was replaced by a Ford tractor, then a Jeep, and finally a 4x4 pickup, but my grandparents loved their old wagon and 'spring buggy.' We seldom had to 'night herd,' but I recall having to drive a herd of cattle after dark for 6 or 7 miles, because due to rain the semi couldn't get to the corral we planned to load the cattle at. It was so dark, I could barely see the cattle I was driving, but my big brother would come around me to push cattle back toward the herd, and I hadn't even seen them. Working cattle is great, but it's hard work. Working cattle after dark is near impossible. That's my inspiration for writing this song/poem."

 

I've Outlived Lots of Horses

I've outlived lots of horses, I had good ones from the start,
I've outlived lots of horses, but they live on in my heart,
I've outlived lots of horses, I rode each one with pride,
I've outlived lots of horses, broke my heart when each one died;

You cain't help but love horses, each one's different than the rest,
You cain't help but love horses, hard to say which one's the best,
One may be good in mountains, one may have a lot more speed,
Each of them has somethin' that a cowboy may need;

I guess my best horse is the one I'm ridin' now,
He's got a lot of bottom and he understands a cow,
Sometimes he puts up with them like he puts up with me,
When I'm on him, ridin', he sets my soul plumb free;

You know what I'm sayin', a horse can get your heart,
Even if he bucked you off when you thought you's so smart,
He's not a pet, he's not a tool, the relationship is strange,
'Tween a cowboy and his horse, out ridin', on the range;

I've outlived lots of horses, I had good ones from the start,
I've outlived lots of horses, but they live on in my heart,
I've outlived lots of horses, I rode each one with pride,
I've outlived lots of horses, broke my heart when each one died.

2012, Stuart Hooker
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

 

Stuart told us, "I wrote a list of many of the horses I've had since learning to ride so many years ago. I realized how lucky I was to have so many great ranch-horses throughout this time. This poem is a tribute to the great horses I've been lucky enough to have ridden and worked cows on."


 

Crossin' the Gila

We had to cross the Gila on that muggy summer day,
Rains brought the flood that took the drift fences away,
The cattle were balled up on the east side riverbank,
When I saw that muddy flood, that's when my heart sank;

See, I'd never learned to swim, I'd sink like a rock,
When it came time to dive in, I let my horse balk,
Brother rode up beside me and yelled, "Do what I do,"
He gigged his palomino and through the air they flew;

When he splashed in the water, I's already in the air,
My horse's head went under, I thought we'd die right there,
Brother yelled, "Now slide back, hang on like I am,"
My horse's head came up, we's out of a jamb;

Then we started laughin' like we'd never laughed before,
Though muddy river water filled our every pore,
He yelled, "Never mind the cattle when you reach the other side,"
"Climb back in your saddle, that's the time to ride;"

When I's back in my saddle I heard brother shout,
"Trade me ropes, I'll catch another, you pull this calf out,"
"But watch out for his mama, she's mad as can be,"
"If you need help to cut 'im loose, just wait for me;"

I'd seen this done before so I worked on my slack,
The calf was with his mama when brother came ridin' back,
I told him, "That was fun, but let's not cross a flood again,"
He asked me how I's gettin' home, then he began to grin;


2012, Stuart Hooker
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.


Stuart told us that the poem, "...is based on an actual event from my childhood working cattle on our family ranch. My brother had a great deal of patience helping me learn to be a good cowboy. This is just another lesson on how to get the cattle where they had to be and, of course the humor that always goes hand-in-hand with cowboyin.'

"I remember watching my big brother and learning so much by following his example. Cowboying can be dangerous, but he always told me what to look out for and how to do something without getting yourself, or someone else hurt. This poem is about one of those times when my big brother was there to guide me through a bad situation. I will be eternally grateful for his patience and guidance."

 

The Textin' Cowboy

I'm the textin'est cowboy that ever did ride,
These open plains 'neath skies big and wide,
So when I jumped a big steer, sent a txt to big bro,
"jmpd big str, up rdge, hre we go:"

Well, I didn't know that my service was bad,
I didn't know one bar's all I had,
I didn't know my txt didn't arrive,
When I sent; "trnd hm west, all stll alive:"

Turned him down a canyon, back t'ward the herd,
Bro had to be ready, so I sent the word,
"cmin 2 ya, at a fst lpe,"
"keep u I's opn, tke dwn Ur rpe;"

The steer crossed a ridge and ran down a hill,
Hit brother's horse and caused a big spill,
When the dust settled, bro's mad as a hornet,
He took my phone from me, and busted it, darnit;

Now that steer's gone to Texas, I'm usin' "snail mail,"
And yes, there's a moral to this little tale,
Don't assume communication's has always got through,
'Cause I'm shovelling out corrals, wanna join me, do you?


2013, Stuart Hooker
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

 

Stuart comments: This poem was inspired as I recalled helping gather cattle on my sister-in-law's place and we all had two-way radios. You had to be out on top of a ridge to reach anyone, and they usually didn't hear, or weren't listening. So when my brother needed help with a runaway, none of us heard him. Also, I have tried, but I can't do very much while texting, although my girls seem to do fine with it.
 


Turnin' Cattle Out

We rode all day, branded after we cut strays, but the best was left for last,
We'd open the gate, then watch and wait as cattle streamed on past,
There's no doubt, as they lined out down the creek they made a sight,
The sinkin' sun said the ride's begun back to the ranch for the night;

But we tarried there, like we had no care, watchin' them old cows,
It was fun, knowin' the job was done as cattle began to browse,
If I could paint, but alas, I cain't, I'd hang that on my wall,
The sun's last peek, the corral, the creek, them cattle, one and all;

Riders passin' by, their spirits high, cows fanned out down the creek,
The day's last ride, hands side by side, in the background, Shelley Peak,
Painters do it right, capture shadow and light, they'd make a canvas say,
"There ain't no doubt, turnin' cattle out's the best part of the day."

2013, Stuart Hooker
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.


Stuart told us that Cowboy Poetry Week posters inspired him, "... I got to thinking .... that if I were a good painter that I would paint a picture of a herd of cattle turned out down Bear Creek after we had branded and worked them. I would also include the ranch hands riding by, heading back to the home ranch with the Mogollon Mountains in the background."

 

 

His Cowboy Heart

Well, there's his old friends and angels and horses he has rode,
Country that he's covered and the many folks he's knowed,
There's cattle drives and brandin' pens, all these are just a part,
Of what a cowboy packs with him, deep in his cowboy heart;

His family has the biggest share of what he's got inside,
When he's with, or thinks of them, he fills plumb up with pride,
His mem'ries of ten thousand days, or more, of sweat and blood,
So many hours ridin' through dry dust, or rain and mud;

The cabin he first "wintered" in, the time he's spent alone,
The baby colt he raised and trained, he's ridin' now, full grown,
His cowboy heart is chocked plumb full of country, God, and man,
When it seems it won't hold more, he always knows it can;

Old cowboy songs, good poetry, tellin' stories that he's heard,
Sharin' his fav'rite authors' books, he loves the written word,
Good leatherwork, his tack, his ropes, a headstall that he made,
First time "boss" called him "cowboy," first time he "made the grade;"

The animals he tends to, a huge part of his life,
And, strangely, how he feels about his old "ear markin' knife,"
All of the old cowboy ways which he tries to pass on,
If not for cowboys' love of them, by now they'd all be gone;

The bar where the hands relaxed, that wild and wooly crew,
That restaurant up there in the pines, the one he took "her" to,
The Western life that he's lived and gladly did his part,
This is but a quick look into what's in his cowboy heart.

2015, Stuart Hooker
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

 

 

For Cowboys Everywhere

He rode on the Pecos, he rode the Gilas
he swam the Rio Grande in New Mexico,
He's ridden the Brazos and Little Eagle Meadows
and Tomahawk Basin up near Durango,
Been in Freedom, Wyoming and the Trinity River
rode the Sawtooth and Hole in the Mountain Peak,
He's seen Marble Gap and the Medicine Mounds
been on Gunsight Mountain, crossed Coyote Creek;

He is a cowboy, across this great country,
He is a cowboy, his horse is the best,
He is a cowboy, you've seen 'im out workin,'
He is a cowboy, out workin' the West;

Rode up Salmon River, down Chimney Creek
worked near Mount Rainier, his grulla and him,
Worked Hannagan's Meadow and Blowhard Mountain
East of Cour D'Alene, rode the Mogollon Rim,
Been cold on Mount Shasta and on Grassy Butte
gathered by Kneelin' Nun, camped near Mountainair,
He's ridden Hell's Canyon and Hell's Half Acre
he's gathered Devil's Run and most ever'where;

Hats off to the cowboys across this great country,
Hats off to the cowboys, 'cross this U. S. of A,
I salute men and women, "Cowboys" everywhere,
Out there a' workin' most ever' day.

2015, Stuart Hooker
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

 

Stuart comments:  I was driving back from Aztec, New Mexico, near Durango, Colorado, when I got to thinking about some of the neat place names I saw along the way. These were places where people were ranching as they had for many generations, like my family did. When I got home, I began this poem by writing down many place names, from here and places I have travelled near. Cowboys, cowgirls, and all types of ranching families work all over the U.S.A. and I thought I would mention many of these places in one poem. The work is steady, and not easy on any of these scattered ranches. I salute all of them!



 

Read Stuart Hooker's

Dreams and Hope in Art Spur

and

Different Propositions in Art Spur

and

Our Saddles Were Straight in Art Spur

and

He's At the End of His Rope in Art Spur

 


 About Stuart Hooker:

I was raised on our family ranch near Gila, New Mexico. I was born in Silver City, New Mexico. I learned to work cattle at a young age and still enjoy helping family that are raising cattle. I've worked at many jobs, mining, deputy sheriff, truck driving, and construction, but I like ranching and farming over everything I've done. Writing is my relaxation. My daughters, Tammy and Sandra, and my grandchildren bring light to my world. I am truly blessed.
 


2013

From the publisher:

A Cowboy Spirit is a collection of some of Hooker's cowboy poems that are new and fresh. They range from true events from his life, to inspirational poems, traditional poems, a romantic type poem, an outlaw poem, team roping poems, a few humorous poems, and a few that are a little "different," but nevertheless, enjoyable to read. These poems are about many subjects that arise in a cowboy's life. Stuart Hooker reveals how his heart and soul are driven by his passion for ranching and the cowboy way of life.

Available in softcover, hardback, and Ebook at Xlibris call 888-795-4274 ext. 7879,
order online at Xlibris, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other booksellers.


See Rick Huff's Best of the West review here.


A Cowboy Spirit was named the top 2014 cowboy poetry book by True West Magazine.

 

 

 

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