Cowboy Poetry and Music and More at the BAR-D Ranch

Sun City West, Arizona
About Tamara Hillman




Bull Rider

The task ahead is mighty,
each cowboy knows his lot,
it's win or lose the bounty,
an' go up or down a slot.

He straddles the great Brahma
inside the narrow chute,
pulls his hat down good 'n tight
before he gives the boot.

Ties his hand to the bell-rope,
secures it once or twice,
then scoots himself above it,
while the bull ain't actin' nice.

The critter snorts 'n paws the dirt
just waitin' to dismount
the cowboy sittin' on his back
before eight seconds count.

Then rider gives a signal,
it's us'lly just a nod,
an' the keeper of the gate pulls wide,
an' runs thru' muck 'n sod.

Out comes the bull like lightenin',
he's movin' awful fast,
twistin' an' a turnin'
in hopes the guy won't last.

Dirt 'n dust is flyin' as
that bull spins round an' round,
up an' down he's leapin'
to land rider on the ground.

The cowboy keeps his free arm
swingin' in the air,
it's man 'n beast contestin'
an' it's do, or die, or dare.

The buzzer fin'lly screeches,
an' the rider just wants down,
he jumps clear of the killer bull,
an' hides behind a clown.

He's hopin' for a buckle,
an' that championship pay,
but if he just breaks even,
he'll try another day,

'Cause rodeoin's in his blood,
he knows no other life,
an' very few are lucky
with an understandin' wife.

Folks scratch their heads in wonder
at what makes a person ride
but only he can answer
'cause it's somethin' deep inside.

Is the cowboy brave or crazy,
they just can't say for sure,
but they stare in sheer amazement
when he gives that bull the spur.

The crowds 'll keep on comin'
as long as cowboys choose
to ride the frightful Brahmas,
competin', win or lose.

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


Ranch Hand

 I been slappin' leather
 since I was just a lad.
 Ain't never know'd no better,
 an' for that I'm kinda glad.

 I love the life a ropin',
 an' brandin' all them critters.
 Thoughts a ever settlin' down
 just give this man the jitters.

 Bustin' bronchs, breakin' ribs,
 it's a rough n' tumble life.
 Ain't got time for kids an' such,
 or takin' of a wife.

 Wide-open spaces are my home,
 no walls to close me in.
 Makin' due on beans an' pork,
 and coffee from a tin.

 Winds a blowin' mournful tunes,
 at times a lightnin' storm,
 not needin' many blankets,
 got ol' Shep to keep me warm.

 Driftin' 'cross the prairie,
 only workin' here and there,
 don't want for any valuables,
 live life without much care.

 I hate responsibility,
 ranch foreman ain't my style.
 Don't wanna boss my buddies,
 just work with 'em awhile.

 Ridin' fence, I favor
 'cept when winter's closin' in,
 then I find the bunkhouse
 sure makes a cozy den.

 I never do get lonesome,
 cowboys meet up now and then
 to share a jug a whiskey,
 and play a hand a Gin.

 Now, if I was to give advice,
 don't know where I'd begin,
 but maybe just to tell ya
 for your hair is gettin' thin,

 Don't wish for ever livin'
 bigger than God's plan,
 just be content if all ya are
 is a mangy old ranch hand.

 © 2001, Tamara Hillman
 This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

Ol' Blue

One eye was brown, the other blue,
Australian Shepherd his breed,
a workin' dog with one helluva nip
to the heels a cattle and steed.

Just a little fur ball when I got him
but I well remember the time,
he could out run 'n outsmart the lot,
an' make 'em all turn on a dime.

Those cold prairie nights, sleepin' under the stars,
that dog would warm my old bones.
I'd play my mouth-harp to settle the herd
while he sang in soft muffled tones.

Last winter there came a fierce blizzard,
we were caught in a mighty snowdrift.
Ol' Blue hunkered down, an' just held his ground,
an' saved us both from descendin' a cliff.

They talk about loyal in people,
an' I suppose there are quite a few,
but I trusted my life, even more than a wife
to that mangy ol' dog name of Blue.

His muzzle finally was grayin',
an' his gate turned to limpin' 'n slow,
but no matter the job I was doin',
he'd follow wherever I'd go.

One mornin', I rose from my dreamin',
but Ol' Blue just didn't get up.
I saw in his bed that slumberin' head,
an' thought sure he resembled a pup.

Now, cryin' just ain't in my nature,
nor whinin' 'bout things I can't change,
but I gotta confess, my heart broke at best
an' was sad 'n plenty deranged.

I laid him to rest on the prairie
for the coyotes to sing him a song,
'cause no dog was quite so deservin'
to live on this earth for so long.

Now if there's a Heaven for doggies,
I'm sure that's where Blue is today;
waggin' his tail, an' just proud as hell
of the work that he done without pay.

 © 2001, Tamara Hillman
 This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

Tamara told us: I know most everyone has had a dog they loved and lost sometime in their life so I pictured an old cowboy with a dog, (much like my own granddad's dog was) that he particularly felt partial too, and considered his best friend...




Lord, I'm Ready

Grew up a country bumpkin,
known the freedom that entails.
Worked hard to make a livin',
walked down some dusty trails.

Ma and Pa was rough on me,
said it was for my good,
but I lit out real early
just to prove to them I could.

Did some drinkin' in my early days,
an' had a wife or two,
but now I just got my ol' horse
an' an ornery dog named Blue.

I've lived the life I wanted,
an' done most ever' thing,
have few regrets or heartaches,
so I really cain't complain.

The sky's my roof above me,
an' a camp fire keeps me warm.
My bed is straw an' saddlebags,
and bath, a country storm.

Drink water from the rivers clear
that fill from creek an' stream.
Eat jerky, hard tack biscuits,
and drink coffee without cream.

Ain't no call for cussin'
'cause no ones 'round to hear.
My temper done got simmered
an' replaced with dad-blame fear.

My hair is gettin' gray now,
bones creak more ever' day,
but I can still punch cattle,
brand them doggies, an' buck hay.

If I should die tomorrow,
I'll be glad to meet that train,
for God's seen fit in all His grace
to let me have the reins.

I'll ride them clouds in heaven,
an' sleep in if I please.
I'll praise the Lord before me,
as I get down on my knees.

All my troubles will be over,
won't even mind the rain,
'cause God'll keep me sheltered
from all this earthly pain.

So, let me never be forgettin'
how grand a life I've had,
'cause I've loved ever' minute,
an' it sure ain't been that bad!

© 2001, Tamara Hillman
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.



The Storm

Storm clouds are gatherin'
as I saddle ol' Buck,
I'll get that fence mended
with speed an' some luck

Out here on the prairie,
where land meets the sky,
the lightenin' can get fierce
an' strike too near by

Storms come up quick
an' ya better seek shelter,
rain, sleet, an' hail
make ya run helter-skelter

Cattle get restless,
they sometimes stampede,
an' ya need hardened rovers
ridin' drag, an' the lead

Today I'll be watchin'
them clouds o're my head
'cause storms on the praire
are the worst, it's been said

So I pack up my gear,
my slicker n' such,
slouch hat, an' long coat,
hope I won't need 'em much

Tie a scarf 'round my neck
to keep out the dust
case them dirt-devils twirl
an' kick up a fuss

It's seven miles out,
I'll be workin' all day,
an' I better make haste
or there'll be hell to pay
The skies turnin' dark
an' clouds are now black
as I ease on ol' Buck,
he snorts an' rares back
Guess he smells trouble
out there on the range
so we'd best get the job done
for the weather does change
We reach destination,
I unload my stuff,
I'm stretchin' barbed wire
over ground that is rough
I work like the devil,
I plum bust my tail,
an' just as I finish
comes the lightenin' an' hail
I leap on ol' Buck
in my slicker an' coat,
the strikes are so close
my heart's in my throat
We head for the ranch
on the gallop an' run,
rain pours down my collar,
it sure ain't no fun
But just as we reach
the last mile of fence
there's fire in the sky
an' smoke starts to commence
Along the horizon
flames are now leapin',
straight up my spine
them chills are a creepin'
'Cause I see at the ranch,
the barn is on fire,
men pass water pails
an' it's my first desire
To prod ol' Buck faster
as we come 'round the bend,
if we lose them prize horses
it'll be 'most a sin
But my heart starts to quiet,
they've all been set free
an' are runnin' about,
makes me holler with glee
I jump off my horse
an' we all put it out,
then slap each one's back,
whistle an' shout
That's how we work
out here on the range,
we help one another,
to some that seems strange
But Cowboys 'll survive,
it's part of our creed
to buck bails, an' ride herd,
an' do a good deed
I'm proud to be one,
I won't hang my head,
ain't no man I envy
or life I'd choose instead.

© 2005, Tamara Hillman
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.



Ranchin' ain't easy,
an' it don't get no better
when chores are plum awful
on account of the weather

Storm clouds start gatherin'
above the horizon,
I dig out long-handles,
I hate 'em like pi'son

A cold wind starts blowin',
chills a man to the bone,
the future is troublin'
out here on my own
The house starts to creak
but stands up to the storm,
another log on the fire
keeps it cozy and warm
I pull on my old coat
'n boots-pretty worn,
turn up my collar,
an' head for the barn
Snows blowin' sideways
an' stingin' my face,
I think I'm half crazy
to stay on this place
Wind keeps a howlin'
snows pile up an' drift,
if I don't find them cattle'
they may fall off some cliff
With my trusty old horse,
we herd some to corral,
we've been long together
so he's more like a pal
This task is repeated,
in hastened routine,
while the storm grows
more fierce, angry, an' mean
I take to my bed
in wee hours of morn,
tired an' half froze,
wish I'd never been born
The fire's dyin' down,
burrow deep in my quilt,
complain to my maker,
an' feel plum fulla guilt
'Cause I know He saved me
from that terrible storm
as my limbs start to thaw,
an' body gets warm
Last thing on my mind
as I drift off to sleep,
"Lord, I'm sure grateful
this cowboy you keep."
© 2004, Tamara Hillman
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.


Rodeo Clown 

Most times he's been a rider,
he knows the bulls so well,
he zigs an' zags around 'em
before the cowboys yell

The critter's bent on killin' him
an' the man upon his back,
that's why the clown in funny clothes
sets out to quick distract

He wears a red bandana
an' cut off Wrangler jeans,
cowboy boots up to the knee,
a polka-dot shirt of green

A big ol' hat, pulled way down low,
an' face paint, red 'n white,
he dances 'round the angry bull,
to give the crowd a fright

Folks come an' pay their money
to watch the rodeo,
an' are never disappointed
when the clown gives them a show

Clowns also are protective
of cowboys ridin' bronc's,
then, after dust is settled,
they meet in honky-tonks

It's not an' easy livin',
they're always on the road,
an' most admit it punishment
for wild-oats they have sowed

These men are always roughnecks,
where do they get the nerve
to stand in front of Brahmas,
roll in barrels, dodge 'n swerve

They represent true bravery,
let's give those clowns their due,
but when the rodeo's over
I'll sure bet they're black an' blue.

© 2005, Tamara Hillman
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

Just Lean Back

All the leaves have fallen,
desertin' all the trees,
a chill wind is a callin',
winter whispers on the breeze

Autumn is the season,
reckon it's the best of all,
my sleep may be the reason
'cause I catch up in the fall

The clock, I'm watchin' close,
too soon its gettin' dark,
and early in the mornin'
ol' Reb, he starts to bark

I done all the fence mended,
the wood is cut and stacked,
now, I can hunker down a spell,
just let myself lean back.

© 2005, Tamara Hillman
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.


Wyoming Red

With nostrils flared and wind in mane,
the steeds ran wild across the plain

Quick to find secluded pools
to drink from waters clear and cool

They roamed the valleys, plateaus high,
and danced across a midnight sky
In spring, the foals would join the herd,
upon sweet grass their births occurred

But none was greater born to mare,
with golden mane and reddish hair

Wyoming Red, his given name,
wild horse of legends claim to fame

Broad of shoulder, strong proud head,
coat that glowed like molten lead

Stamping, prancing, snorting steed,
driving herd with lightning speed

With swift action, bold and brave,
his harem horses to be saved

Mighty blaze with wary stare,
rearing hooves, and white teeth bared

Met his foe with furious fire,
and rankled every suitor's ire
Men tried to capture, rope and tame,
this stallions stalwart, stocky frame

With lassos circling o're the stud,
stark fury racing thru' his blood

The stallion let no lariat
touch his long, sweat-glistened neck

Instead he whinnied great alarm
to keep his mares from any harm
And now, those days have come and gone,
but the legend of old Red lives on

Folks claim he prances on a cloud,
and say when thunder gets too loud

"Fear not that roar heard overhead!
It's just the hoof beats of old Red."

© 2003, Tamara Hillman
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.



Today we buried ol' Travis,
a better dog you never seen,
intelligent, strong, an' good-natured
with eyes that were wary an' keen

It hurt me to lay him to rest now,
an' I know I'm gonna shed tears,
but I can't fault God for the takin'
I shared with that dog sixteen years

I remember when I first saw Travis,
just a little fur-ball at the time,
we both felt an instant connection,
I knew that cow-dog would be mine

I couldn't resist his free spirit,
golden eyes that were so fulla care,
nor could I foresee his devotion,
or all the good times we would share

From that very first trip to our homestead,
my pickup he claimed as his own,
whenever the truck left these acres,
he was goin' wherever it roamed

As a watch dog, there never was better,
no coyote would dare cross this land,
he'd be out there barkin' an' chasin',
an' run off the whole yippin' band

An' when Mr. Cougar come prowlin',
ol' Travis would raise such a fuss,
he knew not to nab the mean bugger
but would bark till it woke both of us

Now, Ranch hands have got an' old sayin'
'bout workin' as hard as a dog,
 an' I can sure vouch for ol' Travis,
 he could even herd cattle in fog

His muzzle was startin' to gray
an' he had quite a limp t'ward the end,
but whenever I'd head out to do chores,
I could count on some help from my friend

I sure ain't alone in my grievin',
the wife took Trav's death pretty hard,
he was also her lifelong companion,
an' would follow her out in the yard

I know that we're both gonna miss him,
this place'll seem empty an' bare,
I'll miss fillin' his bowl in the kitchen,
an'  him sleepin' right next to my chair

My throat's just plum' fulla the achin',
an' I'll bust out in tears any time,
but I ain't ashamed a my feelin's,
'cause most dogs, well, they ain't worth a dime

But Travis was just somethin' special,
best cow-dog I ever did see,
an' wherever God sends dogs when passin',
that's the place where I wanna be.

© 2006, Tamara Hillman
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

Dedicated to Jack Barnes, Denver Colorado

Barrel Racer

We wait at the line,
my horse is plum' hyped,
I sweat thru' my new shirt,
snap pockets, gold striped

We fly thru' the rope gate
when I hear buzzer's sound,
gotta charge to that first barrel
an' make a clean round

My horse leans in close
an' her hooves kick up dirt
as we do figure eights
an' I whip with my quirt

The wind feels like sixty
as it slaps at my face,
wanna win that prize money
placin' first in this race

The rootin' an' hollerin
is all meant for me,
as I circle the last barrel,
the crowd shouts with glee

Now they're all on their feet
as my hat goes a flyin',
heart beatin' so fast,
I think that I'm dyin'

Back thru' the gate
my horse stops with a slide,
as I pull back the reins
from one hell of a ride

The gals are a slappin'
my back as it ends,
shoutin' 'n claimin'
they're all my best friends

The next girl speeds out
an' she makes a good show,
her pony's fast runnin'
but down a barrel goes

Second was cinched
by the first rider out,
the one just before me
knew what racin's about

The next, an' the next
try to keep up the pace
but time counts against 'em,
one takes only third place

But I took the ribbon
an' prize money too,
I got plum' excited
but between me 'n you--

Tonight, at the bar,
as we all sip our beer
all that's important is
competin' next year.

© 2006, Tamara Hillman
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

Tamara told us: At rodeos, I could feel the rhythm of hoof beats as each magnificent horse rounded the barrels with their female rider glued to the saddle. And since I have a broad imagination, I just put myself aboard (in my mind only) and took the ride of my life!"


Last Mile

I'll not forget the winter
of nineteen twenty eight,
the autumn was so glorious,
an' snows came on real late.

It wasn't 'til December,
the ground turned frosty white,
an' my feet felt chilly floorboards
when rising in the night.

We lived way back in Kansas
on a farm-not big, but small.
Pa could barely make the payments
to keep the house an' all.

We kids were just like stair steps,
there were nine in just twelve years—
t'was an honor to be oldest,
but no time for baby tears.

Each child had chores an' duties,
an' knew what must be done-
Mine was milking, feeding stock
before the morning sun.

Then breakfast with hot biscuits,
to start our day out right,
there'd be no rest till evening,
stretching into dark of night.

Each day we'd walk to school an' back,
or maybe ride old Pete.
After loading younger kids,
I mostly used my feet.

But I recall quite clearly
that warm December day,
no snow-an' sun bright shining
as we played along the way.

We got to school before the bell—
an' quickly took our seat,
an' from the old pot-bellied stove,
we felt the warming heat.

By afternoon, the sky turned black,
outside the darkened room.
Our teacher lit some candles
to stanch the dreary gloom.

The wind was softly swirling
outside the wooden door,
but it soon became a mighty howl
with whooshing, then a roar.

The little ones were fearful,
an' our teacher, Lila Load,
gathered them together
for a story to be told.

We older ones kept busy
quickly stoking up the fire,
but as the winds grew greater,
our fate became most dire.

The roof was lifted off the school—
the blizzard blew in snow,
Miss Load rushed to the cloakroom
to prepare us fast to go.

She said to get dressed warmly
in coats, an' hats, in haste,
then tie the long rope hanging there
around each other's waist.

It seemed a long few minutes
'til all were tethered there,
an' we waded out in deep snows
with only hope an' prayer.

The horses that had been tied,
were loose an' far had scattered—
so we trudged the path now covered
some in clothes quite worn 'n tattered.

Miss Lila led the trail down hill—
proclaiming it the way,
an' never lost her courage
struggling thru' the drifts that day.

The little ones-we carried
after just a quarter mile,
their teeth began to chatter
an' no longer showed a smile.

The wind—so loud, nobody spoke—
the snow piled fence post high,
an' clouds hung black an' fearsome,
in that ominous dark sky.

We waded two more hours
'til it was near nightfall,
then spied a well-lit farmhouse
amidst the stormy squall.

Our knock would go unanswered
until we pushed right in,
for the blizzard raged an' howled so,
it made an awful din.

The widow lady, Mary Sheen,
stepped back in shocked belief,
then rushed to help the children
before they came to grief.

Each child was wrapped in blankets,
by the stove they were moved close,
as we all thanked God above us
for finding a great host.

Hot food, an' apple cider
soon thawed our group—eleven,
but I'll not forget that last mile,
an' how close we came to Heaven.

© 2007, Tamara Hillman
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.


Black Cloud

They say he was the devil,
 in whispers, not out loud—
the Brahma bull no one could ride,
his name was ol' Black Cloud.

Many a cowboy mounted up,
an' many a cowboy tried,
but the bull was like white lightnin',
an' a couple cowboys died.

Snortin' an' a slobberin',
red-fire burnin' in each eye,
bellerin' to each rider,
"Better kiss yer kin goodbye!"

Off his back the cowboys flew,
landin' hard upon the ground,
then scramblin', if they's able
'fore ol' Black Cloud turned around—

As if dismountin' everyone
from atop his hairy hide
weren't enough to brag about—
round an' round he'd stride;

Shakin' back 'n forth his head
as if to tell the crowd,
"I'm givin' ya fair warnin',
 don't mess with ol' Black Cloud!"

No cowboy heard the buzzer,
tho' he sometimes rang their bell—
the bull they tried so hard to ride,
was shot straight outta hell.

I hear they pastured Black Cloud
an' put him out to breed,
hopin' that he'd pass along
his hellish devil's seed.

For there never was a Brahma,
retired with such a score,
as the bull, Black Cloud from Texas—
he tossed all ninety-four...

© 2007, Tamara Hillman
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.



Eyein' the Bull
(Advice from an old bull rider to a young upstart)

Just look in them eyes-all angry an' mean,
horns juttin' out each side a his bean.

An' that hump on his neck-ya better beware,
you'll be wishin' right quick ya could hang on there.

See them huge muscles ripplin' at flank,
they got the power of a Sherman Tank.

An' don't underestimate them knobby knees—
they can turn on a dime anytime they please.

Those cloven hooves can stomp ya good
if ya ain't quick enough to scoot when ya should.

An' that mighty rear will twist 'n turn—
make ya yell for Mama when your legs start ta burn.

That boney tail, it'll swish 'n sway—
rap ya upside the head in the dust 'n fray.

He's a half ton killer-got the temper to prove it,
so hop up there, an' git right to it.

But if ya got any sense in your noggin at all,
you'll git in that truck, an' down the road you'll haul.

Just look him over, ya little son-of-a-gun,
then take off them spurs, an' run kid-run!

© 2007, Tamara Hillman
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.


Advice from a Cowboy's Wife

We know their reputations—
real cowboy’s tried ‘n true.
But don’t trifle with their feelin’s
‘cause they’ll play it straight with you.

Now, cowboys ain’t for talkin’—
no excuse—the job ain’t done.
He’ll ask ya to keep up the pace,
an’ accept life on the run.

He expects a workin’ critter—
loyal—by his side
just like his horse an’ faithful dog,
or ticks on a longhorn’s hide.

He’ll give ya time—if he’s got it,
won’t grumble ‘bout goin’ to church,
but don’t be late with his supper,
or leave the poor guy in the lurch.

‘Cause rules are made for follerin’.
In his world, they just gotta be—
From sunup ‘til the sun goes down,
his backside’s all you’ll see.

You’ll work like a dog durin’ harvest—
don’t count on rest any season.
Pull calves in spring—never wear a ring
‘cause it’s "risky" is his reason.

There’s dishes to do—tho’ you’ve got the flu,
there’ll be no rest for the weary—
So, grit your teeth, take the grief,
an’ for heaven sakes, don’t get teary.

You’ll learn how to drive a tractor,
an’ maybe even buck bails,
pray the rain don’t come early,
nor wind that blows up a gale.

With hair that’s frazzled an’ dirty,
black soot on your upper lip,
he’ll be by your side—ya got nothin’ to hide
for looks, he don’t give a lick.

He thinks of you as his partner,
so take the good with the bad—
You’ve replaced his "good timin’" buddies,
for the best life he’s ever had.

Sure, he’ll sit an’ tell of the old days,
get that far away look in his eye,
but tho’ your long tresses are gray now,
he’ll stick with ya—do or die.

When older—his legs will be crooked,
his back will be bent—mostly sore,
but be glad ya married a cowboy
‘cause he’ll love ya, gal, that’s for shor’.

© 2010, Tamara Hillman
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

Tamara comments: I wrote this one for all the hired help a ranch wife takes the place of when she marries a cowboy. I've witnessed it all my life, (the understanding that the ranch wife is gonna be her man's extra two hands with no pay, no excuses, no whining, and for heaven's sake—NO TEARS!). Just do the job because it needs doin'! Now, don't ya think it's high time these gals got their due?


Bunkhouse Christmas

I ain’t got no family,
so my buddies fill the gap
of a pretty wife who loves me,
an’ kiddies on my lap.

The ol’ bunkhouse is home to me—
it shelters best it can,
tho’ not like havin’ a real home,
but it serves this workin’ man.

When ranchin’ slows in fall,
an’ winter chills the ground,
wind is blowin’ thru’ the door
an’ snow piles all around,

It’s time to oil those bridles,
saddles an’ the like—
we huddle ‘round the woodstove,
an hear tall-tales from Ike.

Soon, Christmas Day is nearin’,
an’ we make each one a gift—
ain’t never somethin’ fancy,
but it gives a guy a lift.

We hang our socks on clothesline
stretched above the stove—
no hearth above a fireplace
with socks our mother wove.

Me an’ my friends celebrate
across this barren land.
We hoist a tree to decorate,
an’ do the best we can.

The lady of the ranch house,
bakes cookies, an’ a cake,
to bring to us on Christmas Eve
so we too can celebrate.

We remember on this wondrous day
the Lord brought forth His Son
so’s we could be forgiven
on this earth since life’s begun.

With no hats, we bow our heads,
an’ get ourselves set straight.
Each takes his turn a prayin’
‘bout sinfulness we hate.

‘Cause, we fellers use some language
of which we ain’t so proud,
an’ fight at Gin too often,
sometimes gittin’ awful loud.

We drinks a bit, an’ dances lots
in bars, an’ ol’ Grange halls,
chase the ladies now an’ then,
an Lordy, that ain’t all.

But on this day, our mamas
come back to our dim minds,
an’ we remember that small church
where our hearts was so entwined.

Where we’d hear there was an’ afterlife,
an’ pledge our sinful souls
to try an’ be like Jesus
in our daily life an’ goals.


It comes my turn for prayin’,
I clear my throat, an’ start
tryin’ to speak to the Father
with somethin’ from the heart…

I say, “Lord, if you’re listenin’
to this cowboy who’s dern rough,
I’m askin’ your forgiveness
an’ prayin’ that’s enough.”

© 2010, Tamara Hillman
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

Cowboys & Cell Phones

Cowboy life is dyin’,
you can see it more an’ more—
his clothes are never dirty,
an’ he don’t git saddle sore.

His jeans have got a real nice crease,
no sweat-stain on his hat,
he don’t hangout in barrooms,
an’ he’s mostly growin’ fat.

He seldom enters rodeos,
or crosses prairies far an’ wide,
but you can bet top dollar,
he’s got a cell phone by his side.

I wonder who’d be callin’—
his boss about a storm,
or a gal he met in town last week
wantin’ him to keep her warm?

Or maybe ‘bout the calvin’
that starts in early spring,
or could it be the brandin’
why they’re givin’ him a ring?

I doubt it’s ‘bout those pack-mules
he should ready by the fall,
or mendin’ fence, an’ ridin’ herd,
or muckin’ out some stalls.

An’ if he has to load a bull
to drive to the next town,
it’ll be in that new Chevy truck
with a diesel engine sound.

Most don’t chew tabaccy,
or learn quite how to spit,
but he can use that cell phone,
an’ check his e-mail for a hit.

I hate to see it happen—
cowboys gettin’ kinda soft,
no more sleepin’ underneath the stars,
but in a cabin—with a loft!

I don’t wanna hear these cowboys say,
“It sure ain’t like it used to,”
when every time I see one,
his cell’s stuck to him like glue.

The only cowboy history
will be written in these lines.
Real cowboys dyed out long ago
with changin’ of the times.

© 2010, Tamara Hillman
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.


Tamara told us, "I actually was at one of our Arizona Cowboy Gatherings when I noticed all these sure 'nough, real cowboys in their usual garb, topped off with a wide brimmed hat. Every single one of them also had a cell phone hung on his hand-tooled leather belt. At that point, I knew cowboy life was dyin'..."


Dad's Boots

I gently held my father’s hand
while sittin’ near his bed,
strokin’ soft the white hair
now unruly on his head.

His boots sat in the corner
all rough an’ weather-worn,
remindin’ me of all the ways
he taught me without scorn.

Just sittin’ at our table
each night when day was thru’,
bowin’ tired an’ weary head
to give our Lord His due.

His risin’ every mornin’
‘fore hearin’ rooster’s crow,
gettin’ chores done early
‘cause he had some fields to sow.

Workin’ hard for little,
but always takin’ pride
in what he could accomplish
for his children an’ his bride.

Not complainin’—not unloadin’
the worries he might have
‘bout the weather, nor the plowin’,
or nursin’ sickly calves.

His boots bring back old memories,
sittin’ there so still,
as if the man who walked in them
had fin’lly lost his will.

But, if I know my dad at all,
his spirit will live on
in the lives of all his children
with each an’ every dawn.

We’ll start our day like he did—
with purpose in each step,
be honest in our dealin’s,
not excusin’ any debt.

Those boots are lined an’ wrinkled
just like his weathered face—
he meets God now with dignity,
and honor—no disgrace.

© 2006, Tamara Hillman
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

Tamara told us, "I thought how weather-worn an old cowboy's boots get, though they always say, 'Ah, shucks! These ain't worn out, they still got life in 'em.' And though my dad is still living, (he's 90 in a rest home with dementia) I thought of the years and stories those old boots of his could tell....."



 Mournin' a Cowboy

He had to go—
it was his fated lot
to ride broncs in the rodeo,
take his licks—win the pot.

He hated to let go
kissing her at the door,
tussling hair of his two sons,
wanting one hour more.

She watched his old truck
as he drove down the lane
saying a prayer
he’d come home once again.

As years had gone by,
she’d watch an’ wait—
dust twirling behind him
till he’d stop at the gate.

A place waited in Cheyenne
to draw his saddle bronc,
ride that critter to ground,
or ‘til buzzer might honk.

He’d make his mark,
bring a thrill to the crowd,
but knew in his heart,
t’was to make his gal proud.

Just one more big purse
an’ he could retire,
go back to the ranch,
find some wranglers to hire.

Along about sunset,
he pulled into town,
surveyed the landscape
of the rodeo grounds.

Tomorrow he’d be there
with chaps an’ with spurs
to contest with cowboys
an’ watch the dust stir.

The next day he rose
at his usual time—
long before dawn
as he’d done since his prime.

By quarter to eight,
he drew for the horse
he’d have to unravel,
an’ defeat in due course.

He took a deep breath
as he read ‘Crazy Pete’,
a horse most men hated
since most he’d unseat.

He couldn’t be bothered
with the loss of his luck.
He’d still have to win
to take home a few bucks.


The phone started ringing—
he promised he’d call.
She hoped he would say
he’d made a big haul.

But the voice wasn’t his
that called her by name,
to tell her he’d passed,
there was no one to blame.

Just a horse an’ his rider—
the two had to meet,
beast against man
as they strove to compete.

His mind had been set
on this horse he’d defeat,
but her world was shattered
‘neath the hooves of old Pete.

© 2013, Tamara Hillman
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

Tamara told us,
I wrote this after being at a rodeo and thinking of all the gals back home or in the crowd who waited in fear for their cowboys to return home after performing in the most dangerous sport known to man. Bull and bronc riders are thrilling to watch, and brave beyond mention!"



Read Tamara Hillman's Cowboy/Country Christmas posted with other 2006 Christmas poems




  About Tamara Hillman:

I became a writer of cowboy poetry and wild west stories after retiring ten years ago from a thirty-year career in hair dressing. My inspiration, sense of humor, and lingo are the result of being raised on a ranch in a small town in eastern Washington. There I was privy to the hard-scrabble life of real cowboys. I've written, and had published, several articles in Country and Reminisce magazines. Plus, I have had many poems and essays published on the internet and in special edition sections of newspapers. 

You can write Tamara Hillman.


Best of the Old West If you are longing for those heroes of the Old West who could lasso a stallion, bulldog a heifer, ride herd night an' day, tell the biggest lies 'round a campfire, charm the ladies, an' who you would trust with your very life, well, this is the book for you!

The Heart of Me; Poems from the Soul  It took ten years to gather enough poetry I'd written outside my usual genre' of cowboy poetry to complete this book which I am proud to introduce....But don't think it's a book of meaningless words that constitute some weird, free verse poetry. Remember, I am country from the top of my frazzled, curly head to the bottom of my usually bare feet!

These poems tell a story much like my cowboy poems do.

You will relate to my own true-life experiences, and also many imaginary characters and tales on these 133 pages. $17 postpaid.


Tales of BS Scruggs is a contemporary western novel full of gut bustin' fun riding along with Bull Scruggs in his jalopy, Ol' Betsy, as he tries to teach Paul Cooper, (a Hollywood mogul), the ways of the west after Paul gets stranded in a dusty little town called Cobalt, Texas...... 195 pages (Some mild expletives)

Heroes & Villains of the Old West is made up of true life stories in poetry form, of American heroes we all are familiar with since our childhoods among both whites and Indians who helped settle the western frontier. There also is an "Unsung Heroes" section in the book telling stories of people who have been heroes clear into the early twentieth century....... 170 pages (Great read for ages 8 to 98.)

Except where noted, $15.00 per book (including tax for Arizona state purchases), plus shipping.......$3.00 for two......$1.80 for one.


Order by check or money order. Email Tamara Hillman.

Books are $15.00 each, plus tax and shipping.

My address is:

Tamara Hillman
13310 W. Castle Rock Dr.
Sun City West, AZ 85375

Make sure to send me your return address when ordering...

Orders will be shipped within 24 hours of payment.

Thanx! Tamara 


Tamara Hillman has two additional  books, described below and with additional information at

Dusty Trails

This book is a true rendition of the hardscrabble life of cowboys.

The lingo and tales are a view from the saddle that describe cowboys and their work in every way.

Weather, snakes, stampedes, and rodeos will all capture your interest and the heart of these courageous men.

If you are a real cowboy or cowgirl, this is the book for you, and for those who know a real cowboy or girl, it would make a wonderful gift. (75 pages)

Pure Country

This book is just what the title implies, PURE COUNTRY, reminiscent poetry and prose. It is a bit gentler in rhyme than cowboy poetry in so much as it lacks the lingo, but keeps its country charm from first page till last.

To those raised in the country, this book will take you down memory lane, and to those raised elsewhere, it will give you a true feel for country life.

(60 pages)


Order by check or money order. Email Tamara Hillman.

Dusty Trails and Pure Country are $12.00 each, plus tax and shipping.

My address is:

Tamara Hillman
13310 W. Castle Rock Dr.
Sun City West, AZ 85375

Make sure to send me your return address when ordering...

Orders will be shipped within 24 hours of payment.

Thanx! Tamara



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