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


Tillamook, Oregon
About Tom Gilliland


We were saddened to learn of Tom Gilliland's passing, January 30, 2013



The Way It Is

I started to write about cowboys and their life on the range;
   Of lazing around the campfire and how they never wanted to change.
I was going to write of their happiness in singing their cattle call;
   When a bow-legged old cowboy said: "Twasn't that way at all."

Said he:" There's no comfort to be had in sweat soaked levis and chaps;
   Brush and cactus cuts pretty deep on any-one who unwraps.
Sand and dust get deep inside when your bandana's not in place;
   And that high priced Stetson hat keeps sun and rain from your face.

"The boots, shucks they're comfortable, but their purpose is plain;
   Cowboys wear them everywhere to keep feet dry in snow and rain.
Out of a bed-roll at the crack of dawn trying to focus their eyes;
   And rubbing out bumps and bruises that the cold, hard ground applies.

"Hard-tack biscuits and salt pork with coffee black and strong;
   Start off a cowboy's day on the range that'll be hard and long.
A bag of jerky and canteen of water is the menu for the day;
   Hoping when the sun goes down he won't be chasing a wild stray.

"Supper time is the only time he has to rub away saddle sores and pain;
   Then back into that little bed-roll 'till morning comes again.
Then comes a turn riding night herd and he wearily sits his saddle;
   Hoping the coyotes quit howling before they stampede the cattle.

"He tries real hard with a dry, raspy voice to sing a little ditty;
   Making up words and some kind'a tune that's usually not so pretty.
So," says he: "Go on and write your story, but tell it like it is;
   Most cowboys would gladly give it up, but the choice isn't his."

2003, Tom Gilliland
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.



About Tom Gilliland:

I am an ex copper miner from the Globe-Miami area of Arizona. I retired to the beautiful White Mountains in '88 and started trying to see if that stuff whirling around in my skull could be put on paper where some-one could actually read it.

My closest call to being a real live cowboy was the privilege of sharing a bedroom with a great uncle every three months or so. He was a genuine, dyed-in -the-wool cowboy coming into Globe from the Pleasant Valley area to renew his supply of Levis, pick up a few shirts and have his high-heel boots repaired. He had to have his high-heel boots so he could make a noise on the cement sidewalks and also 'cause he was only about 5' 6" tall.

He'd spend a couple of nights with us (my-self brother and mother) and we finally gave up trying to get him in a bed. He'd make a pallet on the floor and sing cowboy ballads to us kids most of the night. He'd never make the Metropolitan Opera House, but man, those songs were some-thing else, and he lived a lot of them. Sure did miss him when he went to that big round-up up there (still do).

A few years ago the doc told me I should think about taking oxygen at night or go to a lower altitude, so I took the easy way and my wife and moved to the Oregon coast. How much lower can you get? (Please don't answer that). We are here at the home of the Tillamook Cheese Factory and there are lots of cows around to supply the milk, but very few cowboys, except at fair time when they put on a jim-dandy rodeo.



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