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Sundre, Alberta
About Tom King
Tom King's web site


Photo by Ellen King



For Bud

My mind goes back in time my friend,
To the day that we first met.
You standing out there in the cold
Hollow eyed and soaking wet.

So it came to pass that day,
That part of your life did end.
You came on home to live with us
And you came to be our friend.

From roping steers to chasing cows
And climbing mountain trails,
With little kids who climbed aboard
Your kind heart never failed.

To have you here has touched our hearts,
Many pleasures we have known.
A trusted friend, a steadfast heart,
Just a few of the things you've shown.

Although our time with you cut short
By painful circumstance,
You'll live within our hearts for good.
Forget you? Not a chance!

Our hopes and prayers go out for you.
We hope that you will find
Meadows of green and rivers deep
And a life that treats you kind.

So if up yonder we meet again
I hope for you and I,
There's time for us to turn a few
And climb that mountain high!

   Farewell Bud Old Friend.

© 2002, Tom King
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.


A Change of Heart!

The thermometer says five below.
The clock says two in the mornin'.
Sleep must wait as once again
I'm awakened by alarm clocks' warnin'.

Bundled up like Santa Claus,
The cold soon has me wakin'.
I stumble out to check my cows,
A midwife in the makin'!

Why do I calve in February?
It's the coldest time of year!
Why did I build my corrals out there
Instead of buildin' them near?

Why on earth are the toughest ones
The babies born at night?
The backward and cross threaded ones
Whose mothers love to fight!

As I cuss the weather and dark of night
While stumblin' through the straw,
My flashlight falls on newborn babe
And fills my heart with awe!

Dodging threats of piercing horns,
I get them to the shed.
As baby stands and starts to suck,
I slowly bow my head.

Forgive me Lord for my orn'ry ways
And for my lack of mirth
And thanks Dear Lord for the miracle
Of this new baby's birth!!

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

This poem appeared in the Apr/May, 2003 issue of Canadian Cowboy Country Magazine



Waitin' for the Rainman

The sinister whisper
Of nature's harsh blister
Has swept o'or the prairies this year.
Two years in running
And maybe one coming
Are reason for tension I fear.

This fall at the stock sale
The price of a round bale
Was three fold or four in some cases.
With looks of disgust
They'd buy 'cause they must,
Their hardship quite plain on their faces.

With herds now depleted
And some folks defeated
Some can't understand what this does.
Through life they have toiled
Their dreams now seem foiled
Life ain't the same way that it was.

Out east it's the grassland
That covets the Rain Man
Droplets of gold are awaited.
The family farm suffers
As things are much tougher,
The strong hearts of many deflated.

Prayers have been offered
For your lacking coffers
We look to The Lord for His blessing.
In God you must trust
To dampen the dust
Don't leave it to weather mans guessing!

To the growers of grain
And stockmen your pain
Does not go unnoticed 'round here.
I'll make this poem terse
And end with this verse
And a prayer for the outcome next year!

© Tom King Jan. 11, 2003
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.


A Degree Of Common Sense!

It was in the fall of '88
I believe it was late November.
The cow-boss was fired
I'll tell what transpired
In the order that I can remember.

Charlie was a bit of a rogue
His character may have lacked luster.
The management changed
And now things were strange
Poor Charlie was really quite flustered!

A degree from a university
Weren't no match for years on a horse.
One day things went poof
When Chuck called him a goof
And Charlie was fired of course!

Now understand we hadn't finished
The gather we'd started that fall.
Without a cow-boss
We were all at a loss
To see who would pick up the ball.

The manager introduced him as Dale,
A fellow that he knew from class.
Despite all the knowledge
That he got from college
This guy proved to be a real ass!

The pasture was 3000 acres
With bush down both sides and the middle.
Them steers that was in here
Could run like a mule deer
And most were as fit as a fiddle.

This situation would call for
A gentle and leisurely pace.
As we started walkin'
That Dale, he was talkin'
Like this should be some kind of race!

"It's cold out here and it's startin' to snow
I don't want to be here all day!"
Said Dale, "We'll go faster
And empty this pasture
In no time. It's better my way!

 The hope of a slow quiet gather
Was gone with this fool in a rush!
With the help of this 'dude'
Sheer chaos ensued
And them steers disappeared in the bush.

As the day went on it was obvious we
Were in need of a few more resources.
It was plain to a man
That the idiots plan
Was killin' the dogs and the horses!

I pulled up my pony and sat there disgusted,
I would not be part of his game.
The ridiculous pace
Was a total disgrace
And the other boys all felt the same.

We all left Dale in the pasture
And rode to the barn in the cold.
With the horses all bedded
To the office I headed
To make sure the right story was told!

The manager, he weren't  all that impressed.
"I'm so mad" he said "I could spit!"
From what I could see
He was angry at me
So I told him right there that I quit!

My leavin' the place was long overdue
There ain't no use workin' for jerks.
One should not be annoyed
At the place he's employed
He should moderat'ly like where he works!

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

A Cowboy's New Year!

New Year's Eve in days gone by
weren't the same as it is today.
For many a hand from yesteryear
it was just another day.

Old cowboys got no recollection
of fireworks through the night.
For most of them it was only stars
and the occasional Northern Light!

Some fellers was even unaware
that a new year was comin' around.
They was more concerned with stayin' warm
as they slept on frozen ground.

They didn't have no calendar
t' tell the time of year.
It weren't a necessary tool
for a cowboyin' career!

They knew that springtime came along
When baby calves was born.
They knew green grass was sure t' come
'cause the days was gettin' warm!

Brandin' time would set the stage
for summertime to start.
And they knew the many shades of fall
was The Good Lord's form of art!

Winter'd usually settle in
While the gather was bein' done
and before the boys would even know
another year was gone.

They were aware that Christmas time
came somewhere in between
the icy winds that ended fall
and the springtime shades of green.

They'd celebrate the birth of Christ
When e'er it seemed all right.
And they thanked The Lord for bein' there
through the winter's coldest nights.

New Year's weren't no big event
For 'hands' in bygone days.
It passed without the slightest hint
of change in cowboy's ways.

They knew that they was gettin' old
by hair with tints of grey.
But New Years to the 'hands' of old
was just another day!

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


It's All I've Got!

      The silence is eerie on the floor of what was
      Once a Grove of magnificent pine.
      Charred boards are all that remain of this home
      Where a family of four used to dine.

      "I don't understand!" are the words that emerge
      From the homeless young mother in tears.
      She's only one of the many whose lives
      Are changed by the worst fire in years.

      Some of the homes were ranches and farms
      That were passed down for three generations.
      Words can't relieve the deep sense of loss
      Or the terribly hopeless sensations.

      A guy we all know wrote a poem back a piece
      'Bout the courage it takes to rebuild.
      Mike had it right and it's time to begin
      Now that the inferno is stilled.

      The cowboy way, 'least the one that I know
      Is to jump in and help out your neighbor.
      If I could friend, my offer would be
      To help with the back breakin' labor.

      But my legs won't allow what my heart wants to do
      To assist you in your darkest day.
      Believe me I'm thinkin' and prayin' 'bout you.
      Hope it helps in some simple way!

 © Sept. 14, 2003, Tom King 
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

Tom told us: I wrote this poem after touring through the Okanogan and central B.C. last fall and seeing the devastation of the fires that occurred there. Many people lost everything. I really got a sense of the desperation and all I wanted to do was help in some way. Because of my M.S., I wasn't able to offer any physical assistance so I wrote the following to try and provide some encouragement to the folks hit the worst.


One For Laura

A late winter storm was brewin' above
the Black Hills of mid South Dakota.
Old Lee was havin' some trouble with calvin',
and figured he'd 'bout filled his quota!

The quota I speak of was one of bad luck
filled up with pneumonia and scours.
His spirit subdued but it was renewed
within the next forty-eight hours!

It all started out with a heifer calf born,
the brindle was dropped in the snow.
When she was delivered her whole body shivered
as the mercury hit five below.

Lee brought her into the house in the morn',
'cause she'd almost succumbed in the night.
Some strength she'd regain and now it was plain
that this heifer was willin' to fight!

A turn for the worse was taken that day
back outside with her mom in the pen.
Not sure he would win, Lee brought her back in
to try and revive her again.

Lee's daughter Laura, was somewhat distraught
when her mother issued a warnin'.
"Now honey, I'm thinkin' the way this calf's sinkin'
she'll likely be gone in the mornin'"

The fam'ly retired, all hope now diminished.
Young Laura got down on her knees.
"Dear Lord if you're there could you kindly repair
the health of this calf if you please!"

God must have heard the prayer of this child.
Her mom woke with eerie sensation.
She soon was aware of a bright bovine stare
that filled her with utter elation!

"A miracle happened here under my roof!"
She thought as she gave Lee a nudge.
The story's convened The Divine intervened
Laura's sure, now you be the judge!

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

Tom told us: I wrote this poem after a call from my cousin down Custer, South Dakota way. It's amazing the lengths that some folks go to in order to preserve the lives entrusted to our care.  This is pretty much exactly the way it went down on a cold night last March. One can imagine the surprise Chris must have experienced when she rolled over in bed and was confronted with that "Bright bovine stare."



In Memory of Rob Bedard

The bunkhouse was short a 'hand' last night. There's an empty chair at the table.
I'm fairly sure as I head out
      there's an extra horse in the stable.

      Laughter ain't as common today as it were a week ago.
      Why, even the rooster seems a bit off
      as he sounds his mornin' crow.

      Words are spoken softly when there's words that's spoke at all.
      The troubles we dealt with yesterday,
      today seem rather small.

      Old Donner's gettin' restless as we tack his stable mates.
      Normally we'd not abide
      the ruckus he creates.

      But we realize that he can sense that somethin' just ain't right.
      We lost his ridin' partner
      to the cancer late last night.

      A man too young to meet his end, it don't seen fair at all.
      He'd lived a life of good repute,
      as near as I recall.

      We talked a bit before he left to roam the other side.
      He'd made his peace with God I think
      and he was satisfied.

      Satisfied that he was goin' to a better kind o' place.
      To ride the fields and mountain slopes
      of heavens open space!

      Where pain would cease to be a part of each and ev'ry day
      Where him and Jesus ride as pards,
      a new and better way!

      We was thinkin' this mornin' as to what old Donner's fate should be.
      When 'Slim' pipes up and recommends
      we set the cayuse free!

      So that's the point of what us boys is settin' off t' do
      Donner's days of ridin' herd
      with Rob astride are through.

      We pick the place we know t' be both Rob and Donner's favorite.
      Where mountain meadows meet the sky,
      We pause a sec' to savor it.

      I think that Rob would sure approve this final gift submitted.
      His pony free and to our hearts
      his memory committed!

      An errant tear runs down my face as to this task I tend
      With halter in hand I say "goodbye
      and go with God my friend!"

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

      Tom wrote: Rob died of cancer on the 20th of March, 2004 at the young age of 38.
When it come to ridin' bulls in younger years or stunt ridin' for the movie
folks, he was fearless and when it come to bein' a friend, he was one to
ride the river with!



Barn on the Bar 75

If it could talk I'm wonderin'
what this old barn would say.
Would it speak in voices thunderin'
or in a softer way?

It's stood here now a hundred years.
Well, give or take a few.
It's laughed with folks and shared their tears,
has witnessed all things new.

Dimly lit with coal oil lamps
back in the early times.
It's housed the steeds of cowboy camps
and graced its share of rhymes.

It's seen the coming of the wire,
seen cars replace the horse.
To shelter all it's one desire,
from nature's mighty force!

The hand-hewn logs are fairly sound,
the ceiling's bowed a bit.
With newer buildings all around
it doesn't seem to fit.

But stately yet it stands alone
and harbors mem'ries great.
Some awesome stories would be known
if it could just relate!

But it's just a barn that can't converse
and share what all transpired.
The stories grand and tales adverse
with it will be retired!

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

Tom told us:  I went to the Bar 75 ( Red Deer River Ranches) one afternoon lookin' for some inspiration. The bar 75 is one of the oldest ranches in these parts and the old barn on the place has stood for near a hundred years. It's changed some but the original structure still stands. I got to thinkin' of the stories it might tell if only boards could talk! I'm saddened by the Canadian attitude to 'Doze and develop' and wish that more of these historic sites could be preserved. This poem is my way of preservin' this old barn.


      Sometimes we are reminded of our human limitations
      When we choose to do some silly things in simple situations.

      I'll share a choice experience to illustrate my point.
      It happened on an equine ranch, a rather scary joint!

      There weren't no organizin' from the folks who run the place.
      The tale I'm 'bout t' tell you now will serve to make my case!

      Meathead was a herd sire with some Percheron type features.
      A kinder sort of gentleman for stallion type creatures!

      At least that's what I saw him as 'till this pertic'lar day
      when treated to a rodeo by that humungous grey!

      The boss had sent me out to fetch ol' Meathead from the herd.
      No sweat, I thought that this request was not all that absurd.

      I snapped the shank unto the leather halter that he wore
      "C'mon 'ol boy, let's head for home and finish up this chore!"

      I don't think Meathead liked the thought of bein' like a Priest.
      The salibate idea would bring the ire out in the beast!

      He looked at me defiantly as if to say, "Just try it!"
      The next few minutes followin' were anything but quiet!

     I took a couple dallies and then asked my horse to leave.
      The shank came taught and caused the nag to give a mighty heave!

      "Wrong approach!" I'm thinkin' as the nurse comes through the door.
      "The doctor says there's nothin' broke but you'll be mighty sore!"

      Story is they found me flat laid out like I was dead,
      with meathead grazing calmly, saddle hangin' from his head.

      "Seems I fergot t' tell ya' pard", the boss says rather solemn.
      "It usually works out better when we load 'em up and haul 'em!"

      "The boys don't take to kindly when we takes 'em from their mares.
      We've all bin through what you jest done and other sorts o' scares!"

      "So we jest takes the trailer out and loadin' 'em's a cinch!
      If they refuse to jump right in, why we jest use the winch!"

      That's the point I'm tryin' t' make 'bout the lack of organizin';
      Give a man the proper tools and save the agonizin'!

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

Tom told us: This is one that happened in the early part of my cowboyin' days on a ranch in Northern BC. I was always in a hurry to impress the higher ups and it sometimes cost me dear! Should have waited around for the full set of instructions but as the poem says, the folks who run the place weren't always thorough with their instruction...There's a pretty good cartoon that illustrates this episode by CCI's Eldon Walls in the June 2004 column on my website at if you want a laugh! 


With Me Forever!

This goin' home to no one home is pretty hard to take.
To wear a smile with tears inside is mighty hard to fake.
It's been awhile since you went away and left me here alone.
I miss your smile. I'd give anything to hear you on the phone.

I cry and I can't stop the flow
The memories refuse to go
Will they ever? I don't know.
I don't think that they will.

The gate seems heavier today and I can hardly see.
The tears, they blind my swollen eyes since God took you from me.
Too young, too beautiful to go. And yet I'm all alone.
The only consolation is, I know you're fin'lly home.

I cry and I can't stop the flow.
The memories refuse to go.
Will they ever? I don't know.
I don't think that they will.

You taught me to love and love we did, together you and I.
You helped me dream and to believe that I could touch the sky.
Your smile could warm the coldest heart and light the darkest night.
You saw the future filled with dreams, without an end in sight.

"Believe!" you said and it will be the way you dreamed it would.
With you along I'd do the things I never thought I could.
Now you're gone and hope seems lost but I sense you here with me.
"Carry on!" you whisper low "and be all you can be!"

I cry and I can't stop the flow.
The memories refuse to go.
Will they ever? Now I know.
I hope they never will!

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

This poem is a tribute to Tom's wife, Ellen, who died January 24, 2005.  Tom said, "This poem came to me one day as I struggled with the gate at the end of my drive."  The poem has been set to music by Jesse Fowler.


See a tribute to Ellen on Tom's web site.


The Legend of Cattle Annie and Little Britches


They say the storms are bigger on the Oklahoma plains;

The lightening flashes brighter and the wind calls out the names

Of outlaws who were known to ride the famous ‘Outlaw Trail’

Like Doolin, Dalton, Wyatt Earp and the ones herein my tale.


Now, these two bandits started out by accident it seems.

Jest two av’rage farm girls with bright eyes and brighter dreams.

Yes folks, I said farm girls and their lives would change by chance

When one would meet an outlaw at a local country dance.


Annie fell in love with him on that clear and starry night.

Its then she learned to use a gun, to ride, to cuss and to fight.

‘Red Buck’ Waightman was the name of the outlaw Annie treasured.

From then on ‘Red Buck’ was the man by which all men were measured.


                                                                     Ol’ ‘Red Buck’ rode with Doolin and the girls soon joined the gang.

Cattle Annie and Little Britches were the handles that would hang

‘cause rustlin’ cows and stealin’ horses were the things that Anne did best

And Jennie wore her pants too big beneath her outlaw’s vest.


Six guns hung around their waists and they practiced deadly force.

They wore men’s clothes and rode the way a man would ride a horse.

It’s said they sold the native folks the devil’s drink of whiskey

And even for the men folk then, this livelihood was risky.


The girls rode hard and dodged the law, helping Doolin and his gang.

Selling whiskey and stealing horses; those girls were sure to hang!

They wouldn’t go down easy though and they proved to be the test

Of the lawmen’s fortitude and strength as many would give their best.


On a sultry Monday evening in mid August ‘95

While hiding out near old Pawnee, they were taken by surprise.

Bill Tilghman was a lawman and Steve Burke his riding pard’

They brought the girls to bay that day and soon they’d have ‘em barred.


But Anne and Jennie went out the back as Tilghman came inside,

Annie was caught by his pard, Steve Burke, but Jennie jumped her horse to ride.

She could see her freedom just over the rise and she rode for all she’s worth.

Bill Tilghman fired, her horse went down throwing Jennie in the dirt.


Jennie fought like a cat in a burlap sack but was finally subdued.

One short year in an east coast jail and their lives would be renewed.

They left their lives on the outlaw trail and went on to honest livin’

A major change from the outlaw ways to new lives as married women.


Legend has it that Annie lived well and died at a hundred and three.

Some say Jennie went home to her folks but there ain’t too many agree.

This is the stuff of which legends are made and for legends sake, let’s say it’s true.

I’m not about to dispute what I’ve heard, I’m just passin’ the tale on to you!


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

Tom told us: The inspiration for this poem came when I was looking for material for a song. I have always been a huge fan of Ian Tyson and admire his ability to tell stories in the songs he sings. I came across the story of Annie and Jenn and it just seemed right but as I wrote the poem, it turned into more of a ballad I guess. I passed it along to my buddy who plays with a band called Latigo and am eagerly awaiting his rendition.


Read Tom King's Holy Smoke! posted with 2005 Christmas poems


Pedro's Christmas Tree, posted with 2004 Christmas poems 


Naughty and Nice, posted with 2003 Chrsitmas poems.



About Tom King:

Tom says: For Bud was the first piece I ever wrote in the cowboy kinda' style and it was written about the best darn rope horse or for that matter, the best cowhorse I ever put my riggin' on.  He was in bad shape and fairly old when I got him but proved to be an awesome partner and friend 'till I lost him to a twisted gut.

As for me, I worked for sev'ral diff'rent outfits in my younger days before I got sick with M.S. and had to hang up my rope. Most of my stuff is written by firsthand experience and I try to see the lighter side of the cowboy way although there is the odd time I get serious and write somethin' deep.

In 2004, Tom released his book, From Cowboy's Office Window

Tom says the book is "a collection of mostly humorous poetry complimented with cartoons done by Cowboy Cartoonists International's Ben Crane and Eldon Walls. Most of the stuff is based on the real deal either experienced by myself or someone I know who's involved in the 'Cowboy' way of life and ain't too proud to let me make fun of them and their mishaps!"

The price, including postage is $14.00 U.S. or $16.95 Canadian

                          Tom King
                          Box 5, Site 9, RR1
                          Sundre, Alberta, Canada
                          T0M 1X0
                          403 638 5241

See Mark McMillan's review of the book right here.  And see Tom King's web site for more.



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