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I'd use a comet fer a bronk,
     And ride him stuck-up like an' proud:
My spurs would be a pair of stars,
     My blanket jes' a fleecy cloud.
I'd roundup all the planets an'
     I'd do it sudden, sure an' soon,
And then I'd set back ca'm an' watch
     Them mill around the helpless moon.

                        from "Real Affection," by Robert V. Carr


 

Below is a selection of "love" poemsin a variety of styles, with varying definitions of "love" or some connection to the holidayfor Valentine's Day. We offer some of our favorite classic and contemporary poems:

S. Omar Barker
Classic Cowboy Poetry
Jack Potter's Courtin'  

Virginia Bennett
Lookin' for Cows, Fawn Creek, 1993

E. A. Brininstool
Classic Cowboy Poetry
Juanita  

Buckshot Dot (Dee Strickland Johnson)
Tomboy

Robert V. Carr
Classic Cowboy Poetry
The Tryst  
Real Affection  

Badger Clark
Classic Cowboy Poetry
To Her
Saturday Night

Bachin'

DW Groethe
Just Like A Chinook  
The Carhartt Song

A. V. Hudson
Classic Cowboy Poetry
Vamose

Paul Kern
As I Bridle in the Morning

Jo Lynne Kirkwood
Longer than Time Understands  

Bruce Kiskaddon
Classic Cowboy Poetry
The Midwinter Bath

Henry Herbert Knibbs
Classic Cowboy Poetry
Overland's Delight

Joel Nelson
On Finding Someone

 

See the growing list of "Cowboy Love Poems" here, where they've been 
collected since 2001.

 

If you enjoy features like this, please support the BAR-D.

 

  Read some of our supporters' comments here,  visit the Wall of Support
and join in and be a part of it all!

 


To Her

Cut loose a hundred rivers,
     Roaring across my trail,
Swift as the lightning quivers,
     Loud as a mountain gale.
I build me a boat of slivers;
     I weave me a sail of fur,
And ducks may founder and die
     But I
  Cross that river to her!

Bunch the deserts together,
     Hang three suns in the vault;
Scorch the lizards to leather,
     Strangle the springs with salt.
I fly with a buzzard feather,
     I dig me wells with a spur,
And snakes may famish and fry
     But I
Cross that desert to her!

Murder my sleep with revel;
     Make me ride through the bogs
Knee to knee with the devil,
     Just ahead of the dogs.
I harrow the Bad Lands level,
     I teach the tiger to purr,
For saints may wallow and lie
     But I
Go clean-hearted to her!

by Badger Clark from Sun and Saddle Leather, 1922

 

"To Her" is put beautifully to music by Wylie Gustafson of Wylie and Wild West on their Paradise CD, and featured in our Before the Song column here.

Find a video here on YouTube.

See our feature on Badger Clark here.

 

 

Saturday Night

Out from the ranch on a Saturday night,
Ridin' a hawse that's a shootin' star,
Close on the flanks of the flyin' daylight,
Racin' with dark for the J L Bar.
Fox-trot and canter will do for the day;
It's a gallop, my love, when I'm ridin' your way.

Up the arroyo the trippin' hoofs beat,
Flingin' the hinderin' gravel wide;
Now your light glimmers across the mesquite,
Glimpsed from the top of a rocky divide;
Down through a draw where the shadows are gray
I'm comin', my darlin', I'm ridin' your way.

West, where the sky is a-blushin' afar,
Matchin' your cheeks as the daylight dies,
West, where the shine of a glitterin' star
Hints of the light I will find in your eyes,
Night-birds are passin' the signal to say:
"He's comin', my lady, he's ridin' your way."

Hoof-beats are measurin' seconds so fast,
Clickin' them off with an easy rhyme;
Minutes will grow into months at the last,
Mebbe to bring us a marryin' time.
Life would be singin' and work would be play
If every night I was ridin' your way.

by Badger Clark from Sun and Saddle Leather, 1922

 

See our feature on Badger Clark here.

 

 

On Finding Someone

If on some better than average day
I should be riding along
Observing—not expecting—well maybe
And should see just as hoof swept by
One flawless arrow point—
If on that shining morning
I should step down to lift this point
Turning it delicately—feeling its smoothness
Beneath my fingertips
I would marvel at its perfection
At the way some ancient one
Had tempered and crafted such beauty
And how it came to lie there
All these centuries—covered—uncovered
Re-hidden—re-exposed
Until it came to me
To happen by this place
On this day made now more perfect.
And I would ponder such things
As coincidence and circles and synchronicity,
And I would pocket this treasure near my heart,
And riding on I would recall
Having seen such treasure as this elsewhere
But not this one—not this one.
And for one brief moment I would stiffen with fear
At how one quick glance in another direction
Could have lost this to me forever,
And I would touch my shirt over my heart
Just to make sure.

© 1998, Joel Nelson
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without written permission.

 

See our feature on Joel Nelson here.

 

 

Overland's Delight

It was underneath the stars, the little peeking stars,
   That we lay and dreamed of Eden in the hills;
We were neither sad nor gay, but just wondering while we lay,
   What a mighty lot of space creation fills. .

Our fire was just a spark; dot of red against the dark,
   And around the fire an awful lot of night.
The purple, changing air was as quiet as a prayer,
   And the moon came up and froze the mountains white.

There was nothing much to say, unless my pal there, while he lay,
   Got to thinking of his bronc-and-saddle days,
And a woman that he knew. He believes that dreams come true,
   And they do, if I'm believing what he says.

It was Overland's delight, when we quit the road at night,
   And the birds were folding up their music-bars,
Just to smoke a little bit; rub his chin a while, and sit
   Like a Hobo statue, looking at the stars.

Then he'd cough to clear his throat; strike a kind of chesty note,
   Not like preachers—but just deep down near his heart;
And I think his dreaming eyes saw way up to Paradise;
   Then, remembering me, he'd nod his head and start.

It was all about some woman that he loved long, long ago,
   And he loved her in a kind of way I can't just understand;
But if I could talk like he could, you could have my bundle, Bo!
   For he talked like this, and, pardner, it was grand:

"Her hair was like the sun that drowns the poppy fields at noon,
   And there was something in her eyes too deep and pure to tell;
Her lips were like the red of buds that greet the dawn of June,
   Blush of roses on a sun-lit lily-bell.

"A little motion of her hand was more than words can say;
   It spoke a language all its own in pretty gesturing;
And when she smiled the flowers sang to see her smile that way;
   It made a man hold up his head and feel himself a king!

"I met her riding down the trail when morning-dew was young;
   Her pony's feet were castanets that dipt a happy tune.
Somehow, I took my hat off, just as if an angel sung,
   As she came riding down the trail to greet the dawn of June. "

She nodded, smiled, and rode along, brave-eyed and bright and sweet;
   I stood and watched her in the sun and saw the silver stream
Run down across the canon trail; and heard her pony's feet
   Like castanets, now far away, still ringing through my dream. "

Click, clink! a passing melody that melted in the air. .. .
   And in my heart a whispering like meadow-grass at night,
When some lone wind is talking to the sleepy daisies there,
   Just wavering and wondering and waiting for the light.

"Since then I've told her stories while she laughed and clapped her hands;
   Of Yuma and Sonora in the rich red days of old;
Since then I 've ridden far for her delight, in haunted lands,
   Where desert ledges crumble and the sand is specked with gold.

"Have you ever loved a woman like the meadow loves the sun,
   Just contented to be living just because she's living too?
If you have, and never spoken, it's the best thing you have done;
   Then you know there is a heaven that is not beyond the blue."

I loved—but did not tell her. It came time for me to go
   Almost anywhere, for her sake; so I drifted up along
The northern trails where winter locks the passes deep in snow,
   But I dreamed of southern ranges and a land of sun and song,

"Where a trail runs toward the meadows; where the poppy-fields unfold;
   Where the mocking-bird is listening to the patter of a tune
Rung by mellow canon echoes in a melody of gold,
   As she rides along the morning down to greet the dawn of June."

Yes: 'twas Overland's delight, when we quit the road at night,
   And the birds were folding up their music-bars,
Just to smoke a little bit; rub his chin a while and sit
   Like a Hobo statue, looking at the stars.

There was nothing to be said—for the talk had drifted dead,
   And his dreams were done of bronc-and-saddle days
And the woman that he knew. He believes that dreams come true,
And I almost think they do—from what he says.

by Henry Herbert Knibbs, from Songs of the Outlands, 1914

 

See our feature on Henry Herbert Knibbs here.

 

 

Vamose

When you see the silver circle
     Of the moon a swingin' low,
When you hear the frogs a croakin'
     Where the water mosses grow;

With a banjo, and a hammock,
     And a girl, my goodness me,
What more can mortal man expect
     Is more than I can see.

But when the silver moon sinks down
     Behind the jagged hills,
And when the hammock sways away,
     While darkness 'round you spills,

When the banjo quits its talking
     And the Night-Wind whispers low,
You're mighty apt to get engaged
     If you don't get up and go.

A. V. Hudson, from The Land Where the Cowboy Grows, 1915

 

This poem also appears in Tales From Cowboy Country: Stories from COWBOY MAGAZINE, edited by Darrell Arnold. 

Susan Parker recites A. V. Hudson's  "The Homemade Cigarette" on the 2008 edition of The BAR-D Roundup.


Read more about A. V. Hudson here.

 

 

 

As I Bridle in the Morning

As I bridle in the morning in the dawn of early spring,
And slip the bit between his teeth and catch the throat latch string,
I think of how we both first met each young and fancy free,
Somehow I thought you'd never have a backward kid like me.

As I bridle in the morning of the summer mountain heat,
And the pollen rises on the grass with the fall of each hoof beat,
I look there over yonder at our base camp in the trees,
You followed me a horseback just as pretty as you please.

As I bridle in the morning on the first day of the fall,
And the drifting leaves all hide the track there is no trace at all,
The horse we call the Triple Broke drives on he's in no hurry,
Fringe sways out and all around the flat top of our surrey.

As I bridle in the morning at the sign of early snow,
I'll ride out brisk to meet the day—it's time for me to go,
But first I'll hitch the cutter sleigh for one more winter glide,
Then ride my trail but circle back to where two hearts abide.

As I bridle in the morning through the seasons of my life,
And consider on the difference you've made for me my wife,
My mind is prone to wander through memories well worn,
To where you once became my bride—that early summer morn'.

As I bridle in the morning

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

 

See our feature on Paul Kern here, where there is a photo that accompanies this poem.

 

 

Longer Than Time Understands

Up on Stuart Johnson’s place, which is the old M & O in Salina Canyon, you can find the remains of a cabin where the original homesteaders somehow or another made a life for themselves thirty miles from town, up beyond what would barely pass for a wagon track road. I first learned about this story from one of my students, who is part of the Johnson family. Then last summer during the roundup we did a trail ride on the ranch, and I got to actually see the site. There’s not much left there now, other than some old weathered timbers and memories. But the story is that the original couple is buried there, side by side. And if you look in the underbrush you can still see where those mounds must be. The story just fascinated me, that people could be so strong, have such faith in their ability to endure.

He had little money so he gave her the morning,
Blue and sparkling like diamonds and gold.
And he hadn't much learning but the poems that he told her
were sunsets and dawns to behold.
Then she gave him her heart and a lock of her hair,
braided gold for their wedding bands,
and he promised to love her, to honor, to stay by her
for longer than time understands.

In the mountains of Utah surrounded by aspen
Near a stream fed by snowfields up high,
He built her a cabin of pine logs watched over
by a cloudless deep blue Utah sky.
And he could buy no fine things but he built her a bed
From aspen he'd hewn with his hands,
and he promised to love her, to honor, to stay by her
for longer than time understands.

Utah do you still hear their voices,
Calling soft through the clear mountain air?
In that high Wasatch Range
That cabin remains
Filled with whispers of the love that lingers there.

There were trials that came to them but they faced them together,
Hard winters, poor crops, deadly storm,
But they held on to living and they held to each other
and together they weathered life's harm.
And now by a marker half hidden in brambles
in that clearing where the cabin still stands,
two mounds mark his promise to love her, to stay by her
for longer than time understands,
two mounds mark his promise to love her, to stay by her
for longer than life understands.

Utah do you still hear their voices,
Calling soft through the clear mountain air?
In that high Wasatch Range
That cabin remains
Filled with whispers of the love that lingers there.

© 2002, Jo Lynne Kirkwood 
This song may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

 

Read more of Jo Lynne Kirkwood's poetry here

 


 

Just Like a Chinook

She come on strong
and warm
and totally unexpected.
            Just like a chinook
during one a' them
long
hard
spine cracking winters
when even the stones groan.

My spirit quivered.
                  Been a while.
You bury things deep
in a spell like that
and time                      takes time
to thaw feelin's
froze deep as all that.

Quick.
Like a wink.
A brief flurry of dancin'
hand grabbin' romancin'
that settles your heart into spring.
And then's gone.
 
And after one a' them passages
of short
hollow gut feelin's
winter come back    
                        and then softened
like new fallen snow.
Spring snow.
And I knew that I'd make it.
All quite unexpected.
                 Just like a chinook.

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

 

 
 

 

The Carhartt Song

Them big city gals are a natural
At turnin' good cowboys around.
Dressed in their big city finery
They'll drop a good man to the ground.

I know 'cause I've been there myself boys
So please take a word from the wise.
There's far more to beauty, I'm certain,
Far more than what meets the eye.

Consider the gal that you're hitched to.
She'll be there when you make a stand.
Maybe them bibs ain't from Paree'
But who cares she's one heck of a hand.

      Chorus:     
      My sweetheart's the gal in the Carhartts.
      She's a one-of-a-kind kind of gal.
      Helps with the calvin' in springtime
      And gathers the herd in the fall.

      There's no one I'd rather depend on
      And the' them bibs don't look like much,
      Underneath that brown duck
      Is most of my luck, and I'll love her
      Till the day that I die.

It ain't that she looks like this always.
Just when there's work to be done.
Whenever we can we pull slack time
And we're off to go dance and have fun.
 
She'll put on a tight pair of bluejeans
A shirt with some frills on the side.
And she'll outclass them big city sweethearts
As across that ol' dance floor we glide
 
      Chorus:
      (underneath that brown duck
      is a gal that can chuck
      square bales with the best of the guys.)

© 2005, DW Groethe, from Tales from West River
These words may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

 

"The Carhartt Song" was recorded by Jean Prescott on her Sweethearts in Carhartts album, and by Wylie Gustafson of Wylie and Wild West on his Bucking Horse Moon album.

 

Read more of DW Groethe's poetry here

 

  

 

The Tryst

I've ridden since the day throwed back
     The trailers of the night.
An' what fer, shall I tell you,
     In a stampede o' delight?
To wait out by the cottonwoods.
     An' dove-call softly to
A girl I know will answer:
     I'm a-comin', boy, to you."

'Twas no time to spare my bronco;
     His breathin' spells were brief;
He's white with foam an' shakin'
     Like the Chinook shakes the leaf.
Fer I've splashed thro muddy rivers,
     An' loped across divides,
An' ridden where no puncher
     In his reason ever rides.

Thro' wallers caked with gumbo,
     The buffalo once knew;
Thro' water holes an' washouts,
     An' a-boggin' in the slew.
O'er alkali an' sage brush flats
     I cut the whistlin' breeze,
An' come straight as the eagle
     When his lady bird's to please

I'm a-watchin' and I'm waitin'
     With heart as light as air,
As happy as they make 'em,
     Either here or anywhere.
Jes' to listen fer her footfall,
     An' hear her sweet voice thro'
The prairie silence murmur,
     "I'm a-comin', boy, to you."

by Robert V. Carr, from Cowboy Lyrics, 1908

 

See our feature on Robert V. Carr here.

 

 

Real Affection

If I could say the words I think,
     My tongue with overwork would bust;
I'll make old Shakespeare rise and say:
     "What varlot now disturbs my dust!"
If I would do the things which I
     Am simply achin' to perform,
I'd rope the lighnin' an' I'd jerk
     The terror from the blindin' storm.

I'd use a comet fer a bronk,
     And ride him stuck-up like an' proud:
My spurs would be a pair of stars,
     My blanket jes' a fleecy cloud.
I'd roundup all the planets an'
     I'd do it sudden, sure an' soon,
And then I'd set back ca'm an' watch
     Them mill around the helpless moon.

I'd do all this an' maybe more,
     Pervidin' that I thought it would
To this here busted heart of mine
     Do any sort of passin' good.
I'd do it all an' take a chance
     To hold the trail thro' Afterwhile,
If she would throw me jes' one word
     An' tie it up with one sweet smile.

by Robert V. Carr, from Cowboy Lyrics, 1908

 

See our feature on Robert V. Carr here.

 

 

Lookin' for Cows, Fawn Creek, 1993

Oh, my surprised lungs catch for a breath.
Tho' my eyes keep starin' on down the road.
Was it you, with mystified and cursed intention,
That caused my heart to nearly explode?

Or was it your horse, that renegade bay,
The one with an eye purely demonic?
Did he side-pass right to avoid a sharp rock,
And make my spirit sing something symphonic?

Or was it my mare, 'cause she is in heat,
And she's been looking all day at that bay?
She's a flirty ol' hussy, and I wouldn't put it past 'er
To swing that big butt over your way.

It couldn't have been me, tho, I guess it is true
That my right spur was embedded in 'er side.
And I know full well, I trained 'er to leg cues
Back when I broke 'er to ride.

It coulda been the moon, I hear it's been waxin'
And there's just no accountin' for nature.
Them hosses know better, but they're plumb confused
When it's the moon manning their legislature.

And, now a cowboy don't really know it.
He's about as perceptive as a blind porcupine.
But when he's calculatin' some on where the cows are
That ol' moon can sure put a knot in 'is twine.

So, it might just have been the hosses' fault
And it mighta been some birds on the wing.
It coulda been the hint of sage on the air,
'Cause I know a gal won't fall for sech a thing.

Hey, now, buster, we're workin' today!
There's no time for this, you scruffy ol' pard,
To be sparkin' or considerin' our options.
Heck, gettin' this job done with you is dang hard!

Yep, we been cowboyin' together for more'n twenty years
 I count it somethin' so rare and so fine.
And I still get that shiver up and down my back
Whenever your stirrup rubs up against mine.

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

 

Read more of Virginia Bennett's poetry here

 

 

Juanita

Drear are the prairies; the ranges are silent;
Mournfully whispers each soft, passing breeze;
Down in the canyon and eddying murmur
Echoes the sigh through the giant pine trees.
Lone are the trails on the brown, dusty mesa,
Up where the gems of the star-world peep through;
Sadly the night-bird is plaintively calling --
'Nita, Juanita, I'm longing for you!

Out where the herds dot the range in the Springtime;
Out where the flowers you loved nod and sway,
Memory brings me a vision of sadness,
Brings me a dream of a once-happy day.
Over the trails you are riding beside me,
Under the canopied heavens of blue;
Smiling the love that your lips have repeated --
'Nita, Juanita, I'm longing for you!

When steals the night with its grim, dusky shadows,
As 'round the herd I am jogging along,
Your gentle face seem to lighten the darkness,
Each vagrant breeze seems to whisper a song;
Whispers a melody sweetly entrancing,
Telling me, dear, of your love ever true;
Whispers and echo which sets my heart dancing --
'Nita, Juanita, I'm longing for you!

by E. A. Brininstool from Trail Dust of a Maverick, 1914

 

"Juanita" is recited by Dick Morton on his Cowboy Classics CD (2006)

See our feature on E. A. Brininstool here.

 

 

 

Tomboy

I was raised with seven brothers
       near a place called Concho Lake.    
 There was Jamie, Jeff, and Joseph,
       Sam and Seth and Sid and Jake.
So I grew up rough and tumble,
     and I made my share of noise, 
Romped the dogs and roped the horses.  
     I was rowdy as the boys! 

Skinny tomboy, seven brothers,
     and assorted brothers' friends    
On our little cattle ponies,
     raced to hell and back again.  
We'd roar down the dry arroyas;
     then we'd all come tearing back,    
There was Buzz and Paul and Donnie
     and that rascal Charlie Black. 
  
But one Spring, as I grew older,
     Mama firmly told me, "No!"   
And when the boys went out on roundup --
     Mama said I couldn't go.
Then she tried to teach me cooking,
     how to sew, and keep the place; 
But my heart was roping yearlings,
     and I longed to barrel race.

 Once she washed my hair in soap weed;
      while it still hung limp and damp,
 She stuck that rusty curling iron
      down the chimney of the lamp. 
 "Sister," she said, holding up a gingham
      dress that she had sewed,
 "Andy's comin'!  Now you wear this,
      so's your legs won't look so bowed."

 Andy was the new young foreman
      of the ranch off to our west,
 And of all my brothers' cronies,
      Mama showed she liked him best.  
 O, she was proud that she had made me
      look like something of a girl,
 Got me out of faded Levis,
      forced my stubborn hair to curl.

 Well, it wasn't long thereafter 
      every time that Andy'd call,   
 And the boys were pitching horseshoes,
      Andy'd linger in the hall.
 So he came to be my suitor,
       brought me candy, flowers and such,
 And the night he brought me perfume,
  Well, I didn't mind too much.  

 Andy'd come 'most every evening;
       he was courteous and kind,
 And it wasn't any secret
      what the cowboy had in mind.   
 Every Friday we'd go dancing,
       laughing clear to town and back.
 Andy made me feel a lady --
       so I married Charlie Black!

© November, 1994, Dee Strickland Johnson (Buckshot Dot), from her book, Cowman's Wife
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission. 

Read more of Dee Strickland Johnson's (Buckshot Dot) poetry  here.  This poem is included in her book, Cowman's Wife

 

 

Jack Potter's Courtin'

Now young Jack Potter was a man who knowed the ways of steers.
From bur-nests in their hairy tails to ticks that chawed their ears.
A Texican and cowhand, to the saddle bred and born,
He could count a trail herd on the move and never miss a horn.
But one day on a tally, back in eighteen-eighty-four,
He got to acting dreamy, and he sure did miss the score.
The Trail Boss knowed the symptoms. "Jack you ain't no good like this.
I'll give you just ten days to go and find what is amiss!"
A "miss" was just what ailed him, for he'd fell in love for sure
With a gal named Cordy Eddy, mighty purty, sweet and pure.
So now Jack rode a hundred miles, a-sweatin' with the thought
Of sweetsome words to ask her with, the way a fella ought.
"I'm just a humble cowhand, Miss Cordie, if you please,
That hereby asks your heart and hand, upon my bended knees!."
It sounded mighty simple thus rehearsed upon the trail.
But when he come to Cordie's house, his words all seemed to fail.
'Twas "Howdy, ma'am, and how's the crops? And "How's your pa and ma?"
For when it came to askin' her, he couldn't come to taw.

He took her to a dance one night. The hoss she rode was his.
"He's a dandy little hoss," she says. "Well, yep," says Jack, "he is."
They rode home late together and the moon was ridin' high,
And Jack, he got to talkin' 'bout the stars up in the sky,
And how they'd guide a trail herd like they do sea-goin' ships.
But words of love and marriage—they just wouldn't pass his lips!
So he spoke about the pony she was ridin', and he said:
"You'll note he's fancy-gaited, and don't never fight his head."
"He's sure a little dandy," she agrees, and heaves a sigh.
Jack says, "Why you can have him—that is—maybe—when I die."
He figgered she might savvy what he meant or maybe guess,
And give him that sweet answer which he longed for, namely, "yes."
But when they reached the ranch house, he was still a-wonderin' how
He would ever pop the question, and he had to do it now.
Or wait and sweat and suffer till the drive was done that fall,
When maybe she'd be married, and he'd lose her after all.
He put away her saddle, led his pony to the gate:
"I reckon I'll be driftin', ma'am. It's gittin' kinder late."
Her eyes was bright as starlight, and her lips looked sweet as flow'rs
Says Jack, "Now, this here pony—is he mine, or is he ours?"
"Our pony, Jack!" she answered, and her voice was soft as moss.
Then Jack, he claims he kissed her—but she claims he kissed the hoss!

© 1966, S. Omar Barker, from Rawhide Rhymes, reprinted with the permission of the estate of S. Omar Barker Further reproduction without explicit permission is prohibited

 

"Jack Potter's Courtin'" is recited by Mick Vernon on the 2008 edition of The BAR-D Roundup.

Cordie_Eddy_with_Gertrude_Robert_and_Ethel.gif (159879 bytes)

Find the true story of Jack and Cordie Eddy in our feature here.

 

 

 

And for the less-romantically-inclined, Badger Clark writes about "Bachin'"

 

Bachin'

Our lives are hid; our trails are strange;
     We're scattered through the West
In canyon cool, on blistered range
     Or windy mountain crest.
Wherever Nature drops her ears
     And bares her claws to scratch,
From Yuma to the north frontiers,
     You'll likely find the bach',
          You will,
     The shy and sober bach'!

Our days are sun and storm and mist,
     The same as any life,
Except that in our trouble list
     We never count a wife.
Each has a reason why he's lone,
     But keeps it 'neath his hat;
Or, if he's got to tell some one,
     Confides it to his cat,
          He does,
     Just tells it to his cat.

We're young or old or slow or fast,
     But all plumb versatyle.
The mighty bach' that fires the blast
     Kin serve up beans in style.
The bach' that ropes the plungin' cows
     Kin mix the biscuits true--
We earn our grub by drippin brows
     And cook it by 'em too,
          We do,
     We cook it by 'em too.

We like to breathe unbranded air,
     Be free of foot and mind,
And go or stay, or sing or swear,
     Whichever we're inclined.
An appetite, a conscience clear,
     A pipe that's rich and old
Are loves that always bless and cheer
     And never cry or scold,
          They don't.
     They never cry or scold.

Old Adam bached some ages back
     And smoked his pipe so free,
A-loafin' in a palm-leaf shack
     Beneath a mango tree.
He'd best have stuck to bachin' ways,
     And scripture proves the same,
For Adam's only happy days
     Was 'fore the woman came,
          They was,
     All 'fore the woman came.

by Badger Clark from Sun and Saddle Leather, 1922

 

See our feature on Badger Clark here.

 

And for the even-less-romantically-inclined, here's a Bruce Kiskaddon poem that takes place on "Volunteen Day":

 

The Midwinter Bath

I'm home plenty early, I reckon—
It's too soon to start cookin' grub,
So before I begin with my bakin'
I'll take me a bath in that tub.

I'll build up a plenty big fire,
And git all the kittles well filled;
If there's one thing that I don't admire,
It's gittin' in water that's chilled.

That wind is some cold and plum nosey—
It's comin' right in through the cracks—
But I'll fix the place up warm and cozy,
And stuff that broke window with sacks.

Wow! Wow! But it sure makes you shiver—
A man wouldn't really suppose
It would chill him plum into the liver,
The minute he takes off his clothes.

Now, there is old Billy McRady—
He's eighty, and got his third wife.
She's quite a respectable lady—
And old Bill never bathed in his life.

When did I bathe last—I remember,
Although I ain't put the date down—
I had one the first of November,
The last time I went into town.

It's weak'nin', a man can't deny it,
But I'm takin' a chance, anyway;
It won't hurt a feller to try it,
For this here is Volunteen day.

I'll git that new bar of Fels Napthy
And doll myself sweet an' clean,
And come out all purty an' happy—
Like somebody's sweet Volunteen.

Ouch!  Say, but my feet must be tender—
But then a man should understand,
When he feels of the water, remember,
That his feet ain't as tough as his hand.

I don't think it hurts your endurance,
Except when a feller just soaks,
For baths is a common occurrence
Among the society folks.

The men, kids and the women
Put on little short-legged skirts,
And goes in the ocean a swimmin';
They don't reckon as how that it hurts.

I've read about them in "The Tattler,"
Great goodness!  jest look at them heels;
I'm sheddin' my hide like a rattler—
It's turrible how a man peels,

I'v got some clean under-clothes ready,
But the others is still warm for me;
I'll got at this thing sort of steady—
Too much of it mightn't agree.

Les' see, now-November, December—
And this here is Volunteen Day;
I'll mark down the date and remember
I'm good 'till the first of next May.

It may cause a feller to weaken,
It may sort of shorten Life's path;
But I'll tell you right here, plainly speakin',
I sure do enjoy a good bath!

by Bruce Kiskaddon 

Read more of Bruce Kiskaddon's poetry here.

 

See the growing list of "Cowboy Love Poems" here, where they've been 
collected since 2001.

 

 

 

 

www.cowboypoetry.com

 

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