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Lariat Laureate


Verlin Pitt

of Lander, Wyoming
recognized for his poem
Turk Wiggin's Last Song

Featured in "The Big Roundup," an anthology of the best of CowboyPoetry.com.


Verlin Pitt

 

Verlin Pitt says: "I was born and raised in Lander, Wyoming, and have lived here most of my life. I've tried other places a couple of times, but when I noticed there weren't any mountains I found myself meanderin' around with my head down. My day job, actually I work nights, is a Deputy Sheriff for the Fremont County Sheriff's Office, and it does tend to take time away from my hobbies. Besides writin' cowboy poetry I like to get out into the hills and look around for gold, rocks, jade and other valuable items. I have heard they are out there, and I reckon if I keep up the search I'll find somethin' besides old rusty beer cans and horseshoe nails. I can tell you from my own experience that shoeing horses and mules was a profitable trade, during the time Pioneers were heading West. My high dollar metal detector has found it's share of rusty horseshoe nails along the Oregon trail. I sometimes think the horses and mules were the only individuals who lost anything."

We asked Verlin Pitt why he writes cowboy poetry and he replied:

I write Cowboy Poetry for a variety of reasons. The number one reason being that I don't know how not to. I write it because it is what I'm all about, and because I love the West and its people. I would hope that the traditions of the "Cowboy Way" and the "Indian Way" are passed on for the next hundred years or so. Cowboy Poetry is one way of doing just that.



 

The following review by Margo Metegrano, Managing Editor of CowboyPoetry.com, appeared in the Sep/Oct 2002 issue of Rope Burns, the publication of the Academy of Western Artists, and in the Wyoming Companion in November, 2002

The long lonely nights that Verlin Pitt spends in Wyoming's Fremont County jail give him time to write and think, and of course his surroundings sometimes provide inspiration for his material.  Fortunately, he's the Deputy Sheriff, so he's free to leave the hoosegow to perform at gatherings and publish his work. His new CD, Way Out West, which follows an earlier book, Wyoming Trails -- The Meanderings of a Native Son, is a generous assortment of some of his best poetry.

If Robert Service had been a Wyoming native, his work would have no doubt sounded like Verlin Pitt's.  In fact, several of Pitt's poems have won the Robert Service Poetry Award.  Pitt spins a Service-like tale in many of the included poems and you're quickly drawn into the story, such as in "The World's Greatest Bullrider": "It ain't much fun 'neath a prairie sun when you're digging postholes down/ But we were one day away from a full month's pay and a rodeo was comin' to town..."

But every one of these poems is an original, each built on a unique idea, crafted with impressive wordsmithing and much humor.  In one amusing tale, two cowboys moving cattle meet Bigfoot, who helps himself to their whiskey and mounts one of the horses: "That pony went plumb loco tryin' to throw him clear/But ol' Bigfoot was a natural and seemed to have no fear."  The listener is warned about being "high up in the pineys," where they might encounter the beast: "And if you're wonderin' at what he's wearin' as he bounces and cavorts/Set your mind at ease ol' Pard, he's wearin' Clyde's
jockey shorts."  Clyde also appears in the hilarious and imaginative "Close Encounter of the Cowboy Kind," a kind of "shoot-out at the UFO corral."

Other poems have less exotic subjects: rodeo, cowboying, the Old West, the Gold Rush, and more.  Tales often end with a dose of quirky wisdom, translated into a philosophy that gets your attention.  In the "Desert Rat," an eccentric sourdough spends his days seeking gold, but doesn't bother to collect it:  "He never left a marker, not one single way of going back." The moral of that story becomes "True security lies not in what you have but what you can do without."

This CD is a satisfying entertainment with a ride range of poetic styles and subjects that you'll want to listen to many times. It might be worth going to jail to hear Verlin Pitt's work, but fortunately Way Out West is available for $13.50 postpaid from Verlin Pitt, 788 Vance Dr., Lander, Wyoming 82520.

 

Wyoming Trails - The Meanderings of a Native Son " lets you take a look at things from a cowboy's point of view." It's available for $6.50 ($5.00 plus $1.50 postage).

 

Send orders to:

Verlin Pitt
788 Vance Dr.
Lander, Wyoming 82520
email

Verlin Pitt has a web site where you can find information about his book and recordings.

 

Wyocpbk.jpg (7975 bytes) 

Verlin Pitt's poetry is included in Wyoming's Cowboy Poets. The 201-page book contains brief profiles of 28 Wyoming cowboy poets, their photos and samples of their poetry. The introduction is written by Montana humorist/poet Gwen Petersen.  The editor, Jean Henry-Mead, is a novelist and award-winning photojournalist, founder of the Western Writers Hall of Fame, and former teacher in the Wyoming Poetry in the Schools Program with Peggy Simson Curry. Read more about the book and at Jean Henry-Mead's Sagebrush and Sleuths web site, where you can order the book.  Wyoming's Cowboy Poets is also available by check or money order from Medallion Books, 8344 Shady Lane, Evansville, WY 82636 for $19.95 postpaid (paperback) or  $27.45 postpaid (hardcover). Please add 5% sales tax if ordered within Wyoming.

 

  Verlin Pitt is a part of Wyoming's Trails West, offering 5-day trail rides in Wyoming's Bison Basin area, where the Oregon, Pioneer and Mormon trails all came together before crossing  the mountains over South Pass. At their web site, they invite you to "Spend 5 of the most memorable days you will ever experience in the rustic majesty of Wyoming" and "ride the high plains and see what is meant by wide open spaces."   Cowboy Poets and Western musicians will be along for the ride.  Visit the Trails West web site.   

 

 

Turk Wiggin's Last Song 

He was travelin' light that stormy night, when he rode in the ranchhouse gate.
The rain fell hard there in the yard and the hour was gettin' real late.
By the light of a lamp he stumbled through the damp and in the bunkhouse door.
He sat his junk by an empty bunk and slept in the clothes that he wore.

The next mornin' at dawn with breakfast on every hand filed out the door.
Right there at the table, Turk showed us he was able to eat a dozen eggs and more.
We all figured if Turk put what he ate to work he'd be one fearsome hand.
That first day he earned his pay and showed us that he had some sand.

It was a piece down the road when old Turk showed he had some curious ways.
It's no strange thing for a man to sing, what's strange is if he bays.
He made a mournful sound like a scalded hound, when he had to stand night guard.
The cows didn't seem to mind, when he began to unwind, but the cowpokes took it hard.

They'd almost fight to stand guard at night just to keep old Turk from singin'.
They'd do most anything not to hear Turk sing, and keep their ears from ringin'.
When the nighthawk rode in all of the men were up and on their way.
If Turk stood guard gettin' up was hard, and even harder to start the day.

There came a day we were windin' our way down the Bozeman trail.
We were given the word to push this herd clear on ahead to the rail.
Curly Bill in the lead put the hooks to his steed and set a hurried pace.
Turk Wiggin's bag was ridin' drag, and he kept every cow in it's place.

Every poke likes to trail some old cow's tail across the prairie sand.
It sets a mood no city dude will ever get from such a barren land.
Then old Turk went right to work a singin' his terrible banshee wail.
Turk's voice had power but the mood went sour, and it pierced like a driven nail.

That very night as we lay packed tight in our bedrolls beneath the sky,
We formed a plan for this singin' man and the plan was for him to die.
We just couldn't take that raspin' rake, when Turk broke into a song.
The more he brayed the worse we frayed, and we'd listened way too long.

That old Turk was a piece of work and he claimed he had a gift.
The sorry thing was he thought he could sing and claimed it gave him a lift.
What he didn't know is we were set to blow and had lost our will to cope.
With our nerves worn thin every man was in and Curly Bill had a brand new rope.

At the break of dawn the plan was on, and we strung him up to a tree.
Turk had no clue what we were up to or just why it had to be.
It was quite a sight when the rope got tight and Turk kinda kicked and jerked.
Turk was a croakin' and if the branch hadn't broken our plan just might have worked.

He never made a peep when he landed in a heap at the bottom of that tree.
We knew somethin' was wrong when he stood there so long as quiet as could be.
With his mouth wide open it appeared he was gropin' for just the right words to say.
But nothin' came out when he tried to shout, old Turk had lost his bray.

In the days to come, though his lips were dumb, his heart was filled with hate.
In stretchin' his neck we'd put his voice in check and sealed poor Turk's fate.
Though our plan went wrong we'd stopped his song and closed the curtain on his stage.
He'd never sing no more like he did before in the land of the purple sage.

Verlin Pitt
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

Verlin Pitt was a Lariat Laureate finalist in the first Lariat Laureate competition:

 

One of

Lariat Laureate Runner Up

Recognized for his poem, Desert Rat

 

Desert Rat

Way back in the eighteen hundreds men sought the yellow gold.
They burned in the desert heat and froze in the bitter cold.
Each man had his own reason for seeking the motherlode.
Gold fever pushed them on as they saddled up and rode.
 
A few got rich but most of them stayed poor.
They sought the gold and left it, worse off than before.
Long hard days of digging dirt and then to come up dry.
For some the dream of riches turned out to be a lie.
 
There was a breed of man who didn't care where the gold was at.
His love was in the quest for it, and he was called a desert rat.
Followed by a loaded jackass wherever he might go.
He roamed the mountain peaks and the valleys way down low.
 
With a pack mule and a shovel he sifted through the dirt.
Once in awhile, he'd find some gold but not enough to hurt.
A man alone on the prairie beneath a starlit sky.
In the company of a mule, and no one knows just why.
 
He sleeps out on the prairie with the coyotes and rattlesnakes,
And at the crack of dawn, he'll be cooking up sourdough cakes.
Some folks would say he's crazy and they'd be as right as rain.
Too long with the yellow fever can drive a man insane.
 
He bellers out "Oh Susanna" as he moves at his own slow pace,
And his mule is singing backup and braying out the bass.
The day did finally come when he found the motherlode,
But he covered it back up and across the prairie he rode.
 
He never left a marker, not one single way of going back.
All that gold in the ground and he covered his own track.
That Sourdough knew the secret of what this life is all about.
True security lies not in what you have but what you can do without.

Verlin Pitt
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

 

Verlin Pitt was a Lariat Laureate finalist in the second Lariat Laureate competition:

 

One of

Lariat Laureate Runner Up

Recognized for his poem, The Mule Whisperer

 

The Mule Whisperer 

It was Saturday night and I was downin' a few at the Spotted Horse saloon.
A heavy set gent at the piano was playin' a honkytonk tune.
Four men at the back of the bar were dealin' a game of stud.
The barkeep was wipin' glasses and chawin' on a cud.

Out of the dark and into the light a man stepped through the door.
Then, he bellied up to the bar and told the man to pour.
He downed a shot of whiskey and then turned around to me.
He claimed that he broke horses and was as good as would ever be.

The man claimed he broke them by whisperin' in their ear.
Just a little bit of sweet talk would take away their fear.
For most of that whole evenin' he taught me how it was done.
I learned the art of whisperin' and how a horse's heart is won.

I broke mules for the army at a nearby army post.
One old mule I was breakin' was a whole lot meaner than most.
At daybreak the next mornin' I snubbed that mule up tight.
That old mule had a wild stare and he was lookin' for a fight.

I figured it'd be real easy if I used that whisperin' art.
A little bit of sweet talkin' would win that old mule's heart.
I walked right up beside him and I whispered in his ear.
I said the things that I was taught to calm a horse's fear.

I guess the mule didn't hear me cuz he bit me on the cheek.
It felt like a blow from a hammer and made my knees go weak.
That got me to thinkin' it must've been somethin' I said.
This time when I whispered, I'd stroke that old mule's head.

I staggered up beside him and I stroked his scrubby mane.
A forward kick to the groin and my whole body was in pain.
I slithered to the ground in too much pain to cry.
I'd have to heal up some to be well enough to die.

I knew there had to be a way to touch this mule's heart.
I also knew the only way was through the whisperin' art.
I hobbled both his front legs and then hobbled both in back.
I snubbed him tight up to a post and took in all the slack.

I figured he was tied so tight there was no way I'd get hurt.
When I whispered in his ear this time, I wouldn't bite the dirt.
I looked up at the sky and the stars danced heel and toe.
It was time to see if this mule would be my friend or foe.

With the mule snubbed up and hobbled, I started whisperin' in his ear.
I talked on and the mule listened but he just didn't seem to hear.
He brayed and squealed and pulled 'til the snubbin' rope was cut.
That sorry mule spun like a top and kicked me in the gut.

This mule was close to killin' me and I was whisperin' like some clown.
Right then, I made a solemn vow, this mule was goin' down.
I kicked that mule in the belly and he squealed like he'd been shot.
I figured he could whip me but he'd know that he'd been fought.

I ripped off an old corral post and busted it in two.
Then, I smacked that mule between the eyes and gave him what was due.
It put him to his knees and both his eyes went crossed.
I figured from the way he looked that this old mule had lost.

I've been wrong many times before but never quite so bad.
He made it back to his feet and dang that mule was mad.
He kicked, he bit, he brayed and squealed, you could hear it for a mile.
When the whole thing came to a finish, he left me in a pile.

That mule proved he was crazy, when he jumped a ten foot fence.
I watched him runnin' in the moonlight and I haven't seen him since.
Along life's rocky, winding road I learned one simple rule.
Whisperin' might work on horses, but it sure as hell don't work on a mule.

Verlin Pitt
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

 

 

A Class Act 

There have been some fights about animal rights and a sport called rodeo.
There are some folks tellin' good cowpokes to stop their wild west show.
That rope they pull might hurt that bull and cause him a lot of pain.
We'd all feel bad if they made him mad and what would anyone gain?

Then there's the broncs they ride that they kick in the side and rake hard with their spurs.
Broncriders are coarse when it comes to the horse and the pain he incurs.
The rider gains fame but it's a cryin' shame about the bronc he rode.
If you care in the least, think about the beast and not the rider he's gonna unload.

See the rider there flyin' through the air, the one with the hoof in his mouth.
You can tell of course that he's bitin' that horse on his journey South.
Such cruelty you will seldom see, anyplace but in a rodeo.
That rodeo clown who caught a horn goin' down, it's all a part of the show.

In the saddlebronc event, little time is spent on considerin' the horse's welfare.
When you're flyin' high up there in the sky, there's plenty of time to care.
That thumpin' sound when the rider hits the ground is the sound of teeth bitin' dirt.
Before you pick a side in this wild ride, consider who was really hurt.

Then it's back to that clown who's runnin' around teasin' that poor old bull.
They say he makes good money, but it ain't that funny when he gives it's ear a pull.
It caused some hearts to fail when he grabbed it's tail and went along for the ride.
But the curtain came down when the bull caught the clown and stuck a horn in his side.

An eight second ride on a big bull's hide can be a real thrill,
But it's an even bet you'd best not forget he's wearin' horns that'll kill.
If the mental state of a bull ain't on the list you pull, will you feel guilt?
Are you way behind on a horse's state of mind, is that the way you're built?

Those who say they care about a bull's welfare should take an honest look.
That old bull will soon be full and drinkin' cool water from a babblin' brook.
That noble steed will be eatin' oat seed and standin' in tall grass.
Rodeo stock are a stockman's flock and he treats 'em like high class.

Verlin Pitt
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.


 

World's Greatest Bullrider 

It ain't much fun 'neath a prairie sun when you're digging postholes down,
But we were one day away from a full month's pay and a rodeo was comin' to town.
At supper that night we all had to fight to keep our exuberance low.
Each hand was keen on the rodeo scene yet, somehow we stayed in tow.

At the streak of dawn, every hand was gone with a pocket full of pay.
With broncos to ride and some time to bide the cowboys were off to play.
Now, first things first they had to quench their thirst so, they stopped at a roadside bar.
They bought some chew and they downed a few and that's how cowboys are.

They drank 'em down and they headed for town to pay their entry fee.
At the rodeo grounds, with it's sights and sounds, there's plenty for a poke to see.
The broncs mull around, while bulls paw the ground, and cowboys prepare their gear.
There's no time for sorrow or to think about tomorrow as a man tries to calm his fear.

Yet, there's always one, some son-of-a-gun who claims he's the best there is.
He'll brag and cavort, he's the world's greatest sport and the prize money will be his.
Such a man was Clyde McCann and the bulls were his specialty.
He claimed he could ride any bull with a hide, he was the best that would ever be.

The time came down to pass the hat around and see who'd get what bull.
As the hat went past, the names went fast and Clyde was the last to pull.
He drew a name with a bit of fame, the bull was Mr.. T.
The bull he'd drawn was a mass of brawn, as good as would ever be.

He'd claimed he could ride any bull with a hide, yet his face looked mighty pale.
The brags he'd made just seemed to fade and the time just seemed to sail.
It wasn't long whether right or wrong, ol' Clyde had to make his try.
Time to mount that hump in front of a rump and see if he'd live or die.

It was time for Clyde to make his ride, time to mount ol' Mr.. T.
I looked at the chute and the mighty brute, and that's all that I could see.
Yet, where was Clyde? He'd been at my side, when they called his name to go.
In the arena light he was nowhere in sight, ol' Clyde was layin' low.

The bronc riders came and made their bid for fame, and I sat and drank my beer.
I was enjoyin' it all when I heard nature's call and my purpose became real clear.
I needed to find that house out behind and do what must be done.
I was feelin' low that I had to go 'cuz God I was havin' fun.

I made it there in the cool night air and I pulled on that outhouse door.
It opened wide and there inside was the man we were lookin' for.
Clyde was sittin' tall on that outhouse stall and he wore a big ol' grin.
He looked as good as any man could a showin' that much skin.

In the days to come, I felt real dumb to find ol' Clyde in his lair.
But dang his hide if he'd made that ride, he wouldn't have been in there.
It was mighty clear he was filled with fear and he did what he had to do.
But it made me sad and I felt half mad, 'cuz some things Clyde said weren't true.

There have been some sights in the arena lights and some have won it all.
But there'd be no ride by a man called Clyde, for he never answered the call.
For the world's greatest sport to go and abort, just seems like an awful shame.
If he'd had the grit to crawl up there and sit, he'd be in the Hall of Fame.

Verlin Pitt
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

 

 

Grim for the Reaper

Out of the West and some said the best, there came a Pistolero.
He took them all, both short and tall, even when the odds seemed narrow.
When he sat down, no matter the town, life got a whole lot cheaper.
Many men lay dead, pumped full of lead by the one they called the Reaper.

No man ever saw his lightnin' draw, but all saw the smoke and fire.
To many he gave the gift of a grave and his fast gun was for hire.
With the money up front for each manhunt, his pockets were a fillin'.
For a few dollars more he would handle the chore of anyone needin' killin'.

His latest contract was one in fact for a man who had won it all.
At the turn of a card, a banker fell hard and was bitter from the fall.
Dingus McKye was an honest guy, but he knew how to play his cards.
He had won a bank and to be real frank he also won the guards.

Dingus had heard with no doubt of the word, the Reaper was on his trail.
But Dingus was a man who always had a plan and this one had better not fail.
They laughed him down when he left town, perched on a wagon seat.
If the Reaper came there, he'd be shootin' thin air and air is hard to beat.

It was a week to the day when he rode in to say he was lookin' for Dingus McKye.
He rode up and down every street in the town, searchin' for Dingus to die.
His eyes burned like fire, and this killer for hire would not be cheated his prey.
He wouldn't sleep well if he sent no one to hell, it would ruin the gunfighter's day.

It seemed mighty strange, but out on the range a wagon was headed his way.
Would this be McKye unaware he would die if he rode into town that day?
The Reaper's stare was intent for he was hell bent on killin' a man real soon.
His patience wore thin, but he wouldn't give in as the sun reached up for high noon.

On the edge of the town, the wagon turned 'round and the man crawled into the back.
The Reaper was furious, but he still got curious when the man reached into a sack.
If you're Dingus McKye then get ready to die, are the words the Reaper yelled out.
To the Reaper's surprise, and with no fear in his eyes Dingus laughed at the Reaper's shout.

He pulled a crank from the sack and some sort of a tack and reached under a tarp that was there.
He said, "I'm Dingus McKye but I don't plan to die," and bullets started fillin' the air.
The Reaper went down on the street of that town and his body had holes by the score.
Mister Gattling gained fame by the gun with his name, and ol' Dingus gladly helped him gain more.

Verlin Pitt
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.


 

Big Jim McLane 

Big Jim McLane was a mighty man as he wandered down life's road.
He roamed the mountains and the valleys for he sought the motherlode.
Big and strong as he rode along, his arms were as big as trees.
His shoulders as wide as a wagon box as he rode in the evening breeze.

When the word came down there was gold around, Jim was on his way.
South Pass was the city that put him on the trail that day.
Hard ridin' was the ticket but Big Jim was a mite too late.
Every claim was staked already, it seemed to be his fate.

Since, he was there already he rented himself a room,
And he settled in a day or two just to watch a gold town boom.
They even had a circus set up on the edge of town.
It had a big gorilla, some lions and a circus clown.

Big Jim was just hangin' around town and had some time to blow.
He figured he'd wander on out and take in that circus show.
Jim was settin' in the tent when the gorilla broke out of it's cage.
It bellered and beat it's chest, right there on the center stage.

The gorilla went unanswered as he challenged one and all.
Until, Big Jim stepped down and accepted the big ape's call.
That whole big tent was empty, not a soul was left around.
A mighty blow from a huge right hand put the ape out on the ground.

The crowd was gathered outside and they heard the screams and moans.
The ape was on it's feet and you could hear the breaking bones.
The cracking of wood just echoed, such a fight you never did see.
Finally, there was silence and it got as quiet as it could be.

The people were all gathered, wonderin' what went on inside.
All sure that Jim was dead and they cussed that big ape's hide.
The silence it was broken and you could hear a gasp, when the tent flap came unfurled.
Big Jim stepped out and said, "Some folks get a new fur coat and think they can whip the world!"

Verlin Pitt
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

 

 

An Acquired Taste 

He's the chosen one beneath a burning sun and he stumbles on a dune of sand.
Besides an old cow bone he's all alone and thirsty in a barren land.
No water in sight and he's losing the fight that it takes to carry on.
Can he stay alive or will he take a dive before the next day's dawn.

He falls face down on the dry hot ground, beside a pile of rock.
A big horned toad calls it his abode and stares as the man tries to talk.
He means to tell the toad he's at the end of his road and sure could use a drink.
It takes all he's got just to form a thought and his mind is on the brink.

With his face in the sand of this barren land he felt a tug on his hair.
A turkey buzzard, well fed, was pulling at his head and doing pretty fair.
Like a startled pup his arm shot up and he grabbed it by the neck.
He gave that desert chicken one terrible lickin' and at the finish the bird was a wreck.

He wasn't being mean when he plucked it clean and he stripped off a chunk of meat.
Though it made him frown he choked it down, there in the desert heat.
It tasted real bad but it was all he had and better the bird than him.
It was mighty sorry fare but he stripped that buzzard bare upping his odds to slim.

With the sand for a bed and being somewhat fed the night was all but gone.
Then at length, he gained some strength and was able to continue on.
On he went, though still half spent and all he could see was sand.
He felt half mad but gave it all he had to cross this barren land.

An old sourdough just rolling with the flow, walked along with his mule.
He saw the buzzards overhead and figured someone was dead, at least, as a general rule.
Up ahead in the sand, he saw the form of a man and he sure looked dead to him.
The sourdough knew well that in this dry, hot hell the chances of living were slim.

When he got up close, what he noticed most was the man had opened one eye.
It seemed to him, though his wit was dim, a most peculiar way to die.
It's an unwritten law that a dead man's jaw ain't supposed to move.
Though he was weak, when he began to speak there was little else to prove.

His words came slow to the sourdough and he raised himself with his hand.
"Those buzzards there flying 'round in the air were just about to land."
"Though it may seem strange on this barren range, here in this sweltering waste."
"I've been through some strife trying to keep my life and for buzzard I've acquired a taste!"

Verlin Pitt
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

 

A Friend in Need 

Have you ever sat alone in an aspen grove when a soft breeze makes them shake.
Then as you gaze out across the way, trout are jumping in a nearby lake.
High up in the pine trees, a big bull elk makes his bugling sound.
That my friend is the primal place, where real freedom is found.
 
There are those who seek the solitude of crested mountain peaks.
Way up high in the clear, cool air, where the scent of pine just wreaks.
On the edge of a golden meadow beneath a big pine tree.
There's nowhere else on earth where a man can feel so free.
 
Those are my memories and I remember them all well,
But there are times they fade in this cold gray cell.
Sometimes, I sit and ponder the awful things I did,
But that was many years ago and I was just a kid.
 
Across the cell a cockroach crawls at a speedy pace.
I wish I'd have had him for last week's cockroach race.
I had a lot of choices and the ones I made were wrong.
Set my life to music and you'd have the world's saddest song.
 
High up in a corner is the biggest spider I've ever seen.
He's staring at me with all eight eyes and he sure looks mean.
I did some real bad things when I was out and free,
But I'm innocent of the crime that they convicted me.
 
That old spider's web caught a bluetail fly.
It just goes to show you that someday we all die.
I hate to think of dying inside these cold gray walls,
But it looks like this is where I'll be, when the master calls.
 
That big, old spider wrapped that fly up tight.
Some things go down easy, while others really fight.
Sometimes I have to wonder why I was ever born.
My whole darn life has been a great, big storm.
 
My cellmate is a killer and a man that people fear,
But he ain't such a bad sort, when he's thinking clear.
All day I sit and ponder the wasted years I've spent.
I lost the best dog I ever had and I haven't made a cent.
 
That big, old spider on the wall gets all his food for free,
And he can leave this musty cell and doesn't need a key.
I try not to think of that for it gets my temper hot,
And I might get up and smash the only friend I've got.

Verlin Pitt
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

 

A Good Ride

I don't hold no titles and I've seldom took first place.
There were times I lagged behind and didn't keep the pace.
There were some who beat me, but they worked to take me out.
They knew they'd earned their title of that there was no doubt.

There are two things that are certain, there are taxes and you'll die.
But there's one more thing that's certain, you won't win unless you try.
A real champ keeps goin' even when the odds are slim.
He knows if he keeps tryin' the odds will favor him.

If you're goin' to run with the big dogs, there are times  you won't place.
But if you're goin' to be a winner you've got to run in the race.
Some folks give up tryin' and lose their will to win.
But when a champion loses, he gets up and tries again.

I've often heard it said, don't sit with your back to the door,
And they point to old Bill Hickock layin' there on the floor.
It's true you should use caution and call on your common sense.
But you won't win no race if you're ridin' on a fence.

When you think you're finished and all your strength is gone,
Reach way down inside yourself and keep on movin' on.
When the big scorekeeper comes to tally up the cost,
He'll write down how well you rode, not if you won or lost.

Verlin Pitt
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.


Rawhide 

Two old pokes by a stockyard were discussin' the merits of life.
One talked about all the hard times and about the strife.
The other spoke of the horses he'd owned along the way.
He claimed that he'd owned some good ones, way back in his day.

He talked about a buckskin he claimed could run all night,
And still be fresh for herdin' cows, come the mornin' light.
Then he bragged about a little bay that was faster than a lightnin' bolt.
He claimed the bay could outrun 'em all from the time he was a colt.

He went on about this other one, a big strawberry roan,
And he said, it bucked harder than any horse he'd ever known.
A hundred good riders tried to top him out and he busted every Poke.
He tried as hard as anyone could but never got him broke.

The one he talked the most about was a stallion he called Red.
He claimed this stud was the finest horse he had ever led.
The reason that he led him was the horse could not be rode.
Though lean and strong with muscle enough to pack most any load.

If a saddle was put upon his back he'd hump up like he'd blow,
And when you stuck a boot in the stirrup you'd swear he was gonna go.
He'd get you braced and ready like there'd be hell to pay.
Then, he'd drop down on his belly and that's where he would stay.

A horse with lots of promise all long, sleek and lean,
But load up his back and he'd get as stubborn as any ever seen.
As long as his back was loaded up he simply would not move.
That old horse had an attitude with little else to prove.

They tried most everything from spurs to a big bullwhip.
They even fed him whiskey and more than just a nip.
Then one day a plan was formed they figured could not fail.
The plan involved a spot directly under the horse's tail.

They'd soak some rags in turpentine and apply them to his rear,
And they knew old Red would feel a whole lot more than fear.
The plan went into action as the rags were smacked in place.
You could tell the rags were burnin' from the look on old Red's face.

He drug his rear in that barnyard like a hound across a rug.
You could tell from the look in his eyes that pony could use a hug.
He squealed and skidded his backside 'til most of it was bare.
The Pokes who'd applied the turpentine could only laugh and stare.

Then he skidded across the barnyard and clear down to the creek.
He'd skidded around so durn much his legs were gettin' weak.
That old horse soaked his bottom for one whole day and night.
When he finally got out of the water, his backside was a sight.

His rear was red from the turpentine and most all of the hair was gone.
With bloodshot eyes and a nervous twitch he greeted the next day's dawn.
The two old Pokes in the stockyard ended their discussion there,
And both went off their separate ways in the cool night air.

If you think this tale's a windy and not a word is true,
And two old Pokes were just blowin' smoke, I've got news for you.
I ain't lyin' when I tell you I watched it happen with my own eyes,
And it's a well known fact that a cowboy is a man who never lies.

Verlin Pitt
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.


 

Tainted Honey

Livin' high and wide with a brand new bride he seemed to have it all.
The girl he'd found was the best around and they married in the fall.
Right after they'd wed, he took her home to his spread, and life just got better.
Time just flew as his cattle herd grew, and this vaquero was a real go getter.

Then, came a day when he rode away, trailin' a herd to the rail.
With beef runnin' high and buyers eager to buy, he had to hit the trail.
Though, he lost a few most of them got through and he sold all for top dollar.
Then, he turned around headed for home ground, and his cash pile just grew taller.

On long winter nights, they watched the Northern lights, and life was too good to be real.
Then, the comin' spring brought another good thing, there was a baby in the deal.
His wife had a son and a mighty big one, so they named him Bull.
With a brand new son and a ranch to run his life was never dull.

Bull grew and grew and the ranch did too with more good things to follow.
A hive of bees in some nearby trees made honey in one that was hollow.
The sweet grass grew tall clear into the fall and all his cows grew fat.
What most men would give for the chance to live where this cowboy was at.

But the irony of what life can be soon would show it's face.
Bull, the son was a wild one and rode every bronc on the place.
One mornin' at dawn, before breakfast was on he was doin' what he did most.
It was a wild ride 'til a horse called Clyde launched him onto a post.

He left the saddle in a losin' battle crushin' some things held dear.
He was never quite the same and they changed his name from Bull to Steer.
It seemed this one bad day turned luck the other way, and life went from bad to worse.
The next year brought a drought, and with his hay burned out it seemed he was livin' a curse.

On a bright, sunny mornin' without much warnin' a freight wagon pulled into the yard.
Drivin' mules makes you tough, yet he looked innocent enough and the vaquero dropped his guard.
Sometimes, the choices we make can be a big mistake and change a man's whole life.
It was right after dinner, when that sorry muleskinner ran off with his wife.

The cowboy figured this curse couldn't get much worse, but that's where he was wrong.
There were things unknown in this realm he'd sown, and it didn't take too long.
He had the cows and bees down there in the trees, beef and honey he could sell.
Came a band of rustlers who were real hustlers, and the numbers in his herd just fell.

Then, an old horsefly who was flyin' by caught the eye of the queen.
Well, it seemed a sin but he moved right in and soon controlled the scene.
Though it's not real clear there's a lesson here and the wisdom here is pure.
This cowboy's strife is the story of life, it's honey mixed with horse manure.

Verlin Pitt
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.



Dog-Gone                              

They bedded down without a sound and the whole bunkhouse was quiet.
Then old Charlie cut loose like a honkin' goose and durn near caused a riot.
Charlie shook the walls with his snorts and bawls, 'til every hand was awake.
They'd heard him snore many times before, but this time took the cake.

They gave him a shake tryin' to get him awake, but it didn't do no good.
Half the night was gone, but Charlie snored on like a buzz saw sawin' wood.
It was Slim McBride with his eyes open wide that got up kinda slow.
He cocked his gun and the deed was done, he shot off Charlie's toe.

Charlie sat up straight to behold his fate and saw his toe was gone.
He gave a high pitched yell straight out of hell and then the fight was on.
There stood Slim with a big ol' grin, and he held a smokin' gun.
With Slim off guard, Charlie hit him hard and ended all the fun.

Charlie did alright in this awful fight, and he bruised ol' Slim up good.
He wasn't fightin' for fun, and if he could've found a gun he'd have shot Slim where he stood.
If he'd been stronger it would've lasted longer, but he folded from the blood he lost.
He was real close to even, but the blood he was leavin' finally showed it's cost.

He went down swingin', but his ears were ringin' and his eyes were goin' crossed.
Whe he swallowed his tongue and collapsed a lung, it was certain he had lost.
Slim McBride was circlin' wide when Charlie bit the dirt.
He'd been hit hard by his four-toed pard, and that last punch really hurt.

Slim felt kinda bad about the toe Charlie once had, but he just couldn't take no more.
If a cowboy counts sheep tryin' to get some sleep, you can bet he was bothered by that snore.
When Charlie came to, what he planned to do was give ol' Slim another go,
But he passed back out when a dog that was about, went and ate his shot-off toe.

Verlin Pitt
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

 

 

Black Jack                            

A bunch of the boys were discussin' the joys of ridin' broncs and men.
One told of a man who was able to fan any bronc that had ever been.
There was one galoot who came out of a chute singin' as the bronc would unload.
Many tales were told of the brave and bold and the horses that they rode.

But they all agreed there was a steed that no man would ever ride.
As it happened that day in a corral across the way, the bronc was just inside.
The baddest horse ever known was standin' there alone and pawin' at the ground.
The look in his eye guaranteed you would die, when that old bronc unwound.

In that corral, was a horse from hell, a bronc that had never been rode.
Twenty men had tried, two of them had died, and all of them were throwed.
That very day, as they jawed away a man walked up from the back.
As the story goes he wore fancy clothes, and they noticed he was black.

A black cowpoke seemed like a joke, but he wore a big John B.
He had a bronc rider's kack perched on his back and a smile that he gave free.
He claimed he could ride any horse with a hide and would ride this horse from hell.
Just who laughed most, when he made his boast, was mighty hard to tell.

They all figured he'd die if he made a try at the devil horse.
If he had the grit to crawl up there and sit fate would take its course.
It didn't take long to put the saddle on and get the bronc all set.
That this poke would die, when he made his try, was more than an even bet.

He took a deep seat as he set his feet and pulled the reins in tight.
Then he set his guard as the bronc hit hard and thus began the fight.
There were things in store never seen before as this cowboy made his ride.
That old horse took his own course and he was buckin' high and wide.

He bucked so high that clouds went by and the cowboy set his hooks.
When that bronc's back bowed, the cowboy showed he wasn't there for looks.
Where that bronc touched down it shook the ground, but the man stuck like glue.
He twisted and turned, then churned and burned, but that cowboy followed through.

The mile high drops became crow hops and soon the bronc stood still.
The cowboys there could only stare when the devil horse lost his will.
It was easy to tell this horse from hell was bad in need of rest.
Jack rode a horse that could kill to a total standstill and proved he was the best.

There ain't a bronc that can't be rode or cowboy that can't be throwed, that much we all know,
But put Black Jack on a horse's back and he was mighty hard to throw.
It may be true black cowboys were few, back in the early West.
But Jack was one and the sonofagun was among the very best.
 
Verlin Pitt
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

 

I have an Arapaho friend who along with his two brothers is probably lucky to be alive.  You'd have to hear some of the stuff he did to believe just how lucky.  He was raised on a ranch on the reservation and his Dad raises cattle.  I also work with him and believe me it makes the job fun, when we start tradin' stories.  This poem is based on one of his.


Billy the Skid 


In the early spring the Meadowlarks sing and life seems a whole lot better.
Chinook winds blow and melt the snow and everything gets wetter.
In a corral across the way, three horses that day watched a stock tank fill with water.
The water was on but the hand was gone, he'd run off and forgot 'er.

The water flowed out and spread about and softened up the manure.
Like a magic wand it formed a pond, but it wasn't clear and pure.
It wasn't clean, it was soft and green and had a bad aroma.
The stench was strong, and if you breathed it long you'd likely be in a coma.

Three boys that day went out to play, and the choice was horses or cattle.
A green-broke horse, in the corral, of course would sure be fun to saddle.
There was Jess and Skeeter, but Billy was the leader and he had a plan.
He saw the halter with a rope and he sorta had to grope, but soon he'd be the man.

He showed some sand, with that rope in his hand, when he gripped it tight.
That old bronc came alive, made a big high dive and Billy was a sight.
Squatted low he was on the go and manure was flyin' high.
The spray hit his chest, soaked his vest, and he got some in his eye.

That's when Jess made his best guess at just how far he'd go.
When Billy tried to rise, it hit his eyes and worse when squatted low.
It was slicker than soap, but like a skier on a slope, Billy kept his feet.
He rode a slick trail but he didn't bail and proved he could take the heat.

He finally went down, when he hit dry ground, and skidded to a stop.
He was layin' low and from head to toe he was covered with cowplop.
It didn't take long for this plan to go wrong, but he gave it all he had.
He'd been sore a few times before, but he'd never smelled this bad.

Three boys that day went on their way, and one was a whole lot smarter.
He'd never do that again, no matter when come beg, plead or barter.
Jess told his pard some lessons come hard, and the wisdom here is pure.
If you want to be clean, instead of green, don't ski in cow manure.

2002, Verlin Pitt
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

 

 

Mustang Mania

Out across the badlands runs a big black mustang stud.
Thunder echoes through the rain erasin' hoofprints in the mud.
A singleminded cowboy has been trackin' him for days.
He hasn't caught him yet though he's tried a hundred ways.

Three days back he had him trapped, at least, that's what he thought.
The mustang had his own ideas and they weren't about bein' caught.
He jumped a corral eight feet high and ran off through the sage.
He stopped for a bit on a nearby butte and snorted out his rage.

This cowboy had tried most every trick but he still had one or two.
Before he tried his next one there were some things he had to do.
He made a trip to town and he bought a bungee cord,
And along with that he bought about a hundred feet of board.

It was a box canyon in the badlands that he built the fence across.
He figured when he finished that stud would know who's boss.
About half way up the canyon he built an eight foot fence.
A fence without a gate didn't seem to make much sense.

Next he took the bungee cord and stretched it between some post.
He stretched it back behind the fence where he figured it was needed most.
He planned to run that mustang stud along the canyon wall,
And when he jumped the fence, it'd trap him like a stall.

The stud would be wedged up against the fence like sardines in a can.
Then he'd have that wiley mustang, at least, that was the plan.
He finished up his buildin' and set out to find the stud.
Soon he'd know if his plan would work or be another dud.

He found the stud in the badlands and headed in the right direction.
At that point, it seemed his plan was workin' almost to perfection.
The mustang was headed for his trap and the canyon was just ahead.
With the mustang stud in the canyon he gave his horse its head.

The mustang reached that cowboy's trap and jumped the eight foot board.
When he came down on the other side, he hit that bungee cord.
The best laid plans of mice and men can often go awry.
It was the first time in his life he ever saw a mustang fly.

The stud flew about thirty feet up and backwards through the air.
When he landed on his feet, all the cowboy could do was stare.
The mustang came down runnin' and he was still wild and free.
The cowboy stomped on his hat 'til it was flat as it could be.

2002, Verlin Pitt
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

 


Buttercup


In dry hot weather hell bent for leather, chasin' mustangs across the land.
Dust flew high in the hot blue sky with about a hundred in the band.
We were runnin' late when we shut the gate on the heels of a big, red roan.
A buckskin mare was the best one there and I claimed her for my own.

I roped that mare in the dry hot air and she reared up over on her back.
She kicked straight out, then spun about and came up bitin' at my kack.
She'd squeal and snort, and she kicked old Sport the horse I was on that day.
That horse was mean, and a kickin' machine that would bite anything in her way.

I tell you pard, I tried real hard to break that loco buckskin mare.
Every time I tried I lost a little more hide and soon had none to spare.
She busted me good every time she could and caused me some serious pain.
I didn't much care if that mustang mare was struck by lightnin' in the rain.

I'd done give up on ol' Buttercup, it was the name the cook gave her.
I was healin' pretty fair from that sorry ol' mare when somethin' caused a stir.
It happened by chance that a gal on the ranch was able to ride that mare.
All them guys couldn't believe their eyes and all I could do was stare.

Ol' Buttercup just walked right up, when that gal was hangin' around.
Every time she tried  that gal got a ride but me she throwed on the ground.
That sorry broomtail preferred a female when it came to givin' a ride.
I reckon I got riled from all the times I was piled and times I almost died.

It was right about here a plan came clear on a way I could ride that horse.
I'd need a mop for some hair, an old dress that was there and some perfume of course.
The next mornin' at dawn I put the dress on and wore that mop for hair.
With no one about I slipped on out and I figured I could fool that mare.

That ol' mare gave me a stare but she let me saddle her up.
Then I crawled on and we were gone, I was ridin' ol' Buttercup.
It must've been my weight cuz, at the gate, that ol' bronc exploded.
It might've been my looks , but I hadn't set my hooks before I was unloaded.

My pain was great crashin' into that gate and worse when I went on over.
My mop hair was a mess and underneath that dress was a badly injured drover.
It was just my luck that they'd finished mornin' chuck and came to watch the show.
The show was done, but the mare had won and left me hurt and layin' low.

They poured salt in the wound, when one cowboy softly crooned, I was flat out lucky 
   to be alive.
Someone said, the perfume I was wearin' was mighty darin' and smelled like essence
   of corral number five.
I'd scraped my chest, ripped off my left breast and my petticoat was all smeared 
   up with manure.
One waddy said, I was a mess and for a man who wears a dress he claimed,
   there ain't no cure!

Each cowpoke had his little joke and I was the butt of 'em all.
One drover by the gate said, if he needed a date I'd be the one he'd call.
I was in a rut and they were bustin' a gut and rollin' on the ground.
Snorts filled the air as they'd all point and stare and it was an awful sound.

Them sorry geeks snickered on for weeks, they'd chuckle every time they strolled by.
Just when I thought they'd clean forgot, someone would laugh until they'd cry.
But every now and then, when I get the yen to cause some doubts and fear,
I pluck a rose from some the foreman's wife grows and wear it behind my ear.


2002, Verlin Pitt
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

 

Silent Thunder

Like a Spring breeze they roam where they please, a monarch of the prairie.
It's the freedom he feels, when he shows his heels, he's wild and he's wary.
High on the plains, with their flowing manes, wild horses smell the air.
A big black stud lopes through the mud and calls a buckskin mare.

Down through the years it's been a trail of tears for those that had to tame one.
It takes a lot of force for a man to break a horse under a blazing sun.
There are those that claim in a bid for fame, they can break any horse with a back.
Rope and throw is what they know, then cover the eyes with a sack.

When the cinch is tight, let 'em see the light and buck that cayuse out.
It's a darn good show, but it's the hard way to go and a fool's route.
Using force to break will only make the bronc learn to respond to force.
I tell you pard, when you break 'em hard you take the spirit from the horse.

Those that are hurt from a club or quirt are the hardest ones to tame.
The scars on their hide and the hurt inside ignite a burning flame.
The fire is fanned by the touch of a hand and makes its mind go mad.
The hate inside from a real hard ride can turn a good horse bad.

I'm here to say there's a better way and I met a man who knows.
Paralyzed in a wreck below the neck and yet his spirit flows.
Some men just quit when they're forced to sit and watch the world go by.
These men will talk of a wish to walk, but I know one that chose to fly.

Early on in life he faced some strife, but it turned his life around.
His thoughts came clear on a horse's fear and every thought was sound.
Stanford Addison was the chosen one, when it came to taming horses.
Let the bronc unwind and it will find it's facing unseen forces.

It soon comes clear there's magic here, inside a horse corral.
From a bronc that's mean to a peaceful scene, a bronc becomes a pal.
The spirit is saved and the road is paved to create yourself a mount.
In a little while, you'll ride in style on a horse that you can count.

Out in the West, there lives the best, when it comes to breaking horses.
The Arapaho nation on the reservation is where he teaches courses.
A quiet man with a gentle hand and horse sense that is rare.
Some men claim they can do the same, but can they do it from a wheelchair?

Beneath a big full moon drifts a haunting tune that comes from a cedar flute.
The night joins in with its next of kin and echoes a hoot owl's hoot.
There is magic there in the prairie air and it causes folks to wonder.
A bronc is fanned with a gentle hand that drums out silent thunder.

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

 

Verlin told us what inspired this poem: I've been out on the reservation for the past couple of days breakin' horses.  What's really been interesting about it, is my wife has a patient that is a quadriplegic and the real interesting thing about that is he breaks horses.  A little while back Sara said that if I wanted he'd teach me his method of breaking horses.  Well, I got to thinking about it and I just had to find out how a guy that is in a wheel chair can break horses.  I have been out at his place for two days and for all intents and purposes my mare is now a broke horse.  He had me in the saddle and riding her bareback the first day.  I have been around horses all my life, and I have never seen anyone do what he does. His methods are way beyond the way I was taught, which is ride 'em til they quit buckin' and it is also more effective than horse whispering.  I guess you could call his method a silent roar.  This guy is an Arapahoe Indian and he was paralyzed from a car wreck 20 years ago.  He's one of the most interesting and unique individuals I have known. When you figure last week that mare bucked me and the saddle off, and now I'm riding her, well, his methods kind of speak for themselves.

The September, 2003 Smithsonian Magazine included an article about Stanford Addison.  Verlin Pitt recited his poem and was videotaped by the Smithsonian crew who were attending one of Addison's horse camps.

 

Wind River Whompus  


He rode all night, and in the dawn's blue light he arrived at the edge of town.
His horse was wet, all lathered with sweat, and then it stumbled and went down.
Off the side he went, and he was hell bent to find the ol' town doc.
A sign down the street read Doc VanFleet, and he stopped and gave a knock.

The street was dimly lit and it took a bit, but the door finally opened wide.
The doc stood there with a vacant stare and the cowboy stepped inside.
The tale he told would make your blood run cold and cause your skin to crawl.
That very night he had beheld a sight that would put fear in one and all.

The cowboy said he'd gone to bed beside a warm campfire.
He was half asleep, but he saw it leap and then leap higher.
It landed near his horse and then it set a course straight for him.
The thing had big red eyes, was huge in size and anything but slim.

The cowboy's horse broke loose and that cayuse started breakin' its own trail.
That bronc was scared, and as the cowboy stared the last thing he saw was its tail.
The doc stopped him here to make one thing clear on what he thought of a drunk.
He said, "You sound sincere but I greatly fear your story is all bunk!"

The cowboy swore that there was more and every last word was true.
He claimed, he wasn't drunk and he'd tear any skunk that said he was in two.
He'd had a fling with some awful thing, and he had the wounds to prove it.
Both back and front there was all you'd want of places to be bit.

The doc said, he'd heard tell of a beast from hell a mean and vicious cuss.
He said, "I'll tell you pard you dropped your guard against the Wind River Whompus.
The meanest thing that ever took wing or crawled through the trees.
There's nothin' quite as scary out on the prairie or in the seven seas.

The doc had seen bites from other fights had by other men.
They told of screams they'd hear when they got too near this awful creature's den,
And every man said it had another head, where the tail should be.
So, front or back it didn't lack in a way that it could see.

While the doc patched the poke, where the skin was broke, a thought came in his head.
He wondered what it would do, and the poke did too after the thing had fed.
With a head at each end, how did the thing tend to nature's call.
It taxed their wit as they pondered it and the mystery of it all.

Thoughts blossomed and bloomed as they fretted and fumed about this curious thing.
By and by why didn't it die, and how did it take wing.
It must hurt bad from all the food it's had since it came on the scene.
I reckon you can see why they came to agree, that's likely what made it so mean.

2004, Verlin Pitt
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

Verlin says: This is about a legendary creature that roams these very mountains above Lander.  Hey, I ain't lyin'!

 

 

The Spread                

High up on a bluff a man surveys a majestic realm.
He's the captain of the ship, the one who guards the helm.
The land he sees belongs to him and he belongs to it.
A son of the sagebrush and there's no place else he'd fit.

He rolls himself a quirly and lights it with a grin.
A sigh of satisfaction as he takes the scenery in.
An old line shack by a pile of rocks, built many years ago.
It stands alone at the top of a bluff where nothin' else will grow.

An eagle flies above him and he hears its piercin' scream.
The land he owns is the peaches and the eagle is the cream.
A prairie rattler over yonder has raised a big ol' family.
There's one in every prairie dog hole as far as the eye can see.

There's cactus in the sagebrush and scorpions in the sand.
The cowboy ponders all of it and how he loves this land.
Scrub cedar doesn't grow no fruit but he don't rightly care.
Nothin' beats the smell of sagebrush in the early mornin' air.

Owlhoots and tumbleweeds don't have a place called home.
The plan of the master painter set 'em up to roam.
Every cowboy has a dream that he carries in his head.
Someday, he's gonna own a place he can call his spread.

2004, Verlin Pitt
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

The Surprise                                      

Jack Longtine and Cletus Pyne were ridin' for the brand.
Two cowboys who knew the joys of pushin' cows across the land.
On many a jag they'd both rode drag and been in more than one stampede.
They'd known the fear of a loco steer and ridin' out in the lead.

They'd spent nights in bar room fights and had a tussle with a grizzly bear.
These two, old waddies had abused their bodies way beyond repair.
Ol' Cletus had a knee gone bad, and it was as tricky as a thief.
Jack had rheumatiz in a leg of his, and there were times it gave him grief.

Though, with what they had they didn't do bad, and they were good at trailin' cows.
They still earned their pay, and it'd be many a day before they took their final bows.
Blame it on his thirst but Cletus would be first to face a test of fire.
Standin' on a ledge by a river's edge is where things soon got dire.

He heard a rattlesnake buzz the way one does and was bit before he knew it.
It was easy to see that his bad knee was where the snake had bit.
A man feels fear if death seems near and Cletus sure enough did.
As sure as sin he'd be cashin' it in, he was makin' his final bid.

All day and night Cletus fought the fight it takes to stay alive.
All he had to give was the will to live, the desire to survive.
He told ol' Jack he could have his kack, his lariat and his gun.
Just bury him there 'neath the prairie air at the end of his final run.

Then came another dawn and Cletus lingered on, he sure was dyin' slow.
Another day went by and Cletus still didn't die, he flat refused to go.
He was outa his head but he wasn't dead and Jack was gainin' hope.
Though, death came near when his head got clear, Jack returned his kack, his gun and rope.

It was a big surprise when he opened his eyes and he wasn't in a tomb.
Cletus never expected to be resurrected from the valley of the shadow of doom.
Its mighty clear there's a lesson here and it comes straight from the hip.
Though the road looks rough don't unload your stuff before you've made the trip.

2004, Verlin Pitt
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

The Cowboy Way

Around the bend, howling winds portend a blizzard in the valley.
Keep moving on or before its dawn it may be your finale.
Put up your guard for the wind bites hard, when an old, blue Norther' calls.
Don't fool around just cover ground before the darkness falls.

Across the frozen brooks as you put the hooks to a horse that's cold and weary.
Many miles from a town as the snow falls down and the sky above is dreary.
The snow burns your eyes as a cold wind cries and chills you to the bone.
With your body encased by a frozen waste you fight to hold your own.

You gave your word to push this herd and bring them to the rail.
Now, you strive just to stay alive here on this frozen trail.
In a mighty battle to move a thousand cattle you face a blizzard's wrath.
You ride on blind in the blizzard's bind and wonder if you're off the path.

Your mind chews over why you became a drover and how you got out here.
The cold wind chokes as you think about the folks that you still hold dear.
The thought of days gone by and a clear, blue sky help to warm you some.
The warm thoughts blow away in the blizzard's spray as your face grows numb.

In the dark of night, you keep up the fight and push the herd in close.
In the freezing cold, they stay in the fold but still you feel morose.
At the break of dawn, the herd moves on and you see a ray of light.
As the sun climbs high in the morning sky you know you won the fight.

2006, Verlin Pitt
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.


Little Moe the Wrangler  

Way up in the high lonesome a wind is blowin' hard.
The howlin' kind that makes you think of some ol' pard.
Three thousand head of nervous cows spread up and down a mountain.
Cowpokes keep their voices low cuz it ain't no time for shoutin'.

Where the mountain met the prairie, they brought the herd together.
Slickers on and hats pulled low they were seated for bad weather.
Then lightnin' flashed and thunder cracked near a steer out in the lead.
Saint Elmo's fire danced across the herd, and a cowboy bellered out stampede.

A sea of loco cattle, here they come a smokin' fire.
Twenty brave and loyal cowboys are set to earn their hire.
Little Moe the wrangler was ridin' for the lead.
He was hookin' ol' Red Rocket a fast and noble steed.

Moe passed that sea of cattle, when he gave his horse its head.
In front of all those cattle he shot the lead steer dead.
It never even slowed 'em when the lead steer hit the ground,
And back behind him little Moe the wrangler heard that awful sound.

To his credit little Moe tried hard to turn the herd,
But it was ol' Red Rocket who had the final word.
That ol' horse could squat and bawl and do it with some style.
It wasn't long 'til he led that herd by just about a mile.

Moe sure tried to stop him but ol' Red Rocket had his head.
A horse just smart enough to know you can't run if you're dead.
Cowboys saw the form of a horse and rider in the lightnin's flashin' light.
The cowboys watched little Moe and ol' Red Rocket 'til they were out of sight.

The storm finally blowed over and they turned the herd around.
Tired men and cattle soon found some beddin' ground.
They never found 'em in no washout forty feet below some hill.
Little Moe and ol' Red Rocket are out there runnin' still.

2006, Verlin Pitt
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

 

 

 

Can't Be Done

I ran into ol' Zeke and he asked me where I'd been.
He said, he'd heard I died but he didn't hear just when.
When we shook hands, he asked me if I'd been off my feed.
He even offered to spot me money if I thought there was a need.

I told him I was doin' fine and had money in the bank.
Then he asked me, was I sick cuz my eyes looked kinda blank.
I told him I was doin' fine, in fact, I felt real good.
That's when he claimed, my hair looked whiter than it should.

He mentioned gettin' older sure ain't no easy road.
Zeke claimed it weren't for sissies to carry such a load.
He said, I looked in fair shape for the shape that I was in.
Then he asked me, had I made a will to pass on to my kin.

He spoke of all the years behind us since we both rode the range.
He claimed, we'd both be dead if we was horses and didn't that seem strange.
Zeke spoke about some ladies way back in the past.
He said, he'd sat with Sally Johnson right up to the last.

He said, "Those were the days ol' pard, when we rode high and wide,"
And then, he pondered on how soon we'd likely cross that "Great Divide."
He talked about the glory days, when we rode for the Flyin' J,
And then went on to mention how fast those days had passed away.

He kept on ruminatin' about those days of yore.
I had lots of memories but ol' Zeke had more.
Zeke spoke of gettin' old so much I started in to feel my age.
He had out his memory book and read me every, single page.

I finally had to end it and I let him know I had to leave.
Zeke claimed, he'd come to my funeral and promised he would grieve.
I told him not to worry for life takes its own sure course,
And then I asked him if he'd like some help a gettin' on his horse.

He waved me off and spat tabacky as he climbed up in the saddle.
It took him quite a spell, but he finally won the battle.
I watched ol' Zeke on his horse a ridin' off in the mornin' sun,
And though I hate to say it I was glad our talk was done.

Zeke had planned on buryin' me and even promised he would grieve.
What he hadn't figured on was he'd be the first to leave.
Ol' Zeke he went and cashed it in along about two years back.
They found him on the prairie with his head restin' on his kack.

I went and helped 'em plant him beneath a big, oak tree,
And I reckon he's up there somewhere ridin' wild and free.
This here kinda shows you and I ain't just spreadin' bull.
Even the best of friends can't attend each other's funeral.

2008, Verlin Pitt
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.


 

 

The Cougar Gap Incident

It was Charlie Benson that shot out of Cougar Gap.
He was whippin' and a spurrin', gainin' ground with every slap.
He reined up just in front of me with a grim look on his face.
He yelled, "get yer stuff you need to make some space."

"There's a herd of bawlin' cattle and they're in a full stampede."
"You better break yer camp I think there is the need."
I saddled up ol' Buzzard Bait and throwed my bedroll on behind.
I put the hooks to Buzzard and he give what he could find.

We shot up through a draw and climbed the nearest hill.
Ol' Buzzard's kinda clumsy and we durn near took a spill.
I shut him down up near the top and looked back down the draw.
A thousand head of steers, cows and calves a tryin' to find their ma.

When I caught up to ol' Charlie, here's the story that he told.
He was rollin' up a quirly and he hadn't got it rolled.
A gunshot in the darkness put the herd into a run,
But Charlie had no notion as to who had fired the gun.

I had to thank ol' Charlie for his kindness and warnin' me so fast.
If he hadn't got there when he did, I'd a breathed my last.
Charlie said, it wasn't kindness that made him do this deed.
He said, I owed him twenty bucks and it was twenty that he'd need.

2009, Verlin Pitt
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

 

Verlin comments: I was stimulated, provoked or however you might want to look at it to write this poem by a fellow I know, who will go to almost any extreme to collect a debt. It isn't that he is a bad guy, in fact he would buy you a meal if you were hungry or give you his shirt if you needed one. However, if you owe him money you had better expect to pay it back or your dreams will be haunted by his face, and worse yet he might be there in person.

 

 

Know Your Limitations

Know your limitations are words a man should heed.
Fail to know your limits and events may show the need.
When it comes to breakin' horses, these words are mighty true,
But there are some old cowboys who just don't have a clue.

These old pokes don't see the facts the way they really should.
They fail to realize, when you get older you don't bounce as good.
Lightnin' fast reflexes slow down to pretty good for your age,
But that won't keep old bones from breakin' as you bounce against the sage.

Some folks say cowboys are a little crazy for the things they do,
And I'm not denyin' it ain't so, in fact, it's probably true.
It's been said, old age brings wisdom, at least that's what they say.
Yet, there are pokes who never seem to learn as their hair turns gray.

But even young pokes can break bones, when they're playin' with roughstock.
There are horses that are mean enough to put anyone in shock.
This busted hip I'm sportin' proves what I say is true.
Busted by a big, gray horse and hell pard I'm only sixty two.

2009, Verlin Pitt
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

 

Verlin broke his hip in the summer of 2009, after being thrown from a horse. He told us, "Every once in awhile you run into a horse that just ain't honest."

 

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