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Photo: Donald Kallus
Photo: Donald Kallaus

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In an interview at the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering in Elko in 2001, Waddie was asked—in light of
all Waddie has given to Cowboy Poetry—what "gets back" from performing. Waddie answered:

"It has given me a brand new lease on life.  For 26 years, I loved my cowboy'n life. I did it professionally. Now, I have the opportunity to get around the world and I know that there's a lot of good people out there whose lives are enhanced by the spirit and the values of the 'cowboy.'"

We thank Waddie and his agent Scott O'Malley of Scott O'Malley and Associates for lending us "Story
with a Moral," and for the other information on this page. Below you'll find:


"Story With a Moral"
"The Bristlecone Pine"
"The Rawhide Braider"
Night Before Christmas on the West Texas Plains"

Waddie's Official Biography
Contact Information
Waddie's Performance Schedule
Some of Waddie's Recordings and Books


  Click for Amazon

"I can't ever remember 'finding' cowboy poetry," Waddie Mitchell says of the entertaining and enduring art of storytelling. "It was always there. The cowboys sure never called it poetry. I know I wouldn't have liked it if they would have. Seems like an oxymoron, don't it!?"

From his earliest days on the remote Nevada ranches where his father worked, Waddie was immersed in the cowboy way of entertaining, the art of spinnin' tales in rhyme and meter that came to be called cowboy poetry, a Western tradition that is as rich as the lifestyle that gave birth to it. Within his stories, told in a voice that is timeless and familiar, are the common bonds we all share, moments both grand and commonplace, the humorous and the tragic, the life and death straggles and triumphs that we each recognize. And yet, Waddie presents his material with personal insights and the lessons learned during his life spent as a buckaroo.

"All the time I was growing up we had these old cowboys around," he says. "When you live in close proximity like that with the same folks month after month, one of your duties is to entertain each other, and I suppose that's where the whole tradition of cowboy poetry started. You find that if you have a rhyme and a meter to start that story, people will listen to it over and over again," Waddie states in his down-to-earth description of its beginnings.

continued below . . .

Find links for these recordings and others below.

Story With a Moral

Now I know there's things worse
that make cowpunchers curse
And I reckon it's happened to us all
Though it's been years, since, you can bet
when I think of it yet,
It still makes my old innards crawl.

I was makin' a ride
to bring in one hide
That hadn't showed up in the gather
I was riding upstream,
daydreamin' a dream,
When I caught there was somethin' the matter.

Near some quaking asp trees
I had caught in the breeze
A stench that was raunchy and mean
And I reckoned as how
it might be the old cow
So I rode to a bend in the stream.

Sure enough, that cow lied
in the crick there and died
Hard telling how long she'd been been there
She was bloated and tight
was a horrible sight!
She was oozing and slipping her hair.

Her eye sockets were alive
with maggots that thrive
On dead flesh, putrid yellow and green,
An' the hot sun burning down
turning pink things to brown
Spewing oily gunk in the stream.

I spurred upwind fast
to get away from the blast
Of the heavy stench the cow made
And I felt bad seein's how
I'd lost the old cow
So I pulled up near a tree in the shade.

Then, I got sick to the core
rememberin' just moments before
I'd done something that made me feel worse
Not thirty yards down
I'd stepped off to the ground
And drank till my belly near burst!

For months after it
just the thought made me spit
And I'd live it over like a bad dream.
And the moral, I think
is: if you must take a drink,
Never, ever, remount and ride upstream.

© Waddie Mitchell, reprinted with permission
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

The Bristlecone Pine

Staunch in conviction, hard twisted and ancient
Surveying the world from its perch in the cold
The bristlecone pine through millennia watches
As new chapters open on stories too old

It watched as the young ones were schooled in tradition
And watched generations each march off to war
Then watched as their soldiers returned broken hearted
Just longing to sleep as they had before war

Cuz war's never over for mem'ry or dreams
And, innocence lost ain't important, it seems
Oft woke being soaked through in sweat, fear and screams
Which make both your head and heart pound
You still drop with the pop of a sound
Cuz you're stuck on some old battleground

The bristlecone whispers to wind in the valley
The wisdom of ages that live on the shelf
How humans are warlike by nature, and oddly
The only real threat to their kind is their self

They war over thought, and they war for religion
They war for a prize just the size of a throne
How many more young will they send off to battle
Before they start helping the heart to get home

Cuz, war's never over for mem'ry or dreams
And, life ain't as precious as claimed, so it seems
Oft woke being soaked through in sweat, fear and screams
In a pain worse than most can conceive
Tryin' hard to hold on and believe
But feeling forgot and deceived
Oh, and dying... of PTSD

Staunch in conviction, hard twisted and ancient
Surveying the world from its perch in the cold
The bristlecone pine disappointedly watches
A new generation preparing for war

© 2013, Waddie Mitchell, Waddie's Word Publishing
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.


The Rawhide Braider

“Under two, over two, lay, pull, again
This will be a new quirt when I get to the end
And will dress up the saddle of some lucky friend
Under two, over two, lay, pull, again”

He sat in the shade of the barn every Sunday
As he had for more years than I’d been
Scrapin’ hair off a hide he had skinned, stretched and dried
To cut braiding strings narrow and thin

With his practiced eye and the skill of a craftsman
For usable art he would strive
His advice to the world always moving so fast was
“Slow down, no one gets out alive
Slow down, no one gets out alive”

“Under four, over two, lay, pull, again
This’ll turn out so nice it’ll hang in the den
When I give it to some ol’ time buckaroo friend
Under four, over two, lay, pull, again”

I spent most my Sundays in his school of life
While he’d share of things that he knew
And I found lots of guys I had long idolized
Learned their rawhiding under him too

Prepare the hide well, keep your blade razor sharp
Temper the strings almost dry
Take time to lay each rawhide plait tight and straight
And, build something that’s worthy of pride
Make something that’s worthy of pride

“Under two, over one, lay, pull, again
This’ll be a reata when I reach the end
But, only as good as what I have put in
Under two, over one, lay, pull, again
Under two, over one, lay, pull, again”

© 2014, Waddie Mitchell, Waddie's Word Publishing
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

Night Before Christmas on the West Texas Plains

'Twas the night before Christmas
On the West Texas plain
The ranch had been suf’frin’
For a much needed rain
Still, spirits were high
When kids bedded that night
While their mother and I
We’re assessing our plight

We'd figured for hours
The money we'd need
To sustain the cattle
With supplement feed
Our figures confirmed
We would have to sell out
‘Less we got some relief
From the lingering drought

Resigned to these facts
We arose from the table
To put out the gifts
Our small budget made able
The bounty this year
Would be pitifully small
when we noticed a note
That was taped to the wall
It read: "Dear Santa Claus
We hope you’ll bring
instead of us toys
The most important thing
Some rain for the ranch
So the grass can grow tall
We reckon that'd be
The best present of all

"Might keep us from having
To move from this place"
Then, I noticed their mom
Wipe a tear from her face
"We are blessed in spite
Of our troubles," she said
We hugged and held hands
As we went off to bed.

We were waken at dawn
By some young shouts of glee
"Mommy, Daddy, best hurry, come see
We knew he was real
And would hear our request"
As they pointed to heavy
Black clouds to the West

We were dancing and laughing
And jumping around
When the first precious drops
Started hitting the ground.
Then all of a sudden
The clouds seem to burst
While the soil was quenching
Its terrible thirst

And from that Christmas on
Our whole family will claim
That the best present ever
Was a West Texas rain.

© Waddie Mitchell, reprinted with permission

See Waddie Mitchell's Recipe for a Cowboy Poet about our honored guest Chris Isaacs, here at the BAR-D.

Waddie's Official Biography continued

"When my imagination first got let out of the gate, it was from an old-time cowboy, with a story set to rhyme," he says in his second recording from Warner Western, "Lone Driftin' Rider." By the age of 10, he was reciting poetry himself; at 16, he quit school to follow his heart and went to making his living as a cowboy.

"I'd never done anything else, never made money without horses or cows until I started telling cowboy poetry." The father of five children, ("They're all girls, except four of them!") his goal is to one day buy his own ranch. "I'm hoping," Waddie says, "for the opportunity to go broke on a ranch by myself instead of helping somebody else do it!" 

There came a time though, which he relates in his poem "Where To Go," when he had to choose between being a full-time cowboy (he managed a 36,000 acre ranch in Lee-Jiggs, Nevada) and the art form that he loved so much. In 1984, he helped organize the now internationally recognized Elko Cowboy Poetry Gathering and gave his first public performance.

Although Waddle didn't think anyone would be interested (he thought it would be a pretty good party for the weekend), the first Cowboy Poetry Gathering was set for a cold, snowy weekend in January. This was one of the only times Waddle and his fellow cowboys had free from ranch duties. More than 2,000 people showed up, and Waddle was off and running.

Since then he has performed internationally for audiences from Los Angeles to New York, Zurich to Melbourne, and all points in between, with television appearances ranging from The Tonight Show (his neighbor took the first phoned invitation, drove 40 miles to deliver the message to the remotely based Waddie and returned with a "No Thanks" because it was calving time and he'd never heard of Johnny Carson), Larry King Live, Good Morning America, TNN, The History Channel, PBS, plus CMT. Waddie has also been featured in People, Life, USA Today, Fortune and National Geographic, along with numerous other appearances, performances, articles and books.

Waddie Mitchell's widely successful writing endeavors includes his book "Waddie's Whole Load," a wonderful compilation of his rhyming stories, artfully complemented with his charming drawings. Waddie is winning deeper appreciation of his art as well as international recognition. His series of recordings for Warner Bros. Records' subsidiary label Warner Western and more recently for the Western Jubilee Recording Company have received critical acclaim.

His 1998 release, "Waddie Mitchell Live" for Western Jubilee Recording Company features Don Edwards as well as world class multi-instrumentalists Rich O'Brien and Norman Blake. A glowing review of "Waddie Mitchell Live" appeared in People Magazine, which concludes with "Bottom Line: Horse sense and humor from America's Best Known Cowboy Poet." His busy 1999 touring schedule included the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra. The excitement created by these concerts resulted in a Western Jubilee recording of Waddie, Don Edwards and the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra titled A Prairie Portrait. This recording has spawned additional performances with Don Edwards and the orchestras of Colorado Springs, Denver and Phoenix. At the end of 1999, the Reno Gazette-Journal published a list from a panel of writers, historians and other notables, who selected the Top 20 Artists, Authors and Entertainers To Influence Nevada in the 20th Century. Sure enough pards, there was Waddie!

"We didn't have electricity and that meant we didn't have T.V. We had darn poor radio too. So that meant we did the strangest things at night ... we talked to each other!"

Contact Information


For Booking & Information contact:

     Scott O'Malley & Associates, llc
     P.O. Box 9188
     Colorado Springs, CO  80932
     Phone: 719-635-7776; Fax:  719-635-9789; E-Mail:  somagency@aol.com;

and for Recordings contact:

     Western Jubilee Recording Company
     P.O. Box 9187
     Colorado Springs, CO  80932
     Phone:  800-707-2353; Fax:  719-635-9789;  E-Mail: wjrecordco@aol.com

Waddie's Performance Schedule


If you get a chance to see Waddie perform, take it!  Here's his schedule.


Some of Waddie's Recordings


From Western Jubilee:

100 Poems (book)

  Sweat Equity

That No Quit Attitude

Waddie Mitchell Live

Elko! A Cowboy's Gathering  (See our review here.)

Click for Amazon   A Prairie Portrait; the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra performing with Don Edwards and Waddie Mitchell.  

Waddie Mitchell's Christmas Poems

  Waddie's Whole Load



Click for Amazon  Buckaroo Poet 

Click for Amazon  The Bard and the Balladeer, with Don Edwards

Click for Amazon  Lone Driftin' Rider

Cowboy's Night Before Christmas







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