Lariat Laureate


Back on Home

The Latest
     What's New
        Subscribe (free!)

Be a Part of it All 
     About the BAR-D
     Join us!

Cowboy Poetry Collection
     Folks' poems
     Honored Guests
     Index of poems

Poetry Submissions  
    Current Lariat Laureate

Events Calendar

Featured Topics
    Classic Cowboy Poetry
    Newest Features
        Poets and musicians
        Cowboy poetry topics
        Programs of  interest
        Gathering reports
        In memory
   Who Knows?

Cowboy Life and Links
    Western Memories
    Books about Cowboy Poetry
    Other sites

The Big Roundup

Link to us!
Give us a holler




line.GIF (1552 bytes)

The current Lariat Laureate award is here.
In February, 2000, we were pleased to announce
the first Lariat Laureate:

Lariat Laureate

Rod Nichols

of Missouri City, Texas
recognized for his poem Rooster


8 Seconds

(alphabetically by poem title):

Bob E. Lewis
Rafter "L" Ranch, Sherman, Texas

Bad Road
Rod Miller
Sandy, Utah

Cattle Drive
David Dill
ZD Ranch, Hillsboro, Texas

Barbara Bockleman
Y Bar Ranch, Laverne, Oklahoma

Flying Lesson
Bob Prinselaar
Fresno, California

The Legion of Marshall Bill
Mike Diehl
Irving, Texas

The Mule Whisperer
Verlin Pitt
West Central Wyoming

Western Wear
Neal Torrey
Bolivar, Missouri

Below you'll find the poems and more information about the winners in the first Lariat Laureate Competition.

There are pages for previous Lariat Laureate and 8 Seconds' winners listed on the current winners' page, here.

You can enter the next Lariat Laureate Competition.




Lariat Laureate

Rod Nichols


We called him "Rooster"
for his two bandy legs
and a carrot-top head
and the crow'in he made,
cause like him or fight him
whatever the rules,
that sawed-off runt cowboy
could really shoot pool.

He'd put in a full day
and not miss a lick,
then dude up and brush up
and pick up his stick,
then head into town
to the local pool hall,
drink up and cue up
and challenge us all.

Then one night it happened
a stranger walked in,
with a custom made pool stick
and a yeller-toothed grin,
I've heard bout some rooster
that's known to shoot pool,
and I've come to challenge
that bird to a duel.

Now we called him"Rooster"
but us he all knew,
so he didn't take kindly
to a no-name yahoo,
what is you pleasure
old man with no name,
eight ball said the stranger
get on with the game.

The stranger broke quickly
and three stripes went in,
and two more in order
'fore Rooster began,
that's a fair piece of shootin
I'll have to say,
then he flat ran the table
'fore old Rooster could play.

Then Rooster went for him
with blood in his eyes,
but hugged him instead
much to all our surprise,
boys I've been funnin
and I hope you ain't mad,
cause this orn'ry old cuss
is my pool-shootin dad.

1999 Rod Nichols

About Rod Nichols:

Rod Nichols

Rod Nichols resides in Missouri City, Texas.  He is a native Texan, born in Nacogdoches,Texas in 1942.  He says "I've been encouraged to write in order to preserve our cowboy traditions."

You can read more of Rod Nichols' poems here on this site. Don't miss his site, full of his poems, all illustrated and accompanied by music.   His Lariat Laureate award winning poem, Rooster, is displayed with full illustration here on his site.

8 Seconds

Bob E. Lewis


I stepped down, ground tied my pony,
Sat down crossed legged on a small grassy knoll.
I looked out across that old country I knew,
Realizing it had lately been sold.

I was just kinda wondering what my fate would be,
When they told me it was my time to leave.
I'd been there so long, it was my only home,
I just sat there and started to grieve.

I could see several miles to that old canyon wall,
And remembered the trails I'd rode down.
I sure wasn't looking forward at all,
To leave this and move into some town.

I made up my mind right then and right there,
That town deal it just sure couldn't be.
I believed  that I'd go stark raving mad,
If a town street was all I could see.

I spotted a rabbit scurrying under some brush,
The shadow of a hawk crossed o'er me.
What in the world would I look at,
When no more sights like this could I see.

I saw that old hawk make a dive for the ground,
A mouse for a meal he had spied.
He swooped down to the ground and picked that mouse up.
If I tell you what I saw you'll say I lied.

That old hawk picked that mouse up with his left foot,
There was no right one that I saw anywhere.
He circled up back to the branch of a tree,
As I sat there and continued to stare.

He held that mouse with only his beak,
Until he got kinda fixed on that limb.
Then he started to eat what he caught,
I sure was full of  admiration for him.

That started me out to thinking bout things,
Like me having to move on down the trail,
That hawk, he adapted to his new way of life,
Now, like the hawk I would have to prevail.

One way I was thinking things over,
When it came time for me to adapt,
I could go back to that old Mesquite country,
Trade these chinks for some heavy brush chaps.

1999 Bob E. Lewis

About Bob E. Lewis:

Bob E. Lewis in 1929 (the baby)  Photo courtesy Mr. Lewis

Bob E. Lewis resides on the Rafter "L" Ranch in Sherman, Texas.  His photo above was taken in 1929, the year Bob was born.  Bob says "I have worked around or owned cattle all my life and draw upon those memories for my poetry."

You can listen to Bob E. Lewis read his poems on his fine site, which includes other poetry and a collection of spectacular photos of the old Matador Ranch. You can read more of Bob's poems on this site.

Rod Miller


Bad Road

It isn’t the miles, at least not only.
And it isn’t just the roads that are lonely.
It’s yet another wrinkled shirt.
The stink of the cream that soothes the hurt.
Grease on your pants from the gate on the chute
And another hole in the sole of your boot.

It isn’t the miles, at least not only.
And it isn’t just the roads that are lonely.
It’s a horse, stiff-legged from moving on wheels.
Sick anticipation of paper-wrapped meals.
86 feet of broken ropes.
12-second runs, 9-second hopes.

It isn’t the miles, at least not only.
And it isn’t just the roads that are lonely.
It’s two quarts low, a threadbare tire,
A missing gas cap, a door latched with wire.
The ire of foreign-born motel clerks
Over a credit card that no longer works.

It isn’t the miles, at least not only.
And it isn’t just the roads that are lonely.
It’s roll after roll of adhesive tape
Hoping your riding arm maintains its shape.
Sore muscles, skinned knuckles, aching bones.
Tense conversations on coin-operated phones.

It isn’t the miles, at least not only.
And it isn’t just the roads that are lonely.
It’s radio stations fading away in the night.
18-wheelers roaring by on the right.
Too many hours alone with your thoughts,
Replaying your fears until your love rots.

It isn’t the miles, at least not only.
And it isn’t just the roads that are lonely.
It’s willing arms, a drunken embrace.
Bloodshot eyes in an unfamiliar face.
It isn’t the miles, at least not only.
And it isn’t just the roads that are lonely.

Rod Miller

About Rod Miller:

Self Portrait by Rod Miller
Self Portrait by Rod Miller

Rod Miller resides in Sandy, Utah.  He says "I grew up in the small town of Goshen, Utah where our family ran a small herd of cattle and enough horses to keep everyone mounted. For a good part of his life, my dad was a working cowboy, responsible for the cattle on a large farm/ranch operation. I rode bareback broncs in high school, college, and PRCA rodeos for several years. The peak of my career (probably) was landing on my head at the College National Finals Rodeo. Nowadays, I write poetry for fun at my home in Sandy, Utah where I live with my wife and two daughters."

You can read more of Rod Miller's poetry here.

David Dill


Cattle Drive

Click for larger image   Cattle Drive, copyright David Dill

Head em  up!!!
Move ‘em out!!
A cowboy can’t wait,
To hear that shout.

Them steers in the trap,
They need to go home.
No more on the ZD
Range will they roam.

They ate the lush grass
And gained lots of weight.
But now it’s time
To walk out the gate.

Back to the F RANCH
There’s oat grazin’ for feed.
For alfalfa and cubes,
There’s simply no need.

Them steers are healthy.
They’ve had all their shots.
There’s short ones and tall ones,
And of course a few knots.

They’ll walk the four miles.
Just too many to haul.
And besides it’s fun,
Bein’ cowboys and all.

They wear the F brand
On their right side.
That a six in iron
Burned into their hyde.

It's surely a brand
That ain’t gonna’ fade.
I just hope Kerry’s buyers
Don’t think it’s their grade.

David J. Dill, December 1998

About David Dill:

David Dill, photo courtesy of Mr. Dill

David Dill was born and raised in Corsicana, Navarro Co., Texas where he began learning his cowboy skills from "Pop" Edens on one of the famous Edens ranches. Mr. Dill is a licensed auctioneer and conducts general and horse auctions (some from horseback).  He has done so much and performed so many places and won so many awards that there is more than can be said about Mr. Dill in a few paragraphs, so mosey over to his own cowboy poetry web site where you can see plenty great photos, read his resume, read his and other folks' poetry, and buy some of his hand tied "cowboy" halters.  

You can also read more of David Dill's poetry here on this site.

Barbara Bockleman



Just the other day he was kindly told
It might be best since he was getting old
To stand by and quietly watch
A job the sure footed wouldn't botch.

As he stood by the weathered corral fence,
He remembered those many times long since
When he had filled those nimble shoes
While bossing the cattle working crews.

His wife watched from the ranch house door
And saw his shoulders droop even more.
She knew he longed to be right in there
Working where he could do his share.

She knew he longed for the days gone by
For often he would simply sit and sigh,
Then lean his head back and softly say,
"Well, wonder what I'll find to do today."

She recalled his strength and pride
In checking the herd on a long day's ride,
Carefully counting each head one by one
Until he knew that day's work was done.

He'd earned his rest and freedom from toil.
Then why did he long with deep inner turmoil
For the aching muscles and tired bones each night
After the day's work with still another in sight?

But, she also knew the answer quite true.
An old cowboy never really is through
Until the day the last cow is gathered
And life's storms have all been weathered.

Barbara Bockleman

About Barbara Bockleman:

Barbara Bockelman

Barbara Bockleman says "I live in the eastern end of the Oklahoma Panhandle 3 miles from  the 100th Meridian which cuts off the Panhandle (No Man's Land) from the rest of Oklahoma. My address is Laverne, OK, but we live in the Slapout Community--a rural community of ranches and farms.  We live on the Y Bar Ranch nestled along a small stream known as Kiowa Creek. I've lived on this ranch for 64 years coming here with grandparents during the Depression and Dust Bowl Days. We had come to Oklahoma when so many were leaving. My husband came to the ranch following our marriage at the end of WWII and we've raised a family of four children here and now have expanded to 21 grandchildren and 5 greats. Ranching is a great life and we've tasted the years with joy. I am also a retired language arts teacher.

I do cowboy poetry programs for organizations and schools in my area. I also appear at various gatherings such as the Oklahoma Cowboy Poetry Gathering at the National Cowboy Hall of Fame in Oklahoma City and the National Cowboy Symposium at Lubbock, Texas."

You can read more of Barbara Bockleman's poetry here.

Bob Prinselaar


Flying Lesson

My instructor stood awaitin, sweepin flies off with his tail
He'd do his ornery best today, to see if I would fail
He was just a mangy cayuse, but a hero on the range
What he could do, when he wanted to, looked mighty weird and strange
He could turn his belly to the sun, while flyin to the moon
He gave his student all he had, and never quit too soon
From all sides he could get you, he could bite and he could kick
Just thinkin what that hoss could do, could make a cowboy sick
I knew I had to ride him, I had to for my pride
With the other hands awatchin, there was no place to hide
So I had a waddie chew his ear, while I climbed upon his back
And then I grabbed some leather, while I awaited his attack
At first he crowhopped just a bit, and I thought, "This ain't so bad"
But then his back curved up a mile, and I knew that I'd been had
He switched his ends so mighty fast, and he gave a tricky twist
The horn came up, and met my gut, and felt like a solid fist
I knew I was still ridin, and a Yahoo left my mouth
But then he started headin north, while I was headed south
So now he had me flyin, and he could take a rest
While I made a dusty landin, but I knew I'd done my best
I had learned a lesson here today, from a bronc so wild and true
Learnin flyin can be fun, but the landin's hard to do
So if you're into broken bones, and joints that snap and pop
Just climb aboard that wild cayuse, for your flyin lesson hop

About Bob Prinselaar:

Bob Prinselaar, photo courtesy Mr. Prinselaar

Bob Prinselaar resides in Fresno, California.  He says "Before the Navy got me I cowboyed in California and Arizona, mostly working as a horsebreaker and wrangler. Also dug a lot of postholes, and stretched a lot of wire, along with cleaning stalls, baling hay, and other fun jobs."

Mike Diehl


(This poem was written as a followup to
John Ed Brother's poem, Hip-Shot Dan.)


The Legion of Marshall Bill

There’s a tale I’m told of an outlaw bold
     And the lightnin’ speed of his hand,
But he met his doom in a drinkin’ room
     And they buried ol’ "Hip-shot" Dan.

Now it seems without fail, there’s more to this tale,
     But few are livin’ still,
Who knew the man called "Hip-Shot" Dan
     Or the Marshal known as Bill.

If my memory’s right, it happened one night
     In a cow trail town named Dallas.
Already gettin’ old and wantin’ out of the cold,
     Bill drew in rein at the Palace.

The wind blew dust and I heard Bill cuss
     As he lowered his feet to the ground.
I was standin’ there takin’ in some air
     And the marshal never turned around.

Now he ain’t as fast as he was in the past,
     But not carin’ to test his skill.
With the dark of night and out of the light;
     I stood there quiet and still.

With his mind on gin, Bill walked on in,
     His boot heels loud on the floor.
Through the window I saw Dan ready to draw
     So I eased up to the door.

I can’t say outright who started the fight,
     And I ain’t sure who’s to blame.
But me at my best, needed the door for a rest
     As I carefully took my aim.

My only plan was to shoot ol’ Dan
     Before I lost a friend.
And some to this day ain’t sure of the way
     That "Hip-Shot" met his end.

Dan was fast you know, but as gunfighters go,
     We’ll never know who was best.
My gun was first to roar, then Bill’s fourty-four
     Put two bullets in ol’ Dan’s chest.

With a long last breath, Dan sank to his death,
     His expression was a puzzled one.
Was Marshal Bill so fast that you could hear the blast
     Before you saw him go for his gun?

About Mike Diehl:

Mike Diehl lives in Irving, Texas.  He says "I'm originally from southwest Texas. I grew up out in the country on a farm and ranch and I toted a cap pistol until I was a teenager. My heroes have always been cowboys and still are, it seems. I grew up with Gene and Tex and Roy and Rex but my favorite was Rocky Lane. When working alone, I'd make up songs without a tune."

You can read Mike Diehl's The Legion of Marshall Bill along with the poem that inspired it, John Ed Brothers' Hip-Shot Dan, here.

Verlin Pitt


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.

2000, Verlin Pitt

About Verlin Pitt:

Verlin Pitt, courtesy Mr. 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."

You can read more of Verlin Pitt's poetry here.

Neal Torrey


Western Wear

The tourist looked at the cowboy, her eyes filled with curiosity.
She had never seen such a get-up, and she wondered how it came to be.
"Mr. Cowboy, can you tell me why your choice of clothing is so strange?
Is there some reason why you dress that way to work out on the range?"
The cowboy rolled his eyes and sighed, he'd been through this before,
Yet, he answered her politely and went through it all once more.
"Ma'am, this big sombrero that I'm wearin' is a pure necessity.
It shades me from the sun and keeps the rain and snow off me.
It will fan a campfire into flame, or carry water to dowse one out.
These bonnet strings anchor it in a storm, or when I'm ridin' flat-out!
The silk kerchief around my neck is also a very necessary thing.
It's a face wipe, dust mask, sling, tourniquet, or even a piggin' string!
A coat would just encumber my arms, but this snug vest fits the bill.
It won't catch on the saddle horn, and it wards off the morning chill.
These jeans are made with the seam outside, so the saddle don't rub me raw,
And, when I really need protection, I got the best chaps you ever saw.
Not the kind you see at a rodeo, or like they wear at a big parade,
But I can ride through brush and cactus and never have to be afraid.
Now, these tall boots are lifesavers.  They protect my lower leg, you see,
'Cause my horse might brush against a fence or whack my leg against a tree.
See how the toes are kinda pointy?  That helps me pick up my stirrup quick.
And the high heels won't let my foot go through the stirrup when it's slick.
I'm not wearin' my spurs, but when I do, I have a much better hoss.
I seldom use 'em, but their jingle-jangle reminds him who's the boss.
Now, Miss Tourist, I hope you don't think it's impertinent of me,
If I turn this quiz around to you, and have you explain just what I see.
You're wearing big sunglasses, the briefest shorts, the tiniest swimsuit top,
With white stuff painted on your nose, I guess, to make your sunburn stop.
Your feet are shod with funny clogs, made from someone's old used tires.
And you're askin' me why I look strange...I think somebody crossed your wires!"

About Neal Torrey:

Neal Torrey resides in Bolivar, Missouri, was born in Missouri, but the majority of his adult life was spent in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, where he raised AQHA and Appaloosa horses.  Neal is a member of the Missouri Cowboy Poets Association and the Oklahoma Western Heritage, Inc.  Contact Neal by email for information about his book of poetry, Sagebrush Sentiments, or a cassette tape that features Neal and eight other MCPA members.

You can read more of Neal Torrey's poetry here.



 What's New | Poems | Search

 Features | Events  

The BAR-D Roundup | Cowboy Poetry Week

Poetry Submissions 

Subscribe | Newsletter | Contact Us

  Join Us!


Authors retain copyright to their work; obtain an author's
permission before using a poem in any form. is a project of the Center for Western and Cowboy Poetry, Inc., a Federal and California tax-exempt non-profit 501 (c) (3) organization.  


Site copyright information