Category: Cowboy Poetry

MY UNCLE SHOT MY DOG

MY UNCLE SHOT MY DOG

My uncle shot my dog

My ever loving, ever loyal
saved me from the coyotes
went back to the ranch to
lead my parents to me
stuck in the mud – just
like in the movies –
Lassie dog

My uncle shot my dog

Maybe she had took to bitin’ people
if she did, I’m sure they had it coming

Maybe she’d got to eatin’ the chickens
if she did, she’d earned every one

Maybe she was old and sick and hurtin’
maybe she was better off dead
than alive

I don’t remember anyone saying that
but I doubt it would’ve helped

Not when it’s your best friend
and you’re five

My uncle shot my dog

My uncle shot my dog
and went to his grave
unforgiven

Maybe I can get it done
before I go to mine

CLEANING THE CALF SHED

CLEANING THE CALF SHED

Forty below outside
not much warmer
on the inside

A hundred little Herefords
dropping and stepping
where it freezes
where it drops

The calves are
four feet closer
to the roof
by April

After the thaw
sitting on the steel seat
of the little orange Allis
with the front end loader

Driving in hard
and pulling
out
fast

Manuria
in one nostril
spring

A PRAIRIE VILLANELLE

A PRAIRIE VILLANELLE

If prairie wheels again had I
I’d chew the gravel and the air
with prairie roads to fly

I’d plume the earth into sky
to show that I was there
If prairie wheels I had again

Past placed where dead neighbours lie
I’d not linger, who would dare
with prairie roads to fly

Dust to dust gets in your eye
I’d look for other things to share
if prairie wheels again had I

Then greener farmyards I’d pass by
in mem-mirages free of care
with prairie roads to fly

I’d roll past all that makes you cry
afloat I sunsets clear and fair
in prairie wheels again had I
with prairie roads to fly

DON’T WORRY MATE

DON’T WORRY MATE

Up North working the neighbour’s calves

One of those mixed farm forty cow
no corral kind of operations
good folks though and they help us out

Were branding and cutting and vaccinating
in a lean-to off the barn eight inches deep

No room for a horse or a rope
so you just have to grab those calves
and throw them down right side up
so they’re dry enough to brand

The farmer’s son loses his grip on a catch
and the calf tries to bold past me

I turn quick, grab the head and come ‘round
fast to where the farmer stands flat footed
with that big syringe in his hand
needle pointed forward

Into my shoulder, skin, flesh and the bone
dumping the whole shot of multi-task
vaccine

The next day the arm hurts bad
and it doesn’t look too good

So we drive down to Mossbank
to see the old Aussie flying doctor
who must have gotten off course
to land in Saskatchewan

He gives me some medicine
and says come back in three days

I say I’ll probably be fine by then
and its sixty miles round trip

He says “don’t worry mate
you’re vaccinated for shipping fever”

And I’ve been traveling ever since

THE MARLBORO MAN

THE MARLBORO MAN

There is no longer
a wild wild West to tame
or outlaws or Red Indians
to join in the old macho game

Of the testing of his manhood
and the building of his flame

And yet he retains the rugged look
of a steel eyed firebrand
that can only be seen in the fearless few
who daily face death at every hand

Though now his risks are reduced
to trippin on the scenery
where he rides for a phony brand

And that cigarette in his hand

KENDRA

KENDRA

When the natives of this land
suffered a death such as this
they knew how to grieve

They felt it to the depths of their being
and cut deep into their arms and legs
that they might reach deeper

Today my great friends
I reach and bleed with you

Written for my cousin Kenny and his wife Betty on the tragic loss of their eighteen year old daughter

PINCHER CREEK ALBERTA

PINCHER CREEK ALBERTA

Mid June and Cowboy Poets back in town
voices hoarse from long winter’s silence

And a thousand and more are here to hear
for the poets have been listening all year

Listening to the cattle and the coyotes
and the Northern Lights at nights

And they have been reminded
and being reminded they remember
and remembering they come here to remind

And just listening we remember
and unwind