Featured Cowboy Poet
David Kelley


 6/98 All Rights Reserved * David Kelley

Tools are essential for any job and cowpunchers require the same, From his hammer to his catch rope, they're tools by any other name. Their manner of use is sorta like faces, everybody has their own. A loop in some circles might be "tossed", elsewhere, it might just be "thrown".

That hammer's job might be done usin' two hands in the Arizona sun, But, best I can tell, here in Texas, we prefer to use only one. The examples here, I would agree, to be'in a mite elementary, So...I'll give you folks' intelligence something more complementary.

When a cowboy snags that heifer calf, the problem gets a mite deeper, It appears there 's ample controversy, exactly how to keep'er. The smart thing to do and, before the jerk, is to tie the twine off hard. But it takes the sport out, some would say, some say it keeps stock in the yard!

Then, there's that pardner who would enwrap their twine, 'round that saddle horn. Prayin' that friction holds fast their catch, for escape brings on certain scorn. Well ...each way appears to do the job when normal conditions apply, It could be different when conditions change, comes back the learned reply.

I'm something of a greenhorn, but the obvious choice I would implore, That tyin' off hard, seems to leave your hands, to use again for other chores. Wrappin' that twine the other way, might just slip a tad on the dally, Leavin' fewer digits at end of day, with which to make the tally.

The wrappin' group chides the tie-hards, callin' 'em lazy or even chubby, But, by necessity, sometimes we call them dally wrappers ... STUBBY.


5/98 All Rights Reserved * David Kelley

There's the little bulge in the bottom lip or perhaps inside the cheek, And lest careful, a chestnut rivulet insists on takin' a peek.

The corner of the mouth, can but scarcely hide the tattletale dew drop, And the halo in the hind pocket of them Levi's can't hide the prop.

The little round tin, like neon, says its bearer takes it on the chin, 'Course, in cowboy speak we learn the cover never tells the tale within.

Romance had been budding, practically to the point of no return, But loss of that pacifying crutch, was cause for the one to slow burn.

The Padre' was tunin' up the weddin' bells in case it all worked out, Though there's real need for a heap big pow-wow in this premarital bout.

Each of the warriors had their excuses and both seemed quite valid, But the specter of loose snoose leaves one of 'em absolutely pallid.

It was clear the peace talks had regressed to the point of ultimatum, When the non-dipper issued warning, perhaps killin' the momentum.

Ashley, I love you true, but we'll not wed now or any other day, 'Lessin you take the bull by the horns and toss that dippin' snuff away.


8/98 All Rights Reserved * David Kelley

Oh, to know the words to the melody the willows sing, Or the lyrics of the aspen at roundup in the spring.

Prairie grasses resonate with haunting strains of woodwinds, To keep the cowboy company while steady ridin' fence.

Atop the flickering cottonwood, ancient arias poise, Awaiting the "Nighthawks" ear at the end of daily noise.

Imagined staccato strings arise from the cactus bed, Not unlike the guitar at camp, hanging in yonder shed.

To mimic the steady lope of wranglers on outside ring, The lilting song of salt cedars await the choir to sing.

A sweet lullaby cascades from a whisperin' stream below, To a symphony in the pines, as winter zephyrs blow.

Cowboy balladeers, quizzed 'bout inspiration and voice, Say "Ride the prairie, ridge, or dell... you'll find we had no choice."

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6/98 All Rights Reserved * David Kelley

I know shore 'nuff cow-punchers will get just a mite put off their feed, When well meanin' want-to's try to explain what a "Real Cowboy" would be. Most of us don't have a clue about the nuts and bolts of wrangler days. So, help me not pretend to know the inner workin' of cowboy ways. Oh, I've built a little fence, dehorned some, and rode a pony or two, Made a few steers, even stayed once on the job 'till it was clearly through. I know what it means when they talk about "... huntin' the slack in their twine", But, sayin' I'd know what to do at the jerk, would be a yarn of mine. So, I'll tell you true, folks, and fully say it 'till I'm feeble and sick, Knowin' how to drink, don't mean you can make a windmill work smooth'n slick. What I do have, though, and it can never be torn from this heart of mine, Are solid memories of cowpokes I've known in my short earthly time. I've an achin' in my soul for the creepin' loss of a way of life, The idea that a man's word should be honored without complaint or strife. Let my stories be told with a right heart, and make 'em true as I know, Even when my mind is the source, keep the fittin' parts truthful and so. I long to promote the cowboy life and heritage and not be fake, And keep on learnin' just to be able to tell it right, for right's sake. I pray for a pinch of patience from cow punchers who know the real score, As I try sellin' future hope, tellin' 'bout wranglers from days of yore. No, I ain't a real cowboy...but I've known and rubbed elbows with a few, And a tinhorn's life won't be complete, until they know a cowboy too. I never want my verse flatly testifyin', what is that "Real Cowboy", Rather place desire in others and be a fitting ranching envoy.

About David Kelley

I was born in the panhandle of Texas in 1943, and have been writing cowboy poetry off and on for twenty years. I'm no cowboy in the strictest since of the word but I have done the work, most of it, and I know the lingo. I came by my familiarity honestly by the limited experiences I've had, and the fact that one side of the family was almost all cowboys. I spent a good deal of time as a child on The Pitchfork Ranch, (as we called it back then, actually The Pitchfork Land & Cattle Company) near Guthrie, Texas. I had a dear uncle who was the "Farm Camp Manager" for the "Pitchfork" for years. He and his brothers, Porter, Jack, and his dad, King David Myers, cowboy'd all around the Caprock area of Texas all their lives. They're all dead now and I felt an obligation to put some of their stories, as well as some of my own, down for my kids, and others who might be interested. Some of my wife's family are subjects of my poetry as well. I feel blessed and honored by the interest in my work thus far. I have made every attempt to be accurate, and authentic, as well as informative and entertaining. Thankfully someone is paying attention, by the time this appears, I will have performed at the "National Cowboy Symposium" in Lubbock, TX., and the Texas State Fair gathering in Dallas.

You can contact David Kelley at DKelley@universalsprinkler.com

Visit his new web page Prickley Pear Poetry

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