Dick Shepherd Memorial Poem -Original
(For the D. Shepherd Memorial Cowboy Poetry Gathering Nara Visa, NM Sept ’93)
I was just a boy when I met Dick Shepherd,
Therefore my memories are few.
I wasn’t even old enough to think
Much less remember too.
The stories I’ll be rhymin’
I wasn’t there to see.
Even if l look the poet,
Clyde’s the storyteller, not me.
A chuck wagon cook on the cow-work trail
He’s really the boss- No doubt!
He’s got your dry bedroll, toilet paper, beans
Stuff you can’t get along without.
When he calls you into grub, don’t hesitate.
You don’t need another word.
“Eat fast, Hurry up ‘cuz others will remember
When it’s your turn to watch the herd.”
Dick Shepherd was the chuck wagon cook
The Thinker at the Matador.
He also provided regular entertainment.
His pranks would make ’em roar.
Like the time when a new hand, Dick Hysel,
Called for a hoss to mount.
Dick figured this kid wasn’t as tough as he seemed
So RC.(Dick) just pointed one out.
“Kid-broke” ready is what he said
As they slapped the houlihan on.
The old hoss stood still for the bridle and bit
Easy, the saddle went on.
Thunderheads gathered over in the western sky
Lightning brighter than the dawning sun.
That grinnin’ hoss stopped lick:in’ his lips, teeth clenched.
Everyone’s fixin’ to have some fun.
As Hysel tightened the cinch, the monster’s eye’s eyes got red.
Bared teeth, pinned ears showed his notion.
The boys gathered ’round, the storm clouds grew
A mile away you could hear the commotion.
As Hysel wallered on, cheers went up,
Dick threw his booger in under.
The hands laughed, Dick smiled as the kid got piled
Hit the ground- sounded like thunder.
Strugglin’ to get up and knock off the dust,
Tryin’ real hard to breathe
Hysel said “The only kid who rode that hoss
First name had to be Billy (Billy the Kid, that is).”
Another day the tale got turned
With no one else around.
Bonnie Simmons told of the day
When Dick’s horse, with no rider, lit a shuck for town.
Bonnie found the horse still saddled,
Standing by the fence
When the broken grass rope still tied to the horn
Started to make sense.
Bonnie recognized Dick’s horse and saddle.
Misfortune could have been his own.
After the wreck, that hoss had sailed out.
That traitor was tryin’ to go home.
Bonnie captured the hoss, tryin’ to find Dick,
He led him over the hill.
What Bonnie found was such a funny sight
Folks are laughing still.
After she’d calved, the cow needed a milkin’,
She had spoiled from tit to brain.
Dick roped her to bed her down, but didn’t get it done,
So he thought he’d better try again.
This time, when he turned her head around,
Her horn stuck in the ground, the rope broke.
She began to hook his horse, the hoss began to pitch.
Dick didn’t make the ride, he slipped his hold.
When Dick hit the ground, he still had the lead.
Knew he’d better run if he had the power
He outran the cow, but it took 4 or 5 laps
to get far enough ahead to climb the windmill tower.
When Bonnie showed up he got shed of the cow.
Poor Dick’s face was ashen.
Dick now limped from the force of the fall.
Helpless and angry, he’d just taken a thrashin’.
There’s more to Dick’s story Clyde wanted told
Prob’ly the most important part.
Dick was convinced, after the life he’d lived,
He needed a change of heart.
RC had gone to drinkin’
Seein’ pink elephants everywhere
His life went to flashin’ before his eyes
It gave him quite a scare.
Thinkin’ about the Judge up above
Keepin’ track of his every move.
He’d heard about forgiveness
Better make a move toward God’s love.
Rememberin’ what his Mom had taught,
Those simple Bible lessons
He looked up a cowboy preacher
by the name of Tommy Mullins.
Not knowing one church type from another
They seemed to “work for the same outfit”
The blood of Jesus would make the difference
A baptism would make a hit.
Dick didn’t want “used water”
After committing his life to Christ.
Only crystal clear, clean and running
Would show how his life’s made right.
He didn’t want a common baptismal tank
Where other men’s sins had been buried.
He wanted a fresh stream from Seidel Springs
To take the load of sins he’d carried.
When Dick came up out of that water
He felt new, like starting over again.
His new faith made public, confident of heaven,
He strutted like a brand new man.
Dick Shepherd was the kind of a man
Many want to meet, but really known by only a few.
Remembered and talked good about long afterhe’s gone,
I want to be like that, don’t you?
by “Cactus” Jack McCarty Jr.
Tale by “Pony Tail”
by John Townsend & Cactus Jack McCarty
I took the windmill back to England,
the “Nara Visa” flied.
My neighbors thought me crazy,
but it makes me think of Clyde.
We do a Wild West show cross’d o’er
Import the cowboy style;
Riding, roping, ponies loping,
to raise a British smile.
To bring an understanding light
into a British face,
and with a proper sort of myth,
explain the Cowboy Race.
The Cowboy wasn’t born on screen,
with blazing guns in hand,
but common men with horse and beef
to feed a hungry land.
The Cowboy Breed is different,
no ordinary man;
his gut is filled with gravel while
his blood is thick with sand.
It’s when they’re in adversity,
that’s when they’re at their best;
when overcoming obstacles
beyond most human test.
I took the windmill back to England,
the “Nara Visa” flied.
My neighbors thought me crazy, but
It makes me think of Clyde.
Rhythm scheme (Meter): 1. -/-/-/-/- 2. -/-/-/ 3. -/-/-/-/ 4. -/-/-/
Draggin’ Home Waltz
(named by Jeremy)
When I got up this mornin’, I left you asleep,
So warm in the covers, your sweet dreams were deep.
Fixed my own coffee, be gone a short while,
Kissed you good-bye, you rolled over and smiled.
When saddlin’ his horse, the skies were still clear.
The last mornin’ starts lied “No storm clouds are near.”
Whole world seemed quiet, the windmill was still
But the snow was a’blowin’ just over the hill.
He prowled through the heifers, still down for their nap,
No heavy ones were strainin’ there in the trap.
The temperature was droppin’ as the flakes started down,
But with more cows to check, he’d finish his round.
Before long, the ground covered, his fingers went numb.
Tryin’ to head for the barn, his cow horse wasn’t dumb.
Gettin’ cold, but a cow might need help in the storm,
Freezin’ toes, but Wife’s spot in his heart was real warm.
Sure ‘nuf a cow’s pushin’ but the calf wasn’t straight
Tried to take her to the barn ‘fore it was too late.
Horse fell in the chase, wet stir’p and boot clung,
Goin’ home upside-down, dyin’ with one foot still hung*.
Repeat Chorus twice:
At the end of last chorus, the last line should sing “Kissed you good-bye…”
*Nov 14. ’94 my horse fell with me, pinning me to the ground so that I could not move my left leg to kick my stirrup clear. When I tried to clear my right stirrup, the horse jumped up so fast that I was unable to get free even with my right foot. I consequently drug by both stirrups, upside-down, for about 25 feet before my left foot cleared and my right boot came off, freeing me to fall away. My boot and spur were still hung and rode the horse without me for another 25 to 30 feet before it came off. I thank God that I was not seriously hurt. I didn’t know at the time, but this song was written a few days later and completed on the same evening a life-long friend, Harmon Liles, was dying of a brain aneurysm in the hospital. A few days before, Harmon had just taken and passed a physical. I didn’t know Harmon was dying.