Cowboy Poetry: Spirit of the Cowboy Lost in Yesterday Today

Updated on August 15, 2018
Tim Truzy info4u profile image

Tim Truzy is a poet, short-story author, and he is currently working on several novels.

Playing outdoors can encourage children to fantasize about being heroes or villains like cowboys.
Playing outdoors can encourage children to fantasize about being heroes or villains like cowboys. | Source

My Relationship with the Wild West as an Easterner

As a child, I loved to play outdoors with my siblings, pretending to tame the Old West. We had hangouts in trees, pretended we were sheriff deputies, or we were pioneers moving West from the eastern part of the country. Sometimes, we were Native American tribes, defending our homelands against the invading settlers. I liked these times most of all – We listened to birds, studied plants, and looked for signals from the sun as to when Mom may be calling us in for dinner.

As I grew up, I realized how influenced my perceptions a bout the Wild West were by movies and dime store novels which I devoured. The life of the cowboy was dangerous. Violence was a common fact of life during the frontier period. Although brave individuals dwelled in the frontier, the territories west of the Mississippi River were teeming with opportunistic people. Yet, some aspects of the Wild West still persist in America.

Indeed, people still wear hats dating to the Wild West era. Country songs often glamorize the period. Movies are still produced about the cowboy way of life, and poetry is always being created about various characteristics of the Wild West. In this poem, I explore some facets of the cowboy’s spirit. As I wrote this I tried to call upon the often terminal cowboy sense of humor. Enjoy: Spirit of the Cowboy Lost in Yesterday Today. Please, leave comments if you prefer.

Poll

Do you enjoy watching old Wild West movies or television shows?

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A cowboy’s life could be violent occasionally.
A cowboy’s life could be violent occasionally. | Source

Spirit of the Cowboy Lost in Yesterday Today

I loved the saloons,

Romancing the dance halls,

Battling Native people,

Until I met my fall.

Shooting the frontier,

Shooting out my scars,

Shooting alcohol,

Shooting for gold bars.

Some cowboys’ lives were like storms on the horizon.
Some cowboys’ lives were like storms on the horizon. | Source

Lightning my father,

Thunder is my mother,

Rain brings my siblings,

Wet sisters and brothers.

I throw my lasso,

Leaving the chute,

Slipping through thick grass,

Tying my own noose.

I ride for my honor,

I ride for the range,

I ride for love’s sake,

I ride for my name.

Beneath the hat often hid a mystery for most cowboys.
Beneath the hat often hid a mystery for most cowboys. | Source

Bottle took my dad,

Guns quiet prairie noise,

Mom sings it in the choir,

Pass it on to the boys.

Tell the girls to dance,

Show them those high steps,

Don’t cross those drawn lines,

My sisters know death.

I ride for my horror,

I ride a bit deranged,

I ride to fight hate,

I ride for my name.


When the sun leaves his reign,

Crappy light moon has thrown,

And the stars wink at me,

I’ll still be at home.

Father now the dirt,

Mother Earth turns well,

Tumble weed and chew,

Religion and Hell.

Brothers are lawyers,

Sisters run empire,

Let them have city life,

‘til urban dreams expire.

Willy sing a song,

Rock-a-bye, good James,

Cattle and trails my suits,

Gambling to stay sane.

I ride with honor,

They say I’m just strange,

I ride to ride on,

I ride with no shame.

When you see me pass,

Please, tip your proud hat,

On my own lonely,

I got it like that.

And when the sun leaves his reign,

And the moon takes her throne,

I’ll be dreaming of riding,

I’ll always be at home.

Cowboys often find peace with their horses.
Cowboys often find peace with their horses. | Source

Poll

What part of the old cowboy way of life do you find most interesting?

See results

Fun Facts about Cowboys and the Wild West

  • Although there are different estimates on how long the period known as the Wild West existed in the United States, many scholars consider the extent of the time to be from the end of the American Civil War in 1865 to about the first decade of the 20th-century. Due to western movement of pioneers, conflicts over the possession of land erupted between settlers and Native Americans in land between the Mississippi River and the Pacific Ocean. Many of these conflicts concerned use of land by ranchers for grazing cattle. Cowboys would work with herds of cattle, moving and managing them. Cowboys usually lived in bunks on a ranch, and they were also called cowpunchers, cowhands, cowpokes, and buckaroos in North and South America.
  • The Wild West is so named because during this time frame lawlessness reigned supreme in the territories west of the Mississippi. Gun fighters and bank robbers, such as James “Wild Bill” Hickock (1837-1876) and Billy the Kid (1859-1881), created havoc on the American frontier. The favorite weapon of cowboys, including gun fighters, was the six shooter, a durable revolver which men carried primarily in holsters. The current states which were a part of the Wild West included, but was not limited to: Texas, California, Wyoming, Utah, and the Dakotas.
  • The English word cowboy comes from Ireland as a translation of the Spanish word vaquero, which means a human being who takes care of cattle while on horseback. This term did not refer to everyone initially. During the Old West period, Black males were referred to as cowboys while White males were called cowhands. In fact, nearly 25% of cowboys were Black and they performed such jobs as cooking and providing music at the end of the day on the trail. Black cowboys usually handled the task of “horse breaking.” Eventually, the term “cowboy” came to mean any person who took care of cattle. Finally, the cowboy hat originated in northern Mexico. The stitson hat came about later.

References

American frontier – Wikipedia. Retrieved August 12, 2018, from: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_frontier

Cowboy hat – Wikipedia. Retrieved August 11, 2018, from: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cowboy_hat

The Lesser-Known History of African-American Cowboys | History. Retrieved August 11, 2018, from: https://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/lesser-known-history-african-american-cowboys-180962144/

© 2018 Tim Truzy

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    • Tim Truzy info4u profile imageAUTHOR

      Tim Truzy 

      12 days ago from U.S.A.

      One of the places we visited in Texas was Jefferson, rated as one of the ten most haunted cities in the U.S. I didn't see any ghostly cowboys there, and I'm grateful for that. But I did see old saloons and dusty buildings.

      We also visited the birthplace of the boogie-woogie, Marshal, Tx. Apparently, the boogie-woogie, with its strong rhythmic beat, grew out of the movement of the freight trains through the area.

      A great place for a cowboy to stop off.

      Sincerely,

      Tim

    • Tim Truzy info4u profile imageAUTHOR

      Tim Truzy 

      2 weeks ago from U.S.A.

      Last week I had the pleasure of visiting a friend who lives in Texas. She is a professor at a college in Eastern Texas. She took my wife and I on a trail ride at Karma Farms, a comfortable beautiful ranch where the Spanish mustang is treasured to the tune of a 65 strong herd. I also learned the ranch has the first Corolla mustang born in the S.W. U.S.

      But most of all, I loved going down the trail with Vicky, our guide, and enjoying my horse, Benita.

      Horses and humans on the trail forever. We are all cowboys. Sincerely,

      Tim

    • Tim Truzy info4u profile imageAUTHOR

      Tim Truzy 

      3 months ago from U.S.A.

      I thank you mighty much there, Ms. Dora,

      I went through a fun time of wearing cowboy clothing and my kids at school got a kick out of it.

      I appreciate your kind comment.

      May your day be pretty nice , ma'am. Your poetry ain't nothing to make a laugh of either. It's somethin' special.

      Much respect and admiration,

      Sincerely,

      Tim

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Weithers 

      3 months ago from The Caribbean

      My perception of the Wild West is pretty much like yours as you expressed in your poem, only your poetry is much better than I could do. I appreciate the fun facts. Sure the hat does look Mexican.

    • Tim Truzy info4u profile imageAUTHOR

      Tim Truzy 

      3 months ago from U.S.A.

      Hi, Jo,

      You are right. That time in American history was greatly romanticized. Many important figures were ignored or left out of history.

      I enjoy the shows about settlers, too. I remember watching shows like "Little House on the Prairie.

      Those were great television shows for the family.

      As always, thank you for your kind and thoughtful comment.

      I'll saddle up and see you out there among the stars (on Hub Pages and those niche sites.)

      Much respect,

      Sincerely,

      Tim

    • jo miller profile image

      Jo Miller 

      3 months ago from Tennessee

      Much of my tv watching as a child were the old westerns. I loved them, but think now that the era was greatly romanticized. I like best the stories about settlers moving west.

    • Tim Truzy info4u profile imageAUTHOR

      Tim Truzy 

      4 months ago from U.S.A.

      Of course, Sean,

      I've always felt the "cowboy" spirit isn't the property of one group of people and it extends across the globe.

      When I read about the creator of Star Trek, he saw the show as "a wagon train to the stars." This meant that the frontier belongs to us all because the people on that show were diverse. Indeed, some Native people did work as cowboys. at some point, I will explore my heritage deeper in that aspect.

      That may be interesting. I'll pray about it, letting my Lumbi grandmother guide me in that endeavor.

      Perhaps, that will happen. Perhaps not.

      Thanks for your comment.

      Sincerely,

      Tim

    • Tim Truzy info4u profile imageAUTHOR

      Tim Truzy 

      4 months ago from U.S.A.

      Thanks, Mark. My wife and I plan to visit Oregon later this year, I hope we stop at one of those old west towns. Tombstone is definitely high on the list.

      Thanks for your comment, partner. I'll see you on the range.

      Much respect,

      Sincerely,

      Tim

    • Tim Truzy info4u profile imageAUTHOR

      Tim Truzy 

      4 months ago from U.S.A.

      Thank you, Pam.

      I agree with you on the fact that young people may not truly understand how difficult the life of a cowboy was during those days. You took me back to my childhood again, Pamela, sitting in our "look out" waiting for Sheriff Mom to come and run us in for dinner.

      I appreciate you heading down the internet trail with me, Ma'am. Nothin' finin' than another traveler on the road of life to help watch for coyotes and scallywags. I reckon we are a bit of a wagon train on HP.

      Thank you for your warm and cheerful comment.

      May God always keep you safe and at peace, Ms. Pam.

      Sincerely,

      Tim

    • Mark Tulin profile image

      Mark Tulin 

      4 months ago from Santa Barbara, California

      Nice topic. I’d like to visit Tombstone AZ one of these days to feel that cowboy vibe. Thanks, Tim.

    • Pamela99 profile image

      Pamela Oglesby 

      4 months ago from Sunny Florida

      Tim, I have always loved cowboy shows, and playing outside was something I did and my boys did as well with their tree house, etc. I loved your poem as it reflected those days so well. When I think of cowboys I think of the freedom of riding, working but a lifestyle that has a kind of mystic to it. I wonder if young people really know how rough those men were, and what it took to survive. I really enjoyed this excellent article.

    • Tim Truzy info4u profile imageAUTHOR

      Tim Truzy 

      4 months ago from U.S.A.

      Hi, Lora,

      I read your poem about the lady and the cowboy and I was deeply moved with the clarity and precision of your piece about the conflicting ideas of freedom cowboys and others must address.

      Thank you for dropping by. I appreciate your thoughtful comment.

      May your day be peaceful and rewarding.

      Sincerely,

      Tim

    • Tim Truzy info4u profile imageAUTHOR

      Tim Truzy 

      4 months ago from U.S.A.

      Elijah,

      I'm glad my poem reached you and thank you for your kind and thoughtful comment.

      I do appreciate it.

      Much respect,

      Tim

    • Tim Truzy info4u profile imageAUTHOR

      Tim Truzy 

      4 months ago from U.S.A.

      Yess, ma'am, Ms. Abwilliams,

      I'll be watching them right along side you in spirit. Let's face it. There's a little cowboy in every American.

      I read it is one of the global contributions our land has given to literature. Who can forget John Wayne, Clint Eastwood, and Roy Rogers? I love those guys.

      Most things were spimply black and white and all we had to do was sit back and enjoy the ride.

      My wife laughs when I turn on Bonanza. She tells me to go be on the Ponderosa for a bit and come back home.

      Thank you again for your always kind, inspiring, and thoughtful comment.

      Much respect,

      Sincerely,

      Tim

    • Tim Truzy info4u profile imageAUTHOR

      Tim Truzy 

      4 months ago from U.S.A.

      Eric,

      Lately I've taken to wearing my cowboy hat and my cowboy boots. My wife thinks it's the funniest thing. I'll say: "Aw, shucks, amigo! Coming from a mighty fine writer of wisdom and common sense, that's high praise, and I ain't kiddin' you." Thanks Eric. I will check out your suggestion.

      Much respect,

      God be with you,

      Sincerely,

      Tim

    • The0NatureBoy profile image

      Elijah A Alexander Jr 

      4 months ago from Washington DC

      That poem, Tim, is the telling everyone of the life I have learned to live because of my metamorphosis from woman/human (minds unable to comprehend all things) into man (minds able to understand all things). Almost everything you said, in a spiritual way, tells of my willingness to explore everything I encountered to some extent without denouncing or clinging to them. That makes "Spirit of the Cowboy Lost in Yesterday Today" be a message concerning why I am the0natureboy.

      Very prophetic of what is required to survive the coming days, Thank you very much for revealing it.

      Peace.

    • abwilliams profile image

      A B Williams 

      4 months ago from Central Florida

      Okay Tim, you've inspired me, I'll be tuning into the Inspiration Channel this coming weekend, to check out the lineup of all of my favorite Westerns!

    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 

      4 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Tim this does a fine justice for cattle pokers, outlaws and herders. You truly must look up Michael Burton's "Rider's Lament" as sung by Jerry Jeff Walker.

      Where I grew up they still had roundups and drives. Thanks for bringing back some great memories of being in the saddle.

      I am impressed for a city slicker you did real good here.

    • Tim Truzy info4u profile imageAUTHOR

      Tim Truzy 

      4 months ago from U.S.A.

      Hi, Louise,

      I like the watch these historical shows on television, and I've learned a lot about that era which surprised me. I was thinking of country music as I wrote this, trying to write it as if Willy Nelson, might have. I appreciate your thoughtful and always kind comment.

      I have a great amount of respect and admiration for you.

      Sincerely,

      Tim

    • Tim Truzy info4u profile imageAUTHOR

      Tim Truzy 

      4 months ago from U.S.A.

      Hi, John,

      You had a great point. Everyone may not get my very dry Arctic humor as my wife is fond of pointing out. So I made a few modifications to make it clearer. If I'm suggesting bad perceptions, I needed to be more precise. (Two thumbs up, my friend. Much gratitude.) It's the beauty of having an insightful and caring poetry community on this site.

      That's a great story about Mr. Urban. Thanks for sharing that.

      I tip my hat to you, John. A gentleman and clever writer.

      Much respect,

      I have to mosey my way down the trail to your poetry here in just a minute.

      Have a great day.

      Sincerely,

      Tim

    • Lora Hollings profile image

      Lora Hollings 

      4 months ago

      I really like the independent spirit expressed in your poem, Tim. The cowboy truly is the symbol of the untamed and independent spirit of the old West. He is also a romantic figure that fires up our imaginations with images of an intrepid figure of the wild west, riding boldly across the vast plains..and into the sunset seeking out new adventures. His courage to live a life free from the constraints that are imposed upon most of us has always been very attractive to me and so I wrote a poem about cowboys too and how they are similar in spirit to writers... especially poets who also show a passion to be free to write from their unique perspectives and in their intense desire to be free to express their ideas.

      I also enjoyed your section on fun facts about cowboys and the wild west. A compelling and very enjoyable article!

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 

      4 months ago from USA

      Your poem reflected the mystique that surrounds the Wild West. I liked it a lot, especially the fact that you didn’t force it or trivialize your message with extensive rhyming. I also learned a thing or two in your facts section!

    • Jodah profile image

      John Hansen 

      4 months ago from Queensland Australia

      Keith Urban actually lived in a neighbouring town to me in my teenage years and my brother attended the same class at school as Keith's younger brother. Yes, he is very talented.

    • Tim Truzy info4u profile imageAUTHOR

      Tim Truzy 

      4 months ago from U.S.A.

      Hi, John, Great question. But my friend: It depends whether or not you think the night time is a toilet for life and the moon is there to dump on you.

      I appreciate your comment.

      Cowboys are fun, but the most interesting thing I learned was that Americans have a reputation for being cowboys, thanks in large part to Buffalo Bill Cody and his traveling show.

      By the way, I love the music of a talented country artist who does one heck of a cowboy imitation, Mr. Keith Urban, from your neck of the woods.

      I reckon I'll be heading off into the sunset. Happy trails until we meet again.

      Much respect,

      Tim

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