60 Cowboy Poems to Remind the Old West Time

Cowboy poems often feature themes such as rugged individualism, hard work, the beauty of nature, and the struggle against adversity. Sounds tough, right?

They typically use simple language and vivid imagery to paint a picture of the cowboy’s way of life.

Many poems about cowboy lifestyle also incorporate elements of humor, irony, or tragedy, reflecting the complex and often harsh realities of life in the West.

These poems are a reminder of the Old West time in several ways. Do you want to see how? Let’s give you a taste of the rustic life through these poems curated by us.

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Famous Cowboy Poems

Let’s see how these famous cowboy poems reflect the unique culture and values of the American West, and capture the spirit of the rugged, individualistic, and adventurous cowboy way of life.

1. The Dying Cowboy

       by H. Clemons

“Oh, bury me not on the lone prairie”;
Those words came slow and mournfully
From the pallid lips of a youth that lay
On his dying couch at the close of day.
He had wasted and pined till o’er his brow
Death’s shadows fast were drawing now;
He had thought of home and the loved ones nigh,
As the cowboys gathered to see him die.
How oft have I listened to those well-known words,
The wild wind and the sound of birds;
He had thought of home and the cottonwood boughs,
Of the scenes that he loved in his childhood hours.
“I have always wished to be laid, when I died,
In the old churchyard on the green hillside,
By the grave of my father, oh, let my grave be;
Oh, bury me not on the lone prairie.
“I wish to be laid where a mother’s care
And a sister’s tear can mingle there;
Where friends can come and weep o’er me;
Oh, bury me not on the lone prairie.
“Oh, bury me not—” and his voice failed there;
They paid no heed to his dying prayer;
In a narrow grave just six by three,
They laid him there on the lone prairie.
Where the dewdrops fall and the butterfly rests,
The wild rose blooms on the prairie’s crest,
Where the coyotes howl and the wind sports free,
They laid him there on the lone prairie.

2. A Cowboy’s Prayer

       by Charles Badger Clark

Oh Lord. I’ve never lived where churches grow.
I love creation better as it stood
That day You finished it so long ago
And looked upon Your work and called it good.
I know that others find You in the light
That’s sifted down through tinted window panes,
And yet I seem to feel You near tonight
In this dim, quiet starlight on the plains.
I thank You, Lord, that I am placed so well,
That You have made my freedom so complete;
That I’m no slave of whistle, clock or bell,
Nor weak-eyed prisoner of wall and street.
Just let me live my life as I’ve begun
And give me work that’s open to the sky;
Make me a pardner of the wind and sun,
And I won’t ask a life that’s soft or high.
Let me be easy on the man that’s down;
Let me be square and generous with all.
I’m careless sometimes, Lord, when I’m in town,
But never let ’em say I’m mean or small!
Make me as big and open as the plains,
As honest as the hawse between my knees,
Clean as the wind that blows behind the rains,
Free as the hawk that circles down the breeze!
Forgive me, Lord, if sometimes I forget.
You know about the reasons that are hid.
You understand the things that gall and fret;
You know me better than my mother did.
Just keep an eye on all that’s done and said
And right me, sometimes, when I turn aside,
And guide me on the long, dim trail ahead
That stretches upward toward the Great Divide.

3. The Old Dutch Oven

       by Arthur Chapman

Some sigh for cooks of boyhood days, but none of them for me;
One roundup cook was best of all—’twas with the XBar-T.
And when we heard the grub-pile call at morning, noon, and night,
The old Dutch oven never failed to cook the things just right.
‘T was covered o’er with red-hot coals, and when we fetched her out,
The biscuits there were of the sort no epicure would flout.
I ain’t so strong for boyhood grub, ’cause, summer, spring, or fall,
The old Dutch oven baked the stuff that tasted best of all.
Perhaps ‘t was ’cause our appetites were always mighty sharp—
The men who ride the cattle range ain’t apt to kick or carp;
But, anyway, I find myself a-dreaming of that bread
The old Dutch oven baked for us beneath those coals so red.

4. The Wind is Blowin’

       by Charles Badger Clark

My tired hawse nickers for his own home bars;
A hoof clicks out a spark.
The dim creek flickers to the lonesome stars;
The trail twists down the dark.
The ridge pines whimper to the pines below.
The wind is blowin’ and I want you so.
The birch has yellowed since I saw you last,
The Fall haze blued the creeks,
The big pine bellowed as the snow swished past,
But still, above the peaks,
The same stars twinkle that we used to know.
The wind is blowin’ and I want you so.
The stars up yonder wait the end of time
But earth fires soon go black.
I trip and wander on the trail I climb—
A fool who will look back
To glimpse a fire dead a year ago.
The wind is blowin’ and I want you so.
Who says the lover kills the man in me?
Beneath the day’s hot blue
This thing hunts cover and my heart fights free
To laugh an hour or two.
But now it wavers like a wounded doe.
The wind is blowin’ and I want you so.

5. A Prairie Song

       by Anonymous

Oh, music springs under the galloping hoofs,
Out on the plains;
Where mile after mile drops behind with a smile,
And to-morrow seems always to tempt and beguile,—
Out on the plains.
Oh, where are the traces of yesterday’s ride?
There to the north;
Where alfalfa and sage sigh themselves into sleep,
Where the buttes loom up suddenly, startling and steep,—
There to the north.
Oh, rest not my pony, there’s youth in my heart,
Out on the plains;
And the wind sings a wild song to rob me of care,
And there’s room here to live and to love and to dare,—
Out on the plains.

6. A Conceit

       by A Concei

Give me your hand

Make room for me
to lead and follow
beyond this rage of poetry.

Let others have
the privacy of
touching words
and love of loss
of love.

For me
Give me your hand.

7. The Dream Keeper

       by Langston Hughes

Bring me all of your dreams,
You dreamer,
Bring me all your
Heart melodies
That I may wrap them
In a blue cloud-cloth
Away from the too-rough fingers
Of the world.

8. The Cowboy Life I Love

       by Isaiah Zerbst

I squint my eyes from the glaring sun
As I drive cattle across the open range.
I am the youngest hand, so I ride drag
Covered by the dust stirred into the wind.

This is the life I have chosen
To hear the steady creaking of my saddle
The songs of the cowboys as they lead the herd
The lowing cattle as they smell water.

This is the life I live
To see the endless stretches of prairie
The hens and rabbits scuttling away
The ponderous beasts flowing in a living stream.

This is the life I love
Watching the horses graze peacefully at night
The cattle milling about during my night ride
My horse’s gentle breathing as I circle them.

May this be my lot while here I remain
May I drink from the freely flowing streams
And breathe the pairie air until I die.

Whether life be short or long
May I ever onward toil, and be content
With the satisfaction of honest work
With the steady pounding of hooves
Biscuits and chili by a wavering fire
And sleeping under the sky on the open range.

Inspirational Cowboy Poems

Inspirational poetries about cowboys often celebrate the virtues of hard work, determination, and self-reliance. Many of these poems depict cowboys overcoming challenges through their own strength and resilience.

1. To Heaven

       by Ann Foster

My Lord, my King,
my Sovereign Father,
mercy and grace.
The finest flowers for the
hour of Your birth.

Lost are the souls born of monkeys,
swimming fish from the proverbial sea.
The swamp of ugly lies.

Low that I kneel to my creator,
humble at the hand of the Lord.
Grateful for the kindess,
in earnest to seek…
Your word.
Ever Your will to be…
mine own.

Selah, I sing…
Lifted hands to heaven.
In peaceful solemn reverence,
to your almighty power,
and awesome might.

Gentle lamb, roaring lion,
Rabi, teacher,
healer and kind ruler
of all that is….

Ever moving the sun across the sky,
the moon spinning at your leisure.
I can only wonder,
what my tiny soul can do,
that would bring you laughter,
and joyful pleasure.

As I dance before you,
unable to move my feet,
I am ever aware…
the Light of God,
shines around me.
Warm and safe in the coldest night.
My soul in his keeping,
untill the morning light…
The distance between his precious love,
and my heart has no measurement at all.

2. Life

       by Ann Foster

Life is full of pain,
and I don’t know why?

I do in fact…
know the Lord,
I know Him…
by name.
He is with me.

If it were not for Him,
I would give up.
I would stop where I was,
and never move forward again.
I would live only in the moment,
as the future would terrify me,
like no other evil,
I have ever endured before.

Yesterday means nothing,
and tomorrow has even less to offer,
if there is no God above.
His love is all-consuming,
it covers up the sins
of my life,
with blood,
red, and…

3. As A Cowboy

       by Paula Goldsmith

Out west there are many new ways.
Always a new trail to blaze.
My nights are short with long days.
Feeding my horse he kicked me into a daze.
I am watching the cows gather to graze.
The fields are filled with food and the sun’s rays.
The dirt roads makes for a cloudy haze.
I need love but I need a better catch phrase.
I now wonder if going west really pays.
I have so little but I must always give praise.
For these are my only days.

4. Spring Flower

       by Ann Foster

Long fine hair,
that lay softly across her shoulders,
and trailed down her back,
all the way to her waist.
The colors of brown and yellow and gold.
Mixed as one, autumn comes to mind.
Yet the time, it is spring.

Her gown is green, every shade,
like the forest when the sun shines…
through the trees in small open spaces,
between the clouds of a summer storm.
Never the same in any given place.

She rides a unicorn.
A horse of mythic proportions.
I stand at the rim of the cliff watching.
They ride to the water’s edge,
to get a drink.
I am mesmerized,
and find I wish to be nearer,
than before.
I step closer.
The boundary gains a pace or two.
Death is happy.

She is singing,
I can hear her now.
On the breeze, of the morning,
the one that brings everything new
to the land,
and takes all things old…

The song is beyond my thoughts,
I cannot hear the words,
the melody haunts my heart,
and lifts my spirit.
She is magic…
and I
have stepped off the cliff,
in love.

5. The Ugly Sweater

       by Ann Foster

Grandma taught me to crochet.
My aunt she taught me to knit.
I can do neither well.
It is the truth.
At six, my hands were small,
and could not carry the experience,
gained in a lifetime, by my teachers.

I am grown now.

I remember.
My stitches they are straighter.
They are more like Grandma’s now.
My stitches they are numbered,
just as my aunt taught me,
before I could read or write.
I remembered.

My sweater is not perfect,
not for lack of effort.
I wear it…
And, I love it anyway.
It represents to me,
Everything I could remember,
that I had forgotten,
that was important,
to be remembered.

Funny Cowboy Poems

In these interesting poetries about cowboys, poets use wit and humour to lighten the mood and add a bit of levity to their works. This often takes the form of dry humor, wordplay, or tall tales that are meant to entertain and amuse.

1. Untitled

       by Margarita Vera

Tainted love
or tired love?
Smug attitudes
and weak games
Look at you!
Your such a lame!
Me cry?! Ha! Not no more!
Five point five years
What a joke?!
All you do is lie
Keep smoking your life away!
Wake up before its too late!
Before this love turns into hate!
Your too old to act this way!
Your too comfortable
You cant stay!
In my life!
In my way!
Goodbye to you!!!

2. Cowpoke Meyers

       by Robert L. Hinshaw

There was once an old cowpoke named Meyers

For decades he’d rode an old hoss named Squires

He’d roped steers and fixed fences

Enjoyed beer and square dances
And was bowlegged as a pair of plierst

3. Cowboy Hat

       by Terry Flood

Why does my new girlfriend always wear a cowboy hat
She lives in the big city in a high rise council flat
I gazed up at the window of her flat up in the sky
And when I did a bloody pigeon did one in my eye

So as I walked away I’m wiping poop to clear my sight
But droppings kept on plopping on my shoulders left and right
All I could do was duck and dive and try to dodge the splats
I looked around and everyone was wearing cowboy hats

4. Pricked

       by Sam Ruby

Your love pricks me like a rose each thorn grows but no one knows Your so full of
it as it shows so carry on now go on, go. I’m fed up with the phony and i’m
through with the tears, you couldn’t pay me all your money to make up for those
years. Someone help me I feel faint how could I think he was such a saint and
worst of all I let me fall into a spiral down below. A magic called love carried
by the dove of someone I use to know.

5. Hot and Cold

       by Roald Dahl

A woman who my mother knows
Came in and took off all her clothes.

Said I, not being very old,
‘By golly gosh, you must be cold! ‘

‘No, no! ‘ she cried. ‘Indeed I’m not!
I’m feeling devilishly hot! ‘

Short Cowboy Poems

Some short cowboy poetries are concise simply because it allows poets to focus on the most important themes or ideas without getting bogged down in unnecessary details. Bonus? They are easy to read too!

1. Nothing Gold Can Stay

       by Robert Frost

Nature’s first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf’s a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf,
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day
Nothing gold can stay.

2. Insomniac

       by Maya Angelou

There are some nights when
sleep plays coy,
aloof and disdainful.
And all the wiles
that I employ to win
its service to my side
are useless as wounded pride,
and much more painful.

3. Dreams

       by Langston Hughes

Hold fast to dreams
For if dreams die
Life is a broken-winged bird
That cannot fly.
Hold fast to dreams
For when dreams go
Life is a barren field
Frozen with snow.

4. Passing Time

       by Maya Angelou

Your skin like dawn
Mine like musk

One paints the beginning
of a certain end.

The other, the end of a
sure beginning.

5. “Faith” Is A Fine Invention

       by Emily Dickinson

“Faith” is a fine invention
When Gentlemen can see—
But Microscopes are prudent
In an Emergency.

6. A Very Short Song

       by Dorothy Parker

Once, when I was young and true,
Someone left me sad-
Broke my brittle heart in two;
And that is very bad.

Love is for unlucky folk,
Love is but a curse.
Once there was a heart I broke;
And that, I think, is worse.

Long Cowboy Poems

Here are some long cowboy poetries that tell a story. These poems often describe the adventures and challenges faced by cowboys on the range, and they may incorporate elements of folklore, history, or personal experience.

1. The Cowboy’s Life

       by Anonymous

The bawl of a steer
To a cowboy’s ear
Is music of sweetest strain;
And the yelping notes
Of the gray coyotes
To him are a glad refrain.
And his jolly songs
Speed him along
As he thinks of the little gal
With golden hair
Who is waiting there
At the bars of the home corral.
For a kingly crown
In the noisy town
His saddle he wouldn’t change;
No life so free
As the life we see
‘Way out on the Yaso range.
His eyes are bright
And his heart as light
As the smoke of his cigarette;
There’s never a care
For his soul to bear,
No trouble to make him fret.
The rapid beat
Of his bronco’s feet,
On the sod as he speeds along,
Keeps living time
To the ringing rhyme
Of his rollicking cowboy’s song.
Hike it, cowboys,
For the range away
On the back of a bronc of steel,
With a careless flirt
Of the raw-hide quirt
And the dig of a roweled heel.
The winds may blow
And the thunder growl
Or the breeze may safely moan;
A cowboy’s life
Is a royal life,
His saddle his kingly throne.
Saddle up, boys,
For the work is play
When love’s in the cowboy’s eyes,
When his heart is light
As the clouds of white
That swim in the summer skies.

2. A Bad Man

       by Ann Foster

The dark cowboy wears a black hat,
to tell all those he comes across
that he is a bad man,
before he says anything to them,
with his gun.

It is a fine hat,
with a bright silver band,
he took from a gambler…
that cheated him,
or at least,
tried to.

He was a good man once.
He did all the right things.
But fate found him,
and destiny beat him up.
Now he walks a line,
of fire that leads directly
to the great red doors of hell.

His soul cries out,
as he wanders the path alone…
He wants to be different.
Yet the price, of being good,
and doing the right thing
was at best hard to hold like a wild animal,
much less easy to handle as a tamed horse.

The Cowboy fell in love with a lady.
She worked at the fancy tavern in town.
She smiled at every man,
but the bad man knew,
she was all his.

One night, like any other, but different this time…
Another bad man shot a man, and he died.
But he also shot the girl he was with.

“Lila, sweet Lila don’t die.”

News came to the cowboy,
the bad man with the black hat.
His reputation preceded him,
and all were very afraid. 
Then, The cowboy ran to her side.
His facade broken like ice on a river,
and his hard shell cracked,
like a tree splintered by lightning.
Now… on his knees
he finally found…
his answer.

The cowboy took his right hand,
and removed his black hat.

Now…his hat lay next to him on the floor.

Losing the importance of our lives worth,
gives us pause to consider our path.
The loss of a pearl, among the treasures of life,
is enough to shake any man…
to his core,
to his soul.

Lila died that day.
She died in the bad man’s arms.
But with her last breath
she took the bad away,
and told him to stay,
and be happy.

The cowboy,
left the black hat on the floor,
when he left, out the door…
later that day.

3. I Know

       by Ann Foster

I Know

I am not afraid.
The list is very long,
of positives and good things.
There is no reason to fear.
That is the number one reason,
not too.
It is a waste of time,
and possible energy,
that would bring us closer…
to a solution.

If you have nothing nice to say,
get on your knees and pray.
If you can not stop talking,
saying the evil that spews forth,
to take away the hope of others,
gag yourself.
If you need help,
that can be arranged.
There is a group forming now,
at the edge of the abyss.

In the thick of things,
when the world is in the same life raft,
the same small dingy…
we must all, stop the individual(s)
poking holes in our safe zone.
Maybe they are immortal,
or so they wish to believe?
Maybe they can not be hurt,
and feel no pain,
born without conscience?

The very old and the very young,
need us now.
All those in the middle,
must learn to grow up.
They must bare the burden…
not felt since our grandparents depression.
Sit next to grandma, let her talk.
Listen closely to grandpa,
before they are gone…
and we are left out here,
without direction.

“Seek God!”
that is what they will say.
With your whole heart,
with your entire soul.
Leave nothing out.

Time is drawing close,
and our breath can be seen in the cold,
the mist of eternity…
for hell is both hot and forever,
and cold without limits.

4. A Lemon Yellow Hat

       by Ann Foster

The morning light of a new day,
cascades through the bedroom window.
I am alone.
Your pillow is soft, and close by,
it still smells of you…
I can close my eyes,
and pray to see your face,
and it still comes to my mind,
not clear as before,
but faded ever so slightly by time.

You are still as beautiful as ever.
You have been gone long,
but my heart feels it is only yesterday,
that you left.
I struggle each day,
to put things back together,
that I know now will never fit…
the same or even close as before.

I don’t want to move on.
So I am biding my time.
Do not worry, as I am not lost.
I am not sick.
I am not without motion.
I am simply set,
on the waiting of things.

I work in the garden,
the girls and I.
They dig things up that I plant.
I scold them, but you know that,
am not a harsh man,
and am a huge marshmallow,
where those I truly love and claim…
are concerned.
I melt and laugh and play with them,
and they keep me from watching,
the clock on the wall,
the one in the hall,
the one in the office,
the watch on my wrist,
and even the face of technology,
on my phone.
Yet the last one bares the visage,
of you my angel…
and I…
on our wedding day.

I stare at it often,
not to check the time…
but to see you with my eyes,
and tell my heart,
it is not seconds, minutes or hours,
not days or weeks or more…
but that you are already with me;
now, still and forever,
even from here to heavens gate.

5. The Christmas Trail

       by Charles Badger Clark

The wind is blowin’ cold down the mountain tips of snow
And ‘cross the ranges layin’ brown and dead;
It’s cryin’ through the valley trees that wear the mistletoe
And mournin’ with the gray clouds overhead.
Yet it’s sweet with the beat of my little hawse’s feet
And I whistle like the air was warm and blue,
For I’m ridin’ up the Christmas trail to you, Old folks, I’m a-ridin’ up the Christmas trail to you.
Oh, mebbe it was good when the whinny of the Spring
Had wheedled me to hoppin’ of the bars,
And livin’ in the shadow of a sailin’ buzzard’s wing
And sleepin’ underneath a roof of stars.
But the bright campfire light only dances for a night,
While the home-fire burns forever clear and true,
So ’round the year I circle back to you, Old folks,
‘Round the rovin’ year I circle back to you.
Oh, mebbe it was good when the reckless Summer sun
Had shot a charge of fire through my veins,
And I milled around the whiskey and the fightin’ and the fun
‘Mong the other mav’ricks drifted from the plains.
Ay! the pot bubbled hot, while you reckoned I’d forgot,
And the devil smacked the young blood in his stew,
Yet I’m lovin’ every mile that’s nearer you, Good folks,
Lovin’ every blessed mile that’s nearer you.
Oh, mebbe it was good at the roundup in the Fall
When the clouds of bawlin’ dust before us ran,
And the pride of rope and saddle was a-drivin’ of us all
To a stretch of nerve and muscle, man and man.
But the pride sort of died when the man got weary eyed;
‘Twas a sleepy boy that rode the night-guard through,
And he dreamed himself along a trail to you, Old folks,
Dreamed himself along a happy trail to you.
The coyote’s Winter howl cuts the dusk behind the hill,
But the ranch’s shinin’ window I kin see,
And though I don’t deserve it and, I reckon, never will,
There’ll be room beside the fire kep’ for me.
Skimp my plate ’cause I’m late. Let me hit the old kid gait,
For tonight I’m stumblin’ tired of the new
And I’m ridin’ up the Christmas trail to you, Old folks,
I’m a-ridin’ up the Christmas trail to you.

6. The Rules

       by Ann Foster

They are changing,
before our eyes.
Well, not really for all.
For some, they are brand new.
For others, they are historic.
Just the same,
the woman in red,
is in “Plain Sight”.

You see her everywhere.
At the store,
the bank,
the post office.
Even in the line to pick up…
your kid from school.
That is exactly what “they” want.
Watch on.
As she is a distraction to keep you;
busy and entertained.


Wake up.
The bell at the front door is ringing.
The alarm on the clock is too.
The timer on the microwave,
mirrors the one on the oven.
Louder slightly, but in harmony.
Your boss is yelling,
I can hear him.
But it is not about the job.
Your family is shouting,
not all…
so sad.

Look closely as you see people.
Now they wear masks.
The reasons vary,
but the visages that are left,
only the eyes.

It has been said the window,
to the heart,
to the soul,
is best understood,
by the blind,
after they have been healed,
but before they face…

Modern Cowboy Poems

While cowboy poetry has been around for over a century, modern cowboy poetry often blends the traditional style with modern themes and language. Nostalgic but also contemporary!

1. Love and Rodeo Riders

       by Paul D. Fisher

Lovers are like rodeo riders, not always in the obvious sense. This poem’s not about bronco busters in prisons or inmates turned for a stay inside a fence!

The PBR Bull Riders talk the toughest 8 seconds in sports. But with love if you only ride for 8 seconds, no wonder your ladies are bored!

Then no wonder the frustrated women on Tik Tok say they can’t find a good man. They go back into dating angry, set up again and again.

So what else do we call rodeo? Well leather chaps and lashes of course. Kinks can make for blissful soulmates, or for a quickie divorce.

Then what of the casualties of rodeo, twisted arms, legs, screams, cries and moans – sometimes sounded in love just as with broken bones.

But l never heard a cowboy ask, will that bull respect my ride in the morning? So what about the great riders? Cash prizes are big, really ride no one care if you are a huge pig!

Is that why cowboys after a good ride, are often smoking a cig? Do you smoke after good love with a casual hook? Don’t know, l never took a look!

Would you walk a mile for a camel, no l like women just fine?! There is a difference in kinky and perverted, feathers are ok, but leave that chicken behind!

As a rider said l need a good ride tonight. As with many things riding on the right bull makes the bucking alright!

2. You Have to Take Up Smoking Too Son

       by Anonymous

Father gave his son the talk before he attended prom.
He gave him a severe lecture actually, many warnings.
About how people get carried away, and they get pregnant.
The boy was horrified, he had not even kissed his girl.
This was 1967, of course, when morals were alive and well.
Father said “and one last thing, son….you have to take up smoking.”
The son was curious as to why.
The father had no reason, but was adamant.
Mother questioned father after the son left for prom.
“We want him to be a manly man, right?” the father stated.
He pulled out the Marlboro cigarette ad and added
“And a cowboy, if possible.” This was the way of the sixties too.
Nobody wanted to be the Indians back then.
Except me. I always rooted for them, to no avail.

3. These Young’ns are Pure Country

       by Anonymous

No way those hats are Stetson’s says beagle lover Sue.
Lasso Larry is gently touching her hair ribbons, blue.
He has had a hobby horse, it is not the real thing.
He wants a powerful stallion that can really zing.

Sue is wearing her cowgirl boots, all stylish and pink.
Daisies from a barrel give both young’uns a wink.
They are pure country says petunia after they have gone.
I know because Larry’s iPod had Blake Shelton on.

4. The Advisability of Imaginary Friends

       by Hans Ostrom

What’s the age-limit
on having imaginary friends?
I ask because they now seem
necessary–given plague,
mass shootings, rioting weather,
mad dictators (some elected).

My elder brother had a couple
of good ones before he outgrew them:
Tonapah and Joe. I might bring
them back, turn them into one:

Tonapah Joe: an old cowboy,
for real, not a gunfighter.
We’ll spit imaginary tobacco
juice (I’ve outgrown the chaw).
We’ll speak few words, listen
to wind rake the Nevada plateau.

“I think it’s best if we hole up
on the ranch here for a spell,”
Joe will say. I’ll say, “Yep.”

5. Dustin Distant

       by Anonymous

Dustin Distant walks alone,
wishes on a wishingbone,
hoping that the left will break,
just to save his heart from ache,

Dustin wishes the pain away,
friend to death he sent to lay,
whiskey did it’s job to haze,
Blaze was quickly set ablaze,

proud and danger he was known,
partner’s sleep he must atone,
sitting in the old saloon,
how he prefers his afternoons,

haunted by his ways and past,
haunted by a deaf’ning blast,
all it takes is one mistake,
then whole worlds begin to break,

a drunken Dustin is insistent,
misery is ever existent,
money draining is consistent,
die dollarless, Dustin Distant,

Dustin Distant now on his own,
the cowboy always walks alone.

Cowboy Poems That Rhyme

Rhyming can add an element of musicality and rhythm to poetry, which can enhance the reading experience. Many classic rhyming poems about cowboys are written in rhyming couplets or other forms of rhyme.

1. Bacon

       by Charles Badger Clark

You’re salty and greasy and smoky as sin
But of all grub we love you the best.
You stuck to us closer than nighest of kin
And helped us win out in the West,
You froze with us up on the Laramie trail;
You sweat with us down at Tucson;
When Injun was painted and white man was pale
You nerved us to grip our last chance by the tail
And load up our Colts and hang on.
You’ve sizzled by mountain and mesa and plain
Over campfires of sagebrush and oak;
The breezes that blow from the Platte to the main
Have carried your savory smoke.
You’re friendly to miner or puncher or priest;
You’re as good in December as May;
You always came in when the fresh meat had ceased
And the rough course of empire to westward was greased
By the bacon we fried on the way.
We’ve said that you weren’t fit for white men to eat
And your virtues we often forget.
We’ve called you by names that I darsn’t repeat,
But we love you and swear by you yet.
Here’s to you, old bacon, fat, lean streak and rin’,
All the westerners join in the toast,
From mesquite and yucca to sagebrush and pine,
From Canada down to the Mexican Line,
From Omaha out to the coast!

2. The Railroad Corral

       by Anonymous

Oh, we’re up in the morning ere breaking of the day,
The chuck-wagon’s busy, the flapjacks in play;
The herd is astir o’er hillside and vale,
With the night riders rounding them into the trail.
Oh, come take up your cinches, come shake out your reins;
Come wake your old bronco and break for the plains;
Come roust out your steers from the long chaparral,
For the outfit is off to the railroad corral.
The sun circles upward; the steers as they plod
Are pounding to powder the hot prairie sod;
And it seems, as the dust makes you dizzy and sick,
That we’ll never reach noon and the cool shady creek.
But tie up your kerchief and ply up your nag;
Come dry up your grumbles and try not to lag,
Come with your steers from the long chaparral
For we’re far on the road to the railroad corral.
The afternoon shadows are starting to lean,
When the chuck-wagon sticks in the marshy ravine;
The herd scatters farther than vision can look,
For you can bet all true punchers will help out the cook.
Come shake out your rawhide and snake it up fair;
Come break your old bronco to take in his share;
Come from your steers in the long chaparral,
For ‘t is all in the drive to the railroad corral.
But the longest of days must reach evening at last,
The hills all climbed, the creeks all past;
The tired herd droops in the yellowing light;
Let them loaf if they will, for the railroad’s in sight.
So flap up your holster and snap up your belt,
And strap up your saddle whose lap you have felt;
Good-bye to the steers from long chaparral,
For there’s a town that’s a trunk by the railroad corral.

3. Passing of the Range

       by James W. Whilt

Today as I gaze o’er the prairie
That stretches away into space,
I look back only a few short years
At the change that’s taken place.
When I was one of the cowboys,
All our time was spent on the range;
Now I don’t see even one rider,—
‘Tis then I feel lonesome and strange.
No trail-herds with plaintive lowing,
No shouting, or singing to steers,
No sound of horses mad galloping,—
It almost moves me to tears.
For then we rode stirrup to stirrup,
While the jingle of spurs played a tune;
Oh! could I go back to the round-up
For a day at the cow-camp in June.
When the grass was so green on the prairie,
With the cattle all sleek and so fat,
Each rider all dressed for hard riding,
With high heels and chaps and wide hat.
Each with his string of horses,
Some broken and others half wild,
The wilder the better he liked them,
Happy and carefree as a child;—
Wild as the steers that they wrangled,
Hardy as the bronchos they rode,
Ready to take others’ troubles,
Or carry another one’s load.
Those were the real days I tell you—
Night-herding by light of the stars;
Three weeks drive to the stockyards
Where we loaded the steers in the cars.
Then when the loading was finished
And the cattle were on their way,
The Boss called the bunch together
And gave us our season’s pay.
We were just like a bunch of children,
And many an old-timer like me
Recalls being served in his saddle,
When on a periodical spree.
Now, cattle are held in pastures,
They no longer roam wild and free,—
And the cowboys are gone forever,
Leaving only a memory.
And as each one crosses the border
That is over the Great Divide,
I hope the bunk-house is ample
And none will be left outside.

4. Heritage

       by Jim Fish

The ranch on which I hang my hat, though short on most the frills,
Is thirteen sections, give or take, of rugged trails an’ hills.
We call it ‘home’, our little world, our very own frontier,
Amongst the cattle, sheep an’ goats; the varmints, hogs an’ deer.

Today I watched the breakin’ dawn an’ whiffed the mornin’ air,
A time I often set aside for things like thought an’ prayer.
A Mockin’bird an’ Mornin’ Dove, an’ other birds at play,
Were there to sing an’ set the mood to start another day.

This mornin’ saw the strangest thing, like time itself had merged,
An’ all the souls who once were here, appeared an’ then converged.
In swirlin’ clouds of mist an’ fog, right off the bluffs they rolled,
Till all had gathered in the glen, the modern an’ the old.

The Indians, conquistadors, an’ other ancient men,
The soldiers from this country’s wars, an’ cowboys from back when…
They all had come from yesterday to help me understand
Our link with those who came before, to heritage an’ land.

A crazy notion, so I thought, that they could just appear,
But as the morning went along the reason got real clear.
They rode along with me that day to show me things I’ve missed,
The things I’ve seen a thousand times an’ some I’d just dismissed.

Those wagon roads of long ago, still evident today,
Are carved in rock an’ rutted earth, not apt to wash away.
They linked the missions, forts an’ towns those many years gone by;
An’ left their mark for all to see, as modern times grew nigh.

The artifacts an’ weathered ruins attest to yesterdays,
When others came an’ lived their lives in very different ways.
We’ve seen their skill in arrowheads they honed from fired stone,
An’ craftsmanship in beads an’ tools they fashioned out of bone.

At ever turn and trail we took was something to remind,
The Maker must have had a plan laid out for humankind.
The Earth He made’s been feedin’ us a half-a-million years,
An’ used it’s wonder, force an’ change to challenge pioneers.

I do not know if they’ll return or if they’ll feel the need,
But I’m prepared to ride the trail, where ever it may lead.
We all are spirits ridin’ time with bodies of the Earth,
Whose time has come to take the reins an’ offer up our worth.

The land has been the legacy we cultivate an’ reap,
The life has been the heritage our father’s fought to keep,
An’ we are bound throughout our time with those who came before,
To put our hearts and souls to it, and make it something more.

5. A Lonely Christmas

       by Joyce Johnson

I walked up to the bunkhouse, beneath a cloudless sky,
searching to find the Christmas star, still shining there on high.
The bunkhouse was warm but lonesome with no other cowboys there.
They had all gone home for Christmas. I pretended not to care.

Christmas carols on the radio brought back thoughts of the star
that had shown down on those pastures in that Eastern land so far.
Taking off my vest and Sunday shirt, I threw them on the trunk.
I stripped down to my underwear and crawled into my bunk.

My day had started early. I had worked hard with the crew,
so they could start their Christmas fun, when all the chores were through.
With no wife nor kids to need me, I had told the rest I’d stay
and watch out for the cattle.  They could have their Christmas Day.

The warm room made me sleepy and I started into doze.
Right there before my astounded eyes, the Christmas Star arose.
I was a lonely shepherd in that land so far away,
who had been left to guard the sheep until the break of day.

I heard the angels singing and saw the moving star.
I marveled at the beauty and glory from afar.
The bright star beckoned to me and angels led the way
to where the future king of all lay in a mound of hay.

I wanted so to follow them but I had pledged my word.
I had to turn  a deaf ear to the messages I heard.
I knew my solemn duty lay in guarding helpless sheep.
I prayed the Lord’s forgiveness but the vigil I must keep.

The star reflected in the eyes of creatures all around,
waiting for the lonely stray or any sheep they found.
I could not shirk my duty to seek Him out that night,
but I knew I never would forget that glorious, wondrous sight.

I had that dream some years ago, but should that star reappear,
I’ve hung my rope and saddle up.  I can follow with no fear.

Cowboy Poems about love

Love and relationships have been popular topics in poetry across many different genres, and cowboy poetry is no exception. So let’s delve into poetries about cowboys and love.

1. Eronel

       by Robert Ronnow

I’m busy as a bus.
Ten hours on the telephone, research resources,
school staff, counsel clients.
Some sleep.
Then invite Lorraine downtown, the lovely loyal
secretary, to hear jammin jazz crew. By taxi tonight,
sans subway.
I’ve never been to this joint before
but admire the women in their dresses and makeup.
In New York, they smell wild. Elsewhere
women are ranchers and gardeners.
We find a small table in the crowd,
order drinks. The band is four young black men.
Lorraine is black too, by the by.
We get up to dance and I leave my cowboy boots
under the table. I’ve always enjoyed
the way Lorraine puts her arms around me.
I’m the oldest cat in the club
which is frightening
since just fifteen years ago I was the youngest.
I wink at the trumpet player with my fairly abandoned mien
who comes over to our table between sets.
He likes Lorraine. They jukebox it.
She falls in love.

2. Cowgirl Up

       by Regina McIntosh

Pitching a leg across the nether
Of a pretty appaloosa or possibly
A chestnut bay who needs to know
That she’s being ridden by someone
Who will take her through the paces,
Strides both gentle and regulated
By a walk, a canter, a gallop, a sprint
Where she feels all her steps
Light, loose and limber as liquid love
That rains down from a heart who
Gives this mare the greatest rides
Through meadows, across hills
Into the kindness of life filled with
Delights, pleasures, sweetest bliss
Brought to life on the back end
Of a horse who listens to the kindness
Whispered through laughter, light
Chortles felt by the spirit who believes
“cowgirl up” brings plenty of dreams
To life on the back of a mount who needs
Only to be ridden without restriction
By a rider who knows the key to any heart
Is found at the end of a set of reins
Where equine love trots into command

3. Two Step

       by Steven Young

into this
grey morning
into soft
feathery folds of
misty bliss
limbs flailing
swishing the sky
streaking tumbling
hurtling by
too thick
to see you
next to me
reach through
smokey wispy
cottony fluff
twine your fingers
through mine
squeeze this
guiding hand
so tight
in twirling swirling
downward flight
dancing you through
the endless night
love, love
God giveth
and taketh
they say
but sends me
an angel
a gift
from which
a cowboy…
… just can’t
ride away
so two step
on these clouds
with me
we only have
’til eternity

4. Butterfly

       by Ann Foster

Butterfly sweet,
lovely wings of gossamer gold.
Stretch your tips to the stars,
as that is the reality of freedom.
Glide for hours above the clouds,
created by the soft fog of morning,
to find your balance and place,
in the world.
Do what you need to do,
to be all that you need to be.

I miss the way you spoke,
the way you whispered secrets to my heart.
You made me young again,
when others made me old before my time.
I wish you would come home.

Where are you “rainbow-colors” on air?
Where is it that you go in the day,
and where do you end up in the night?
Come home, daughter.
Come home,
Come home.

5. Ghost

       by Gail Holder

Living with ghost of yesterday’s past

holding on won’t bring them back,

moving on doesn’t mean you forget,

but allows your broken heart to heal.

Keep the good memories, Let the bad

good go because there’s someone out

there that needs what’s lifted of you.

Pull yourself together, Dry your eyes,

let go of yesterday’s past, love what’s

in front of you before it’s to late, and

become ghosts we wish could have back.

Cowboy Poems about Horses

It’s hard to imagine cowboys without their horses. There are many cowboy poems that celebrate their special bond with horses. Let’s check out those!

1. The Pale Horse

       by James W. Whilt

When I saddle the pale horse, to take my last ride,
To the home ranch, over the Great Divide,
Will I find the trail blazed all the way,
A place to camp, at the close of day?
Will the trail be smooth, and the weather fair?
(For no one has ever come back from there)
But the good book says, if we shoot square,
“Have no fear of the trails over there!”
An unseen hand guides the pale horse straight,
O’er the summit height, to the home ranch gate,
Where we all must meet the Boss Supreme,
And all will be one pleasant dream.
No herding of dogies on frost night,
Or wild stampede in the morning’s light.
No cinching of saddles, or shipping of steers.
No sorrow or trouble or bitter tears.
But the sun will shine, and cool breezes blow,
Over a range ever free from snow;
And for those who lived as He who died
To save us riders—that Great Divide
Will be only a foothill, so very low;
That on its summit sweet flowers do grow,
And the trail itself will be smooth all the way,
With a place to camp at the close of day.
When at last I reach that Home Ranch gate,
Peter will say, “You sure shot straight,”
And the gate will open for me, I know,
Saying, “Pull off your saddle, and let him go!”

2. The Cowboy and His Horse

       by Daisy Ward

The cowboy and his horse
The horse was actually the boss
Who taught him well
Even kept him from hell
But now he’s being toss
Old cowboy has a new friend
Oh how that female horse pretend
To cover his back
But he still was attack
Oh boy died with regret in the end

3. My Horses and Me

       by Farihaa

The long endless praires
Welcomes use daily
Relentless they are hot
But a home
Sun burns us together
With its full power
Making me and my horses
Thirsty savagely
Night is no less comfort
Insect loved to crawls us on freely
They are merciless beings

4. Horses and People

       by Anonymous

We were all gathered at the sale barn
waitin’ for the horse sale to get under way.
When this old hand sat amongst us,
it was easy seein’ “Cowboy” was on his resume!

He watched the horses come and go
with an easy, patient horseman’s eye.
He studied each horse as they came through,
but he never nodded or attempted to buy.

I found myself watchin’ the old man,
when to my surprise he turned and spoke.
“Horses are a lot like folks I’ve known,
some’s honest and true, others can’t be broke.”

Then he pointed out a nice sorrel filly
as she swatted her tail and gave a squeal.
“She’s like Miss Milly down at the diner,
plenty of good looks and sex appeal.

And that skinny lookin’ ole horse,
actin’ all touchy, nervous and rank,
he reminds me of old Mr. T. Wad
the loan officer at the bank.

Now that old mare, she’s a kid’s horse,
she’d teach ’em and they’d never come to harm,
She’s sure a lot like old Ms. Beachem
a grand lady, and my first school marm.

See that little two-year-old,
boy, he’d like to break and run.
All he wants is away from here,
he reminds me of my son.”

It seemed like we sat for hours,
talkin’, laughin’ and comparin’ notes,
about honest horses and people we knew,
those we like and those not worth the oats.

About that time, an old bay entered the ring,
the old hands voice began to soften.
“If he was a man, I’d call him friend
and that’s just somethin’ I don’t do often.

A little thin and gray around the muzzle,
like me, he’s gotten on in years.
But there’s a heap of know-how restin’
between that old horse’s ears.

That old horse is some ole cowboy’s pal,
Sellin’ him, would be like committin’ a sin.
So if you’ll please excuse me boys,
think I’ll just buy him back again!”

5. TV Cowboy

       by Terry Ireland

He rode his horse side saddle
Across the rolling plains
Scarlet polished finger nails
Gripping diamantéd reins
A little cocktail hat
Resting on his head
Dingly dangly earrings
Sparkling ruby red.

This dandy of the cowboys
Dressed to impress one and all
Showing off his finery
On route to the Ranchers Ball.
Beneath his jeans he wore
Briefs, suspenders and a bra.
He’d baulked at a girdle as being
Just that one step too far.

Tonight was the Ranchers’ Ball
So what better chance
To show off his finery in
The ladies excuse me dance.
He was tough and he was macho
With no more need to impress
No more need to conceal
He need wear a lady’s dress.

And any of his workmates
Who laughed at that right
Had better be good and ready
To beat him in fair fight.
His heart pounded with pleasure
He wanted to scream and shout
This was a changing world “
Tonight he was coming out.

6. The Cowboy

       by Daisy Ward

The cowboy rode a bucking horse
He tried holding but was toss
Through a salon door
Rump busted his core
That horse strictly showed him who’s boss

7. A Cowboy

       by Anna Marie Kaianah

A Cowboy heading to the saloon
on his horse in the middle of June
The town was in hiding
The sight was un-inviting
Outlaws; ill-tiding, awaiting high noon

Farewell Cowboy Poems

Cowboy goodbye poems are poems that express the emotions of saying goodbye to the cowboy way of life or to loved ones in the cowboy community. They often reflect the nostalgia, longing, and sadness that come with leaving a beloved place or community.

1. Cowboys Farewell

       by C. J. Krieger

I have one trail that’s left in me
One more road to travel
Some words that all mean adios
And one more horse to saddle

I have the mountains, brooks and trees
Spread out like one last supper
A final kiss upon your lips
Before I bid farewell

My saddle’s packed
My gun intact
I’ll ride into the setting sun
With no more stories left to tell

2. Goodbye

       by Ann Foster

I waved as you left the drive.
I heard your sweet voice…
ever cheerful.

Hours passed.
I did the dishes.
I cleaned up.
I got ready for bed.
I received the call.

I sat down.
I wanted to die.

3. The Red Letters

       by Ann Foster

They stand out in the bible,
because they are the very word of God.
Pay attention.
Don’t miss anything more.
You may need to know this stuff later.
When there are far fewer people,
to help you.

They are selling off our resources
to foreign lands like there is no tomorrow;
because there is not going to be one,
unless we wake up in time to say, “no”.
There will be great changes,
and few will believe they are real.
Even when they are presented to them;
in public and before all others.

Cheaters and eaters of the day,
wasting away thinking about tomorrow…
that will not come, at all. 
Mice, rats, small creatures…
that eat things no one else wants,
to find out they have great value.

But not again…
to anyone that matters.
only the small,
that want to be tall…
after all.

Free, until they knock down the door… and then…

4. Longing

       by Ann Foster

Little mermaid on the rock,
Wishing and wondering,
What it would be like,
just to walk?

Little girl in a chair,
riding around on wheels of air…
Wondering; what it is like… to feel?

5. An Old Cowboy

       by David G. Moore

An old cowboy left yesterday.
Once drove herds over open range.
Many hardships along the way,
But a life he would never change.

Heard sound of cattle full stampede.
Rode days in slush up to his knees.
Tall in the saddle on his steed.
Broke, but had all a cowboy needs.

Up before dawn most of his days.
Often playing an old guitar,
Singing tunes about dusty trails,
And lost loves that were torn apart.

Old age and time at long last struck.
Glory gone like western ghost town.
Life’s work over and spent last buck,
A cowboy king without a crown.

Withdrew in deep grief and doubt,
His way of life had gone away.
Last words, “head ‘em up; move ‘em out”,
Old cowboy died yesterday

6. Our Daily Lives

       by Ann Foster

Quietly I walk into the room.
You have been asleep for hours.
You got home late,
not for the first time,
not the last.
Days without a break,
yet still you go.
You take care of us.

You are the head…
of our house.
You are the man,
that we look up to,
and the burden is heavy.

I know you stumble,
I see everything.
But I do not call it out.
I try as I can to soften the road,
and change the parameters,
of the barriers we must…
both challenge.

Getting old together,
is hard, on the body.
The grace of our lives,
generously, lavishly sprinkled…
across our later years.
Whoa, that we could have,
a little more time…
young again,
before our children.
It was then…
that we danced,
in places that are gone,
except in the loving world,
of our hearts.

I would spend my last smile,
on you my love,
to have you ask me yet again,
to be with you,
from this day to the next,
until forever,

Final Thoughts

Cowboy poetry is a rich and vibrant genre that celebrates the traditions, values, and way of life of the American West.

Its roots can be drawn back to the late 1800s, and it continues to evolve today, with modern cowboy poets blending the traditional style with contemporary themes and language.

Poems for cowboys are not a nostalgic dose for people belonging to the West but also an interesting peek into the life of cowboys for readers who are not aware of this lifestyle.

So did you find them as interesting as we did?

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