Christian Cowboy Poetry and more

Christian Cowboy Poetry and more
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Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Elko Rodeo

This story was told to me as being true, but a U.S. Senator. I was in Washington videotaping a number of Senators lending their support to the National Day of the Cowboy. After we finished, one Senator from a Western state told me the story. That night, I wrote the poem. It supposedly took place in Elko, Nevada, which is home to the Western Folklife Center, and may be Mecca to Cowboy Poets everywhere.


Folks say that 10 hell’s angels
pulled up and parked their rides
in front of an Elko cowboy bar;
got off and went inside.
About that time, 3 cowboys
came out from that same bar
intending just to head on home
but didn’t get too far.
They walked around the Harley’s
and stumbled in the dark,
each trying to remember
just where the pick-up’s parked.
The next thing anybody knows
the truck took off real slow,
rolling over all those Harleys;
cowboys laughing as they go.
Those biker boys heard all that noise
and poured into the street.
Crumpled chrome and handlebars
were lying at their feet.
They pulled the cowboys from the truck.
The dance was underway.
And 3 cowboys beat 10 bikers
to a bloody pulp that day.
Newspapers told the details.
The report was short and sweet,
How some cowboys held a rodeo
on a downtown Elko street.
Some say it’s just an urban myth.
Some swear that it’s all true.
I don’t know for certain,
but this might be a clue.
Hell’s Angels are more cautious
since this warning got around.
“Be careful where you park your bikes
when the cowboys are in town.”

Jeff Hildebrandt © May 19, 2006

Monday, November 29, 2010

Dust 'N Tails

Several years ago, there was a picture on the Bar D Ranch cowboy poetry website's Art Spur project. The website,,
publishes a painting as a way to get the poetic juices flowing. If you go to this link,, and scroll down you'll see the picture right before you come to the section on books I've written. Sorry, but I can't remember who did the art work. There’s a lot written about the glory days of the cattle drives. Movies like Red River and TV shows such as Rawhide glorified the trail driving cowboy. But award winning cowboy singer, Bill Barwick often says, "Unless you’re the lead cow, the view never changes." That is what I was thinking as I wrote the following poem based on the art work. If you don't want to go to the trouble of linking to the other web sites, just imagine a cattle drive.

Dust 'N Tails

“There’s beauty in the rangeland
where the grassy prairies roll
and the glistening dew of morning
sends a smile right through your soul.
There’s beauty in the azure sky
when the sun begins to rise
and the scope of God’s great glory
brings a tear to cowboy’s eyes.
It’s wonderful they tell me
while trying not to brag
cause all I see are Dust ‘n Tails
from back here riding drag.”

Jeff Hildebrandt copyright 2004

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Cowboys on Concrete

I hope you won't mind, but I'm re-posting this poem. (I'm getting a head start on the re-gifting season) Locally, the news is reporting on a sheriff's deputy who died in a gun battle after a car chase. That, and the fact that thousands of underpaid men and women are putting their lives on the line for us everyday led me to resurrect this. Please, feel free to share it with everyone you know, especially those standing tall in the face of danger.

Cowboys on Concrete

There are TV shows and movies
about the cowboy way.
And I’ve heard people question
if it’s relevant today.
Does the cowboy code of ethics
really still apply?
Do cowboys help the needy
or like others, pass them by?
Do they stand up for the helpless
and when asked, they volunteer?
Are they brave? Is there compassion?
Do they act despite the fear?
Have you seen a cowboy lately?
Have you really looked around
to see who rides to help you out
when all the chips are down?
Do you recognize the cowboy?
Not the swagger or the hat
but the cowboy way of helping out
when we’re in need of that.
They’re the ones who face down danger
when others run away;
the ones whose life is on the line
protecting us each day.

But, do you know the courage
that it takes to heed the call
and run into a burning building
that could kill them all?
Or the fear they have to swallow
as they make a traffic stop
cause the world is full of crazies
who’d just love to kill a cop.
Have you ever felt as though
a target’s painted on your chest?
Are you haunted by the nagging
thought you didn’t do your best?
Are there memories you just can’t shake
of choices that you had to make
and chances that you had to take
to risk for someone else’s sake?
Do you know the code of silence
they maintain when they go home?
To protect their loved ones from the truth,
they carry it alone.
One wife described it like a dance;
they circle round the fears
and hold each other tightly
to keep away the tears.
And yet, each time the call goes out
that someone is in danger
these heroes saddle up and ride
like modern day Lone Rangers.
Cause there’s another feeling
that they all get to share:
That right now, someone is alive,
a child in danger did survive,
a family won’t be wracked with grief,
the city’s safe from one less thief.
Inside, they all share this belief;
The world is better ‘cause they’re there.

They’re cowboys on the concrete.
When you see one, pray God’s grace
will surround and will protect them
from dangers that they face.
Then thank those first responders.
They do what must be done
and they deserve our gratitude.
So we salute you, everyone.

Jeff Hildebrandt copyright 9/11/2010

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Holiday Haikus

I was messing around with the Haiku format (3 line, non-rhyming with 5 syllables, 7 syllables and 5 syllables) while thinking about Thanksgiving and the various opportunities to serve others during the holidays. The first 3 are about families, past and present. The last 3 are about what you might call an extended family; those the Spirit nudges us to show compassion toward in hopes of opening their eyes to what God has done on their behalf.

A family gathers
Aromas from the kitchen
Blessings to be shared

As families gather
Hugs and thoughts of parents passed
Memories with a meal

A family gathers
A baby’s first Thanksgiving
Parents eat in peace

As families gather
Turkeys tenderly prepared
To feed the needy

As families gather
Traditional family meals
Dished up for others

A family gathers
Gives thanks for many blessings
While blessing others

Monday, November 22, 2010

Spaghetti Western

Several years ago I was asked to come up with a poem that would be appropriate for a fund raising dinner at the pre school my wife worked at.
They have used it ever since.


The trail cook said, ”Now, listen up,
our menu’s gonna vary.
Instead of eating beef and beans,
you’ll get pasta on the prairie.”
He said, “Enough of barbecue,
it’s time to make a change.
There’ll be meatballs on the mesa,
ravioli on the range.”

He added that his mind’s made up,
there’s nothin’ we could do
‘cept get used to thing’s Al Dente,
we shrugged and said, “Al who?”
Our cook has gone around the bend,
we tried to tell the boss
But all he said was
“Have you tried his prima Vera sauce?”

The cook had seen Clint Eastwood
as the man without a name
and there-in lies the reason
that our meals won’t be the same.
He saw a triple feature,
by that Sergio Leone
and it brought about his sudden urge
to feed us macaroni.

He’s broken with tradition,
it’s not the cowboy way.
And he sits there on his wagon,
ignorin’ what we say
as he stirs his marinara
and grates his Parmesan
and boils up spagatini
for us to put it on.

Then he cut up lots of onion
and chopped green peppers too
and added several spices
to sparkle up the stew.
So, that night we all ate it and,
you know, I’m really glad.
I’ve changed my mind, and come to find,
Spaghetti Western’s not half bad.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

T'Giving Cinquain

Here is another type of poetry exercise. I suppose real poets take it seriously. I don't think it is as much fun to read as it challenging for the writer to create. It is called Cinquain.(Sin Cain) It is more non-rhyming Poetry with five lines. Line 1 has one word (the title). Line 2 has two words that describe the title. Line 3 has three words that tell the action. Line 4 has four words that express the feeling, and line 5 has one word which recalls the title.

Families gather
Feed less fortunate
Blessed by blessing others

jeff hildebrandt copyright 2010

About last night

There are seminars where you hear something that actually applies to how you make your living. And then there are seminars where the topics sound good on paper but the presenter has no eartly idea how to relate their expertise to your need. If you look it up, you'll find that daydreaming was actually invented in one of those sessions. This comes from such a wasted weekend.

About Last Night

Last night
I watched a sunset.
Today I'm watching an "expert" tell me how to do my job.
Last night
The sun hesitated
then all of a sudden, was gone
leaving only a glow behind the Rockies.
Today, the minute hand hesitates
stands still
as the speaker drones on.
I wish she had a sunset in her bag of tricks.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

In a World of Hurt

I watch the news and see all the pain and suffering around the world; the natural disasters, the wars and rumors of wars, the starvation and hard-heartedness. Then, all of a sudden that takes a back seat to news that Prince William is engaged. While food banks have empty shelves, we're force fed news about the odds makers betting on what color hat the Queen will wear to the wedding. Enough of my ranting. This is about the world of hurt believers are enduring everyday as they try to show God's Love.

In a World of Hurt

“You’re gonna be in a world of hurt,”
the burly bouncer swore
as he basket-balled the little squirt
right out the swinging door.

You’re gonna be in a world of hurt
God’s Holy Word foretells
and cautions us to be alert
for lies that Satan sells.
And now we’re in a world of hurt;
attacked on every side
by non-believers who assert
the Bible writers lied.
They put us in a world of hurt;
and everywhere we look
side-steppers find a way to skirt
commandments in God’s Book.
We’re living in a world of hurt
cause we’ve been led astray
by half-truth tellers who pervert
what God says is The Way.

Although we’re in a world of hurt
we have the hope of grace.
Accept The Christ and be alert
for soon we’ll leave this place
to live where there will be no hurt,
no bitterness or strife;
a world where Satan can’t pervert
God’s gift; Eternal Life.

Jeff Hildebrandt © 2009

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Words of Western Wisdom

There are words of western wisdom,
Cowpoke philosophy,
which guide us down the trail of life
as far as we can see.
Like, never squat while wearin’ spurs.
Drink up-stream from the herd.
In hot weather don’t kick cow chips,
is another that I’ve heard.
Always keep your powder dry.
Close gates that you go through.
And make dern sure that you can spit
before you take a chew.
Those words of Western wisdom
from experience were born
so kindly pay attention
and take bulls by the horn.
Pull yourself up by your bootstraps.
Sit tall up in the saddle.
When trouble’s heading down your way
it’s best if you skedaddle.
Pistols are for shooting.
Hats are made to wear.
And words of western wisdom
are meant for us to share.
We all start out with nothing
and we’ll leave here just the same.
Building treasure up in heaven
should be each cow pokes aim.
Those words of western wisdom;
Cowpoke philosophy
will guide you down the trail of life
toward eternity.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Snow Day

I'm sitting in my Denver office watching the snow begin to coat the fields around me. I made it into work just as the snow started whisping around and now it is coming down the way snow is supposed to. So, I thought I'd share these thoughts on a snow day from a few years back.

Snow Day

If I knew how to paint
I think I’d know how a painter feels
in front of an empty canvass
fluffing the bristles and imagining.

My empty canvass is a field,
freshly blanketed with 11 inches of spring snow
so wet you could wring it like a wash cloth.

I know its 11 inches. I measured
I know it’s soggy. I shoveled.
I can only imagine how the artist must feel.

A sculptor uncovers what’s hidden in stone.
A painter transforms empty space into cobalt blue
and burnt-umber reflections of reality.
The kids and I will turn this blank canvass
into a snow fort, a snowman family
and a half dozen snow angels.

Then as this winter white
forms puddles on the floor
we sip cocoa with marshmallows,
like tiny snowballs, melting too soon.

It’s a snow day and oh, the possibilities.

Jeff Hildebrandt © 2005

Friday, November 12, 2010

Words to the Wise

A word from God lead to creation.
A word from you can cause elation
or crush a tender, eager spirit
that’s devastated when they hear it.

So, as you ride your trail through life
avoid the words that lead to strife.
Sweet, loving words are so much greater
in case you have to eat them later.

We’re better off if we remember
words of love, so soft and tender
uplift and edify a soul
and as a Christian, that’s our goal.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

True Grit

Thought for Veteran's Day.


From the Alamo to the Argonne;
From Midway to D-Day;
Inchon to Khe Sanh
America fought for freedom.

Now, in Basra, Baghdad and beyond
Desert Cowboys
stand between you
and those who wish you were dead.

We salute them.

Jeff Hildebrandt © 2006

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Haiku #2

Here are 3 more of my westernized Haiku experiments: Yippi-Yi-Haiku.
You can read yesterday's post if you need to catch up.

Wranglers at sunrise
head to chores with jokes and joy.
Cowboys are like that.

This is for all of us who deserve a raise,
not a pat on the back.

You did a great job.
All of us are proud of you.
That should be enough.

Limp hat, rumpled coat,
unshaven, aromatic,
talks of good old days.
Jeff Hildebrandt © 2005

Any questions?

Tuesday, November 9, 2010


Japanese Haiku is a non-rhyming, 3 line poem of 5 syllables, 7 syllables and 5 syllables. I have westernized that art form to create a hybrid called: Yippi-Yi-Haiku. Here are 3 examples. I will post more as demand dictates.

“Haiku – L – Water”
Keep a lookin’ Dan
There is water in this land
And you need a bath.
Jeff Hildebrandt © 2005

“Haiku-poo #2”
He was not aware
Cows once stood where he now walks
And the chips are down.
Jeff Hildebrandt © 2009

Beefsteak and biscuits
boiled beans and no antacid;
A trail cook’s revenge.
Jeff Hildebrandt © 2005

Monday, November 8, 2010


Where do you put the emphasis on Thanksgiving? I think most of us, at least those who are reading this, will give thanks to God for His continued grace in our lives. I also think you will be thinking of others; the less fortunate and doing what you can to help them. That's what this is about.


Remember how it used to be?
Thanksgiving with the family.
Turkey, dressing, maybe ham,
vegetables and candied yams.
Waldorf salad, homemade rye,
mashed potatoes, pumpkin pie.
You'd drink a toast and say a prayer
of thanks for all who'd gathered there.
Remember how it used to be?
Now look around at what's to see;
the dark and stark reality.
Can you improve their memories?
For what you have and how you're living,
you can show your thanks, by giving.

I think it might be inspirational to others if you share some of the ways you and your family show your thanks.

Friday, November 5, 2010

And So It Goes

Bsck in the 90s, I first heard a song from Billy Joel called, “And So It Goes.” If you don’t remember it, you can find it on You Tube. Several months ago it began bouncing around the hollow spaces in my head and latched on to a memory from my youth. I grew up going to church but didn’t come to a “personal” relationship with Christ until I was in my 20s. That’s when a situation arose that brought back all the religious teaching I had been given as a teenager. The instruction wasn’t wasted; it just took time for the seeds to flower. So, I guess, I’d have to say anytime is the right time to train up a child.

And So It Goes

In every life
there is a time
to speak of faith or hold your tongue.
And lessons of
God’s purest love
are never wasted on the young.

In younger days
I went to church,
I read the words and heard the prayers.
I passed the test
to be confirmed
but never felt God truly cares.
And every time
someone would ask
I told them yes, I do believe.
And so it comes
and so it goes
until God touched me, I suppose.
A circumstance;
another chance
the lessons learned came flooding back.
With open eyes;
I realized the love I lacked.

The time is now
to speak God’s grace.
Don’t be afraid, don’t hold your tongue.
And as it comes,
so should it go;
Your lessons just might save the young.

Jeff Hildebrandt © 11/3/2010

Thursday, November 4, 2010

All American

At a stoplight, right in front of me
was a patriot, it’s plain to see.
This pick up driver must-a been
one dyed in the wool American.
He had Flag decals on window glass
and bumper stickers; cute and crass.
He’s a guy you wouldn’t want displeased
cause he runs over cowboy wanna bes
He’s for country music radio,
the N. R. A. and rodeo.
But, in one of life’s small ironies,
his pickup truck was Japanese.

Jeff Hildebrandt © 1999

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Saddle Trees

Well I was new at this cowboy stuff
and one day it happened sure enough,
they sent me into town to buy some tack.
So I headed to the hardware store
cause that’s where I’d bought tacks before.
Boy, did I get a laugh when I got back.
So they sent me into town once more
and specified the livery store,
and asked another guy to go along.
When we got there, he said, “if you please,
just wait for me by the saddle trees
and I’ll get what we need and won’t be long.”
Well I looked high and I looked wide
but there weren’t no saddle trees inside
so I walked out the door to look around.
And, not too far from their back door
I found what I was looking for
so I grabbed a hunk of dirt and set on down.
I sure thought I had it made
just setting there in all that shade
till my pardner came outside all in a huff.
That feller stood there, shook his head
“Tenderfoot” was all he said
and I knew I was in trouble, sure enough.
I said “Hold on mister, not so fast,
I only did just what you asked”.
And he said “You’re the dumbest plug around.”
And said that I did “take the cake”.
But I said, “there’s been some mistake,
cause these here are the only trees I found”
Well, I thought sure I’d get the boot,
be told to pack my stuff and scoot,
but the foreman laughed so hard he nearly cried.
Then he told me if I was to last
I’d have to do just one more task
and he knew that I could do it if I tried.
Seems there’s a big horse apple crop
but an early frost caused them to drop
and I should gather all I can in sacks.
He said, “the dry ones leave alone
but bring the nice and ripe ones home”.
And he’ll store them away when he gets back.
I tell you, those horse apples stink,
but I’ve worked hard and now I think
that there must be, oh, twenty bags or more.
He’ll be back some time next week
and I can’t wait for his first peak
at all those bags stacked on his bedroom floor.

Jeff Hildebrandt Copyright 1999

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

We call him Cowboy

I saw a painting of a lone cowboy riding into a storm and tried to recreate it with words.

We call him Cowboy

What makes a man
ride into a wind whipped, gray-green storm cloud,
forsaking the comfort of coffee
to search for a stray?

Who, in their right mind,
takes on lightening streaked uncertainty
to help some ungrateful critter?

We call him “Cowboy”.

Jesus called him a “Good Shepherd”.

Jeff Hildebrandt © 2005

Monday, November 1, 2010

500 Channels

For those much younger than I am, I make reference to "party line" in this poem. Well that is not what distinguishes donkeys from elephants in our election process. It was a cheap form of telephone service where several different houses were all on the same telephone line. I guess its sort of like facebook today. You'd never say anything you didn't want the world to know.


My uncle, Thomas Ellingsworth
had a small Nebraska farm
and I would work there summer’s as a kid.
We plowed the fields with horses
and milked the cows by hand
and did the chores the way they always did.
He didn’t have a TV set
but had a radio
we’d listen to each morning, rain or shine.
At dinner his dear wife would tell
the latest ‘bout the neighbors.
Cause, their phone was on a party line.
After Uncle Tom retired
he still lived on the farm
but he made lots of changes,
don’t you know.
In a corner of the living room
was a wide screen TV set
where once there stood
that big old radio.
He hooked up to a satellite
but where they put the dish
really left him feelin’ quite unhappy.
They put it where the outhouse stood
and Uncle Tom was certain
that’s why the programs were so "gal darn crappy."

Jeff Hildebrandt, copyright 2007