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FOLK COLLECTION 11: The Skaggs Foundation Cowboy Poetry Collection

Date of Items: 1890-present
Register Prepared by: Randy Williams and Susan Gross, April 2004
Register Updated by: Randy Williams, 23 December 2009
Excel database transfered to MYSQL and uploaded (replacing PHP data): Colin Jackson, Fall 2010
MYSQL database updated: Randy Williams, January 2012
Linear Feet:20

Historical Note & Provenance

Folk Coll 11 is Utah State University's cowboy poetry collection. The collection, originally created by a generation donation by the L. J. and Mary Skaggs Foundation, includes books gathered during a fieldwork project in the early 1980s to document cowboy poetry in the U.S. west (see Folk Coll 11f). From this important fieldwork project came the impetus for the first Cowboy Poetry Gathering held in January 1985 in Elko, Nevada. Since that time, each January, the Fife Folklore Archives staff take the collection and Access database (that details each book, poem, author, first line and key words), to the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering for offsite use. Through University purchases and generation donations from poets and collectors, this collection continues to grow.

Scope and Content

The collection consists of 20 linear feet of books on cowboy poetry, including press and self published works. The collection can be accessed through USU Libraries online catalog.

As well, poem titles and keywords found in each book in the collection are included in the database below. To use, type in the search term. Tip: Try and use an uncommon word from the poem to ensure less "hits." For instance, if you enter "boots" you will get many hits; but if you enter "bones" you will most liley get fewer "hits" or poems and find the item you seek faster. To return to the search page, click "home" at the bottom of the page.


Poetry table.

First Previous Next Last
IDBook TitleComposerIndexPagesAuthorPoem TitleFirst LinesKeywords
27465 Prairie Song A Meander Of Memory FC 11 G-44 39 DW Groethe Solstice (Deep) It has to start here or not all all. The final hour wich mourns the passing of light. Clinging to shadows, hallowed in the paths of the moon, the long night rises, surveys its domain, then nods never knowing its day has come.
27466 Prairie Song A Meander Of Memory FC 11 G-44 40 DW Groethe Moonsong There was the night she sang the moonsong. A melody so rich its like had not been heard since her great, great a~thousand~times~great, grandmother offered up the first prayer to her mother in the sky. IT was in the key of life and kept to the temp of a newborn's heart after first milk.
27469 Prairie Song A Meander Of Memory FC 11 G-44 43 DW Groethe A Charlie Creek Christmas It was Christmas in the Badlands an' the moon was shinin 'bright- so I figgered dear ol'Santa wouldn't need no exter light when the come across the prairie an 'down the coulees deep- to drop me off my presents while I was sound asleep-
27470 Prairie Song A Meander Of Memory FC 11 G-44 46 DW Groethe Winter 1903 There lies Dakota Bleak, bitter cold. Home for the heart with an iron soul. Even the star gleam icy cold.. and listen to the wind blow. One lone cabin carved from sod leans in the prairie like a joke on God. and they don't talk any more 'n a nod.. and listen to the wind moan.
27471 Prairie Song A Meander Of Memory FC 11 G-44 48 DW Groethe Out My Window Out my window a gatherin' of clouds has hid the stars away and turned them to flakes- fat flakes- falling gently gently falling- onto the backs of the two bay mares. It's Christmas.
27472 Prairie Song A Meander Of Memory FC 11 G-44 51 DW Groethe West River Waltz And when I was young and knew only the day and thought not what the future might hold in its sway she took me and loved me, for all of my faults and set my soul soul swirling to the West River Waltz.
27473 Prairie Song A Meander Of Memory FC 11 G-44 52 DW Groethe Down by the Willows Down by the willows sweepin' soft on the waters where the wares slip in for a swallow moon was a~hauntin' an' coyote was a~flauntin' to any ol'bitch who would follow his wayward heart by the dark of the course where the crick ran back up the draw while the rest of the prairie woke an 'eased out wary
27474 Prairie Song A Meander Of Memory FC 11 G-44 53 DW Groethe Fifty a Day (Broke, Tired and Blue) Fifty a day is a cowboy's ain't much though for some it's enough. It's not always money that rides a man hard or acquirin' piles of stuff. There are those who would willingly trade it all in for a chance to go ridin' the herd. An' bein' out in the lonesome,
27475 Prairie Song A Meander Of Memory FC 11 G-44 55 DW Groethe A Little Thing about Creepin' Jenny It lurks in the garden with the beets an' the peases. Takes over anywhere it darn well pleases. Around the house across the yard, you'll never find nothin' that dies this hard. Nice little flowers that laugh in your face if you try an' stop 'em
27476 Prairie Song A Meander Of Memory FC 11 G-44 57 DW Groethe Seven Tadpoles Out north on the school section, sprayin' spurge, I stumble on a mud flat boilin' with frustration. Couple hundred tadpoles in a half inch of gumbo soup du jour. I grab a handful. Seven. Walk fifty maybe sixty feet to a slough with enough water for a short at life.
27477 Prairie Song A Meander Of Memory FC 11 G-44 58 DW Groethe The Bunny Poem Drivin' through the midnight hour clippin' down the trail, we was headin' back from Utah on the last leg of'r tale. Twenty hours ridin' hard from down the ol' southwest we was more'n plenty tired an''r brains was cravin' rest.
27478 Prairie Song A Meander Of Memory FC 11 G-44 60 DW Groethe Midnight, Somewheres in August I have camped out on this prairie a thousand summer nights and gazed deep in the faceless eyes of God as they stared down hard upon me from some lonesome stretch in time an'finally found their rest upon my shroud.
27479 Prairie Song A Meander Of Memory FC 11 G-44 61 DW Groethe There's a Silence There's a silence that's found as a hoof hits the ground when yer ridinn' alone in the night. An' the dust of the day has settled away an' yer glad that ol' moon has some light tho' you ain't ridin' blind 'cause yer pony'll find the rail that leads you back home.
27480 Prairie Song A Meander Of Memory FC 11 G-44 62 DW Groethe And From This Hill: A Requiem And from this hill you can see forever 'cross the deep green undulating grassland sea. And the sagging, listing hollow-eyed homesteads all weathered and gray. Like long~deserted ships of the line, sink ever so slowly out of time and into the prairie floor.
27481 Prairie Song A Meander Of Memory FC 11 G-44 63 DW Groethe Bent To the wind. Rough shod. Gnarled. Hide so leathered up it was hard to believe he could take one more lick. But by God could he. Just ask him. And you did not doubt his word. His heart burnt twice the fire of most men half his age. And the rest? Did not count.
27482 Prairie Song A Meander Of Memory FC 11 G-44 64 DW Groethe Under The Dim and Nodding Sky Under the dim and nodding sky 'mid the nighthawk's fading skree, bend your ear to the rush in the willows, that hush you hear is me. Up through the cottonwoods' murmuring leaves down round in a laughing swirl hovering close to the warm moist earth my whispering fingers unfurl and lightly gather each blade of grass 'til at last I come to thee and brush your cheek with lover's lips you can no longer see.
27483 Prairie Song A Meander Of Memory FC 11 G-44 65 DW Groethe Let Me Tell You 'bout Weanin' Let me tell you 'bout weanin' and the severin' of ties and them cows with their bellerin' lips fulla lies. They'll hang on that gate for a day, maybe two creatin' a ruckusin' hullabaloo. Then on a sudden no reason, no rhyme they stroll away thinkin', "Hell, that calf ain't mine." and never again so much utter a moo
27484 Prairie Song A Meander Of Memory FC 11 G-44 66 DW Groethe The Novice It haunts and it hangs on o're the heights like some gossamer spirit wound swiftly in flight reaching out to envelop then pull in half tight just to explode and then black into night. It follows through yellow and red and then green. Floats in and out of a source unseen that is at once violent sublime and serene and it beckons me closer, this unfolding scene.
27485 Prairie Song A Meander Of Memory FC 11 G-44 67 DW Groethe Three Horses Waiting Better finish wrappin 'boys, we gotta cut a trail. The day is swift be on slow go 'fore we hitch that evenin' rail. Like as not we'll get there fine but you know this time a year can bring a turn that's hard an' quick an' the weather's none too clear.
27486 Prairie Song A Meander Of Memory FC 11 G-44 68 DW Groethe The Great Hay Yard Assault of '04 (The Sad State of Cowboy Job Security) We fix the fence. They tear it down. We fix the fence. They tear it down. We electrify they leap an'fly we barricade they soon evade an' make a new door down the line. Ain't that just fine! 'cause now we start whole thing up again. We chouse the cows back out an' then we fix the fence.
27487 Prairie Song A Meander Of Memory FC 11 G-44 69 DW Groethe The Feed Truck Blues They say it used to be a Ford that when new was so adored was washed and even polished once a week. But as time went flittin' by a Chevy caught their eye an' the pickup's future went from bright to bleak. 'Cause they gave it to the kids who put the darn thing on the skids so fast a new trannie was a must.
27488 Prairie Song A Meander Of Memory FC 11 G-44 72 DW Groethe Notes on the Clipper Startled whispers, spirits in the snow, rush about the yard and sheds like sparrows on the go. A quiet blue foreboding lingers as you stare and you know what's comin' on 'cause you can feel it in the air. but you hold your breath and pray with every fiber of your bein'
27489 Prairie Song A Meander Of Memory FC 11 G-44 74 DW Groethe just Like a Chinook She come on strong and warm and totally unexpected. Just like a chinook during one a them long hard spine~cracking winters when even the stones groan. My spirit quivered. Been a while. You bury things deep in a spell like that and time takes time to thaw feelin' frozen deep as all that.
27490 Prairie Song A Meander Of Memory FC 11 G-44 76 DW Groethe When Spring Breaks on the Prairie When spring breaks on the prairie when calves start comin''round when crocus fill the hillsides from the draws up to the crowns. When you get that lonesome yearnin' for a drift of new~mowed hay can the first warm breeze of summer really be that far away? You've gone through forty winters an' you plan on forty more
27491 Prairie Song A Meander Of Memory FC 11 G-44 77 DW Groethe The Fence When it comes to vexation and ire nothin' gets my dander higher than bein' out in the sticks tryin' to fix hun'erd~year~old strands a'wire. They criss cross in jumbles an'knots in places God's all but forgot. Hangin 'from posts that gave up the ghost way back when Valentino was hot. You can randomly pick any stretch of thirty odd feet an' you'll fetch