Wallace McRae is the self-styled Cowboy Curmudgeon. His poems cover the range of his experiences managing his family's 30,000-acre ranch in Montana. The National Endowment of the Arts granted him a National Heritage Award in 1990. Here, in his typical style of humor and earthiness, is one of his poems from the collection Cowboy Curmudgeon and Other Poems, published by Gibbs Smith.
I been mashin' them critters and brandin' them calves
Since the wagon pulled out, back in May.
But I rolled out my bed for the last time this year.
Work's done. Boys, it's time now to play.
I've done ate up my share of blue brandin' smoke
And of dust and them Dutch-oven beans.
I'll just test out my rump on a civilized chair
And my charm on some honky-tonk queens.
I'll shed off some hair, shuck these horse sweaty clothes,
Rediscover hot water and soap.
The cavvie's strung out. They know that we're goin'
To headquarters at a long lope.
Old camp cookie's flapjacks and biscuits I'll miss some;
But I won't miss his "Cowboys roll out!"
There's a clean wild rag in my war bag somewhere,
And a semi-clean shirt, no doubt.
Some smoky saloon may get half my pay.
There's sidewalks I hanker to stroll.
You'll know I've arrived when you see me show up
With my spurs--out at the town hole!