The night was still the moon was high, stars
Them kids of mine all sound asleep, the wife 'n
I in bed.
We had a dog a friendly pup, a shaggy canine
This dog was food fer' eatin' chuck, 'n hiden'
shoes 'n boots.
The wife 'n I almost asleep, when we heard ol'
He leaves the spot where he's been at, lettin' out
hair raisin' howls.
01' dog was really movin' yon, that much we
shore could tell,
Them kids of ourn' all yelpin' too, I hallerd
"What the hell?"
T'was then the wife crawled outa' bed, in her
long night gown,
Said you'd better go out 'n see what's bothern'
that dern hound.
She told all the kids t' quiet down their daddy
Now all of you git back in bed, in this dark
you'll break yer neck.
That dog was plum stark ravin' mad, quit
runnin' fer' a time,
Those barks 'n howls, yelps 'n growls, made
cold chills run up my spine.
I tells the wife "Come back t' bed there's
nothin' much out there."
Then she gits mad, stomps the floor, 'n I think I
heard her swear.
She said you'd stay right there in bed an' never
go out 'n see,
I just don't think you give a damn about these
kids 'n me.
I gits up sarta' slow, pulls on my hat 'n boots,
Then starts lookin' round the room fer'
somethin' that will shoot.
There in my sharts, boots 'n hat, I straps on my
I said you'd better come along to see that I
That woman now was ravin' mad, grabbed up
by rifle gun,
Throws in a shell goes out the door, I could tell
Chef's not in funn
I come trailin' long behind with quite a little
Cause I kin' feel my hackles rise though I
haven't got much hair.
That dog he sounded plum insane, we're headin'
up t' see,
If he has got a grizzly bear, er' a lion in a tree.
My woman's way out in the lead she's shore a
I think she had the hammer back on that ol' gun
I'm tryin' hard t' stay with her, I aimed t' stay
My sweaty hand clutched the butt of that ol'
We're gittin' close! We kin' see the dog, he's
really sounden' mean!
On a star light night in the moon's pale light we
could see that mad dog spring.
I couldn't see a dern thing there but a great big
I cursed that dern fool dog of ourn fer' barkin'
at the seeds.
I had my foot all posed t' kick when I seen a
streak of flame,
A rifle spoke, sent lead 'n smoke, 'n a bullet
found its game.
My lady love was just in time, with that ol'
smoke pole of mine.
Cause she kin' see it hain't no weed, but a big
fat parky pine.
01' bowser now he starts t' whine, his nose
plum fulla' quills,
That parky pine, hes deader 'n hell, from a
thirty thirty pill.
I thanked the Lord! Then I thanked my wife,
fer' she had saved my skin,
I'll never kick at a tumble weed on a moon light
By Melvin L. Whipple Feb 2nd 1976
A Bad Night at the CL Ranch is printed with permission of
Melvin L. Whipple. Reproduction in whole or in part is prohibited
without permission from the author.
heart, but the printed and memorized
verses acquire special meaning when
people identify and call upon Mrs.
Hunting to recite.
Cowboy verse, paradoxically, has received
much more attention as music
than as literature. Dr. James Griffith of
the University of Arizona points out
that the early collections of N. Howard
Thorpe and John A. Lomax (one a
cowboy, the other a folklorist) both
carried the word "songs" in their
titles. But Thorpe's book contained no
music, and Lomax's only a sampling.
Nevertheless "the singing cowboy has
become commonplace in the western
image; the poetry reciting cowboy is
still a strange figure to outsiders."5
Recently cowboy poetry became the
focus of a special celebration, a Cowboy
Poetry Gathering held at Elko,
Nevada, January 30 through February
3. The Gathering was sponsored by the
Institute of the American West, the
National Endowment for the Arts, and
a host of other agencies and individuals
from western states. Texas involvement
came through The University of
Texas Institute of Texan Cultures at
San Antonio and Texas Folklife Resources,
Inc., of Austin.
The Gathering featured cowboy poets,
reciting and reading both traditional
poems and their own work. Melvin
Whipple joined young waddies like
Ross Knox of Arizona and Nyle Henderson
of Colorado, and old hands like
Ken Trowbridge of Montana and Cecil
Moore of New Mexico. Ranch women
like Georgie Sicking of Nevada and
Yula Hunting contributed, as did
Glenn Orhlin of Arkansas and Everett
Brisendine of Arizona, both of whom
have recently toured with the National
Council for the Traditional Arts. Audiences
attending their performances
filled a large room for hours on end. It
was a rare occasion, indeed, to see
cowboys, some of whom had never
stood behind a microphone, drawing a
crowd of strangers into a hush over the
fate of Little Joe, the Wrangler, or having
to stand and wait for the laughter to
subside over Tyin' Knots in the Devil's
A Bad Night at the CL Ranch
311L, 3 IlML III ILAII.
Texas Historical Foundation. Texas Heritage, Volume 2, Number 2, Spring 1985. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth46809/. Accessed April 18, 2014.