The Flying Horse

As a cowboy "making a circle"
You can see some funny things,
But the strangest one I ever saw
Was a horse that sprouted wings.

It was way up on the Hulsey Bench
When the summer grass was high;
One of those days so filled with beauty
It'd bring a tear right to your eye.

I was riding ol' Spud and leading a mule,
Packing in a load of salt,
When a bend in the trail brought to my eye
A sight that made us halt.

There in the meadow asleep like a babe
Laid a big ol' buckskin mare.
She was dreaming the dreams of the pure in heart;
She didn't have a care.

She must have filled her belly in the cool of the morn
And when the sun got high
She found her a sunny spot to sleep
And just dream of the by-and-by.

Now the thing that was odd about this scene,
That would get your attention twice,
Was off to the side stood a big black crow
Just as cool as summer ice.

The ol' crow seemed perplexed, he wasn't quite sure
If the mare was alive or dead.
So he hopped to and fro all around ol' Buck
From her tail plumb up to her head.

And he finally decided by some stroke of luck
He'd found him the Crow Cafe
Why at this one spot he'd found enough grub
To last him for many a day

But where to begin on this pleasant repast,
The ol' crow sat there and thought.
To start at one end and just work my way through,
That's the best way as likely as not.

Now if I start at the head I'll run into them bones,
And they're mighty hard on my beak.
But if I stick to the soft parts and bypass the rest
I ought to have him gone in a week.

So Mr. Crow hopped up around to the back of ol' Buck,
Just to find him a good place to start.
He looked up and down from the hip to the hock
Just to find the tenderest part.

Now with ol' Buck stretched out like a stiff on a slab,
It sorta left her tail stickin' out in the air.
And right there underneath seemed a good place to begin;
Why, there wasn't even no hair.

Mr. Crow looked again and said to himself,
"Oh, my, is that a bullseye I see?
I swear, that shows me right where to start,
And the best part of all, it's plumb free!"

So, without further ado, he raired back and pecked
And hit that bullseye right there on the dot,
But his joy turned to horror when Buck's tail clamped down
And Mr. Crow realized he was caught.

Ol' Buck quit the earth like a space shuttle flight
Just leaving the launching pad.
To be woke from her dreams in just a fashion
I figure it drove her plumb mad.

She jumped, she bucked, she whirled, she kicked;
She was clearing the tops of the trees,
With that ol' crow's head clamped tight under her tail
And his wings just fanning the breeze.

Now the higher she'd buck, the harder he'd flap,
And they both had something they wanted to lose,
But the harder he'd pull, the tighter she'd clamp;
It was kinda like one of them "catch twenty-twos."

'Course from where I was sitting it was easy to see
How ol' Buck could've cured all her ills.
If she'd just lifed her tail and broke wind real hard
She'da blowed that crow plumb over the hill.

But when I seem 'em last they was tearing down trees
And clearing the brush, far and wide;
Ol' Buck trying to pinch the head off that crow,
And him just a whippin' her hide.

Like I said at the first, as a cowboy at work
You can see some peculiar things.
But the strangest thing I ever saw
Was that horse that sprouted wings.

© 2001 Chris Isaacs. Reprinted with permission from
Rhymes, Reasons, and Pack Saddle Proverbs

All Out

The reporters gathered around the Champ
Right after the "last go".
Flash bulbs popped, and cameras clicked
'Cause he'd put on quite a show.

Tonight he had ridden the "unrideable";
He'd scored a ninety-eight.
The crowd had got their moneys worth
When he'd nodded for the gate.

"Is this the ride you'll want folks to remember
When you've hung up your gear?
To think of that almost "perfect score"
At the height of your career?"

The cowboy thought a moment,
And then he said "I'll tell you friend
How I’d like to be remembered
When this all comes to an end.

I'd like it to be at Calgary,
Or maybe the Days of Cheyenne Frontier.
And for my draw in the final “go”
I'd want the Bucking Horse of the Year!

I'd want to be so far in the lead
That when I made that ride,
All I'd have to do is "coast",
And just get qualified.

When I'd nod my head and they cracked the gate
That bronc would explode like TNT.
I'd start him good, and the battle'd begin,
And it's either him or me.

Well, he'd buck like he'd never bucked before,
As though he were possessed.
And I would spur him jump for jump
With style and with finesse.

Then just at the seven-second mark,
He'd squall and whirl around...
And to the astonishment of all the crowd,
He'd throw me to the ground.

Well, I'd pick my Stetson off the ground
And hold it by the brim,
And as they led that ol' pony to the strippin' chute
I'd just "tip" my hat to him.

Well, this answer was perplexing
To the reporters gathered round.
"You mean you'd want remembrance
For the day you got bucked down?"

The Champ replied, "It ain't the bucking off that matters.
It's how you tried that counts.
I don't want to be remembered as one
Who just spurred hard on mediocre mounts.

I want the young hands coming up
To know what Rodeo and Life are all about;
That what matters, is How You Play the Game,
And that you've got to go All Out!"

© 2001 Chris Isaacs. Reprinted with permission from
Rhymes, Reasons, and Pack Saddle Proverbs

I Never

I never saw the Old West,
It was gone before my time,
Just the stories told by some old gray haired men.
And the memories of those tellers
Fed dreams for guys like Me
Helped me imagine how it must have been back then.

“Cuz I never saw the great cattle drives
Before fences cut the land.
Never saw the mighty herds of Buffalo.
Didn’t see the Conestoga Wagons
Nor viewed the rivers running free
Before the dams that all but stopped their flow.

The Sioux and bold Apache
Who fought to halt the tide,
Were gone to reservation ‘fore my time.
The outlaws and the bad men,
The lawmen bold and brave,
Were distant memories long before my prime.

The stage coach and freight wagons
That transported folks and goods
Were replaced by trains and airplanes in my youth.
I was still a young man when Armstrong
Took that “giant leap for mankind”
And proved that ol’ Jules Vern had told the truth.

The Old West was just a memory
When I was still a kid.
Stories told by old men who’d lived it when still young.
They made it come alive for me,
And those pictures in my mind
That they painted rolled like honey off their tongue.

But I was here to see some of the workings
Before the old ways were all gone,
Like a buckboard parked in front of a corner store
With horses standing on three legs;
Their tails swishing at the flies
While the driver visited friends there by the door.

I remember when cattle still had the right of way
And grazed all up and down the road;
When Arizona still had lots of open range.
When team roping was still tie down
And we’d never heard of Goose Necks
And Cowboys in town didn’t seem so strange.

And I saw the glow of a Brandin’ Fire
Made by Mesquite or Pinion coals
Long before the days of the noisy Butane blast.
Calf tables and Burdizos
Were still some years away
And I thought the Tried and True would surely last.

But while I was lookin’ backwards
And tryin’ so hard to hang on
To a way of life that was changing every day,
The future over took me;
Just ran rough shod up my back
In spite of anything that I could do or say.

And, I never saw the Old West,
It was gone before my time.
Just the stories told by those old gray haired men.
Memories for the tellers,
Dreams for guys like me,
And I wish to God those times could come again.

© 2012, Chris Isaacs


"If the western landscape is colored with the words of it's most honest writers, then Chris Isaacs is one of the guys who knows where to begin painting and how to leave his indelible signature when he is finished. Honesty like that comes only from having lived the life, and walked the walk, and from having the wisdom to take not and remember how he got there."
— Juni Fisher
  © 1996-2020 Chris Isaacs & JoAnn Isaacs Brookover. All rights reserved.