Ode to Willow Creek

Shelley Goldbeck at Stavely

At Willow Creek Cowboy Gathering

I attended my first cowboy poetry event on July 10 and 11 at the Willow Creek Cowboy Gathering at Stavely, Alberta. I participated in their open mic on Saturday with this poem I wrote that day.





Ode to Willow Creek

Come to Cowboy Poetry, it’s lots of fun to go
Sit in rows of chairs and just enjoy the show.
Talk of cows and ponies and land and farmin’.
You’re a farm girl so I know you’ll fit right in.
Life got in the way, almost got there last year
But something else came along and I missed again, I fear.
This is my year for change, something new to do
So when my sister said Lewistown, Montana I knew
I had to grab the proverbial bull by the horns
And take a chance and share some of my poems.
That’s right. Not only am I going, I decided to commit
To sharing some poems and see what comes of it.
My poetry gushed like waterfalls, spilling from the pen.
Growing up on a farm, I have herds of stories to spin.
Like Dogface, an old plug pulling kid-laden toboggans on frozen fields.
In ’67 there was the wagon train trek, ’75’s barley yields.
There was my 12 hour concussion, got thrown and kicked by a horse.
There were parades and gymkhanas and rodeos of course.
So I’ve got some poems but I haven’t seen it done,
This cowboy poetry thing, so I decide I need to come
To Willow Creek Cowboy Gathering to get me some smarts.
Knowing nothing would be such a greenhorn move to start!
Let me say I was wowed sitting in the crowd on the edge of my seat
Feeling the singers sing, the players play and the poets speak.
Sagas about cows and horses and big skies,
Opining about their problems and making up lies.
Listen to Jim Hamilton’s poem about the cow man
Contemplating suicide, cancer doctors reveal his life span.
All words carefully chosen, each one has its weight.
Letting them out judiciously, one by one, through the gate.
There’s Phyllis Rathwell and her homespun yarns
Of grandkids and Hutterites and functions in barns.
The customs agent searching her truck for contraband
Struck a chord. I’ve driven farm trucks so I understand.
I think her scheme is brilliant and I plan to do the same
When I head to Montana for Cowboy Poetry games.
I’ve been surprised by all the music; I grew up on cowboy songs
And with a story put to guitar you simply can’t go wrong.
If you close your eyes Charlie Ewing can pass for a young Tyson.
Through the voice of Jim Beaudoin, we heard even more of Ian.
Who has more fun onstage with strings than Noel Burles?
I bet when he was younger that he got all the girls.
Sitting, watching and listening to the cowboy poetry stars
Almost makes me think I should take up the guitar.
I wish that I could memorize like Mag or Jim or Morley.
But I can’t remember last night’s supper so I need my notes, I’m sorry.
I can’t decide if it’s his guitar picking I prefer
Or the masterful way Ed Brown talks of wrestling bear.
Or his song about NOT preaching at the wedding of Tim.
Like the rest of the cowboy poets, couldn’t get enough of him.
I never dreamed I’d see a show that makes audience eyes shine
Which is udderly what happens when you see Divine Bovines.
I’ve met some fabulous people, for example Ruth and Kay,
They’ll be at Lewistown, a name they taught me to say.
They pointed out to me it’s pronounced LewisTOWN
Not LewisTON like EdmonTON, not TON but TOWN.
All the poets and all the singers filled me up with awe
At their talents and deep thinking they shared with us all.
I left last night, inspired to write poetry for you.
Thanks for allowing me to show what I can do.
I’d rather be here than with the crowds at Stampede
I like that I can hear every story, laugh and deed.
I like that the songs are honest, not artificially produced.
Hearing thoughts I’ve not heard before gives me quite a boost.
I like that I can see the stage without binoculars on my eyes.
I get to corral real people and learn about their lives.
I feel like this is my place, so thank you Willow Creek
For all your hospitality. What a way to end the week!

Stavely Alberta

Shelley Goldbeck at Willow Creek Cowboy Gathering