January 2010 video from the
26th annual National Cowboy Poetry Gathering, Elko, Nevada
Jay Snider reciting Sunny Hancock's "Bear Tale"




Of Horses and Men

Some are blessed with tranquil passing
While others met a tragic end
Truth is, it's never easy
When you've lost a trusted friend

As horses go, it's sometimes told
In simple words that cowboys use
He darn sure was a good one
He’s the kind you hate to lose

He’s the kind you'd ride the river with
Roam the canyons and the breaks
In rough country and wild cattle
He’d be the one you’d take

His efforts weren’t ruled by stature
With him you’d finish what you’d start
His limits were governed only
By the dimension of his heart 

His expectations were simple
Merely fairness from a friend
But when he’d feel the need to run
Don't try to fence him in 

Pure poetry in motion
As across the plains he’d fly
A tried and true compadre
In a seasoned cowboy’s eye

His courage was unmatched by mortal men
From conquistadors to kings
Cowboys sing his praises
At roundups in the spring 

Ain’t it strange how thoughts of horses lost
Mirror those of men passed on
And though they’ve gone to glory
Their spirit’s never gone 

Sometimes simple words seem best
When final words we choose
He darn sure was a good one
He’s the kind you hate to lose

© 2004 Jay Snider   All rights reserved
These words may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.



Ode to the Line Shack

Tumbleweeds blow in through a saggin’ screen door
But it’s been home sweet home for six months, maybe more

There’s no insulation in the walls of this shack
You can throw a big cat through most all of the cracks

There’s a leak in the roof, when it rains it’ll pour
But it runs out real fast through the cracks in the floor

The snow will drift in ‘round the windows with ease
But in autumn there’s always a cool gentle breeze

An old, cold north wind will stand the curtains out straight
But the chimney won’t draw so the fresh air is great

Stockin’ grub in the pantry is an every day chore
Cause the mice carry it out through a hole in the floor

The stove in the kitchen ain’t worked in a year
So we eat lots of jerky and chase it with beer

The freezer don’t work and the furnace won’t heat
The bedroom stays cold so it’s safe to hang meat

My pocket knife vanished from on top of the chest
I found it next morning’ in a fresh pack rat’s nest

A horrendous odor surrounds all the bunks
Cause beneath the plank floor dwells a family of skunks

A trip to the privy concludes in a rush
The sink never drains and the toilet don’t flush

My pard’s a good hand and I like him doggonit
But I’m down to one nerve and by golly, he’s on it

I hear the wagon rolls out in a week, maybe two
I intend to go with it and the rest of the crew

I’ll sleep at the wagon, on the plains, with my hoss
I’ve had all I can stand batchin’ here with the boss.

© 2010 Jay Snider   All rights reserved
These words may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.



Four Little Words*

Four little words have stuck in my mind
From the time I was just a small child
“There’s a good feller” is what he would say
When he talked of the men he admired

I remember those men he talked about
Sure ‘nuff cowboys, tough, but kind
They said what they meant and meant what they said
These men are gettin’ harder to find

“There’s a good feller,” meant he was true to his word
That’s all you expect of a man
You knew for sure he was proud to meet you
By the genuine shake of his hand

“There’s a good feller,” meant you could depend
On this man no matter the task
Never got too tough, too cold, or too late
For his help, all you need do is ask

“There’s a good feller,” meant he had a light hand
Be it with horses or cattle or crew
He spent most of his life learning this cowboy trade
And he’d be honored to teach it to you

“There’ a good feller” meant don’t ask him to do
What ain’t on a true and honest track
He knows it’s easier to keep a good reputation
Than it is to try to build one back

“There’s a good feller,” meant he’s a fair-minded man
He helped write cowboyin’s unwritten laws
He won’t ask you to do what he wouldn’t do
Yet knows, at times, the short end you’ll draw

“There’s a good feller,” meant, when he’s down on his luck
He can still hold his head way up high
‘Cause he did his best and gave it his all
He knows with faith and God’s help he’ll get by

“There’s a good feller,” just four little words
And their meaning won’t run all that deep
But when Dad would use ‘em to describe certain men
You knew they were at the top of the heap

“There’s a good feller,” just four little words
But they’ve always been favorites of mine
If after my trails end, my name’s brought up
“There’s a good feller” would suit me just fine

©  Jay Snider    All rights reserved
These words may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission

This poem is included in a selection of pieces appropriate for solemn occasions posted at CowboyPoetry.com. While preparing for the memorial service for Sir Arthur Bryan, chairman and managing director of Wedgwood china from 1969-1986, Peter Kopelman happened across the poem. He was so touched by the sentiment that he contacted Jay and asked permission to read it at the service in Stoke on Trent Cathedral, Staffordshire, England, March 18, 2011.  He went on to explain that Sir Bryan "spent a considerable time travelling to and from the USA. He was a dedicated western-cowboy enthusiast; nothing pleased him more than the title of Lord Lieutenant of
Staffordshire/Sheriff of the county, an honour bestowed on him by our Queen." In closing, he said,
Your poem sums up Arthur’s character so well and it will be my privilege to read it."


For more of Jay's poetry, visit his
Folks' Poems
page at


Jay's poetry appears on
each volume of the
critically acclaimed audio anthology,
The BAR-D Roundup
released annually in celebration of
National Cowboy Poetry Week.

Learn more about
The Bar-D Roundup
including how to order,