For fifty and one hundred years they’d roamed
those canyon lands,
Rancher’s stock with grazin’ rights, all the local
On unclaimed tracts they’d once ranged free, then
hemmed in by permits,
Passed down from grandfathers to sons, now forced to
call it quits.
The edict came, a voice went forth, new forces ruled
and in their greedy rush for power they failed to
a way of life, a reverence, an era forced to die.
And desperate men had little choice but rein in and
silent, grim faced men, just doin’ what they must,
boys in fringed bright colored shirts, chokin’ on the
Womenfolk in jeans and spurs, eager still to ride,
and leggy girls in braids and vests, pacin’ at their
Their flyin’ hooves shot chips and sparks off rocks
along the trail,
the dust was thick and filled with stones a hurtlin’
down like hail.
The earth beneath them trembled, sent tremors to the
The sun grew red with haze and clouds across the valley
They pushed them through the canyon walls like demon
a writhin’ mass of horns and hides, bawlin’ like
From out across the desert the mighty trail drive
until the evening lay its cooling hand across the hoard.
And when the night had fallen, and the herds were penned
A dynasty bowed down their heads. Their way of life had
Sweetly bitter they remembered their life in the old
now laid to rest, a last hurrah, a legislated death.
That lady ain’t no cowboy, the Salt Lake papers read,
they disagreed with what she did, and where her
But some folk just ain’t malleable, don’t easily comply
when forced edicts and rules of law say, “Lay down now,
And when the last round up was through, and all the
brands were named,
a few last hides still roamed the range. Her livestock
And though those men were truly charged to aid and give
they owned the law, or thought they did, and were irked
by by her resistance.
Reason did not enter in. A blind man seldom sees.
Their goal was clear. Round up that herd. Bring that
rebel to her knees.
Horse sense played no part in it. Wisdom held no key.
Their aim was pure and simple. A Legal victory.
Money was no object, although they later tried
to recoup some expenditures by selling off her hides.
They used all of their resources from the bureaus vast
and went in with helicopters and guns, a round up from
Then took them to the auction, though the brands were
they had no bill of sale or right, but clearly they
the government to back them up, the sheriff to comply,
The courts of law to rubber stamp their fabricated lie.
But at that final moment, face to face with fact
The boys who ran the auction gave those cattle back.
And with that noble, rightful deed, that act of bravery,
For one brief shinning moment all of us were free.
No, that lady ain’t no cowboy, I have to reckon that
but that cowboy’s sure a lady.
And you ought to tip your hat
to the whole danged bunch of them down there,
from the sheriff clear on down.
It took a whole posse of folks
to run the bureaucrats out of town.
Jo Lynn Kirkwood