Gone rhyming with a cowboy poet

By William Thomas

My friend, Doris Daley, from Calgary, became the first Canadian ever to win the highest honour in poetry from the Academy of Western Artists in Fort Worth, Texas. For her body of work as a cowboy poet, Doris was awarded the Will Rogers Award, the first Canadian, male or female to win that top prize.

That meant Doris, at least for one year, was the greatest cowboy poet in the world. I called her as soon as I heard the news. I get a little silly whenever I talk to Doris in her language of longhorns and lassos, coyotes and campfires.

“Hello Doris?” I said. I knew it was Doris because she answered with “Yippee ki-yay!”

“Well if that don’t take the icing off the cookhouse cake,” I said.

“Well I’ll tell you what,” replied Doris, “my flabber was completely ghasted.”

“Well it mustabin’ quite the rhymester’s dang doo.”

“All of us cowboy entertainers were there, looking prettier than a herd of slick Herefords fattened up in a field of sweet corn.”

“Mustabin’ one of them mugwamp moments you won’t forget no matter how many barn doors hit you in the backa the head.”

“Well there were hundreds of us cowboys there, all puffed and powdered. Then it all went quiet.”

“So quiet, I bet you could hear a flea fart.”

“Then they called my name and I just sat there dazed as a dumb cow dog comin’ outta the wrong gate.”

“A petrified cowboy poet.”

“Noise! It was like a bunch of bulls figured out where them prairie oysters came from.”

“Did Ol’ Will present that there prize hisself?”

“No, ya tinhorn. Will Rogers is deader than Trigger but not nearly as stuffed.”

“Well it mustabin’ like a real kick in the butt by a buckin’ bronco all the same.”

“Surprised? I was so surprised the snake skin on my cowboy boots crawled off the stage.”

“You must be higher than a buzzard trying to fly over a sandstorm.”

“Winnin’ that Will Rogers award … well I’ll tell ya, I’m just as happy as a short cow in long grass.”

“Happier than a dog stickin’ mostly out the passenger window?”

“I am udderly tickled.”

“Do they call you Miss Doris down in Texas?”
“Well yes they do but you know at my age, I haven’t missed much.”

“Any money come with the award?”

“Are you kiddin’? Anything that I make from poetry goes into my Mistletoe account. I just kiss that money goodbye.”

“Any gifts?”

“No, but they named a mule after me down there. She’s called the Daley Grind ‘cause she’s got long legs, a good rear end and she’s so stubborn her husband’s name is Alright Already.”

“Your rhymin’ career mustabin’ a rougher road to hoe than a cart path full of potholes and cow patties.”

“I had to be tougher than a 50 cent steak to survive some of them rowdy readings.”

“I suppose you’ll be buying a bigger ranch now that you’re more famous than Gene Autry and twice as alive.”

“I want a big ol’ Texas-style ranch. One with an oil well for every gopher hole.”

“Well Doris, I hope your success doesn’t get too old. Like Minnie Pearl said about marriage – at first it’s like getting’ into a hot tub of water but after a while, it ain’t so hot.”

Doris and I always have a tough time saying goodbye to each other. “Happy trails, Doris, and lights out, like Roy and Dale.” “Well ride easy, partner and look for the rhymes on the trail.” “Well, as the barbwire said to the staple gun – keep me posted.” “Don’t take any wooden nickels, and don’t poke a pig in the eye with a pointy stick.”

With that one Doris hung up. Doris Daley lives in Sheep River, Alberta with her husband Al who’s also a cowboy poet. Whether hiking the Rockies or driving the U.S. poetry circuit these two are happier than two ticks on the bum of a burro.

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