The Poetry of David Carlton
DC
Florida cowboys are forever facing the elements of a tropical climate. I have spent weeks without a dry pair of boots. I have seen days when pastures were filled with water stirrup deep. The only way to close a wire gap, was the step down in pocket deep water, and get wet to the waist. Usually it wasn’t too deep that the cow dogs couldn’t keep up. They were able to hold their head up, with their ears out of the water, and kind of lunge along to keep up. I have written about the weather and elements that effect Florida cowboys in the past, and by my getting struck by lightning. Mine is not an isolated incident, because all Florida cowboys are faced with these same elements, and most of us know someone who has been injured or killed by lightning. I was lucky, I was weak and confused for days afterwards, but I lived without permanent dane bambridge. 
 
Cowboys, Fences and Lighting
by David Carlton

The rain was blowing sideways 
When the cattle hit the gap
The herd began to wadding up 
When the lighting made a clap

I knew the end was getting close 
I could smell sulfur in the air
I felt my heartbeat getting quicker 
With a feeling of despair

They hit the gap a running
Getting crowded from the rear 
A feeling of total helplessness 
With my Maker standing near

The post and wires was groaning
And it sounded like a gun
Making room for the stragglers
As the leaders hit a run

When the gap was finally cleared
And the herd had made it through
I hit the ground a running
Because in my mind I knew

Cowboys, Fences and Lighting
Are a dangerous sort of mix 
You have to trust your Lord and Savior
Cause there’s never any tricks
You do your best in all you do
When you’re riding for a brand
You trust and pray that what you do
Your Lord will understand

When in a flash your world turns blue
And you’re driven to the ground 
When you wake with your mind a haze
You can barely hear a sound

You know your Lord was standing by
To hold you in his arms
To save a cowboy just doing his job
And protect him from the harm
© David Carlton 2014
DC
During my last trip home, me, my wife and Dad spend a whole day riding around the country side visiting family cemeteries, with Dad sharing stories about the persons buried there. Before the day was over, we had covered many years and generations of knowledge about our family, with a few stories of Dad’s youth throw in for good measure. Though it was just a tiny drop of his overall knowledge, it was enough to make me realize just how little I really know, and to inspire me to learn more.
With this in mind, I was inspired to write the following poem.
 Last Ride
by David Carlton
 
I don’t have to see your face
To hear the words you speak
I don’t have to hold your hand
To feel my knees go weak
 
I miss the time we spent together
In the days before you passed
Even after all these years
Your memory will always last
 
I miss the rides we too together
Just listening to your tales
Listing to you with heart and soul
I remember each word so well
 
What I would give for, just a while
If we could do it one more time
I’d ask you more about your youth
And about things upon your mind
 
I would drive, so very slow
And make each moment last
Before I drove into the future
While you moved toward the past
 
I miss our talks Dad, on winding roads
In the days before you left
It’s the time that you opened up
And told me stories I love best
 
It’s the stories that touched my soul
The stories I never knew
I’d like to think that they changed me some
And made me more like you
© David Carlton 2019
DC
“Family farms are quickly becoming a thing of the past. These small farms are forced to compete with big farming corporations who are able to more efficiently raise their products for an ever expanding world market. Family farms that are able to continue are getting fewer and farther between.  Lack of funds for capital investments to stay competitive with corporate farms is one of the reasons in the decline of the small farm. Another reason is not having family willing to do this type of work any longer, or not having descendants to carry on.  With this last one in mind I wrote the following poem.” 
Family Farm
by David Carlton
 
There is an old barn and an old clapboard house
 At the end of a long sandy road
A very old man and his very old wife
They almost can’t carry the load
 
Things used to be fresh, beautiful and bright
Back when they first said their vows
They started the farm with a couple of mules
A few chickens and an old Jersey cow
 
They did pretty well for the last sixty years
Though they never accumulated much cash
They never had kids but never stopped trying
It seems the years flew by way to fast
 
They lived their whole life one day at a time
Trying to make their house feel like home
Without little feet and dirty little hands
They seemed to always feel all alone
 
They were always working and living alone
There was a vacancy in each of their hearts
Things would have been different, or so it seems
If they could have kids from the very start
 
Their time is about over with the passage of years
There’s no hope for their life style to last
Without children to carry on their family name
The Family Farm is a thing of the past
 © David Carlton 2019
DC
The connection between a Cowboy and his horse can sometimes become very strong. For some, that connection can almost be like family. For others, it not near so strong. The longer a cowboy rides a horse, the more they become familiar with each other’s needs. On large outfits, a cowboy may have a string of horses assigned to him, and on others just one or two. It all depends on the ranch’s needs. Out west, where the grass can become scarce during dry weather, it takes a little more land for each cow to make a living, and for that reason some of the ranches can be very large. In wetter climates, where there is abundant grass and water, it doesn’t take as much land to keep a cow fed. If a cowboy has a string, he will usually have horses assigned that are suited for different purposes. You can bet that in each string, the cowboy has a favorite. My Dad used to tell me “that if a person rides horses long enough, they might find one or two that seems to be able to read each other’s mind”. It’s to the cow horse on general that I wrote the following poem.
Cow Horse
by David Carlton

        An early morning whistle
        Brings the horses in to eat
        While two old dogs and a hungry cat
        Sit begging at his feet
 
        The air is dank and humid
        And there’s not a cloud around
        The chirp of nighttime crickets
        Is the only morning sound
 
        The morning fog is damp and heavy
        There’s a coolness in the air
        A cowboy waits in anticipation
        With feelings he’d like to share
 
        He can hear the horses moving fast
        They’re coming on the run
        Ready to eat their can of oats
        And be working before the sun
 
        Every morning starts this way
        The routine remains the same
        They come running to a cowboy’s whistle
        Both the sound ones, and the lame
 
        If they’re lucky as the day wears on
        And they’re not working in the pens
        They might steal a mouth full of grass
        Before their leisure time must end
 
        It’s a long time in a cow horse’s day
        From his first feeding until his last
        But it’s their nature to do their best
        To do the things a cowboy asks
 
        It not love that makes them work
        And they don’t work for cans of feed
        It’s much deeper than things like that
        It’s more like personal needs
© David Carlton 2019
DC
When we were kids in central Florida during the 1950’s, we didn’t realize just how rich we were. This richness was not based on money, but the love and strong family environment that were raised in. We were also fortunate enough to have five generations of the family living at one time. That was a lot of influence, and it created a lasting impression on us kids. Nobody had to tell us about Love, Faith and Honor, We lived in an atmosphere where it was an everyday part of our lives.
 
Sometime about a week before Christmas, we would all pile into an old Jeep pickup truck, and head to the woods to cut our Christmas tree. Those trees were pretty sparse, in comparison with today’s farm raise beauties, but too us our little Virginia pine was just magnificent. There was always something under our little tree. The church Christmas programs always provided a small bag of fruit, nuts and ribbon candy, and Santa passed put toys. My Daddy was always in high spirits during this time of year, and his joy for life and love of family still stirs my heart, even after all these many years. 
 
May God Bless you all and Merry Christmas.

Christmas Past
by David Carlton
 
                    A little star upon our tree
                    With lights and tensile too
                    Red globe balls and popcorn strings
                    And ornaments of blue
 
                    When we were kids and growing up
                    We’d cut our Christmas tree
                    The smell of pine stirs memories
                    From deep inside of me
 
                    Many years have come and gone
                    Since days of Christmas past
                    But in my heart remains the cheer
                    Of memories meant to last
 
                    Our roots run deep, our family strong
                    We’ve raised children of our own
                    Though all the years we share the love
                    That is rooted in our home
© David L. Carlton 2007
DC
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