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The Poetry of David Carlton

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


                    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


Cowboys go through a lot of boots, ropes, slickers, shirts and blue jeans in doing their job. Hats, chaps, vests and jackets seem to last a little longer. A cowboy’s saddle, spurs and bridles last much longer, but sooner or later even those have to be replaced.


Anyone who has broken in a new saddle can attest to how uncomfortable it is. It sometimes takes a month or two for them to become comfortable with each other. It’s difficult to say what gets broken in, whether it’s the cowboy’s rear end or the saddle, but after a time things finally get comfortable.


Most tack rooms have an old retired saddle or two, just taking up space. In some ways, even worn out saddles can have a new use. Mice and rats like to chew off the wool lining of the skirts to make nice warm nests, and dirt daubers sometimes make their nests on the underside of the old dried up leather fenders. These old retired saddles were once very comfortable, and they were considered to be a cowboy’s rocking chair.


Cowboy Rocking Chair

by David Carlton


                            See that old saddle

                            The last one on the right

                            It’s traveled many trails

                            Between daylight and night


                            It’s kind of moldy and weak

                            But the stories it could tell

                            About bad bulls and broncs

                            And storms on the trail


                            It’s not rode anymore

                            It’s just left on the rack

                            It’s replaced by a new one

                            After all, it’s just tack


                            It don’t have feelings

                            It’s just leather and wood

                            The new one is fancy

                            But not near half as good


                            It has done it fair share
                            It’s retired and alone

                            A cowboy rocking chair

                            With a barn for its home


© David Carlton 2018


 Building Fence

by David Carlton


                There is a story, that I've been told

                That happened long ago

                I can't say if it's true or false

                Because I really don't know


                It's the story of a fence… you see

                And how that fence got made

                The story begins, or so it seems

                Just North of the Everglades


                Two old wine drunks...  the story goes

                Were hired to build a fence

                Neither one was very bright

                Nor, had they any sense


                Building fence is manual labor

                That takes your breath away

                Why those two signed on to work

                No one could really say


                One was Ike, the other Jack....

                Or so our story goes

                Neither one was very fast

                Their motors, they ran slow


                But just the same, they went to work

                And left the house each day

                A trailer full of posts and wire

                A bottle for along the way


                Every night when they came home

                The two were tired and bloated

                The trailer full of posts and wire

                The men… they were loaded


                This kept up for a week or two

                Or so the story goes

                But like most loafers, they soon were caught

                With nothing good to show


                Not a post was set it seems

                Nor nary inch of wire

                The boss got mad, he lost his cool

                The drunken fools he fired


                This is not, or so they say

                Where this story ends

                The boss he upped and changed his mind

                And hired them drunks again


                Some of the boys were pranksters you see

                Not really meaning harm

                They laughed and joked and had a good time

                Their life was such a charm


                One old boy was round and short

                He was just called Chunky

                He went to town and purchased a prank

                A little brown stuffed monkey


                Well, some of the boys decided to help,

                The two old drunks build fence

                Not a one stayed at the house

                Cause none of them had sense


                Some brought hammers, and some brought


                Everyone else but Chunky

                For all he brought, in a big brown bag

                Was a little brown stuffed monkey


                The boys chipped in, they went to work

                That fence it went up fast

                They built a mile in an hour or two

                But the sunshine wouldn't last


                The drunks were asleep, on the wagon it


                And didn't even see

                Those good old boys, as they went home

                Except one, behind a tree


                The one that stayed behind the tree

                Was our old friend Chunky

                Beside that wagon, on top of a post

                He’d placed the little brown monkey


                The sun went down, the moon came out

                The night, it turned so pale

                When out in the night, beyond everyone’s sight

                There came a    ghostly yell


                The drunks sat up and opened their eyes

                Or so the story goes

                The way they left and got back home

                No one really knows


                I have a feeling that what they saw

                Was sitting on a post

                But some folks say, by the look on their face

                You'd swear they saw a ghost


                Chunky took that monkey back home

                And put him under his bunk

                Not wanting to show him to anyone

                Especially not the drunks


I‘ve Had It

  by David Carlton


                        I’ve had it by a campfire

                        I’ve had it in my bed

                        I’ve had it on the kitchen table

                        I’ve had it in a shed


                        I’ve had it on an airplane

                        I’ve had it in a car

                        I’ve had it while riding a bike

                        But that didn’t last very far


                        It had it the front seat

                        Of a rusty pickup truck

                        Every time I have it now

                        I attribute it to luck


                        I like it hot when daylight breaks

                        Or sometime late at night

                        I’ll have it almost anyway

                        It always turns out right


                        I like my coffee every way

                        It makes me warm inside

                        It helps me to keep going strong

                        And my brown eyes open wide

© David Carlton 2011

During cattle long cattle drives, a cowboy was often minutes from his own death. After a few days on a drive, the cattle and trail hands all fell into a routine. Once that routine was established, it wasn’t a wise to interrupt it. When the cattle bedded down for the night, they never went to sleep. They laid down on the chest with their heads in the air, and chewed their cud. Once they are bedded down, any strange noise or action can launch them into a full run in seconds.


Night Rider

  by David Carlton

            The moon is up and the cattle rest

            As you slowly make the rounds

            The only thing on a night riders mind

            Is the normal bedding sounds            


            The cattle are slowly chewing their cud

            As they lay upon the ground  

            You skirt the herd and sing real low          

            As you slowly ride around


            In the distance you hear a coyote sing

            His haunted crying song

            You hope he keeps a mile away

            As you slowly ride along


            It doesn’t take much to make them run

            Once they’ve bedded down

            Just about anything out of place

            Can send them all to town

© David Carlton 2017


I am not a drinking man, but have been around a few in my time. It seems like every one, sooner or later, got mixed up during their dating days. I tried drinking in my younger years, but decided it wasn’t for me. After drinking for a while, I was getting to like the buzz, but could never get past the sick feeling that followed. I decided that I did not want to become like some of my friends, so quit drinking anything with alcohol. I will leave this social activity to the rest of you.. With this in mind, I wrote the following poem.


 by David Carlton

                    She was six pack beautiful 

                    at two in the morning

                    A fantasy right out of my dreams


                    But when the sun rose

                    I opened my eyes

                    And I tried real hard not to scream


                    She was pleasantly plump

                    with plenty of rouge

                    Her eye lashes painted and long


                    I eased out of bed

                    Tip toed out the door

                    And in a flash I was gone


                    I keep saying to myself

                    You got to stop drinking

                    Things that mess up your mind


                    I’d have to feel better

                    Knowing where I had been

                    And to wake up feeling just fine

© David Carlton 2008


Here is a poem I often use as an inscription inside of my autographed book covers.  Sometimes I use only a small portion.


by David Carlton


                        Keep your toes turned out,

                        And I'm wishing you luck

                        Cause sometimes the gentle ones,

                        Are just liable to buck


                        Keep a tight cinch

                        With a hand on the reins

                        Today's a little chancy,

                        And tomorrow's the same


                        The sun comes up,

                        And the sun goes down

                        If tomorrow we're lucky,

                        We'll go another round


                        I'm wishing you luck friend

                        In all that you do

                        May all your horses be gentle

                        And your sky's always blue

© David Carlton 2013


I was wandering through a local Antique store recently, when I found a small basket of polished rocks. They were rocks of several colors, but most were earth toned in color. Shades of brown and gray were very dominant, but there was one rock in this little basket that caught my eye. It was about the diameter of a quarter, and was a beautiful dark shade of blue, and had patches of white. Though it wasn’t totally round in shape, it was close enough to remind me of some photographs of earth, taken during NASA space missions. Nature is really amazing, if we take the time to open our eyes.


 by David Carlton

    There are things in Nature that I don’t understand

    Like a little blue rock you can hold in your hand


    It’s a dark shade of blue with patches of white

    The color of oceans and clouds in sunlight


    It’s a simple little rock that comes from the ground

    But a beautiful part of Nature that someone has found


    Though this little rock is not diamonds or gold

    The simple beauties of nature, they never grow old

© David Carlton 2016


Here is something that comes to mind every time I go to a grocery store these days.

With elevated beef prices, it is tempting for some ranchers to oversell. They are trying to take advantage of the market before prices fall. If the government will stay out of it, price and consumer demand will balance the books. If the US will restrict importation of South American beef, and give American Cattle producers the necessary time, they will supply our beef demands with good old American Beef.


4 Dollars A Pound

by David Carlton 


    The grass is green and the cattle are fat

    A cowman can be happy with conditions like that


    The market is up to 4 dollars a pound

    With prices like these new investors abound


    The elevated prices have reduced herd size

    But sooner or later you have to realize


    That you can’t sustain the current trend

    If you’re not retaining heifers to expand herd size



    It’s the same old cycle that ranchers must heed

    While making some money, being careful of greed

 © David Carlton 2015


February 8th is my Daddy’s birthday. Although he is no longer with us, I will always remember what a wonderful father he was. 

My Daddy

by David Carlton 

Half a hundred years ago

I remember as a kid

All the things that passed me by

And the things my daddy did


All night dances at Uncle Bill’s

The furniture in the yard

We played and ran until we dropped

We didn’t know that times were hard


I can still see Uncle Bill with mouth harp in hand

And a guitar on Daddy’s knee

With the oil lamps lit and cornmeal on the floor

They danced sometimes till past three


Daddy would lift us in those big loving arms

And place us gently on the back seat

A long ride home down long sandy roads

The memories are all so sweet


My daddy’s gone now to his Heaven on High

To be with others he loved

But my memories of him will always be strong

While he watches out for me from above..


I love you Daddy…


© David Carlton 2017


I found this painting on Facebook last year. The painting is titled “Time for a Lil' Christmas on the Bayou” by Mickey Asche. He is a wonderful artist that does great work featuring South Louisana. Check him out when you get time. I have written the following poem, based upon motivation from this painting. I hope you enjoy.  Merry Christmas.

David Carlton

Cajun Christmas

by David Carlton

                    Christmas music on da bayou

                    By a zydeco band

                    Brings the Christmas Spirit

                    Throughout Cajun land


                    All dem little chilren

                    Da’s tucked in dair beds

                    With smells of Christmas gumbo

                    Dancing all tru dair heads


                    While out on da bayou

                    Old Santa’s making rounds

                    Delivern da presents

                    Where even reindeer would drown


                    He switched to his pirogue

                    An his alligator team

                    Up around Lafayette

                    To deliver chilrens dreams


                    It really don’t matter

                    Where little children are found

                    Santa has them included

                    In all his Christmas rounds


                    Joyeaux Noel et Bonne Annee!

                    (Noel joyfully and Happy New Year)

© David Carlton 2015


There seems to be some discussion that comes up each year about tomato sandwiches. With that in mind, I wrote the following poem.

Definition: (ma’ter: southern slang work for tomato) 


by David Carlton


One more mater samitch

The dear old lady said

Without some maters on my plate

I just don’t feel I’m fed


I like em ripe right off the vine

So plump and scarlet red

A little mayo spread just right

On both slices of my bread


A little salt across the top

The dear old lady said

Without some maters once a day

I just don’t feel I’m fed

 © David Carlton 2010 


Cowboy Prayer

by David Carlton

                Bless me Lord and the horse I’m on

                As we ride to meet the day


                We were both raised to do our best

                We know of no other way


                Protect us Lord from the many things

                That could go so very wrong


                Bless us both as we do our job

                We pray that you keep us strong


                But when that day comes that my life is done

                And this cowboy has breathed his last


                I pray that you have plans for my future

                And are forgiving about my past



© David Carlton 2016


A Well Earned Drink

by David Carlton

This poem was motivated by a painting by Tim Cox

titled "A Well Earned Drink".

               A well-earned drink on a hot dry day

               As the sun keeps comes pouring down

               Several miles through the brush and thorns

               As the cattle are moved around

               From California to the Sunshine State

               A cow horse is treated the same

               He does his job the best he can

               In failure he’s not to blame


               He’s earned respect for a job well done

               He’s a valuable part of a team

               He’s the mount we all dreamed about

               In our childish cowboy dreams

               So take a cool drink and catch you wind

               And take this time to rest

               Because a cowboy approaches each day

               By only saddling the best

© David Carlton 2016


CowboyPoetry.com occasionally has an Art Spur challenge. Poets are asked to write a poem based upon their interpretation of the art work posted. Attached is an example of one of my postings. 


by David Carlton

"Making Adjustments" shawncameron.com  Oil 18x24

                        Old Bob has gained weight

                        From the oats he’s been fed

                        It’s time to make adjustments

                        For the work that’s ahead


                        So, I’ll pull up my cinch

                        As I step to the ground

                        That belly’s a problem

                        As both of us have found


                        When Bob was a colt

                        All bluster and buck

                        There ways day upon end

                        When I prayed for some luck


                        Bob has finally settled

                        Into a cow working fool

                        He’s not only my friend

                        But a hard working tool


                        So I’ll make some adjustment

                        As often as I can

                        And as a lover of horses

                        I’m sure you’ll understand


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