Jeff Streeby holds a Master of Fine Arts Degree in Poetry from Gerald Stern’s program at New England College in Henniker, New Hampshire. He is a horseman, cowboy poet and performer whose recent work has appeared in Alehouse; Flashquake; Rattle; Simply Haiku, Glass, Naugatuck River Review, Oak Bend Review, Astropoetica and others. In 2005 and 2006, he was a presenter at the Gerard Manley Hopkins Summer Institute in Monasterevin, Ireland.
Jeff is a Top Hand Poet here at ALWAYS COWBOY where we feature his poetry, select pieces of of his Sunday Creek series and some of his short stories and quotes.
Jeff Streeby grew up in Sioux City, Iowa, an historic terminal market for western beef, where he worked for Waitt Cattle Company while he attended Morningside College. Later he went to Florida and Minnesota as a groom and stableman for dressage and A-Circuit hunter-jumper trainers. He has been licensed on Thoroughbred race tracks of Nebraska and Montana as both a groom and assistant trainer. After several years of teaching in El Paso, Texas, doing some daywork on ranches near Sierra Blanca, and boarding horses at his place in New Mexico, Jeff and his family moved to Great Falls, Montana, where he taught English at Great Falls High School. He was editor/compiler of the From Texas To Montana series of books published by Dallywelter Press. Jeff and his family now reside in Yucaipa, California. He teaches English at Perris High School in Perris, California.
He has pursued graduate work at the University of Iowa, the University of Texas at El Paso, the University of Wyoming, the University of Montana, Antioch University, the University of California at Riverside (Extension) and other institutions. He was a Fellow in the West Texas Writing Project. He received his MFA degree from New England College in 2008. His performances as a cowboy poet incorporate his expertise as an educator, his love of history and his passion for the English language. He is adept at formulating curriculum based programs that trace the history, poetry and stories of the American West from distant shores to the American West of the 1800's. Jeff has also appeared in the Public Television (PBS) Series Cowboy Corral.
Jeff has performed across the United States, Canada and performed and taught Cowboy Poetry in Ireland. In addition to his recitations skills Jeff is known here at ALWAYS COWBOY as a fine singer and fair-to-middling harmonica player.
Jeff is an active member of Western Writers of America. His work has been published in Western Horseman, Cowboy Gazette, Rope Burns and Countryline magazines. In addition to his frequent publication in mainstream literary journals, his works have been included in the anthologies The Big Roundup and in Cowboy Poetry: The Reunion, third in a series of definitive cowboy poetry anthologies published by Gibbs Smith. You can read more of his poetry at http://www.jeffstreeby.com.
COWBOY POET / AUTHOR
For Those Who Live the West and
Those Who Dream of Living It!
©Always Cowboy 2010 All Rights Reserved. No reproduction of the works on this site in any publication or media without the express written consent of site owner, author, artist or photographer. All individual copyright laws prevail for featured works. Site design by Wiener Dog. Photographic images ©Angela Wilkes-ABCPhotography.com, ©DLHill, ©DMHill unless otherwise noted. Photo of Jeff with his Sunday Horse by BJ Streeby.
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"They're of a million colors and a million states of mind
and a million shapes and sizes and a hundred different kinds.
But the best one that you'll ever know and the best of all by far,
is one your daddy put you on and led around the yard."
John Siversten the Farrier's Horse
John Sivertsen the farrier's horse stood restive in the file,
Fighting the gnats that plagued him, weary from many a mile
On a furtive, frantic passage toward a dim, uncertain end,
A mute reluctant witness to the purposes of men.
John Sivertsen the farrier's horse had advanced without respite
Up the drainage of the Rosebud in a black and cheerless night,
And when, at dawn, the scouts brought word the foe had come in view,
Bore mute reluctant witness as the march was then renewed.
John Sivertsen the farrier's horse traveled on and on
As the troop of horse around him grew wearied, gant, and drawn;
And he heard the horses stumble and falter in their gaits
And bore mute, reluctant witness that Custer never waits.
John Sivertsen the farrier's horse in Reno's small command
Kicked at flies and chewed his bits as Custer, bold and grand,
Appointed for reconnaissance and counseled with his aides,
A mute reluctant witness as the fateful plans were laid.
John Sivertsen the farrier's horse saw Benteen turn aside
To scout a barren landscape that was empty, far and wide.
He heard stridence in the orders and the words of Yellow Hair,
A mute, reluctant witness to the deep resentments there.
John Sivertsen the farrier's horse watched Custer split his force
And send Major Reno off the bluff and up the water course.
The salt-rime caked his quarters and the saddle chafed his back
As he bore mute, reluctant witness to the prelude of attack
John Sivertsen the farrier's horse at the river drank his fill
And that much restored his vigor and renewed his flagging will.
He heard the Major's orders and he heard his rider sigh
And bore mute, reluctant witness as the men prepared to die.
John Sivertsen the farrier's horse pawed the yellow earth
When Sivertsen reclinched his shoes and tightened up his girth
And checked his arms and equipage and climbed across the back
Of a mute, reluctant witness to the doomed and damned attack.
John Sivertsen the farrier's horse bore well his rider's weight
And, though he fought against the bits, he fairly kept the rate
At the walk, then trot, then canter, then he charged against the foe
To bear mute reluctant witness to immeasurable woe.
John Sivertsen the farrier's horse swept across the plain.
His driving legs and heaving lungs, brave heart and might and main
Delivered Reno's farrier to the forefront of the fray
And bore mute, reluctant witness to the carnage wrought that day.
John Sivertsen the farrier's horse heard now the terse command,
"Dismount and form as skirmishers!" in the contest for the land.
He felt his rider leave his back. He smelled the powder smoke
As Sivertsen knelt in the firing line and his big-bore carbine spoke.
He felt the pain upon his mouth as the holder yanked his reins
And he raced with the soldier willingly across the dusty plains
Toward a scanty line of timber that stood, hardby, to the right,
Where they halted in a clearing, taking shelter from the fight.
As the other holders gathered with their charges safe in hand
And horses milled and called and snorted, a wild and fractious band,
Above the noisy gather, he could hear the volley fire
Growing nearer, ever nearer, as the skirmishers retired.
Then from the right the firing came and bullets hit the ground
Like hail among the horses, they cracked and sizzled all around
And panic seized the horses and they bucked and reared and shied
And the holders couldn't hold them all though they very gamely tried.
And bridle leather sundered and buckles broke apart
When John Sivertsen the farrier's horse took a bullet near his heart.
No man to bear into the fight, his weapons their to wield,
John Sivertsen the farrier's horse was loose upon the field.
He bolted for a river bend using nearly all his strength.
Other horses followed him. He led by half a length.
He pounded through the underbrush. Across the stream he fled
And with every hopeless step he took, his hot lifeblood he bled.
The pink foam from his muzzle dripped as he ran his race with death
And on the farther riverside, he tried to catch his breath.
His great sides heaved as he fought for life, alone among the trees,
Shuddering in every limb and weakening in the knees,
His flanks all slick with sweat and gore-
Gasping one breath-
Then one breath more-
Then he heard the riders coming hard, like thunder close at hand.
In wild career toward the ford, the last of the soldier band
Rode desperately for safety in a mad and reckless rush,
And he saw their fierce pursuers come crashing through the brush,
So he wheeled about and joined his troop as they fled the field that day.
In a staggering, stumbling, clumsy trot, he made his awkward way
Trailing along their retreating flank
Through a storm of fire toward the riverbank.
John Sivertsen the farrier's horse lay dead upon the ground
As the battle swirled above him and eddied all around;
And when the sounds of conflict had all about him ceased,
Night fell on this tragedy for God and man and beast.
Four hundred thirty seasons passed above the bloody place
Where the brave horse gave his life up in the grim and hopeless race.
The grass has grown, the flowers bloomed and days have disappeared
And winters come and winters go into the swell of years.
John Sivertsen the farrier's horse now stands parade today.
What remains of him is with us, though his spirit's far away.
His bones and gear remind us of our certain common end,
An eloquent indictment of the purposes of men.
© Jeff Streeby. All rights reserved.
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted
without the author's written permission.
COWBOY POETRY BY JEFF STREEBY
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Cutting & Ranch Work Bred Horses.
One time, when I was young an' green,
I couldn't o' bin above thirteen,
Me an' Dick an' Everett thought we'd try
To rope some calves an' git 'em tied
Just like in the Rodeo.
So we sneaked across the neighbor's fence
An' dang near run 'is calves to death,
But we got one ketched an' got 'im tied.
It were a source o' towerin' pride.
We'as a dandy Wild West Show!
We figgered as how we hadn't got caught,
We might as well go back as not.
So we did. Agin an' agin an' agin.
We got so's we could gag an' flank 'em under ten,
After we got 'em on the go.
Once Dick an' Everett was gone away,
An' I din't have nothin' to do all day,
So I saddled Ol' Joker an' we hit us a lope
A-huntin' up that neighbor's calves to rope.
I wore a cocky little grin.
I had a ol' soft-wore Maguey
That my Uncle Bud had give to me.
I had 'er tied on hard an' fast.
That gol-dang knot'as meant to last
Through thick an' thin.
We jumped a calf in a little draw.
A trickier hide I'ad never saw,
But we follered, I throwed, an' my first loop hit,
An' I'as out o' the saddle, off, an on top o' it
In fine Rodeo fashion.
I run up the rope an' flanked 'im down
An' I'as a-gittin' 'is laigs all swung around--
Two wraps an' a huey an' we'd be through
An' I'd have to find somethin' else to do--
When I heard the brush a-crashin'.
That mama cow'as plumb on the fight!
She'as a-pawin' left an' a-snortin' right!
Her tail stood up jus' like a poker!
I sorely feared fer me an' Joker.
We'as in a hurt.
I heard 'er beller an' turned to skedaddle,
But 'er calf'as still necked off to my saddle.
The calf run off around the horse
An' my rope slapped Joker's tail, o' course,
Jus' like a quirt.
MORE COWBOY POETRY & MUSIC CLIPS
by JEFF STREEBY
Jeff's Poetry *Page 1
*The Wild Crew
* Learning to Rope
*John Siversten the
Jeff Streeby writes:
In 1992, field archaeologists located a previously undiscovered casualty of
Major Marcus Reno's "Valley Fight" at
the battle of the Little Bighorn.
A U.S. Cavalry horse killed in the action had remained undisturbed and undetected by relic hunters since the day he fell. From the contents of the horse's saddlebags (which included a pair of spectacles, an alarm clock, a toothbrush incised with the initials "J.S.," 50 rounds of .45 caliber rimfire ammunition, 100 rounds of ammunition for the Army-issue carbine, a farrier's hammer, rasp, and two new horseshoes), it was reasonable to determine that the horse was ridden into the fight that day by Pvt. John Sivertsen, a recent immigrant from Norway and a farrier for M Company who was one of the lucky ones to survive the valley conflict and the siege of Reno Hill.
The round ball in the horse's body cavity and the round ball in the brain cavity indicate that the horse was killed by hostile fire. The lack of a bit with the horse's remains suggests that the horse broke away from the horse-holders when they came under fire at the beginning of the "Timber Fight." The axis and orientation of the horse's remains show that it is likely that he was following the soldiers' retreat toward Reno Hill
when he was killed.
The remains of the horse and his
recovered equipments are on display
at the Reno Battlefield Museum in Garryowen, Montana.
THE WILD CREW
As I rode out this morning,
Four Riders I did see
There in the clouds above Square Butte,
And They come ridin' straight at me.
One Rider forked a chestnut colt
that reared and squealed and blowed.
A buckskin mare, just hide and bones,
a Second Rider rode.
A Third bestrode a haggard black,
Gaunt, sick, and hollow-eyed,
And He used him hard with quirt and word,
And He spurred him, too, besides.
The Fourth One sat a pale horse,
And He seemed the One to note,
And when He looked me in the eye,
The bile rose in my throat,
For then I knowed each sev'ral one
That rode with that Wild Crew
And like They rode at me today,
Some day They'll ride at you.
And a killer rides the red horse
And the horse's name is War.
That buckskin mare, she's Famine,
That the Second Rider bore.
The Third, He topped Black Pestilence,
Vile sickness and disease.
The Pale Rider on the fleabit gray
Pinched Death between His knees.
And if that Rider speaks your name,
Your blood will turn to ice,
For the wages of your sins is Death
And Eternity's the price
To ride the Waste behind Them
And to wear the Devil's brand
For when you wear a heart so black,
You can't make God a hand.
Well, They rode on by and let me be
So's I could bring this tale to you,
But I know dang well I won't ride out
From a second rendezvous.
But when They come, you'll know Them now
They're outlaws- gallows bait.
They're somewheres, a-doggin' our back trail-
And don't you think They ain't.
© Jeff Streeby
"The Wild Crew" has recently been released as a song entitled "Ride, Cowboy, Ride" on CD
by Grammy-nominated Western singer/songwriter Ken Overcast
of Chinook, Montana, under the Bear Valley Records label.
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.
Well, he quit the country quick as a flash,
A-draggin' that calf like a bag o' trash!
I follered Ol' Joker with that cow on my tail,
A-runnin' like sixty, a-burnin' the trail.
I near out-run my shirt.
I leapt over washouts an' vaulted mesquite,
I ducked around rock-piles-- I'as quick on my feet,
With that cow right behind me fer over a mile,
But she tired an' I distanced her, after a while.
My Gosh! Was I spent!
But way up ahead, I seen Joker's retreat.
That calf bounced in the air 'bout ever' ten feet.
I headed Ol' Joker when he fin'ly slowed down,
An' looked back at that calf all piled up on the ground.
These doin's I'as quick to repent!
Ol' Joker was registered-- my brother's prized horse.
My pa had ferbid me to ride 'im, o' course.
Now he'as liable to founder, I had a calf was drug dead,
An' a run-to-death cow a-hangin' over my head.
I'as wounded in my pride.
I thought mebbe I'd run away to Rock Springs
Er join up with a circus er some other such thing--
Then the ol' cow, a-wheezin', walked up an' she bawled
An' the calf picked 'is head up an' answered 'er call.
My whole personality sighed.
I hand-walked Ol' Joker clear back to 'is stall
An' give 'im a bran-mash an' a rub-down an' all.
An' I hoped in the mornin' he wouldn't be dead,
An' I shut up the barn an' went in to bed.
"Whatcha bin doin'?"
Pa asked me from where he set by the fire.
"Oh, nuthin'," I answered, like a natural liar.
© Jeff Streeby
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.
LEARNING TO ROPE