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A Tale of Whoa!

“Pipes”, A Picker
July 16, 2023
Christmas Mail to an Empty Chair
November 28, 2023

This is a poem that I was asked to write, specifically to be introduced at the Durango Cowboy Poetry Gathering. There were ten of us (Cowboy Poets or Western Singers) gathered at the Toh-Atin Gallery to share our own poems or songs, our "take" if you will, inspired by the 2023 poster art.  It's always fun, and rather amazing, to hear the varied poems and songs that will come out of these poster invitations and inspirations.  This poem was inspired by the painting, “Whoa Little Cowboy”, by Laurie Lee, who was in attendance at the gallery when I was honored to perform it.

A Tale of Whoa!

God gives us a daddy-season too short
I know He has plans beyond what I can see
But little girls don’t stay so little for long
I trust you Lord but it don’t seem fair to me

Shakin' my head pensive I ponder
How'd I get to this season of life?
Grossly ill-prepared for this time
Of raisin' up a daughter with my wife

Bein' a dad ain't to be taken lightly
It's a charge 'bout as big as I know
It requires knowledge of when to
Let 'em loose and when to say whoa!

There's so much to learn about fatherin'
It's not a role you'll pick-up at college
No, it's all about learnin' as you go
Sortin' wins and failures for dad-knowledge

Here's an example from conversation
That happened just a day or two ago
When I tacked up ol' Parson and had to say
"Whoa, easy Darlin', let's take this slow"

"I know you've been on horses a lot
Remember, that's always been with me
Huggin you tight behind the pommel
But today's your first day solo, ridin free"

"That stirrup's higher than your hat
No way are you  gettin' on alone
Let me lift you up onto that saddle
Makin' sure you don't get thrown"

"Then, so your shiny new boots will fit
We'll see if we can raise them stirrups some
My job is to ensure you get every advantage
God and I raisin' you to your best outcome"

"The day will be here before you know
When you'll be ridin' circles around your dad
You'll saddle up your horse all by yourself
Today let me help, later-on you'll be glad"

"You're my one and only little girl
Just bear with your ol' dad's style
If I seem a touch overprotective,
Well, it's my job for only a short while"

"I love your youthful exuberance
Cuz that's the seed-gate for your grit
Above all I must balance stern and free
In order to somehow foster and grow it"

" 'Course there's no 'whoa' to my bein' your dad
But I just wish this sweet season of ours,
Lap cuddlin’ and readin’ you stories time,
I could just lock up behind forever bars"

"I love you sweet, little daughter of mine
And I want only the very best for you
All right, let's get you up on ol' Parson
Come on, let's show me what you can do!"

by Rik Goodell
© 2023. All rights reserved

This painting, by Laurie Lee,  is the 2023 Official Poster of The Durango Cowboy Poetry Gathering.

See more of this fine artist's work at her website:

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