What’s Become of the Punchers?


What’s become of the punchers
We rode with long ago?
The hundreds and hundreds of cowboys
We all of us used to know?

Sure, some were killed by lightning,
Some when the cattle run,
Others were killed by horses,
And some with the old six-gun.

Those that worked on the round-up,
Those of the branding-pen,
Those who went out on the long trail drive
And never returned again.

We know of some who have prospered,
We hear of some who are broke,
My old pardner made millions in Tampa,
While I’ve got my saddle in soak!

Sleeping and working together,
Eatin’ old “Cussie’s good chuck,”
Riding in all kinds of weather,
Playing in all kinds of luck;

Bragging about our top-hosses,
Each puncher ready to bet
His horse could outrun the boss’s,
Or any old horse you could get!

Scott lies in Tularosa,
Elmer Price lies near Santa Fe,
While Randolph sits here by the fireside
With a “flat-face” on his knee.

’Gene Rhodes is among the high-brows,
A-writin’ up the West,
But I know a lot of doin’s
That he never has confessed!

He used to ride ’em keerless
In the good old days
When we both worked together
In the San Andres!

Building big loops we called “blockers,”
Spinning the rope in the air,
Never a cent in our pockets,
But what did a cow-puncher care?

I’m tired of riding this trail, boys,
Dead tired of riding alone—
B’lieve I’ll head old Button for Texas,
Towards my old Palo Pinto home!

Jack Thorp, a working cowboy, collected cowboy ballads over many years, and his Songs of the Cowboys (from which this poem comes) was the first attempt to document the songs of the western range. Thorp’s small pamphlet was printed in 1908 in Estancia, New Mexico, by the Estancia News, whose historic press is in the collection of the Press at the Palace of the Governors.The Press at the Palace of the Governors now publishes Jack Thorp’s Songs of the Cowboys, edited and introduced by Mark Lee Gardner and illustrated by Ronald Kil, with a recording of seventeen songs and poems on CD performed by Mark Lee Gardner and Rex Rideout. Priscilla Spitler of Truth or Consequences hand-bound the books, and Tom Leech incorporated New Mexico grama grass into the papers he made for the covers and end sheets. The book is available in an edition of 100 copies ($350).