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Rustler's Gallows

Updated on March 3, 2016

By: Wayne Brown

They hemmed me up in Cedar Canyon, a posse of ten men

Chasin’ down a cattle rustler, intent on bringin’ my hide in

In the end, it doesn’t matter how good you are with a gun

With a posse of this size, you’re out numbered by ten to one



The Sheriff yanked me from my hidey hole all covered in dirt

Tied me in my saddle then started my horse trotting with his quirt

We’re bound for that Northfolk calaboose to wait for my court date

Then a jury will decide if hangin’ or freedom shall be my fate



This old jail cell is mighty small and the bed is past worn any use

If I had any friends left maybe they’d break me out of this calaboose

But my friends are long since dead, either they were hanged or shot

When you take to rustling cattle, that grisly fate is often a poke’s lot



Ol’ Slim got caught up in WebsterCounty red-handed with a herd

Them pokes threw a rope over a limb; hung without even a word

Charley Watson got smoked right out in the open movin’ a few cattle

One shot from a buffalo gun took him dead right out of his saddle



Some folks say I’m lucky, the only living one left from the gang

Others say they can’t wait to see me climb the gallows to hang

Stealin’ cattle don’t endear a man to his neighbors and friends

One day you’re ridin’ high and livin’ good; then it all quickly ends



That judge sittin’ up on the court bench don’t look like no easy sort

We’re waitin’ now for that jury to come back with their final report

Now here they come filing back in; each one looking for his seat

All their faces are wrinkled and hard, their eyes and mine can’t meet



Now the judge is passed the verdict on a paper from their hand

He raps his gravel and the Sheriff says that everyone must stand

The judge glances at the paper and then he looked me up and said

John Henry Jones, guilty say they, I say you hang until you’re dead



I hear the workers hammering the nails as the gallows they do erect

Seems like a whole lot of trouble to go to just to stretch my fool neck

But that’s neither here nor there; I am guilty of my choices so they say

Tomorrow this bunch is gonna hang me just as the sun is breakin’ day



The morning sun is rising with golden rays bringing the light of day

They’ve got me dressed and in my boots and soon I’ll be on my way

I’ll make that last climb up the gallows steps where the rope there awaits

They’ll slip it round my neck, the trap will drop, and I will meet my fate



So listen close all you young cowhands; listen closely to my last word

Don’t you rob, cheat, kill, or steal another man’s cattle from his herd

For if that becomes the life you choose, one day you will come to see

How soon you will climb these gallows, take the rope, and follow me



© Copyright WBrown2010. All Rights Reserved


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    • Wayne Brown profile imageAUTHOR

      Wayne Brown 

      9 years ago from Texas

      @AudreyHowitt...Thank you. I love writing poetry of western days when I can find just the right subject. So glad that you found this one quite realistic. WB

    • AudreyHowitt profile image

      Audrey Howitt 

      9 years ago from California

      I loved this! It reads like an epic tale of old(e)--a little on the dark side, but I like that

    • Wayne Brown profile imageAUTHOR

      Wayne Brown 

      10 years ago from Texas

      @thebluestar...I consider that a very high compliment especially in light of the fact that I do not look upon myself as being at the level or caliber of the poets here on the hub. I do try to live up to providing a story and making it possible for the reader to comprehend. Thanks for your good words! WB

    • thebluestar profile image

      Annette Donaldson 

      10 years ago from Northern Ireland

      Well Wayne as I have said before I am not one for poetry really, but reading your poems is a pleasure. Like the story line to this one, whimsical but with a dark side.

    • Wayne Brown profile imageAUTHOR

      Wayne Brown 

      10 years ago from Texas

      @Truckstop Sally...Well, I'll give you this, you are one dedicated reader. I would venture to say that by the time you finish, you will be able to describe me better than I can describe me as a writer! LOL! Yep...this was one of them lessons. Rustlers were the scum of the west and nobody minded hangin' one much! WB

    • Truckstop Sally profile image

      Truckstop Sally 

      10 years ago

      This fella has resigned himself to his fate . . . but I like that he is trying to teach/help others with his warning: So listen close all you young cowhands; listen closely to my last word / Don’t you rob, cheat, kill, or steal another man’s cattle from his herd . . .

      Hope he helped at least one person make a better choice on the journey we call life.

    • Wayne Brown profile imageAUTHOR

      Wayne Brown 

      11 years ago from Texas

      @Breakfastpop...I wanted a cowboy sitting a horse with the noose around his neck but I just could not find it. There was a lot of "ouch" in those days. Poor ol' Tom Phillips was just in the wrong place doin' a good deed! Thanks, Poppy! WB

    • breakfastpop profile image


      11 years ago

      The picture of the noose did me in. The poem was dark but well done, as usual. All I can say is thumbs up and ouch!

    • Wayne Brown profile imageAUTHOR

      Wayne Brown 

      11 years ago from Texas

      @saddlerider1...the term, "get a rope" was not intended for a laugh! LOL WB

    • saddlerider1 profile image


      11 years ago

      Yup back then you didn't mess around with another man's property, woman or card habits. You needed to know when to hold them and definitely when to fold em. If not, then you found yerself dangling from a rope around yer neck. Yippy Yi Ok Kyee.

    • Wayne Brown profile imageAUTHOR

      Wayne Brown 

      11 years ago from Texas

      @EPGMan...Glad you never get tired of it! I just put up a new one for ya' yesterday call "Chuckwagon Cookie"...check it out. Thanks for the visit, the loyalty, and the great comments! WB

    • epigramman profile image


      11 years ago

      ......gee I hope they never put me in a noose here at the pages of Hub because I got a whole lot of livin' to do - and a whole lot of Wayne Brown to read .....

    • Wayne Brown profile imageAUTHOR

      Wayne Brown 

      11 years ago from Texas

      @KFlippin...Thank you...I am glad you enjoyed it. Actually in verse 5, we were both wrong in that I meant to use "endear" as to "make loved or appreciated". Thanks for spotting the error...I had been looking at it too long to see it! WB

      @Rossimovis...Thanks you so much. I love it when folks hang up on words or phrases in one of my poems. It tells me they read it closely. I am so glad you liked it and I hope you will visit again soon! WB

    • Rossimobis profile image

      Chibuzo Melvin Mobis 

      11 years ago from Nigeria

      Don’t you rob, cheat, kill, or steal another man’s cattle from his herd...

      Love the above and though i did not got here by accident yet i wish to say glad for sharing this,it uplifted a stranger.

    • KFlippin profile image


      11 years ago from Amazon

      Liked this! Very visual, good story, lines and rhymes are smooth and it would be unthinkable to not read the whole of it, it captures you like the hangmen's noose.....(in stanza 5 there is a typo, you have 'endure' when I'm sure you meant 'enure' or 'inure'.)

    • Wayne Brown profile imageAUTHOR

      Wayne Brown 

      11 years ago from Texas

      @dallas3444...Thanks much...hangin' would make ya' think twice! WB

    • dallas93444 profile image

      Dallas W Thompson 

      11 years ago from Bakersfield, CA

      A man in the "old" days could really get "knotted" up, perhaps tied up. Or, hung out to dry... Good read...

    • Wayne Brown profile imageAUTHOR

      Wayne Brown 

      11 years ago from Texas

      @Austinstar...down here in Texas, it will probably still get ya hanged! LOL WB

    • Austinstar profile image


      11 years ago from Somewhere near the heart of Texas

      Argh! I often thought of being a horse thief. You've talked me out of it for sure. Thanks WB

    • Wayne Brown profile imageAUTHOR

      Wayne Brown 

      11 years ago from Texas

      @bayoulady...I sure hope they do make a movie of it...I could use the cash! Thanks much for the read and the great comments! WB

    • bayoulady profile image


      11 years ago from Northern Louisiana,USA

      NOW THIS IS A GOOD UN! WOW!!!!Could make a movie out of it!

    • profile image


      11 years ago

      hmmm, I will think.

    • Wayne Brown profile imageAUTHOR

      Wayne Brown 

      11 years ago from Texas know, Charlie...things didn't always end well for the cowboys. I was thinkin' that you could be writing some poetic episode about a saloon owner that had him a fleet of prostitutes workin' the upstairs level. I am thinkin' thar might be a whole lot of sensual and romantic poetry to be had from such a situation...what do you think, Matthew? WB

    • profile image


      11 years ago

      Hmmm, this one is kind of dark, grisly too. I like it tho'. It reminded me that my grandmother saw the last public hanging in America when she was pretty young. Pretty grisly thing she said. I can't recall the man's name right now. Take care now and peace, CC keep writing

    • Wayne Brown profile imageAUTHOR

      Wayne Brown 

      11 years ago from Texas

      @ahorseback...yes, they wanted them to quit it, especially when you stole a man's horse...they got real mad! Thanks for the read and the comments! WB

    • profile image


      11 years ago

      Good one Wayne, boy alot of guys were strechted in the neck for not much offense huh?


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