The Badlands Stampede

Badlands Stampede
Cattle Stampede

The Badlands Stampede


The crack of gunfire fills the hills,

and the cattle stir in fright.

Quickly turning from the sound,

500 head take flight.


A thousand hoof-beats shake the earth,

as a dust storm trails behind.

At the sound, I mount my horse,

the stampeding herd to find.


As gunfire signals rustlers

intent to steal my cattle,

my trusty dog runs close behind

and we go off to battle.


With lasso on my saddle

and Winchester at my side,

I urge my horse towards the dust

and frantic do I ride.


I circle the stampeding steers –

to cross their path is folly,

in case my horse should stumble,

and I widow my sweet Polly.


We reach the pass before the herd,

and my dog Buck drives them through.

I drag some branches across the gap,

they’re all trapped, bar two.


Old Buck is sent to round them up

as I wait with rifle cocked,

then watch two cowboys slow their steeds,

as they see the pass is blocked.


The canyon echoes with my shots,

as I fire a warning round.

Then the rustlers tug their horses’ reins

and turn them back around.


They can’t see where I’m shooting from,

for I’m hidden in the rocks.

One fires his revolver back at me

but wayward are his shots.


A bullet hits the other’s arm,

and he yells in angry pain.

This time my ambush foiled their plans,

but they’ll be back again.


They turn tail at a frantic speed,

between the canyon walls.

I pat my stock horse on the neck,

as a lone coyote calls.


As I herd the steers back to the ranch,

I decide to hire more hands.

Cattle rustlers make life hard,

within these wild “Badlands”.


by John Hansen ©

old Buck
Old Buck and My Horse

Cattle Rustling, Raiding, Duffing

Cattle raiding is the act of stealing cattle.

In Australia such stealing is often referred to as duffing, and the perpetrator as a duffer. In North America, especially in cowboy culture, cattle theft is dubbed rustling and an individual who engages in it is a rustler.

In the American Old West rustling was considered a serious offense, and it did frequently result in lynching (hanging) by vigilantes.

Historically, the act of cattle rustling is quite ancient, with the first suspected raids conducted over seven thousand years ago

(source: wikipedia)


John Hansen
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John Hansen

Longtime poet but not in the traditional technical sense. I enjoy rhyme but like to experiment and dabble in many different forms and maybe even make up some of my own. There is always a message or lesson I want to promote through my writing, for that reason, my poetry generally shies away from the abstract and obscure. Now I find myself branching out and experimenting with short fiction, and thoroughly enjoying this, especially flash fiction. I have been fortunate to have two poems made into songs and recorded. The first "On the Road to Kingdom Come" by Al Wordlaw, and the second, "If I Could Write a Love Poem" by award-winning Israeli/British singer Tally Koren. My services increasingly in demand as a freelance writer and I have ghost-written the text for a number of children's books and educational tutorials. It has taken me many years of searching and restlessness to realise that my life's passion is to write. It saddens me that I wasted so many years not devoting to that, but thinking positively, the experiences gained over those years are now wonderful material for my stories and poems. I want to try to bring a new focus on poetry and try to make it appealing to a new generation of young people and those who thought they never liked or understood it before.

16 thoughts on “The Badlands Stampede

  • March 24, 2022 at 4:52 PM

    Alright…Now that’s what I’m talking about. A Good Ol’ Western Poetry Tale about “Rustlers” with some background in Australian History ta’ boot! There’s a lot of action in this here Poem…for sure. You got the faithful “stock horse” in there and a shoot-out in the Canyon. The need to hire more “Cowhands” to keep them dang “no-account” raiding duffers at bay. Well done…I loved this one. That is bringing it with some great Cowboy Poetry. Well Done, John. Very Enjoyable Cowboy Poem Tale!

  • March 24, 2022 at 7:08 PM

    Steve, I am glad you enjoyed this bit of “Western/Cowboy Poetry.” I think it is the only one I have ever written, but I just had the urge. Had to add a bit of “Aussie” in there as well. Cheers.

  • March 25, 2022 at 9:33 AM

    This was great John good,old western feel to it. Excellent rhyming as well. I always found it funny that dogs could round up animls many times their size. Those rustlers are like modern day car thieves, always looking to take something that isnt theirs. Good work John

    • March 25, 2022 at 5:26 PM

      Hi Paul, I just had this crazy idea and felt the need to write a poem with a Western flavour. I am glad it worked out okay. Glad you liked the rhyme too. Much appreciated.

    • March 25, 2022 at 5:27 PM

      Hi Paul, I just had this crazy idea and felt the need to write a poem with a Western flavour. I am glad it worked out okay. Yes, cattle dogs are incredible. Glad you liked the rhyme too. Much appreciated.

    • March 25, 2022 at 5:30 PM

      I agree Kurt. Who doesn’t love a good old Western story. It is why yours are so popular. But this is probably a one-off for me. I will leave it to the authentic experts like yourself.

  • March 26, 2022 at 7:56 PM

    Hello, Phyllis. Glad you enjoyed my attempt at a western. I appreciate your reading and positive comment.

    • March 26, 2022 at 9:16 PM

      John, what is that breed of horse that was so special in “The Man From Snowy River”? I have seen that movie several times and marvel at the way the horse takes off down the steep mountain side. It is always so thrilling to watch.

  • March 26, 2022 at 9:35 PM

    Phyllis the horse he was trying to catch was the escaped colt of a famous race horse that had joined the mountain brumbies. The Man Fromk Snowy River himself rode a pony or small stock horse.
    Here is what Wikipedia says in regard to the original poem/story:

    “The poem tells the story of a horseback pursuit to recapture the colt of a prizewinning racehorse that escaped from its paddock and is living with the brumbies (wild horses) of the mountain ranges. Eventually the brumbies descend a seemingly impassable steep slope, at which point the assembled riders give up the pursuit, except the young protagonist, who spurs his “pony” (small horse) down the “terrible descent” and catches the mob.”

  • March 28, 2022 at 7:29 AM

    Great story telling John! Your verse is pitch perfect. I loved the story and the history at the end. I want to go over to Australia and see about its Cowboy Poetry. I bet Australian Cowboys have a deep Cowboy Poetry tradition similar to America. Thank you for the great poem. Jamie

  • March 29, 2022 at 12:38 AM

    Hi Jamie. Yes, “cowboy poetry” or “bush verse” plays a big part in Australian literature. Our cowboys are referred to drovers or stockmen. If you look up poets/writers A.B. Banjo Paterson and Henry Lawson you will find a lot of wonderful examples.

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