Cowgirl poet Yvonne Hollenbeck of South Dakota recites a poem during the 2014 Colorado Cowboy Gathering in Golden.

(Photo: Courtesy of Reggie Ruth Barrett)
The 25th annual Colorado Cowboy Gathering kicked off in Golden on January 16. The four-day event features poetry and other performances by artists from around the country.
 
Professional entertainer Liz Masterson says the event aims to celebrate the heritage of the West, while also addressing how it’s changed. 
 
“It’s mostly a chance for people, both ranch people and urban people, to sit together, rub elbows and exchange thoughts,” says Masterson, who also sits on the board of directors for the Cowboy Gathering.
 
Award-winning cowgirl poet Yvonne Hollenbeck travelled from Clearfield, South Dakota, to perform at the 2014 Colorado Cowboy Gathering. Here's a poem about the realities of life in the American West.
 

What Would Martha Do?

by Yvonne Hollenbeck 
 
Martha’s making millions showing people how to cook
with her syndicated TV Show, her magazines and books.
But she don’t know a darned bit more than gals like me and you
‘though we don’t get a nickel for the many things we do.
It never seems to matter when her hair gets in her eyes;
she just pulls it back and then commences makin’ cakes and pies.
And why she’s getting paid for it sure beats the likes of me.
And what she’d use to get manure off of boots and pants.
And when she’s plumb exhausted and she has to feed a crew,
I sometimes stop and wonder: “What would Martha do?”
When hubby hollers that he’s stuck and he could use a pull, 
would she know how to find the gears and let the clutch out slow?
I wonder how she’d do sortin’ yearlings through a gate.
That would test her many skills... perhaps would be her fate.
Would she know how to fix a fence and put a splice in wire, 
And when she’s using cream and eggs, do you ‘spose that she’d know how 
She licks the batter off her fingers right there on TV,
I wonder if she’d fair so well if she lived on a ranch; 
or use a soaked-up gunnysack to fight a prairie fire?
To clean a hen house, separate, or milk a kickin’ cow?
Her fancy TV oven, I doubt would fill the bill, 
when in the house he brings a calf that’s taken on a chill.
Would she know how to do the chores when hubby has the flu?
I sometimes stop and wonder: “What would Martha do?”
Last week I helped with fencing ... we set a couple gates;
was a couple cattle buyers, so I had to feed those guys.
And then I set another plate, ‘cause guess who next arrived?
The banker, with his briefcase, came pulling in our drive.
He said that he was passing by, so thought he’d stop and look 
at our cattle and our horses and he’d like to check my books.
Now folks, I’d been real busy, and my books were way behind, 
but I told him he could check ‘em... I really didn’t mind, 
‘cause the records that I showed him were far from being true.
I hadn’t done no housework in more than several days.
I came home sore and tired, and much to my surprise 
After all, I got to thinking: “What would Martha do?”