Cowboy poet Baxter Black has made a name for himself as one of the great philosophers of the American West. For over 25 years, Black has traveled the U.S. and Canada, spreading western gospel to rural and city folks alike.
In 1987, the former veterinarian joined Tonight Show host Johnny Carson to perform his poem, “A Vegetarian’s Nightmare.” The poet of the plains begins his “Dissertation on Plant’s Rights” by citing a study that claims that plants can feel pain. Black then launches into a brutal tale of savagery and violence involving legumes. The poem features the homespun wit and wisdom you’d expect from a man who’s written books with titles such as “Horseshoes, Cowsocks and Duckfeet” and “Croutons on a Cow Pie.”
Black’s role as a commentator for NPR’s Morning Edition has made him a beacon of cowboy culture and rural living.
The New Mexico native’s radio career began after he noticed a lack of media coverage on the 1988 wildfire at Yellowstone National Park. Determined to bring more attention to something that had an incredible impact on the life of so many westerners, Black sent a poem about range fireto the public radio station in Washington D.C. His words struck a nerve, setting Black’s career as a radio personality in motion.
In the video below, Black pays tribute to something we can all appreciate: duct tape. The wordsmith explains the all encompassing power of the product in a rancher’s daily life.
Black spent his college days on the rodeo circuit and proudlydoesn’t own a cell phone. When asked how you know if you’re a cowboy, he adheres to a simple philosophy: “You either are one or you aren’t. You never have to decide.”
You can read some of Black’s poetry here. For more information on the cowboy poet’s projects,click here.
WATCH: This Cowboy Makes Incredible Sculptures from Scrap Metal
A dissertation on plant’s rights.
Ladies and diners I make you, A shameful, degrading confession. A deed of disgrace in the name of good taste, Though I did it, I meant no aggression.
I had planted a garden last April, And lovingly sang it a ballad. But later in June beneath a full moon, Forgive me, I wanted a salad!
So I slipped out and fondled a carrot, Caressing its feathery top. With the force of a brute I tore out the root! It whimpered and came with a pop!
Then laying my hand on a radish. I jerked and it left a small crater. Then with the blade of my True Value spade, I exhumed a slumbering tater!
Celery I plucked, I twisted a squash! Tomatoes were wincing in fear! I choked the Romaine, It screamed out in pain, Their anguish was filling my ears!
I finally came to the lettuce, As it cringed at the top of the row. With one wicked slice I beheaded it twice, As it writhed, I dealt a death blow.
I butchered the onions and parsley. My hoe was all covered with gore.I chopped and I whacked without looking back, Then I stealthily slipped in the door.
My bounty lay naked and dying, So I drowned them to snuff out their life. I sliced and I peeled as they thrashed and they reeled, On the cutting board under my knife.
I violated tomatoes, So their innards could never survive. I grated and ground ‘til they made not a sound, Then I boiled the tater alive!
Then I took the small broken pieces, I had tortured and killed with my hands. And tossed them together, heedless of whether, They suffered or made their demands.
I ate them. Forgive me, I’m sorry. But hear me, though I’m a beginner. Those plants feel pain, though it’s hard to explain, To someone who eats them for dinner!
I intend to begin a crusade For PLANT’S RIGHTS, including chick peas. The A.C.L.U. will be helping me too. In the meantime, please pass the bleu cheese.