Sunday, February 7, 2010

Cowboy Poet Marie Smith....

This picture was taken on Marie's 80th birthday.  We went to Somer's to celebrate with her.
The lady on the right is Marie's sister, she came all the way from Australia to surprise her.

Marie's home where she and Cecil spent many happy years raising their children near the shore of Flathead Lake.

I got an e-mail the other day, that one of our favorite cowboy poets of all time had passed away.....Marie W. Smith lived in Somers Montana,  located up by Flathead Lake near Glacier National Park....right at the foot of the beautiful Mission Mountains...Marie must have been in her late eighty's if not early ninety's....She raised 11 children and was married to cowboy artist Cecil Smith...He died in 1984....

I met Marie in the early 90's at a cowboy poetry gathering in Salmon Idaho....She would drive all the way there by herself in one of those big old 'boat of a car' kind of cars...She was a large frame woman with beautiful red hair, that she wore up in a soft loose "Gibson"style....her eyes sparkled and when she talked to you she looked right in your eyes....made you feel really special....we befriended her....what I mean is our Thunder Mountain Gang, hung on her every word....she was a rock star and we her groupies...She was very humble and very spiritual...Her voice! She talked with an Australian accent, having been born and raised in Australia...She started performing her poetry in 1986 and had been given many awards for her outstanding work...also she has written numerous books and short stories....Everyone has a favorite poem of hers, I will share a couple. Marie read her poems with much feeling, this one almost a hushed whisper..... this first being my personal favorite called

A Star's Legacy                        

Grama left three years ago,
she didn't want to go.
"Your Grampa, hes been awaiting"
she said I have been kinda slow

"To join him, hate to leave you girls,"
and she smiled up through her tears.
She'd requested her granddaughters visit,
we'd not been together for years.

Now we gathered, hating the reason
wished we'd just come to say hello.
Outside a fall wind rustled leaves
when her voice rose, whispering low.

My mothers ring for Jenny,
My own is for Estelle.
Wedding dress and rings for Sissie,
I hope they fit her well.

For Mary, the silver teaspoons,
the fire opals there for Sade,
the golden chains for Bethie
and Tammy gets the Jade.

"For Annie theres my mothers pin,
and that's all the jewels that be."
I was left out and I felt the loss
when she turned and smiled at me.

Her breath it came so slowly,
"Honey this here old quilts for you."
I reached across and touched her cheek
as she stroked the pattern blue.

In years past I'd loved those little stars
That shed stitched and appliqued
"Remember to reach for yours" she'd said
"Then your life will be well made."

Now she whispered "But most of all
It's what's inside," and I learned
why the batting wasn't fluffy
like others that were fair prize earned.

"Back in years before you were born
Oh it must have been sixty two
Your grampa bought me a blanket
in my favorite shades of blue.

"It really meant a lot to me,
see, blues weren't his favorite shade,
But he slept beneath that blanker with me
for more that two decades.

"Year after year we used it,
despite its thinning weave
we just added another one
when its warming started to leave.

"Its binding frayed and fell apart
the year god called him home
I slept alone beneath it then
it cheered my spirit warmed my bones.

"One day in a upper corner
I noticed a tiny hole
and wondered how to preserve the spread
before it got too old.

"So twenty five years after he bought it
I used it to stuff the quilt.
If you' re careful dear it will last
like your homes that newly built."

After she left I took it,
to clean and preserve it I must
and store it these years on the closet shelf
away from the light and dust.

But did Grama mean me to store it?
I thought one day this past fall
and the answer strong it came to me
as I hurried down the hall.

I opened up the closet doors
what make those blue stars glow?
Was it the love seeping through the blanket
from those years so long ago.

Oh, I did have a jewel and it spoke to me
of love and devotion and care,
and that night as we snuggled beneath it
I could feel their love gather there.
This is a picture of Marie with a Birthday Quilt given to her by cousin Keven.  He also performed some of her poetry at the party.  She was so pleased.

this poem is my cousin Susan's favorite....she wrote it after her husband died...he had taught her to
skip rocks in the water when she was a young bride

Skipping Rocks

I walked today across the stony beach,
picked a rounded purple skipper, flat
from constant waters long caressed.

Were you there again? Did you sit
your pony at lake edge, beckon me as I pressed
the stone, then follows its erratic flight,
five giant skips? The best!

Did you smile? My heart played skipping rocks.
You taught me well, stressed
all the rules. I watched for you at dock's
end. Ah, love if you could teach
me yet how to still the flock of

longings that rise like gulls, reach
out, ride to me across the stony beach.

Flathead Lake, early morning.  I thinking skipping rocks here would be the best.

We happened along this beautiful old barn when we stopped for breakfast in Somers.

Cheers to Marie Smith  !!


  1. It cost a lot of tears to read those poems, but the memory of Marie is priceless. Thanks, Debbie, for writing such a nice tribute to our old friend. She was "good people".

  2. Awesome job Deb, She is now home with her cowboy. We were lucky to know her.

  3. What a lovely tribute to my Aunty Marie. I am Jane Bartlett, daughter to Beth (Marie's sister). My daughter Leesa, Mum and I travelled to Montana to share Marie's 80th birthday. It was a wonderful trip, meeting up with Marie and my cousins, some I had never met.
    It ws an honor and a privilege to be there to see and hear the tributes and shared love.
    Beth and Marie remained very close over the years, writing and talking on the phone regularly.
    Beth is also a fine wordsmith, and I have written some poems over the years. Beth is now 82yo and is the martiarch of our family as Marie was of her's. We are truly blessed to have them in our lives forever. They make us "good people".

  4. Just came across this website today as I have been learning about Marie Smith, the great-grandmother of my granddaughter, for Beatrix McCrea (Smith). Bea, almost 8 years old, is the only daughter and child of Alaric Smith, son of Guy Smith, son of Marie Smith! What a rich heritage she has with both Marie and Cecile, her great-grandparents! by Susan,