A few weeks ago, I had lunch with my old friend Brian Crane who, for years, has lived on the opposite side of the Great Basin, some 500 miles away. So, we don’t see each other as often as we like. Many, many years ago we worked together in a small ad agency in Idaho Falls, were in business together for a time, and later worked together again at an ad agency in Reno.
I left there for Utah and he stayed. Brian stayed in advertising for a time, working as an art director and designer. But he worked his way out of the business by drawing funny pictures and writing funny words. And he’s kept at it for more than thirty years, earning a living and much acclaim as one of America’s top comic strip artists—the man behind “Pickles.”
I have written a lot of poems over the years, and been published in a lot of periodicals, anthologies, collections, and online. But my most widely read poems are probably—almost certainly—those ghost-written for, or in collaboration with, one of the stars of Brian’s comic strip, Earl Pickles.
Now and then, Earl gets a hankering to be a cowboy poet. When he first got the urge, I lent a hand. Now the old geezer writes his own poems. But, like the little verse above, my words have on occasion basked in Earl’s limelight in hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of newspapers across the country.
If that’s as close to fame as I ever get as a cowboy poet, I’ll take it.