For centuries, poetry has been categorized by genre. We all learned about different types of poetry in grade school. Haiku, limerick, ballad, etc. Some people have made the mistake of trying to categorize the poetry written and recited by Eric Borden as “cowboy poetry.” It fits to some degree, until you realize he isn’t a cowboy. More on that later.
Eric worked many years as a diesel mechanic and has worked in and around the construction industry for the last ten years. He was a refrigeration unit mechanic for a trucking company for four years, worked as a field mechanic for an excavation contractor for three years and turned wrenches for Freightliner of Olathe for five years. He drove a boom truck for United Rentals Trench Safety of Kansas City for nine years, delivering and placing street plates, trench boxes and shoring systems. Seeking new challenges, Eric went to work for Belger Cartage Service of Kansas City in 2016. He is a member of the Local 101 Operators’ Union and operates heavy equipment. Eric has an incredibly strong work ethic and an even stronger admiration for others that work hard at what they do.
For Eric, writing poetry began in grade school. He has had the honor of reciting his poems at his closest friends’ weddings, and the bittersweet honor of reciting poems at the funerals of some of those dearest to him.
Eric’s life experiences, his experience on jobsites and service bays and constant daydreaming about the life, land and people he loves feed the content of the poetry he writes and recites. I shouldn’t say “writes”, as he never writes his poetry down. Whether on break at work or over a campfire, numerous dozens of Eric’s poems are recited to captivated listeners from his memory. I can say with absolute certainty that something would be lost in the delivery if they were simply written down, or recited by someone else.
The subject matter of Eric’s poems varies widely, and there is more than one poem for every occasion. While on a lunch break in a shady spot on a jobsite he might tell you a poem about hard working people that make the world tick. When talking about family he might recite “Dancin’ Angel”, a poem written about his late grandma. Amongst friends and beers, he might recite a poem about a night at a bar that will make you laugh out loud. When turning forty, he addressed the issue with a poem called “Conversation with Forty”, in which essentially lets that birthday know that it is just a number and is of little concern.
Eric was encouraged to enter cowboy poetry competitions by the late Trey Allen, a renowned cowboy poet and friend. Eric competed in the Kansas Cowboy Poetry contest and the National Cowboy Poetry rodeo. While watching Eric recite poems at what was my first time at a cowboy poetry contest, I noticed one thing that Eric had known all along. The average competitor spoke poems about days long past…Cattle drives and life on the prairie. Eric just didn’t fit that mold. He didn’t even have a cowboy hat. Donna Pittman, news anchor for Channel 9 News in Kansas City, referred to him as a “pasture poet” while interviewing him on his land. For many of us, including Eric, that was the perfect way to categorize him and his work.
Born and raised in Kansas, Eric resides on acreage outside Drexel, Missouri with his wife Sara and sixteen year-old son Russell. He can often be found riding dirt bikes with his son, cruising the gravel roads on his dual sport motorcycle, doing side work digging ponds or relaxing by his fire pit.
Written by Aaron Wingert, life-long friend of Eric