"Bad Baxter Barton" Poetry Theater

Adapted from the poem by Eric Ode


Summary: The roughest, toughest outlaw of the Wild West visits Tumbleweed Town.

Presentation Suggestions: Have the students read or perform the poem in front of the class. Have the students act out the different lines while they read them.

Props: Cowboy hats or bandanas for all of the characters would make great props. Of course, the poem can be performed without props.

Delivery: The lines of the poem should be read with poetic rhythm but don’t worry too much about this. For more information on poetic rhythm and how to perform poetry, please read the Performing Poetry section of our site.

Tough Cowboy


Bad Baxter Barton


In Tumbleweed Town, at the Root Beer Saloon,
a cowboy came running inside.


“I seen him!”


he said.


“He’ll be getting here soon!
Let’s run for the mountains and hide!”


The people, they knew what the cowboy was saying—
that Bad Baxter Barton was near.
A few ran for cover. Another was praying,
while others were shaking in fear.

A short moment later, the folks heard a rumble.
It rattled the windows and floor.
And then, as the walls were beginning to crumble,
a figure appeared at the door.

His arms were like iron. His fists were like boulders.
His chest, it was seven feet wide.
A panther was perched on his mountain-top shoulders.
A grizzly bear stood at his side.

He grimaced and grunted and spat once or twice
as slowly he walked to the bar.

Tough Cowboy:

“A root beer! ”


he shouted. His eyes were like ice.
His voice, it was thicker than tar.

He snatched up the bottle and swallowed it whole
and wiped off his chin with his sleeve.
He turned with a scowl that was darker than coal,
and, growling, he started to leave.

The bartender peeked from his hide-away curtain.
He watched the man turn for the door.


“Excuse me,”


he said, sounding rather uncertain.


“Perhaps you would like a few more.”


The stranger, he pointed a finger in warning
and solemnly said with a frown,

Tough Cowboy :

“There’s no time for that, ’cuz I just heard this morning that Bad Baxter Barton’s in town.”

The End!

© 2006 by Eric Ode. Adapted from the poem “Bad Baxter Barton.” This classroom theater play version of “Bad Baxter Barton” is © 2006 by Meadowbrook Press.

Permission is given for individual school classes to perform this play and to make as many copies of the play as are needed for the students’ use. All other reproduction and performance is prohibited under penalty of law. For use of this play outside individual classes, please contact for permission.

Click here to learn more about Eric Ode.