David Graham

"A Winter Night"

© 2006, David Graham

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It's been said that a picture is worth a thousand words...we know many that are worthy of a poem or a song.  In Art Spur, we invite poets and songwriters to let selections of Western art inspire their poetry and songs.

Our thirty-first piece offered to "spur" the imagination is "A Winter Night," by Montana artist David Graham.  

© 2006, David Graham; this image should not be reposted or reproduced without permission;www.davidgrahamart.com

16" x 20" Oil
"A Winter Night"


  David Graham comments on "A Winter Night":

With the winter chill knocking at the door, those inside this cabin are huddled around the fireplace, absorbing the warmth provided by the latest log to be added to the flames. A visitor has stopped by to warm up for a moment, before continuing on. His horse is tied to the hitching post, patiently awaiting his rider's return. There is nothing quite like a clear winter's night, when the moon is slowly rising and reflecting its light off a fresh blanket of snow. The land is still, as if in a great slumber. There are no birds chattering, no chirping from insects, and none of the usual sounds that are so typical of a summer's evening. All is quiet here, except for the occasional distant echo of a coyote howling, or perhaps an owl hooting from a tree top.



Art Spur subjects are meant to inspire poetry and songs; we look for poems and songs inspired by the piece, not necessarily for a literal description of the image or its subject. 

Submissions from all were welcome through Monday, December 17, 2012. Submissions are now closed.

Find the selected poems below.

About David Graham
excerpted from

David Graham was born in Miles City, Montana, while his parents and grandparents were leasing a ranch 40 miles east of Miles City in the Powder River breaks. David's path to becoming an artist was a long and winding one. His early years were spent on the ranch, but the 1980s were tough times in this region and due to drought and other circumstances, David's family had to give up the ranching way of life. David's family lived in a number of areas around the state of Montana while he was in his "growing up" years.

The eastern plains of Montana, however, were always considered "home" by David and his family. In 2000, David's family returned to eastern Montana after his dad accepted a position as a ranch manager, ironically enough, on a ranch that contained the land that the Graham's once had leased. During his college years, David was fortunate to be involved with his dad on the ranch and to take part in experiences that vastly enhanced the art he now creates. David worked on this ranch for 7 years. He graduated in 2004 with a Business degree, but always found time on the side to draw and paint. During the first couple years after college, David worked half of the year on the ranch and spent the other half painting in his Bozeman studio...

Today, David lives in Billings, Montana, and works on painting western and wildlife art full-time. When he's not sitting at his easel, David finds time to enjoy the great outdoors that Montana has to offer. Many summer days will find him climbing some mountain, or riding horseback across the prairie and taking in the breathtaking sights and sounds.

The time spent gathering research material is what David looks forward to the most. Whether he spends time horseback, or arms himself with bear spray and a backpack in his trips to Glacier or Yellowstone Parks, David usually comes away with unforgettable memories, and something to put on canvas.

David's faith in God also maintains an important place in his life and he enjoys getting involved in his local church.

See our feature here for more about David Graham and view more examples of his art.

Visit his web site, www.davidgrahamart.com. 

Your support is essential to CowboyPoetry.com.
Be a part of it all here at the BAR-D.

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© 2006, David Graham; this image should not be reposted or reproduced without permission; www.davidgrahamart.com

16" x 20" Oil
"A Winter Night"


Midnight Rodeo by Marleen Bussma of Utah
Christmas Eve by Joyce Johnson of Washington

A Winter Night by S.D. Matley of Washington
Winter Gold by Doug Davis of Washington
Some Christmas Cheer by Jean Mathisen of Wyoming

The Stranger by Del Gustafson of Washington
Winter's Night by David L. Carlton of Texas
Abandoned by Clark Crouch of Washington



Midnight Rodeo

The horses‘ hooves made squeaky sounds on snow hard packed and cold.
The riders’ knees would touch and tap while both their horses strolled
across the field to snug, safe shelter where their thoughts were pinned.
The moon played tag with clouds that danced to music from the wind.

Soon Lizzy grew impatient and began to toss her head.
She bucked and jumped then dumped her rider as she up and fled.
Beth dusted off the clinging snow with nothing hurt but pride.
Her husband handed her his reins and traded off the ride.

Joe found where Lizzy waited with her reins touching the ground.
Her ears flicked back and forth as he approached her head and frowned.
Her maverick mood messed up their plans while on a midnight ride.
He gathered up the reins and mutely cursed her ornery hide.

Joe’s foot was in the stirrup when he felt her body tense.
She liked to run and stretch her legs and it made perfect sense.
This horse that strained and waited for the sign that came when spurred
was faster than regrets about a harsh misspoken word.

She floated on the landscape of a wintery collage.
A distant coyote calmly watched this black equine mirage.
Her breath made clouds of steam while nostrils half-filled up with frost
and feet sent sprays of snow like white bouquets that had been tossed.

The barn light beacon warned that she was near the finish line.
A cool down and a grooming would make jealous barn mates whine.
Joe’s vigil was rewarded with a nicker from Beth’s mare.
He laughed and then he hugged her saying they made quite a pair.

His playful wink now teased her about landing in the snow
and especially her ridin’ in the midnight rodeo.

© 2012, Marleen Bussma
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's permission.


Christmas Eve

The snows are very late this year, and old Pete’s up there alone.
I saw him riding lately on his sturdy little roan.
With his wife of many years, they would spend their summers there,
Then move back to their winter home, a perfectly matched pair.
He keeps his truck at my place. There is no road up the hill.
My wife has started fretting about his being up there still.
“He should have brought the mare down to trade for his old truck.
I am afraid he might be ill, or has run into bad luck.”
To please her, I said I’d saddle Toby and ride up to his place.
“It’s Christmas Eve, perhaps he’d welcome a neighbor’s friendly face.”
The moon is peeking through the clouds, pure Currier and Ives.
We don’t always have the time we need for the beauty in our lives.
Pete’s wife had died last winter. It’s his first summer/fall alone.
I know why my Pat was worried. He doesn’t own a telephone.

I could see it through the window, a small, unlit alpine tree.
That he’s tried to have some Christmas is a good omen to me.
He is sitting at a table that is clearly set for two.
I feel as though I am intruding on romantic rendezvous.
He beckons me to come in with a welcome from his hand.
That he feels a mite embarrassed I can surely understand.
After a few more howdy dos and couple of how you ares
We started in by speaking of the pretty moon and stars.
There is no one like a wrangler to appreciate the skies.
He spends so many nights beneath them, and is humbled by their size.

Then Pete started talking about all the years gone by,
When he was still a ramblin’ cowboy and how livin’ up so high
And bein’ close to Nature took the measure of a man,
Whether just a lowly cowboy or a well to do stock man.
Then he told how he and Mary, their first year as man and wife,
Had spent Christmas in this cabin, starting off their married life.
And he said, “We were so happy, though we hardly had a dime.
I’ve been sittin’ here just tryin’ to recapture that glad time.
Though I know I should have left here, a week or so ago.
I was hopin’ I could stay longer and not get covered up by snow.
I wanted to spend another Christmas where we once had been so happy.
I only hope you don’t think I’m and old fool, who is gettin’ kinda sappy.”

As I ride away I’m certain that Old Pete will be all right,
Thankful for my wife’s who’s waiting on this star and moonlit night.

© 2012, Joyce Johnson
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's permission.

A Winter Night

The moon is full. Perfect night for a ride,
Up to a cabin on the mountainside,
The home where time-tried friends are waiting.
Saddle up; I’m not hesitating
To take their invitation on a winter’s night.

The snow stops falling; I ride in starlight
On my old horse, Dan, his step crisp and light
In white-washed landscape. His hoof prints give wake,
A trail of perfect crescents where snow breaks,
Our twin breaths streaming a trail of steam back toward home.

The company of friends cheers when I arrive.
The fire warms my tingling fingers back alive
Lamplight lifts the cobwebbed corners’ gloom.
A bottle passes. Tales fill the room.
My thoughts drift to Dan, hitched and waiting in the cold.

Tipping hat to hosts I rise to go, having spent
An hour or so. Their cheerful protests are well-meant,
But Dan’s glad to see me, too. He lifts his head, heaves
A snort to ask what took me so long. Taking leave,
We follow our broken path home to a new year.

© 2012, S. D. Matley
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.


Winter Gold

In high, far away country where the air's turned cold
A prospector pauses his quest for gold.
Panning's out, the creek's froze hard
In the mine a tired Grizzly keeps guard.

Nothing to do but sit and wonder
About Earth's treasure yet to plunder.
When will she finally disclose the spot
The vein of nuggets he knows she's got?

A friend from town rides up to check
Brings in a bottle and shuffles the deck.
The hands are played, no score is kept
Outside the world quietly slept.

He then saw his gold in the firelight
And the full moon's glow in the still of the night.
The flicker of lamplight, the full whiskey glass,
And the heart of a friend with time to pass.

He weighed his strike with thanks in his heart
A moment that one might capture in art.
Some thought his effort to search gold was dumb
But it made perfect sense once winter had come.

© 2012, Doug Davis
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's permission.


Some Christmas Cheer

The moon rides high on the sky tonight,
she's a pretty night on the western range—
the smoke drifts up from the old line camp
and no one at all would deem it strange—
if a jolly ole cowboy came riding along
in a bright red sleigh on the western wind,
pulled by reindeer or maybe a few mules—
the old cowpoke in the cabin contemplated and grinned.

Oh course, it's been years since he truly believed
'way back when he was just a tad,
scanning the skies for ole Santy Claus—
yup, away back when he was a lad.
Tonight some pals have ridden in
to share a bottle of Christmas "cheer",
they'll bunk over night there with old Red,
and come back again on the eve of new year.

They'd all been drinking for quite a while
when a jingle was heard in the skies on high—
Red looked out and his eyes got big,
'cause there was something strange in the sky.
He tried to get the boys to come out,
but they guffawed and laughed a lot—
'cause he swore he'd just seen Santy drift by
looking for a good parking spot.

Well, after a bit, they all bedded down,
in the rough bunks built on the cabins walls.
Drifted off to an inebriated sleep,
not even disturbed by the coyote calls.
Then the door opened up and a face peeked in
and there was Santy with a full bag—
Red woke up and looked at him,
and thought his pal Jack was pulling a gag.

Santy put his finger to his mouth and winked,
motioning Red to settle back down,
then whispered, "Red, gotta' get my work done,
and get on my way to ole South Pass town."
He put some spurs in their old dirty sox,
and a silk wild rag for each cowboy there—
then left a jug of more Christmas "cheer"
and moved on to who knows where!

Red's mouth hung open and he let out a squawl,
but the boys slept on in blissful peace—
they shore were surprised come morning then
when Red told his tale that would not cease.
They wouldn't believe what he had to say—
that is, until they saw those spurs—
yep, Santy exists, even for old cowpokes—
and in the west, most anything occurs!

© 2012, Jean Mathisen Haugen
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's permission.


The Stranger

He rode up to the cabin,
The air was cold and still,
His ragged Mackinaw was old,
And did not keep out the chill.

The barn collapsed years ago,
A pile without form,
He blanketed his horse with his slicker,
Trying to keep him warm.

His ride had been bitter cold,
As through the drifts he strove,
He had coal oil for the oil lamps,
And wood to feed the stove.

He laid a fire in the stove,
And got it burning bright,
Filled the lamps and trimmed the wicks,
To fill the room with light.

He brewed a pot of coffee,
In Ma’s enamelware pot,
And spread a simple Christmas meal,
From the few things he had brought.

As he sat and sipped his coffee,
In his mind he could still see,
The meals his mother served there,
The decorations on the tree.

This cabin he had once called home,
A refuge filled with joy,
With Ma and Pa and sisters,
He was the only boy.

He wiped the family pictures,
That were still hanging there,
And took his seat near the stove,
In the remains of Pa’s old chair.

This home was once filled with love,
Joy and Christmas trees,
The crackling fire made him recall,
Those long gone memories.

The sound of Pa’s loud laughter,
Ma’s giggles and her smile,
Soft whispers of his sisters,
Lived again for a short while.

He’d ridden out on his own trail,
And the years had rolled on past,
His loved ones now were dead and gone,
He was the very last.

This will be his last ride,
His pilgrimage now was done,
He’ll ride out, not to return,
With the rising of the sun.

© 2012, Del Gustafson
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's permission.



Winter’s Night

Old Roy just dropped in
On a cold winter’s night
To drop off our grub
With the snow shining bright

A hot cup of Coffee
To heat up his cold core
Before time finally pushes him
Back out that front door

A few minutes of company
Makes things seem so right
For his trip back to headquarters
With the moon for his light

Winter time brings joy
Even to a line shack
When an old friend drops by
With some food in a sack

© 2012, David L. Carlton
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's permission.




It was a dark and win'try night
as Snoopy rode the range
and found some weird and won'drous things;
indeed, they were quite strange.

The first, a very lonely mare,
abandoned by the trail,
and then an eerie sound was heard
much like an infant's wail.

Dismounting, Snoopy checked around
and there beneath a sage
he found a tiny child alone,
hollering out in rage.

Gathering up that little child,
he went to check the mare
and on the saddle found a note
about a sad affair.

The mother was dying, it said,
no father did it name
nor did she name that little child,
thus sheltered it from shame.

So Snoopy took that child back home
to share his life and found,
to raise him up as best he could,
and keep that child around.

A foundling there on Christmas Eve,
this special child he'd claim,
granting his fortune and his name
to save that child from shame.

© 2012, Clark Crouch
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's permission.

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