Page Four

 

 

Wild Horse Christmas

Silhouetted by moonlight,
Heads down, moving slow.
For each mouthful of bunchgrass,
They paw crusted snow.  

A lone coyote follows closely,
Behind an old mare,
Nosing where she uncovered,
A fat mouse’s lair.

Drifting with the wind,
Heads down moving slow.
For each mouthful of bunchgrass,
They paw crusted snow.

© 2007, Mike Puhallo
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

PS: Merry Christmas!  May you winter on the southern slope where the grass is good and the wind don’t blow too hard!   

 

 

Read more of Mike Puhallo's poetry here.

 

Christmas in Cimarron Country

When I hear those bells a-ringin’ my heart sings a long lost song,

And I’m taken back to a Christmas with my Rose o’ Cimarron;

 

We sleighed along those snowy banks, pulled by horses on the fly

And we dreamed off in the distance under a starlit western sky;

 

She taught me those Spanish carols which I sing unto this day,

And I’ll never forget the sweetness of her soft and gentle way;

 

We sat around the yuletide tree, drunk with joy and song and rhyme,

And we pledged our love forever ‘til the very end o’ time;

 

I promised to never leave her, but my words proved to no avail,

I saddled up in the dark o’ night to begin a long lost trail;

 

There’s a canyon now between us, a cleft o’ mountain, plain, and time,

And those bells forever remind me that I should’ve made her mine.

© 2007, David Althouse
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

 

Read more poetry by David Althouse here.

 

 

 

 

 

Christmas Eve Ride

He wasn't free with his money
As most other cowboys are.
He didn't spend it on the girls
Or sidle up to the bar
And shout out loud and sporty-like,
"I'm payin' for a round."
And when they started gamblin'
Shorty Evans weren't around.
He didn't buy no dress up clothes
Nor replace his dog-eared hat.
He kept his money in a poke
That never got too flat.
We wranglers started mullin'
What he did with all his cash.
Some thoughts brought hoots of laughter
And some were a mite too rash.
But we all liked old Shorty
Who always pulled his weight
And took our ribbin' cheerful-like
Without risin' to the bait.

One Christmas Eve the most of us
Were feelin' kind of low
Because we had no family and
No happy place to go.
Shorty was actin' secret-like
And had a Christmas glow
That I remembered seein'
On a loved face long ago.
It nudged my curiosity
When I saw him ride away
With somethin' on his saddle
That weren't there in the day.
It was wrapped up in a blanket
And was sorta bulgy-like.
I knew if Shorty caught me
He'd tell me to take a hike;
But I saddled up my horse
And shadowed him along,
Close enough to hear him whistlin'
A merry Christmas song.
He got quiet and stopped whistlin'
When his horse brought him up near
The small cabin of the Jones'
And his purpose became clear.

Bill Jones was a squatter
Who'd been caught rustlin' steers
And had left a wife and little kids
To face the righteous jeers.
He was servin' time in the state pen
Leavin' his family all alone.
I had often wondered
How they managed on their own.
I guess Shorty had wondered too
But he did more than that.
He knew they needed money more
Than he needed a new hat.
He stopped his horse in the darkness,
Dropped his bundle at the door,
Then skittered into the cold and dark
Just a little bit before
The door opened and I heard a squeal,
"Santy Claus found us, Ma!"
I swear I had to wipe a tear
As I felt my conscience gnaw
At me for teasin' Shorty
About his stingy way.
Shorty taught me a spendin' lesson
On that Eve of Christmas Day.

© 2007, Joyce Johnson
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.


Read more of Joyce Johnson's poetry here.

 

                 The Nighthawk's Christmas
                The nighthawk's 'bout like a shepherd,
                  tending the heard 'til break of day,
                Keeping them doggies bunched up tight,
                  warding the wolf and griz away.
 
                Coffee pot steaming in the coals,
                  of my mesquite fire, burning low.
                The herd is calm and milling's done,
                  'neath a Heaven, with stars aglow.
                It's Christmas Eve here on the range
                  and night is cold, but breeze is tame.
                There's ner a cloud to shroud the view,
                  thou, to the cows, it's all the same.
 
                Yet, there seems to be a feeling,
                  of special peace throughout the land.
                A silky reverence cloaks the Earth,
                  like it was smoothed by God's own hand.
                The night is hushed like silent prayer,
                  then the tinkle of horse's bell.
                The sound that normally comforts me,
                  now seems to break the sacred spell.
 
                Never thought I'd be a nighthawk,
                  seeing them throughout all these years.
                Mostly, old hands put to pasture,
                  as end of their cowboy time nears.
                Can't fork a horse like once I could,
                  since that wreck on Blaze two years back.
                A gopher hole done put us down,
                  but, cowboy life don't cut no slack.
 
                Guess I'm lucky to have this job,
                  with two bum hips and shoulder lame.
                My punching skills have lost their edge;
                  truth is, my ropin is a shame.
                Guess no one wants to face the fact,
                  cowboys ain't just young buckaroos.
                Some make it to a ripe old age,
                  though, maybe that's not what they'd choose.
            
                Yet, I reckon I earn my pay,
                  by saving loss of a few head.
                'Cause, if them wolves had it their way,
                  every newborn calf would be dead.
                'Morrow, we'll do just minum chores,
                  and Cookie will serve special chow,
                Turkey, dressing and the trimmings.
                  These cowboys are my family now.
 
                There's no gold ring on my left hand,
                  'cause wives take too much time indoors.
                'Though, looking 'head at what I'll leave,
                  not much to show for my labors.
                Makes one ponder if he chose right,
                  to take the free life path to stroll.
                For, freedom means no ties to bind,
                  yet, lonesome days can take their toll.
 
                Seems there's more than this frosty chill,
                  that puts this quiver over me.
                There's something tugging at my soul,
                  like somewhere else I oughter be.
                My mind drifts back to childhood days,
                  with family gathered 'round the tree.
                I feel the warmth of parent's love,
                  and hear the children shrill with glee.
 
                This life I chose, I know too well,
                  just what it gave and what it took.
                No need to dwell on 'might have beens',
                  'cause no one can unwrite a book.
                And so, I celebrate once more,
                  this birthday of our Father's son.
                I count my blessings and give thanks,
                  and wish true peace for everyone.

         © 2007, Jack Burdette
         This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

 

 

Read more of Jack Burdette's poetry here.

 

Kiskaddon Christmas

Oh please, don’t forget to save those old rhymes
On calendars read from your lap—
And keep rememberin’ all those good times
Of Kiskaddon Christmas with Pap.

Pap loved those old Union Stockyard verses
That came from Bruce Kiskaddon’s pen—
‘Bout cowboy life, its joys and its curses—
Its love, its death and all its sin.

It just started one year when times were hard—
He pulled it down hard from its nail,
And he read out loud a calendar bard
Poem about life on the trail.

It was the time of the Great Depression—
Like most folks we were just scrub poor—
One of our few joys were those confessions
In calendar verse by the door.

Those were the days we wished would never leave—
Me, Pap and Ma and sister Kate—
Just sittin’ and readin’ on Christmas Eve—
Snow softly fallin’ until late.

Pap would read with us or we’d read alone,
Bible verses or poetry—
We all loved that Christmas at the ranch home—
Popcorn and candles on the tree.

But fond memories soon dim with the times,
They linger and flicker and fade—
Just like those ol’ drawin’s and simple rhymes
And the plans the four of us made.

It went that way like a far distant song,
Till Pap died while out ridin’ fence—
And a man knows when he didn’t belong—
Found winter work; ain’t been back since.

I took on a hard steel man’s position
And worked the number two rod mill—
But I wrote Ma ‘bout her situation—
The good old days that don’t seem real.

Then soon I knew something was wrong with sister Kate,
She threw off reins – went out of town—
Followed by a man she loved, but would grow to hate—
Till he claimed she’s wearin’ him down.

Then I wrote Ma I had gone and married,
But still wished I lived off the land—
Kate was high and wicked my Ma worried—
Then wrote she died by her own hand.

Oh please, don’t forget to save those old rhymes
On calendars read from your lap—
And keep rememberin’ all those good times
Of Kiskaddon Christmas with Pap.

Ma’s doin’ her best but she’s gone down hill,
I send her money on the chance—
The neighbors, Bert and Maisy, watch her still—
Till I get back to the home ranch.

Seemed I’d gone to town to find me a life
And not be the man on the fence—
Thinkin’ it over - lost my soul and wife
In all this cowboy’s dream nonsense.

When that letter came I knew Ma was gone,
It simply said that she had passed
Like when the mornin’ star fades into dawn—
I faced the truth back home at last.

Just two days before Christmas I got there
By the calendar on the wall—
All I could do was just stand there and stare,
Thinkin’ that full-grown men don’t bawl.

Like in poems, life lives between the lines,
It was now the time to decide—
The comin’ change happens in changin’ times,
But was I to stay on or ride?

I looked for the calendars all around
To see if Ma’s promise was kept—
Then after my searchin’ at last I found
Them in a trunk by where she slept. 

Sure enough I found the poems all there,
With worn and old yellowed pages—
Those treasured stock calendars now so rare
In this world of eastern sages.

Then old-time Christmas came back like a haze—
But it ain’t like that any more—
Turnin’ the summer horses out to graze—
Back to those who have gone before.

I’m slowly rememberin’ Christmases’ past
In cascadin’ snow that has fell—
Tryin’ to relive dreams that do not last—
Like some things you never can tell. 

I’m driftin’ to Christmas long past this day,
As snow now continues to fall—
A man’s got to know when he pulls away,
Just what’s the meanin’ of it all.

Oh please, don’t forget to save those old rhymes
On calendars read from your lap—
And keep rememberin’ all those good times
Of Kiskaddon Christmas with Pap.

© 2007, Glen Enloe
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.


 

Read more of Glen Enloe's poetry here.

 

Line Cabin Christmas
 
I was down south on the fence line, checking for breaks in the wire
It was Christmas Eve and to be back home was my true desire
As I neared an old line cabin, something didn't seem quite right
For the door it was ajar and from within there shone a light
 
I stepped off my pony as a worried face peered through the door
"Gracias a Dios! Ayudame, Senor" the tearful man did implore
"My wife Maria her time is near and I know not what to do!
We have been praying for a helping hand, God sent us you"
 
Now I know about birthing calves and foals, as all Cowboys should
But as far as birthing human babies, I wasn't sure that I could
I thought about the home fire burning and the waiting laden table
And then of another Christmas night, a manger and a stable
 
"Una hora, no mas" I told them as I fashioned a travois bed
"I'll have you back to the ranch house, where you'll be warm and fed"
"No mas tiempo!" Maria cried "the baby, he comes soon!"
As my pony stood, on the travois, Jesus was born under a Christmas moon
 
With the couple and the babe tucked in tight, I rode into the yard
The baby was wailing, hail & hearty, my pony blowing hard
Momma scooped up the baby and brought Maria inside
At the sight of all the good food and care, the man began to cry
 
"Me llamo Jose" he whispered "this debt I can never repay"
Perhaps there is some work I can do; he works for us still today
Christmas miracles happen when you are least prepared
And no matter the language you speak, God answers every prayer
 
 © 2006, Catherine Lilbit Devine
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.
 

 

Read more of Catherine Lilbit Devine's poetry here.

 

 

 

Visit our Christmas Art Spur project, an illustration by Dee Strickland Johnson (Buckshot Dot), "A Cowboy's Christmas Eve."

 

 

See a complete list of all the holiday poems from 2000-2007 here.

See the links here for holiday news and more.


 

 

 

Page Four

 

 

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