Page Seven


A Cowboy Country Christmas

It's a cowboy Christmas evenin',
Cain't hardly hear a sound,
It's quiet by the old wood stove—
There's no fightin' on the ground.
There sure is some there overseas,
We trust it's for the right,
But still you feel it deep inside—
Our kids have gone to fight.
The wind's a pickin' up some,
The fire it throws a spark,
The coal oil lantern flickers bright—
As it illuminates the dark.
Some things will never change,
They've always been this way,
Red hot flames will all burn out—
Their coals will cool to gray.
On a country Christmas mornin',
With horse drawn sleighs and such,
A fresh cut pine and turkey plate—
We'll invoke the Healer's touch.
May winds of war stop howlin',
May flames of hate burn out,
May our lanterns lighten up the dark—
Mid bitter storms of doubt.
It's a cowboy country Christmas,
Why, there's singin' comes alive!
The wrong shall fail, the right prevail -
Where faith and grit survive.

© 2006, Paul Kern
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

Photos from Paul Kern's cabin in Island Park, Idaho—cowboy country.

Read more of Paul Kern's poetry here.


One Less Chair at the Table

 There’ll be one less chair at the table
And one less gift ‘neath the tree.
There is one less saddle in the bunk house
But a gift of memories for me.

The first Christmas of memory
Was awesome and exciting of course,
All that I ask for was new yellow boots
And for sure, my own paint horse.

I had been a such good little girl
As good as a ranch kid could
I fed the chickens, gathered the eggs,
And fed the horses, just like I should.

But after boxes of dresses, Mary Jane shoes
And red ribbons for my hair,
There were no yellow boots under the tree
And I had looked almost everywhere!

Then my dad pointed way back
Almost outta my site,
One lone box could barely be seen
Could it be?  Well it just might!

I had to crawl under that tree.
I pushed the dresses and shoes aside.
It was tuff being my dad’s little kid
But I pulled the box out with pride.

I tore the ribbons from the box
And pulled the tissue away,
There inside a pair of yellow boots
What a wonderful Christmas day!

Those boots were a perfect fit.
And I wore them with pride,
And when I fell asleep that night,
They were there at my bedside.

So I’ll just leave that chair at the table,
I’ll hang a special ornament on the tree,
I will oil up that old saddle
And smile at my Christmas memory. 

© 2003, Linda Kirkpatrick 


Linda Kirkpatrick, photo by Jeri Dobrowski

Read more of Linda Kirkpatrick's poetry here.


Even on Christmas Day

The golden glow of a lamp turned low
Mellowed the bunkhouse walls;
Through frosty air outside somewhere
Came clear coyotee calls.

The cowboys' talk of a horse had balked
Paused while the choir sang
Of peace on earth, or maybe its dirth,
In lives of guile and fang.

That haunting tune 'neath a full bright moon
Seemed wrong for Christmas Eve;
Didn't fit it seemed, while children dreamed
Of gifts that Santa'd leave.

No word was spoke when the spell was broke
And hush restored again;
These men immured to the song they'd heard,
To strife, and loss, and pain.

Their ancient pledge was to life's raw edge,
They'd kept it from the start;
They'd hides grown tough, and some ways looked rough,
But not one callused heart.

Some hid it well, but the Boss could tell
Real saints from wannabees;
He knew who'd care for His critters there,
His grass, and even trees.

The lamp's out now, but the injured cow
Waits not too far away;
Knows they'll be along, to fix what's wrong,
Even on Christmas Day.

© 2006, Alf Bilton
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission. 

Read more of Alf Bilton's poetry here.


Here's to the Cowboys

Here's to the cowboys I've known in my lifetime
all the tough hands that lived on the fringe
they weren't much to look at, and damn hard to open
'cause most were just hung with one hinge

I know you're thinking, "They're too hard to handle."
but pardner that's where you're all wrong
they'll come to "getcha" come Hell or high water
and you're damn glad they happened along

When the going got tough, they loved the excitement
though they never knew what was in store
they'd make some joke, "Put your oars in the water
and by God don't be rowing for shore."

A cowboy can stand a whole lot more than most
lump jaws, hoof rot, and three titters
but when it comes time, to reel in your line
the thing they can't stand are the quitters

So here's to the cowboys I've known in my lifetime
that could handle a horse, rope or steer
I'd drink to your health if you had any left—
"Merry Christmas and Happy New Year."

© 2006, Pat Richardson
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

Read more of Pat Richardson's poetry here.

Santa Comes Calvin'

I rode off the ride on my pony
At the start of a cold winter night
I had trouble a keepin' old Roany
Huntin' cows that had calved in the white.

The north wind had blowed through my carcass.
As only a true northern can.
The frost on our ears 'spired to mark us,
With a "crop" known to horse more than man.

My hoss was sure pleased to turn homeward
And I slipped off his gear at the farm.
The oats he turned busily inward,
While I packed my light on my arm.

In the comfort and heat of my cabin,
With my head now beginning to nod
And the pleasant, sweet dreams that I'm havin'
Are as warm as talkin' to God.

I know not how long I had drifted
'Neath the gold of the glimmering moon;
From the depth of my trance I was lifted,
By a din like the song of the spoon.

'Twas out of my bunk in a fervor,
Than peek through the frost on the pane;
In the bloody red garb of a hunter,
Driving a team down my lane.

A chubby old goat with white whiskers,
And packin' a bag on his back;
Dressed as the red lips of sisters,
His sleigh hardly leavin' a track.

The ire in my heart getting bigger,
I lifted my gun from its rack,
The carefully squeezing the trigger,
I aimed where his pants show some slack.

The line of my fire I directed,
By pointing "Old Bess" just so so.
At the moment my buckshot connected
He'd ripped off a might HO HO!

His pitch, in an instant, got higher,
Then turned to a shriek in the night.
The sleigh, then, became a high flyer
And showing much haste in its flight.

While I turned then back to my blanket,
Proceeding to finish my Zees,
As snug as a bee in a bonnet,
And dreaming sweet dreams as I please.

© Bob Schild, from Spur Tracks & Buffalo Chips
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.


Read more of Bob Schild's poetry here.



Grubline Carol
(a new look at a traditional song)

Christmas is a-comin' and I've got no work at all.
I've been out on the grubline, since shipping in the fall.
Now the days are getting colder and the nights are getting long,
so I play my old French harp, and I sing this song.

Christmas is a-comin', and I'll work to earn my keep.
Can you find a roving puncher a warm place to sleep?
If you haven't got a bunk for me, a patch of floor will do.
If you haven't got a patch of floor, may God bless you.

Christmas is a-comin', and my pony's short of feed.
A little bait of oats is what he really needs.
If you haven't got a bait of oats, a flake of hay will do.
If you haven't got a flake of hay, may God bless you.

Christmas is a-comin', and my gear is wearing thin.
Could you spare a piece of rawhide, to patch it up again?
If you haven't got some rawhide, some baling wire will do.
If you haven't got some baling wire, may God bless you.

Christmas is a-comin' , and I'm feeling kind of gaunt.
A plate of beans and bacon is all I really want.
If you haven't got the bacon, a plate of beans will do.
If you haven't got a plate of beans, may God bless you.

Christmas is a-comin', and I've been alone too long.
Do you have a pretty daughter, to sing a Christmas song?
If you haven't got a daughter, a maiden aunt will do.
If you haven't got a maiden aunt, may God bless you.

Christmas is a-comin' and I've got no work at all.
I've been out on the grubline, since shipping in the fall.
Now the days are getting colder, and the nights are getting long,
so I play my old French harp, and  I sing this song.

© Dean Cook
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

Read more of Dean Cook's lyrics here.



Ramona's Christmas Box 

Lightly, ever lightly, like the soft touch of a mother's hand
Silky snowflakes fall and envelope a sleepy, solemn land.
And the lantern-glow from windows drapes across a whitened lawn,
Framing characters in silhouette as a child in school has drawn.

Within the creaking farmhouse on this deep, December eve,
A classic play in just three acts begins its story-line to weave.
A young woman brought her daughter to this aging cowgirl's cache
To bask in the light of wisdom, and learn Ramona's Christmas past.

"Jessie-girl," said Ramona, "Lift the lid on this old trunk.
It's dusty as a July trail from bein' stored beneath my bunk.
Peel back that Indian Blanket, lay it careful on the floor.
Why, lookie here, I ain't seen this stuff for twenty years or more."

To the blond and bashful five-year old, filled with wistful hopin'
That rusty, worn, old steamer looked like a treasure chest just opened.
Between tender, shaking fingers, with pure, child-like delight,
Ramona lifted each decoration...held it dancing, spinning bright.

"Why, this one was drawn by Billy when he was in the second grade.
We was poor back then and all we had were things that were home-made.
This quilted ball, this wooden horse carved from a block of pine.
These shiny beads sewn on flannel. Oh my! They sure look fine."

"Pa saved these silvery metal strips and twisted them several times.
They looked like sparkly icicles and rang like tinkling chimes.
A garland made from buck-brush leaves that grew out on the ranch.
And, I sewed this little angel to place up on the tip-top branch."

An old trunk full of memories that had been avoided many years.
Because of sadness it inspired, yet joy burst forth through the tears.
Jessie's mom brought in a tall blue spruce, as though it had been ordained
To be the precious symbol of a hurting heart reclaimed.

Each glittering, glistening ornament reflected in the youngster's eyes
Told Ramona, in the truest sense, that Christmas never dies.
Amidst songs and gleeful laughter, adorned with living history,
On a snowy winter's gloaming, stood Ramona's finest Christmas tree.

© Virginia Bennett  
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.



Read more of Virginia Bennett's poetry here.


Christmas Serenade

It's 15 below on the prairie
   the wind chill's down near 42
and I'm watchin' a Texas blue norther blow in
   and I'm not sure what I'm gonna do.

'Cause the tanks are froze pretty near solid
   and the handle broke off my best ax
and the feed's gettin' wet from a hole in the roof
   where it's leakin' all over the sacks

And I'm feedin' more hay than I planned on
   'cause the snow covered up all the grass
the tractor's broke down and the pickup won't start
   and it's cold as a well digger's...shovel

It's the 24th day of December
   and the sagebrush is covered with ice
and I think that a hot cup of coffee
   or a good shot of rye would be nice

'Cause my feet are so cold I can't feel 'em
   and my fingers are purty near froze
and there's icicles hung off my moustache
   from the drip drippin' off of my nose

I was hopin' I'd get to quit early
   and be back at the house Christmas Eve
but these baldies are cryin' and hungry
   and there's no one to feed if I leave

And there's one little motley-faced heifer
   who somehow got in with the bull
and she's just too little to leave by herself
   'cause the calf's gonna have to be pulled

And there's one other thing I might mention
   a fact that is painfully clear
I'm so broke that I can't pay attention
   so I guess I'll spend Christmas out here

But it's pretty out here on the prairie
   where the stars light the cold winter sky
and though I can't remember when things were much worse
   I guess I'm still a right lucky guy

'Cause I've got a good woman who'll love me
   no matter what time I come home
and my young 'un is happy and healthy
   though I wish he weren't quite near so grown

And I've got that new 3-year-old filly
   who's better than I even dreamed
and my old spotted gelding as good as they come
   so things ain't all as bad as they seem

I've got no cause for being ungrateful
   and to gripe and complain isn't good
'cause there's people all over this country
   who'd trade places with me if they could

So I know that I'll have a good Christmas
   in spite of my problems somehow
I'll just watch as this Texas blue norther blows in
   and sing "O Holy Night" to the cows.

© 1996, J. W. Beeson
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

This poem appeared in Western Horseman in December, 1996

JW Beeson photo by Tanja Bark

Read more of J. W. Beeson'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 Seven



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