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Neath A Christmas Eve Sky

There's a halo  that's circlin'
'round a moon shinin' bright,
adding wonder and glory
to the heavens tonight.

And it seems to be sayin'
to this cowboy at least,
it was on such an evenin'
came the young Prince Of Peace.

And I know without doubtin'
as the bunkhouse draws nigh,
that it's Christmas I'm feelin'
neath a Christmas Eve sky.

There's a wind slightly blowin'
through the needles of pine,
and the shadows are loomin'
where the moonbeams now shine.

And the soft sound of singing
come a-driftin' to me
as the hands are now gatherin'
'round a small  lighted tree.

And it brings me a smile, Lord,
and a tear to my eye,
as I'm headin' home fin'lly
neath a Christmas Eve sky.

© 2007, Rod Nichols 
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without written permission.

Rod Nichols
Rod Nichols

This is the last poem we received from Rod Nichols.

Rod died December 22, 2007. He is missed deeply by his many friends, fans, and family.

See a page of tributes to Rod Nichols 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 written permission.

This poem appeared in Western Horseman in December, 1996

Read more about J.W. Beeson and more of his poetry here.


A Christmas Tale

I met up with a rancher and he asked me if I knew
A couple cowboys needing work for just a day or two
He wasn't very old in years, but deep lines etched his face
His eyes had lost their youthful glow and sadness took its place

Before I had a chance to think I heard myself reply
I'd find another cowboy, and in mornin' we'd stop by
I realized tomorrow was the Day of Christmas Eve
 So figured I'd go shop in town as soon as I could leave

By light of dawn we saddled up despite the frosty air
We rounded up the cows and calves and sorted every pair
Before we started working them we took a coffee break
A little girl sat by my side with sandwiches and cake

She said "I made this by myself. I hope it tastes okay.
My momma lost her leg this year when she was makin' hay
So daddy said to stay by her and help the best I could
 With cooking meals and cleaning house and gatherin' firewood

My mom can't help my dad no more with runnin' cattle through
And we're too small to help with that, although we wanted to
When we saw Santa we asked him if he came out this way
That maybe he could let us see his reindeer and his sleigh

And when I sat on Santa's lap I whispered in his ear 
To send some cowboys to our place to help my dad this year
So I think Santa sent you here, to help us out today
Like God sent baby Jesus as our Savior Christmas Day

I pulled my hat brim way down low and wiped away a tear
Then someone hollered, "Let's go, boys.  Let's get the work done here."
We finished working cattle as the sun began to set
I thought about my wages and the gifts I had to get.

The rancher proudly thanked us both and offered us our pay
I grinned and said, "We work for free. so call us any day.
And if we could, my friend and I would like to set things straight
I handed him what cash we had, "That's for the food we ate."

As we rode out angelic harps resounded in the night 
 A single star ascended to display its holy light
And next to me a form appeared that looked like Santa's sleigh
Reflecting on the snow-capped ground as Rudolph led the way.

© 2005, Diane Tribitt
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.


This poem was selected for a 2005 Christmas Art Spur with Mick Harrison's painting, "Christmas Tale"

Read more about Diane Tribitt and more of her poetry here.


Santa's Helper

Santa's checkin' through his list
The elves are workin' overtime
Rudolph's shined his nose up bright
The sleigh is lookin' fine

Mrs. Santy's been acookin'
For ole' Santy and the boys
Cause Santy needs his nourishment
While spreadin' Christmas joys

Ole' Santy checks his schedule
And studies through his map
That Mrs. Santy plotted out
While Santy took his nap

The Mrs. stayed up half the night
Sortin' presents shoulder deep
Cause Christmas is acomin' soon
And ole' Santy needs his sleep

Christmas Eve, she's up 'fore dawn
It's sourdough biscuits for the boys
While Santy eats his breakfast
She's out loadin' all the toys

She helps to harness up the teams
And hitch 'em to the sleigh
While Santy drinks his coffee
She's out loadin' feed and hay

Then she helps him in his longjohns
After pressin' out his suit
Helps him fasten his suspenders
Spit shines both his boots

In  a twinkle, Santy's on his way
Yuletide duties he'll not shirk
How come Santy gets the glory
When Mrs. Santy does the work

© 2001, Jay Snider  
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without written permission.

Read more about Jay Snider and his poetry here at the BAR-D.


Country Christmas 

Christmas in the country is a different sort'a thing.
A quiet, peaceful, solitude, that nature seems to bring.

Yet, some folks from the city feel sad we miss so much.
Tinsel town mall muffin's think: We're really out of touch!

No decorated streets to flaunt the merchants floats paradin'.
No helicoptored Santa's land to sirens serenadin'.

Far removed from distant crowds of noisy people shoppin',
scramblin' hard toout do friends, must really keep'em hoppin'.

We have no crowded shopping malls chuck full'a plastic toys.
No bands a tootin' Christmas songs that get lost in the noise.

The curried groves of pine and spruce that crowd each vacant space,
designer colors coat the boughs and take away their grace!

I'm givin' thought to such as this as we come 'round the bend,
the team now breaks into a trot as they see journey's end.

With full moon just a peekin' o'er the mountains to the east,
its light careens off snow clad trees and gives our eyes a feast.

Beside me in the bobsleigh, is a Christmas tree a ridin',
and faces framed by fur trimmed caps are laughin' as we're glidin'.

Just up ahead, a cabin's light, smoke curlin' from its stack.
A cheery voice is callin' out—"So glad to see you're back!"

Aroma of good things to eat, a driftin' out our way,
makes us want to hurry as we feed the team their hay.

We finish chores, then take the tree, into the house for Mom to see—
We knew that she would tell our Dad: "Prettiest tree we've ever had!"

Christmas morning! What a sight! Not much sleepin' here last night.
Grandfolks made it through the drifts, family fun, exchange of gifts.

We told our stories, laughed at Dad, best Christmas that we've ever had!
At Christmas time don't pity me—This is what they all should be!!

© 2001, Sam Jackson
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without written permission.

Read more about Sam Jackson and more of his poetry here.


Christmas Beneath the Stars

The cattle were bedded down on the hill,
It was a peaceful sight that I saw.
The winter moon hung high in the sky
Casting shadows on the side of the draw.

The Christmas lights on the ranch house below
Sparked a thought of a night gone by.
When shepherds, watching over their flocks
Heard the message from the sky.

I stopped and looked at the stars above
And listened where all was quiet,
Then into my heart came the message
The angels delivered that night.

I stepped from the saddle, whispering aloud,
"Shepherds watching over their flocks."
My mount rubbed his head on my shoulder
As he shifted his feet on the rocks.

The horse held his breath while we listened,
I could almost hear the heavenly choir.
Then the spirit bore witness once again
And burned in my heart like a fire.

Yes, the ranchers, herders and cowboys
Who work beneath the wide open sky,
Can understand how the shepherds felt
When they heard the voice from on high.

Let the rich and the powerful pity me,
Let the city folk think I am strange;
My silent prayer shall continue to be,
"Lord, thanks for my home on the range."

© 1996 Colen H. Sweeten Jr.
Reprinted with permission from
Hoofprints and Heartbeats



Photo by Jeri L. Dobrowski

See tributes to Colen Sweeten here and read more of his poetry here.


A Candle in the Window (Our Christmas Promise)

She finished up her chores and parked the tractor.
He passed her in his rusted pick-up truck.
Workin' side by side, how can love find time?
And lately she just thinks he's given up.

He loaded all the hay and closed the tailgate,
And headed for that mountain in the snow.
The horses need their feed, even on Christmas Eve,
but before he left he handed her a note. 
It said...

Light a candle
in the window
in the darkness
I will come
And while the snow swirls
we'll dance by firelight
our Christmas promise
two hearts as one.
He said "I've looked at you each day but haven't seen you.
I've held your hand but haven't felt your touch.
I've heard you speak, but I haven't listened.
Now, on this Christmas Eve I'm missing you so much."

He drove away and left her standing speechless.
He scattered all the hay and rode back in.
The cabin was aglow through the blowin' snow
and in the shadows she said these words to him-

Light a candle
in the window
from the darkness
I will come
and while the snow swirls
we'll dance by firelight
our Christmas promise
two hearts as one.
She said "I've looked at you each day but haven't seen you.
I've held your hand but haven't felt your touch.
I've heard you speak but I haven't listened.
Can you forgive a heart that's missed out on so much?"

Light a candle
in the window
from the darkness
we've both come
and while the snow swirls
we'll dance by firelight
our Christmas promise
two hearts as one.

Light a candle
in the window
our Christmas promise
of dreams to come...

© 2009, Aspen Black
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

Read more of Aspen Black's poetry and lyrics here.



Bringin' Home Christmas

Some years the full moon bathes the world in bright light,
A clear iridescent white glow
Sometimes Christmas Eve’s an indigo night,
Deep and velvet, like a lamp turned down low.
Remember the years when our children were small,
How they’d count down the hours until bed?
Impatient to hurry the onset of morning,
They’d lie awake sleepless instead.
We’d hear whispers and giggles,
And they’d spy from their windows
To catch, just one time, Santa’s sleigh.
And sometimes, somehow we’d hear jingling bells
In the night, ringing soft, far away.

But though sleep was a challenge they’d rise with the dawn
Wake their parents then rush to the tree,
Eagerly tear at the ribbons and wrappings
Overwhelmed with sweet Christmas greed.

Some years when there’s drought, we’ve no moisture at all.
Just a bone-aching deep empty cold.
Some years there’s a half-foot of powder
Cross the fields and those backcountry roads.
These years the stock keeps us close by at Christmas
There’s feeding, and troughs sealed with ice.
As we make ready for Christmas here on the place,
Fill the air with sweet piñon and spice

And we wait for the soft crunch of tires on the snow
Stoke the fire, and light up the tree
Because bringin’ home Christmas means somethin’ else now.
Christmas brings them back home to me.

© 2008, Jo Lynne Kirkwood
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.


This poem was written for the 2008 Christmas Art Spur,
inspired by Joelle Smith's "Bringing Home the Tree"

Read more about Jo Lynne Kirkwood and more of her poetry here.



Fixing Fence On Christmas Day

There was corn here filling the air
with its green pulsing warmth,
the sky was whistling blue
and you could feel the ground breathe

now row after row of chopped-off stalks
poke up through tired snow
                                    like headstones,
the dove-colored sky is
                        a muffled echo,
and the shh-chunk of my boots on the snow
is almost embarrassingly loud.
It is as though,
            standing here in the gray snow,
there is an emptiness waiting to be filled

non-candescent light falls to the ground,
forms recoil upon form, lines fade.
It is as though the ground
                                    is a womb
or a grave or a heart
                        waiting at the edge
of a universe for order or warmth

there is an aching beauty,
            expressed in absences.

      © 2009, Jack Goodman
      This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.


Read more about Jack Goodman and more of his 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 
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

 This poem was written in memory of Linda Kirkpatrick's father:


Read more about Linda Kirkpatrick's and more of her poetry here.


Have a Politically Correct Green Christmas

Santa might be running late
If it’s foggy Christmas night.
‘Cause since Rudolph quit his drinking,
His nose don’t shine so bright.

Olive, that other reindeer,
Who used to plague his life,
Keeps him on the straight and narrow.
Since she became his wife.

But Santa’s got bigger problems,
Than the lack of a landing light,
That big conference in Denmark,
Really gave him quite a fright.

For although he’s changed their diet
And done his level best.
Half his team still failed to pass,
The methane emission test!

© 2009, Mike Puhallo
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

Merry Christmas
from Mike & Linda Puhallo

Find more about Mike Puhallo in our feature here.


How Pecos Bill Saved Christmas

You’ve heard the tales of Pecos Bill, a western hero bold and true—
Like his paintin’ deserts, ridin’ twisters, and marryin’ up with Slue-Foot Sue.

Atop Widow Maker, his cantankerous steed, live rattlesnake whip in tow,
Pecos swung a mighty wide loop, ‘twas a one-man Wild West show.

So it would’ve come to no surprise to those who knew him best,
Pecos once saved Christmas when it was almost cancelled way out west.

Pecos was winterin’ in Colorado at his cabin two miles high,
When he stood up to look southwesterly to the Arizona sky.

His eagle eyes could take in country most normal eyes couldn’t see,
And he spotted somethin’ white where the Grand Canyon was supposed to be.

The worst winter storm in history had filled the great chasm up with snow,
And soon he spotted reindeer antlers stickin’ up from down below.

Well, Pecos knew no such reindeer lived out in Arizona land,
So he knew St. Nick was trapped with his sleigh and reindeer band.

Great times call for great men, and such was true upon this night;
Christmas hung in the balance, and Pecos aimed to set it right.

Pecos whistled for Widow Maker, and the ornery hoss was there post haste,
And they took off like a lightening bolt with little time to waste.

In just a couple of minutes they were at the canyon rim;
Pecos looks at Widow Maker and then he says to him,

“I’m gonna gargle some nitroglycerin mixed with habaneros don’t you know,
And I’m gonna blow it through the canyon and melt down all that snow!”

Now, Pecos was a known spitter, and could prove it with his deeds,
Having practiced with tobacco juice and watermelon seeds.

He chews on the habaneros and swishes the nitroglycerin all around,
Plants his feet, pulls in some air, and then—he unwound!

This fireball of a concoction blast through the canyon—end-to-end—
Allowin’ the Christmas sleigh to elevate and fly off in the wind.

Now if you doubt this story, and think it doesn’t make much sense,
Next time you’re at the canyon just look at the evidence.

Great fire-burnt canyon rocks were left behind from Bill’s fiery spray,
Which is why they’re reddish orange even to this day.

© 2009, David Althouse
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without written permission.

Read more of David Althouse's poetry here at the BAR-D.


Christmas Hayride

I've been reminiscing 'bout things that I've done
in the cold winter month of December.
And I recall a story about a special hayride,
and a night that I'll always remember.

If you've ever gone out on a real hayride,
you'll know what I'm talkin' about.
And this story's about a Christmas hayride
that brought the whole family out.

Now plannin' a hayride ain't that hard,
there's not a whole lot to do.
Y'fill a wagon with hay, and hitch up a horse,
and throw in a blanket or two.

Moms and dads, and grandparents come,
all wrapped up good and warm.
The young men and women all kinda pair off,
and you hope that it doesn't storm.

Oh, stormin's all right before the event,
but you don't want too much snow.
A snowfall makes things look real nice,
if there's only a foot or so.

Well, this time, we get just enough,
and put snow runners on the rig.
This makes the wagon like a comfortable sled.
'Course you'll never see a sled that big.

Uncle Harmon's barnyard is where we meet
to begin this happy event.
I'm hopin' to set with a girl named Carol,
who says she thinks I'm a gent.

When the lady shows up, I swaller real hard
and I says, "May I set with you?"
She smiles a smile that melts my heart,
and says, "Don't mind if you do."

Uncle Harmon sets in the drivers seat,
and the rest of us set in the back.
We all settle down, Unk shouts, "Giddyap!"
And he gives the old plowhorse a whack.

The wagon jerks to a start and we all cheer,
and the hayride gets underway.
It's Christmas Eve, so we start singin' carols,
and we're all snug and warm in the hay.

We ride through the woods, and across a field,
on our way to the Walmsley's place.
It seems like minutes, but it takes an hour,
'cause we maintain a leisurely pace.

The barn is aglow with Christmas lights,
and there's lanterns along the fence.
When the wagon stops, we go into the barn,
and that's when the fiddles commence.

There's dancin', of course, and plenty of food
and naturally, cider galore.
The dancin' couples are laughin' and talkin'
and glidin' around the floor.

The young lady, Carol, and me share us a cider,
sippin' it through two straws.
And I almost manage to sneak me a kiss,
but we're bein' watched by our maws.

So... Carol and me, we go back to dancin',
'till somebody hollers out, "Snow!"
Uncle Harmon says, "It's comin' down hard,
I think we'd all better go!"

Well, Carol and her folks stay at Walmsley's place,
and me and my folks go home.
But I had me somethin' to remember her by,
'cause she gave me her pocket comb.

I carried that comb 'till the day we were married,
my gift from that night in December.
I still carry the joy of that Christmas hayride—
and it's something I'll always remember.

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


Hal and Carol Swift celebrated their 57th wedding anniversary on May 11, 2009.

Read more poetry by Hal Swift here.


The Christmas at Winter Camp

A long and frigid winter’s day led into Christmas Eve

When Sandman came to Winter Camp, his magic spell to weave.

It was not long ere quiet fell among the cowhands there

Where tired wranglers slept in peace ‘mid stock dog’s watchful care.

Then dreams crept in to tease the minds of cowboys one or two;

It seemed so real it made them think the dreams just might be true.

The sound of bells that jingled soft near roused the sleepin’ men;

They thought it naught but spurs of cowboys comin’ stragglin’ in.

The noise of hooves came tappin’ light outside up in the sky;

They thought it was the beat of horses passin’ quickly by.

All dressed in red, a stocky fellow filled the bunkhouse door;

They took him for ol’ Cooky in a flannel shirt he wore.

Now one cowpoke was more awake than all the rest that night;

He thought ‘bout all the things he’d heard and ‘bout each diff’rent sight.

At just that time the rooster crowed; ‘twas time to start the day.

What was that object ‘cross the room lit by the lantern’s ray?

A tree stood wrapped with popcorn strands and underneath that fir

Were knives, and ropes, and handkerchiefs, and brand new fishin’ lure.

Each man had presents waitin’ him when risin’ from his bed;

Confusion and bewilderment filled ever' sleepy head.

Those sights and sounds all through the night, I wonder, could it be?

Did Santa come to leave those gifts and bring that Christmas tree?

No boys were these—it’d been awhile since Santa came their way;

They’d long since left behind the hope that comes with Christmas Day.

Some say that childhood fantasies all fade as time goes by,

But on that night ol’ St. Nick came with reindeer in the sky.

That bunkhouse filled with yuletide cheer and happy, rowdy men,

Because that Christmas made those hands believers once again!

Ol’ Hank played his harmonica; the group began to sing…

‘Though some off key their carols had a faint familiar ring.

The foreman took from out his pouch a Bible used and worn;

The pages (dog-eared and well-marked) were wrinkled and part torn.

With reverence they said a prayer to ask for “Peace on earth”

Then listened to that well-loved tale ‘bout Jesus’ earthly birth.

                                    St. Luke 2:1-18

© 2009, Bobbie Hunter
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.


Read more about Bobbie Hunter and her poetry here.

Christmas Spirit

I knew that he was teasin' when I saw his big ole' grin.
"I think I'll go out in the woods and bring a fresh tree in."
Ma wasn't fooled. She told him, "You're not riding out alone.
I'd hate to see the kind of tree you'd pick out on your own."

Each year it went about like this with joshing and good fun,
And all the time their horses keeping step as they were one.
When I was just a little kid, I begged to tag along,
But as I grew I realized, I true did not belong.

I knew they kept this special day each time for just the two.
They worked so hard that special times for both of them were few.
They didn't mind the weather, let it rain or let it snow,
They rode as high into the hills as their horses could go.

They'd come home proud and happy with a fine tree every year,
With rosy cheeks and spirits and plumb full of Christmas cheer.
Then Ma would get her baubles out and they would trim the tree
And each declared it was the finest tree you'd ever see.

Now as I start to decorate my artificial branch,
I brighten it with memories of Christmas on that ranch.
In those days when less was more and love took up the slack
There was a Christmas Spirit I keep trying to get back.

© 2009, Joyce Johnson
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.


Read more poetry by Joyce Johnson here.



The Gift

I was warming by the campfire one cold December night.
Staring at the shadows that were cast out by the light.
When out of the darkness a strange sound came drifting in.
It sounded like a jingle, from them little bells made of tin.
Then I heard a voice it said, “Hello, hail the camp.
Can I come and warm up by your fire, I’m mighty cold and damp.”
I said, “Come on in pard and pour yourself a cup.’
And when the stranger stepped into the light, I saw he was holding a little pup.
The puppy had one eye that was black and one eye that was blue.
The stranger handed him to me and said, “This pup’s for you,
You seem to be a good man, honest and sincere,
So I brought you this companion to keep you company through the year.”
Well, I sized the stranger up from his head to his toes.
He sure weren’t no cowboy, what he was I didn’t rightly know.
He had a funny looking hat perched on top of his head,
And all that other garb he wore, it was all colored red.
He sported himself a beard, it was whiter than the snow.
He had a real friendly smile and eyes that seemed to glow.
Then I noticed a little red light, a shining in the dark.
I asked him what it was, he said, “Oh, that’s where I parked.
I asked “What you riding on?”, He said “I’m riding on a sleigh.
And that little red light you see, it helps me find my way.
I said “That sleigh your riding, it’s being pulled by a horse?”
He laughed said “No, it’s pulled by reindeers of course.
A magical team that can fly me through the sky,
And get me back home, before the day is nigh.”
Then he stood up and laughed with a jolly Ho Ho Ho.
Thanked me for the coffee and said “ Well, I’d better go,
I just wanted to stop and have a chat with you,
Cause when I retire, I want to be a cowboy too.
I waved goodbye as I watched him crawl up in his sleigh,
Then he hollered “Adios”  and went flying on his way.
Then, I woke up,  and thought what a dream that was,
It all seemed so real, was it really Santa Clause?
I yawned and stretched and decided it was time to arise.
Then I saw something mighty strange, much to my surprise.
Laying at the foot of by bed, was a puppy that was new,
He’s got one eye that is black and one eye that is blue. 

© 2009, Harry (Bill) Wolf
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.


Read more about Harry (Bill) Wolf here.


Camelry Christmas

A tale of the days when the 1st U.S. Cavalry rode camels

I’ve ridden through the desert

Roamed far from Fort Tejon

To the Mormon town at Salt Lake

‘Cross the land of sand and stone

I’ve camped among the Injuns

Where no water can be found

And had them show me cool, clear springs

And foodstuffs all around

Reckon I know the desert

By horse and mule and foot

By wagon wheel and stagecoach

By prickly pear and root

But I should’ve listened to the Injun

Who said “You can’t know all –

The desert holds surprises”

- Well it certainly did that fall

It seems some fool in Washington

Read some book on history

About Napoleon in Egypt

With his big ol’ French armeé

“Ships of the desert!” he declared

Seeing camels in those pages

“Why, that’s just what we need, too!

- A cavalry for the ages!”

It seems that feller took no note

That Egypt is all sand

And a camel’s feet are tender

To allow them to expand

’Purt near like a snowshoe

On sand as soft as snow

But soon as they feel somethin’ sharp

Well, there, they just won’t go

But those fools back in Washington

Were all quite undeterred

So the Army wired the Navy

And sent official word –

“Set sail for Arabia

Halfway ‘round the world

Sail there with all due dispatch

And leave no sails unfurled”

And by-and-by those ships of the sea

Brought cargo no one had seen

The ships of the desert they disgorged

Were lanky, and ornery, and mean!

They stank like a hog waller invaded by skunks

We didn’t care how much they’d carry

The horses bolted, mules went plumb crazy

And we was far more’n wary

A McClellan saddle would not go

Atop a camel’s hump

And those big feet could kick every-which-way

So your shoulders would meet your rump

And spit? They’d hit you in the eye

From clean across a pasture!

And if you could ride one he’d sway so bad

You’d be seasick – it was disasture

Well, orders is orders, some things don’t change

And the cavalry, of course, must ride

So across the desert expanse we went

Like we’d descended when we died

All green and dripping with camel spit

We looked downright pathetic

Why, just the trip to get somewheres

Was enough to need a medic

So, you’ll understand if the camels’ feet

Were not our partic’lar concerns

They didn’t seem like no tenderfoots

When they kicked our bruised sunburns

’Course, our desert, well, it’s covered in rocks

So that made a bad thing worse

And many a rider swore his mount

Should come back in a hearse

Soon them camels began to disappear

 – troopers swore they’d broken loose –

‘Cause everyone knew that walkin’ was preferable

– even riskin’ time in the cayuse

Oh, there’d be sightings of camels, like apparitions,

For many years to come

But in those days, we just wanted deliverance,

And we didn’t care where from

Then it came to pass on a December patrol

A mule wandered up to our sentry

And the notion took hold to draw some lots

To elect our mule-riding gentry

But the sergeant said no, we must go out – 

The owner’s bound to be in trouble

So we made some torches and led our camels

Across’t that desert rubble

Hours we spent tracing the tracks

From where that mule had started

And on towards morning Venus rose

Straight ahead, to where the rocks just parted

Amidst it all we saw a sight

By the light of a cozy fire

If I was to tell you about that part

You’ll swear that I’m a liar

Well, I reckon I’ve come along this far

So the finishin’ should be told

And it’s the only redemption, anyway,

For those camels and that cold

Well, what we found there in the dark

Was a lean-to made of brush

And a group of critters gathered ‘round

For the warmth in quite a crush

There behind the sheep and mules

A young mama held a baby

Who was bundled in rude blankets

Like the kind they use in the Navy

Her man, well, he motioned us in

We saw the birth was fresh

He’d gathered all the grass around

And made a little crèche

He was tendin’ to their comfort

’bout the best way that he could

- he didn’t need to ask us

To go and find firewood

Packs came down from saddles

And we cooked ‘em up a meal

So mama’d get her strength back up

After her ordeal

Then we wanted to give the baby somethin’

- Help the little guy get started

The captain’s collar supplied some brass

And with little treasures we parted

As we rode away, a trooper quipped,

“We coulda followed that bright star,

Woulda saved us a heap o’ trackin’.

’Least this ride back ain’t so far,

Camels calmer, an’ lightly packin’.”

An’ someone asked, “What’s today? December 25th?”

Well I reckon that stopped us – and them camels –

While we paused and pondered it

We didn’t bring gifts of gold or myrhh

Nor even frankincense

We gave ‘em hardtack biscuits

And some shiny bits of brass

But in return we all felt peace

On the desert, beneath a star

And I reckon Christmas finds you

Whoever and wherever you are.

© 2009, Larry Wines
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

Larry Wines is a host/programmer/producer, music journalist, artist & festival consultant,
and editor of Tied to the Tracks, Acoustic Americana Music Guide:



Santa Was a Cowboy

Many long past years ago
when the west was wild and young
the children on the ranches
didn't really have much fun
they rounded up the cattle
and shoveled out the barn
they helped repair the fences
with sharp barbwire that could harm
they had to pull up water
from the well with ropes and pails
and put new shoes on horses
with a hammer and some nails
But once a year at Christmas
when the desert nights grew cold
they'd sit next to the fireplace
for the story Grampa told
The story was of Christmas eve
upon the western plain
when Santa was a cowboy
who went by a different name
there wasn't any reindeer
or a sleigh with jingle bells
he didn't slide down chimneys
or fly off with ho ho yells
he didn't live way far up north
among the ice and snow
but deep inside a canyon
where no human being could go
All year he gathered treasures
from the desert and the hills
to make gifts that he would give
young Sallys, Toms and Bills
he cooked up cactus candy
and made arrows for small bows
head dresses from the feathers
that were shed by hawks and crows
he polished up some pinion nuts
to make a special treat
that the kids on western ranches
have always really loved to eat
he made some tricky puzzles
from the horse shoes that he found
and jewelry from quartz crystals
that he picked up off the ground
Then when the gifts were ready
and Christmas time had come
he'd round up twelve wild mustangs
that really liked to run
he hitched them to a wagon
and then loaded all the toys
the mustangs feet were stamping
he'd say take it easy boys
he pulled on fancy cowboy boots
with silver stars and tips
then buckled up his buckskin chaps
around his ample hips
then rosined up his leather gloves
and pulled his hat down tight
grabbed the reins, said lets go boys !
the whip cracked in the night
Out across the desert
hooves like thunder on the trails
off to fill the saddle bags
left hung on hitching rails
no eyes have ever seen him
on those nights he came around
they've only seen the swirling dust
and heard the thunder sound
the only proof was wagon tracks
and prints of mustang feet
and saddle bags on hitching posts
all stuffed with toys and treat
no one knows what happened
to that cowboy and his team
he hasn't come around for years
just vanished it would seem
So now there is old Santa Claus
with snow white beard and hair
who comes round to the shopping malls
and sits there in a chair 

© 2009, Karl Reed
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

We welcome Karl Reed to the BAR-D and look forward to adding information about him.


Big Jake's Christmas

Big Jake was a tough and mighty man, 'till an accident struck him down.
He was badly injured in his head; hospitalized in town.
The ranch was in serious straits, for the cattle sale hadn't brought
Much money to support the family, Jake was a lot distraught.

To save the money they brought him home, set him up in a hospital bed.
He needed time to recuperate, so to keep his family fed.
Some time later it was Christmastime, but the outlook for the kids was grim,
Hospital bills had taken their toll, the holiday prospects were slim.

On Christmas Eve the family came and gathered by Big Jake's bed.
Together they tried to be cheerful, but for some, 'twas a night of dread.
Big Jake was feelin' pretty bad; 'tweren't no presents nor a tree.
How could they and the kids celebrate with all this adversity?

Young Jim had brought his old guitar, so he played while the family sang
All the Christmas songs and hymns they knew; of a sudden the door bell rang.
Momma Jo and Jim got up quick and went to answer the door.
To their surprise the yard was filled with friends and neighbors galore.

They all came in, bringing gifts and food and folks to fill a room.
They crowded in and greeted Big Jake—they began to dispel the gloom.
The Schlecters said, "Hey, Big Jake, we’re doin' your chores for a while.
You jest get well and concentrate on getting back your friendly smile."
Then the Jones' piped up and told him, "Don't worry about feedin' the stock,
We'll be a takin' care of that, and we'll treat that roan's fetlock.

Then the friends and neighbors brought a great big sack and a tree
All decorated and lighted up, as pretty as can be.
The sack was full of lots of gifts for the kids and Momma Jo too,
And even Big Jake, he wasn't forgot, they gave him one or two.

Well, the folks, they returned to home but they left Big Jake a stash,
They had taken up a collection of a considerable amount of cash.
Big Jake and Momma Jo sat down and the kids sat quietly by
Now Big Jake was a tough old bird, but a tear or two filled his eye.

Momma and the kids went to bed, leaving Big Jake to stay
And this big old cowboy cried and quietly began to pray.
"Now, Lord, I ain't much fer prayin, but tonight, this I gotta do;
I'm thankin' you for givin' me friends who've been kind to us and true

To the teachin's of your Son, 'bout unselfishness and love,
'Bout carin, for yer fellow-man, and followin' You up above.
So, bless me, Lord, so I can heal, and bless me that I might
Return the love and thoughtful carin', I received this Christmas night."

© 2009, Charles W. Bell
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

Read more about C.W. (Charley) Bell and more of his poetry here.

An Old Ranch Christmas

Back then the sky was full of white gold—
Now it’s just snow as we say grace—
Snuggled by the fire and safe from cold,
Each with dreams of an old home place.

We once shared holidays our own way
On a run-down ranch far out West—
Loved our life in spite of what we’d say,
And we loved Christmas time the best.

We didn’t know what dad had in mind—
For we’d been just poor city folk.
He’d brought us out there so he could find
The lost childhood of which he spoke.

He’d told us of that blue distant range—
The ranch he lived on as a boy.
Why those town ways always felt so strange—
How going back there had brought joy.

Oh, we struggled on those few acres—
Had cows, horses and one old sow.
But we were receivers, not takers
Each passing year I recall now.

Come Christmas Eve we searched for our tree—
Way back behind the far north crest.
We chopped down the biggest we could see—
We all loved Christmas time the best.

Then mom would roast a big wild turkey
Or a free range chicken instead.
One year it was rabbit and jerky—
We did not gripe and were well-fed.

Yes, the presents weren’t all that much then—
It was thoughts with which we were blessed.
And our faces were all one big grin—
It was Christmas that we loved best.

But those Christmases have come and went,
And now our prairie has grown small.
That little ranch where our lives were spent
Is now an empty shopping mall.

Oh, this fast world does not let us roam,
And age makes us a captive guest—
We count down days in the nursing home,
But we still love Christmas the best.

© 2009, Glen Enloe
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

Read more about Glen Enloe and more of his poetry here.



See a complete list of all the holiday poems from 2000-2009 here.

See the links here for holiday news and more.


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