Page Two

Newest below.
 

 

Poems, Songs, Stories and More

 

New poems and songs along with selected classic and contemporary favorites
from past years' celebrations and audio and video links to poetry and music,
 with posts throughout the season.

Find more on Facebook:

Find a complete list with links to all the holiday poems posted starting in 2000 here.

Newest below.


Page one

"Christmas Waltz" by Buck Ramsey

"Christmas Thoughts" by Slim McNaught

"A Journey in Search of Christmas" by Owen Wister

"Santa Must Be a Cowboy" by Robert Dennis

"In the Bleak Midwinter" (audio link) by Wylie Gustafson

"Santa Must be a Shoer" by Andy Nelson

"Drylanders Christmas" by S. Omar Barker

Stephanie Davis (video link) sings "Winter Wonderland"

"The Cowboy's Christmas Ball"  by Larry Chittenden

"Prairie Silent Night" by Curly Musgrave

"The Perfect Gift" by Yvonne Hollenbeck

"Line-Camp Christmas" by S. Omar Barker

Below:

"Night Before Christmas on the West Texas Plains" by Waddie Mitchell

"Christmas on the Trail" by Hal Swift

"Merry Christmas" by Bruce Kiskaddon

"Scotty’s Christmas Tree" by Tom Swearingen

"The Christmas Present" by William Hickman

"The Christmas Trail" by Charles Badger Clark, Jr.

"A Rusty Surprise" by Jean Mathisen Haugen

"Habits and Traditions" by Jack Burdette

"Papa Noel Visits Mi Casa" by Floyd Beard

"Remembering Dave at Christmas" by C.W. (Charles) Bell

Art Spur:
"A Feast of Memories" by Marleen Bussma of Utah
"The Prodigal Christmas Gift" by James Cathey of Texas
"The Visit" by Michael Henley of Arkansas
"The Christmas Stranger" by Michelle Turner of Iowa
"The Visit" by Tom Swearingen of Oregon
"Gifts" by Jeff Campbell of Texas
"An Angel Unaware?" by Jean Mathisen Haugen of Wyoming
"Belated Traveler" by Floyd Traynor of Texas

"The Old Time Christmas" by Bruce Kiskaddon

 

 

Contemporary, from the archives:

Top cowboy poet Waddie Mitchell has several Christmas poems in his new book, One Hundred Poems, including Night Before Christmas on the West Texas Plains.

 

Night Before Christmas on the West Texas Plains

'Twas the night before Christmas
On the West Texas plain
The ranch had been suf’frin’
For a much needed rain
Still, spirits were high
When kids bedded that night
While their mother and I
We’re assessing our plight

We'd figured for hours
The money we'd need
To sustain the cattle
With supplement feed
Our figures confirmed
We would have to sell out
‘Less we got some relief
From the lingering drought

Resigned to these facts
We arose from the table
To put out the gifts
Our small budget made able
The bounty this year
Would be pitifully small
when we noticed a note
That was taped to the wall
It read: "Dear Santa Claus
We hope you’ll bring
instead of us toys
The most important thing
Some rain for the ranch
So the grass can grow tall
We reckon that'd be
The best present of all

"Might keep us from having
To move from this place"
Then, I noticed their mom
Wipe a tear from her face
"We are blessed in spite
Of our troubles," she said
We hugged and held hands
As we went off to bed.

We were waken at dawn
By some young shouts of glee
"Mommy, Daddy, best hurry, come see
We knew he was real
And would hear our request"
As they pointed to heavy
Black clouds to the West

We were dancing and laughing
And jumping around
When the first precious drops
Started hitting the ground.
Then all of a sudden
The clouds seem to burst
While the soil was quenching
Its terrible thirst

And from that Christmas on
Our whole family will claim
That the best present ever
Was a West Texas rain.

© Waddie Mitchell, reprinted with permission
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without permission

 

 

Contemporary, from the archives:

  Writer and poet Hal Swift has a nostalgic poem:

Christmas on the Trail

I was up in the hills, checkin' fence for Dad,
while home from school on vacation.
It started to snow, and soon covered the trail,
but I knew my exact location.

I put up a lean-to for my mare Bill,
then put up a tent for me.
I started a fire, then started a stew,
then I boiled me some sassafras tea,

It was Christmas Eve, and it snowed all night,
but by mornin' the sky was clear.
I found myself thinkin' that this has to be
my favorite time of the year.

I got the feedbag and gave Bill some oats,
then got my fire goin' again.
I thought of my folks and all of the guests,
that for days had been wanderin' in.

They'd be on the carpet in front of the fire,
and passin' their gifts around.
And here's old Bud, snowed in, in the woods,
my carpet, the frozen ground.

I spotted a pine tree, with cones that hung
like ornaments Nature had made.
The green of that tree was somethin' to see,
like beautiful Chinese jade.

A hidden choir of coyotes sang carols,
while a brown bear watched from a hill.
I boiled me some more of that sassafras tea,
then sat there and drank my fill.

Three mountain jays came to check me out,
and flitted from branch to branch.
They too were like ornaments on our tree
in the livingroom back at the ranch.

There, by now, all the folks would be sorry
I'm missin' their Christmas cheer.
But when I get home, I'll have to tell 'em
how I had Christmas here.

© 2003, Hal Swift
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without permission

 

 

Classic, from the archives:

This poem, by Bruce Kiskaddon (1878-1950), is included with a great recitation by Gail Steiger on The BAR-D Roundup: Volume 8, a double CD of modern and classic Christmas cowboy poetry:
 

Merry Christmas

We was whistlin', we was singin' on a winter afternoon;
The hobble chains and fryin' pans was jinglin' to the tune.
Fer we knew the day was Christmas and the line camp was in sight,
No, it wasn't much to look at but it suited us all right.

We onpacked and we onsaddled, then we turned our hosses out;
We cooked lots of beef and biscuits and we made the coffee stout.
We et all we could swaller, then we set and took a smoke,
And we shore did work our memory out to find a bran new joke.

No, it wasn't like the Christmas like the folks have nowadays—
They are livin' more in comfort, and they've sorter changed their ways—
But I sorter wish, old pardner, we could brush the years away,
And be jest as young and happy, as we was that Christmas Day.

Bruce Kiskaddon, 1933

Bruce Kiskaddon wrote an annual Christmas poem for the Chuck Wagon Trailers, a group organized in 1931 "by old-time cowboys who were Hollywood's first stunt men and western stars."  This 1933 piece is posted courtesy of Bill Siems, whose recent, monumental book, Open Range; Collected Poems of Bruce Kiskaddon, includes more of those Christmas poems, and all of Bruce Kiskaddon's known poetry. Siems notes that the poem was reprinted in the Western Livestock Journal in December, 1933.

Find more about Bruce Kiskaddon in our features here.

 


 

New in 2015:

  From Oregon poet Tom Swearingen:

Scotty’s Christmas Tree

We were coming up on Christmas.
In fact, it was Christmas Eve.
Which found me out with Scotty Dee
And a brand new hand named Steve.

We'd all recalled our younger days
When at home this time of year,
With mom and dad and family,
How a Christmas tree brought cheer.
....

Read the entire poem and more about Tom on his page here.





 

New in 2015:

  From Texas poet Bill Hickman:

 The Christmas Present

An old cowboy closed the ‘ol barn door,
Then headed for the warmth of the house.
A Christmas poem ran thru his head,
About, “not even a mouse.”

The stars shined ever so brightly,
Twinkling in the sky tonight.
They’d showed the way to Mary’s baby
He then quietly sang, “Silent Night.”
....

Read the entire poem and more about Bill on his page here.

 


 

Classic, from the archives:

  Charles Badger Clark's (1883-1957) "The Christmas Trail," a fine Christmas poem, was put to music by Don Edwards as "Ridin' the Christmas Trail," and you can listen to that here.

The Christmas Trail

The wind is blowin' cold down the mountain tips of snow
   And 'cross the ranges layin' brown and dead;
It's cryin' through the valley trees that wear the mistletoe
   And mournin' with the gray clouds overhead.
Yet it's sweet with the beat of my little hawse's feet
   And I whistle like the air was warm and blue
For I'm ridin' up the Christmas trail to you, 
                  Old folks,
   I'm a-ridin' up the Christmas trail to you.

Oh, mebbe it was good when the whinny of the Spring
   Had weedled me to hoppin' of the bars.
And livin' in the shadow of a sailin' buzzard's wing
   And sleepin' underneath a roof of stars.
But the bright campfire light only dances for a night,
   While the home-fire burns forever clear and true,
So 'round the year I circle back to you, 
                   Old folks,
   'Round the rovin' year I circle back to you.

Oh, mebbe it was good when the reckless Summer sun
   Had shot a charge of fire through my veins,
And I milled around the whiskey and the fightin' and fun
   'Mong the mav'ricks drifted from the plains.
Ay, the pot bubbled hot, while you reckoned I'd forgot,
   And the devil smacked the young blood in his stew,
Yet I'm lovin' every mile that's nearer you,
                   Good folks,
   Lovin' every blessed mile that's nearer you.

Oh, mebbe it was good at the roundup in the Fall,
   When the clouds of bawlin' dust before us ran,
And the pride of rope and saddle was a-drivin' of us all
   To stretch of nerve and muscle, man and man.
But the pride sort of died when the man got weary eyed;
   'Twas a sleepy boy that rode the nightguard through,
And he dreamed himself along a trail to you,
                    Old folks,
   Dreamed himself along a happy trail to you.

The coyote's Winter howl cuts the dusk behind the hill,
   But the ranch's shinin' window I kin see,
And though I don't deserve it and, I reckon, never will,
   There'll be room beside the fire kep' for me.
Skimp my plate 'cause I'm late.  Let me hit the old kid gait,
   For tonight I'm stumblin' tired of the new
And I'm ridin' up the Christmas trail to you,
                     Old folks,
   I'm a-ridin' up the Christmas trail to you.



 

New in 2015:

  From Wyoming poet Jean Mathisen Haugen:

A Rusty Surprise

My great uncle's homestead cabin
had long since fallen down.
But years back I picked up some tiles.
he'd decorated it with from town.

Now they were blue and pretty
when he put them up long ago
and when I stopped by his old cabin,
I found two of them in the snow.
...

Read the entire poem and more about Jean on her page here.

Jean shared one of her horseshoe paintings:

 

 

New in 2015:

From Arizona poet Jack Burdette:

 Habits and Traditions

The fireplace flames now dancing soft,
fends off a chill from winter’s snow,
Takes me back to Christmases past,
spent ‘neath the stars’ heavenly glow.
Away from home out on the trail,
seems tradition always prevailed.
A scraggly bush would make a tree
and nature’s backdrop never failed.

We’d read Luke’s story of Christ’s birth
and sip our coffee from tin ware.
‘Course, the last sip went in the fire,
to avoid the grounds settled there.
Singing familiar Christmas carols,
to clumsy picking on guitar,
Sounded more like joyful noise,
than music to the ear, by far.
....

Read the entire poem and more about Jack on his page here.



 

New in 2015:

  From Colorado poet Floyd Beard:

Papa Noel Visits Mi Casa

Was la noche before Christmas, and all cross the ranch,
No animals was stirring, owl sleep on his branch.
Mi wool socks was laid by the kiva all right,
Possibly Papa Noel find them ‘dere later that night.
Me ninos were snuggled all warm in their beds,
Dreams of sopapillas y tamales danced in their heads.
Mamacita in her flannel, long johns got my nod,
We were just about dreaming of Feliz Navidad.
....

Read the entire poem and more about Floyd on his page here.



 

 

New in 2015:

  From Utah poet C.W. (Charles) Bell:

Remembering Dave at Christmas

Now Dave, an old rancher owned a spread.
He had lots white hair on his body and head.
He wore on his face a beautiful full beard;
Some folks hereabouts thought he was weird.

He was a big man, about six feet two,
Had a big round belly, a size fifty-two.
Every year at Christmas he’d hire himself out
To play the part of Santa in parts hereabout.
....

Read the entire poem and more about Charley on his page here.

 

 

 


 


"The Belated Traveler" by Frederic Remington
 

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 forty-second piece offered to "spur" the imagination—a special Winter/Christmas Art Spur—is "The Belated Traveler," a painting by the great artist of the American West, Frederic Remington (1861-1909).

Remington wrote something about art that can be applied to poetry, "Big art is a process of elimination. Cut down and outdo your hardest work outside the picture, and let your audience take away something to think aboutto imagine."

Remington created a great range of art, in both medium and subject. Starting around 1900, he began to paint a series of paintings about the "darkness," which included "The Belated Traveler." The National Gallery of Art has an engaging presentation, "The Color of Night." They comment, "Before his premature death in 1909 at age forty-eight, Remington completed more than seventy paintings in which he explored the technical and aesthetic difficulties of painting darkness."

In 1998, "The Belated Traveler" sold for $2,477,500
"The Belated Traveler" is on loan to the Amon Carter Museum for its "Tales from the American West: The Rees-Jones Collection" exhibit.

See our feature on Owen Wister's "Evolution of the Cow-Puncher" for one of Remington's best-known paintings.

Find more about Remington at fredericremington.org.

Submissions were welcome from all through Sunday, December 20, 2015. Find selected poems here.

Find past Winter/Christmas Art Spur subjects here.

 

  "A Feast of Memories" by Marleen Bussma of Utah

 "The Prodigal Christmas Gift" by James Cathey of Texas

  "The Visit" by Michael Henley of Arkansas

  "The Christmas Stranger" by Michelle Turner of Iowa

  "The Visit" by Tom Swearingen of Oregon

  "Gifts" by Jeff Campbell of Texas

 "An Angel Unaware?" by Jean Mathisen Haugen of Wyoming

  "Belated Traveler" by Floyd Traynor of Texas

 


Classic, from the archives
:

  We wrap up Christmas at the BAR-D with Bruce Kiskaddon's (1878-1950) poem, "The Old Time Christmas."

Below is the image of an original Los Angeles Stockyards calendar page from December, 1954. The poem and drawing first appeared in the Western Livestock Journal in 1934. It was also included in Kiskaddon's 1935 book, Western Poems.


The Old Time Christmas

I liked the way we used to do,
   when cattle was plenty and folks was few.
The people gathered frum far and near, and
   they barbacued a big fat steer.
The kids tried stayin' awake because,
   they reckoned they might ketch Santa Claus.
Next mornin' you'd wake 'em up to see,
   what he'd been and put on the Christmas tree.

It was Christmas then fer the rich and pore,
   and every ranch was an open door.
The waddy that came on a company hoss
   was treated the same as the owner and boss.
Nobody seemed to have a care,
   you was in among friends or you wasn't there.
For every feller in them days knew
   to behave hisself as a man should do.

Some had new boots, which they'd shore admire
   when they warmed their feet in front of the fire.
And the wimmin folks had new clothes too,
   but not like the wimmin of these days do.
Sometimes a drifter came riding in,
   some feller that never was seen agin.
And each Christmas day as the years went on
   we used to wonder where they'd gone.

I like to recall the Christmas night.
   The tops of the mountains capped with white.
The stars so bright they seemed to blaze,
   and the foothills swum in a silver haze.
Them good old days is past and gone.
   The time and the world and the change goes on.
And you cain't do things like you used to do
   when cattle was plenty and folks was few.

 

 

 

Thanks to all of you who visit the BAR-D throughout the year, and to all of the poets, songwriters, artists, photographers, and other friends who are such an important part of the BAR-D.

 




 

Merry Christmas, All!

 

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