Page Nine



The Gate Cut

Mr. Avery said this morning we could all have Christmas off,
  In fact, knock off at noon on Christmas Eve.
That tickled all the boys with families here in Silver City,
  but there's no time for me to drive to Tennessee.
My family has gotten used to me not being 'round the tree
  and I've not been to church in twenty years,
'Cept for Billy Meecham's wedding and to bury Grandpa Tom,
  just the memory of it still brings me to tears.

So I feel a little distant from the whole religious thing
  As I put my saddle on this fleabit gray,
And if some one ask, "what's this Christmas all about?"
  I'm not sure I'd know exactly what to say.
So I decided to do some thinking while puttin' out some salt,
  'bout how the Christ Child's birthday should fit in with me,
And what I should be doin' when Christmas finally comes,
  and I'm a long way from my family's Christmas tree.

It seems the celebration should be about the Man himself,
  and the turkey and the tree are just for trim.
Cause what matters is the feeling a believer's got in his heart
  That wouldn't be there if it weren't for him.
So maybe if I get my mind right, I can still have me some Christmas
 Just by thinkin' on the things that matter most.
"bout how he was born and lived and died, and everything he said,
  About the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost.

If I close my eyes I can almost see my family,
  as they bow their heads to say the Christmas prayer.
And I'll bet the first out of Mama's mouth is how she's wishin'
  That her saddle tramp son could just be there.
Tonight I'll pull that Bible out she gave me, when I went off to the Army,
  And in the campfire light I'll try to read His Word,
And hope this worthless cowboy has a chance to make the Gate cut,
  When old Gabriel comes to gather in the herd.

© 2002, Michael Henley
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

Read more of Michael Henley's poetry here.

Featured in "The Big Roundup," an anthology of the best of



Gifts in the Hay

On the long trek to the barn snow crunches under my feet
From somewhere in the trees an old horned owl hoots
The sweet smell of hay greets me as I open the door
The new calf is up and nursing, a worry no more.
As I step back out my breath appears in a cloud of steam
It's a night of beauty, a moment to dream.
Stars twinkle in a clear crisp sky
Prompting me to wonder once again why, why
God chose to have His Holy Son born in a barn, laid in hay
When He with such divine power had the choice of any way
Did He plan that the keepers of lowly cattle and sheep
Be the first believers of the Gift of the babe asleep?
For the angels led the herdsmen on their way
To the precious child cuddled in rags and hay.
I begin to hum "Silent Night" as I follow the pathway
So thankful for all of God's gifts born in the hay.

© 2006, Deanna Dickinson McCall
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without written permission.

Read more of Deanna Dickinson McCall's poetry here.




In days of old, we've heard it told
how shepherds watched their flocks
they worked and stayed, both night and day
with no regard for clocks

Today we think, they are extinct
or else extremely rare
whom God has chose to live for those
that he's put in their care

They're still alive, they have survived
against surmounting odds
they're the real McCoy, they're called cowboy
and the work they do is God's

© 2006, Jody Strand
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without written permission.


Jody Strand is from Baker, Montana



Blue Moon Christmas

Jimmie's dad was bent and wise, a man that life had rode by—
But Jim still recalled his words when he would laugh and half cry:
"Life's a fragile balance between honor and what's true—
A rare, livin' miracle like a winter moon that's blue."
Jimmie started busting sheep when he was only six—
His dad taught him to ride and shoot, and do those fancy tricks.
He grew long and lean on that ranch and helped with the chores—
And rode the broncs and young bulls then, keeping track of his scores.
His name was Jimmie Moon, but his friends just called "Blue"—
'Cause kids like him were few and far and his heart was strong and true.
He had wisdom beyond his years—he had seen the light—
He never did the easy thing; he did the thing that's right.
It came as no surprise; he married a girl named Liz
Folks knew was large with child that was another man's, not his.
But that was fine with Blue and he still followed his star—
Ranching now part-time and riding bulls in the PBR.
"It's not like the ol' days," smiled his dad, not being funny—
"Then bull ridin' was for buckles—now you're talkin' money!"
But just as Jimmie Blue Moon was on the edge of fame—
September 11th happened and stirred within a flame.
Though his family begged him not to sign and go away—
He enlisted in the Army just the very next day.
Sure enough, his service to a cause became a fact
And he was sent far off to war in a place called Iraq.
Then months and years rolled by as Blue only rode iron tanks—
Never forgetting his wife and child, for which he gave thanks.
Then came a Christmas season when Blue's ranch was deep with snow—
A knock on the door brought news Blue's wife did not want to know.
But she would not even read it—she knew what lay within—
A red rage toward her country now the fire that was her friend.
Yet just a few days later on a now black Christmas Eve—
Another knock was heard from a cowboy come home on leave.
And Jim Blue Moon stood on the porch with presents in one arm,
A proof against dark forces wishing all of us great harm.
He said like Twain, news of his death was exaggerated—
And with smiles his wife helped him in, and they celebrated.

Yet in the haze of happiness and all her loving care,
Only now did Liz realize Blue's left arm was not there.
But snatching life from death's dark rider is a precious thing,
And nothing could dispel the joy their reunion would bring. 
Then came the new Christmas day, which now seemed so clear and bright—
Yet Blue held back—flexed his cold metal arm in morning light.
"I wonder if it was worth it?" Blue mumbled at the sight—
But Liz nodded and said: "Yes, you did the thing that was right." 
Then they slowly opened presents—three united again—
Later dad and mom came over, and each rodeo friend.
"PBR's done," dad whispered in a voice like from the grave—
"Heck, no!" Blue then replied, "I just lost the arm that I wave!"
Sure enough, with prosthetic arm, Blue rode the bulls once more—
Till he volunteered to go back to that faraway shore.
Alone, Jim's wife held their child and the inner one so new—
As a full, pale Christmas moon rose and slowly turned to blue.

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

Read more of Glen Enloe's poetry here.


A Cowboy's Christmas Thoughts

There's hustle and there's bustle and confusion all aroun'— 
It sure gets mighty hectic when ol' Santa comes t' town!
Accordin' to the Bible, though, why there's a whole lot more
T' this whole thing than Santa Claus an' shoppin' at the store.
The angels brought glad tidin's once t' spread throughout the earth,
And ever since we celebrate that special Christ Child's birth.
One starlit night within a stable many years ago,
That little babe was laid t' sleep in manger mean and low.
It must have been a humblin' sight t' see that Prince o' Light
Amid the critters sheltered there on that momentous night.
We know that story very well, can tell it all by heart—
I wonder if we're bold enough to add a cowboy's part?
The Good Book says a little donkey carried Mary far,
And camels took the Wise Men as they followed shinin' star.
I'm thinkin' that there needs t' be a horse in there somewhere
To give a ride t' Baby Jesus—mild, and meek, and fair.
And there should be a stock dog just t' make it more complete,
T' work the cows, and play some, too, then lie there at His feet.
Imagine that they gathered 'roun' a peaceful ev'nin' fire
And sang a cowboy lullaby backed by a Heav'nly choir!
And who's t' say it couldn't be the Wise Men way back then
Were not the cowboys o' their time, and really cattlemen?
We read about the shepherds and we pay 'em due respect,
But calves are just as nice as lambs the last time that I checked.
So maybe those three Wise Men were out checkin' on the herd,
And roundin' up a stray or two that possibly got stirred
By somethin' new up in the sky--a star so big and bright—
Then started on their journey bein' guided by its light.
Now I'm just speculatin' 'bout the way it might have been...
There's none of us can rightly say 'cause we weren't 'roun' back then.
So next time that you read, or hear, or sing about that night,
Reflect on how it might have been and if I'm thinkin' right!
Until that time let's concentrate on what is real and true,
And most of all, a Merry Christmas is my wish to you!     

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

Bobbie_Hunter_1.jpg (21360 bytes)

Read more poetry by Bobbie Hunter here.



Just Celebrating

On a chilling Friday morning
In the Pickup Truck Cafe,
All th' cowboys drinkin' coffee
Like they'd do most any day.

They're talkin' 'bout the news of war;
Would they ever have some peace?
Now with Christmas comin' on 'em,
Maybe all the wars would cease.

Didn't really think it'd happen,
Just a thought to chew awhile,
But speculatin' loudly
In their cowboy augerin' style.

Just send them folks a jillion bucks,
Maybe that'd make 'em stop.
Trade 'em school books for their weapons,
Or hospitals for a swap.

Then the door whipped open loudly,
And the wind kicked snowflakes in,
With Jo-Bob the Bar-D foreman
Frosted up from toe to chin.

Well, Jo-Bob's as old as yard-dirt
And the boys all think he's wise.
So they goose him with the question
'Bout world peace that satisfies.

"You know; it's Christmas time," they sez
"And we celebrate Christ's birth.
How'll we ever stop this fightin'
So's we'll all have peace on earth?"

With a sip of steamin' coffee
Jo-Bob sat and thought a while,
Like he's ciphering out a problem
In true western cowboy style.

Melted snow dripped off his jumper
As he gazed out into space,
It seemed a tear came to his eye,
Then a smile spread 'crosst his face.

"It'll happen maybe someday,
If the whole dang world gets smart,
When we stop just celebratin'
And wrap Jesus in our heart."

© 2006, Gail T. Burton
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission

And we pray that you have peace;
His Peace
Gail & Barbara Burton

Read more poetry by Gail T. Burton here.

Featured in "The Big Roundup," an anthology of the best of


Iowa 1842

The children performed as they were taught,
offering thanks to God for
home, family, a holiday meal,
pleading food for the poor,
conjuring up anything to deliver
an acceptable grace before the assembled family.
They lacked neither in time nor content.

In their age of affluence
how can they comprehend true thankfulness
for gifts so simple as keeping warm,
avoiding starvation
your child's next breath,
as was frighteningly familiar to Euriah and Elizabeth
their first Christmas on the plains
when the walls were three foot thick sod,
water was locked tight in a ten below freeze,
game had migrated to survival climates,
health was dependent upon luck.

Offered then were thanks for
a weakened draft team still alive,
land of promise not yet worked,
one grouse caught from a dozen snares,
bountiful dung for fuel,
passive Indians,
Never will my children know
bitter suffering as did our ancestors
in that freeze of 1842
when our lineage might have ended
except for their prayers,
their strength,
and their stubbornness.
For this we cannot
give thanks enough.

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

Read more of Jim Cardwell's poetry here.



Cowboy/Country Christmas

My mind begins to wander
to them days of long ago,
I'd hear the bells on jingle-sleighs
an' feel the cold, wet snow

My pony'd start to whinny
with breath that I could see
as we rode up in the mountains
to fetch a Christmas tree

Our fingers were kept busy
stringin' berries for that tree,
popcorn, stars, an' candles—
it was quite a site to see

I remember our log cabin
that set down by the lake,
an' think of sacrifices
my folks sure had to make

I think about my mother
preparin' special treats,
an' hangin' up the stockin's
she took right off our feet

An' dear ol' Dad a workin'
to build that favored toy,
fullfillin' all the fancy dreams
of each child, girl or boy

I smell the goose Mom cooked us,
an' taste the punkin' pie,
the turnip greens an' taters
piled half way to the sky

I hear the Christmas blessin',
heads bowed before the meal,
hopin' all our guests agreed
'bout how it made us feel

"Cause we were taught the reason
why we celebrate
the Christ Child bein' born that day,
it weren't just chance nor fate

An' when I hold my children,
though Christmas ain't the same—
I'll teach 'em 'bout that Holy Day
an' to revere His name.

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


Read more of Tamara Hillman's poetry here.


A Christmas Tale

It was a stormy Christmas Eve
An' thet little church was now dark.
'Twas the first place found by thet 'poke
Lookin' fer a warm place ta park.

As he dismounted at its door
He paused as it swung open wide.
Seeking shelter from the blizzard,
He an' his pony went inside.

A fierce winter's blast was blowin'.
He welcomed this from its extremes.
He an' his pony settled down
An' he drifted off ta sweet dreams.

He was up 'fore the mornin' sun
On thet Christmas day, in moonlight.
He saddled up Cisco an' rode
Out into thet now-calm twilight.

An' jist as he rode top thet ridge
Up 'bove thet sleepy little town
A strange shadow passed o'er him
'Pon that snow-covered, moonlit groun'.

It was thar fer jist a short flash.
He pondered, was it really real?
A jolly driver an' reindeer,
It caused him ta make this appeal.

Alone, up thar atop thet ridge
He gave thanks fer an ancient birth,
Then turned towards thet little ol' church,
An' wished fer all . . . 
Merry Christmas an' Peace on Earth.

© 2004, Ken Whitecotton
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

This poem was inspired by the 2005 Christmas Art Spur subject,  "A Christmas Tale" by Mick Harrison. 

Read more of Ken Whitecotton's poetry here.



In Every Cowboy Heart

As I was finishing up in the barn and parceling out the hay
My thoughts turned toward another long ago winter's day
For it was in a barn much like this one that our Salvation started
I wish I knew just where from that message we departed

Did he hear his first lullaby from a momma cow's lowing?
Did he awaken on his first morn and marvel at the rooster's crowing?
What were his thoughts as the Kings offered Frankincense, gold & Myrrh?
He with so precious few hours on this earth, tender & demure

How could they know, so long ago, as they lay their gifts in the stall,
That their offerings would lead to shopping frenzies & Santas in the Mall?
As I drive through town, I notice all the sale signs and groaning shopping carts
And I wonder if they have managed to find room for the newborn King in their hearts?

Back home on the ranch, with my boys gathered round the fire
We talk about the northern star, a simple manger and a heavenly choir
To be sure, we have a Christmas tree, a cedar cut down that very morn
And as we decorate it with memories, we tell the story of how he was born.

Each child has a special figure to place as we set up the Nativity scene
As it takes its place up on our mantel wrapped in boughs of evergreen
There is cocoa, carols and laughter; secret winks and silly grins
For it is hearth, home and family, where the Spirit of Christmas truly begins

Tomorrow we'll load up the truck with food boxes, blankets and coats
And bring a bit of Christmas joy to those who fight the wolf from their throats
Then we will join La Posada, to celebrate the journey leading to the Savior's birth
And once again marvel at how a tiny Babe brought Joy & Peace on Earth

There will be Christmas Mass at midnight and then home to tuck the kids in bed
I'll check the barns and whisper a prayer as that long ago night plays again in my head
I look again at a straw filled stall & think of how Salvation got its simple start
Knowing that there will always be a place for the newborn King in every Cowboy Heart

© 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.




See a complete list of all the holiday poems posted since 2000 here.

See the links here for holiday news and more.




Page Nine




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