Page Eight



Christmas Shopping in Cactus Center

Women's scarce in Cactus Center, and there ain't no bargain stores
Fer to start them Monday rushes that break down the stoutest doors;
But we had some Christmas shoppin' that the town ain't over yet,
Jest because of one small woman and a drug store toilet set.

She was Cactus Center's teacher, and she had n't left the stage
'Fore she had the boys plum locoed—and I don't bar youth nor age;
She was cute and smart and pretty, and she might 'a' been here yet
If it had n't been fer Dawson and his drug store toilet set.

It was old and scratched and speckled, for 't was in his case for years,
But ol' Dawson, sharp and clever, put a whisper in our ears—
'Lowed he'd sell that set at auction, and he says:  "Now, boys, you bet
This 'ill make a hit with Teacher—this here swell new toilet set."

Well the biddin' stated lively, and it got to gettin' hot,
For every mind in Cactus on that single thing was sot;
Purty soon I'd staked my saddle, worth two hundred dollars net,
Jest to own fer one short second that blamed drug store toilet set.

It was then began the shootin'—no one seems to know jest how—
And 't was lack of ammunition that at last broke up the row;
And thirteen of us was hurted, but the worst blow that we met
Was in findin' that some bullets had gone through that toilet set.

But we plugged the punctures in it, and we plugged the wounded, too,
And agreed we'd arbitrate it, and the bunch 'd see it through;
So we sent a gift committee, but they came back sorer yet—
Fer the teacher'd fluttered Eastward—so we've got that toilet set.

Arthur Chapman


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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 the author's written permission.


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Christmas Wish

On our ranch way out in the hills,
Santa Claus really did exist...
his was a tale I told our kids
but now he's gone and greatly missed.

He was a mysterious gent,
ridin' to our place on horseback
in the darkness of Christmas Eve
without leavin' a single track.

Of course, the gifts weren't much at all
'cause we was poor as we could be
but Santa came by every year
to leave a present 'neath our tree.

Our kids grew up and moved away
and old Santa Claus left as well.
The house seemed sorta empty then
just like a cold and empty shell.

So Santa's missin' from our place
and it's a loss, that's truly so,
he was really a grand old man
and I am sad he had to go.

Now days he visits down the way
where other children live and wait
for old Santa to fill their socks
on this important Christmas date.

I wish he'd come and visit us
on at least one more won'drous night
'cause in them visits years ago
he made our Christmas season bright.

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


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Christmas Message

I'm sure it weren't no accident,
Buckshot took us there that day,
Since I gave him his head when we started,
And just let him pick the way.

We rode it seemed like for miles,
Man and horse in the cool of the snow,
'Til the sunset bid "Hasta luego",
Leaving us with but one place to go.

A valley was spread out before us,
Steep hillsides all covered in white.
In the distance was a lonely stable,
Revealed by a lantern's soft light.

Old Buckshot, he stopped in some shadow,
Thrown by pine trees asleep by the moon.
Every branch held a blanket of snowflakes,
Offering calm like a winter cocoon.
Our breath became steam in the silence,
Man and beast sensing sacred about.
Half expecting a legion of angels,
To appear amid trumpet and shout.
It was a silent night just like that one,
When the world changed two millennia ago,
With the birth of a King in a stable,
Born a child under Heaven's bright glow.
For a moment I felt I was present,
Back in time hearing angels' glad cry,
Along with shepherds amazed by a chorus,
Of holy music engulfing the sky.
Their song made me realize my blessings,
How my troubles were but a light load.
Filled with family, good friends and compadre's,
My life was a cup overflowed.
A soft nudge brought me back to the present,
Then my Pard stomped a hoof in the cold,
And gave me a look full of import,
If he could speak then, I'm sure he'd have told.
How Creation believes in the message,
Of the One come to earth out of love.
And if man could be humble and listen,
He'd find peace unsurpassed from above.
"You're right, boy," I answered my sidekick.
"It's time I took that good message to heart.
How 'bout we ride to that stable up yonder?
That might be a nice place to start."

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


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Cowboy Christmas

What if Santa's health got bad and he couldn't make his route
What if he suffered frostbite, or dizzy spells, or gout?
Well, I'm sure the job would still get done like always Christmas Day
But it would be a shiverin' cowboy; doin' it the "Cowboy Way"

'Cause when there's an important job to do and the right guy can't be found
You can always count on a cowboy, (and there's usually one around)
Don't waste time with directions, it don't matter what you say
He'll figure out what he don't know, and do it his own way

He probably won't be wearin' red, cowboys' aint much for suits
He'll have to wear his Stetson, and have spurs strapped on his boots
On his belt he'll have a knife and a pair of fencing' pliers
And in his sack some scour pills and a roll of balin' wire

There might be other changes too, that you should be aware;
Like instead of driving reindeer, he'll use his favorite mare
Or instead of Santa's bright red sleigh, he'll offer up his truck
And he won't slide down your chimney; there's a good chance he'll get stuck

He'll get himself an early start and finish in one night
And do his best to get the names and all addresses right
Yea, cowboys can do 'bout anything, and make it go real slick
So hit your knees and say a prayer that Santa don't get sick!

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


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The Christmas Tree Angels

Went out to hunt a Christmas tree one cold December day
Had found just the right one and were on our homeward way
it began to get real dark as we rode along
Then all of a sudden we both heard it.  It was an angel's song!
I took a sidelong glance at m' pard, an' he took one at me
Then we commenced to look around t' see what we could see
But there was nothing on the trail before ue, nothing caught our eyes
Then th' horses pulled up sharply and acted real surprised.
t' hear the sound of Gloria being sung out on the plains --
 Soprano, cntralto and alto fillin' in the strains
Then th' sky began to brighten and appeared a silver cloud
an'I swear it was the Angel Gabriel who proclaimed to us aloud --
"Glory to the Father, and glory to his Son, an'
Glory to the Trinity, whence all ye mortals come"
Well, we bowed our heads in reverance.  The horses shook with awe
An' when we both looked up again, there was nothin' but an empty draw
We made our way back to the ranch, both feelin' kinda strange
About the miracle we had witnessed out there on the range
So, now every time it's Christmas an' we go out t' hunt a tree
I think about that wondrous night the angels sang for me
An' I wish th' world would stop an' listen --
think what Christmas is about
Then they could hear th' angels sing.  Of that I have no doubt!

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

Donna Penley is from Haysville, Kansas




Angel in the Window

Can't say that I ever saw one,
  and don't know when one might appear.
But, do believe angels exist
  and one may call on me someday.
I think about them more at Christmas,
  guess that comes with the time of year.
Now, don't know if they are for real,
  reckon that's not for me to say.

A blizzard has done snowed me tight,
  in this line shack high up the range.
But, the old barrel stove's glowing red,
  steam's swirling 'bove the coffee pot.
Meant to be home by Christmas Eve,
  to have some company, for a change.
Sure, it's lonely all by myself,
  but, I'm thankful for what I've got.

Tonight will make the best of it,
  since me and nature's at impasse.
Daylight, will saddle up ole Blaze
  and bust them drifts, with a little luck.
The snow won't be too bad to ride,
  once we get through the high pass.
We'll be back to the ranch 'fore dark,
  in time for coosie's Christmas chuck.

Leaning back and feeling drowsy,
  I witnessed an apparition.
Saw an angel in my window,
  silhouetted 'gainst moonlit snow.
Invited her to come on in
  and join in my celebration.
Her wings were bright shinning silver
  and her sweet smile was all aglow.

She told me the Christmas story,
  all about the dear Savior's birth,
How the shepherds were comforted,
  by a host of angels, like her.
Then, she joined in my carol singing,
  about good will and peace on earth.
I listened to her golden harp,
  'til night had passed, most like a blur.

Overall, it was a pleasure,
  that I'll remember for all my time.
Can't remember a Christmas Eve,
  that was nowhere so gen-u-in.
But, I won't tell the boys about it,
  they'd think I fell and rung my chime.
But, know she's real, cause I cut her,
  from the lid of a sardine tin.

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

jackburdettesm2.JPG (6209 bytes)

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A Christmas to Remember

It was the winter of 'forty-seven
When I went with Pa to town
While he was over at the feed store
I had some time to look aroun'

There wasn't much to look at
In that lonesome little town
Just eight stores along the main street
(And one of them burned down)

I walked along the sidewalk
To the local general store
The front window was all gussied up
With Christmas things galore

There were dollies for the little gals;
Toy guns and stuff for boys
More things than you'd imagine
To provide some Christmas joys

But, high up on a pedestal
Was a train made out of tin
The engine was the wind-up kind
There was a box to keep it in

The colors were all bright and bold
On the cars and the caboose
Just the sort of Christmas present
That a little boy could use

I went inside to look at it
The storekeeper took it down
The track was in a figure eight
On which it traveled 'round

It even had a whistle
Just like a real, live train
There were drivers on the engine wheels
He continued to explain

Well, I fell in love with that ol' train
But I knew it cost too much
Pa had it mighty tough that year;
The high cost a feed and such

Pa showed up then, to fetch me
As we both left out the store
He said, "Son that's a fine train set."
And then he said no more

But, every night 'til Christmas
I dreamed about that train
Chuggin' 'round that figure-eight track
Up inside my brain

Well, the winter was a bad one
It was cold 'n it was bleak
There must a been a foot of ice
Down there on Bonner's creek

We even lost some stock
To the bitter cold and snow
It was makin' for a bad year
For my Pa, now don't you know

Then a few days before Christmas Eve
The winds begin to blow
Pa carried lots of wood in
As it begin to snow

It was an awful blizzard
With snow drifts all around
The roads were closed for twenty miles
And we found ourselves snowbound

When it finally let up
And the wind had settled down
Pa took out on foot for some supplies
That he had to get in town

Well, he got back late that evenin'
We shore were glad to see him back
He'd gave Sis and me some candy
That he'd brought us in a sack

It was Christmas Eve the next day
As we set around the fire
Singin' Christmas carols and laughin'
As Pa piled the wood on higher

We'd cut a handsome cedar tree
Then fixed it up real good
With lots of strings of popcorn
And some ornaments of wood

Mama had knit a bright blue star
That she hung atop the tree
We all pitched in to help her;
My Pa, with Sis and me

Then we finished up and went to bed
To sleep 'til Christmas morn
The next day we would celebrate
The day that Christ was born

Before I went to sleep that night
Mama came to tuck me in
She said, "Son, presents could be mighty scarce
'Cause you know how rough it's been."

"Santa knows that you've been good;
That you've done your chores and stuff
He might bring you some warm mittens
And that'll have to be enough."

I understood what Mama said
Shucks, it was sure okay
I figured that ol' wind-up train
Was in my dreams to stay

Bright and early Christmas mornin'
Sis and I woke up with glee
We ran straight into the settin' room
To check the Christmas tree

Mama set right there beside us
A holdin' hands with Pa
They were watchin' us kids' faces
Just filled with Christmas awe

There was stockin's filled with candy
With an apple in there too
And lots of nuts and popcorn balls
But, Sis and I weren't through—

Underneath the Christmas tree
There were some presents wrapped and tied
We couldn't wait to get them open
Just to see what was inside

Mama got a brand new apron
Pa got some brand new socks
And my Sis got herself a dolly
With lots of curly locks

Then tucked way back behind the tree
Was a big box wrapped in blue
Pa said, "Son, fetch that big, blue package out,
I expect that it's for you."

Well, I was so excited
Just to see what it might be
It sure was a handsome package
That was underneath the tree

My hands were just a shakin'
As I opened it with pride
Gosh, you never could imagine
What that present was inside

Santa brought me that great wind-up train
You should have heard my happy cries
'Cause it was there as if by magic
I could scarce believe my eyes

It was the Christmas I'll remember
Until my days on earth are through
I got the present of my dreams
Right there, wrapped up in blue

When Pa walked off to town that day
In that freezin' ice and snow
Somehow he'd bought those toys for us
How he managed, I don't know

It was years after I'd grown up
Before I could really see
The sacrifice my parents made
To provide for Sis and me

Even now when Christmas comes around
With presents 'neath the tree
I still remember 'forty-seven
It's a special memory

© 2006, J. S. Hurst
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

J. S. Hurst comments: The winter of 'forty-seven was one to remember; snow and blizzards and hard times for folks. The sacrifices my parents made to give my sister and me a wonderful Christmas that year will never be forgotten.  They're both gone now, but I say, "Merry Christmas Mom and Dad, I now know that the best gift was you."

You can read more of J. S. Hurst's poetry here.



The Ol' Man In Red

'Twas the night before Christmas when I rode into town.
Things were lit up right purty, but there was no one around.
The bar-room was closed, and the pool-hall was too,
So I went back to the hitch-rail an' swung up on ol' Du.

We was headed cross-country—the shortest way home,
When 'bout a mile out'a town  I seen a elf—or—a gnome!
A  strange lookin' hombre, all dressed up in red,
With long snow white hair all over his head!l

He's a-yippin' an' a-bellerin', jumpin' up an' down,—
Like a new-cut steer calf—or a rodeo clown!
He was tryin' to tell me that he needed a hand,
Said his rig was out yonder stuck in the sand!

Wal—, I was in a good mood, it bein' Christmas an' all,
So I decided to heed his emergency call.
The ol' man took the lead—, through cactus an' brush,
For some unknown reason—, he was in a big rush!

Du dodged through the thorns—, I was wearin' my chaps,
But the ol' man in red tore his suit into scraps!
All ripped up that way, he really looked weird,
With his butt hangin' out an' mesquite in his beard!

We dropped into a wash—and to my surprise,
There stood eight head of reindeer—right in front of my eyes!
They wore harness an' bells, an' stood hitched to a sled,
The pride an' joy of the ol' man in red.

"Now ain't this plumb dumb" I said to myself,
"What on earth can be wrong with that silly ol' elf?"
"The desert's no place for reindeer an' a sled!"
"Don't he have any brains in that hairy ol' head?"

But I got all choked up when he patted their heads,
Standin' there, teary eyed, his red suit in shreds,
By his sled piled high with all kinds of toys—
That he's tryin' to bring to the good girls an' boys.

He was already late when his durn sled got stuck,
I couldn't help but feel sorry about the ol' man's bad luck!
So I pulled loose my string,—an' took down my rope—
Threw a loop on the lead deer an' took off at a lope!

Wal,—at that very same moment the ol' gnome cracked his whip,—
An' the whole rig took off like a dang rocket ship!
The speed of the launch and the force of the thrust—
Created a twister—an' a huge cloud of dust!

Up 'til now my ol' Du had been purty good!
Behavin' the way a cow-pony should.
But that big swirling cloud—an' that weird lookin' guy,
In a sled full of toys—flyin' off through the sky!!

Wal,—it was the spookiest thing that bronc ever seen,
So he spread his front legs—dipped his head in between—
An',—as the worst kinda boogers took a-holt of ol' Du,—
He showed this here cowboy all the tricks that he knew!

He bucked his almighty hardest, an' jumped so durn high,
That he finally throwed me—way up in the sky!
I saw the ol' man in red,—in the pallid moonlight,
As he yelled "Merry Christmas!" an' flew out of sight.

Now,—youv'e all heard the theory—"what goes up must come down"
Wal,—I proved it out as I fell to the ground!
But—my demise was avoided—lucky for me,
Cause I landed on top of the town Christmas tree!

Not one bone was broken, but there was smoke all around,
When the lights shorted out,—the tree burned to the ground!
Then the sheriff came an' hauled me to jail,
That's where I am still,—'cause I can't raise the bail!

An' that ol' pard, is why I'm writin' this ditty,
While I'm behind bars, that durn gnome's sittin' pretty!
Would you kindly go out an' find that galoot?
It should be easy—he's the one in the torn up red suit!

You can tell him—now I need his help,—of course,
To explain to the law 'bout the boogerin' horse.
They all think I was partyin' an' set fire to their tree.
I'm hopin' they'll believe him,—they sure don't believe me!!

© 2006, Ted Risberg, all rights reserved. 
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.


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Cowboy Pirate of the Rio Grande:
A Christmas Treasure Tale

The Ghost of Christmas Present and the Ghost of Christmas Past,
Ain't nothin' to a ghost I met back when I was livin' fast.

Never cared much for Christmas—too much people an' fuss for me,
Out on some wild trail at Christmas was where I wanted to be.

But on that Christmas back in Taos in the year of  '84,
Somthin' happened to change my perspective from then on an' forever more.

 My cowboy pards had gathered in Taos for a Christmas time rendezvous.
It was a shindig thrown by the ranch bosses, an' I was invited too.

 But I said I weren't a-comin', to count me out alright.
I had more profitable things to do whilst they wasted away the night.

 I'd just heard tell of a treasure from an ol' coot on his dyin' bed,
A-mutterin' 'bout his lost chance at gold, a chance that I could have instead.

He tol' me where to find the gold an' said "Mister, pack some lead,
Or you'll wind up just like me, a-layin' here on my dyin' bed."

 Well, his ramblings sounded half crazy, but they also sounded true,
So I figured to scout out his treasure site an' see what I could do.

  I found the place that evenin' an' this cowboy ain't one to scare,
But somthin' 'bout the place didn't figure, a-somthin' hazy-like in the air.

Into the mouth of a cave I went, a cave on the Rio Grande,
An' the sight o' the gold lyin' there made my neck hairs stand.

 The gold ingots looked a mite ancient, belongin' to men long since dead,
 When there appeared in front o' me an ol' conquistador with a skull for his dad-gum head!

This ghost was clad in armor, an' it was the durndest thing to see,
 An' he was sure enough sportin' a skull where his head was supposed to be!

 The horror of the sight did shake me, of nothing else did I dare worry,
 'Cause I knew I wouldn't survive the night with this ghostly conquistador.

Well, this here ghost he started talkin', an' he was the ugliest apparition,
 Said he came through here with Cornado on a Spanish expedition.

 Said he took the gold from some Indians and brought it to this here cave,
 To escape the pursuin' Indians an' the gold for to save.

He holed up here with the gold, an' ended up dyin' with the fever,
 But vowed upon his dyin' breath no one else would have the gold either!

 He said his soul has never rested 'cause it's busy hauntin' this here cave,
 To keep ornery cowboys like me from the gold he died to save.

I said, "You'll play hob you ugly critter, from a fight I've never run,
 I'll skin your gnarly hide, you stinkin' mother's son!"

 Well, I pulled out my pistols an' into the critter I did fire,
 But the bullets just went plum through his hazy an' ghostly mire.

  "What have I got myself into?" I thought. "I don't feel like stayin' here an' dyin',"
 So into that ugly varmint I flew, both my fists a-flyin'!

 Well, he just reached out an' wrapped me up, an' I didn't know what to do,
 I just knew my days o' bein' a cowboy were over, finished, through!

Of a sudden, I heard somthin' a-flutterin' down from the night,
 I taken a look upward an' it was a Spanish Christmas Angel in flight!

Well, I'd never seen an Angel afore, so I really can't compare,
 But she had to be the most beautiful little Angel seen by anybody anywhere.

Her hair was black, her eyes were black, her headwreath a-lined with sage,
 An' her turquoise-dotted Angel gown back east would be the rage.

She was clutchin' a chili ristra, with peppers o' green an' red,
 An' she a-flung it at the conquistador with a skull for his dad-gum head!

 Well, I'd thought he was pretty bad medicine, but he weren't very mean,
 He took to runnin' back further into the cave, an' lettin' out a scream!

She swooped me up outa there, an' we flew off like a bolt o' light,
 Then she gently dropped me down in the plaza where my friends'd been all night.

 I ambled on to the Yuletide rendezvous, an' the carols we did sing!
 An' I was back with my many friends, which was the most important thing.

 I awoke the next mornin', sortin' the cobwebs from my head.
 Had I really fought a conquistador, and dabbled with the dead?

 Yet, hangin' from the ceiling in the bunkhouse by my bed,
 Was a brand new chili ristra made of peppers of green and red!

The sight of this could've shaken me and filled me full of dread,
 Since it was like the one flung at the conquistador with a skull for his dad-gum head.

But it only brought to mind the Angel's words as she set me down to earth,
 "Put not yourself first, cowboy; and remember the Christ Child's birth."

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


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No Room at the Inn

"Dad gum, they lost our reservation!"
She exclaimed, with consternation,
After stormin' out the doorway of the inn.
Hot anger poured from this sweet creature
(Not her most endearing feature),
I could see the young clerk tremblin' within.
She said, "He offered me no reason,
Just said 'It's a busy season, ma'am,
See lots of folks are travelin' this week.'
It seems our name's not on the list. 
Hon, I have never been so pissed,
Just hold me back, or I might strangle the pipsqueak."
"Now, honey, there's no need to shout,
I'm sure that things will all work out,"
I said in, I admit, a condescending tone.
But she was not about to settle;
I decided to back pedal,
Be supportive, so she wouldn't feel alone.
She's got that fire in her belly;
Me, my knees are made of jelly.
She said, "We're out here, and he don't give a darn!
And then to make things even worse,"
She said, a-clingin' to her purse,
"The pinhead offered we could sleep out in the barn!"
Now, standin' out there in the mist,
I tried to be the optimist,
I didn't want to see her spirits further dampened.
Says I, "Let's think about that, hon,
Now that'd be maybe kinda fun,
See, we could snuggle up and just pretend we're campin'!"
Well, that was not the thing to say,
And I could see it right away,
Guess I'm insensitive, like lots of other men.
It was as if I'd criticized her,
And it newly energized her,
And that seemed to get her blowin' steam again.
"Oh honey, that would be just great,"
With dripping sarcasm she stated,
(She'd moved on into the "mad" some folks call "hopping");
"We'd sleep with swine, and cows, and sheep,
'Round us the rats and mice would creep,
We'd have the smell of just 'bout every kinda dropping!"
Then in a nearly boiling tension,
She cried, "Honey, did I mention
That we wouldn't even be out there alone?
Yes, it appears one other couple
Is enjoyin' this same trouble,
And, like us, they've got no way of gettin' home."
"Well, see now, we could make new friends,"
I said, just try'n to make amends,
But that did not appear to keep her ire from risin'.
As she drew closer to my ear,
I knew that I was 'bout to hear
That she was not in any mood for socializin'.
She cried out, "I don't mean to gripe,
But then he claimed we're just their type,
And he was thinkin' they could use a friendly neighbor,
What with the weather turnin' wild;
Turns out the woman is with child,
And, well, he seems to think she might just be in labor!"
Well, now I s'ppose I'd heard enough,
This situation had turned rough,
And was she right to walk away?  I'm thinkin' maybe.
See, pullin' foals, I guess I have, and
Yes, I've done my share of calvin',
But I wouldn't know the first thing 'bout a baby.
And my first duty's to my wife
(Heck, I've been with her most my life),
And so, to show my love, her cheek I gently kissed.
We found another inn that night,
And got to sleep before daylight,
But, still, I sometimes kinda wonder what we missed. 
That night we slept upon a bed,
One pillow each to rest our head,
And though we even got to soak our aching feet,
I wish we'd stayed, and made a friend.
That winter night in Bethlehem.
Because you never know just who you're gonna meet!

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


Read more poetry by Al Mehl here.



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

See the links here for holiday news and more.




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