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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


Read more classic poetry from Arthur Chapman
at the BAR-D.

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


A Christmas Prayer

Sure is pretty here tonight, there's excitement in the air
Busy shoppers hustle home through Central Park.
The tree must be ten stories tall in Rockefeller Square
A million lights are sparkling in the dark.

It's a fast-paced life I'm living; it's first class all the way.
Fancy office, fancy parties, fancy things.
"I'm shooting for the works" is what my friends all heard me say,
And now I dine with presidents and kings.

Oh, it's glamorous all right, success and all the rest.
And maybe it's this little skiff of snow.
But tonight I'm kind of lonesome for a little place out west,
And a cowboy down the road I used to know.

I bet an opal moon shines on the Eastern Slopes tonight,
The hills lie still beneath a snowy shawl.
Chores are done, the porch light's on, a fire crackles bright,
Maybe Ian's singing at the Longview Hall.

It's the symphony for me tonight, Champagne and caviar.
Oh, the swirl and sway and sparkle of this place!
But you know, I kind of long to hear a cowboy's soft guitar
And to feel a warm Chinook upon my face.

Where'd she go-that little girl who used to live in cowboy boots,
Made sure each year the reindeer got some hay.
She's not gone far-just dresses now in silk designer suits
And is living life the New York City way.

Sure is pretty here tonight, there's excitement in the air.
A dab of French perfume-my cab is here.
In the swirl and sway and sparkle, I say a Christmas prayer:
"May it be Christmas in Alberta for me next year."

2003, Doris Daley

This poem first appeared at the BAR-D in our 2003 Christmas at the BAR-D collection.


dorisdaleychg.jpg (10739 bytes)

Read more of Doris Daley's poetry here.



Prelude to a Drought

Winter breaks this afternoon with
rain predicted by this evening
Blowing over from the Cascades
first true soaking of the season.
Never seen this land so wanting
now it soon will be replenished.

Winter breaks this afternoon with
half a season's work to finish.
Cutting cordwood for my heating
cutting compost for the garden.
Dry work coming to completion
Running a race against a storm.

Winter breaks this afternoon,
the maul is lost and now I need it.
In the garden needing fixing
Left it there while building fences.
Lost the changing of the season
trying hard to keep the harvest.

Winter breaks this afternoon and
I've been favored with a warning
from my mother in the North State
where the front has started pouring.
Here the sky has clouded over
threatening and getting darker.

Winter breaks this afternoon then
Christmas Eve arrives in hours.
Tonight I'll remain alone here
warmed by wood I worked so hard for
Contemplating words of scripture
Warming deep a wanting spirit.

Winter broke this afternoon, 
a misty haze has settled lightly.
Not the downpour once expected
Not enough to soak the landscape
Not at all a common Winter,
just the prelude to a drought.

2005, Jim Cardwell
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

Previously published in Poetalk, (Winter, 2000) and The Acorn (Spring, 2004)\

Read more of Jim Cardwell's poetry here.



Visit our Art Spur project for a growing collection of poems inspired by 
"A Christmas Tale" by Mick Harrison. 



See a complete list of all the holiday poems from 2000-2004 here.

See the links here for holiday news and more.



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