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The Cowboys' Christmas Ball 
To the Ranchmen of Texas

'Way out in Western Texas, where the Clear Fork's waters flow,
Where the cattle are "a-browzin'," an' the Spanish ponies grow;
Where the Northers "come a-whistlin'" from beyond the Neutral Strip;
And the prairie dogs are sneezin', as if they had "The Grip";
Where the cayotes come a-howlin' 'round the ranches after dark,
And the mocking-birds are singin' to the lovely "medder lark";
Where the 'possum and the badger, and rattlesnakes abound,
And the monstrous stars are winkin' o'er a wilderness profound;
Where lonesome, tawny prairies melt into airy streams,
While the Double Mountains slumber, in heavenly kinds of dreams;
Where the antelope is grazin' and the lonely plovers call--
It was there that I attended "The Cowboys' Christmas Ball."

The town was Anson City, old Jones's county seat,
Where they raised Polled Angus cattle, and waving whiskered wheat;
Where the air is soft and "bammy," an' dry an' full of health,
And the prairies is explodin' with agricultural wealth;
Where they print the Texas Western, that Hec. McCann supplies
With news and yarns and stories, uv most amazin' size;
Where Frank Smith "pulls the badger," on knowin' tenderfeet,
And Democracy's triumphant, and might hard to beat;
Where lives that good old hunter, John Milsap, from Lamar,
Who "used to be the Sheriff, back East, in Paris sah!"
'T was there, I say, at Anson with the lovely "widder Wall,"
That I went to that reception, "The Cowboys' Christmas Ball."

The boys had left the ranches and come to town in piles;
The ladies--"kinder scatterin'"-- had gathered in for miles.
And yet the place was crowded, as I remember well,
'T was got for the occasion, at "The Morning Star Hotel."
The music was a fiddle an' a lively tambourine,
And a "viol came imported," by the stage from Abilene.
The room was togged out gorgeous-with mistletoe and shawls,
And candles flickered frescoes, around the airy walls.
The "wimmin folks" looked lovely-the boys looked kinder treed,
Till their leader commenced yellin': "Whoa! fellers, let's stampede,"
And the music started sighin', an' awailin' through the hall
As a kind of introduction to "The Cowboys' Christmas Ball."

The leader was a feller that came from Swenson's ranch,
They called him "Windy Billy," from "little Deadman's Branch."
His rig was "kinder keerless," big spurs and high-heeled boots;
He had the reputation that comes when "fellers shoots."
His voice was like a bugle upon the mountain's height;
His feet were animated an' a mighty, movin' sight,
When he commenced to holler, "Neow, fellers stake your pen!
"Lock horns ter all them heifers, an' russle 'em like men.
"Saloot yer lovely critters; neow swing an' let 'em go,
"Climb the grape vine 'round 'em--all hands do-ce-do!
"You Mavericks, jine the round-up- Jest skip her waterfall,"
Huh!  hit wuz gettin' happy, "The Cowboys' Christmas Ball!"

The boys were tolerable skittish, the ladies powerful neat,
That old bass viol's music just got there with both feet!
That wailin', frisky fiddle, I never shall forget;
And Windy kept a-singin'-I think I hear him yet-
"Oh Xes, chase yer squirrels, an' cut 'em to one side;
"Spur Treadwell to the centre, with Cross P Charley's bride;
"Doc. Hollis down the middle, an' twine the ladies' chain;
"Varn Andrews pen the fillies in big T Diamond's train.
"All pull yer freight together, neow swallow fork an' change;
"'Big Boston,' lead the trail herd, through little Pitchfork's range.
"Purr 'round yer gentle pussies, neow rope 'em! Balance all!"
Huh!  hit wuz gettin' active--"The Cowboys' Christmas Ball!"

The dust riz fast an' furious; we all jes' galloped 'round,
Till the scenery got so giddy that T Bar Dick was downed.
We buckled to our partners, an' told 'em to hold on,
Then shook our hoofs like lightning, until the early dawn.
Don't tell me 'bout cotillions, or germans. No sire 'ee!
That whirl at Anson City just takes the cake with me.
I'm sick of lazy shufflin's, of them I've had my fill,
Give me a frontier break-down, backed up by Windy Bill.
McAllister ain't nowhar: when Windy leads the show,
I've seen 'em both in harness, and so I sorter know--
Oh, Bill, I sha'n't forget yer, and I'll oftentimes recall,
That lively gaited sworray--"The Cowboys' Christmas Ball."

by William Lawrence "Larry" Chittenden


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

Read more of William Lawrence "Larry" Chittenden's poetry here



Winter Stampede

I will always remember that day in December
when I first saw that wild, raucous sight.
And with nary a word I can still see that herd
and how it moved with a powerful might!

Some cowboys looked tattered and some even lathered
as they fought to gain on the lead.
Yet some seemed quite handy, perhaps even dandy
and sure footed as any a steed.

The leather was slapping and bandanas flapping
As each man rose to answer the call.
The hoots were all hollered and the stray doggies collared
and drug into the midst of it all!

The dust was a flying as onward they were trying
to move the herd steady and sure.
The hooves were a stomping, and dragging and clomping,
it was more than some could endure.

I remember the sound when they made it to town
and how the dear ladies did swoon.
They found themselves swaying to twin fiddles playing
as the caller began a sweet croon.

And such was the night 'neath the winter moonlight,
that I first fell in love with it all.
With the sights and the sounds; with the twirling around's
of a dance called the "Cowboy Christmas Ball."

2002, Carl Bennett Condray
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.


Read more of Carl Condray's poetry here.



The Cowboy Christmas Ball 

Oh, I am goin' to Texas to
The Cowboy Christmas Ball
The buggy's standin' by the gate,
The horse is in the stall.

I have my dress an' bonnet
An' bear grease on my boots;
My shawl I made last summer
Was dyed from dogwood roots.

My hair is up an' tied in blue,
My skirt near sweeps the ground.
We'll tie a bow on Dobbin's ear
An' bring the buggy round.

We'll bundle up in blankets as
We gather up the reins;
The crispy air will sparkle as
We start off down the lane.

With Billy Joe an' Charley
An' Jerry, Peg, an' Paul,
Yes, I will be in Texas at
The Cowboy Christmas Ball.

So on that special evenin'
Don't look for me or call,
For I will be in Texas at
The Cowboy Christmas Ball.

Francine Roark Robison
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.


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

Read more of Francine Roark Robison's poetry here.


Visit our Art Spur project for our poems 
inspired by Charlie Russell's "Seein' Santa."

"Seein' Santa" 
by Charles M. Russell, 1910
C. M. Russell Museum
Great Falls, Montana
reproduced with permission




Page Seven




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