Special:  Holiday Poems

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Page Two of Fourteen


Special Gifts

The Sugar Plums



Jo Lynne Kirkwood  EL NINO NAVIDAD


Happy holidays folks!


Snow’s all you could see,
Flakes big as your hand
Plopped to the ground,
It was hard just to stand

In the deep blowing drifts,
Wind whistling around
Like screaming banshees
Cutting you down.

Got the horses all in, 
Warm in their stalls.
Then the northwest wind
Angrily started  to howl.

Secured the barn door,
The wind made it rattle,
Followed the  path
Past a few  Angus cattle

With heads held low, 
Faces stark white
Backs to the wind,
  Bodies packed tight.

A blinding  white-out!
Lost sight of  the trail,
Air sharp as darts, 
I could barely inhale

Those icy cold blasts
Froze hands and face,
My legs became stumps,
Slowing my pace.

Could I reach the lodge
Where Christmas Eve joys
Awaited the coming
Of the River Ranch boys?

Our once a year chance
To welcome the season
With neighboring cowboys
Who knew they  had reason

To honor the birth
Of that blessed child,
Born in the manger
While seraphim smiled.

I fell to my knees,
Could no longer stand.
Tumbled headlong
Into a barbed wire strand.

Dazed and confused
I wondered, “which way?”
When suddenly I heard 
The sound of a sleigh!

With bells jangling loudly,
Hooves crunching snow
I heard someone calling,
I knew where to go!

I followed the sounds 
Of  hooves  and  bells,
Laughing and crying,
Falling into the swells

Of drifting snow banks,
Until I  could see,
A sleighful of cowboys
“Yahooing” to me.

Pulled up by strong arms,
I was lifted inside,
Warmed in a blanket,
Then took a short ride

Back to the ranch house,
Gliding over the snow,
Sled swishing, bells ringing,
The driver called, “Whoa!”

There stood the lodge
Lit up  like a church,
Front windows blazing
To help in the search

Of a little girl lost
In a cold raging storm,
Found by the cowboys,
Wrapped and kept warm.

When I hear sleigh bells ring,
From that day to this
I  bless those dear cowboys
And blow them a kiss

On the chill mountain winds, 
that fall soft on their cheeks,
As they ride through the canyons
And ford all the creeks

Of the ranch they now work
For the Boss in the sky,
Driving a sleigh 
pulled by horses that fly!

by Rusty Calhoun (see more of her poems here)


Happy holidays folks!



‘Twas just before Santy came, the story is told.
Cattle weren't stirrin', fact they's bunched against the cold.
The tack was hung near the chuckwagon with care.
Why, we didn't know Santy was close anywhere.

Cowboys on the ground were wishin' for their beds
While nightmares of wild steers ran through their heads.
‘Tween now and the next gather, we needed a nap.
Cookie had just finished, and tied down the flap.

When out past the cavvy, there rose such a fuss,
I sprang to my feet, leavin’ the bedroll a muss,
And grabbin’ my shotgun and my ragged ol’ hat
I run t'ward the racket thinkin' “…what'n thunder's that?”

When thoughts of amazement through my head courses,
It was a buckboard teamed up with draft horses,
A driver in red buckskins, so spry and dainty,
I know’d in an instant, it must be ol’ Santy.

Quicker than jackrabbits, them horses they came,
And, he’s shoutin’ commands to each one by name…
“Get a step, Joe!. One more, Prince!. On, Big Ed!
Pick it up, Sam! Tighten up, Lou! On, Old Ned!

Don’t spook the cavvy, back away from them pens,
You’re a pullin’ this wagon like a bunch of ol’ hens!
Now, when I haul on these lines I mean to stop.
Hold up in this cow-camp like a ton of cow flop!”

They sat down in their riggin’, like I knew they would,
With a wagon of goodies … made of leather and wood.
Then, in a twinklin’ with no further delay,
He said, “Back it up, boys, this here ain’t no sleigh”.

I couldn’t believe my ears, and lookin’ around,
Off that wagon ol’ Santy came with a bound.
He was short, and his chinks reached near to his toes.
He was happy and fat, with a little red nose.

There was a ton of packages and some new tack,
And, ol’ Santy was carryin’ it all on his back.
His eyes sort of bloodshot, much like a cherry,
From "rastlin'" them horses clean across the prairie.

His lips was plumb puckered, his mouth drawn and droll,
(Mine got that way, the day I swallered my Skoal.)
He was holdin’ a piggin’ string tight in his teeth,
Not fer’ tie down, but for tyin’ "up" a fine wreath.

His head was too big and he had a round belly,
No doubt derived from eatin’ Texas Chili.
He’s chubby and plump all right, I’d say quite jolly.
I laughed plumb out loud when I seen him, by golly.

He winked his bloodshot eye, and spat ‘tween his lips,
And, it made me to know we were all in the chips.
He weren’t much for chatter, just done what was due,
Givin’ presents and goodies to the whole durn crew.

Then, he stuck his finger in his wee little ear,
Wallered it around and said, “We’re through bein’ here”.
He fled to the wagon, and his team called ‘em up,
“Come on you swaybacks … what’s the dad-burn holdup?

We won’t be back till next year ‘cause we’re flat broke.
Merry Christmas, my eye, I just busted a spoke!”

© 6/98 All Rights Reserved * David Kelley

Second Lariat Laureate Runner UpDavid Kelley's other
Christmas poem Bigger Than Ever and read his other poems here)
(Read Second Lariat Laureate Runner UpDavid Kelley's other
Christmas poem Bigger Than Ever and read his other poems here)

Happy holidays folks!



Christmas of nineteen ninety-nine was on a Saturday,
and by Friday night at the Double D the boys was ready to play.
They finished the chores in record time, then slicked up especially well,
Took particular care with combin’ their hair and maskin their natural smell.
Them that wasn’t goin’ to town to the dance at the Come On Inn
were headed down to the bosses house, where the smells from the big kitchen
told them that Cooky had cooked up a feast, and they knew from experience
There’d be turkey and venison and pumpkin pie, sweet potaters hot bisquits and mince.

Spirits were high at the Double D, the boys were feelin’ jolly

The doorways was hung with mistletoe and the halls was decked with holly.
Then in comes  Dove, a few minutes late, and leans ‘gainst the jamb of the door.
He weren’t sportin’ new wranglers like the other boys was or a rodeo shirt like they wore.
"Hey Dove," Bucky holleres, "ain't you comin to eat?"
Dove smiles, says, "No thank you."
The filly mare they’d bred last Spring was restless and nearly due.
A gentler horse you never met, with her long-lashed big dark eyes,
And Dove was worried.  This was her first and you could say she was on the small size.

"Just comin’ to check on where you was, and to gaze at the Christmas tree lights,"
Dove said with a smile, then he nodded his head, turned back and stepped into the night.
The voices of cowboys caroling old tunes drifted up from the house bright and warm
as the old grizzled wrangler alone in the dark wandered toward the barn.

The tinkle of melody spread through the yard, Oh Holy Night wafted through the air
and one lonely cowboy, all by himself, headed out to check on his mare.

The bright tinsel of Christmas, inside of the barn
seemed false, far away and unreal,
As Dove settled himself in a comfortable spot
to wait out the long ordeal.

The mare seemed to know what she needed to do
to handle what had to be done
And gradually Dove yawned and drifted to sleep
in the stall next door to the one
Where the mare kept her vigil
through that long Christmas night
and brought a new life to the earth.
A tiny bay colt with a star on his face,
A holy miraculous birth.
And it seemed to Dove he dreamed a great song
from the heavens above the barn,
As though ten thousand angels were welcoming the birth
of the colt on this cold Christmas morn.

And then a bright light broke over the gloom
and lit on him where he leaned
Against the straw piled at the back of the stall
where he smiled through his heavenly dreams.
"What’s that?"  Dove mumbled, groggy and stiff,
as a bright shinning vision walked in.
He was a little bit scared, sort of filled up with dread
as the heavenly form approach him.
Could this be a ghost breaking forth from his past
to revile him for deeds left undone?
Or some dark apparition pointing starkly the way
toward bleak lonely days yet to come?

And then he relaxed.  It was Buck, with a lantern!
Dove quit holdin’ his breath,
Gosh, that dang kid, sneakin’ like that!
He liked to have scared him to death!
"Hey Dove,"  Bucky said, "it‘s Christmas day!
Come see if you got any loot."
"I got me four stockings," Dove said, mighty proud,
"and a bright Christmas star to boot!
See it there twinklin’ on that little boy’s face?"

"Well Gol," Bucky said with a grin,
"I guess you come out pretty good after all.
What do you think you’ll call him?"

"We’ll call him El Niño," Dove said, kind of quiet,
"Being as he’s her first born son,
Born in a stable this still Christmas night
just like the Holy One.
Two thousand years ago this day,
meaning no disrespect,
Born in a stall the other side of the world,
in a manger as I recollect."

Then he looked over where Bucky still stood
lit up by the lantern’s glow,
"Come on kid," he said with a growl,
"I guess it’s ‘bout time we should go."
But before they walked out he took a last look
at the mother and son in the hay,
and the beam of the lantern streamed all around,
Like the light of that first Christmas day.

© December 1999 by Jo Lynne Kirkwood

Lariate Laureate Runner Up Jo Lynne Kirkwood's poems here.

Happy holidays folks!



‘Twas the night before Christmas and the weather was freezin’
My fire had gone out and my stock was all wheezin’
The cattle was huddled in little tight bunches
and as I hunkered down I had one of those hunches
that it were an evening when you know in advance
you won’t get much rest, they’s just not much chance
of sleepin’ or dreaming when its so cold that your dreams
are filled up with snowmen and wintry scenes.

I’d just settled my brain for a cold hibernation
and had started to drift, when "What the tarnation?"
Out over the ridge there appeared this strange light
a streak from the east, a mighty weird sight!
A red and green splash against the dark sky
sort of twinkling and glowing, as it rushed on by.
I rubbed hard at my eyelids, and took a look see
But the thing was still there, and heading for me!

In hardly a minute it’d dropped out of the sky -
a miniature sled and a fat little guy!
He wore a sou’wester as big as they make ‘em,
and whiskers so white I thought they was fake ones!
He was dressed all in red from his cap to pant cuffs
But his boots they were Ropers, and were kind of scuffed
so I made the decision that he weren’t no gringo,
and I said, “Howdy, pard!”  Well, he spoke my lingo
‘cause he said to me, “Chub, it’s been fifty years
since last I caught you, and I’ll bet that you feared
that I’d forgot you. But that sure ain't true
Cause I’m here to bring all the stuff that you’re due.

You been ridin’ this range from one end to the other
inside of arroyos and in all sorts of weather
and in spite of the stories your folks used to sell you
that Santa would find you? Well, let me tell you
They has been some winters, fifty or so
When you were plumb hidden.  I looked high and low.
But I never forgot you!  Now don’t you fear.
You been a good boy, and your stuff is all here.
When you were eleven a bike was your loot
A shiny red schwinn.  Now ain't she a beaut?
And this thing over here? That’s your chia pet.
That year you were bad, so that’s all you get.
The year you turned thirty you got a new hat
twenty gallons of Stetson.  Now how about that!

There’s turtles and puppies that’s grown up to be dogs
And right over there?  Them’s your Lincoln logs!
We got boxes and bundles I forget what is full of
and a whole bunch of truck.  I been feared of the spoilage.
But it’s been in cold storage except for the stuff
that waddled or wiggled, so I guess there’s enough
to make up the difference for years that you missed.
I ain't forgot nothin.  I checked on my list.”

He picked up his bundle and scratched at his head,
coughed into his mitten, hiccuped, and said,
“Well, I got be be goin, I just got tonight
to deliver these presents.”  Then he was gone.  Out of sight.
And I felt a slow tear creep over my face
and catch in my stubble.  It felt out of place.
But so did that lump I just couldn’t swallow
and the pit of my stomach seemed kind of hollow.

Then I heard on the wind a last distant jingle
that could only have come from that old elf Kris Kringle
And I heard him holler, that dark Christmas eve
“Merry Christmas, old Chub.  Always believe.”

© November 1998 by Jo Lynne Kirkwood

Read more of Lariate Laureate Runner UpJo Lynne Kirkwood's poems here.


Happy holidays folks!


Page Two of Fourteen







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