Special:  Holiday Poems

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Page Nine of Fourteen

Rod Nichols
Little Britches

Christmas Round the Campfire
New Year's Eve

(and dont miss Rod Nichols' Christmas Comes to Line Camp,
recognized as a Special Gift)

Happy holidays folks!

 

Little Britches

Little Britches weren't so very big
as his name might well imply,
in truth he stood just five-foot-one
when he'd finally reached his height.

But height ain't all that matters, son,
in the measure of a man,
it's what's inside that counts the most
in the Great Almighty's plan.

Now Britches was the first in line
of a brood that numbered eight,
it was all his ma and pa could do
for the food upon their plates.

It was margin-land they struggled on
and times were gettin' poor,
when pa got ill and took to bed
and the wolf was at the door.

His ma seemed lost with pa near death
as she watched and prayed and cried,
without her man to do for them
she doubted they'd survive.

And so it was a boy of twelve
persimmon green and small,
rode out to find some sort of way
to help his ma and pa.

A young'un wet behind the ears
not a hint nor hope of plan,
but it weren't time to hesitate
he'd have to be a man.

He came upon a cattle drive
but the drive was at its end,
not a job of any sort was left
so he trailed the herd on in.

So it looked to all who lined the streets
of that clapboard, railhead town,
that he was somehow ridin' drag
with his dusty hat pulled down.

And it came to be by happenstance
he was thought a young yahoo,
though he 'peared a great deal shorter
than the rest of that there crew.

It weren't too long when he hit town
not a nickle in his jeans,
that word came round to all the boys
of a break from old routine.

They had this hoss among a string
as mean as mean could get,
though many boys had done their best
not one had rode him yet.

Each man had placed a dollar bet
and a pot had fairly grown,
then mounted on that buckskin hoss
and just as quick been thrown.

As Britches watched that contest run
and the prize get bigger still,
he thought about how he might do
as young boys often will.

He weren't no seasoned cowboy then
and a dollar ne'er was his'n,
so he watched each rider try and fail
and his hopes had slowly ris'n.

Then in his ear a voice was heard
as each cowpoke got thrown,
"He should've turned the other way"
and "a good man would've known."

Those words were from a grizzled man
by looks both old and lame,
an hombre who in younger days
had cowboy'd that was plain.

"What would you do to ride that bronc?"
he asked that phantom soul,
the old man smiled and pulled him close
then told him what he know'd.

Britches eyes went to that hoss
as the old man coached him so,
then in his hand a morgan placed
as he whispered,"Now you go."

There weren't a lot that Britches knew
'bout men and cattle drives,
but one thing that his pa had done
was teach him how to ride.

And armed with this and sage advice
he plunked his dollar down,
"I'd like to take a try," he said
his face turned to the ground.

The man who held the growin' bets
was hesitant a mite,
but takin' him to be just short
he finally said,"Alright."

As Britches went to wait his turn
he heard some men complain,
a lot of boys had tried their best
and a lot had come back lame.

A hundred doubts then filled his mind
his stomach churned in knots,
but this might save his family
so he'd try with all he'd got.

Then it was time for him to try
and his boot to stirrup slipped,
he took a breath and grabbed a hold
then holler'd,"Let 'er rip!"

That cayuse spun and took to air
with all the mean he knew,
but Britches as the man had said
was holdin' on like glue.

That hoss went up and then came down
full circle snortin' mad,
but Britches counter'd ever move
with tips that old man had.

But that old buck had one more trick
he'd saved for such a time,
he'd run into that wooden fence
and send that hombre flyin'.

When Britches saw that fence rise up
he swung his legs away,
and hanging on the saddle horn
he managed then to stay.

When that old hoss had run his course
with ever'thing he could,
he simply turned and walked away
from where that fence had stood.

The boys went wild, let out a cheer
that hoss was finally bust,
they gather'd round to shake the hand
of the rider caked in dust.

His back was slapped and praises sung
'bout the way that he had rid',
it was then that they discover'd though
that this "man" was just a "kid".

A tinge of doubt swept through them all
when a voice came from the crowd,
and an aged, lame, old cowboy
slowly walked up smilin' proud.

A murmur rushed throughout the men
"My Lord. it's really him".
the greatest man whoever rode
was standing there with them.

"Boys," he said," you know me well"
and the boys all said, "Amen!",
"Well I'm here to say to all of you
this man I call my friend".

"He's more than earned his right to be
he's done what no one could,
and I'm standin' here with him today
and I hope that's understood?"

The boys all stood in awe a bit
then broke with cheers and grins,
they handed him the winner's purse
and the old man said, "Amen!"

The money won was more than what
his family needed then,
and Christmas was a welcomed guest
when he came home again.

They cut a tree and carols sang
of the Christ child far away,
and said a prayer for one old man
who'd helped their son that day.

Though he was young and tadpole-small
and the stranger old and lame,
in the eyes of God I think you'll find
they measured up the same.

For height ain't all that matters, son,
in the measure of a man,
it's what's inside that counts the most
in the Great Almighty's plan.

2000 Rod Nichols

Merry Christmas everyone...

               by Rod NicholsFirst Lariat Laureate Winner

Read Rod's other Christmas poem Christmas Comes to Line Camp,
(recognized as a Special Gift), Christmas Round the Campfire below, New Year's Eve below, and read more of his other poems here.  

Happy holidays folks!

Christmas Round the Campfire

When it's Christmas round the campfire
and the twilight's growin' dim
blue shadows fallin' 'cross the trail
and it's time for headin' in

We'll draw up round the circle
'neath a big ole western sky
content to share this special time
while the outside world drifts by.

When it's Christmas round the campfire
and the blaze is cracklin' so
the stars spread out forever
in a great celestial show,

We'll start to sing old carols
in a rev'rent sort of way
'bout silent nights and Bethlehem
and a manger far away.

When it's Christmas round the campfire
and the prairie seems asleep
and the wind picks up and moves about
while an owl her vigil keeps,

We'll pause a bit and listen
to the songs that nature sings
while they like us in their own way
celebrate the newborn king.



Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year

by Rod NicholsFirst Lariat Laureate Winner

Read Rod's other Christmas poem Christmas Comes to Line Camp,
(recognized as a Special Gift), Little Britches above, New Year's Eve below, and read more of his other poems here.  

Happy holidays folks!

New Year's Eve

I'll saddle the roan then ride out alone
neath a clear moon with frost on the ground,
to a high ridge I know
through the dark pines and snow
far away from the dim lights of town.

In a short space of time a hillside I'll climb
to the top with my face to the wind,
and there I'll just wait
as the hour grows late
and a new year once more will begin.

I'll take a look then on where I have been
and the changes the old year has brought,
the good times and bad
some happy some sad
as the faces of time fill my thoughts.

In the silence of night from that small patch of white
I'll say "Adios" to lost friends,
with a small prayer at last
for the present and past
then I'll ride down that hill once again.

2000 Rod Nichols

               by Rod NicholsFirst Lariat Laureate Winner

Read Rod's Christmas poems Christmas Comes to Line Camp,
(recognized as a Special Gift), Christmas Round the Campfire above, and Little Britches above, and read more of his other poems here.  

 

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