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About Tom Kerlin



Shorty's Last Christmas

Shorty was a bachelor, about 60 years old.
Some say when he was born they broke the mold.
He was raised up a cowboy just like his Dad,
Boots and hats were his fare, they weren't no fad.
But once a year he lay them aside,
Don a red and a beard for the coming Yuletide,
To play Santa for all the kids that he knew.
Every Christmas Eve he was there right on cue.
For weeks he'd been sniffing out clues from their folks,
Still he listened intently to each bright-eyed cowpoke
Then pull with a flourish a new rope or a doll,
Every toy on every list, Santa Shorty knew all.
Then with a wave to the left and a nod to the right,
Shorty would quickly disappear into the night.
Then late last year when Christmas was nigh,
Shorty passed on to God's range up in the sky.
See, even cowboys can't refuse when St. Peter bids,
But who had the heart to explain to the kids.
So when Christmas Eve came and the crowd gathered 'round,
At the church meeting hall on the outskirts of town,
They wondered just what the reaction would be,
When there was no Ho Ho Hoing Santa sitting there by the tree.
They'd tried to prepare their kids for the truth,
But little ones don't savvy while still in their youth.
Then just after dark with the last carol sung,
There was a jingle of bells and the side door was flung.
And a jumble of red on a strong wind from Montana
Blew in a guy who looked just like Santa.
The children all screamed and much to their delight,
Santa opened his bag on that magical night.
When he had finished he got up from his chair,
Danced 'cross the floor and turned with a flair,
And with a wave to left and nod to the right,
Santa quickly disappeared into the night.
When he had gone the grownups all pondered,
Just who was this Santa and how had he wandered
 From out of the cold into their Christmas Eve bash?
And from where came those toys he had hid in his stash?
But when they went to the door to look for this tracks,
Not a footprint was seen, just an old empty sack.
They picked up that bag and were just barely able,
To read Shorty printed inside on the label.
Now I'm not saying that Shorty came back,
But someone or something left that empty old sack.
And to this day on the plains of Wyoming,
They talk of the night when someone came roaming
 From out of the cold on a Christmas Eve night,
And then disappeared without leaving a track in sight.
Do miracles happen? Well, I don't know what you believe,
I only know what I saw on that special Christmas Eve.

2008, Tom Kerlin
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.


"Shorty's Last Christmas" is posted with 2008 Christmas poems,
and it appears in the December, 2009 issue of Western Horseman.



  About Tom Kerlin:

I was born and raised in Georgia, but wound up in Wyoming in 1965 at the age of 19. I cowboyed there for a while, rodeoed and worked in a saddle shop in Cheyenne. I make my home in Georgia and my wife and I trail ride and I compete on cutting horses. I have recited my poems at the Booth Western Art Museum during the spring Cowboy Poetry Symposium and the fall Cowboy Symposium, as well as at the Georgia Farm Bureau's annual convention and at local civic organizations. I make my living as a journalist, raise longhorn cattle and have a small commercial hay operation.


  First Time Out



Piggin String
A Quality Wife for Pete
Shorty's Last Christmas
Brokeback Cowboys
Getting Cows to Market Then and Now
A Cowboy from the South
My Heart is in Wyoming
Horse Trading Don't Ask Don't Tell
Finding Lost Cattle Midst a Winter Storm
It Isn't Always Fun in the Ranching Business
The Reluctant Trailrider
Waiting on the Cows at the Vowers Ranch
Dusty's Evening Ride
GENESIS 1 If a Cowboy Had Wrote the Bible


Available for $17.50 postpaid from:

Tom Kerlin
1759 Hwy. 85 South
Fayetteville, GA 30215



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