The Cowboys Christmas Dance
Winter is here and it aint so nice tendin'
the feeders and choppin' ice.
Nasty weather to stir about.
Cold in the morning's a gittin' out.
Puts a sting in your ears and nose;
gotta watch out or you'll freeze yore toes.
Blowin' your breath on a frosty bit.
Makes you feel like you want to quit.
You like one part of it any way,
That's when you git yore Christmas day.
Plenty of feed and a right good chance
to shake yore feet at a country dance.
Fiddles a playin' jest watch 'em go.
"Aleman left an' doce do!"
Don't keer none for the cold and storms.
Dancin' around you soon git warm.
Folks all in from the hills and flats.
Ears tied up onder their hats.
Tough on the horses they drove and rode
shiverin' there with their backs all bowed.
It's the only time that folks has to spare
so the hosses had got to stand their share.
You turn 'em out when they git rode down
but you got to keep workin' the year around.
Winter time but it aint so bad.
When it comes around yore sorter glad.
Even though it's nasty weather
folks has a chance to git together.
And plenty of folks that was half way mad
found out their neighbors was not as bad
Yes lots of trouble is checked in advance
by a sociable crowd at a Christmas dance.
by Bruce Kiskaddon
This poem is reprinted with the kind permission of Cowboy Miner Productions, publishers of the finest in classic and modern Cowboy Poetry. This poem is from their book Classic Rhymes by Bruce Kiskaddon. That book is now out of print. currently out of stock, but a 2002 calendar is still available, which includes some of Kiskaddon's previously unpublished rhymes and other selections.
You can read more classic poetry from Bruce Kiskaddon
here at the BAR-D.
The Old Cowboy's Christmas
The cowboy woke up at first light of day
And anyone there would have heard the man say,
"It's Christmas and time that we all should relax
And enjoy good tidings. Now this is a fact!"
But sleep wouldn't come. The stock needed fed,
So he dragged his old bones from the heat of the bed.
"I'll feed all the critters as fast as I can
And run back to bed, just like it's been planned."
So he climbed to his feet with a creak and a groan,
Crawled into his cloths, all faded and worn,
Pulled on his boots while the coffee was boiled,
Noticed the tablecloth edge had been soiled.
The old man had seen many years pass him by,
His wife and his Mother and Dad had expired.
He really had no one to call him their own,
And for years on this place he had lived all alone.
He noticed the temp now was thirty below.
Thee was another good foot of the fluffy white show.
The cattle were lowing out there by the fence.
"You'd think that a human had a lot more good sense
Than to be out in this weather at a quarter to five."
It's a wonder the critters were even alive.
But he bucked up some bales and fed them their hay
And threw in some grain (it was Christmas today).
The ewes and the lambs he let out in the barn.
Safe from the cold they would come to no harm,
And he rubbed down his horses, closed up the stalls.
His toes were so cold, there's no feeling at all.
Took care of the chicks in the snow and the wind.
Said "I'll bring out some water and run right back in.
I'll build up the fire and jump back in bed --
Let visions of sugar babes dance through my head!"
So back to the house for some water unfroze
And to heat up his bones from his head to his toes,
Where to this cowboy's momentous surprise
Sat a man dressed in red there before his old eyes.
But he couldn't take time to visit and so
He grabbed up his water and turned then to go
Said over his shoulder, "The coffee's quite hot!
I'll be right back when I tend to the stock."
It never occurred who the stranger might be.
His old sow had farrowed and he was stuck there 'til three
When he looked at the sky he knew Christmas had gone
While he'd been too busy to even get warm.
He trudged to the house, quite weary by now
His livestock contented, including the sow.
He was sure that the coffee had long since gone cold --
That fire was out. It was Hell to grow old.
But oddly enough there's a light in the house.
The door was ajar and some heat issued forth.
The coffee he noticed still steamed in the pot.
It seemed the old cowpuncher's eyes must be shot.
But no! Something strange was happening here.
The table was set and a turkey was near.
A wreath he was sure hadn't been there before
Now rested contented right over the door.
There were presents displayed, just laying around
And some music was making a glorious sound.
There were spurs dressed in silver and a new black fur hat
And sheepskin-lined coat (if you believe that).
And the note he now noticed lying there on his plate
Said "I'm sorry, Old Timer, I just couldn't wait.
The reindeer are shivering there in the snow.
The time has arrived and I really must go.
I left you some trinkets to brighten your day
And these few little words I wanted to say.
There's no one to care if you live or you die,
The ache in your back or the tear in your eye.
We're a couple of buckaroo's time has betrayed
And that's why I stopped on my way through today.
Others can celebrate Christmas however
But old folks like us should share it together.
For all of us have certain things we must do.
The night seems to leave me before I get through.
But in all of this I have you for a friend.
Merry Christmas, Old Partner, 'til we meet once again."
© 2002, Howard Norskog
Read more of Honored Guest Howard Norskog's poetry here.
Don't Ever Sell Your Saddle
It's been 'bout thirty years now, to this Christmas day
And I can still hear those wise words that Day did say:
"Don't ever sell your saddle, don't quit balin' hay--
When ya give your word, keep it--it's a real man's way."
I wish that I could swear I've lived up to his words,
But like the truth sometimes, they've flown off with the birds.
It's not to say I've tried, and mostly I've been true--
But if I could do things over, there's some I'd undo.
Well, I'm still balin' hay and my word I always keep,
I've got a good woman and I sing the kids to sleep.
We keep the ranch a goin' and we're doin' just fine,
But I regret sellin' Dad's saddle back in ninety-nine.
Times were tough and we scraped every cent that year--
At a Christmas eve auction sold cows, a steer--
Then it came down to Dad's saddle and some old tack--
'Course that saddle brought the most cash and that's a fact.
Couldn't figure out who bought it--never seen 'em before--
When he bought that saddle, he was quick out the door.
One year later, there came a knock on Christmas day,
There stood the stranger with Dad's saddle and he did say:
"Fixed it up and brought it back--this is where it should be--
Your Dad, me and Zack used to cowboy and they told me
A man shouldn't sell his saddle, so here it is again--
Think of it as a gift from someone who was a friend."
It had been over ten years since Day passed away--
Stood lookin' at the stranger, didn't know what to say.
Dad never told us much 'bout his life out on the range,
But he did mention his best pard, a man called Bob Strange.
We thanked Bob and asked him to join our Christmas feast,
He said no need for thanks, that this was just the least
He could do to help out the boy of his ol' pal
And that he had to get back to the North Corral.
I was awful glad to see my Dad's saddle back,
When a few weeks later I came across ol' Zack.
Out of the blue I asked if he heard of Bob Strange--
He nodded and said yes, then his smile began to change.
He wondered why I asked 'bout someone I never met--
I told him 'bout Dad's saddle and he began to fret.
"Ya understand," Zack said, "Bob's been dead twenty year."
That's when I turned grim and my smile did disappear.
"But I just talked to him," I said, "back on Christmas day!"
"You're wrong," Zack said, "but I 'member what he used to say:
Don't ever sell your saddle, don't quit balin' hay--
When ya give your word, keep it--it's a real man's way!"
© 2002, Glen Enloe
You can read more of Glen Enloe's poetry here at the BAR-D. He has a new book, An Ol' Cowboy Still Remembers:
Cowboys and Christmas
I've heer'd it said, but doubt is true,
thet cowboys go the whole y'ar through,
jest ridin,' ropin' an' singin' the blues,
an' makin' believe thet Christmas news
ain't naught but whut the storekeeps say
is how yer 'sposed to spend yer pay.
I've also heer'd thet they don't care
if joy an' love is in the air,
or even if Christmas is a time
to think about whut you an' I'm
about to do fer kids an' all,
(to them it's jest the end of fall).
But I knows better 'cause you see
they's near about jest like you an' me.
Oh, I knows they swears a lot,
an' lots of them ain't naught but sots,
an' too they comes an' goes to please
nobody but tharselves with ease.
An' then thar's thet warthless habit of
fergettin' gals thet wants to love,
an' makin' believe they's awful shy.
(Don't fall fer thet thar foolish lie).
Of course, they'd want you to believe
thar's no sech thang as Chrismas Eve.
Well, let me tell ya whut I has seen,
(though they'd deny it's ever being),
but once I seen a threadbare poke
buy food fer a bunch thet never spoke
a single werd of our lingo,
it made no differnce, don't you know.
An' down by the Pecos a y'ar ago
I seen another'n take a load
of farwood to an old man's place,
(though never did he show his face),
and if you ast him he'd laff an' say,
"Hell no, not me, no how, no way."
As I recall some y'ars gone by
ouside of Houston; a place called 'Wry,'
a leetle gal whose pa had died
set by her ma an' cried an' cried
'cause she thought Santy wouldn't come,
but got a doll from a saddle bum.
I reckon I go on too long,
an' maybe too, you've heer'd this song.
But don't you believe cowboys don't care
'cause I knows better ... I've bin thar.
An' beneath the star of Bethlehem
Them cowboys silently says "Amen."
© 2002, McCloud
You can read more of Lariat Laureate runner up McCloud's poetry here at the BAR-D. McCloud has a book, Sailors, Lovers and Cowboys:
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