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Happy holidays folks!

 

Busted Cowboy's Christmas

I am a busted cowboy
   And I work upon the range,
In summertime I get some work,
   But one thing which seems strange,
As soon as fall work's over
   I get it in the neck
I get a Christmas present
   Of a neatly written check.

I come to town to rusticate,
   I've no place else to stay
When winter winds are howling hard
   Because I don't eat hay.
A puncher's life's a picnic?
   It is one continual joke.
But there's none more anxious to see spring
   Than the cowboy who is broke.

The wages that a cowhand earns
   In summer goes like smoke,
And when the snow begins to drift 
   You bet your neck he's broke.
You may talk about your holidays,
   Your Christmas cheer and joy,
They're all the same to me, my friend.
   Cash gone, I'm a broke cowboy.

My saddle and my gun in soak,
   My spurs I've long since sold,
My rawhide and my quirt are gone,
   My chaps, no. They're too old.
My outfit's gone, I can't e'en bum
  A cigarette to smoke.
For no one cares what happens 
  To a cowboy who is broke.

Just where I'll eat my dinner
   This Christmas, I don't know,
But you can bet your life I'll have one
   If I get but half a show.
This Christmas holds no charms for me,
   On good things I'll not choke,
Unless I get a big handout
   I'm a cowboy who is broke.

D. J. O'Malley, 1893

 

Cowboy Miner Productions has published the definitive book of D. J. O'Malley's stories and poems, and you can read more about him and the book here at their site.  See our feature about the book here at the BAR-D created with with the kind cooperation of Cowboy Miner. 

Click for Cowboy Miner

 

Happy holidays folks!

 

A Christmas Mem'ry

"Where ya bound on Christmas mornin'?"
called the blacksmith as Lou passed.
"Jest headin' out. I plum fergot.
One day seems like the last."

Lou nodded, once, then rode on off.
What he'd said was partly true:
a man alone on Christmas day
don't have a lot to do.

"Where ya bound on Christmas mornin'?"
yelled the storekeep and his bride.
"Jest ridin' out to check the stock."
Again he knew he'd lied.

Them folks was well intended, seemed,
but they wouldn't understand
how Christmas weren't the same fer him,
a lone and lonely man.

"Where ya bound on Christmas mornin'?"
asked the Rev'rend by his gate.
"I got some work that needs be done.
I'll likely be out late."

Again that weren't the truth a-tall,
but he couldn't tell him then,
how Christmas service made things worse
each time he'd ever been.

Where ya bound on Christmas mornin?
If they really cared to know,
to an empty, cheerless cabin
after ridin' in the snow.

Then the day began a- fadin',
and the snow to coverin' tracks.
He reined about to head on in
to a one-room, gloom-filled shack.

But, he sensed a change about him
as the wind blew bitter, strong.
The snow  was growin' deeper, and
the way back, now, seemed wrong.

Lost in thoughts of bein' lonely,
he had failed to note his path.
He found himself alone, indeed,
and facin' winter's wrath.

Where ya bound on Christmas mornin'?
Oh the truth behind his lie:
to a grave, out here, a fool alone.
who'd surely freeze and die.

Then the sound of voices singin'
Little Town Of Bethlehem
now caused ol' Lou to turn and see
a glow now flick'rin' dim.

Through a mile of deepened snowdrifts
he had reached a cabin wall,
and, there, within, a Christmas scene
like those he once recalled.

There were logs a-blazin' brightly
and a tree close by the fire
all decked in popcorn garland strands,
and folks in dress attire.

Such a vision stirred his mem'ry
and he thought across the years
of another time at Christmas.
His eyes began to tear.

Now he recognized the faces
of the folks he saw within.
There was Smitty and the storekeep,
the Rev'rend, all his friends.

He opened up the door a bit,
"Why, it's Lou. Where did you go?
Come in and have a cider mug
and shake off all that snow.

Ol' Lou was grinnin' ear-to-ear.
While he'd been out there bummin',
his friends had warmed  his cabin for
a Christmas Day homecomin'.

That evenin' 'fore Lou closed his eyes
he'd a prayer, long overdue,
"God bless my friends and neighbors, Lord,
and Merry Christmas, too."

2003, Rod Nichols


Read more of Rod Nichols' poetry here.

He is:

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

Happy holidays folks!

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