The Trapper's Christmas Eve
It's mighty lonesome-like and drear.
Above the Wild the moon rides high,
And shows up sharp and needle-clear
The emptiness of earth and sky;
No happy homes with love a-glow;
No Santa Claus to make believe:
Just snow and snow, and then more snow;
It's Christmas Eve, it's Christmas Eve.
And here am I where all things end,
And Undesirables are hurled;
A poor old man without a friend,
Forgot and dead to all the world;
Clean out of sight and out of mind . . .
Well, maybe it is better so;
We all in life our level find,
And mine, I guess, is pretty low.
Yet as I sit with pipe alight
Beside the cabin-fire, it's queer
This mind of mine must take to-night
The backward trail of fifty year.
The school-house and the Christmas tree;
The children with their cheeks a-glow;
Two bright blue eyes that smile on me . . .
Just half a century ago.
Again (it's maybe forty years),
With faith and trust almost divine,
These same blue eyes, abrim with tears,
Through depths of love look into mine.
A parting, tender, soft and low,
With arms that cling and lips that cleave . . .
Ah me! it's all so long ago,
Yet seems so sweet this Christmas Eve.
Just thirty years ago, again . . .
We say a bitter, last good-bye;
Our lips are white with wrath and pain;
Our little children cling and cry.
Whose was the fault? it matters not,
For man and woman both deceive;
It's buried now and all forgot,
Forgiven, too, this Christmas Eve.
And she (God pity me) is dead;
Our children men and women grown.
I like to think that they are wed,
With little children of their own,
That crowd around their Christmas tree . . .
I would not ever have them grieve,
Or shed a single tear for me,
To mar their joy this Christmas Eve.
Stripped to the buff and gaunt and still
Lies all the land in grim distress.
Like lost soul wailing, long and shrill,
A wolf-howl cleaves the emptiness.
Then hushed as Death is everything.
The moon rides haggard and forlorn . . .
"O hark the herald angels sing!"
God bless all men -- it's Christmas morn.
by Robert Service
You can read more classic poetry by Robert Service right here at the BAR-D. He is perhaps best known for "The Cremation of Sam McGee," a poem with an adventure that starts on Christmas day: "On a Christmas Day we were mushing our way over the Dawson trail..."
It's That Time Again
Its that time again
For contemplation, renewal and rest
New year, new chances, new friends and new challenges
Remembering what we like best
For me, my hand moves to poetry
Rhymed, rhythmic or free
About horses and cattle and good Cowboys known
All the gifts they have given to me
Watching and working and wondering
When can I take a part?
Questions and chattering and getting in the way
Knowing that this, is what moves my heart
The young ones are too brisk, busy and boisterous
Trying to figure it out and still keep their pride
My group has been there and back again, many times
They take it all in easy stride
There is something special about the dignity
of an old hand to the game
Like the well worn leather of a good working saddle
There's something buried deep within the grain
Comfortable. just looking at them and knowing
a little about how those marks got there
The lines in their faces and the history it traces
Tradition and patience and care
Many will never know the richness
that they have given to this land
The dues they have paid and the sacrifices they have made
Sometimes, seem hard to understand
I cherish these gifts that have been lent to me
To be learned well, used and passed along
In the Cowboy life,
it's Christmas everyday
For the gifts once given, never will be gone
A tip of my hat to all who work the trade
At this special time of the year
When friends and family gather together
to remember just why it is we are here
"Peace on Earth,
Good Will To All"
Can be hard to come by, in this troubled time
I hope you find a little peace and
In these simple lines of rhyme
From our hearts to your hearths
To all of our "Cowboy" friends,
border to border, east to west
and may the coming new year
Be your very best
© 2003, Larry Maurice
Read more poetry by Larry Maurice here.
A "Little Cowboy" Conversation
I overheard two cowboys talkin' down at Lil's Cafe.
I didn't mean to eavesdrop, but I could hear them plain as day.
I had seen them park their ponies out by the paper stand.
They drifted in with muddy boots like any other man.
One said, "I know there is a Santa.I know he comes for sure.
I heard some talk a few years back about... reindeer manure."
" 'Course, I never saw it for myself, but it was up on some folks roofs.
They say they found it Christmas mornin', after hearin' tiny hooves."
His partner pushed back his cowboy hat and poked a french fry in his mouth.
"I jutht don't undethtand," He said," how they can land on top a houth."
"Oh, its easy," Said the first cowboy, "Santa knows just what to do.
I bet he uses gees and haws and sets them reindeer down in twos."
"Did ya ever hear 'im comin', or see 'im way up high?"
"Yeth I did!" The other answers," and he wath flyin' through the thky!"
After a couple bites of burger and several sips of Coke,
One said, somewhat bewildered, he had heard that Santa was a joke...
"He ith not! Don't tell me that. He alwayth bringth me thtuff!
Hith little elvth work tho hard tho there will be enough!"
"Thath how I got my puppy and my ropin' horth, ole Athe."
It was hard to take him serious with all that ketchup on his face.
"We better git along." One said,"We still got chores to do.
We gotta bring them doggies in. It's up to me and you."
They paid me from their pockets, bills damp and in a wad.
They said a po-lite "thank you" with a hat-tip and a nod.
Headin' for the door one said,
"About that Santa thing,we better be believin' hard,
before it gets too late.
'cuz by next year you"ll be seven years old,
And I'll be turnin' eight!"
© November 2002, Janice Gilbertson
Read more of Janice Gilbertson's poetry here.
Wrappings & Bows
It's Christmas, with gifts exchanged,
and a family tradition that seemed so proper.
I can clearly recall Dad picking up bows
and Mom...gently folding wrapping paper.
Thoughts often take me back,
to those youthful days I'd known.
Sweet recollections of family gatherings,
with all us kids at home.
Special times it was, when gifts were given,
Mom and Dad would make it so.
And special still, the saving of paper wrappings
along with those ribbons and bows.
Can you picture a little homestead,
far from town, white with fallen snow?
At sun's setting, from a frosty window,
the warmth of a fireplace glow?
Within, a family poor to the world,
along with a hired hand,
Observing Christmas together,
in the high plains cattle land.
Over the years, life's pulled me away,
etching those memories deeper.
When Dad's callused hands picked up bows
and Mom's folded wrapping paper.
Before the gifts, Ebenezer's story was told,
and always a song and a poem.
Sitting close to the fire, huddled together,
with the excitement, as kids, we'd known.
A song sung of Baby Jesus,
newly borne on a silent night.
A poem about three Wise Men,
being guided by a bright star's light.
Family, friends, and as likely a stranger,
at a meal with all the fixin's.
In the corner, a pine branch along side gifts
concealed in traditional wrappings.
Though gifts were in short supply,
anticipation was abundant.
What we had, was what we had.
We's too poor to know no different.
Few gifts were bought, most were made,
all were shared with love.
There was thankfulness for what we had,
the blessings from up above.
Those were the days, a gift wasn't appraised,
at least, not in dollars and cents.
A simpler time, ya gave to give,
and giving was from the heart.
A piece of hard candy, perhaps an apple,
a peach or maybe a pear.
From horse hair, mane or tail,
a watch-bob woven with care.
A pack of seeds for spring time,
a penny ball of twine.
Sewing needles with a shiny thimble,
a hand written note or a rhyme.
A belt fashioned from an old harness.
For Sister, a hand sewn doll.
A charcoal drawn picture by a child,
to hang upon the wall.
And a jar of honey would be found,
on the porch, not under the tree.
We believed it from a thoughtful storekeeper,
who had a stand of bees.
A new red kerchief; for sure some socks,
maybe a pair of shoes.
An apron made new from an old petticoat.
Neat things...that would always be used.
It's memories best, recalling the days
of Christmas times at home,
Snuggled close to Mother folding wrappings
while Dad collected the bows.
Some bows stayed around, reused many times,
their history us kids would tell.
There was pride in having them last,
though the paper didn't weather so well.
Wrappings well worn, bows tattered and torn,
were welcome sights each season.
Not only during Christmas but anytime
gifts were exchanged or given.
Memories fade just like the bows,
bagging their tells to be told.
Especially my favorite, fray and faded,
brightened with memories of gold.
I can see the gift for my tenth birthday,
a ribbon bound some school supplies,
With the bow Grandma made,
the Christmas before she died.
A big blue bow came from a lady in town.
It came with cookies and leaves of tea.
For Brother, when he fell and broke his leg,
trying to get her cat from out of a tree.
The faded red one held a ring from Dad,
for Mom, years after their wedding.
And since that time, many more gifts,
has that bow made prettier the wrapping.
Uncle Jack said Mom cried as she held the ring
tied in the ribbon of Rose Bud Red.
Later, when it appeared, Mom held off tears
reminiscing her surprise from Dad.
The tiny white bow showed up when Billy was born
but he left us that first winter.
Yes, it was used, we called it "Billy's Bow",
reminding us, he's now with Heavenly Father.
The Church Elders brought the green one
attached to a 4-pound fruitcake.
The only et'able that ever come in....
that never did get ate.
We each had our favorites, thou they're worn,
new were not necessarily better.
Deeper the memory, the more precious the bow,
their past seem to make them prettier.
The folks are gone, have been for years,
but with angels, I know, they're watching,
And guide the hands that now pick up bows,
and fold the fragile wrappings.
Time has since blessed us, prosperity's ours.
Saving wrappings we do not need to do.
But seeing the bows, recalling the past,
fading memories get renewed.
So it continues, year after year,
for an accounting of our family happenings,
It would seem the family's history...
is wrapped up in the wrappings.
How blessed we were and how others would be,
if as families, all could come to know,
A mother saving wrappings,
and a dad that picks up the bows.
© 2002, Mike Dunn
You can read more of Mike Dunn's poetry here.
Santa's wrangler had quit him, up and left him cold
It was coming on to Christmas and Santa felt too old
To be caring for them reindeer, doing all the work himself
What he needed in a hurry was a brand new wrangler elf.
So he called up the editor of the North Pole News that day,
Advertised for a new helper who would work for modest pay.
There was a nice, warm bunkhouse for when the work is through
And Mrs. Claus cooked tasty meals for all of Santa's crew.
Now Shorty'd been a wrangler, though he's a cowboy now.
He figured that them reindeer can't be worse than pushing cows,
And he's out of work this winter, ain't got nothin' else to do.
Thought he'd check in with old Santa try to sign up with his crew.
But Shorty's kinda worried 'cause he ain't so very tall
He stands just barely five foot one in high heeled boots and all,
And folks who didn't know him, of his skill in the bucking chutes
Wondered if a man his size could handle big cow brutes.
But Shorty saddled up and rode through drifted mounds of snow.
When he showed up at old Santa's door it was forty-one below.
A coat of ice broke off his chaps as he stepped off to the ground.
He knocked upon the wooden door, it made a friendly sound.
Santa hired Shorty then introduced him to each elf
And Shorty was surprised to see; they're smaller than himself.
Santa took him to the reindeer and told him "Come what might,
Those reindeer must be ready for deliveries Christmas night."
So Shorty got right on it, he forked them out fresh hay
And he thought "Now this here's easy. I reckon that I'll stay."
The next chore's trimmin' deer feet. He climbed into the pen
Carryin' his old gutline. He got right to it then.
He threw a loop at Dasher but it wasn't wide, you see
And ropin' at them antlers is like throwin' at a tree.
The next try is much better, for a bigger loop was thrown
But when he saw just what came next, old Shorty gave a groan.
The loop it caught old Dasher right smart around the neck
And the reindeer took to the sky and nearly caused a wreck.
Now Shorty's awful stubborn, of the rope he won't let go
Until he landed on the roof in a couple of feet of snow.
That night poor Shorty's tired and early went to bed
And just as he was dozin' off, that's when he turned his head
A red glow in the window gave our boy quite a fright
He pulled on boots and blue jeans and ran out into the night.
He started yellin' "Fire" as to the barn he ran
He made a racket loud enough to bring out every man.
He pulled the barn door open and grabbed a firehose
But then he felt so silly, it was only Rudolph's nose.
Santa laughed so loud that it started up the crew
'Till everyone was laughing as friends are prone to do.
But Shorty wasn't laughing, embarrassed you might say,
He feels he's looking foolish, and this is his first day.
Santa put his arm around him and said, "Don't feel so bad.
If that had been a real fire, we sure would all be glad
That you were there to notice, that you were on the ball
And your devoted action just might have saved us all."
"Now, don't you feel discouraged, be easy on yourself.
It takes more than a day to become a wrangler elf."
"To get to know those reindeer, just talk to them each day
And before you even know it, they'll be doing what you say."
So Shorty listened careful to Santa's kindly word
And within a week, he was really friendly with the herd.
Now he just had to tell them he was there to trim their feet
And each would hold their feet up 'till the job was done real neat.
When Christmas rolled around, he had the job down pat
And all of Santa's reindeer came to know his old black hat.
So Shorty went and called them when it was time to go
And the bunch of them walked over and stood in two neat rows.
Shorty got the harness out and put on all their gear
Then gave each one a friendly pat and a scratch behind the ear.
And as he watched them leaving, he felt a surge of pride
That he'd become a little part of Santa's yearly ride.
© 1996, George Bourbeau
Read more of George Bourbeau's poetry here.
Believin' a White Christmas
Out on our desert ranch, we don't git white Christmases much,
We mostly git heat waves, dry spells, dust storms and such;
Why, I remember one Christmas mornin' when I walked outa tha cabin,
Tha sagebrush was a-dyin' in the heat wave we was havin';
An' that's kinda how it was for many a Christmas merry,
'Til a cowpoke named Rowdy joined me in ma cabin on tha prairie;
Rowdy came from the mountains whar Christmases are always white,
Said he'd never seen a Christmas yet without white snow a-sparklin' bright;
Then came that Christmas Eve as we retired to beds a hay,
Rowdy said he was ready for tha snow we'd find tha next day;
I said, "Just a-cause it's Christmas, don't mean it's a-goin' ta snow,"
An' he replies, "Oh yeh it does! Tonight tha snow is a-gonna blow;"
With that he went ta sleep, a look of confidence upon his face,
Then tha faint sound of Christmas bells began preambulatin' 'bout tha place;
It weren't an owl a-hootin', or a lone coyote's cry,
It was tha trillin' sound a Christmas bells a-comin' down from tha sky;
Ma eyes got as wide as silver dollars, I clutched ma blankets tight',
I weren't used ta such strange happenins' when ah retired for tha night;
Those blankets I did clutch 'til thar weren't no strength within me',
An' that's when these tiny Christmas Angels a-came a-flutterin' down tha chimney;
They streamed across tha ceiling, a-leavin' streaks a-light galore,
An' all tha while ah tol' maself to not touch the hooch no more;
They a-fluttered here, they a-fluttered there, they a-fluttered round in rings,
An' dadgumit if stardust a-weren't a-fallin' from their wings;
They a-started circlin' round ol' Rowdy, an' one landed on his hand,
But ol' Rowdy didn't notice, he was snorin' to beat tha band;
I said, "Whoa thar yu little critters, yu got us dead ta rights,
But dadgumit, why're yu hauntin' us on tonight of all nights?"
Well, tha leader of tha bunch flew over an' lit thar on ma paw,
An' she talked just like a chipmunk, if'n a chipmunk could talk at all;
She said they came ta check out ol' Rowdy, a cowpoke tall 'n tough,
That they'd give him a white Christmas if'n he was believin' strong enough;
She said by their determination, his believin' was strong an' true,
That we'd have us a white Christmas as sure as tha desert sky is blue;
With that they a-fluttered outa thar, a-leavin' stardust an' streaks a red,
I just crawls back under the covers an' puts the pillows over ma head;
Rowdy woke me tha next mornin' an' smugley motions me toward tha door,
An' ah saw more snow than ah would ever see or had ever seen before;
Ah wouldn't have believed it'd happened, a-snowin' like that all night',
But ah reached down an' grabbed some an' it was bonafide all right;
Tha stuff was a-fallin' from tha branches, it was a-blowin' in our eyes,
An' all tha while more snow was a-fallin' from tha skies;
I'll never forget that wondrous Christmas, a time of seein' is believin',
A time when ol' Rowdy believed a white Christmas inta bein'.
© 2002, David Althouse
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