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
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.
You can read more classic poetry by Bruce Kiskaddon here at the BAR-D.
Christmas on the North Fork
On the day before Christmas the sky looked like lead
filled with snow that was ready to fall
And I shouldn't have pressed it, I know in hindsight,
but back then when the kids were still small
I wanted things perfect, and I had my own view
of the way that Christmas should be,
from baking and holly to tinsel and trim
and presents for under the tree.
So in spite of Wood's eyebrows and mutters and scowls,
or expressions of his point of view
We packed into the pickup, took both of the kids
and did what I wanted to do.
Twenty miles down the river, then over the saddle
to what passed around there for a town
To pick up some do-dads and knick-knacks and stuff
from a list I'd stopped to write down.
But Wood, you could tell he was nervous.
Kept checkin' the sky like a clock.
So I rushed through my shopping and kept the kids shushed,
then Wood, his face like a rock
says "We got to be goin', Jo. It's gettin' late.
And that road weren't too good when we come.
What ever you got has to be all you need.
Drivin' home ain't like to be fun."
Well, 'fore long the flakes were a blanket
of snow that was heavy and wet
and the truck started slidin' in the slush and the ice.
Woods face was worried and set.
We were creeping along like a fog bank,
the engine kept under full load
and the whole world was silent except for the whine
of gears workin' to stay on the road.
But the bridge on the road up by North Fork
was iced over. Wood started to skid,
then went off the road. And he said a word
he don't usually use 'round the kids.
We went down the embankment about twenty feet
and came to a halt in some brush,
and in less that a minute Wood was out of the truck
and over his boot tops in slush.
He cussed one more time and kicked at the wheel
then opened the door and got in.
"We ain't goin' nowhere too far tonight
he said, with a feeblish grin
that he aimed at the kids, so they wouldn't be scared,
but they was. They were both 'bout to bawl.
"There's a cabin just over the hill there," Wood said.
It's a line camp Durf uses in Fall.
Ain't likely stocked, but you bought groceries in town,
It'll be warmer at least than this truck.
We'll hear when the snowplow comes by in the morning,
pull us out if we've got any luck."
Christmas eve come, and we hadn't no presents,
not even a tree for the kids,
so Wood took an ax from the wall at the back
and did like dads must have did
long ago. Chopped down a tree from there on the hill
Not far from the old cabin door
And we stood that tree up by the window,
made decorations there on the floor.
There were bells cut out of egg cartons
and a big tinfoil star for the top,
and that tree come part furnished with piñon pine cones
the squirrels must of somehow forgot.
But there were candy canes, paper-wrapped Santas,
and some tinsel from the five and dime,
and time we got through with the trinkets and glitter
That tree was decked out mighty fine.
We ate soup from a can instead of a turkey
and I hadn't no way to make pie,
But we sang all the songs, and we kept safe and warm
and Christmas day come, by and by.
Wood and the kids made snow angels
and a castle with turret and tower
Then at about two the road crew came through
and we were back on the road in an hour.
Garth from the county told Woody
"Usually we'd not come this way,
but folks back in town watched you leave and got worried,
so we come out to search Christmas Day."
Me and Wood were mighty glad for our neighbors
and for Garth that cold day in December,
And years since when the kids tell their stories
that's the Christmas they always remember.
© 2002, Jo Lynne Kirkwood
Read more of Jo Lynne Kirkwood's poetry here.
A Christmas Memory
My Grandfather was a man of many talents, stockman, farmer, fisherman and preacher when he was called upon to do it. Papa was the epitome of what this country stands for and what the West is all about. He pioneered the land, and loved it with all his being and he passed that on to me. Christmas is one of the times I realize the great sacrifices my Papa made to bring joy into my life, but it was the real meaning of Christmas he gave me of unconditional love and I pass that on to you as my gift for this season.
A Christmas Memory
The tattered Sears and Roebuck catalog
lay on the outhouse shelf
it served a multitude of uses.
The pages were mostly filled with
Christmas dreams that whetted
my wishful juices.
I'd sometimes sit and ponder those pages
of toys and games and such
hopin, wishin and droppin hints
knowin my folks couldn't
afford very much
I'd write down my lists and slip them to
my grandma and later on she would say
"Just pray your prayers and dream your dreams
and wait for Christmas Day."
Christmas Eve a storm blew in, snow
drifted against the door
Papa came in from feeding the stock
and said, "There's no way to get to the store."
I ate my dinner early and shivered in
bed all night long
as the wind fingered the windows
wailing its wild and lonesome song.
Daybreak I woke to the silence
one star hung low in the sky
and then up from the kitchen I heard
singing a sweet Christmas lullaby.
Creeping down the dark stairway
I saw a wondrous sight
a delivery of gifts had somehow appeared
on that long ago wintry night.
The stockings held apples and candy
and for each one even a toy
on every face I remember
the wonder, the pure simple joy.
Papa sat in his rocker
and called for the family to come.
Then he read the Christmas story
about the birth of God's own son.
Now Papa was just a simple man
he worked and he believed
the story he read to us that morning
about a long ago Christmas Eve.
He told us of a tiny child, who
was born in a manger plain
and it isn't the gifts that I remember
it's that gift of his love that remains
I've shared it with my family
and I share it with you now
about a man who was close to land
born among the hay and the cows.
Yes, I remember the simplest Christmas
the best one I ever had
with the man who told me this Christmas story
the man who was my Granddad.
May your Christmas be as Blessed.
© 2003, Donna Hatton
Read more poetry by Donna Hatton here.
I'd been at the ranch less than a year
I was warm in the bunkhouse when the foreman appeared
He said, "Jonesy, you're low man -- this task falls to you
There's a new calf missing -- Its mother is, too
Saddle up Mack; don't forget your maguey
I hate to send you out on this cold Christmas Eve
But coyotes are hungry -- This year has been hard
We can't stand to lose even one little pard."
As I rode through the snow in the blustery wind
I complained to myself 'bout the shape I was in
Tonight meant the barn dance . . . pretty girls, lots of laughs
I'd miss it all, thanks to one snot-nosed calf
My job seemed hopeless, an impossible test
But since I was out here I'd give it my best
We'd start in the open and work towards the rough
I pointed Mack north and hoped for some luck.
We scoured the pastures, the gullies, the hills
But nothing was moving; it was quiet and still
We rode down the canyon and up past the draw
And that's when I saw them . . . It filled me with awe
Alone in a clearing, not trying to run
Quiet and peaceful, stood mother and son
Slowly they looked up -- their eyes all aglow
And I was reminded of a scene long ago.
My throat got a lump; my eyes got a tear
I'm lucky, I thought, to have ended up here
Where hardships are many, but blessings are, too
Where a short draw can lead to a soul-shaking view
I got off my horse and knelt in the drifts
And I said, "Thank you, Jesus, for all of the gifts
By myself, I'm not much, but I'll do what I can
I've got my own saddle; can I ride for your brand?"
© Lanny Joe Burnett
Read more poetry by Lanny Joe Burnett here.
There's snow out on the prairie
Thanksgiving, has come and gone
This morning, while cooking breakfast
Sweetheart is humming some new songs
"Fa Lala Lala, Lala La La"
and "Peace on Earth to Men"
That's her way of telling me
It's that time again
So I'll have a bite, do my chores
and saddle up ol' Blue
Then ride up, on Piney Ridge
just like I always do
There's a tree I saw, while mending fence
I'll cut and bring home
With a few, extra boughs
and a bag of large pine cones
Later that day, when the work is finished
and the evening meal is done
We'll bring that tree in the house
and have ourselves some fun
It's, turn it left, then turn it right
and it don't look straight to me
Ain't it a wonder, after forty years
how different folks can be
We'll finally get it propped up proper
when the night is mostly gone
But we can't stop now, cause it looks plumb naked
Without the decorations on
She tells me "I want it Old Fashioned
like the bygone days have been"
I best not say, I can recall
when her, Old Fashioned, was the trend
Now we unpack, unwrap, hang and adjust
all those treasures from the past
When that midnight oil is burning low
we give in at last
I say "Hon, can you remember,
last year, we said we quit"
She says "Not now, it's one of those habits
the kind that you can't kick"
All this fussin, ain't for nought
cause when Christmas rolls around
We will be, the happiest pair
that surely, can be found
From where the celebration is big and joyous
though this little ranch be small
May you be blessed and prosper
Merry Christmas to you all
© 2003, Ezra Spur
Read more of Ezra Spur's poetry here.
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