The Christmas Trail
The wind is blowin' cold down the mountain tips of snow
And 'cross the ranges layin' brown and dead;
It's cryin' through the valley trees that wear the mistletoe
And mournin' with the gray clouds overhead.
Yes it's sweet with the beat of my little hawse's feet
And I whistle like the air was warm and blue
For I'm ridin' up the Christmas trail to you,
I'm a-ridin' up the Christmas trail to you.
Oh, mebbe it was good when the whinny of the Spring
Had weedled me to hoppin' of the bars.
And livin' in the shadow of a sailin' buzzard's wing
And sleepin' underneath a roof of stars.
But the bright campfire light only dances for a night,
While the home-fire burns forever clear and true,
So 'round the year I circle back to you,
'Round the rovin' year I circle back to you.
Oh, mebbe it was good when the reckless Summer sun
Had shot a charge of fire through my veins,
And I milled around the whiskey and the fightin' and fun
'Mong the mav'ricks drifted from the plains.
Ay, the pot bubbled hot, while you reckoned I'd forgot,
And the devil smacked the young blood in his stew,
Yet I'm lovin' every mile that's nearer you,
Lovin' every blessed mile that's nearer you.
Oh, mebbe it was good at the roundup in the Fall,
When the clouds of bawlin' dust before us ran,
And the pride of rope and saddle was a-drivin' of us all
To stretch of nerve and muscle, man and man.
But the pride sort of died when the man got weary eyed;
'Twas a sleepy boy that rode the nightguard through,
And he dreamed himself along a trail to you,
Dreamed himself along a happy trail to you.
The coyote's Winter howl cuts the dusk behind the hill,
But the ranch's shinin' window I kin see,
And though I don't deserve it and, I reckon, never will,
There'll be room beside the fire kep' for me.
Skimp my plate 'cause I'm late. Let me hit the old kid gait,
For tonight I'm stumblin' tired of the new
And I'm ridin' up the Christmas trail to you,
I'm a-ridin' up the Christmas trail to you.
Read more classic poetry by Badger Clark here at the BAR-D.
Christmas on the Prairie
It was Christmas on the prairie
and no tannenbaums in sight.
The moon in a cloudless sky
lighted up the winter night.
Way back in the hills
a wee little soddy stood,
nestled by a creek,
in a growth of cottonwood.
Around that little shack
snow was drifted belly deep.
The cattle were all bedded down
and the cowboys were asleep.
Lamplight softly warmed the room
inside that old sod shack
and cowchips burned like tinder
holding the winter back.
The Christmas tree, a sagebrush,
slightly lighted by the lamp,
stood in the soddy's window
to brighten up their camp.
They were a long way from home
and they'd done the best they could
to celebrate that Christmas
just as their families would.
© 2003, Clark Crouch
Read more of Clark Crouch's poetry here.
Robert May's Story
At Christmas time in '39,
depression in full swing,
Ward's gave each kid a picture book,
and I got mine first thing.
I thought it very nice of Ward's
to give their books out free
Yet I would bet that Christmas gift
paid off in loyalty.
The lively illustrations seemed
to leap right off the page.
No wonder Denver Gillen's art
appealed to kids my age.
It came without a cover,
pages printed on newsprint.
It wasn't bound but stapled, yet,
I thought it worth a mint.
I read that book so many times,
I knew each rhyming line.
I said it for my third grade class,
and they all liked it fine.
Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer
by employee Robert May,
Told what poor misfit Rudolph did
to save one Christmas day
The little reindeer, Rudolph,
a figment of May's mind
Became quite real to children
who had suffered taunts in kind.
Then Walter Marsh, a songwriter,
turned story into song,
His tune so catchy that it begged
the listener sing along.
Gene Autry sang the Rudolph song
His record touched folks' hearts.
It wasn't long before that song
had climbed atop the charts.
Although some sixty years have passed
since Rudolph's book debut,
I'll bet as many read it now
as when the book was new.
If I were smart, I'd have mine yet,
but I gave it away.
Now I suppose it's valuable,
but isn't that the way.
© 2003, Jane Morton, from her forthcoming book, Turning to Face the Wind
Read more of Jane Morton's poetry here.
A Christmas For Cowboys
"There just ain't such thing as a Christmas for cowboys,"
The little boy whimpered into his mother's cheek,
All bedecked with cap guns and other western toys,
In Dade's old farmhouse down by Crackerneck Creek.
It had been bone-dry summer with no rain out here--
What crops were left shriveled up as half the herd died--
There wasn't going to be much Christmas that year--
Now mama and Little Zane just sat there and cried.
Pa bought land five years back, too old for rodeo--
He hung up spurs and tack for a tractor and plow--
Determined to reap all the good that he could sow
With his strong back, God's help and the sweat from his brow.
But now he felt God let him down or was chiding,
By turning the weather against all that he tried--
So he told his wife he was going back riding--
But he went gambling instead and she knew he lied.
What money they had, on Blackjack he did soon blow,
Hoping against hope to make that one last big score--
Dead broke, he pulled his cowboy hat down 'gainst the snow
As he leaned, tired and beat, next to a liquor store.
Then he took out walking in that big city--
And stopped on an iron bridge over the mighty Mo--
Looked down in the cold water looking for pity
And wondered if it was time to pack it in and go.
He thought of the sad looks they'd have if he was gone,
And his good wife's trust and love that he had betrayed--
He closed his eyes midst the cold white snow and neon
And to God, he at long last sorrowfully prayed.
When he opened his eyes, the cold wind gave him chills
As he looked down in the slush and ice by his feet--
And there, quite neatly folded were several bills--
Enough for an entrance fee for him to compete.
He was going to do what he said--not eat crow--
Though his bones were aching and he was past his prime.
He headed on out to that indoor rodeo--
If he drove all-night he could make it just in time.
While he knew chances of winning were more than slim,
He put money down to ride that bull Snake Eyes--
He'd made the short go only by the grace of Him,
And if he lost it here, at least he'd say he tried.
Then as that bull belly-rolled and bellowed real loud,
He held on with all the fibers of his being--
He didn't hear the cheers or even see that crowd--
It was his boy and wife's faces he was seeing.
And when they gave him that buckle and great big check,
He thanked them and smiled and then quickly walked away--
He just remembered why it was he made that trek,
And why he had to get back home by Christmas day.
There is such thing as Christmas for cowboys, he thought,
As he heard Zane yell at the window for his ma--
He reckoned Santa was a wrangler who'd not forgot,
'Cause all that Zane wanted was to be with his pa.
© 2003, Glen Enloe
Read more of Glen Enloe's poetry here.
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