“Seein’ Santa” by Charles M. Russell, 1910
C. M. Russell Museum, Great Falls, Montana reproduced with permission
by Rod Nichols (1942-2007)
Ol’ Charlie sat with cup in hand,
“Hot coffee, that’s for me.
I’ll never touch another drop
of spirits, though I freeze.”
The bunkhouse crew now gathered ’round;
ol’ Chuck was talkin’ strange.
“What happened, son,” the foreman asked,
to bring about this change?”
The cowboy took another sip,
“Just let me ketch my breath.
You won’t believe what happened, boys,
but scared me half to death.”
“I’d been up in the north country,
and stopped by Miller’s shack.
We jawed awhile and afterwards,
I started headin’ back.”
“The wind was raw and bitter cold.
It had me in it’s grip.
I thought to warm my innards up,
and took a little nip.”
“When all at once against the sky
and down a cloudy draw,
a sight like nuthin’ on this Earth,
this frozen cowboy saw.”
“It were a sleigh, I swear it, boys,
and drawn by antlered deer,
a driver, too, in cap and fur,
and laughin’ loud and clear.”
“I’d never seen its likes before
nor nuthin half as strange;
That driver seemed to tip his cap
and called to me by name.”
“When that there rig flew over me
with driver, deer and sleigh,
I took one look at what I’d drunk,
and threw the rest away.”
“Then as they mounted to the sky,
I heard him clearly say,
‘Peace on the Earth, goodwill to men
on this most wondrous day.”
” I know you won’t believe me, boys,
but, how do you explain,
this lariat he left for me
that bears my given name?”
For there upon his saddle horn
a rope with leather bands
that bound the length at either end
to hold the woven strands.
And on one band, a message read
“To Charlie Russell, Hand.
A Merry Christmas to you, pard,
until we meet, again.”
© 2004, Rod Nichols, used with permission
Texas poet Rod Nichols wrote this poem for a Christmas Art Spur with this Russell image at CowboyPoetry.com.
Rod Nichols is dearly missed by his many friends.
Find more about Rod Nichols and much more of his poetry at CowboyPoetry.com.