Christmas 2016: Submitted Poems


Find more poetry at the main page for the 17th annual Christmas at the BAR-D. Below are selected submitted poems.

“Cactus Charlie,” by Mike Moutoux
“Santa on My Heels,” by Dan “Doc” Wilson
“Cookie’s Christmas,” by Jack Burdette


by Mike Moutoux

Life wasn’t hard on Charlie
But it wasn’t easy neither
‘bout like most cowboys who’ve seen life’s ups and downs
He retired from punchin’ cows and most thought all he’s doin’ now
Is marking time on his small place outside of town

At least that’s what they figured
But then, no one saw him much
He just stayed out there alone on his patch of desert
Yet despite the dust and heat, he kept the place up pretty neat
And every year it seemed to look a little better

Now you can call me nosey
I like to say I’m concerned
‘Cause I’d always turn in whenever I was out that way
We’d talk a little while, and he’d ask with half a smile
“You want to see how they’re a-doin’ now today?”

See, Charlie was a cactus rancher
(I learned not to call it farmin’)
And he was proud—proud of his sturdy prickly herd
He had claret cup, and prickly pear and a cholla name of teddy bear
He seemed to know the name of every plant and bug and bird

The tour would take an hour
But the time just seemed to fly
As we checked on just ‘bout everything we could
The nests of cactus wrens and the desert tortoise den
When Charlie said, “stop in again”, I said I would

“Christmas Party at Cactus Charlie’s”
The notes came in our reg’lar mail
We’re invited on the eve of Christmas Day
‘Course a lot of folks had plans, but they changed ‘em for that old man
Some were curious or just polite, but we all came

An’ I’ve never so many of us together
But there we were at Charlie’s
All arriving in the evening’s fading light
And once we were all assembled, Charlie said in a voice that trembled
“I want to thank you all for coming here tonight.”

And then he took us on the tour
Not another word was spoken
As Charlie took us on the path where we always met
He must have worked for hours placing candles and adding flowers
I believe it was as close to Heaven as some of us would get

The cactus glowed from all those candles
Shadows flickered on our faces
There were smiles and married folk were holding hands
Charlie’s gift was plain to see, what he shared with them and me
Was the joy and peace that come to those who love the land

Now me, I’m just an old poet
But that gives me a kind of license
To tell you things that may or may not be true
Well I’m tellin’ you this story’s real, I shared it so you might feel
The joy and peace that Charlie would want for you.

© 2016, Mike Moutoux
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without permission.


by Dan “Doc” Wilson

‘Twas just before Christmas and I was alone
Out ridin’ the line, only me and my roan.
The snow was piled high by the rough line shack door,
While north winds were howlin’ and threatenin’ more.

Some icicles hung from the edge of the roof
As if winter needed to show us some proof
That summer was gone while Fall’s had its day,
And soon we’d see Santa come ridin’ our way.

The crick was froze over, as hard as a rock,
And waterin’ places we’d dug for the stock
Were crusted with ice that I stopped to break
In bitter cold winds that made weary bones ache.

Then down ‘long the fence line I rode once again
To look for those breaks that appeared now and then.
An’ sure enough there, just as plain as can be,
A hole gapped so wide that the stock could roam free.

I spent almost all of that cold, snowy day
Just roundin’ up critters that wandered astray,
Then drivin ‘em back to our own pasture lands,
And hazin’ away some that wore other brands.

But one ol’ cantankerous bull wouldn’t turn,
And ran down the ridge past the late summer burn.
Through drifts that were deep, we set up quite a pace,
And rambled and scrambled and had us a race!

Then suddenly out of the blizzard’s cold rage
A wild, wooly cowboy came drivin’ a stage!
He hooted and hollered like Ol’ Scratch at night
While I stared and shivered to see such a sight!

The eyes of his team burned like hot glowin’ coals
And I swore ‘twas Satan out lookin’ for souls!
Not waitin’ to see where the creature was bound
I gigged my ol’ roan and I turned him around.

I shot through the drifts and the pines on the hill
While thunderin’ hooves and a “ye-haw” so shrill
Were hot on my heels like a demon possessed!
He never would pause, nor would give me a rest!

We rode for the fence that was not far behind,
And left the old bull who I put out of mind,
Then flew through the gap that stood open wide,
While on came the stage, and it rumbled inside!

I turned for the line shack just over the crest
And hoped maybe Scratch would find some other guest,
When much to my sudden surprise and dismay
My roan slipped and fell in a gawsh awful way!

I tumbled and rolled and then suddenly stopped
On snow-covered logs that some waddies had chopped,
While thrashin’ and crashin’ and hot on my trail
Came Scratch with his stage and my certain travail!

All dressed up in red from his head to his boots
The driver was smokin’ them cowboy cheroots,
And as he raced by he yelled back from the gate,
‘It’s Christmas y’all and I reckon I’m late!’

Then off with a bound, he rode on through the snows
His stage full of boxes with ribbons and bows,
Then I knew at once, and it hit me right quick,
Why, ‘twarn’t Scratch at all… it was jolly St. Nick!”

© 2016, Dan “Doc” Wilson
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without permission.


by Jack Burdette

Now, Cookie’s been a might grumpy,
since he stepped on his corncob pipe
And, if there’s one thing you don’t want
it’s chuck cooked with a grudge or gripe.
So, us boys all got together
and decided with Christmas near,
We’d all pitch in to cheer him up,
or, at least, quell food poisoning fear.

Ken’s been sorta sneaky of late,
spending spare time out in the shed
And Austin’s been firing the forge,
pretending to shoe some old stead.
Louie and me rode into town,
and did some shopping on our own.
We made up some lame brain excuse,
so’s our true purpose was unknown.

Soon, Christmas day came to our ranch
and we sat down to a real feast.
Before the blessing could be said,
for Cookie, all our gifts unleashed.
Lou and me gave him a bible,
with zipper case for on the trail
And a pair of doeskin slippers,
Indian crafted with fine detail.

Austin presented a fire set,
for use when working the roundups,
All hand forged tools made from wrought iron,
with handles fashioned from old stirrups.
There were long forks, big spoons and tongs,
and griddle for flipping flapjacks.
There was a spit with turning crank,
stew pot crane and coffee pot racks.

Ken handed Cookie his artwork,
he’d carved from a maple burl blank.
A tobacco pipe with large bowl
and Bent Billiard style curved shank.
Light magnified the swirling grain,
hand polished to a vibrant sheen,
It was the most beautiful pipe,
that none of us had ever seen.

Cookie was shocked and taken back.
was first I’d seen him lost for words.
But, stammered, “Grub’s all I gotcha,
so, dig in and fill your innards.”
We sopped our plates and ate our pie.
As for the meal, nary a gripe.
Then Cookie put on new slippers
and lit tobacco in his pipe.

After a few puffs, tamped the bowl
and said, “Now that’s a right cool smoke.”
He tapped out ash and lit up new
and weren’t too long before he spoke.
“I weren’t always a broke down cook,
and if you want to hear the truth,
I still yearn for saddle and spurs
and carefree escapades of youth.”

“Thankful, I can still pull my weight,
it keeps me near the life I love
And ‘though I’m not straddling a horse,
this job’s a blessing from above.
I thank you for these treasured gifts
and this Christmas we can share.
By far, the greatest gift of all,
is just knowing you waddies care.”

© 2016, Jack Burdette
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without permission.