by S. Omar Barker (1895-1985)
Some eighty miles from nowhere, in a line-camp all alone,
A cowboy set on Christmas Eve without no telephone,
No radio, no TV set, no autos passin’ by,
No sound but wind a-moanin’ and lonesome coyote’s cry
To wish him Merry Christmas. Lookin’ back through mem’ry’s eye,
He saw a happy fireside on an old Missouri farm,
With Pa and Ma and seven kids assembled snug and warm
Around a purty Christmas Tree a-gleam with candle-light,
With home-folks love a-shuttin’ out the boogers of the night;
He saw white popcorn on a string and big red apples hung
To ketch the light in ruddy rays whenever one was swung;
He heard a little sister that was doomed to use a crutch,
A-braggin’ on her presents even though they wasn’t much;
He saw his older sister with her beau a-lookin’ shy,
A-settin’ on the hoss-hair lounge. He used to wonder why
Young fellers took so strong to gals. Since punchin’ cows, he’d found
How heifer-lonesome you can git without no shes around,
Especially at Christmas time a ‘way out in the west
When all the company you’ve got’s the “makin’s” in your vest.
So there this lonesome cowpoke set and pondered what to do
To make it seem like Christmas, but of course he durn well knew
He might as well forget it, for a boar’s nest batcher’s chance
Of making Christmas merry wasn’t worth a preacher’s pants.
He listened to the wintry wind across the drifted snow,
And thought about the happy home he’d left so long ago
Against his mother’s wishes just to be a cowboy bold…
He wondered how the cattle would be standin’ all this cold.
Outside he heard some coyotes howl. They sounded lonesome, too,
And all at once this cowboy thought of somethin’ he could do.
He stepped outside the dugout, and the cold stars heard him yell:
“Merry Christmas, brother coyotes!” Well, there ain’t no more to tell.
He come back in and went to bed a-feelin’ like a fool,
But grinnin’ some to think how he had celebrated Yule
By wishin’ Merry Christmas to a yelpin’ coyote crew—
Because there wasn’t no one else around to wish it to!
© 1954, S. Omar Barker, reprinted with the permission of the estate of S. Omar Barker, This poem should not be reprinted or reposted without permission
We’re celebrating the 20th annual Christmas at the BAR-D.
Barker was one of the founders of the Western Writers of America, Inc. and many of his poems were published by Western Horseman.
Find more of S. Omar Barker’s Christmas poems and more about him at CowboyPoetry.com.
This image is by journalist, photographer, and designer Jeri Dobrowski. It is the poem as it appears in S. Omar Barker’s scrapbook, photographed at the home of his grandniece, November 2007.
(Please respect copyright. You can share this poem and image with this post, but for other uses, seek permission.)