by Jo Lynne Kirkwood

The cows were pastured for the winter, and for about a week or two
Apart from barn chores, chopping wood,
there weren’t much the boys could do,
So the foreman says, Augustus, you go scout along the rim,
See if you can spot an elk, or deer for venison.
Cookie says, There’s turkeys in the pinions, looking for pine nuts,
And I’ve seen them in the pasture, scratching in the ruts.
Gus says he prefers Wild Turkey in a bottle.
He ain’t pluckin feathers from some bird he’d have to throttle.
The foreman says, You boys all git, ‘fore you make me lose my mind.
Go shoot a bird, or elk, or cat. Bring back what you can find.

So the boys went out to scout for turkeys, and found to their surprise
A great big gouged up swath of land. And there, before their eyes,
A pile of splintered boards all heaped up in a stack,
And a little feller covered up with toys spilled from a sack.
They dragged the body from the wreck, observed he wasn’t dead,
And hauled him back to the bunkhouse, put a washrag on his head,
Then sat around and stared at him. They hadn’t much else to do,
‘Til he woke up. He looked around, then grinned at the whole crew,
And laughed. HO HO, Merry Christmas to you all, he said.
Thanks for the rescue! An angel, or wild turkey,  made me crash my sled!
I was listening to the Heavenly Host. Had the GPS turned on,

And I was singing harmony to my favorite Christmas song,
Tho’ it might have been a wind sheer. But those cherubim kept singing
While I dropped right out of the sky! Me and the gifts that I was bringing
To all the little girls and boys from Jolly Old St. Nick.
He sighed and said, Oh shoot. I guess I’m in a fix.

Gus snorted, said, You’re Santa Claus? You’ve fell right off your rocker.
I’m Kris, he answered, And you’re Gus, and you are a big talker
Who has never believed in Santa. Why? I’m here, and living proof,
And besides, you can’t discount the sound of reindeer on this roof.
The boys all stopped to listen. There was a skittering on the shingles
That maybe could be caused by squirrels, with the jingle-belly jingles.
Them ain’t reindeer, Gus responded, the image of denial.
Them’s turkeys. Wild turkeys. We been scourged with them awhile.
Kris said, I’d like to argue, but that’s going to have to wait.
There’s ten million places I’ve got to be and it’s getting pretty late,
So thanks for your hospitality. You’ve been kind, and that’s a fact.
But now it’ll take the Host of Heaven to get me back on track.
And he gazed up toward the ceiling, put a finger by his nose,
And like a cloud of smoke up the chimney pipe, heavenward he rose.
He was swept up in a whirlwind of feathers, and of toys,
And bits of shattered sled and sack, and with a softening of noise,
The bunkhouse filled with spectacle, With a symphony of light,
And old Kris Kringle shouted, Happy Christmas, and Good Night!

Then the gentle hush of muted wings fluttered all around,
And for a minute, just a minute, the boys all heard a sound
Like waterfalls in springtime, like a torrent or a tide,
Of carols from their childhoods, of all the gifts they’d been denied,
Of a thousand hallelujahs, or hosannas to a King.
They heard the sound words can’t describe. They heard the angels sing.

© 2019, Jo Kirkwood
This poem should not be reposted or reprinted without permission

We’re celebrating the 20th annual Christmas at the BAR-D (where there are many additional cowboy Christmas poems).

Utah teacher, poet, artist, and storyteller Jo Lynne Kirkwood delights many each year with her Christmas card poem and drawing, and this is her 2019 offering.

She is also the artist featured in the current Art Spur. Find her 2017 card and its poem there, accompanied by her poem, “Cattle at Christmas (or) Homage to Fake News.”

Jo Lynne Kirkwood has a fine book that collects her poetry, Old Houses, and recordings. Find more about her at cowboypoetry.com.

(Please respect copyright. You can share this poem and image with this post, but for other uses, request permission.)