THE OLD TIME CHRISTMAS by Bruce Kiskaddon (1878-1950)

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THE OLD TIME CHRISTMAS
by Bruce Kiskaddon (1878-1950)

I liked the way we used to do,
when cattle was plenty and folks was few.
The people gathered frum far and near, and
they barbacued a big fat steer.
The kids tried stayin’ awake because,
they reckoned they might ketch Santa Claus.
Next mornin’ you’d wake ’em up to see,
what he’d been and put on the Christmas tree.

It was Christmas then fer the rich and pore,
and every ranch was an open door.
The waddy that came on a company hoss
was treated the same as the owner and boss.
Nobody seemed to have a care,
you was in among friends or you wasn’t there.
For every feller in them days knew
to behave hisself as a man should do.

Some had new boots, which they’d shore admire
when they warmed their feet in front of the fire.
And the wimmin folks had new clothes too,
but not like the wimmin of these days do.
Sometimes a drifter came riding in,
some feller that never was seen agin.
And each Christmas day as the years went on
we used to wonder where they’d gone.

I like to recall the Christmas night.
The tops of the mountains capped with white.
The stars so bright they seemed to blaze,
and the foothills swum in a silver haze.
Them good old days is past and gone.
The time and the world and the change goes on.
And you cain’t do things like you used to do
when cattle was plenty and folks was few.

… Bruce Kiskaddon, 1934

And here is another Kiskaddon poem, with a similar sentiment:

MERRY CHRISTMAS
by Bruce Kiskaddon (1878-1950)

We was whistlin’, we was singin’ on a winter afternoon;
The hobble chains and fryin’ pans was jinglin’ to the tune.
Fer we knew the day was Christmas and the line camp was in sight,
No, it wasn’t much to look at but it suited us all right.

We onpacked and we onsaddled, then we turned our hosses out;
We cooked lots of beef and biscuits and we made the coffee stout.
We et all we could swaller, then we set and took a smoke,
And we shore did work our memory out to find a bran new joke.

No, it wasn’t like the Christmas like the folks have nowadays—
They are livin’ more in comfort, and they’ve sorter changed their ways—
But I sorter wish, old pardner, we could brush the years away,
And be jest as young and happy, as we was that Christmas Day.

… Bruce Kiskaddon

 

Merry Christmas, all!

This image is an original Los Angeles Stockyards calendar page from December, 1954. The poem and drawing first appeared in the Western Livestock Journal in 1934. It was also included in Kiskaddon’s 1935 book, Western Poems.

Poet Bruce Kiskaddon and artist Katherine Field (1908-1951) collaborated on works for the Los Angeles Union Stockyards calendar and the Western Livestock Journal. The two never met in person.

Bruce Kiskaddon worked for ten years as a cowboy, starting in 1898 in southeastern Colorado’s Picketwire area. He published short stories and nearly 500 poems. His poems are among the most admired and the most recited in the “classic” cowboy poetry canon.

Much of what is known about Kiskaddon and his work comes from Open Range, Bill Siems’ monumental collection of Kiskaddon’s poetry. Bill Siems also collected Bruce Kiskaddon’s short stories in a book called Shorty’s Yarns.

Siems tells that Kiskaddon wrote an annual Christmas poem for the Chuck Wagon Trailers, a group organized in 1931 “by old-time cowboys who were Hollywood’s first stunt men and western stars.”

On The BAR-D Roundup: Volume 8, a double CD of classic and modern Christmas cowboy poetry, Jay Snider has an excellent recitation of “The Old Time Christmas” and Gail Steiger has a likewise great recitation of Kiskaddon’s “Merry Christmas.”

Find more in the Kiskaddon features at CowboyPoetry.com.

 

‘NEATH A CHRISTMAS EVE SKY by Rod Nichols (1942-2007)

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© 2015, John Michael Reedy; request permission for use.

 

‘NEATH A CHRISTMAS EVE SKY
by Rod Nichols (1942-2007)

There’s a halo that’s circlin’
’round a moon shinin’ bright,
adding wonder and glory
to the heavens tonight.

And it seems to be sayin’
to this cowboy at least,
it was on such an evenin’
came the young Prince Of Peace.

And I know without doubtin’
as the bunkhouse draws nigh,
that it’s Christmas I’m feelin’
neath a Christmas Eve sky.

There’s a wind slightly blowin’
through the needles of pine,
and the shadows are loomin’
where the moonbeams now shine.

And the soft sound of singing
come a-driftin’ to me
as the hands are now gatherin’
’round a small lighted tree.

And it brings me a smile, Lord,
and a tear to my eye,
as I’m headin’ home fin’lly
neath a Christmas Eve sky.

© 2007, Rod Nichols
This poem should not be reposted or reprinted without permission

Texan Rod Nichols will forever be missed by his many friends and family. This is just one of his memorable poems and one of his last Christmas poems. Find many more at CowboyPoetry.com.

This beautiful photograph was made near Boulder, Montana two years ago by photographer, songwriter, musician, and poet John Michael Reedy (who also created the photograph in our Christmas cover photo.)

See more impressive photography at his site.

John Michael Reedy’s recent book, This Place, includes his impressive photography accompanied by his poems and songs. You can view the entire book at the publisher’s site.

Find more about John Michael Reedy at CowboyPoetry.com and visit
twistedcowboy.com.

Find more Christmas poetry throughout the season at the 18th annual Christmas at the BAR-D.

 

CHRISTMAS SERENADE by J.W. Beeson

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© 2016, John Michael Reedy. Request permission for use.

CHRISTMAS SERENADE
by J.W. Beeson

It’s 15 below on the prairie
the wind chill’s down near 42
and I’m watchin’ a Texas blue norther blow in
and I’m not sure what I’m gonna do.

‘Cause the tanks are froze pretty near solid
and the handle broke off my best ax
and the feed’s gettin’ wet from a hole in the roof
where it’s leakin’ all over the sacks

And I’m feedin’ more hay than I planned on
’cause the snow covered up all the grass
the tractor’s broke down and the pickup won’t start
and it’s cold as a well digger’s…shovel

It’s the 24th day of December
and the sagebrush is covered with ice
and I think that a hot cup of coffee
or a good shot of rye would be nice

‘Cause my feet are so cold I can’t feel ’em
and my fingers are purty near froze
and there’s icicles hung off my moustache
from the drip drippin’ off of my nose

I was hopin’ I’d get to quit early
and be back at the house Christmas Eve
but these baldies are cryin’ and hungry
and there’s no one to feed if I leave

And there’s one little motley-faced heifer
who somehow got in with the bull
and she’s just too little to leave by herself
’cause the calf’s gonna have to be pulled

And there’s one other thing I might mention
a fact that is painfully clear
I’m so broke that I can’t pay attention
so I guess I’ll spend Christmas out here

But it’s pretty out here on the prairie
where the stars light the cold winter sky
and though I can’t remember when things were much worse
I guess I’m still a right lucky guy

‘Cause I’ve got a good woman who’ll love me
no matter what time I come home
and my young ‘un is happy and healthy
though I wish he weren’t quite near so grown

And I’ve got that new 3-year-old filly
who’s better than I even dreamed
and my old spotted gelding as good as they come
so things ain’t all as bad as they seem

I’ve got no cause for being ungrateful
and to gripe and complain isn’t good
’cause there’s people all over this country
who’d trade places with me if they could

So I know that I’ll have a good Christmas
in spite of my problems somehow
I’ll just watch as this Texas blue norther blows in
and sing “O Holy Night” to the cows.

© 1996, J. W. Beeson
This poem should not be reposted or reprinted without permission

Texas cowboy and saddlemaker J.W. Beeson’s Christmas poem first appeared in Western Horseman in December, 1996. His recitation of it is included on the double-cd Christmas edition of The BAR-D Roundup from CowboyPoetry.com.

His bio tells, “In 1995, J.W. Beeson was hired by the Great American Cattle Drive to help drive a herd of Texas longhorns from Fort Worth to Miles City, Montana. Beeson left with the herd March 5, 1995 from the Fort Worth Stockyards and arrived September 1 in Miles City, Montana, six months and 1600 miles later. In October of 1996, he was inducted into the Old Trail Drivers Association of Texas, and was credited as being the only cowboy to be ‘in the saddle’ every day of drive, a feat not accomplished since 1886.”

We asked J.W. Beeson about the inspiration for the poem, and here is his response, printed in full as received. Read it and you’ll see why not one word was changed:

As for how it was written, it’s pretty much a true story, when it was written. A Tornado had blown my Saddle Shop away in April so I hired out wherever I could find work. I was taking care of some cattle and had a little First Calf Heifer that was due to calve any day. I had built a little crosstie leanto at the pens and used an old combine wheel for a Fire Pit. I spent a lot of time out there with those cows, my horses and Dog. Had a big ol Black and White Paint Gelding named Bill ( one of the best horses I ever owned) and was riding a Green Broke Philly named Calico, who was petty snakey, but smart and coming along real good, just needed lots of miles.

A Big Blizzard blew in the day before Christmas Eve and I knew that sure as the world, if I left that heifer alone and couldn’t get back to her she would calve, so I put some food and my coffee pot in my old 1963 Chevy Feed pickup and headed to the pens. It was an old 6 cylinder, 4 wheel drive 3/4 ton stepside pickup that had been brush painted OD Green. It would only run about 45 mph top speed, but would climb a house in FWD.

I had a Female Afghan Wolfhound named “Duchess” who was my constant companion and usually when I went to feed, she would ride on the back, on top of the hay bales with her nose in the wind. I would put the pickup in four wheel Low and the transmission in Granny Low, Set the throttle, jump out, get on the back with the Dog and feed hay. The old pickup would drive itself and the cattle would follow, and when I was done feeding I would run up to the cab and jump back in. I knew that if the snow got deep and I had any trouble I had either the Pickup or Ol Bill to depend on, so I wouldn’t be stranded.

So, I headed to the pens, built a fire, made a pot of Cowboy Coffee and put a can of Beanie Weenies on to cook. It was Blowing Snow and Pretty cold but I had a good fire going and was ready to stay the night and baby sit the little heifer. Duchess snuggled up next to me, trying to mooch a Beanie Weenie just as the wind layed down at about 9 or 10 o’clock, Christmas Eve Night.

It was that old Hard Cloudless Cold that goes clear through you, but the stars were all out and shining bright. The Ground was frozen hard and everything crackled when I walked. The Trees were covered with white frost and the tank was froze near solid but the light from the Moon and the Campfire was one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen. I have always loved nights like that, and I remember thinking, Mother Nature put on her Best White Dress for me tonight and she wearing every Diamond she owns.

I’m Nearly Broke, I’m spending Christmas Eve in a windbreak with a Dog, A Horse,and A pregnant cow, and I wouldn’t trade this to be anywhere else in the world. It was like tonight God made the whole world just for me. He gave me the greatest Christmas Present I could get, and it was something Money couldn’t buy and most folks never see.

People all over the world were wondering if they would live out the night or if their kids would starve, and here I was, with a warm coat, a full belly, a warm fire, 2 friends that loved me unconditionally and a Front Row Seat to the Majesty of Creation and the miracle of Birth. I wondered how many people would trade places with me in a heartbeat if they could. Made me ashamed I ever griped about anything.

I knew that when the heifer had her calf, I would Grain Ol Bill, Duchess and I would get in the Truck and head in, to a Wife and Son, waiting in a Warm House, with Hot Food, a Soft Bed, and probably a Christmas Present or two. I looked up at the sky and the words to “Oh Holy Night” just kinda came softly out of my mouth. It was one of the best nights of my life.

All those things are now, as all things are destined to become, Memories. Wife left, Kids grew up, Horses, Dogs and the Pickup, got old and died. The Cold hurts me now and I still get around, but a lot slower and I have lived longer than anyone, including me, ever bet I would have, but I will always remember that special Christmas Eve Night When things were about as bad as they could get and as Good as they could Be, All at the same time.

That Night, God gave me something He didn’t give to just Everybody, and I’ve never stopped being grateful.

Find more about J.W. Beeson at CowboyPoetry.com.

This striking photograph was made by photographer, songwriter, musician, and poet John Michael Reedy. See more impressive photography at his site.

John Michael Reedy’s recent book, “This Place,” includes his impressive photography accompanied by his poems and songs. You can view the entire book here.

Find more about John Michael Reedy at CowboyPoetry.com and visit twistedcowboy.com.

Find more Christmas poetry throughout the season at the 18th annual Christmas at the BAR-D.

A BUSTED COWBOY’S CHRISTMAS by D.J. O’Malley 1868-1943

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A BUSTED COWBOY’S CHRISTMAS
by D.J. O’Malley 1868-1943

I am a busted cowboy
And I work upon the range,
In summertime I get some work,
But one thing which seems strange,
As soon as fall work’s over
I get it in the neck
I get a Christmas present
Of a neatly written check.

I come to town to rusticate,
I’ve no place else to stay
When winter winds are howling hard
Because I don’t eat hay.
A puncher’s life’s a picnic?
It is one continual joke.
But there’s none more anxious to see spring
Than the cowboy who is broke.

The wages that a cowhand earns
In summer goes like smoke,
And when the snow begins to drift
You bet your neck he’s broke.
You may talk about your holidays,
Your Christmas cheer and joy,
They’re all the same to me, my friend.
Cash gone, I’m a broke cowboy.

My saddle and my gun in soak,
My spurs I’ve long since sold,
My rawhide and my quirt are gone,
My chaps, no. They’re too old.
My outfit’s gone, I can’t e’en bum
A cigarette to smoke.
For no one cares what happens
To a cowboy who is broke.

Just where I’ll eat my dinner
This Christmas, I don’t know,
But you can bet your life I’ll have one
If I get but half a show.
This Christmas holds no charms for me,
On good things I’ll not choke,
Unless I get a big handout
I’m a cowboy who is broke.

…D. J. O’Malley, 1893

D.J. O’Malley was born in San Angelo, Texas, in 1868. He worked on the open range for nearly 20 years, starting in Montana in 1884.

The University of Arizona’s Cowboy Songs and Singers: of Lifeways and Legend site comments on this poem: “This was written on a winter night after Mr. O’Malley had been parted from $2 by a fellow with a long spiel. He says that at that time there were many ‘summer hands’ or ‘mail order cowboys.’ They were only good enough to fill in as herders or extras during roundup time, but when they told it around the stove in winter they were all ‘top hands.’ The poem appeared in the Stock Growers’ Journal on December 23,1893. It was signed Iyam B. Usted.”

See their collection of poems about D.J. O’Malley and commentary about him by John I. White here.

Find more about the poem and about D.J. O’Malley at CowboyPoetry.com in our feature that includes selections of his poetry and prose.

This photograph of D.J. O’Malley is from the Montana Historical Society, used with permission. Credit: Montana Historical Society Research Center Photograph Archives, Helena, MT: 944-212 D.J. O’Malley (Kid White) taken in Forsyth, Montana 1897, photographer unknown. Catalog # 944-212

(Please respect copyright. Permission is required from the Montana Historical Society for this image. The poem is in the public domain.)

CHRISTMAS WALTZ by Buck Ramsey 1938-1998

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CHRISTMAS WALTZ
by Buck Ramsey 1938-1998

The winter is here and the old year is passing,
The sun in its circle winds far in the south.
It’s time to bring cheer to a cold, snowbound cow camp,
It’s Christmas tree time of the year for the house.

Go ride to the cedar break rim of a canyon,
Down by where the river takes creek water clear,
And saddle-sleigh home us a fine shapely evergreen
Picked out while prowling the pasture this year.

While Fair strings the berries and popcorn and whatnots
And Ty braids the wreaths out of leather and vines,
Old Dunder, he whittles and whistles old carols
And fills them with stories of fine olden times.

He talks of a baby boy born in a cow shed,
All swaddled in tatters and laid in a trough,
Who, growing up, gave away all he could gather
And taught us that what is not given is lost.

It’s morning of Christmas and long before dawning
The camp hands are risen to ready the feast.
But with the fires glowing they don warm apparel
And go out to gaze on the Star of the East.

They cobbler the plums they put up back in summer,
They bake a wild turkey and roast backstrap deer,
They dollop the sourdough for rising and baking,
And pass each to each now the brown jug of cheer.

The dinner is done and they pass out the presents,
Their three each they open with handshakes and hugs,
Then Ty gets his guitar and Fred gets his fiddle
While Dunder and Fair laugh and roll back the rugs.

The tunes that they play melt the chill from the winter
As Dunder and Fair waltz and two-step along.
They play, sing and dance till the next morning’s dawning
Then all of the their slumbers are filled with this song.

© 1996, Buck Ramsey
These lyrics should not be reposted or reprinted without permission.

Buck Ramsey’s work continues to inspire cowboy poets and songwriters. Called cowboy poetry’s “spiritual leader,” Buck Ramsey was a cowboy, poet, songwriter, musician, National Endowment for the Arts Heritage Fellow, and National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum Wrangler Award recipient.

Listen to this beautiful piece here.

See the Buck Ramsey Memorial Page on Facebook and find more poetry and more about Buck Ramsey at CowboyPoetry.com.

A recording of Buck Ramsey singing “Christmas Waltz” was made in 1995. Buck Ramsey tells about his family’s shape-note singing and talks about the setting for his piece. Bette Ramsey comments about the recording: “Buck grew up in a singing family, and his sisters were well known for their gospel singing. We get a sense of what the Ramsey family sounded like as Buck is joined on this beautiful recording by his sisters Wanda, Ellen and Sylvia, and his younger brother Charles.”

The recording is on the 2-CD set, Buck Ramsey, Hittin’ the Trail, released by Smithsonian Folkways Records in 2003.

The “Christmas Waltz” book show above was printed in a small gift edition by Gibbs-Smith Publishers in 1996. It is out of print but used copies can be found.

Find more Christmas poetry throughout the season here at the 18th annual Christmas at the BAR-D.

“A Journey in Search of Christmas,” by Owen Wister (1860-1938)

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“In the old days, the happy days, when Wyoming was a Territory with a future instead of a State with a past, and the unfenced cattle grazed upon her ranges by prosperous thousands, young Lin McLean awaked early one morning in cow camp, and lay staring out of his blankets upon the world. He would be twenty-two this week. He was the youngest cow-puncher in camp. But because he could break wild horses, he was earning more dollars a month than any man there, except one. The cook was a more indispensable person. None save the cook was up, so far, this morning. Lin’s brother punchers slept about him on the ground, some motionless, some shifting their prone heads to burrow deeper from the increasing day. The busy work of spring was over, that of the fall, or beef round-up, not yet come. It was mid-July, a lull for these hard-riding bachelors of the saddle, and many unspent dollars stood to Mr. McLean’s credit on the ranch books…”

So begins Lin McLean, the 1898 novel by Owen Wister (1860-1938), a writer best known as the author of The Virginian.

The story of “A Journey in Search of Christmas” is a part of Lin McLean. It was published by Harper & Brothers as a separate book in 1904, illustrated by Frederic Remington.

Find the complete text of that story and the illustrations at CowboyPoetry.com.

 

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Christmas 2017: Submitted and Invited Poems

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Find more poetry at the main page for the 18th annual Christmas at the BAR-D. Below are selected submitted poems for 2017.

“The Wily Old Cow and Santa,” by Tim Heflin
“The Ox and the Cattle,”  by Jo Lynne Kirkwood
“Untitled,” by Robert Dennis
“I Carried Mary,” by Andy Nelson
“The Star and the Sheepherders,” by Ron Secoy
“Cowboy Christmas Day,” by George Rhoades

Find many, many more Christmas poems at CowboyPoetry.com.

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THE WILY OLD COW AND SANTA
by Tim Heflin

Santa got lost in a snowstorm
and landed in a Sierra meadow.
He hadn’t a clue as to where he was
and no idea which way to go.

It was windy and cold in the darkness,
Rudolph’s nose couldn’t even be seen.
The sounds and smells were scary
and the cries of the wolves sounded mean.

The reindeer were starting to panic
when something crashed out of the trees.
It was only a wily old loner cow
in snow up to her knees.

“You must be lost if you’re up here”
she said to Santa between smiles.
“I can lead you down to my owner’s ranch house
it’s only a few rugged miles.”

“I’d be much obliged” Santa replied.
“From there we can find our way.”
“I have many more stops to make with my sleigh
before the coming of day.”

Then they followed that wily old cow
down a treacherous winding trail.
So snowy, freezing and dark it was
they barely could see her tail.

After a while they dropped out of the clouds
and their vision began to improve.
The trail leveled out and then straightened
and soon they really could move.

“This is as close to the ranch as I go”
to Santa that old cow did say.
“For any ol’ cowboy that gets a rope on me
will get an extra month’s pay.”

“The path parallels an old fence line
as the valley opens up below.”
“When you see the lights of the ranch” she said
“You will know the way to go.”

“Thank you my friend” said Santa
“Can I get anything for you?”
“For all of the help that you’ve been to us,
what is there that I can do?”

That wily old cow thought for awhile
then whispered into Santa’s ear.
And none of the cowboys got a new rope
for Christmas presents that year.

Now, everyone knows about Rudolph
and I guess that is okay.
But nobody’s heard of the wily old cow
that helped to save Christmas Day.

© 2017, Tim Heflin
This poem should not be reposted or reprinted without permission

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cowsjlk“Cows,” © 2017, Jo Lynne Kirkwood

CATTLE AT CHRISTMAS (or) Homage to Fake News
by Jo Lynne Kirkwood

The legend that beasts on Christmas Eve can speak in human voice
To tell the tale of the Christ Child’s birth, so all Creation may rejoice
Has passed through generations, from those who witnessed first
The donkey, sheep, and cattle, bow down at the Infant’s birth.

And who could ever argue the veracity of that story?
Told by shepherds, with Angels standing guard, and Kings in all their glory?
Even the humble Drummer Boy, with a child’s sweet honesty
Sang praise to the musical Ox and Lamb, of their rhythmical harmony.

And though perhaps the Drummer’s ballad was a wordless lullaby,
The connections of cadence and human speech can hardly be denied.
So having admitted the evidence, my mind ponders, and keeps playing
With the thought, If cattle talk on Christmas Eve, What is it that they’re saying?

My faith compels me to believe, with original intent
Of this gift, to spread Glad Tidings! it was first used as was meant.
But twice a thousand years have passed since that Holy Night and now,
And credibility no longer loves a Missionary Cow.

What ever do they talk about? What could it be they say?
Could we suppose a diatribe on the quality of hay?
Perhaps they’d like a warmer barn, fewer barbs on barbed wire fence.
Do they laugh at us behind our backs? Make jokes at our expense?

Perhaps they plot a Range War, with human elocution.
They could be planning a coup d’état, a bovine revolution!
I pause to view the calendar, to count each day and week
Until this fateful night returns – When beasts again will speak!

Paranoia settles in. There will be Reindeer on the roof!
They’ve likely formed a spy network, tapping codes with each small hoof.
We must plan with watchful vigilance; Grab our Bibles, and our Guns,
To withstand the horned and hooved assault! And then, when daylight comes,

We’ll welcome Christmas Morning, share gifts and sing of Peace,
And Celebrate the Season with a haunch of Prime Roast Beef.

© 2017, Jo Kirkwood
This poem should not be reposted or reprinted without permission

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JB-17-11-09-xmas-1© 2017, LE Stevens

UNTITLED
by Robert Dennis

Christmas time at a cow camp can get might long and cold And a feller checking cattle has to be a little bold When he saddles up a cold backed horse to go and check around Tending to all them cattle he’s in charge of ‘cross that frozen ground

That ol’ pony ain’t to tolerant of some silly little quirk When the feller on his back comes off as being a royal jerk So a cowboy tries his very best to be extremely nice ‘Specially when he and said pony, have to cross some slickery ice

Oh sure you can sharp shoe them, but there is always balls of snow That get wadded up and make horses hooves just like skates, ya’know That’s when them caulks on shoes don’t really do much good So you don’t get around like in summer time you always could

So Slim saddles up ol’ Dobbin when it’s just the right conditions Wearin’ every stitch he owns with a rifle and axe for additions Gets Dobbin’ standing down hill so he can make that awkward climb Grunts and strains to get on board cuz’ Slim ain’t in his prime

With rifle in the scabbard, axe tied on back of saddle Awkward as a hog in a canoe who ain’t never held no paddle Dobbin heads out nice and easy cuz’ he is old and pretty wise He’s done this job lots of winter with lots of different guys

They come to the first watering spot that needs a hole cut in ice So cows can drink and get there fill, but here’s the part not nice Water collects in lower spots, geographically so to speak So it’s a downhill grade to this here spot, down along a creek

Slim ain’t takin no chances, safety first is his lifelong motto So he stops on top of the upper slope just like a feller oughta’

Dobbin’s on the downhill slope, so there ain’t much of a step He loosens up in the saddle for his final disembarking prep

The thing that Slim forgot about as his belly goes past that horn Is that his gut is a lot larger than the day that Slim was born Slim had put a leather belt around and over his bulky coat Help to keep him snug and warm like the wild rag ‘round his throat

That belt hooked over that saddle horn just slick as oil on water Slims foot slipped out of the stirrup just like it maybe ought’r So Slim is hanging upside down, imitatin’ a perfect backflip About then ol’ dobbin gets scared when he feels himself start to slip

Down they go with Slim underneath praying and cussin’ pretty loud Slim is starting’ to rethink his plan and ain’t feelin’ real proud They skid downhill like a bobsled, picking’ up pretty good steam And yup you guessed it, they ended up down there, in that stream

As they break thru’ the ice on the water, Slim manages to get unhooked About right then it dawns on Slim that his goose is still uncooked Dobbin wallers on out now that he ain’t so weighted down Slim wades out wet and cold, just tickled that he didn’t drown

When Slim related this tale to us we asked what maybe he’d learned He claimed he’s had worser scares… like when he almost burned We knew he’d gained some experience and offer some sound advice Slim simply said,  “Well boys, it’s a dang cold way to break some ice”

© 2017, Robert Dennis
This poem should not be reposted or reprinted without permission

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I CARRIED MARY
by Andy Nelson

An angel came down to see me this morning,
About the carpenter and his bride;
He gave instructions then left without warning,
I was chosen to be Mary’s ride.

I’m just an ol’ donkey, a right lowly beast,
Called to carry the mother of God;
I’m awkward and furry, homely at the least,
And my poor voice is simply just odd.

The assignment I have is really more fit,
For a noble and a comely steed;
But I’m the one that was given charge of it,
So, I accept this mantle indeed.

I place my steps softly and watch where I walk,
Making certain that I do not fall;
I try to stay silent, work hard not to balk,
And I strive to make no noise at all.

She bears the Messiah, I carry them both,
An incumbrance with which I am blessed;
I labor earnestly to fulfill my oath,
And pause only as she needs to rest.

The road is rugged and my cargo divine,
I humbly execute my task;
Now I wish to tarry, a home to be mine,
But I know that I just cannot ask.

As I turn to walk away from the stable,
She touches my soft cheek with her hand;
I would speak to her if I were just able,
But somehow, she can still understand.

She gestures to a spot that I might bed down,
To witness a miracle tonight;
As a Savior is born, a king with no crown,
And the heavens attest that it’s right.

A modest birth in a humble surrounding,
Is the way the Redeemer came in;
He came to this world with blessings abounding,
To free man from the bondage of sin.

I guess it’s fitting that a donkey like me,
Was called to deliver a new king;
So, I lay here tonight completely carefree,
And rejoice as herald angels sing.

© 2017, Andy Nelson
This poem should not be reposted or reprinted without permission

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THE STAR AND THE SHEEP HERDERS
by Ron Secoy

The herd was settled for the night
And Red was making his round
He heard Sam singing in the dark
Keeping the dogies all calmed down

They met on the north side
Red was peering up at the sky
Sam mosied up real quiet like
Until the men were side by side

“Sure is still out here tonight
Reckon we can just sit a bit
Sure is a real brilliant night
Look at how the stars are lit”

Red said, “Reminds me of a star
They say was the biggest in the night
Could be seen for miles around
Giving off the brightest of light”

“That star led some Easterners
To the little town of Bethlehem
To a new born baby in a stable
They gave gifts and worshipped him”

Sam, scratching his head, said
“Now, you don’t say?
A star, a stable and some Easterners
Don’t think I heard it that way”

“Seems there were these sheep herders
Somewhere out on the flats
There came a ruckus in the sky
With singin’ and shoutin’ and all that”

“Bet, that ran off them sheep, Red said
Probably had to chase them all night”
“Nope, they just left them there Sam replied
And went into town to see the sight”

“Of a babe lying in a feed trough
With the animals all around
The parents Mary and Joseph
And everything all quieted down”

Those sheep dippers got real rowdy
They tried to wake up the town
Telling about them goin’s on
And baby Jesus they had found”

“Good thing it weren’t cattle” says Sam
“They’d be scattered twelve ways to noon
The angels would have needed doctoring
From all those carbine rifle wounds”

“Reckon so” old Red replied
“Guess that’s why he came long ago
But I sure am glad he came
Sam said, riding off, singing low

© 2017, Ron Secoy
This poem should not be reposted or reprinted without permission

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COWBOY CHRISTMAS DAY
by George Rhoades

Breakin’ ice and haulin’ hay
On a cowboy Christmas day,
Cactus, cedar and mesquite
Coated in ice and sleet.

Cattle all huddle together
Out of the frigid weather
Along the timber creek;
Skies gray and bleak.

A coyote wanders warily,
Prowlin’ the woods cautiously
In the early-mornin’ glow
Of freshly fallen snow.

North wind comes howlin,’
A sharp, whistlin’ violin,
Screamin’ like a banshee
Across the open prairie.

Stars the night before
Bright diamonds galore;
Trees standin’ bare
In the cold wintry air.

Workin’ way out here
Miles from anywhere,
Cold and bitter and raw
Down every hill and draw.

A lonely crow calls,
And the sound softly falls
Over the frosty range,
Eerie, hauntin’ and strange.

“Thank God we get to see
This outdoor majesty,”
All the cowhands say
On a cowboy Christmas day.

© 2017, George Rhoades
This poem should not be reposted or reprinted without permission

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Find many, many more Christmas poems at CowboyPoetry.com.