CHRISTMAS AGAIN, by Bruce Kiskaddon (1878-1950)


by Bruce Kiskaddon (1878-1950)

It will soon be New Year. It’s Christmas once more
We are skeered of inflation, I don’t know what for.
Because this inflation ain’t nothin’ that’s new.
It’s been with us so long that it ort to be through.

They have took the price ceilin’ off pork and off beef,
Which might give the turkeys a little relief.
They’ve et chicken and turkey until they want steak,
Which same ort to give a few turkeys a break.

So mebby they’ll be some improvement at that.
They say there’s new cars. I don’t know where they’re at.
And some ready made clothes we might buy for example,
Instead of the orders we give from the sample.

And then that old feller they call Santa Claus.
I reckon he better be careful, because
He ain’t got no license fer drivin’ that sleigh,
And there’s plenty of taxes he never did pay.

But never mind folks, it will all work around
To where people will get both their feet on the ground,
So we might as well do just the way that we did.
Enjoy this year’s Christmas along with the kids.

…Bruce Kiskaddon
We’re celebrating the 20th annual Christmas at the BAR-D.

Bruce Kiskaddon wrote this poem a year after the end of World War II, and left us an interesting perspective on those times. The poem was published December, 1946 in the Los Angeles Union Stock Yards calendar. The drawing is by Amber Dunkerley (1893-1973), who illustrated Kiskaddon’s calendar poems from 1943-1948.

Kiskaddon worked for ten years as a cowboy, starting in 1898, working in southeastern Colorado’s Picketwire area. He wrote many poems still read and recited today.

Find much more about Kiskaddon: many of his poems; a feature about Bill Siems’ monumental Open Range that collects nearly 500 of Kiskaddon’s poems; Siems’ collection of Kiskaddon’s short stories, Shorty’s Yarns; and more at

Look for our new multi-disc CD, MASTERS: VOLUME THREE, the poems of Bruce Kiskaddon, recited by a great community of cowboy poets, in April, 2019. CDs are offered to libraries across the West in Cowboy Poetry Week’s Rural Library Program and are available for sale.

Support the BAR-D before January 1 with a donation of $40 or more and you’ll receive the CD and the 2019 Cowboy Poetry Week poster by Shawn Cameron ( Posters are never sold.

Join us! Find information here.

This poem is in the public domain.



by Baxter Black

‘Twas the night before Christmas and Rudolph was lame!
The vet from the North Pole said, “Foot-rot’s to blame,
I’ll give him some sulfa, it’s the best I can do
But stall rest is needed the next week or two.”

“Great Scott!” cried old Santy, he turned with a jerk.
“I won’t git through Pierre if my headlight don’t work!
On Interstate 40 I’ll surely get fined
And lost in Montana if I’m flying blind!”

“No cop in his right mind would give any clout
To a geezer who claimed that his reindeer went out!”
He gathered the others, ol’ Donner and Blitzen.
Were any among ’em whose nose was tranzmitzen?

They grunted and strained and sure made a mess
But no noses glowed brightly or ears luminesced.
“It’s bad luck in bunches,” cried Santy, distressed.
“We’ll fly Continental, the Red-Eye Express!”

“I’ll just check the schedule.” He put on his glasses,
When up stepped ol’ Billy, the goat from Lampasas.
He shivered and shook like a mouse on the Ark,
But his horns were a beacon…They glowed in the dark!

Santy went crazy! He asked “Why?” With a smile
“I just ate a watch with a radium dial!
Where I come from in Texas we don’t have thick hide
So my skin is so thin it shines through from inside.”

“If that’s true then let’s feed him!” cried Santy with glee,
“Gather everything burnin’ and bring it to me!”
So Billy ate flashbulbs and solar collectors,
Electric eels and road sign reflectors,

Firecracker sparklers, a Lady Schick shaver
And Lifesavers, all of ’em wintergreen flavor,
Jelly from phosphorescellous fish,
Day-Glow pizza in a glittering dish,

Fireflies and candles and stuff that ignites,
Then had him a big bowl of Northering Lights!
He danced on the rug and petted the cat,
And after he’d finished and done all of that

To store up the static ‘lectricity better,
They forced him to eat two balloons and a sweater!
Then he opened his mouth, light fell on the floor
Like a fridge light comes on when you open the door!

His Halloween smile couldn’t be better drawn
When he burped accident’ly, his high beams kicked on!
Hitch him up!” cried ol’ Santy, and they went on their way.
I remember that Christmas to this very day.

The sky was ablaze with the stars shining bright.
They were shooting and falling all through the night.
And I realize now, though my fingers are crossed
What I really was seein’… was ol’ Billy’s exhaust!

© 1997, Baxter Black, used with permission

We’re celebrating the 20th annual Christmas at the BAR-D.

Listen to Baxter Black recite his poem on YouTube.

Baxter Black wrote in Cactus Tracks & Cowboy Philosophy, his book that contains this poem (in pre-internet days):

It is usually my practice to memorize any poem I write that has “potential.” Potential, to me, means it might work its way into my live program. I did not commit “Rudolph’s Night Off” to memory.

Morning Edition ran the poem in early December on a Tuesday, as I recall. By Friday, we had received over five hundred requests for copies, which means the listeners had to call their local public radio stations, get the number of NPR headquarters in Washington, D.C., call them, get my number, and then call me. Matter of fact, I called NPR later that week and the recorded message said, “You have reached National Public Radio, if you want a copy of Baxter’s poem please call…” And they gave my phone number.

I’m not sure of Rudolph’s appeal, but it does go to show you that the poet is often not the best judge of his own work.

Find Baxter Black’s new book, A Commotion in Rhyme, and more at

A reminder about Baxter’s policies of use for his poetry, from his office: Baxter is busy with many media projects; he has retired from live performances. Since Baxter Black is no longer doing live performances, there are inquiries about others using his material in their performances. His policy is that anyone is welcome use his material in appropriate occasions, including non-profit or paid-for performances. He requests that the poems or stories be performed the way they are written, allowing for editing of length if needed. Please give the author credit.

His office adds that no one, for any reason, has permission to include his work “on cds, books, or dvds…or to try to sell it in any manner, including online.”

Photo courtesy of


THE CHRISTMAS TREE, by Bruce Kiskaddon



by Bruce Kiskaddon (1878-1950)

They’ve been to get their Christmas tree, they hadn’t far to go.
They live in that high country where young timber starts to grow.
The day is cold the snow is new, there’s not so many tracks.
The dad has got the Christmas tree, the kid he has the ax.

You notice by the chimney that the fire place is wide.
They have their house built strong and low, it’s plenty warm inside.
They’ve got a set of good corrals besides a stable too;
They are fixed up pretty handy fer a place to winter through.

And when they put the candles on it’s easy to believe
How that tree will look by fire light this comin’ Christmas eve.
There won’t be any carols sung, there won’t be no organ play
But they’ll have a happy Christmas in them hills so far away.

I’ll bet the old man’s thinkin’ back to when he was a kid.
How folks would spend their Christmas and the things he got and did.
Of course the kid, he looks ahead, he don’t think of the past,
But he’ll soon have Christmas memories that he’ll keep until the last.

…Bruce Kiskaddon

Bruce Kiskaddon wrote several Christmas poems, and we look forward to posting more during the season, as a part of  the 20th annual Christmas at the BAR-D.

Kiskaddon worked for ten years as a cowboy, starting in 1898, working in southeastern Colorado’s Picketwire area. Find much more about Kiskaddon: many of his poems; a feature about Bill Siems’ monumental Open Range that collects nearly 500 of Kiskaddon’s poems; Siems’ collection of Kiskaddon’s short stories, Shorty’s Yarns; and more at

Look for our multi-CD release, MASTERS: VOLUME THREE, the poems of Bruce Kiskaddon, recited by a great community of cowboy poets, available in April, 2019. Find information about all of the MASTERS CDs here.

The CDs are offered to libraries across the West in Cowboy Poetry Week’s Rural Library Program. If you’d like your library to be included, email us.

Support the BAR-D before January 1 with a donation of $40 or more and you’ll receive the CD and the 2019 Cowboy Poetry Week poster by Shawn Cameron Western. Join us! Find information here.


This poem is in the public domain.

DRAGGIN’ IN THE TREE by S. Omar Barker (1895-1985)

“Bringing Home the Tree,” © 2004, Joelle Smith (1958-2005)


by S. Omar Barker (1895-1985)

The cowboy ain’t no lumberjack,
an’ if you want the facks,
One thing he ain’t the fondest of
is choppin’ with an axe.
But when December snow has got
the range all wrapped in white,
There is one job of choppin’
that he seems to like all right.
A sharp ax on his shoulder,
he will ride off up the draw
Until he finds an evergreen
without a single flaw.
A spruce, a fir, a juniper
that’s shaped just to a T
To set up in a corner
for the ranchhouse Christmas tree.

As like as not, last summer
while a-ridin’ after cows
He noticed just the tree he wants,
with green and graceful boughs
That’s stout enough to ornament
without no droop nor saggin’,
But still a tree that ain’t too big
to fetch without a wagon.
It may be that he picked it out
when August sun was hot,
But he knows where to find it,
For his mind has marked the spot.

It ain’t no chore to chop it down,
an’ if the snow is deep
He drags it in behind his horse.
It warms him up a heap
To see them rancher kids
run out a-hollerin’ with glee
To watch him an’ admire him
when he’s bringin’ the tree.

Them kids may not belong to him,
but that don’t matter none—
His boss’ brood, a nester’s brats—
It’s still a heap of fun
To some ol’ lonesome cowpoke,
an’ it sets his heart aglow
To come a-draggin’ in the tree
across the Christmas snow.
Sometimes when there’s a schoolmarm
an’ she wants a tree at school,
She gets half a dozen.
for you’ll find that as a rule
At least that many cowboys,
in sweet education’s cause,
Will somehow get to feelin’
That they’re kin to Santy Claus!

Sometimes the rangeland’s lonesome
an’ sometimes it’s kind o’ grim,
But not when every ranchhouse
has a Christmas tree to trim.
An’ though the wild cowpuncher
ain’t no hand to swing an ax,
Across the white December snow
you’ll often find his tracks
A-leadin’ to the timber,
then back out again once more,
A-draggin’ in the Christmas tree—
his purt near favorite chore!

© S. Omar Barker, reprinted with the permission of the estate of S. Omar Barker

S. Omar Barker wrote many excellent Christmas poems.

He was one of the founders of the Western Writers of America, Inc. and many of his poems were published by Western Horseman.

It’s told that Barker enjoyed signing his name with his brand, created from his initials and laid sideways for “Lazy SOB,” but, that’s not a completely accurate story. In a 1972 article written by Barker for Hoofs and Horns magazine, Barker introduces himself, “This S.O.B. (my initials, not my ancestry) has never claimed to qualify as a sure ‘nough cowboy.” Later in the article, he comments, “Incidentally, when I applied for (Lazy S O B) for our cattle brand, they wrote back that some other S O B already had it. So we had to be satisfied with [Lazy S B].” (Thanks to Andy Hedges for sharing the article, which he received from Vess Quinlan, who received it from Joel Nelson who received it from Kay Kelley Nowell.)

Find information about the MASTERS: VOLUME TWO (2017) CD of S. Omar Barker’s poetry, with recitations by many of today’s top poets and reciters.

2018_MastersCD_Cover_700X700 (2)

This drawing,”Bringing Home the Tree,” © 2004, is by much-missed artist and horsewoman Joelle Smith (1958-2005). It depicts Joelle and her niece Clara Smith, who is grown up now and is also an impressive artist. Her work was selected for the 2018 Cowboy Poetry Week poster.  Joelle Smith’s image was the subject of a previous Christmas Art Spur at