PAYIN’ ATTENTION by Carole Jarvis


photo © 2017, Jessica Hedges


by Carole Jarvis

“I told ya’ once, it’s the second gate,
and leave the thing open!
Close the one with fingertrap;
That’s where they’ll water—I’m hopin’.

“Now pay attention; watch fer cows;
make sure the fences are up.
Keep yer mind on what we’re doin’ out here,
and quit lookin’ fer buttercup!”

Then off he rides in a cowboy trot,
his eyes on the trail up ahead.
And me, I’m tryin’ to concentrate,
on all of the things he just said.

But above me there’s a red-tail hawk,
and I watch him circle and soar.
Then into the wind he dips and turns,
with the grace of a matador!

And what made those tracks in the wash;
they’re not rabbit or coyote I know,
But some kind of critter wandered this way,
and it hasn’t been that long ago.

Guess I really shouldn’t tarry though,
so come on old horse, let’s get goin’.
I’m sure by now Dan’s halfway there,
and I’d better be a-showin’.

Okay, this trail is headed right,
and I can see all the fence from here.
Gee, what a lovely day for a ride,
oh wow, there’s a herd of mule deer!

With three or four does and a buck
a couple of spikes! Boy they’re quick!
Over that ridge and out of sight
Like kids on a pogo stick!

That buck was a five-point, at least!
I wonder where he hid last fall?
Wherever it was, I hope he goes back—
uh oh, I think I head a cow bawl!

Oh nuts, that came from way up ahead—
I pray they’re not through the gate!
Come on little horse, let’s hit a lope,
I’m in big trouble if I’m too late!

And there they are, headin’ straight in
toward the gate I’m supposed to close!
At a dead run now, it’s nip and tuck—
And I beat ‘um—but just by a nose!

Wow! That was too close, old pony,
I’d never hear the end of that,
If they’d gotten through and scattered…
well, let’s go see where the rest are at.

Here comes Dan now with the big bunch,
ridin’ in from the other direction.
“Good,” he says, when he sees these cows,
“looks like ya’ paid attention!”

I always do, I say to him,
and a laugh is his reaction.
Just because on a rare occasion,
I might have had a distraction.

So I tell him the fence is all up,
and there’s plenty of feed in the draw.
But I keep to myself, all the other things,
that when I paid attention I saw!

© 2003, Carole Jarvis
This poem should not be reprinted or reposted without permission.

Popular poet Carole Jarvis has lived and cowboyed in Wyoming, Oregon and Arizona. She has written, “… there’s been a lot of hard work, dusty trails, blisters, sunburns and broken bones along the way, but it’s the life I chose and the one Dan, my husband chose, and we wouldn’t trade it for any other.”

Carole Jarvis lives is the recipient of the 2001 Gail I. Gardner Award for a Working Cowboy Poet, bestowed at the Arizona Cowboy Poets Gathering at Prescott, Arizona and of the 2003 Western Heritage Award, bestowed at the 15th Annual Cowboy Christmas Poetry Gathering in Wickenburg, Arizona.

This poem is included in her book, “Time Not Measured By a Clock” and she recites it on Volume 7 of The BAR-D Roundup from Find more of her poetry, including a moving tribute to her late husband, and more about her at

This photograph is by poet, cowboy, and entrepreneur Jessica Hedges. Her “Branded in Ink by Jessica Hedges” company “serves the ag community through the art of storytelling on social media and beyond.” Her photography (see more on Instagram at brandedinink and cowboyinlady) is available as prints, cards, and more. Find more at

Jessica is among the poets and musicians taking part in the Cochise Cowboy Poetry and
Music Gathering, February 2-4, 2018 in Sierra Vista, Arizona.

Featured performers are 3 Trails West, Floyd Beard, Almeda Bradshaw, Patty Clayton, The Cowboy Way, Doris Daley, Peggy Godfrey, Hanson Family, Joe Herrington, Jo Lynne Kirkwood, Carolyn and Dave Martin, Syd Masters Band, Doc Mehl, Notable Exceptions, Trinity Seely, Tom Swearingen, Barry Ward, and Joyce Woodson. Saturday Daytime Performers are Vic Anderson, Janet Bailey, Valerie Beard, Cimarron Sidekicks, Dean Cook, Joel Eliot, Thatch Elmer, Jessica Hedges, Ron Hinkle, Randy Houston, Steve Jones, Susie Knight, Mary Matli, Dave and Kathy McCann, James Michae, Mark Munzert, OK  Chorale Trio, Ramblin’ Rangers, Dennis Russell, Gail Star, Rocky Sullivan, Miss “V”,  and Washtub Jerry.

BILL BURK’S Rx by Chris Isaacs


by Chris Isaacs

I saw Bill Burk the other day
And we stopped a while to visit.
He says, “I see you’re still packin’ them mules.
Your life’s ambition, is it?

I said, Bill, I think it’s a curse,
These cowboy boots and hats.
You try it once, you’re hooked for life,
And I really think that’s

“Kinda like a vow of poverty
Them monks and friars kae.
It sounds OK a-goin’ in,
But the rewards are all just fake.

“I day-work every spring and fall.
I feed some when it snows.
Then wrangle dudes all summer long,
And pack hunters till that slows.

“Shoe horses for everyone in town,
Till I can’t straighten up my back,
And still when tax time comes around
I’ve gotta go and hock my kack.

“There ain’t no money in it,
That’s for certain and for true,
But I just can’t seem to give it up.
There ain’t nothing else I want to do.”

Now, ol’ Bill, he mulled a bit
On this “condition” we both had.
He shook his head and then he said,
“I know the feeling, lad.

“It’s a sickness lad, that’s for sure;
You’ll have to wait till you die.
It’s worse than whiskey, weed, or dope,
And that’s the reason I

“Think they ought to make a vaccine for it;
Just give you a shot to keep you pure.
‘Cause once you get that ‘cowboyitis’
There dang sure ain’t no cure.”

© 2001, Chris Isaacs
This poem should not be reposted or reprinted without permission

Cowboy, packer, and popular poet and humorist Chris Isaacs tells, in his book, Rhymes, Reasons, and Pack Saddle Proverbs, that, “I wrote this poem after a visit I had with my neighbor, Bill Burk. I had my horses and mules loaded and was at the Circle K gassing up when Bill pulled up and this conversation took place.”

Chris also shared this photo, and commented, “In some of the steep sided mesas and canyons we have sometimes found this is a good way to go up, easy on the horses and cowboys too. We always called it ‘tailin’ out.'”

See Chris next at the Spirit of West Cowboy Gathering in Ellensburg, Washington, February 16-18, 2018. Chris joins featured performers Wylie and Wild West, Trinity Seely, Lauralee Northcott, Thatch Elmer, Panhandle Cowboys, and Paul Wilson. Daytime performers include Tom Swearingen, Andy Bales, Duane Nelson, Barbara Nelson, Jane Bailey, Kathy Moss, David Anderson and Jenny Lynn, Joe Sartin, Rocking RW, Stan Kvistad, and TR Stewart. Find more at

Chris will also be a part of the Texas Cowboy Poetry Gathering in Alpine, March 2-3, 2018.

Chris Isaacs collects stories in his new book, An Element of Truth. Red Steagall writes, “…Chris Isaacs is a master storyteller and poet. He will take you on some incredible journeys….” If you follow Chris on Facebook, you’ll see he’s been in a storytelling mode. Find more about Chris Isaacs in a feature at and at his site,

CLIFF by Susie Knight


by Susie Knight

The moon shines through his window.
He greets the mornin’s sounds.
He lights a flame beneath the pot
‘n throws in coffee grounds.

He’s old ‘n stiff in places
That ache each morn the same.
His lower back, his knees, ‘n hips;
Arthritis staked its claim.

He sets his jaw this mornin’
‘n pours a cup o’ joe,
Then takes some time to reminisce
’bout days from long ago.

The ranch he used to manage,
Not far from Valentine,
Was 60,000 acres
By 1969.

Top hand ‘n overseer,
He led the ranch’s crew.
Most times he managed twenty men
To delegate them through

The February calvin’s,
The brandin’s late in May,
The fences fixed all summer
Clear through till weanin’ day.

And, oh, the saddle horses
He rode each held a prize
There in his golden mem’ries
Secured behind his eyes.

But few will ever grasp it,
The life he’s lived ‘n known.
The calves he’s pulled from heifers;
Cesareans he’d sewn.

The hope of life each springtime
That wars against the curse
Of certain death from coyotes,
The cold, ‘n somethin’ worse…

…the older cows that weaken.
They’d just lay down ‘n die.
As labor’d overtake ’em,
He kept a watchful eye

‘n did his all to save ’em
To satisfy the boss.
Kept cattle profits in the black,
Preventin’ any loss.

He earned his compensation
For forty years or so,
’til one day in the winter when
He learned he’d been let go!


…the boss had died a-sudden.
The ranch was gettin’ sold.
New corporation owners felt that
He was too dang old

To run the ranch the kinda way
(On paper) they saw fit.
Dazed ‘n numb, he headed west
To mend his soul that split.

He settled west of Denver,
Near foothills out o’ town.
A place where he could view the sky
From sunup till sundown.

Then, he perused the papers
To find a job or two.
But, workin’ in Home Depot or
McDonald’s wouldn’t do!

Persistent in his searchin’,
Stayin’ focused and on track,
He found a dandy full-time job
Where he’d remain horseback.

It’s at a little stable
In a thousand acre park.
He wrangles dudes on horseback rides
From dawn until it’s dark.

He doesn’t pay attention;
Their antics don’t disturb
As hoofbeats meld with heartbeats
In percussive, low reverb.

With one eye on his riders
And one eye in the past,
He’s found a way to reminisce
The life that didn’t last.

He never would ‘o guessed that
His path would go this way…
Guidin’ trail ridin’
For city folks at play.

He knows they’re on vacation;
They’re “cowpokes” for a while.
They have no clue who’s guidin’them
Behind that wrinkled smile.

He’d never brag ‘n tell ’em.
(That ain’t the Cowboy Way.)
He’s horseback still, ‘n will remain
Until his dyin’ day!

© 2014, Susie Knight
This poem should not be reposted or reprinted without permission

Award-winning Colorado cowgirl poet, singer, songwriter, and horsewoman Susie Knight told us:

I met Cliff Andre in the spring of 2011 when I was hired to be the Kids’ Horse Camp Instructor for Bear Creek Stables in Morrison, Colorado. A quiet old cowboy, it took most of the summer for me to learn Cliff’s story. I watched him handle horses gently with seasoned wisdom. Once I learned that he ranched most of his life not far from Valentine, Nebraska (a mere 100 miles from my family’s ranch in Pine Ridge, South Dakota), I pried out of him these bits and pieces of his life’s story. To date, Cliff is 88 years young, still guiding trail rides and driving the team of Belgians for Bear Creek Stables’ private events.

She provided this photograph of Cliff and Hippie, taken in May, 2015.

Susie appears next at the Colorado Cowboy Poetry Gathering in Golden, January 19-21, 2018. This year’s headliners are Carin Mari Lechner and Dave Stamey, and featured performers are Vic Anderson, Eli Barsi & John Cunningham, Floyd Beard, Marty Blocker, Doris Daley, Sam DeLeeuw, Richard Elloyan & Steve Wade, Carol Heuchan, Susie Knight, Al “Doc” Mehl, Carin Mari, Dave Stamey, Rod Taylor & Don Richmond, Dick Warwick, Joyce Woodson, and the Flying W Wranglers. Find more at

Susie Knight’s latest CD is Fillin’ Tanks. Find her also at the Cochise Cowboy Poetry and Music Gathering in Sierra Vista, Arizona, February 2-4, 2018.

Find more about Susie Knight at,  at her web site, and on Facebook.


SKYPE (#don’tgetthispoundsignstuff) by Terry Nash


photo by Amy Hale Auker; request permission for use


SKYPE (#don’tgetthispoundsignstuff)
by Terry Nash

Never thought I’d ever twitter
Nor considered that I’d tweet.
I’ve kept my hashtags to myself
And my sentences complete.

I used to think that Facebook
just happened when in bed
And you’d drifted off mid-paragraph
And yer novel hit yer head.

But, now I have this smart phone
With touch screen and some apps,
And I’m feelin’ sorta trendy
And I figure, just perhaps,

I’ll polish up my ‘tech’-nique;
Succumb to the latest hype,
Clean my hat, brush my ‘stache
And call someone and skype!

I figured just this mornin’
I’d be sure to catch Ol’ Claude.
When he see’s my grinnin’ face
There’s no doubt he’ll be awed!

So I called a little early
To catch him still at home…
Hadn’t ever seen him hatless,
But the glare off his ol’ dome

Plumb blinded me at first!
And when he started into talkin’
He hadn’t stuck his teeth in yet;
It was sorta like he’s squawkin’!

Claude didn’t know we’s skypin’-
Held the phone up just to listen
And I swear I seed plum through him
Confirmin’ my suspicion;

Some cowboys got dang little
‘Twixt their left ear and their right
Next time I skype ol’ Claude
It’ll be in the dark of night!

© 2015, Terry Nash, used with permission
This poem should not be reposted or reprinted without permission.

Colorado rancher, reciter, and poet Terry Nash includes this poem on his new CD, A Good Ride.

Find the complete playlist for A Good Ride here.

Terry makes a return appearance as as invited poet at the Western Folklife Center’s National Cowboy Poetry Gathering in Elko, Nevada (January 30-February 4, 2018) along with a stellar lineup, including poets, musicians, and dancers: Ardi Baltza, Amy Hale Auker, Mike Beck, Ryan Bell, Muzzie & Willy & Cody Braun, Adrian Buckaroogirl, Caleb Klauder Country Band, Cowboy Celtic, John Dofflemyer, Carolyn Dufurrena, Maria Lisa Eastman, Elko Ariñak, Ramblin’ Jack Elliott, Dom Flemons & Brian Farrow, Jean Flesher & Amerikanuak, Patricia Frolander, Pipp Gillette, Martin Goicoechea, Jesus Goñi, Kristyn Harris, Andy Hedges, Yvonne Hollenbeck, Rita Hosking & Sean Feder, Oihana Iguaran Barandiaran, Ross Knox, Maialen Lujanbio Zugasti, Betty Lynne McCarthy, Carlton McCord Lewis, Wally McRae, Waddie Mitchell, Mercedes Mendive and Melodikoa, Michael Martin Murphey, Terry Nash, Joel Nelson, Rodney Nelson, Shadd Piehl, Vess Quinlan, Henry Real Bird, Brigid Reedy, Riders in the Sky, Randy Rieman, The Rifters, Matt Robertson, David Romtvedt & Caitlin Belem Romtvedt, Jack Sammon, Sean Sexton, Sand Sheff, Andy Wilkinson, Wylie & the Wild West, and Paul Zarzyski.

The 34th annual National Cowboy Poetry Gathering also includes workshops, films, exhibits, dances, and more. Find more at

Find Terry also at the Texas Cowboy Poetry Gathering in Alpine, Texas (March 2-3, 2018).

Learn more about Terry Nash at and about his CDs and more at his web site,

This photo with DW Groethe and Gail Steiger was taken by writer and cowboy Amy Steiger (Amy Hale Auker) in 2016 at the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering. Amy is also featured at Elko. Amy Steiger is the author of four acclaimed books: two novels and two essay collections. Find more about her at


CHRISTMAS WALTZ by Buck Ramsey 1938-1998


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

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.

Christmas 2017: Submitted and Invited Poems


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


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


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


JB-17-11-09-xmas-1© 2017, LE Stevens

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


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


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


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


Find many, many more Christmas poems at

TICKET by Paul M. Quinton



by Paul M Quinton

Two handfuls of yellow corn
……….Into the black bucket
Makes a ticket to ride long far fences
…………of stretched and broken wire
………….On the black mare with her crooked white blaze
………….and three white socks.

She wakes from her graze
…………..head jerked up
…………….ears, eyes pinned straight
 ………….to the noisy dry kernels
………….shaking yellow
………………….in the black bucket’s bottom
…………..that scrapes over the fence to make its call
as the skinny grey dog yelps and whines to be unchained.

She lingers, thinks, turns away,
…………….Reading the future.
The relentless dry rattle calls her back
She stops, straight ears aimed to the call,
………….and turns,
And tries again to slide away.
…………….The corn beckons with no recourse
…………………….till the rope passes
…………….across her back
…………….around her neck
…………….cold iron clanks on her teeth
…………….Dry skin from another ties her mouth and back.
…………….She nibbles crunching mindless rhythms on the cracking dry grains
…………….and dribbles yellow white drool to dance with her soft pink lips.

She pushes sun from east to west beneath me
…………….Through thistle and thorn and time
…………….With sweat and pain and load
…………….To where the bull broke through — right there

It is done.

…………….Saddle gone
…………….Yellow gone

The empty black bucket lays by the gate
She turns her crooked blaze
And straightened ears.
The corn was sweet.

© 2017, Paul M Quinton
This poem should not be reposted or reprinted without permission

Paul M Quinton comments:

This poem was inspired by what is probably a common experience by anyone who has had to go to the pasture to catch a mount.  As usual, on this occasion my mare was in to her normal antics of playing “come and catch me if you can.”  Pretending to wait for me to come until she backed off or pranced away before I could drop a rope over her.  After several frustrating attempts, I had to resort to the tried and true technique of going back to the barn for a couple of handfuls of corn in a feed bucket, the rattling sound of which created the sure-fire mesmerizing attraction that always brings her close enough and distracted enough for me to pass a lead line easily over her neck without the slightest resentment while she chews in bliss.  After that she’s the best there is. Saddle, bit, bridle— ready to go anywhere needed all day long while the foreman’s little dog watched, and waited, and whined to be free to come along, too.

I should have brought my ticket to ride with me in the first place.

About Paul M Quinton:

The author was raised in a rural southeast Texas town with a horse, a cow, pigs, dogs, rabbits, armadillos, turtles, “crawfish,” and an unrelenting wish for a ranch. After a stint of hitch-hiking in South America and returning some time later, he found living poetry in an old campo in central Argentina twenty some years ago with a cow-calf operation, mainly grass fed, with a few horses. He’s still not a “real” cowboy (can’t rope worth a damn), but he gets as close as he can sitting on a horse moving out a cow or two.

Find more of Paul M Quinton’s poetry here at