ART SPUR “Cows,” Winter 2019-2020

cowsjlk.jpg© 2017, Jo Lynne Kirkwood, request permission for use

Our 51st piece offered to “spur” the imagination is a special Winter/Christmas Art Spur, a 2017 drawing titled “Cows,” by Utah teacher, poet, artist, and storyteller Jo Lynne Kirkwood. In Art Spur, poets and songwriters are invited to let selections of Western art inspire their poetry and songs.

Art Spur submissions may be Winter- or Christmas-themed. All Christmas poems (Art Spur or not) were welcome through December 19, 2019. Winter-themed Art Spur poems are welcome through Tuesday, January 14, 2020. Selected poems will be posted. Find submission information below.

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POEMS

Winter

TOFURKY, ANYONE? by Marleen Bussma
FEEDIN’ THE COWS IN WINTER TIME by George Rhoades
A LONG WINTER by Jean Mathisen Haugen
NO BLUES IN COWTOWN by Jeff Campbell

Christmas

CATTLE AT CHRISTMAS (or) Homage to Fake News
by Jo Lynne Kirkwood
A TRUE COUNTRY CHRISTMAS by Michelle Turner
A CHRISTMAS MEMORY by Ol’ Jim Cathey

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TOFURKEY, ANYONE?
by Marleen Bussma

The climate changers warn you that the burger you might eat
will bring on rack and ruin so they’re cooking up fake meat.
Their laboratory’s stocked with many plant-based additives
to mimic looks and tastes of eats a cow creates and gives.

Misleading information doesn’t spell out all the facts.
Broad claims of harm from methane-spouting cows stalls and distracts
attention from the calorie laden, salty, processed goop.
This truth about fake food could make approval ratings droop.

The real world holds your cattle that you’ve raised just like your dad.
Tradition means a lot to you in this life that you’ve had.
So few now feed the masses, there’s an easy disconnect
from people in the city whose views aren’t always correct.

Your stomach has been growling since you finished feeding hay.
The wind has hurled and spit snow, adding misery to your day.
You’re headed into town and take time to enjoy the drive,
decide you’ll treat yourself at your kids’ fav’rite burger dive.

You pull up to the drive-thru and your mouth begins to drool.
She’s coming to the window with your take-out bag of fuel
and glides with sweet slow motion as in wild romantic dreams.
Her warm hand brushes yours as she hands out this sack that steams

with an aroma sending hot delicious sweet bouquets.
Unwrapped, it snaps a visual like a Polaroid display.
It’s stacked high to your liking with the layers snuggled neat.
The lettuce and tomato flirt like girls who work the street.

The bun’s soft to your fingers. Tiny drops of burger fat
drop down onto the open wrapper with a sensual splat.
You ease the burger upward. The aroma makes you weak.
Your mouth has flooded and drips when you open wide to seek

that burger high. Each bite sends out endorphins to your brain.
You sink into your seat as senses sing a glad refrain.
The flavor, texture, glistening shine of grease all join the choir
and work in harmony that sates the pleasure you desire.

They’re welcome to their fake food and their dirty city air.
You’ll take your country living that has cattle, where you share
the mountain views and pastures, soaring eagles in the sky.
Today you’re at the drive-thru to enjoy that burger high.

© 2020, Marleen Bussma
This poem should not be reposted or reprinted without permission

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FEEDIN’ THE COWS IN WINTER TIME
by George Rhoades

Icy wind, a little snow and sleet,
And the frost was like frozen dew
On those wintry days long ago
When there were feedin’ chores to do.

The southern plains all around us,
Rollin’ hills, horizons far, far away,
Chilly air cut just like a knife,
Trees along the creek bare and gray.

No hay racks out on the prairie,
No big round rolls back then;
We bucked square bales by hand,
Totin’ and hoistin’ ’em again and again.

Me and Pop would load the flatbed
With bales piled straight and high,
Cross the bridge to the cattle-guard
Under a bleak and cloudy sky.

Cows’d come runnin’ from the woods,
They knew every clatter and rattle
That old truck made on hayin’ days
When we came to feed the cattle.

Pop slowly, carefully drove the flatbed
While I tossed bales to the ground,
Pulled off the wires, broke ’em apart,
And spread the hay all around.

The cows cleaned up every bite,
Along with scattered cubes, I recall,
And we’d watch ’em chompin’ away,
Shovin’, pushin’ in a feedin’ free-for-all.

We’d break the ice on the ponds,
It seems like it was only yesterday,
Fix some fence and stretch some wire,
Check for new-borns, haul some hay.

Now a wind that’s sharp and cold
Brings once more to my mind’s eye
Memories of when me and Pop
Fed the cows in times gone by.

© 2020, George Rhoades
This poem should not be reposted or reprinted without permission

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A LONG WINTER
by Jean Mathisen Haugen

This winter started in October—
now snow is half-way up my horse,
while riding out to check the cattle—
it’s a real chore of course.
the pickup bucks over all the snow drifts
and rattles and bangs on its way.
I’d rather be drinking eggnog
on this cold New Year’s Day.
I have a thermos of coffee
packed there in my saddle bag.
Think I’ll stop by the grove of aspen
and have myself a drag.
The cattle all are bunched up
near that aspen grove,
keeping warm together,
though it’s not where we drove—
we’d cleared some of the meadow
and had a team and sleigh,
to bring them out some “eats”—
a large good load of hay.
There are clouds over the mountains,
another storm is headed in.
And Josh is looking closely looking
back at me with a grin.
He knows very well
that I am going to complain.
But snow is prettier I guess
than mud and slush and rain.
So here is a winter wish
to all you folks out there.
Keep warm and safe as you can
in the cold, long winter air!

© 2020, Jean Mathisen Haugen
This poem should not be reposted or reprinted without permission

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NO BLUES IN COWTOWN
by Jeff Campbell

Christmas  comes 

With great anticipation 

Followed up with a 

New Year Celebration

Then it’s back to work 

And school’s in session

Some folks end up with

Post holiday depression

Dad used to call it 

Old Jan-u-weary

The Skies are grey

People are bleary

But here in Fort Worth 

We don’t get the blues 

January’s something 

We all look forward to

For a legendary event 

Will be starting soon

With a big parade 

On Saturday afternoon

Over three weeks 

Where the West begins

They’ll be thrills and spills

Loses and wins

Cause everyday 

There’s  a big stock show

And come every night 

The grand rodeo

Wild bull riders 

Barrel racers too

Rabbits, pigeons 

and a petting zoo

Mariachis, fiddlers 

Guitar slingers

Cowboy poets 

Western singers

So if you’re near 

or if you’re far

Hop a plane, train 

Drive your car

Cause having the blues 

Can be such a pity 

We’ll see you soon 

In Panther City

© 2020, Jeff Campbell
This poem should not be reposted or reprinted without permission

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CHRISTMAS SELECTIONS

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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A TRUE COUNTRY CHRISTMAS
by Michelle Turner

The year, as a whole, was one to forget
Hardship and weather sent farmers in debt
Endless spring rains put planting on hold
Haybines were useless, equipment was sold

Much of our cropland left fallow and bare
Some covered with rye ‘cuz pasture was spare
Cattle were gleaning the few stubbled fields
Grain bins were empty from low harvest yields
Fall was no better with October snow
Corn was still standing as we hung mistletoe
Dad sat by the window, just shaking his head
We needed more hay for the stock to be fed

He put on his coat, stepping out in the cold
Sighing deeply he said, “The herd must be sold.”
A cow and two heifers stood by the gate
Patiently waiting, unaware of their fate

After chores we all left for Christmas Eve service
Our spirits were low, but we prayed with a purpose
Waylayed by the Pastor, delaying retreat
He saw in our faces a shadowed defeat

A message of hope, he shared so sincere
using God’s word to subdue our fears
The church yard now empty, we got in our truck
Riding in silence, still praying for luck

We drove down our lane and stopped at the sight
The whole congregation, holding candles of light
They sang Peace on Earth and gathered around
One neighbor came forward, “We’re here with some ground”

“We’ve forty-two acres, with hot-wire fencing
We want you to use it, with everyone’s blessing.”
Another stepped up, taking Dad by the arm
There’s third cutting hay, all stacked in your barn

Dad openly wept, sharing tears with the crowd
We formed a tight circle, hands held and heads bowed
Thanking the Lord for neighborly kindness;
For having been blessed with a true Country Christmas

© 2019, Michele Turner
This poem should not be reposted or reprinted without permission

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A CHRISTMAS MEMORY
by Ol’ Jim Cathey

Comin’ daybreak, the girls stood there,
They were ready for mornin’ feed.
Fog an’ snow made for crispy air,
Soon he’d come to meet their need.

There’d been a sifting of powder snow,
That had fell throughout the night.
T’was cold, but not unseasonable tho,
As dark gives in to mornin’ light.

Christmas morn on the Quarter Circle C,
But there was chores to get done,
Foggy an’ white made it hard to see,
This mornin’, they’d not see the sun.

Still a few flakes of snow in the air,
The girls were patient, standin’ quiet,
They knew the feed would be there,
An’ their day would start off right.

He smiled as they walked up slow,
Their breathe steamin’ from the cold,
He thought of a time so long ago,
The story so often retold.

The heavenly hosts song of great joy,
The night of the Savior’s birth,
Mary an’ Joseph’s Baby Boy,
Peace an’ goodwill to all the Earth.

His girls brought mem’rys of that night
Calm an’ quiet…so very serene,
He reveled in that joyous sight,
As he pictured that Holy Scene.

He sensed a great joy as he fed,
With the girls crowdin’ ‘round him,
He could hear that story his Dad read,
‘Bout the Savior’s birth in starlight dim.

He felt so blessed on that cold morn,
As he thanked God, on bended knee,
For His great love, Jesus was born!
Christmas on the Quarter Circle C.

© 2019,  Ol’ Jim Cathey
This poem should not be reposted or reprinted without permission

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Thanks to all who participated.

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SUBMISSIONS

•  Even if you have a poem or song pending, you are welcome to send one submission inspired by this painting.

•  Art Spur subjects are meant to inspire; we look for poems and songs inspired by the piece, not necessarily for a literal description of the image or its subject.

•  Do follow our regular guidelines for submissions.

•  When you email your submission to poems@cowboypoetry.com, please indicate in the subject line that it is an Art Spur submission.

Find some previous ART SPUR submissions here and here.

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jlk2019

Jo Lynne Kirkwood creates an impressive hand-crafted Christmas card each year, and this was her drawing for the cover of her 2017 card, accompanied by her poem, “Cattle at Christmas (or) Homage to Fake News.”

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

cowsjlk.jpg

COWBOY’S FOE  by Michelle Turner

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COWBOY’S FOE
by Michelle Turner

The midday sun was scorching hot, the situation grim
with salty sting of bloodshot eyes, beneath my Stetson’s brim
Slow waves of heat rose o’er the plain, the cactus seemed to dance
A strange mirage to tease my mind; the dreaded drover’s trance

My horse, head bent, was breathing dust; his gait an untimed stumble
Pleas of respite from perdition, were answered with a rumble
Vast thunderheads grew in the west; an end to what we suffered
A chance to beat the deadly heat; to cheat the circlin’ buzzard

A squinting glance with burning sight, revealed a far off tree
Lone cottonwood to offer shade, a place to where we’d flee
A ride eternal in my mind, we reached in no short course
I planted boots upon the ground, unsaddling my horse

I took a draw on my canteen, the quenching water warm
With saddle bag beneath my head, reclined to watch the storm
The mounding clouds of white turned black, the wind began to blow
The lightening streaked across the sky; a sign it’s time to go

The smell of rain was in the air, my horse began to nicker
I mounted up and grabbed my pack; took out my oil’d slicker
We jogged across the rough terrain; cold droplets falling fast
Through blurry eyes of storm bred tears, I saw the ranch at last

We swam across a swollen creek, against the rising flood
My sun-baked lips now shivered cold; the dust all turned to mud
With heavy gait straight to the barn, weigh’d down by sodden leather
The cowboy’s foe met no defeat; a win goes to the weather

© 2019, Michelle Turner
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author’s permission.

Michelle Turner comments, “Inspiration for this poem came from a real life experience that occurred years ago. My friend Cheryl and I saddled our horses one beautiful summer day and set out across rolling cattle pastures. Miles from the barn, we were surprised by an afternoon thunderstorm. We rode through torrential rain until we found an old ranch hand shack. We tied our horses up and shivered for hours in the leaky shelter, waiting for the rains to quit. When we finally made it back to the ranch, we were soaked to the bone, but made sure our horses were rubbed down and dried before we tended to ourselves.”

In 2015, Michelle Turner told us, “As an active member of my high school FFA in Punta Gorda, Florida, I couldn’t get enough of horses and cattle. My very first job was working on the school ranch for the summer. I got my MS in Agriculture Education at Kansas State University, and taught Vo-Ag for 15 years. My husband and I moved the family to a farm in Iowa back in 2001, and I’ve been working for the Jackson Soil and Water Conservation District ever since. I wrote an agriculture column in the local paper, and currently do feature articles related to conservation. I’ve been writing poetry for years, but only recently decided to share my work.”

Find more at cowboypoetry.com.

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

Winter/Christmas Art Spur 2016-2017: “Pitchfork Winter”

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Submissions are now closed.

Find the Winter-themed poems below by Marleen Bussma, Tom Swearingen, Jeff Campbell, and C.W. (Charles) Bell.

Find the selected Christmas-themed poems below by Michelle Turner, Jim Cathey, and Jean Mathisen Haugen.

It’s been said that a picture is worth a thousand words…we know many that are worthy of a poem or a song. In Art Spur, we invite poets and songwriters to let selections of Western art inspire their poetry and songs.

Our 44th piece offered to “spur” the imagination is a special Winter/Christmas Art Spur, a 1923 photograph by Charles J. Belden (1887-1966) titled, “Work on cattle ranch, Z/T Ranch, Pitchfork, Wyoming.” It is from the Library of Congress Prints and Photograph Division. Find more about it here.

A biography at the Charles Belden Photography Museum web site notes, “The greatest contribution of Charles Belden to the Pitchfork Ranch was making it famous. In the 1920s, ‘30s, and ‘40s, Belden took pictures of the Pitchfork Ranch for newspapers in Los Angeles, Denver, Billings, Minneapolis, Detroit, Cleveland, New York, and for National Geographic magazine…His technical abilities, combined with an unequaled knowledge of the cowboy and sheepman, allowed Belden to capture the true life and times of the Pitchfork Ranch from 1914 to 1940…He lived and worked on the Pitchfork and, in 1922, became a co-manager…”

Find the bio and more at the Charles Belden Photography Museum web site.

Find a collection of Belden photographs at the University of Wyoming‘s digital archive.

 

WINTER-THEMED POEMS

A PITCHFORK MORNING
by Marleen Bussma

The snow has wrapped its alabaster arms around the day
and squeezed all color from the summer’s generous display.
Sam sits atop his horse and pulls his neck inside his coat.
The snow-haze hid most things his eyes would recognize and note.

The raw wind keens and cries sad tones you cannot hear in town.
It beats the snow and sleet across Sam’s face, though he looks down.
Three hundred miles and thirty years ago he never knew
he’d still be punching cattle in this life he’s passing through.

Dark specks that move emerge from Jack Frost’s cloak that hides the hills.
The cattle come for feed brought in by wagons where it spills
atop the ground and spreads out like the Golden Fork Buffet.
Their greedy appetite will not give in to weather’s play.

Their backs are white and crusted with a blanket spun from sleet.
Their heads wear scarves designed by wind cut from an icy sheet.
Sam notices a cow that staggers, stumbles, slips on snow.
She goes down on her side while other cows don’t even slow.

Sam nudges Sadie to a trot to check the fallen cow.
He steps down from the saddle, tilts his hat so he can bow
his head into the wind that screams and threatens all who live.
“Just one mistake!” is shrieked by elements that won’t forgive.

The cow is blinded by a frozen mask stuck to her face.
She doesn’t try to struggle as Sam wipes away all trace
of glaze encrusted on her eyes, once sightless, shaded, still.
Sam carefully pulls frosty fragments with a cowhand’s skill.

His patient struggles to get up with energy renewed.
She joins the gather near the hay and makes her way to food.
As winter drags its frozen feet with cowboys on alert,
a warm chinook off eastern Rocky Mountains wouldn’t hurt.

© 2017, Marleen Bussma
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without permission.

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ONLY PLACE FOR ME
by Tom Swearingen

Cows are strung from here to Sunday,
Nose to tail all afternoon.
The herd snakin’ way to low ground,
Down the trail ‘went up last June.

Temp’rature is barely twenty.
With the wind chill it feels worse.
But I count it all a blessing
What most folks would call a curse.

To be all day on the gather
Bringing high-graze cattle down,
To still be a part of something
Not much understood in town.

To ride from can’t see to can’t see.
No need for a watch or clock.
To know I’m spendin’ my time well,
Working hard to raise this stock.

Riding ground that my father rode,
And his father rode before.
Not a lot of people these days
That can say that anymore.

‘Course days like this will test you some,
Winter gnawing at your core.
Reminding you there are reasons
Others don’t take on the chore.

The feeling long left from my hands,
And about gone from my seat.
Warmth just a dwindling memory.
Still some hours ’til home fire’s heat.

Today it’s snow and bitter wind,
Other times it’s sun and dust.
But regardless of conditions
Being here for me’s a must.

Because I’m right where I figure
Is the only place for me.
For a cowboy is what I am,
Cowboy’s what I’ll always be.

© 2017, Tom Swearingen
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without permission.

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OLD MAN WINTER
by Jeff Campbell

The yuletide season’s over
It will soon be New Years Day
We all enjoyed a white Christmas
With more snow on the way

As I sit here in the saddle
I confirm the forecast right
While looking all around me
At a world cloaked in white

Santa may have gone back home
But Old Man Winter’s settled in
The horizon’s almost disappeared
Where does the sky begin?

The only demarcation
Of where prairie meets the sky
The long red ribbon of cattle
Drudgingly passing by

Workin’ the herd out of the wind
Patient and try not to rush
West down to Burgess Creek
And the shelter of the brush

This frozen task accomplished
Our work is still not through
Here in the dead of winter
There’s always more to do

Use snow to our advantage
Push it up against the fence
A barrier against the gales
Another refuge of defense

Chop logs like a lumberjack
To feed that old wood stove
Chop ice in the water tanks
Where the drinkin’ waters froze

Movin’ hay to the cattle
Make sure that they’re well fed
Bring in a shiverin’ calf
To warm up by my bed

Like the devil in summer
Old Man Winter blast the range
We never do defeat him
Just survive till seasons change

© 2017, Jeff Campbell
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without permission.

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LINE CABIN NIGHT
by C.W. (Charles) Bell

When the winds of winter freeze the surface of hill and plain,

With frozen icy weapons beat upon the window pane.

When the ground is deeply covered with drifts of whitest snow,

And the air so clear I see the ranch, way down there below.

That’s when I sit and listen to the north wind’s mighty roar;

The fire in the fireplace casts crazy shadows on the floor.

Outside it’s cold and darkness, while inside it’s warm and bright,

Settled down in solid comfort—I call it—Line Cabin Night!

© 2017, C.W. (Charles) Bell
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without permission.

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CHRISTMAS-THEMED POEMS

CHRISTMAS TRAIL
by Michelle Turner

The first snow of the season came in silent, and swift
A wet, sticky snow; too heavy to drift
Falling straight down, it stacked up real quick
Bad for the drovers, but good for Saint Nick!

“Well, Boys, It looks like we’re gonna be late.
The Christmas festivities will just have to wait.”
I sighed a small sigh, and then bowed my head,
“Give us this day, our daily bread”

The families back home were just joining hands
Praying for cowboys on frigid range lands
“Father in Heaven, we ask this of You
Push the blizzard aside; please let them get through”

I watched crystals of ice form on long pony tails
like Christmas tree tinsel decorating our trail
And heat-melted snow dripped over my mare
drizzled like caramel on a gingerbread square

The cattle were covered with coats of white flocking
My mind wandered home to an empty hung stocking
Clouds of hot breath from the herd blurred my view
As if looking through steam over mugs of hot brew

My thoughts were cut short by a cheer from the men
After wiping my eyes and then looking again
One single star peaked out from the skies
and I knew we’d be home for leftovers and pie

We secured all the gates and rubbed down our mounts,
then dragged our cold bones to the steps of the house
With the door bursting open, such commotion inside!
They all waited Christmas, ‘til the end of our ride.

© 2016, Michelle Turner
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without  permission.

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CHRISTMAS WISHES
by Jim Cathey

While I’m watchin’ them cows comin’ down in the snow,
Hankerin’ for some better times,
An’ the warmer wind breaks they’ll find down below,
I’m shore wishin’ for warmer climes!

It was comin’ on Christmas time of the year,
We’d hired on for winter brandin’,
An’ was shore ‘nuff proud to hunker down here,
Like Mary an’ Joseph way back when.

Shore now, you recollect the Christmas story?
‘Bout when Baby Jesus was born,
An’ that night with God in all His Glory,
Give us that very first Christmas morn,

Now I reckon as how life can shore be rough,
An’ it warn’t no different way back then,
Them ol’ boys herdin’ stock found it mighty tough,
But lookin’ back, they’d shore ‘nuff grin.

But when they heard them angels a singin’,
I ‘spect it spooked ‘em a good bit,
They figgered it was just bells somewhere a ringin’,
An’ they hunkered down, but didn’t quit.

Yeah, I ‘spect it was colder’n rocks in a heap,
That baby was wrapped up an’ warm,
An’ them dang shepherds with their flock of sheep,
Just plumb hunkered down in that storm.

Now that’s the same choice we make to be cowboys,
I guess, sorta like them three kings,
They chose to follow that star that promised joys,
About which them angels would sing.

Glory to the highest with peace an’ goodwill to all,
An’ them ol’ boys herdin’ their stock,
Scairt, but watchin’ out for ‘em, no matter how small,
Cow, horse, donkey, sheep in a flock.

An’ that baby, layin’ there in a manger,
Wrapped head to toe in swaddlin clothes,
A promise of eternal life to strangers,
After life an’ death, He arose.

Yep, that’s how Christmas musta got started,
An’ so we celebrate today,
While we thank the Good Lord for our paths He charted,
I ‘spect we should hit our knees and pray!

Lord, thank you for giving us Jesus on earth,
An’ for promisin’ life with you,
As we celebrate this wondrous birth,
Please allow our faith to renew.

An’ thank you for these critters in the snow,
That let us know the cowboy way,
An’ help us stay true, our faith all aglow,
Thank you Lord! In yore name we pray.

Well, I’m still watchin’ them cows comin’ down in the snow,
Hankerin’ for some better times,
An’ the warmer wind breaks they’ll find down below,
I’m shore wishin’ for warmer climes!

© 2016, Ol’ Jim Cathey
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without permission.

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A COWBOY, CAMPFIRE AND A STAR
by Jean Mathisen Haugen

It was cold that winter night,
when I got caught out in the snow.
A blizzard came in from the west,
and how that wind did blow!
I’d been riding across the range
looking for a few stray cows,
trying hard to bring them in,
but the storm hit here and now.
I found shelter in a shallow cave
and built a warm campfire,
chewed on jerky and had some beans—
not all I would desire.
For this night was Christmas Eve
and I was there all alone—
no songs and surely no angels,
just the howl of the wild wind’s moan.
I used my saddle for a pillow
and had my soogans near,
crawled inside to get some sleep,
but sure wished I wasn’t here.
I drifted off into a dream
and then, in the middle of the night,
I heard some rustling in the brush
and it gave me a bit of a fright.
The storm had finally cleared.
I saw way off a’ ways afar
the streaming beams of high lonesome light
that were coming from a star.
Then I saw an angel fly by
and soon a flock of them were singing,
there just above the little cave
songs of joy and even bells were ringing.
The campfire should have gone out by then,
but the flames were dancing high,
brightening the lonely cave
and nearly bright as that star in the sky.
Then it was suddenly quiet
and I went back to sleep.
Near morning I crawled out at dawn—
and there was canned food in a heap,
along with fresh-cut firewood
and a tipi tent that was brand new.
I scratched my head, fixed coffee
and made a real strong brew.
And it was then I stumbled over
some feathers from real angel wings—
then I realized that was no dream—
I had really heard them sing.
I am old and crippled now,
but I can recall from years afar
the story of that long ago night
’bout a cowboy, a campfire and a star.

© 2016, Jean Mathisen Haugen
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without  permission.

Thanks to all who participated.

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SUBMISSIONS

Poetry submissions were welcome from all, through Tuesday, January 17, 2017. Christmas-themed submissions were welcome by Tuesday, December 20, 2016).

Submissions are now closed.

 

Find previous Art Spur subjects and their poems here.

 

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