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 “Merry Christmas.”

Find more in the Kiskaddon features at CowboyPoetry.com.

 

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

kiskoldtimechristmas

 

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 “Merry Christmas.”

Find more in the Kiskaddon features at CowboyPoetry.com.
(These poems are in the public domain.)
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A COWBOY’S CHRISTMAS PRAYER by S. Omar Barker (1895-1985)

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A COWBOY’S CHRISTMAS PRAYER
by S. Omar Barker (1895-1985)

I ain’t much good at prayin’,
and You may not know me, Lord —
For I ain’t much seen in churches,
where they preach Thy Holy Word.
But you may have observed me
out here on the lonely plains,
A-lookin’ after cattle,
feelin’ thankful when it rains.

Admirin’ Thy great handiwork.
the miracle of the grass,
Aware of Thy kind Spirit,
in the way it comes to pass
That hired men on horseback
and the livestock that we tend
Can look up at the stars at night,
and know we’ve got a Friend.

So here’s ol’ Christmas comin’ on,
remindin’ us again
Of Him whose coming brought good will
into the hearts of men.
A cowboy ain’t a preacher, Lord,
but if You’ll hear my prayer,
I’ll ask as good as we have got
for all men everywhere.

Don’t let no hearts be bitter, Lord.
Don’t let no child be cold.
Make easy the beds for them that’s sick
and them that’s weak and old.
Let kindness bless the trail we ride,
no matter what we’re after,
And sorter keep us on Your side,
in tears as well as laughter.

I’ve seen ol’ cows a-starvin’ —
and it ain’t no happy sight;
Please don’t leave no one hungry, Lord,
on Thy Good Christmas Night —
No man, no child, no woman,
and no critter on four feet
I’ll do my doggone best
to help you find ’em chuck to eat.

I’m just a sinful cowpoke, Lord —
ain’t got no business prayin’
But still I hope you’ll ketch a word
or two, of what I’m sayin’:
We speak of Merry Christmas, Lord—
I reckon You’ll agree —

There ain’t no Merry Christmas
for nobody that ain’t free!
So one thing more I ask You,
Lord: just help us what You can
To save some seeds of freedom
for the future Sons of Man!

…by S. Omar Barker

S. Omar Barker earned more from the publication and uses of his “A Cowboy’s Christmas Prayer” than from any other poem. A December 23, 1998 article by Ollie Reed Jr. in the Albuquerque Tribune, “Church on the Range,” comments on the poem:

In November 1962, New Mexico author S. Omar Barker received a telegram asking permission for his poem “A Cowboy’s Christmas Prayer” to be read on the Lawrence Welk TV show.

Barker, a sunup-to-sundown, every-day-of-the-week professional writer for much of his more than 90 years, telegraphed back that for $100 they had a deal.

Back again comes a telegraph from the TV show’s agent asking if Barker would settle for $50.

“Fifty bucks no steak. Beans,” Barker wired in response on Nov. 26, 1962. “But will accept anyway to help TV poor folks.”

Jodie Phillips, wife of Barker’s nephew Bob Phillips, smiled as she pointed out copies of the telegrams pasted in a thick scrapbook put together by Barker himself….

“If he didn’t sell a poem, he didn’t eat,” Jodie Phillips said of Barker, who died in Las Vegas, N.M., in April 1985, just a couple of months shy of his 91st birthday.

Apparently the Welk show decided not to use the poem.

That was a rarity. Tennessee Ernie Ford and sausage king-country singer Jimmy Dean read it on national television, and it has been reprinted much more than 100 times in collections of Barker’s works, anthologies, magazines and Christmas cards.

Leanin’ Tree cards of Boulder, Colorado, has used the Barker verse…more years than not for more than two decades…

Jodie Phillips said she never heard Barker talk about what inspired him to write the Christmas prayer, but she thinks it’s based on his own brand of theology.

“There were no churches where Omar grew up,” she said. “He believed in God, and I think he had a very strong religious conviction. But he belonged to no sect. He never went to church services.”

The Jimmy Dean recitation of this poem is on The BAR-D Roundup: Volume Eight, a double CD of Christmas cowboy poetry.

Barker was one of the founders of the Western Writers of America, Inc. and many of his poems were published by Western Horseman. He enjoyed signing his name with his brand, “Lazy SOB.” Find more of S. Omar Barker’s Christmas poems and more about him at CowboyPoetry.com.

In December, 2013 the S. Omar Barker estate let us know that this poem is now considered in the public domain.

This photo of Omar and Elsa Barker is courtesy of the S. Omar Barker estate. It may be familiar to some. It used to have a stain on it that was fixed by one of the best places on Facebook, Photo Restoration Free Service. Join the group to see the wonderful work they do, for free, for and by people around the globe.

 

THE CHRISTMAS TRAIL by Charles Badger Clark (1883-1957)

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THE CHRISTMAS TRAIL
by Charles Badger Clark (1883-1957)

The wind is blowin’ cold down the mountain tips of snow
And ‘cross the ranges layin’ brown and dead;
It’s cryin’ through the valley trees that wear the mistletoe
And mournin’ with the gray clouds overhead.
Yet it’s sweet with the beat of my little hawse’s feet
And I whistle like the air was warm and blue
For I’m ridin’ up the Christmas trail to you,
Old folks,
I’m a-ridin’ up the Christmas trail to you.

Oh, mebbe it was good when the whinny of the Spring
Had weedled me to hoppin’ of the bars.
And livin’ in the shadow of a sailin’ buzzard’s wing
And sleepin’ underneath a roof of stars.
But the bright campfire light only dances for a night,
While the home-fire burns forever clear and true,
So ’round the year I circle back to you,
Old folks,
Round the rovin’ year I circle back to you.

Oh, mebbe it was good when the reckless Summer sun
Had shot a charge of fire through my veins,
And I milled around the whiskey and the fightin’ and fun
‘Mong the mav’ricks drifted from the plains.
Ay, the pot bubbled hot, while you reckoned I’d forgot,
And the devil smacked the young blood in his stew,
Yet I’m lovin’ every mile that’s nearer you,
Good folks,
Lovin’ every blessed mile that’s nearer you.

Oh, mebbe it was good at the roundup in the Fall,
When the clouds of bawlin’ dust before us ran,
And the pride of rope and saddle was a-drivin’ of us all
To stretch of nerve and muscle, man and man.
But the pride sort of died when the man got weary eyed;
‘Twas a sleepy boy that rode the nightguard through,
And he dreamed himself along a trail to you,
Old folks,
Dreamed himself along a happy trail to you.

The coyote’s Winter howl cuts the dusk behind the hill,
But the ranch’s shinin’ window I kin see,
And though I don’t deserve it and, I reckon, never will,
There’ll be room beside the fire kep’ for me.
Skimp my plate ’cause I’m late. Let me hit the old kid gait,
For tonight I’m stumblin’ tired of the new
And I’m ridin’ up the Christmas trail to you,
Old folks,
I’m a-ridin’ up the Christmas trail to you.

… by Charles Badger Clark, Jr., from “Sun and Saddle Leather,” 1915
Badger Clark got his cowboying experience in Arizona. He became the Poet Laureate of South Dakota, where he was born and lived for most of his life. He wrote many lasting poems, and some found their way into song, including “The Old Cow Man,” “Riding’,” “Spanish is a Loving Tongue” and “To Her.”

The South Dakota Historical Society Foundation holds Badger Clark’s papers and offers his books for sale.

Find poetry and more in our features about Badger Clark at CowboyPoetry.com.

Cowboy troubadour—and national treasure—Don Edwards made a special recitation of this poem for the double-CD Christmas edition of The BAR-D Roundup: Volume Eight.

Hear Don Edwards sing “White Christmas” here  and “Christmas in the West” here.

Find more about Don Edwards at CowboyPoetry.com, at his site, donedwardsmusic.com, and on Facebook.

This 1906 photo is of Badger Clark at his writing table, used with permission from Cowboy Poetry, Classic Poems & Prose by Badger Clark, by Greg Scott.

 

Christmas 2016: Submitted Poems

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Find more poetry at the main page for the 17th annual Christmas at the BAR-D. Below are selected submitted poems.

“Cactus Charlie,” by Mike Moutoux
“Santa on My Heels,” by Dan “Doc” Wilson
“Cookie’s Christmas,” by Jack Burdette

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CACTUS CHARLIE
by Mike Moutoux

Life wasn’t hard on Charlie
But it wasn’t easy neither
‘bout like most cowboys who’ve seen life’s ups and downs
He retired from punchin’ cows and most thought all he’s doin’ now
Is marking time on his small place outside of town

At least that’s what they figured
But then, no one saw him much
He just stayed out there alone on his patch of desert
Yet despite the dust and heat, he kept the place up pretty neat
And every year it seemed to look a little better

Now you can call me nosey
I like to say I’m concerned
‘Cause I’d always turn in whenever I was out that way
We’d talk a little while, and he’d ask with half a smile
“You want to see how they’re a-doin’ now today?”

See, Charlie was a cactus rancher
(I learned not to call it farmin’)
And he was proud—proud of his sturdy prickly herd
He had claret cup, and prickly pear and a cholla name of teddy bear
He seemed to know the name of every plant and bug and bird

The tour would take an hour
But the time just seemed to fly
As we checked on just ‘bout everything we could
The nests of cactus wrens and the desert tortoise den
When Charlie said, “stop in again”, I said I would

“Christmas Party at Cactus Charlie’s”
The notes came in our reg’lar mail
We’re invited on the eve of Christmas Day
‘Course a lot of folks had plans, but they changed ‘em for that old man
Some were curious or just polite, but we all came

An’ I’ve never so many of us together
But there we were at Charlie’s
All arriving in the evening’s fading light
And once we were all assembled, Charlie said in a voice that trembled
“I want to thank you all for coming here tonight.”

And then he took us on the tour
Not another word was spoken
As Charlie took us on the path where we always met
He must have worked for hours placing candles and adding flowers
I believe it was as close to Heaven as some of us would get

The cactus glowed from all those candles
Shadows flickered on our faces
There were smiles and married folk were holding hands
Charlie’s gift was plain to see, what he shared with them and me
Was the joy and peace that come to those who love the land

Now me, I’m just an old poet
But that gives me a kind of license
To tell you things that may or may not be true
Well I’m tellin’ you this story’s real, I shared it so you might feel
The joy and peace that Charlie would want for you.

© 2016, Mike Moutoux
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without permission.

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SANTA ON MY HEELS
by Dan “Doc” Wilson

‘Twas just before Christmas and I was alone
Out ridin’ the line, only me and my roan.
The snow was piled high by the rough line shack door,
While north winds were howlin’ and threatenin’ more.

Some icicles hung from the edge of the roof
As if winter needed to show us some proof
That summer was gone while Fall’s had its day,
And soon we’d see Santa come ridin’ our way.

The crick was froze over, as hard as a rock,
And waterin’ places we’d dug for the stock
Were crusted with ice that I stopped to break
In bitter cold winds that made weary bones ache.

Then down ‘long the fence line I rode once again
To look for those breaks that appeared now and then.
An’ sure enough there, just as plain as can be,
A hole gapped so wide that the stock could roam free.

I spent almost all of that cold, snowy day
Just roundin’ up critters that wandered astray,
Then drivin ‘em back to our own pasture lands,
And hazin’ away some that wore other brands.

But one ol’ cantankerous bull wouldn’t turn,
And ran down the ridge past the late summer burn.
Through drifts that were deep, we set up quite a pace,
And rambled and scrambled and had us a race!

Then suddenly out of the blizzard’s cold rage
A wild, wooly cowboy came drivin’ a stage!
He hooted and hollered like Ol’ Scratch at night
While I stared and shivered to see such a sight!

The eyes of his team burned like hot glowin’ coals
And I swore ‘twas Satan out lookin’ for souls!
Not waitin’ to see where the creature was bound
I gigged my ol’ roan and I turned him around.

I shot through the drifts and the pines on the hill
While thunderin’ hooves and a “ye-haw” so shrill
Were hot on my heels like a demon possessed!
He never would pause, nor would give me a rest!

We rode for the fence that was not far behind,
And left the old bull who I put out of mind,
Then flew through the gap that stood open wide,
While on came the stage, and it rumbled inside!

I turned for the line shack just over the crest
And hoped maybe Scratch would find some other guest,
When much to my sudden surprise and dismay
My roan slipped and fell in a gawsh awful way!

I tumbled and rolled and then suddenly stopped
On snow-covered logs that some waddies had chopped,
While thrashin’ and crashin’ and hot on my trail
Came Scratch with his stage and my certain travail!

All dressed up in red from his head to his boots
The driver was smokin’ them cowboy cheroots,
And as he raced by he yelled back from the gate,
‘It’s Christmas y’all and I reckon I’m late!’

Then off with a bound, he rode on through the snows
His stage full of boxes with ribbons and bows,
Then I knew at once, and it hit me right quick,
Why, ‘twarn’t Scratch at all… it was jolly St. Nick!”

© 2016, Dan “Doc” Wilson
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without permission.

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COOKIE’S CHRISTMAS
by Jack Burdette

Now, Cookie’s been a might grumpy,
since he stepped on his corncob pipe
And, if there’s one thing you don’t want
it’s chuck cooked with a grudge or gripe.
So, us boys all got together
and decided with Christmas near,
We’d all pitch in to cheer him up,
or, at least, quell food poisoning fear.

Ken’s been sorta sneaky of late,
spending spare time out in the shed
And Austin’s been firing the forge,
pretending to shoe some old stead.
Louie and me rode into town,
and did some shopping on our own.
We made up some lame brain excuse,
so’s our true purpose was unknown.

Soon, Christmas day came to our ranch
and we sat down to a real feast.
Before the blessing could be said,
for Cookie, all our gifts unleashed.
Lou and me gave him a bible,
with zipper case for on the trail
And a pair of doeskin slippers,
Indian crafted with fine detail.

Austin presented a fire set,
for use when working the roundups,
All hand forged tools made from wrought iron,
with handles fashioned from old stirrups.
There were long forks, big spoons and tongs,
and griddle for flipping flapjacks.
There was a spit with turning crank,
stew pot crane and coffee pot racks.

Ken handed Cookie his artwork,
he’d carved from a maple burl blank.
A tobacco pipe with large bowl
and Bent Billiard style curved shank.
Light magnified the swirling grain,
hand polished to a vibrant sheen,
It was the most beautiful pipe,
that none of us had ever seen.

Cookie was shocked and taken back.
was first I’d seen him lost for words.
But, stammered, “Grub’s all I gotcha,
so, dig in and fill your innards.”
We sopped our plates and ate our pie.
As for the meal, nary a gripe.
Then Cookie put on new slippers
and lit tobacco in his pipe.

After a few puffs, tamped the bowl
and said, “Now that’s a right cool smoke.”
He tapped out ash and lit up new
and weren’t too long before he spoke.
“I weren’t always a broke down cook,
and if you want to hear the truth,
I still yearn for saddle and spurs
and carefree escapades of youth.”

“Thankful, I can still pull my weight,
it keeps me near the life I love
And ‘though I’m not straddling a horse,
this job’s a blessing from above.
I thank you for these treasured gifts
and this Christmas we can share.
By far, the greatest gift of all,
is just knowing you waddies care.”

© 2016, Jack Burdette
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without permission.

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CHRISTMAS BENEATH THE STARS by Colen Sweeten (1919-2007)

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CHRISTMAS BENEATH THE STARS
by Colen Sweeten (1919-2007)

The cattle were bedded down on the hill,
It was a peaceful sight that I saw.
The winter moon hung high in the sky
Casting shadows on the side of the draw.

The Christmas lights on the ranch house below
Sparked a thought of a night gone by.
When shepherds, watching over their flocks
Heard the message from the sky.

I stopped and looked at the stars above
And listened where all was quiet,
Then into my heart came the message
The angels delivered that night.

I stepped from the saddle, whispering aloud,
“Shepherds watching over their flocks.”
My mount rubbed his head on my shoulder
As he shifted his feet on the rocks.

The horse held his breath while we listened,
I could almost hear the heavenly choir.
Then the spirit bore witness once again
And burned in my heart like a fire.

Yes, the ranchers, herders and cowboys
Who work beneath the wide open sky,
Can understand how the shepherds felt
When they heard the voice from on high.

Let the rich and the powerful pity me,
Let the city folk think I am strange;
My silent prayer shall continue to be,
“Lord, thanks for my home on the range.”

© 1996 Colen H. Sweeten Jr., used with permission

Colen Sweeten had an enormous repertoire of poems, stories, wisdom, and humor. He always had a kind and cheerful word for all, and as he often said, so many friends that he “wasn’t even using them all.”

He appeared on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson in 1991, and you can watch a video of the performance, which also includes the late Rod McQueary, in a video here.

During his lifetime, Colen Sweeten was a part of every Western Folklife Center National Cowboy Poetry Gathering, except one.

Find more about Colen Sweeten and more of his poetry here at CowboyPoetry.com,  and also see tributes to him here.

This illustration is by popular poet, writer, musician, and songwriter Dee Strickland Johnson, known to all as “Buckshot Dot.” She illustrated her own poem, “A Cowboy’s Christmas Eve,” with this drawing. Her son Tim was the model. She comments, “Tim posed for that scratch board picture of the campfire cowboy. I had him standing there with his back to me for quite some time—took a while to get those rivets on the Levi’s.”

As the Johnsons’ many friends know, Tim was seriously injured in an accident on August 5, 2002. He is being cared for in Payson, Arizona. The family welcomes visits, cards, or emails.

The picture was the subject of an Art Spur at CowboyPoetry.com, and you see the resulting poems here.

Buckshot Dot has recordings, books of her poetry, books about Arizona history, books for children, and more. Find more about her at CowboyPoetry.com  and visit her web site, buckshotdot.com.

 

HERE’S TO THE COWBOYS by Pat Richardson (1934-2016)

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HERE’S TO THE COWBOYS
by Pat Richardson (1934-2016)

Here’s to the cowboys I’ve known in my lifetime,
all the tough hands that lived on the fringe.
They weren’t much to look at, and darn hard to open
’cause it seems most were just hung with one hinge.

I know you’re thinkin’, “They’re too hard to handle,”
but pardner that’s where you are all wrong.
They’ll come to getcha come Hell or high water
and you’re dang glad that they happened along.

When the going got tough, they loved the excitement
though they never quite knew what was in store.
They’d make some joke, “Put your oars in the water
and by God don’t you be rowing for shore.”

A cowboy can stand a whole lot more than most:
lump jaws, hoof rot, and orn’ry old critters,
but when it comes time, to reel in your line,
the thing they can’t stand are the quitters

So here’s to the cowboys I’ve known in my lifetime
that could handle a horse, a rope or a steer
I’d drink to their health if they had any left—
“So Merry Christmas, cowboys, and Happy New Year.”

© 2006, Pat Richardson, used with permission
Oh how we miss the late Pat Richardson, California poet, humorist, artist, cowboy, and former Pro Rodeo Sports News cartoonist.

Known for his deadpan delivery of his humorous poems, Baxter Black has said of Pat Richardson’s poetry, “If you boiled cowboy poetry down to what’s worth savin’, this is what the stew would smell like.”

Find some of Pat’s poetry and more about him at CowboyPoetry.com.

This poem is included on the double-CD of classic and contemporary Christmas cowboy poetry, The BAR-D Roundup: Volume 8 from CowboyPoetry.com.

This image was one of Pat’s last Christmas cards. It speaks for itself.