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See the Art Spur introductory page here

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

Our sixth piece offered to "spur" the imagination, is "A Christmas Tale," by noted South Dakota Artist Mick Harrison.

© 2003, Mick Harrison. Used with permission, reproduction prohibited.

"A Christmas Tale"
by Mick Harrison

With a professional art career of nearly 30 years, Mick B. Harrison is influenced by such greats as NC Wyeth and fellow South Dakotan, the late Harvey Dunn. Reflective of his rural roots, Mick uses a direct approach to his subjects.  He says, "I'm particularly interested in maintaining a certain hardiness in my work, much like the nature of my subject matter."

Mick Harrison shared some interesting information about "A Christmas Tale":

It was originally done as a Christmas cover for Today's Horse magazine then was later used on the cover of Deadwood magazine, and eventually western singer Michael Martin Murphey used the image on his Winter Tour poster in 2004.

The two cowboys used for models (along with their dog) are a father and son team, Todd & Tyson Reier from Dewey County, South Dakota who are good friends and allowed me to "work" them in heavy coats in the middle of July for this.

Mick Harrison has been awarded the Wm. F. Cody Award for Art by the Old West Trail Foundation; the Nick Eggenhofer Award for Western Art by the Cody, Wyoming Art League; been named Artist of the Year by the South Dakota Hall of Fame; and Artist of the Year by the Center for Western Studies, Sioux Falls, South Dakota. He is a founding member of the Artists of the Black Hills.

His art has graced the covers of Today's Horse, Deadwood, and BEEF magazines; has been featured as cover art and illustrations for True West, Frontier Times, and Old West magazines; and in calendars, posters, cartoons, and other publications. Mick Harrison and his art have been featured with articles in South Dakota magazine and in Western Horseman magazine.

Read more about Mick Harrison and see more of his work in our feature here.

Visit Mick Harrison's web site for more information and more of his art, including originals, open and limited editions, and posters. "A Christmas Tale" is available in both limited (18 x 24) and open (7 x 9) editions.

Below are poems inspired by "A Christmas Tale" 

Submissions are closed for this Art Spur. 

© 2003, Mick Harrison. Used with permission, reproduction prohibited.

"A Christmas Tale"
by Mick Harrison



The Tale of "A Christmas Tale" by Slim McNaught of South Dakota

Santa's Shadow by Joyce Johnson of Washington

Moonlight Spectre by Jerry Schleicher of Missouri

A Christmas Tale by Yvonne Hollenbeck of South Dakota

Moon Shadows on the Snow by Glen Enloe of Missouri

A Christmas Tale by Diane Tribitt of Minnesota

 The Twinkle Dust Machine by Hal Swift of Nevada

A Christmas Tale by Rod Nichols of Texas

What Santa Gave Jack by Dave P. Fisher of Nevada

A Fact That I'm Believin' by Bruce Satta of Ohio

A Christmas Tale by Dave Watson of Texas

A Christmas Tale by Clark Crouch of Washington

A Christmas Tale by Van. A. Criddle of Oregon

A Christmas Tall Tale by Harold Roy Miller of Nevada

A Christmas Tale by Jeff Hildebrandt of Colorado



The Tale of  "A Christmas Tale"

Jeb's a ridin', trailin' homeward,
by his side his partner, Tye.
They're driftin' in from cow camp
'cause Christmas eve is comin' nigh.
They've been cooped up in that line shack
since the leaves fell to the ground
And playin' nursemaid to a bunch of cows
makes cowboys yearn  to get around.

Now, they've had no chance for shoppin',
there's no stores out on this range,
And each has had his heart set
on a gift for little Jane.
She's the boss's only daughter,
flashin' eyes and curly hair,
And 'tho neither one's related
they think the world of that girl there.

Oh, they'd put some things together,
an antler hat rack for the boss,
Braided rawhide bridle reins and tether
for little Jane to use on Hoss.
Strung some pretty beads on leather
for a necklace for her mother,
But there was one gift they really wanted
and they discussed it with each other.

Now, the gift they both most wanted
to present to that small girl
Was the life size Raggedy Ann doll,
she could dance around and whirl.
But they knew they couldn't find one
before time came for givin' gifts.
In fact, they had no notion where
to even find a doll like this.

So they were ridin' there in silence,
Tye's old cowdog trailin' along,
Their horses hoofs in crisp new snow
soundin' out a winter's song
And that moonlight shinin' bright enough
to read a book if one was near.
With a big bright star up in the north,
soft breezes comin' from the rear.

It's not far now to the warm ranch house,
they're lookin' forward with delight,
And the shadows stand out sharply
in a world of bright moonlight.
That moon has just passed over,
startin' on it's downward slide,
Makin' shadows stick out beside them
keepin' up with horses stride.

When suddenly, they heard a noise
from somewhere back behind,
Sounds like wind through eagle wings
and a gruntin' sound combined.
Then the sound of harness creakin'
brought their heads around to see
But not a movement broke the moonlight,
whatever could those noises be?

Then both see things they can't believe,
they can only sit and stare
Shadows of reindeer, a man and sleigh,
mixed with horses shadows there.
But nothin's in the sky above them
even 'tho the shadow's there
It had come upon them from behind,
now disappeared into thin air.

Well, you can bet this thing has spooked ,em
but what really raised their hair
Was that dog and them two horses,
act like nothin' was ever there.
Them horses walkin' along plumb easy,
that dog trottin' on behind
You can tell by lookin' at the three
not a thing disturbed their mind.

Well, a little further down the trail
the tracks of runners in the snow
And prints of cloven hoofs left there
much too small to be a cow.
Then lo and behold, what should they see,
but a gunny sack tied with red
Settin' right there on the moonlit snow
beside the tracks left by that sled.

Now, these two cowboys are tough as they come
but this deal has got 'em wide eyed
'cause things are happenin' they can't believe
and they're really nervous inside.
But bein' cowboys their curiosity won
and, like antelope on the range,
They can't resist gettin' a closer look
at things that appear new or strange.

So they swung off, took a look at that bag,
then Jeb pulls the string off the neck
And when they peeked, first thing they saw,
was a raggedy doll in gingham check.
Around this doll's neck was a note on a string
from "Santa of North Pole fame",
Said, "You been purty good boys and I know what you
here's that doll for little Jane."

Now, them two ol' cowboys always try to act tough
but these happenin's had kinda unnerved 'em
And when they reached the ranch house door
they were excited as grade school children.
With much wavin' of arms and excited talk,
and each tryin' to take the glory,
They told their wild tale, but the folks shook their
only Jane believed their story.

© 2005, Slim McNaught
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

Santa's Shadow

When he was young, we'd take a sleigh
To go and fetch a tree.
It never was too cold for him;
He'd snuggle up to me.
His eyes would sparkle as he showed
His ma the tree we'd brought,
And she would find tinsel to hang
And baubles, like as not.

He was the youngest of the lot,
The rest had scattered some
And he knew Santa Claus would bring
Some new toys or a drum.
The other kids had settled for
Some clothes or shoes and such.
There were so many more to share
And we didn't have too much

But this one was the last one
And we set a lot of store
In our final boy and so we tried
To make his Christmas more.
He'd come along after the rest
Were gone or almost grown.
God sent him so his ma and me
Wouldn't be all on our own.

It was the first we'd had the time
To share in Christmas fun,
And we were both so taken
With him, our youngest son.
The years went on and he grew up
And had to make his way.
This old ranch was a lonesome place
On last year's Christmas Day.

We didn't have the heart it seems
To put up a Christmas tree
Without that boy to fill our hearts
With Christmas joy and glee.
This year when the letter came
Just a week or so ago
To say that he was coming home,
It set our hearts aglow.

The others have their own, you know
To cater to at Christmas
And don't get home so often now
To see me and the Missus.
So that's how we rode out tonight
To cut a Christmas tree
To set up like in old days,
Just that dear boy and me.

It took a little while to find
The one to suit that lad.
We're riding back by moonlight
Just him and his old dad.
The moonlight casts our shadows,
We can see them just as clear
And as I gaze, some other shapes
And strange shadows appear.

It's Santa and his reindeer
A flyin' 'cross the sky.
My son don't seem to see them,
Which makes me wonder why.
Does Santa only show himself
To those who true believe?
Santa's very real to me
On this bright Christmas Eve.

© 2005, Joyce Johnson
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.


Moonlight Spectre

On a cold winter's night, when the moon glows bright, and the ground
is smothered in a blanket of white ...
sometimes the shadows play tricks on your eyes.

On frigid nights when coyotes howl and bobcats prowl, and rabbits flee
from the great horned owl ...
apparitions can appear in the skies.

Truth told, I've never seen an elf clad in red, soaring through the sky in a
flyin' sled, not even when I laid dreamin' in bed ...
and it's been a long spell since I believed in Santy Claus.

But one Christmas Eve, when me 'n Steve had been visitin' the neighbors,
and it was time to leave ...
I seen somethin' that gave me reason to pause.

I was ridin' old Midge, and we'd just topped the ridge, and I was thinkin'
about the eggnog we had stashed in the fridge ...
when some kind of spectre streaked across our trail.

It resembled the shadow of a team of deer, hitched to some sort of
flyin' gear, at least that's how it seemed to apear ...
outlined by the winter moon's luminous pale.

I looked up to find the spectre's source, but to my everlasting remorse,
the shadow was gone before my horse ...
could take another step through the crusted snow.

Aside from the stars, the night sky seemed bare. I didn't see a blessed thing
up there. But I swear I heard a voice filter down through the air ...
"Merry Christmas to you fellers down below."

On a cold winter's night, when the moon glows bright, and the ground is
smothered in a blanket of white ...
there's stranger things in the sky than you'll ever know.

© 2005, Jerry Schleicher
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.



A Christmas Tale

The night air was cold with the stars shining bright;        
a full moon cast shadows on snow sparkling white.

We headed for church 'round that far distant hill;
just me and my cowdog, and of course, Windy Bill.

The Christmas Eve service is always real good,
and packed to the gills with the whole neighborhood.

The kids had a program with songs we love so,
about the dear Savior born long, long ago.

Then after the service we all had a treat
of wassail and coffee and goodies to eat.

It was while we were eating with those other men
that Bill told a windy that sure brought a grin

He claimed as we rode to the program that night
he saw quite a shadow that filled him with fright.

He said that some reindeer were hooked to a sleigh
and it passed overhead as we rode on our way.

Several men chuckled, one let out a sigh
and said that he didn't know reindeer could fly.

Then one looked at me with a grin on his face,
'cause I was with Windy when all this took place,

He asked if I saw it, I had to say "no."
By then, poor old Windy was feeling quite low.
The ride going home was quiet and cold;
I'm sure he felt bad for the story he'd told.
We rode in the yard;  Bill says: "I'll be darn,
just look at that mess in the pen by the barn!"
There were tracks all around; then I heard him say,
"By golly, there's something been eatin' our hay."
We went to the house; the surprise was on me,
'cause inside the door was a fine Christmas tree.
I stood there in awe, it was sure quite a thrill
to see lots of presents for me and for Bill.
We both were aghast, as we searched everywhere
to try to find out how those gifts had got there.
When I looked at Windy, his face had turned pale
I said, "it  perhaps was no big fairy tale

that you told at the church," then said I was wrong
for the story he told had been true all along.

Among all the gifts that was left for us there
was new boots and spurs . . . we both got a pair;
and cookies and candy and good things to eat
stuffed in new socks (with no holes) for our feet!
It sure was a Christmas we'll never forget,
'though Bill still tells windies he sometimes regrets;
but one thing for sure, I never will fail
to back him when he tells that one Christmas tale.
© 2005, Yvonne Hollenbeck
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.



Moon Shadows on the Snow

We slowly ride this sacred night,
Look back on home below.
The earth is in a swaddling white-
Moon shadows on the snow.

This chosen time now seems just right
In lone star's afterglow.
It guides our lives on this birth night
And flickers as we go.

We'll follow trails on that new day-
All blessings we shall know
Of inward peace and silent sleigh-
Moon shadows on the snow.

© 2005, Glen Enloe
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.


A Christmas Tale

I met up with a rancher and he asked me if I knew
A couple cowboys needing work for just a day or two
He wasn't very old in years, but deep lines etched his face
His eyes had lost their youthful glow and sadness took its place

Before I had a chance to think I heard myself reply
I'd find another cowboy, and in mornin' we'd stop by
I realized tomorrow was the Day of Christmas Eve
 So figured I'd go shop in town as soon as I could leave

By light of dawn we saddled up despite the frosty air
We rounded up the cows and calves and sorted every pair
Before we started working them we took a coffee break
A little girl sat by my side with sandwiches and cake

She said "I made this by myself. I hope it tastes okay.
My momma lost her leg this year when she was makin' hay
So daddy said to stay by her and help the best I could
 With cooking meals and cleaning house and gatherin' firewood

My mom can't help my dad no more with runnin' cattle through
And we're too small to help with that, although we wanted to
When we saw Santa we asked him if he came out this way
That maybe he could let us see his reindeer and his sleigh

And when I sat on Santa's lap I whispered in his ear 
To send some cowboys to our place to help my dad this year
So I think Santa sent you here, to help us out today
Like God sent baby Jesus as our Savior Christmas Day

I pulled my hat brim way down low and wiped away a tear
Then someone hollered, "Let's go, boys.  Let's get the work done here."
We finished working cattle as the sun began to set
I thought about my wages and the gifts I had to get.

The rancher proudly thanked us both and offered us our pay
I grinned and said, "We work for free. so call us any day.
And if we could, my friend and I would like to set things straight
I handed him what cash we had, "That's for the food we ate."

As we rode out angelic harps resounded in the night 
 A single star ascended to display its holy light
And next to me a form appeared that looked like Santa's sleigh
Reflecting on the snow-capped ground as Rudolph led the way.

© 2005, Diane Tribitt
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.



The Twinkle Dust Machine

I know, when it comes to stories like this,
some folks take a mighty dim view.
But, the Reierses tell this Christmas tale,
and they swear that it's all plumb true.

From the county road, up the lane to their house
is a ride of an hour or so.
And, longer than that, if the wind's from the north,
and you're ridin' through hip deep snow.

Todd Reier is the dad, and folks call 'im "Old T."
"Young T" is son, Tyson, of course.
The day before Christmas is when this takes place,
with each of 'em up on 'is horse.

Their cowdog, Blackie's, tryin' not to bog down,
but he keeps lookin' up at the sky.
He finally just stops, and barks three or four times,
and both of the T's wonder why.

They look down at Blackie, and he looks at them.
"What's the matter, boy?" says Old T.
Blackie barks again, and does some "wuffle" talk,
like he's sayin', "Pay attention to me!"

Both T's shrug their shoulders and chuckle, and then
that's when the shadows appear.
Young T says, "Why look at that, paw!
That's a sleigh and eight tiny reindeer."

And sure enough, right there on the snow
is the shadows of what's overhead.
Both T's look up, and there in the sky
is Santa in his big ol' sled!

Santa leans from his sled and hollers, "Hallo!
I need you to help me, Old T!
My Twinkle Dust generator's broke," he hollers.
"The thing is as dead as can be!"

"Bring it on down!" Old T hollers back.
"We'll meet ya where the fence line ends!"
Well, needless to say, Young T is dumbstruck.
His paw and ol' Santa is friends?

He urges his roan to pick up the pace,
so as not to get left in the snow.
He hollers, "Hey, Paw! What's goin' on here?
It's somethin' I think I should know!"

"I'll be glad t'tell ya!" Old T hollers back.
"It's a secret that I've never told!
His Twinkle Dust generator keeps breakin' down,
the thing is so dadblamed old!"

By "his" he means Santa's, I reckon you know.
More correctly, it's Santa's sleigh.
"I guess I'm the only man Santa Claus knows
who can fix them things today."

By now, they've come to the fence line's end,
Santa's landed, and feedin' his team.
Young T is plumb curious, that's no lie.
He feels like he's caught in a dream.

When his paw introduces Young T to Santa,
he gives the laugh that ever' kid knows.
Young T says later, "I gotta admit
I felt good from my head to my toes."

Old T shakes 'is head and asks Santa what happened.
Santa's tryin' to get his pipe lit.
"I was racin' a Paiute cowpoke," he coughs,
when the dad blamed thing just quit."

Old T says, "And it don't seem to matter,
how often I've told ya, don't race."
"Well, I thought I could win this one," ol' Santa sighs.
"But I didn't expect such a pace.

"Harley Oxheart's the name of the Paiute I raced,
and the first one to daylight's the goal.
That boy had a horse that took off so fast,
I feel like I'm stuck in a hole.

"I sprinkle some Twinkle Dust over my team,
and we're up and into the air.
With lightnin' like speed we reach the North Pole,
but them two are already there.

"I try usin' Twinkle Dust one more time,
but there's none of it left in the bin.
When I get to daylight young Harley is waitin',
and I know that it's all over then.

"I've never raced any man in my life
who's so fast that he literally lost me.
I bought sasparilla for half of his village,
and I'm lucky that's all that it cost me.

"Now you gonna fix this, or just keep talkin'?"
ol' Santa Claus says with a sigh.
Old T says, "If you're gonna keep racin'
I don't think I even should try."

Young T begs, "Aw, come on, Dad,
you gotta fix Santa's machine!
If you don't, there won't be no presents this year,
and you just ain't that mean.

Old T says, "Okay," and he gets underway
with repairin' the Twinkle Dust thing.
In no time at all, he's got it to workin',
and says, "Now it's fit for a king!"

Santa Claus says, "What's the cost this time?
Or will it come outta my hide?"
Old T says, "Well I'll call us even
if you'll take my boy for a ride."

Young T can't believe the words he's hearin'--
him ridin' in Santa Claus' sleigh?
Santa says, "Get in." and whips up his reindeer,
and like that, they're up and away.

Santa tries out the Twinkle Dust right off the bat,
and to show you just what it's worth,
in forty-three seconds they're back on the ground--
after completely circlin' the earth!

Young T climbs out of Santa Claus' s sled,
and he can't hardly stand on 'is feet.
Old T says, "Whatcha think of that, Boy?
Ain't that some kinda neat?"

Young T says, "I gotta find my buddies,
and tell them about this trip!"
But Santa says, "Sorry, this here is a secret,
you'll just have to button your lip.

"But I tell you what, if your paw says okay,
I'll come back and get ya tonight.
You can ride with me, if you don't tell a soul,
and treat all my reindeers right."

Old T says, "Well, I guess it's okay,
but I doubt if I'll sleep for pacin'."
"Old T," says Santa, "I give you my word,
there ain't gonna be no racin'."

Kids around the world get their presents that night,
and though it's tough for Young T to do,
he don't breathe a word till Santa says, just now,
it's okay for him to tell you.

© 2005, Hal Swift
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

Hal adds: "Old T" and "Young T" are Todd and Tyson Reier of Dewey County, South Dakota. To read more about Twinkle Dust and Santa's race with Harley, the Paiute cowboy, see last year's Art Spur Christmas poem "First One to Daylight."

A Christmas Tale

We were ridin' high country
'cross a blanket of snow,
headin' north to a line camp
and a feller we knowed.

There was Jiggs in the lead boys
so I kept to the rear,
with my cowdog sweet Bitsy
just a-keepin' pace near.

It was country we knew well
like the back of our hand.
Tweren't nothin' unusual
all accordin' to plan.

Now ol' Jiggs was a-jawin'
in his usual way.
Didn't matter what subject
always somethin' to say.

Course with me in the rear now
and a wrap 'round my head,
tweren't a way in God's heaven
I could hear what he said.

Then he raised his hand slowly
in a signal to stop
though we still had an hour
'fore we'd come to the top.

He was lookin' up skyward
so I took a look-see.
Tweren't a cloud in the sky boys
just a blue blaze to me.

Then he pointed his finger
to the shadows on snow.
There was just our three showin'
but then again whoa!

There were shadows a-movin'
while we was all still,
and I ain't shamed to tell you
that it gave me a chill.

Now I ain't superstitious,
but to me it appeared
like a sleigh and a driver
and a team of eight deer.

Ol' Jiggs sat just a-starin'
then he flashed me a grin,
and I was still wonderin'
when it fin'lly sunk in.

With a whoop and a holler
we shouted. "HOORAY,
for passin' our way."

© 2005, Rod Nichols
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.


What Santa Gave Jack

Well, it had been a fine enough way to spend our Christmas Eve,
It was nice of the Johnson's to invite us in, me, and Buck, and Steve.
I was sure gettin' pretty cold out there a-ridin' for wonderin' strays,
Even old Buck's feet were gettin' bit; you know he's seen his better days.
Steve and me's been partnered up, well it seems nigh on to fifteen years,
We've sure seen some times together and probably roped a million steers.
The only fault I ever found in him is that he believes anything he's told,
And he'll take whatever old Slim Johnson says as if it were made of gold.

I did appreciate Slim and his missus letting us warm up by their fire,
But, Lord, that Slim can spin a yarn and be a down right liar.
I like the man, but some of his tales take a bit to swallow down,
At times I think he spends too much time at Charlie's bar in town.
Like that whopper he told tonight, and the man really believes it's true,
All about how he saved Santa Claus back in the winter of ninety-two.
And Steve he just swallowed it up, the whole hook and line and sinker,
Boy howdy, when it comes to lies and tales that one was a sure a stinker.

"Hey Steve, what ya think about Slim's windy about savin' Sanny Claus?
Even old Buck laid down and covered his ears with his little paws.
"Now, Jack, you've no call to say that, you don't know that it's not true,
Slim seemed mighty sure of it and I done seen that Hamley too!"
"Oh, you mean the Hamley Sanny left him, for savin' him on that night?
Shoot anyone could buy that saddle, Steve I swear you're not too bright."
Steve he just shut up like a clam and rode along mighty sore and still,
Then says, "You'll come to eat those words, yes sir I believe you will."

Then something went across the moon and threw a shadow down on me,
You know a man's eyes can play tricks on him to what they let him see.
But, that shadow looked like eight buck deer a movin' through the sky,
Durn that Slim and his crazy tales, now he's got me seeing reindeer fly.
I shut my eyes real tight and cussed old Slim for everything he'd said,
When something came out of no where and cracked me on the head.
I glared at Steve while he laughed at me, "Jack you finally achieved your goal,
Look what Santa gave you" and he pointed at the ground to a big ol' chunk of coal.

© 2005, Dave P. Fisher 
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

Slim figured in Dave P. Fisher's last year's Christmas Art Spur poem, Santa and Slim.


A Fact That I'm Believin'

A new snowfall had graced the hills,
But then the sky had cleared
Revealing stars, like ornaments,
As Christmas morning neared.
The full moon cast our shadows
Against the ashen ground:
Two cowboys and one cattledog,
Tired, and bunkhouse-bound.

As I turned back to Bill 'n Bud
To see just why they's laggin',
Bill was almost sleepin'
But Buddy's tail was waggin'.
As to what he saw just then,
I had a real good clue:
A shadow, of a sleigh and deer -
Four pair, lined two by two.

Well, you can bet I snapped my head
To see that shadow's source.
I said a few "superlatives"
'N almost spooked my horse
But quick as I had looked around
I saw but empty space.
Anything that had been there
Was gone, without a trace.

Now, shadows cast by moonlight
Can sometimes be deceivin'
But that night, Bud saw Santa Claus:
A fact that I'm believin'.
I don't need any time
To give the matter further study,
So Happy Holidays to you
From me, 'n Bill, 'n Buddy!

© 2005, Bruce Satta 
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.



A Christmas Tale

R. J. Tooms, God rest his soul, a kind and gentle man,
went off th' cliff at Dawson's pass. Both him, and his horse, Dan.
It happened on th' eighteenth, one week 'fore Jesus' birthday.
He left a wife and three girls, aged three years, five and eight.
He'd been a trapper, hired on at th' ranch, and made a hand.
Built a cabin in a draw. He called it Beulah Land.
Th' funeral was a sad one. Th' bears had got th' body.
They called it a "memorial" for our friend and a darn fine waddie.
We asked Julie about th' kids, her plans for Christmas morn.
She said, "Rube always handled that since th' oldest girl was born."
Fact is, he was on his way to town to get their gifts,
when him, his horse, and money belt went off them icy cliffs.
Now, cowboys aint good businessmen; money made should soon be spent.
A drink, a dance, a perty girl... blink twice, and thar she went.
So me and Chas got all th' boys together at th' gravesite,
b'fore they made it into town. They'd all be broke by sun light.
Not one cowboy on our crew even blinked when we suggested
we all pitch in a dime or two. Ever' one of them invested.
They didn't give a dime or two, they gave ALL 'cept one dollar.
That jerked a knot in my ole heartstring. That's one tough act ta foller.
You should'a saw th' shoppin' spree, nine cowboys buyin' dresses
for three young girls, just lost their Pa. Now THIS is how God blesses.
We got'em toys and candy, too. We got their Ma some parfumes.
We had'em wrapped all fancy like, had some cash left for Ms. Tooms.
Santy and his helper would be Chas and, yep, Yours Truly.
A big surprise come Christmas morn for them sweet girls and Julie.
Th' moon was showin' out that night, late night shadows casting.
We snuck up, put the presents at th' back door, on th' porch swing.
We both got teary-eyed when we passed th' shed out back,
'cause layin' there, alone, forgot, was R. J.'s A-fork kak.
I stopped and helped it on it's rack, brushed out th' under fleece.
Chas wiped his eyes and pulled his collar up against th' breeze.

We topped th' hill and pointed horses south, no words were spoken.
For Julie and those three sweet girls, we let our hearts get broken.
I glanced back , over my shoulder to th' north, and Glory Be!!
I saw THE STAR and heard Chas gaspin', "You see what I see!?
I said, "I'm lookin' at it. That's what th' wise men saw."
Chas said, "You really think th' wise men saw ole Santy Clause?"
That didn't make a lick o' sense, but that star had me locked on.
Chas finally looked and saw th' star. All he could do was groan.
Mingo, my dog, was in a crouch, afeared he might miss somethin'.
We finally smooched our ponies up and headed down th' mountain.
We stripped our saddles off and put our horses in their stalls.
I asked Chas, "What was that you said about Santy Clause?"
He looked at me just like a hungry dog at a fresh hot biscuit.
Then shrugged his shoulders, smiled and said, "Too bad fer you, you missed it."

© 2005, Dave Watson 
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.


A Christmas Tale

Sam was really plum determined
to tell everyone his tale
about the Christmas he and John
was riding a woodland trail.

Sam said they was just'a riding
on that cold December night
when shadows moved across the snow
and gave both'a them a fright.

Looked like Santa's sleigh and reindeer
projected there by moonlight
but a glance up toward the moon
found no basis for that sight.

Sam swears that tale is really true
and his buddy backs him up.
They just prattle on about it...
and them two just won't shut up.

I don't give much credence to it;
I've seen apparitions too.
Folks often see untrue things...
it ain't like 'twas something new.

Mostly it's from some kind'a jug
that these kind'a tales pour out
and some such things are best unsaid
lest untruths get spread about.

Even so, I watch shadows now
when I ride on Christmas eve
'cause there's a child inside'a me
that truly wants to believe.

© 2005, Clark Crouch 
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.


A Christmas Tale

The sky that night was all a light
The stars all twinkled so.
The moon was full, we could feel the pull
And we knew we had ta go.

So Jake and I said a fond goodbye
And loaded our saddle bags
With needed meat and a little treat
and saddled our two old nags.

We left the ranch and took a chance
That we’d be back before a storm.
We had ta go I hope ya know
Ta visit dear old Norm.

He’d drawn the straw so ‘til the thaw
He’d be line camp bound.
If we hurried fast the light would last
And his cabin could be found.

Christmas Eve was no time ta grieve
‘cause yer somewhere by yerself.
We grabbed some feed and things he’d need
From the ranch house stock room shelf.

We traveled fast and arrived at last
And found Norm out checkin’ stock,
We tied up to the rail, so he could tell
Then we entered without a knock.

We’d brought from the ranch a little branch
And propped it up like a Christmas tree.
We put gifts around with little sound
Where we knew that he would see.

Then out the door, we were gone before
Ol’ Norm had gotten back.
We left a note but we didn’t gloat
As we both got in the kack.

We silently rode and if all is told
We felt warm and good inside.
We rode up the hill and we could feel
That we’d sure enjoy this ride.

As we topped the crest we came to rest
As we heard an eerie sound 
It was the sound of wind with bells therein
We went ta lookin’ all around.

Our heeler, Nell, began to bark like hell
We turned to see her neck hair rise.
A shadow shown on the ground full blown.
We could not believe our eyes.

It’s shape was clear, we had no need ta fear
We knew we’d not be harmed.
It was the shape of a sleigh, we heard reindeers neigh
We knew that night was charmed.

There was a peaceful feel upon that hill
And we knew jist what it was
It was jist His way to come and say
Thanks fer helpin’ Santa Clause.

© 2005, Van A. Criddle
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.



A Christmas Tall Tale

 There are plenty of great Christmas tales
and besides them, mine more than likely pales.
You probably think I'm just a glutton for glory
But my partner, Windy Gabe, will confirm my story.

  Gabe and I took a horseback ride
across the frozen wintry countryside.
Our purpose for making the laborious expedition
was a plain and simple good Samaritan mission.

 We'd came to see a puncher who retired last year
with hopes of bringing him a little Christmas cheer.
He'd busted himself up and was on the mend
and we felt a tinge of pity for our hapless friend.

We jawed and reminisced for most of the night
but the next morning we were up before first light.
We regretted that we had to leave
but we had to get home -- it was Christmas Eve.

It was ten miles home and if it started snowing
we knew we'd have some real rough going.
We buttoned up our mackinaws to stave off the chill
and we headed our horses back up a sloping hill.

The stars in the sky were a magical sight
as they twinkled above the crusted snow's pure white.
On the ridges were clusters of dark evergreens
and it reminded me of one of those post cards scenes.

The horses made tracks in the hardened snow
 that we could see all the way back down in the valley below.
Yuletide thoughts ran through my mind
as Gabe trailed along a ways behind.

Gabe was humming a song about Christmas being white
and I was twenty feet ahead of him, on his right.
That's when we both heard a strange whooshing sound
and saw a shadow on the snow-packed ground.
It looked to be a sleigh being pulled by reindeer
and our first reaction was both astonishment and fear.
 The horses spooked as the silhouette flew by fast
but they calmed down quickly when it shot right on past.
I sat there in the saddle absolutely dumbfounded
 and Gabe likewise was totally astounded.
  He was still gazing up in the sky, craning his neck
at the sleigh, which had now become just a tiny speck.
We looked at each other, not believing our eyes,
then Gabe nonchalantly said, "That sure was a surprise.
But I don't believe I'm going to tell anyone because
we're a little to old to believe in Santa Clause."

I've thought about it so many times since,
that amazing, surprising Christmas experience.
There's a special joy I will always feel
when I think of what we saw on that snowy hill.
© 2005, Harold Roy Miller
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.


A Christmas Tale

Old Billy Ray's the quiet kind of cowboy all year long.
He just sits back and listens to the stories and the songs
the J bar H boys tell about their lives out on the range.
But when it comes December, the fellas see a change.

Old Billy Ray starts showing off some whittling that he's done.
Like hand carved wooden ponies, a cow dog and a gun
that's made for shooting rubber bands that fly across the room.
And several little wooden flutes he's worked on since last June.

He sets them on the table as the cowboys gather near
adding gifts they've been collecting all throughout the year.
Their awkward fingers fumble, as they wrap each tiny toy.
And make dern sure there's something there for every girl and boy
who's family's fallen on hard times.  The cowboys look outside.
The snow has past, it's time at last to saddle up and ride.

They ride all night 'neath bright moonlight; blue shadows on the trail
O're crusted snow these wranglers go, then home to tell their tale
of leaving presents at each door and the warmth they felt inside.
And how there wasn't anything that would keep them from this ride.
On a ridge top, by some Evergreens, the weary wranglers pause
and pledge to do the same next year.  'Cause it's their Santa cause.

© 2005, Jeff Hildebrandt 


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