Page Nine




Well, I've been out there lifting weights
And I've been out there jogging, too,
Shoving on some blocking dummies
Just like those football players do.

I bought some big knee braces
And some shin guards and some gloves,
Practicing on yearling calves.
How to block and duck and shove.

I'm eating healthy food and drink
working hard to get in shape.
Doing strenuous exercises
until my back and shoulders ache.

I filled my organ donor card
And my last will and testament,
I got the car inspected
And wrote a check out for the rent.

I started early in July
because time really slips away.
So I'll be ready this year
for that stress filled, frightful day.

Paid the bills, filled the gas tank
and got insurance on my life
'Cause tomorrow I'll be going
Christmas shopping with my wife.

1996, Don Kennington
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.


Read more of Don Kennington's poetry here.



Desert Cowboy's Christmas

The bells this cowboy's hearin',
     aren't off of any sleigh.
They're 'round the necks of the old milk cows
     comin' in for their mornin' hay.

There've been other times and places,
     where there weren't snowflakes fallin',
But he can't remember a Christmas,
     when there weren't cattle bawlin'.

The desert air is chilled,
     as daylight tints the sky.
It's plenty cold enough for frost
     but the air is just too dry.

Against the graying pre-dawn
     there's a darker silhoutte.
A remuda horse has just come in,
     but he can't tell which one yet.

The faint scent of creosote brush
     drifts on the mornin' breeze,
And prob'ly because of the day
     makes him think of Christmas trees.

Pausing, he watches the sunrise
     break the hold of the night.
Objects begin to emerge from the dark
     changing form in the light.

Saguaro, arms reaching skyward,
     cottonwood trees, bare limbed.
A rooster up on the big corral fence
     sittin' there crowin' at him.

An old cow begins to bawl,
     knowin' it's time for feed.
He breaks the bales and scatters the hay,
     and the others follow her lead.

Cattle and man have a bond,
     they've always been his life.
Over the years they've taken the place
     of a family and a wife.

As seasons follow seasons,
     he's never changed direction.
Horses, cattle, and wide-open spaces,
     the "cowboy connection."

 "Merry Christmas, Girls," he calls,
     "here's a little extra hay.
An old cowboy likes to do his part
     to make this a special day!"

His Christmas seldom means presents,
     or bright lights on a tree,
More a time to pause and reflect
     on the way a man ought to be.

Some folks don't understand this,
     but it really isn't so strange.
It's what a cowboy's life's all about,
     to a shepherd of the range. 

Carole Jarvis
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.


Read more poetry by Carole Jarvis here.



Christmas Cheer

Christmas time has rolled around, here come the Christmas lights
I brace myself, 'cause Jane and I, begin our Christmas fights

She wants to decorate the barn, coral, and loading chute
and hang lights on the tractor, "Gosh, won't that be cute?"

"Yer nuts." I kindly murmur (my voice amplified by fear)
"You electrocuted seven hogs, with them damn lights last year."

"You're a grouchy, cussed, dang ol' fool, you're just like your Dad
He spoiled every Christmas that your mother ever had."

"You worry what the neighbors think---" on and on she drones
I tell her, "Hang yer #$%$#in' lights! Just leave me alone!"

So once again it's bright as day, out in our coral
I patrol, with trepid soul, and gettin' mad as hell.

The pretty widow Jenkins stops, sez, "Yer a special man."
I say, "It wasn't nothin' much, I just do what I can."

"I like to brighten things a bit, an' bring some Christmas Cheer."
She hugs me and I drool a bit, I'm grinnin' ear to ear.

I head back towards the house again, I'm feelin' pretty good
But Jane has heard, and seen it all (I shoulda known she would)

But like a wise old man once said (I can't recall his name)
"If you can't prove your innocence, then divvy up the blame."

So I feign a surge of anger, I kick Rudolph and an elf
and wish aloud them gals'd keep their dang hands too theirself.

But once again the women win, just like they always do
I spent an extra hundred bucks on Jane, than I intended to

But at least things have settled down, Jane's grinnin' ear to ear
she's measurin' the outhouse, for some Christmas lights next year

2003, Pat Richardson 

Jane likes to hang lights on anything that will stand still a few
minutes every Christmas, whereas I'd just as soon act like it's no big deal. she always wins, but I put up a gallant fight, If I'm nothing else, I'm no quitter.

Read more of Pat Richardson's poetry here.


Visit our Art Spur project for poems 
inspired by Charlie Russell's "Seein' Santa."

"Seein' Santa" 
by Charles M. Russell, 1910
C. M. Russell Museum
Great Falls, Montana
reproduced with permission





Page Nine



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