~~ Nick David — ©2014 ~~
It’s late December in this town,
But it’s too brown and dry.
The cactus is all leathery;
The pinyon, like to die.
You hear the church bell strike out ten.
It’s late on Christmas Eve.
The stores are so deserted now,
Wal-Mart employees leave.
The teacher has his grading done.
The banker is a-snooze.
The store clerk has his p.j.s on.
And drinkers have their booze.
But one old cowpoke’s not in bed,
But out among his herd.
Some think his workload grinchy-like,
His care for them, absurd.
The heifers all are lowing now.
The calves are close behind.
The steers are pacing off to bed.
No dangers on their minds.
It’s then the cowboy heard a sound,
Above the desert stones.
It sounded like a cattle drive.
His dog began to moan.
A portly figure was in back.
Nine reindeer pulled the sled.
The bearded man was Santa Claus,
His coat a deep-hued red.
The cowboy smiled and tipped his hat.
“Have a bit of biscuit.”
Santa said, “No thank you, but my
Worry, you might fix it.
“You’re in between the list, my friend,
Not naughty, but not nice.
I’ve come out here to ask you for
Some gift-giving advice.
“You cowboys, you are all alike.
You say you have no needs.
For independent wanderers
What do I get you, please?”
“Well coal and switches was the gift
I got through my childhood.
The switches kept the steers in line;
The coal’s as good as wood.
“But jokes aside, I’ll answer you,
I’ll tell you straight and plain.
The only thing a cowboy needs,
Is just a soaking rain.”
“You only ask for rain,” he mused.
“There must be something more.
How ‘bout some chaps or spurs to wear
The kind you see in stores?
“I’ll get you a new pair of boots
A Stetson for your head.”
“Heck, I don’t need no fancy clothes,
I’ll take the rain instead.”
“Well that’s the strangest gift request
That I have ever seen!”
“But rain, it keeps the creek beds full
The hillsides shades of green.
“And green hillsides aside, um, sir,
It keeps the cattle fed.
I hate to see them hungry-like.
It keeps me up in bed.
“With dogs like Gus, I need no friends.
I’ve heard the wind’s own call.
With jeweled stars in God’s own land,
I just need rain to fall.”
“How ‘bout a wife to marry you?”
“I fear we’d only fight.
I’ve never known no women folk.
And ranch life’s lonesome like.”
So Santa pulled his tallowed beard
And came to understand.
That right before him, thin and tall,
This cowboy matched the land.
“Son, merry Christmas” Santa called
And flew beyond the plains
Then came a welcome thunderclap
Then falling, needed rain.
So when your Christmas is all wet
And you live in the West,
Just smile and know that Santa gave,
The cowboy’s one request.