GENERAL TOPICS > Saddlebag Tales

"A Christmas Tree for the Red Angel"


It was Christmas time, but there wasn't a sign
of a ribbon a spangle or a bow
It was cold as death in that little cow-town
and God, how the wind did blow

The coldest day in memory they say
"Too damned cold to snow"
and there wasn't a man there
who would say that it weren't so

Dead quiet as a tomb and filled with gloom
on that dark and dreary day
when though the moaning windy howl
came the tinkle of a piano at play

Every joint in town was shut tight down
and the hour was ten past noon
as the sound of a rag-time piano
danced out of the Red Angel saloon

Inside that place, was the usual face
of cardshark, cheat, and loser
of a dancehall dame 'round a poker game
and a bearded toothless boozer

In the middle of it all, by a smoke-stained wall
the piano man banged out a tune
it was hard to tell it was Christmas time
that day in the Red Angel saloon

And amid the sin, in that bar-room dim
a feeling os sadness had grown
while dealing Black-Jack, thoughts turned back
to merrier Christmas's known

A gambler sat with a fistful of hearts
and a cowpoke with a handful of Queens
but neither of their thoughts were on the pot
but of long gone happier scenes

The gambler could see far-off Tennessee
with snow covered elm and oak
and Rocky Mountains, ten thousand feet tall
were on the mind of the old cowpoke

The dancehall dame stood watching the game
all rouged up, bleached and wild
and stared into space at the long-ago face
of a wide-eyed innocent child

finger dancin' on keys, keepin' time with his knees
the piano man swayed on his stool
and dreamed of a time when life was kind
before he'd becoma a Honky-Tonk fool

The barkeep stook behind his alter of wood
with a bottle of mash in his hand
and the thought in his head, was he'd rather be dead
than spend Christmas in this God-awful land

Then out of the blue, like the drop of a shoe
came the voice of Scratchy McGee
he emtied his glass, then scratched his ass
and says, "Boys, we need a Christmas tree!"

"You're crazy as Hell," said Good-Time Nell
and the crowd chimed in with a hoot
the tin-horn laughed so hard,
he spilled whiskey down the front of his suit

But even a limb, no matter how slim
if made up proper and bright
would sure be a purty thing to see
on this gloom Christmas night

"It's right what you say, I see what you mean"
said a cowpoke holdin' aces back to back
"It's plain you got the idea right
it's only the limb we lack"

"But we ain't got no limb, and chances are slim
that one'll walk through that front door"
when right then and there, a sound filled the air,
the sound of a rip-roarin' snore

In a corner of the room, near a well-worn broom
stood a stranger, lean and tall
wearing a long frock coat, and a high silk hat
fast asleep as he leaned on the wall

A hush set in, in that bar-room dim
eyes fixed on the source of the sound
and as if all the minds in the room were one
they knew what they had found

A voice from the crowd said out loud
"I think we found our limb"
and one by one they gathered 'round
that drunk in the bar-room dim

A bangle here, a bauble there
a ribbon and a bow
and as they hung these things upon the wretch
he almost seemed to glow
The barkeep hung a lantern bright
on the tall drunk's tattered pocket
and it's soft light fairly danced upon
the harlot's dangling locket

The piano man, sensing the mood
had gone from sad to cheerful
stopped in the middle of a bawdy ballad
and played Christmas tunes by the earfull

"Looks good to me," said Scratchy Mcgee
as he emptied his glass and spat
then the shefiff placed his shiny tin star
on top of the high silk hat

Then they gathered 'round the lit-up drunk
and they all began to sing
"Silent Night, Oh Holy Night"
God, it was a purty thing

Outside the bar-room late that night
the wind howled it's mournful tune
but a warm glow showed through the window
from the tree in the Red Angel saloon

By: EZWriter    aka  Lonesome Roads

El Peludo:
 :D :D

Now, that's a good one!  Thanks.


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