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Visitor in the Lineshack

Nocturnal Notions
May 17, 2021
View ‘Tween the Ears of a Horse
June 7, 2021


Visitor in the Lineshack


I had me a warm awakenin'
In the long winter of eighty-seven
It didn't come on fast or easy
Weren't no sudden gift from Heaven


But it was cold winter white
Often frozen zero or below
So nothin' was movin' fast
Even stove flames seemed liftin' slow


Speakin' of which I must inquire
Who is the mindless mope
That built this Swiss-cheese line shack
In a clearing on the northern slope?


But I'm strayin' from my story
So let’s see, I’ll get back on track
Where was I? That’s right
My Christmas gift in this drafty shack


Well, see, I hadn't much to do
The mavericks bein’ all mothered up
So my slow days were spent a readin’
And sippin' boiled coffee from a tin cup


Choices for readin' material
Were not exactly diverse
A man could read a tattered Holy Bible
Or that big old catalog that was worse


Now the catalog was shrinkin’
With each visit I'd make outside
What had once been a world marketplace
Was no longer Montgomery Ward’s pride


So the Bible was my daily companion
By the fire we'd sit and share
Long hours spent becomin' friends
Me tryin' my hand at prayer


It was a long trot through them words
I'd been tusslin' them "thees" and "thous"
Since before the first fall snow
Mostly with raised eyebrows


I tried to imagine how it would be
Instead of fordin’ each river threat
When on my next long cattle drive
If I could simply cross without gettin’ wet


And what in tarnation would happen
If each cow in our huge herd
Knew my name and heard my voice
Maybe without me speakin’ a word?


But I began to come ‘round to it
In them newer parts the second time through
When of a sudden in that Luke section
I understood what was mine to do


See, when them boys outside Bethlehem
Left their stock to visit the newborn child
They walked to town on faith alone
And, seein’ God, became reconciled


There were angels and critters
Gathering all together in a barn
Why would God Himself arrive
Absent fanfare, so lowly in this yarn?


Then like a low branch on a gallop
The truth hit me deep here in my heart
And knocked me clean into awareness
I could be born again with a fresh start


God had sent his only Son
To be slaughtered for all my strayin'
And had Him arrive here on earth
In a lowly place where I might be stayin'


He welcomed me into his shack
Him bein’ God and all
And me bein’ without bath or shavin’
Just cuz I answered His call


Expectin' another lonely Christmas
In a bottle my sadness I'd flee
But now I'm a new creation
Gonna go cut a Christmas tree


I was saved by grace through believin'
I was no longer the bad seed
I didn't do a thing to earn this gift
No longer solo, Merry Christmas indeed


By, Rik Goodell

© 2021

This intimate and comforting painting is by Jack Sorenson. I am grateful for his permission to post his art here alongside my poem.

To see more of his work, go to his website:

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