THE BRAHMA STEER
by Bruce Kiskaddon (1878-1950)
What would the old time cowboy from the trails of yester year
Imagine was the matter if he met a Brahma steer?
That cowboy wouldn’t figger that the steer was real;In fact
He’d think he had too much to drink and gone plum off the track.
The sight of some big Brahma steer, his bump a standin’ high,
Without no horns, with droopin’ ears, and mulish lookin’ eye,
Would make an old hand figger if he’d ort to pull his gun,
Or ride up for a closer look, or turn around and run.
I reckon that there old time boy would figger ’twas a cross
‘Twixt a Jersey and a bison and a Palamino hoss.
The hands of fifty years ago would not have thought that now
The Brahma is more common than the old time longhorn cow.
There has been a lot of changes in ranges of the West;
They keep the sort of critters that they figger do the best.
We won’t likely live to see it but they’ll mebbe come a day
When they’ll give a cow a pellet equal to three bales of hay.
They won’t ship no stock to market, fer the aeroplane will land,
That will kill and skin and cook ’em and will take ’em off in cans.
They’ll have the hides all tanned and cured before they start fer town,
And they’ll make ’em into boots and shoes before they hit the ground.
Yes, there’s lots to the cow business that the old boys didn’t know
When they rode the old cow ponies over fifty years ago.
…by Bruce Kiskaddon
An article, “Brahman Cattle,” at cattle.com tells about the American Brahman Breeders Association formed in Houston in 1924 and that, “Their first officially registered animal was named Sam Houston.”
Nearly 70 years have passed since this poem was printed on the Los Angeles Union Stock Yards calendar, January, 1948. It was illustrated by Amber Dunkerley (1893-1973), who illustrated Kiskaddon’s calendar poems from 1943-1948. The poem also appeared in Kiskaddon’s 1947 book, Rhymes of the Ranges.
Kiskaddon worked for ten years as a cowboy, starting in 1898, working in southeastern Colorado’s Picketwire area. He wrote many poems still read and recited today.
Find much more about Kiskaddon: many of his poems; a feature about Bill Siems’ monumental “Open Range” that collects nearly 500 of Kiskaddon’s poems; Siems’ collection of Kiskaddon’s short stories, “Shorty’s Yarns”; and more at CowboyPoetry.com.