by Bruce Kiskaddon (1878-1950)
Yes, a cow boy has his troubles,
and he shore is out of luck,
Out a dozen miles from nowheres
and his hoss begins to buck.
And he picks a place to practice
on some mighty ugly grounds,
For you’d land amongst the cactus
if he ever got you down.
So you aim to keep a straddle
and you’ll ride him if you can,
‘Elst they’ll be a dehorned saddle,
or they’ll be a one armed man.
You don’t look like much vaquero,
he is floppin’ yore shirt tails.
You have lost yore old sombrero
and you’ve broke some finger nails.
People say that pullin’ leather
don’t show ridin’ skill.That’s true.
But you’d like to stick together
till the argyment is through.
When yo’re a slippin’ and a slidin’,
you’ll admit at all events
If it doesn’t show good ridin’
that it shows a heap of sense.
When yo’re throwed it ain’t so pleasant
with a dozen miles to walk.
No there ain’t nobody present,
and the hoss of course cain’t talk.
You are hangin’ on and prayin’.
You ain’t makin’ no grand stand.
You jest aim to keep a stayin’
and you’ll do the best you can.
…by Bruce Kiskaddon
The poem and its illustration by Katherine Field (1908-1951) appeared on the Los Angeles Union Stockyards calendar in October, 1938, and also in the Western Livestock Journal that year.
Kiskaddon and Field collaborated on works for the Los Angeles Union Stockyards calendar and the Western Livestock Journal from 1936 to 1942, when she had to stop working to take care of her ailing parents and her children. In 1949 they renewed their partnership. Kiskaddon died in 1950 and had written six-month’s worth of poems in advance. Field illustrated them all before her own death in 1951.The two never met in person.
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.
This poem is in the public domain and the illustration comes from our collection of Los Angeles Union Stockyards calendar pages.