Bruce Kiskaddon (1878-1950)
It’s nice to see a herd of cattle travelin’ in a string
With the riders workin’ easy on the point and on the swing.
If you keep the cattle stringin’ you can walk ’em quite a ways
But if you let ’em spread or bunch they’ll settle down and graze.
And if you keep a herd strung out there’s not so many lags,
And you ain’t makin’ distance if you have to “chouse the drags.”
The man that’s ridin’ on the lead should regalate the pace,
Then every critter mighty soon will find himself a place.
Any time they git to spreadin’ and you want ’em narrowed in;
If you take a lope up forward, then come walkin’ back ag’in.
If you meet your stragglers facin’, at a slow and easy walk,
It’s more good than all the racin’ and a lot of noisy talk.
And every critter gits his place you mighty soon will find
Where he ain’t afraid of critters that’s a walkin’ just behind.
If a man would think and reason he could see the way it feels
If some critter he is skeered of was a trompin’ on his heels.
Now there’s not much cattle trailin’ on the hills and on the plains.
They move the stock in motor trucks and on the railroad trains.
But I think of men and hosses and the trails I used to know,
When we moved a lot of cattle over fifty years ago.
…by Bruce Kiskaddon
The next MASTERS CD from CowboyPoetry.com will feature the works of Kiskaddon. If you recite (or know of a recitation) of one of the lesser known Kiskaddon poems, email firstname.lastname@example.org with suggestions for consideration.
Bruce Kiskaddon wrote many poems informed by his decade of cowboying. Some of those poems are still heard often at gatherings today. There are many more (he published nearly 500) good poems that are not as well known. Some of the poems, like this one, have a degree of nostalgia.
Frank King wrote, in his introduction to Kiskaddon’s 1924 book, Rhymes of the Ranges:
Bruce Kiskaddon is a real old time cowboy, having started his cattle ranch experience in the Picket Wire district of southern Colorado as a kid cowhand and rough string rider and later on northern Arizona ranges, especially as a writer for the late Tap Duncan, famous as a Texas and Arizona cattleman, and one time the largest cattle holder in Mojave County, Arizona, where Bruce rode for years, after which he took a turn as a rider on big cattle stations in Australia. All this experience is reflected in his western poems, because he has had actual experience in the themes he puts into verse, He had no college professor teach him anything. He is a natural born poet and his poems show he knows his business. The best cowhand poems I have ever read. His books should be in every home and library where western poetry is enjoyed.
Much of what is known about Kiskaddon and his work comes from Open Range, Bill Siems’ monumental collection of Kiskaddon’s poetry. Find more in the Kiskaddon features at CowboyPoetry.com.
This photograph is from ranchers and poets Valerie Beard and Floyd Beard. Valerie comments on the photograph, titled “On to Greener Pastures”:
We were helping the family move the cows that were calving later to another pasture where there would be more feed. It was such a beautiful day in beautiful country in the canyons of Southeastern Colorado.
Find more about Valerie and Floyd at floydbeardcowboy.com.
The photo was the featured image for a 2017 National Day of the Cowboy
“Art Spur” at CowboyPoetry.com.
(Please respect copyright. You can share this photo with this post, but for other uses, please request permission. This poem is in the public domain.)