THE LONG HORN SPEAKS, by Bruce Kiskaddon


by Bruce Kiskaddon (1878-1950)

The old long horn looked at the prize winning steer,
And he grumbled, “What sort of a thing is this here?
He ain’t got no laigs and his body is big,
I sort of suspicion he’s crossed with a pig.
Now me! I can run, I can gore, I can kick,
But that feller’s too clumsy for all of them tricks.

They’re breedin’ such critters and callin’ em Steers!
Why the horns that he’s got ain’t as long as my ears.
I cain’t figger what he’d have done in my day.
They wouldn’t have stuffed me with grain and with hay;
Nor have polished my horns and have fixed up my hoofs,
And slept me on beddin’ in under the roofs.

Who’d have curried his hide and have fuzzed up his tail?
Not none of them riders that drove the long trail.
They’d have found mighty quick jest how fur he could jump
When they jerked a few doubles of rope off his rump.
And to me it occurs he would not look so slick
With his tail full of burrs and his hide full of ticks.

I wonder jest what that fat feller would think,
If he lived on short grass and went miles fer a drink.
And wintered outdoors in the sleet and the snow.
He wouldn’t look much like he does at the show.
I wouldn’t be like him; no, not if I could.
I caint figger out why they think he’s so good.

His short laigs and his white baby face—
I could finish him off in a fight or a race.
They’ve his whole fam’ly hist’ry in writin’, and still,
He ain’t fit fer nothin’ exceptin’ to kill.
And all of them judges that thinks they’re so wise,
They look at that critter and give him first prize.”

…by Bruce Kiskaddon, from Western Poems, 1935

Bruce Kiskaddon’s ten years of cowboying informs many of his works. He published short stories and nearly 500 poems. Find many more poems and more about Kiskaddon in features at

Colorado’s Valerie Beard recites “The Longhorn Speaks” on this year’s triple-CD from, MASTERS: VOLUME THREE, the poetry of Bruce Kiskaddon.

You can hear Valerie Beard’s recitation on an excellent episode of Cowboy Tracks radio from Nancy Flagg. The show highlights poets and musicians at the recent 32nd annual Arizona Cowboy Poets Gathering.

Nancy comments after attending the event, “Prescott hits the trifecta of Gatherings: a well-run event in beautiful facilities with back-to-back top notch cowboy poets and singers.”

Among the included performers on the “Cowboy Tracks” show are Jay Snider, Mark Munzert, Trinity Seely, Duane Nelson, Deanna Dickinson McCall, Amy Hale Steiger, Chris Isaacs, Gary Allegretto, Floyd Beard, Dale Burson, Yvonne Hollenbeck, Gail Steiger, Terry Nash, and The Cowboy Way Trio.

Listen to the show here.

The above 2014 photo by Carol Highsmith is described, “Longhorn cattle on the George Ranch Historical Park, a 20,000-acre working ranch in Fort Bend County, Texas, featuring historic homes, costumed interpreters and livestock.” It is from the Lyda Hill Texas Collection of Photographs in Carol M. Highsmith’s America Project, Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division.

At the Highsmith Archive, it notes that, “Highsmith, a distinguished and richly-published American photographer, has donated her work to the Library of Congress since 1992. Starting in 2002, Highsmith provided scans or photographs she shot digitally with new donations to allow rapid online access throughout the world. Her generosity in dedicating the rights to the American people for copyright free access also makes this Archive a very special visual resource.”

Find more about Carol Highsmith and her work at and on Facebook.

This poem and photograph are in the public domain.