AFTER THE FALL ROUNDUP
by Bruce Kiskaddon (1878-1950)
Now the summer work is over and the wagon’s pullin’ in,
And we’ve said good bye to fellers that we mightn’t see agin,
Fer a cow boy don’t write letters so we mighty soon lose track
Of the boys that stops and works a while and never does come back.
When yore clothes is soter tattered and yore hat brim sags and flops,
And yore boots is wore and battered, them that had the fancy tops,
When the owners and the bosses and the hands is most all in.
And them strings of summer hosses is slowed up and lookin’ thin.
When them thin clouds start a trailin through the soft and pleasant sky,
And you watch old buzzard sailin’ soter useless way up high,
And it makes the toughest cow boy soter study after all,
When he’s draggin’ with the wagon to the home ranch in the fall.
Fer he caint help but remember that most cow boys don’t git old
And he’ll git to one November when he caint stand work and cold;
He shore knows that he’ll be sorry when he gits like you and me;
Jest an old man tellin’ stories ’bout how good he used to be.
…Bruce Kiskaddon, 1933
This poem is of course reminiscent of Kiskaddon’s masterpiece, “When They Finish Shipping Cattle in the Fall,” which was one of his earliest published poems, appearing in his 1924 book, Rhymes of the Ranges.
This image is an original Los Angeles Stockyards calendar page from 86 years ago, November, 1933. “After the Fall Roundup” was also included in Kiskaddon’s 1935 book, Western Poems.
Poet Bruce Kiskaddon and artist Katherine Field (1908-1951) collaborated on works for the Los Angeles Union Stockyards calendar and the Western Livestock Journal. The two never met in person.
Bruce Kiskaddon worked for ten years as a cowboy, starting in 1898 in southeastern Colorado’s Picketwire area. He published short stories and nearly 500 poems. His poems are among the most admired and the most recited in the “classic” cowboy poetry canon.
Much of what is known about Kiskaddon and his work comes from Open Range, Bill Siems’ monumental collection of Kiskaddon’s poetry. Bill Siems also collected Bruce Kiskaddon’s short stories in a book called Shorty’s Yarns.
Find more at cowboypoetry.com.
Popular colorado poet and rancher Floyd Beard recites this poem on the recent 3-cd MASTERS: VOLUME THREE, the poetry of Bruce Kiskaddon. You can see Floyd at the Western Slope Cowboy Gathering, November 1-2, 2019, in Grand Junction, Colorado, presented by the Museums of Western Colorado. Other performers include Terry Nash, Peggy Malone, Bill Clark, Jean Prescott, Gary Prescott, Valerie Beard, Floyd Beard, Dale Burson, Dale Page, Dennis Russell Nazelrod, Rocky Sullivan, and Rod Taylor.
(This poem is the public domain. The calendar page is from the BAR-D collection.)