THE LONG HORN SPEAKS, by Bruce Kiskaddon

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THE LONG HORN SPEAKS
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 cowboypoetry.com.

Colorado’s Valerie Beard recites “The Longhorn Speaks” on this year’s triple-CD from CowboyPoetry.com, 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 carolhighsmith.com and on Facebook.

This poem and photograph are in the public domain.

THE SUMMER STORM, by Bruce Kiskaddon

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THE SUMMER STORM
by Bruce Kiskaddon (1878-1950)

The clouds are a comin’ down over the flat,
The lightnin’ is startin’ to flicker.
It is time fer a cow boy to pull down his hat
And git buttoned up in his slicker.

The lightnin’ is shootin’ jest flash after flash,
The wind is a howlin’ and roarin’,
The thunder it shakes the whole earth with a crash
And the rain it comes down jest a pourin’.

The cattle have started to runnin’, the brutes,
Jest hark to ’em rattle their hocks.
The water comes in at the tops of yore boots,
You can feel it a soakin’ yore socks.

The boys is all busy and goin’ full speed,
They are tryin’ to git the steers millin’.
They git to the front and keep bendin’ the lead
To hold the whole shipment from spillin’.

…by Bruce Kiskaddon, 1936

This poem, illustrated by Katherine Field (1908-1951), first appeared in 1936 in the Western Livestock Journal and on the Los Angeles Union Stock Yards calendar.

Kiskaddon drew on his cowboying experience for his poetry.

As we’ve noted before:

As Bill Siems writes in his landmark book, Open Range, a monumental collection of Kiskaddon’s poetry, “Western Livestock Journal was one of several interacting businesses clustered around the Los Angeles Union Stock Yards, all engaged in the raising, marketing, and processing of livestock. Almost as soon as the Journal started publishing illustrated poems, the Los Angeles Union Stock Yards began issuing its own series, featuring an illustrated poem and calendar printed on five by ten inch card stock, enclosed with its Monthly Livestock Letter. Beginning with January 1933, these monthly calendars continued in an unbroken series through 1959, using reissued poems after the deaths of Kiskaddon and Field.”

Kiskaddon and Katherine Field never met in person.

Much of what is known about Kiskaddon and his work comes from Open Range. Bill Siems also collected Bruce Kiskaddon’s short stories in a book called Shorty’s Yarns. Find more in the Kiskaddon features at cowboypoetry.com.

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In the new triple-CD set from cowboypoetry.com, MASTERS: VOLUME THREE, the poetry of Bruce Kiskaddon, Bill Siems introduces Bruce Kiskaddon’s life and work. The poetry begins with some of the best known of Kiskaddon’s reflective poems, with a look backward to “when cattle were plenty and men were few.” Poems that follow are about cowboys and men, work, cattle, horses (and one mule), heavenly concerns, old-time life, quirky characters, gear, a ghost tale, and some Christmas poems.

Among the voices are Randy Rieman, Jay Snider, Andy Hedges, Gary McMahan, Trey Allen, Floyd Beard, Ol’ Jim Cathey, Rod Miller, Ken Cook, Ross Knox, Chris Isaacs, Dennis Russell Nazelrod, Jerry Brooks, Gail Steiger, Deanna Dickinson McCall, Amy Hale Steiger, Jessica Hedges, Robert Dennis, Valerie Beard, Keith Ward, John Reedy, Baxter Black, J.B. Allen, Brigid Reedy, Jesse Smith, Duane Nelson, Kathy Moss, Susie Knight, Kay Nowell, Tom Swearingen, Dick Morton, DW Groethe, Waddie Mitchell, Andy Nelson, Dale Page, Almeda Bradshaw, Smoke Wade, Sunny Hancock, Jarle Kvale, Johnny Reedy, Rusty McCall, Dave McCall, Terry Nash, and Rex Rideout. Musician and top sound engineer Butch Hause offers a colorful radio PSA for the Center and Cowboy Poetry Week.

CDs are offered to rural libraries in Cowboy Poetry Week’s Rural Library Program, given to the Center’s donors, and available for sale. Find more about the CD here.

This poem is in the public domain. The illustration is from the CowboyPoetry.com calendar collection.

SUMMER TIME by Bruce Kiskaddon

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SUMMER TIME
by Bruce Kiskaddon (1878-1950)

There’s a heap of times when ridin’
after cattle shore is tough.
When every thing is goin’ wrong,
or else the weather’s rough.
The whole world seems ag’in you.
You can do yore level best,
But you ain’t a gittin’ nowheres
and yore nearly dead for rest.

But it’s purty in the summer
when yore ridin’ through the hills.
Where the tall green grass is growin’
and the air is soft and still.
Cows and calves is fat and gentle.
They jest look at you and stare.
You can hear the little insecks
go a buzzin’ in the air.

You may run onto some places
that is mighty steep to climb,
But you ain’t in any hurry,
and you give the hoss his time.
You figger that it ain’t so bad,
a bein’ a cow poke,
And you feel so plum contented
you don’t even want to smoke.

No, a cow boy’s life ain’t easy
when you git it figgered down.
He don’t have a lot of comforts
that the people have in town.
But he don’t deserve no sympathy
fer how his life is spent.
Fer there’s times he’s jest a bathin’
in a ocean of content.

There is nothin’ there to bother him,
he doesn’t have to hurry.
He is doin’ what he wants to do,
he isn’t in a hurry.
Yes, it pays up fer the frost bites,
all the falls and all the spills,
On them lovely days in summer
when he’s ridin’ in the hills.

…by Bruce Kiskaddon

The poem and its illustration by Katherine Field (1908-1951) appeared on the Los Angeles Union Stockyards calendar in November, 1942, and also in the Western Livestock Journal that year.

Bruce Kiskaddon’s ten years of cowboying informs many of his works. He published short stories and nearly 500 poems.

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 in the Kiskaddon features at CowboyPoetry.com.

In the new triple-CD set from cowboypoetry.com, MASTERS: VOLUME THREE, the poetry of Bruce Kiskaddon, Bill Siems introduces Bruce Kiskaddon’s life and work. The poetry begins with some of the best known of Kiskaddon’s reflective poems, with look backward to “when cattle were plenty and men were few.” Poems that follow are about cowboys and men, work, cattle, horses (and one mule), heavenly concerns, old-time life, quirky characters, gear, a ghost tale, and some Christmas poems.

Among the voices are Randy Rieman, Jay Snider, Andy Hedges, Gary McMahan, Trey Allen, Floyd Beard, Ol Jim Cathey, Rod Miller, Ken Cook, Ross Knox, Chris Isaacs, Dennis Russell Nazelrod, Jerry Brooks, Gail Steiger, Deanna Dickinson McCall, Amy Hale Steiger, Jessica Hedges, Robert Dennis, Valerie Beard, Keith Ward, John Reedy Baxter Black, J.B. Allen, Brigid Reedy, Jesse Smith, Duane Nelson, Kathy Moss, Susie Knight, Kay Nowell, Tom Swearingen, Dick Morton, DW Groethe, Waddie Mitchell, Andy Nelson, Dale Page, Almeda Bradshaw, Smoke Wade, Sunny Hancock, Jarle Kvale, Johnny Reedy, Rusty McCall, Dave McCall, Terry Nash, and Rex Rideout. Musician and top sound engineer Butch Hause offers a colorful radio PSA for the Center and Cowboy Poetry Week.

CDs are offered to rural libraries in Cowboy Poetry Week’s “Rural Library Program, given to the Center’s donors, and available for sale. Find more about the CD here.

This image is from the CowboyPoetry.com collection of Los Angeles Union Stock Yards calendars. Cattle prices are given on the back of the calendar page, which includes, “Range cows of common and medium quality are selling at $8.75 to $10.50 …. Bulls continue in fairly good demand at $10 to $11…”

(This poem is in the public domain.)

USELESS QUESTION and TEXAS ZEPHYR by S. Omar Barker

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USELESS QUESTION
by S. Omar Barker

No Texan ever asks you where you’re from. In fact they say
He views such questions as but idle chatter.
Because if you’re from Texas, you will tell him anyway,
And if you’re not, it really doesn’t matter.

TEXAS ZEPHYR
by S. Omar Barker

To figure how hard the wind blows out on the Texas Plains,
You hang a fresh-killed beef up with a pair of logging chains;
And if, on the morning after, you find your beef’s been skinned,
And you have to ride to find the hide, there’s been just a little wind!

…poems courtesy of the S. Omar Barker Estate, used with permission.
These poems should not be reposted or reprinted without permission.

Though he hailed from New Mexico, S. Omar Barker seemed to know something about Texas. He was one of the founders of the Western Writers of America, Inc. and many of his poems were published by Western Horseman. Find more about him at cowboypoetry.com.

On MASTERS: VOLUME TWO, the poetry of S. Omar Barker, Texan Kay Kelley Nowell recites “Useless Question” and Texan Linda Marie Kirkpatrick recites “Texas Zephyr.”

Both Kay Kelley Nowell and Linda Kirkpartick are involved with new Texas gatherings.

Kay Kelley Nowell is part of the committee for the new Lone Star Cowboy Gathering in Alpine, Texas, formed by an energetic group of people in response to this year’s retirement of the venerable Texas Cowboy Poetry Gathering. The event is scheduled for February 21-22, 2020. Visit their site for more information and stay tuned for more news here.

Linda Kirkpatrick is a part of the lineup for the first annual Winnsboro Cowboy Poetry Gathering at the Winsboro Center for the Arts, October 19, 2019. She’ll be joined by Lavern “Straw” Berry, Joe Dan Boyd, Teresa Burleson, Don Cadden, Bob Campbell, Allan Chapman, “Doc” Davis, Pipp Gilette, Chris Isaacs, Gary Robertson, Hailey Sandoz with Kristin Harris, Jay Snider, Doug Tolleson, and Conrad Wolfman.

And the Texas Hill Country Cowboy Gathering, started last year and already making its mark as a don’t-miss event, holds its second annual gathering November 8-9, 2019, in Fredericksburg. The lineup includes Mike Beck, Andy Hedges, Brigid and Johnny Reedy, Joel Nelson, Cowboy Celtic, Krystin Harris, Pipp Gilette, Sourdough Slim, Rodney Nelson,
and Mike Blakely.

This c. 1901 photograph by William Henry Jackson (1843-1942) is titled “A group of Texas cowboys” at The Library of Congress Prints and Photographs collection.

(Please respect copyright. You can share these poems with this post, but for other uses, request permission. The photograph is in the public domain.)

A WESTERNER by E. A. Brininstool

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A WESTERNER
by E. A. Brininstool

I knowed he was a Westerner
I knowed it by his talk;
I knowed it by his headgear,
I knowed it by his walk.
His face was bronzed and fearless;
His eye was bright and keen,
That spoke of wide, vast ranges
I knowed that he had seen.

Somehow I knowed he’d ridden
The range-lands of the West;
His speech was bunkhouse patter—
The kind I love the best.
He brought a hint of prairies,
Of alkali and sage;
Of stretches wide and open —
The Western heritage.

I knowed he was a Westerner
Just from the way he done;
His footgear, too, proclaimed him
A stalwart Western son…
He had “the makin’s” with him,
And I could not forget
His bed-ground from the manner
He rolled his cigaret.

He brought with him the freedom
Of that great Western land;
Where grassy billows, endless,
Sprawl out on ev’ry hand.
The city noises chafed him,
And each skyscraper tall
Seemed like grim barriers risin’,
Or some deep canyon wall.

He seemed a part and parcel
Of countries wide and far,
Where great herds dot the mesas,
Out where the cowmen are.
I knowed he was a Westerner
Becuz he was so free
In yellin’ “Howdy pardner!”
When he was passin me.

…E. A. Brininstool, from Trail Dust of a Maverick, 1914

E. A. (Earl Alonzo) Brininstool was a western historian, best known for his writings about Custer and the Battle of the Little Big Horn. He also worked as a reporter and editorial writer for Los Angeles newspapers. In a 1994 reissue of his 1954 book, Troopers with Custer, it is claimed that he wrote over 5,000 Western poems.

In the introduction to Brininstool’s 1914 poetry collection, Trail Dust of a Maverick, Robert J. Burdette wrote that Brininstool, like earlier dialect poets (including Robert Burns):

. . . has done the same thing for the abundant, exuberant, natural dialect of the range and the rodeo; the long winding trail, the sweep of the prairies . . . his verse lends splendor to the sunrise and beauty to the sunset . . . His songs have this deathless quality—they chant the glories and the beauties, the joys and the dangers, the dances and the conflicts of the vanishing life.

This 1913 photo of E.A. Brininstool and “Curley” is from the Native Peoples of Northern Great Plains Digital Images Database at the Montana State University Library. From the site: “The Native Peoples of Northern Great Plains Digital Images Database includes photographs, paintings, ledger drawings, documents, serigraphs, and stereographs from 1874 through the 1940s…”

(Please respect copyright. You can share this poem and photo with this post, but for other uses, request permission.)

OUT WHERE THE WEST BEGINS, by Arthur Chapman

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OUT WHERE THE WEST BEGINS
by Arthur Chapman (1873-1935)

Out where the handclasp’s a little stronger,
Out where the smile dwells a little longer,
That’s where the West begins;
Out where the sun is a little brighter,
Where the snows that fall are a trifle whiter,
Where the bonds of home are a wee bit tighter,
That’s where the West begins.

Out where the skies are a trifle bluer,
Out where friendship’s a little truer,
That’s where the West begins;
Out where a fresher breeze is blowing,
Where there’s laughter in every streamlet flowing,
Where there’s more of reaping and less of sowing,
That’s where the West begins;

Out where the world is in the making,
Where fewer hearts in despair are aching,
That’s where the West begins;
Where there’s more of singing and less of sighing,
Where there’s more of giving and less of buying,
And a man makes friends without half trying —
That’s where the West begins.

… by Arthur Chapman, from Out Where the West Begins (1916)

At one time, few western poems were as widely known as Arthur Chapman’s “Out Where the West Begins.” Legend has it that he dashed off the poem for his “Center Shots” column in the Denver Republican when the Western states’ governors were arguing about where the West begins, and that he was amazed at the attention it received.

The poem appeared on postcards and other souvenirs, and was set to music. The poem was “adapted” without attribution for particular states

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The dust jacket of his 1921 novel, “Mystery Ranch,” has this to say about the poem:

…Today it is perhaps the best-known bit of verse in America. It hangs framed in the office of the Secretary of the Interior at Washington. It has been quoted in Congress, and printed as campaign material for at least two Governors. It has crossed both the Atlantic and Pacific, while throughout this country it may be found pinned on walls and pasted in scrapbooks innumerable…[his poems] possess a rich Western humor such as has not been heard in American poetry since the passing of Bret Harte.

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Find “Out Where the West Begins” and more about it, including a parody, “Down Where the Vest Begins,” at cowboypoetry.com. View the entire book at the Internet Archive.

Broadcaster and rodeo announcer Jim Thompson “Out Where the West Begins” on The BAR-D Roundup: Volume Two.

Chapman wrote many poems and published two collections of them.

The black and white uncredited illustration at the top is from Chapman’s 1921 Cactus Center book. We have searched, but have been unable to identify the artist, Harold ____? There are two signed illustrations in the book, but the (illegible) surnames don’t even look the same. The same artist appears to have illustrated the jacket of Out Where the West Begins. The postcard, from the BAR-D collection, is one of many that were produced with the poem.

Find much more about Arthur Chapman in our feature at CowboyPoetry.com.

This poem is in the public domain.

COW SENSE, by Bruce Kiskaddon

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COW SENSE
by Bruce Kiskaddon (1878-1950)

You have heard people a sayin’ “As dumb as a cow.”
Well they ain’t seen much cattle I’ll tell you right now.
A cow she knows more than some people by half;
She’s the only thing livin’ that savvys a calf.
A cow don’t know nothin? Well, how do you think
They suckle young calves and walk miles fer a drink?

You have watched an old cow; or I reckon you did,
If she’s got a young calf why she keeps it well hid.
She has planted it out where it jest caint be found,
And she won’t go near there if there’s anything ’round.
You just make that calf give a jump or a beller
And that old cow is there to charge into a feller.

If there’s several young calves in a bunch, you will find,
When their Ma’s go to drink they leave one cow behind.
And when they git full and come back to the bunch
She goes to git her a drink and some lunch.
You kin talk of day nurseries. I reckon as how,
They was fustly invented and used by a cow.

Perhaps you have noticed some times on a drive
With cows, men and hosses more dead than alive,
When you got near the water, as soon as they smelt,
Them old cows went fer it jest Hellity belt.
Then the drags was all calves but they didn’t furgit ’em;
When they drunk they come back and they shore didn’t quit ’em.

They let their calves suck and kept out of the rush,
So them calves didn’t git in the mud and the crush.
I’m telling you people without any jokes,
Cows make better parents than plenty of folks.
If folk thought the thing over, I reckon as how,
They wouldn’t be sayin’ “As dumb as a cow.”

…by Bruce Kiskaddon

This poem is from Bruce Kiskaddon’s 1935 book, Western Poems; it also appeared in the Western Livestock Journal.

In the new triple-CD set from cowboypoetry.com, MASTERS: VOLUME THREE, the poetry of Bruce Kiskaddon, New Mexico rancher, writer, and poet Deanna Dickinson McCall has a great recitation of “Cow Sense.”

Thanks to Rick Huff of the International Western Music Association for his review of the project in the current issue of the organization’s The Western Way. He writes, in part, “…If you are not already Kiskaddon-oriented, let this opportunity immerse you in what it really is to be– and see through the eyes and feel with the heart of–a cowboy. Highly
recommended.”

Wheaton Hall Brewer wrote, in his introduction to Western Poems, “…As the years roll on and history appreciates the folk-lore of the plains and ranges, these poems by a real cowboy will take on a deeper significance and mightier stature. When Bruce turns his pony into the Last Corral—long years from now, we all hope—he need feel no surprise if he hears his songs sung by the celestial cowboys as their tireless ponies thunder over the heavenly ranges, bringing in the dogies for branding at the Eternal Corrals. For poetry will never die.”

Find many more poems and more about Kiskaddon in features at cowboypoetry.com.

Colorado rancher and poet Terry Nash shares this photo taken in late June this year. The most recent International Western Music Association awards named Terry Nash the Male Poet of the Year and his “A Good Ride” was named Best CD of the year.

Just a few places to find Terry in coming months include the 32nd annual Arizona Cowboy Poets Gathering, August 8-10, 2019; New Mexico’s upcoming 6th annual Cimarron Cowboy Music and Poetry Gathering, August 22-25, 2019; and Colorado’s 4th annual Western Slope Cowboy Gathering, November 1-2, 2019.

Learn more about Terry Nash at CowboyPoetry.com and at terrynashcowboypoet.com.

(Please respect copyright. You can share this photo with this post, but please request permission for any other use. The poem is in the public domain.)