NOT SO SLOW by Bruce Kiskaddon (1878-1950)

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photo © 2016, Mike Moutoux

NOT SO SLOW
by Bruce Kiskaddon (1878-1950)

You have heard some folks say, “He’s as slow as a cow.”
Well, there’s things about cows they don’t know.
If they knowed about cattle, they’d figger somehow,
That there’s times when a cow ain’t so slow.

When a bunch of rough cattle start burnin’ the breeze,
And take off a rough mountain side,
You want a good shore footed hoss ‘twixt your knees
And sand in yore gizzard to ride.

Fer when a old cow starts to rattle her hocks,
She certainly makes a good showin’
She’s a foggin’ the dust and a rollin’ the rocks
And Cow Boy you’d better git goin’.

So when a man sez, “He’s as slow as a cow.”
You can figger by what he has said,
That the hosses he’s seen was hitched to a plow,
And cows was tied under a shed.

…Bruce Kiskaddon, 1937

This poem appeared in the Western Livestock Journal in August, 1937. It was also on a Los Angeles Union Stockyards calendar with an illustration by Katherine Field.

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.

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: http://www.cowboypoetry.com/kisk.htm.

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

This photo by New Mexico cowboy, songwriter, poet, entertainer, and photographer Mike Moutoux, was included in a 2016 Picture the West at CowboyPoetry.com. Mike took it at a spring branding at singer and songwriter Randy Huston’s New Mexico ranch. See all of the images here.

Find more about Mike Moutoux at mikemoutoux.com, including his occasional “Ranch Notes.”

WHEN YOU’RE THROWED by Bruce Kiskaddon (1878-1950)

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WHEN YOU’RE THROWED
by Bruce Kiskaddon (1878-1950)

If a feller’s been astraddle since he’s big enough to ride,
And has had to throw a saddle onto every sort of hide;
Though it’s nothin’ they take pride in, most of fellers I have knowed,
If they ever done much ridin’, has at various times got throwed.

It perhaps is when you’re startin’ on a round up some fine day,
That you feel a bit onsartin’ ’bout some little wall eyed bay.
Fer he swells to beat the nation while yore cinchin’ up the slack,
And he keeps a elevation in your saddle at the back.

He starts rairin’ and a jumpin’ and he strikes when you git near.
But you cuss him and you thump him till you git him by the ear.
Then your right hand grabs the saddle and you ketch a stirrup too,
And you aim to light astraddle like a wholly buckaroo.

But he drops his head and switches and he gives a back’ards jump.
Out of reach your stirrup twitches and your right spur grabs his rump.
And, “Stay with him!” shouts some feller. But you know it’s hope forlorn.
And you feel a streak of yeller as you choke the saddle horn.

Then you feel one rein droppin’ and you know he’s got his head,
And your shirt tail’s out and floppin’ and the saddle pulls like lead.
Then it ain’t no use a tryin’ for your spurs begin to slip
Now you’re upside down and flyin’ and horn tears from your grip.

Then you get a vague sensation as upon the ground you roll,
Like a vi’lent separation twixt your body and your soul.
And you land again a hummick where you lay and gap fer breath,
And there’s sumpthin’ grips your stummick like the awful clutch of death.

Yes the landscape round you totters when at last you try to stand,
And you’re shaky on your trotters and your mouth is full of sand.
They all swear you beat a circus or a hoochy koochy dance,
Moppin’ up the canon’s surface with the busom of your pants.

There’s fellers gives perscriptions how them bronchos should be rode.
But there’s few that gives descriptions of the times when they got throwed.

…by Bruce Kiskaddon

Kiskaddon can certainly paint a picture with words.

This poem was printed in Kiskaddon’s 1924 book, Rhymes of the Ranges, and John Lomax included a version of it in 1919 in Songs of the Cattle Trail and Cow Camp.

As we’ve told many times about Bruce Kiskaddon, he 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 classic 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.

This 1940 photograph by Russell Lee (1903-1986) is titled, “Cowboy being thrown from bucking horse during the rodeo of the San Angelo Fat Stock Show, San Angelo, Texas.” It’s from The Library of Congress U.S. Farm Security Administration/Office of War Information Black & White Photographs collection. Find more about it here.

Find a feature about noted photographer Russell Lee and a gallery of photographs at the University of Texas at Austin.

WINTER HOSSES by Bruce Kiskaddon (1878-1950)

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photo © Ken Rodgers; request permission for use

 

WINTER HOSSES
by Bruce Kiskaddon (1878-1950)

You wake up in the mornin’
and you get yore coffee made.
The thermometer is ten degrees
‘bove zero in the shade.
But when once you get the taste
of good strong coffee in your throat.
You don’t mind the frosty mornin’.
You don’t even wear a coat.

You do put on yore overshoes
fer wadin’ in the snow.
You fill up all three nose bags
and then yore set to go.
The hosses come a nickerin’
and snuffin’ from the shed.
Each one reaches fer the nose bag
when you put it on his head.

You go back into the shack
and git youre breakfast started cookin’.
But you don’t furgit the horsses.
You have got to keep a lookin’.
When they finish, you have got to take
the nosebags off their heads.
Or they’ll grab ’em off each other
and they’ll tear ’em all to shreds.

Hosses act a heap like humans,
and they ain’t so much to blame.
There is shore a lot of people
that is doin’ jest the same.
And it’s mighty hard to stop ’em
at the stunts they try to pull;
Gittin’ sassy and destructive
jest because their belly’s full.

So I reckon there is some one
that has got to take a hand.
Lookin’ after brainless critters
that don’t seem to onderstand.
There’s hosses, cows and people
that you dassent leave alone.
They’d go plum to ruination
if you left ’em on their own.

…by Bruce Kiskaddon

Master poet Bruce Kiskaddon was a great observer of livestock and humans.

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 in the Kiskaddon features at CowboyPoetry.com.

This impressive photograph is by documentary filmmaker, teacher, poet, writer, and photographer Ken Rodgers. Ken and Betty Rodgers are co-producers of I Married the War, a documentary-in-progress about the wives of combat veterans. They also created the award-winning film Bravo! Common Men, Uncommon Valor. Find more about I Married the War at imarriedthewar.com and on Facebook, and more on “Bravo!” at bravotheproject.com and on Facebook.

Find more about Ken Rodgers at CowboyPoetry.com  and here on Facebook. Follow his daily photo posts on Instagram.

COLD MORNIN’S by Bruce Kiskaddon (1878-1950)

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COLD MORNIN’S
by Bruce Kiskaddon (1878-1950)

I been out in the weather since I was a boy,
But cold mornin’s is sumthin’ a man cain’t enjoy.
It makes me feel like I wanted to quit
When I ketch up my pony and thaw out my bit.

There ain’t any cow puncher needs to be told
That my saddle is stiff and the leather is cold.
The blankets is froze and the hoss shakes like jelly
When you the pull the old frozen cinch up on his belly.

He snorts and he’s got a mean look in the eye.
He is humped till the back of the saddle stands high.
He ain’t in no humor to stand fer a joke,
But I belt on my chaps and I light me a smoke.

There may be some trouble between me and him.
It is like goin’ into cold water to swim.
It gives me a sort of shivver and scare
But once I git started; well then I don’t care.

…by Bruce Kiskaddon, 1937

Kiskaddon has a number of cold weather poems, no doubt inspired by his cowboying years in Colorado. This poem appeared in the “Western Livestock Journal” and on the Los Angeles Union Stockyards calendar.

Find more about Bruce Kiskaddon at CowboyPoetry.com.

This photograph is from top cowboy poet, South Dakota rancher, and quilt champion Yvonne Hollenbeck. It was taken a couple of years ago, and she commented on a Facebook post, “Ahh, the life of a ranchwife in South Dakota in winter. We just scooped two long lines of bunks (wet heavy snow) so we could feed the calves…That was just half of ’em in the picture. We feed ground feed into the bunks. I think there’s two rows of 11.”

Find more about Yvonne Hollenbeck at CowboyPoetry.com and at her site, yvonnehollenbeck.com.

 

 

THE OLD TIME CHRISTMAS by Bruce Kiskaddon (1878-1950)

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THE OLD TIME CHRISTMAS
by Bruce Kiskaddon (1878-1950)

I liked the way we used to do,
when cattle was plenty and folks was few.
The people gathered frum far and near, and
they barbacued a big fat steer.
The kids tried stayin’ awake because,
they reckoned they might ketch Santa Claus.
Next mornin’ you’d wake ’em up to see,
what he’d been and put on the Christmas tree.

It was Christmas then fer the rich and pore,
and every ranch was an open door.
The waddy that came on a company hoss
was treated the same as the owner and boss.
Nobody seemed to have a care,
you was in among friends or you wasn’t there.
For every feller in them days knew
to behave hisself as a man should do.

Some had new boots, which they’d shore admire
when they warmed their feet in front of the fire.
And the wimmin folks had new clothes too,
but not like the wimmin of these days do.
Sometimes a drifter came riding in,
some feller that never was seen agin.
And each Christmas day as the years went on
we used to wonder where they’d gone.

I like to recall the Christmas night.
The tops of the mountains capped with white.
The stars so bright they seemed to blaze,
and the foothills swum in a silver haze.
Them good old days is past and gone.
The time and the world and the change goes on.
And you cain’t do things like you used to do
when cattle was plenty and folks was few.

… Bruce Kiskaddon, 1934

And here is another Kiskaddon poem, with a similar sentiment:

MERRY CHRISTMAS
by Bruce Kiskaddon (1878-1950)

We was whistlin’, we was singin’ on a winter afternoon;
The hobble chains and fryin’ pans was jinglin’ to the tune.
Fer we knew the day was Christmas and the line camp was in sight,
No, it wasn’t much to look at but it suited us all right.

We onpacked and we onsaddled, then we turned our hosses out;
We cooked lots of beef and biscuits and we made the coffee stout.
We et all we could swaller, then we set and took a smoke,
And we shore did work our memory out to find a bran new joke.

No, it wasn’t like the Christmas like the folks have nowadays—
They are livin’ more in comfort, and they’ve sorter changed their ways—
But I sorter wish, old pardner, we could brush the years away,
And be jest as young and happy, as we was that Christmas Day.

… Bruce Kiskaddon

 

Merry Christmas, all!

This image is an original Los Angeles Stockyards calendar page from December, 1954. The poem and drawing first appeared in the Western Livestock Journal in 1934. It 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.

Siems tells that Kiskaddon wrote an annual Christmas poem for the Chuck Wagon Trailers, a group organized in 1931 “by old-time cowboys who were Hollywood’s first stunt men and western stars.”

On The BAR-D Roundup: Volume 8, a double CD of classic and modern Christmas cowboy poetry, Jay Snider has an excellent recitation of “The Old Time Christmas” and Gail Steiger has a likewise great recitation of Kiskaddon’s “Merry Christmas.”

Find more in the Kiskaddon features at CowboyPoetry.com.

 

SHOVELING ICE OUT OF THE TROUGH by Bruce Kiskaddon (1878-1950)

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“Cows,” © 2017, Jo Lynne Kirkwood

SHOVELING ICE OUT OF THE TROUGH
by Bruce Kiskaddon (1878-1950)

It’s frosty in the mornin’
when you wake up in the shack.
When you roll out of yore blankets,
makes the chill go up yore back.
By the time you’ve got yore breakfast
it is nice and warm inside,
But it’s time to git a goin’.
You must saddle up and ride.

There is thick ice every mornin’
and you’ve got to chop it off.
Ice is all right in a highball,
but it’s no good in a trough.
If the cattle don’t git water
it soon begins to show,
They don’t keep in good condition
jest a lickin’ up some snow.

I read once in a paper
what some wise perfessors think.
They claim it’s only water
that us humans ort to drink.
I’m jest speakin’ fer the cowboys,
and I reckon as a class,
They’ll drink nothin’ else but water,
when perfessors lives on grass.

The cows and calves look sorry,
a walkin’ through the snow,
With their backs humped up an shivverin’
and bawlin’ sorter low.
A cowboy’s life’s a tough one
but I reckon anyhow,
I’d sooner be a cowboy
than I would to be a cow.

…by Bruce Kiskaddon

This poem appeared in Bruce Kiskaddon’s 1935 book, Western Poems. He has a number of great poems about Winter and Christmas.

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 in the Kiskaddon features at CowboyPoetry.com.

Utah storyteller, poet, writer, and rural teacher Jo Lynne Kirkwood’s drawing, “Cows,” appears on her 2017 Christmas card. Find her accompanying poem here next week  when the celebration of the 18th annual Christmas at the BAR-D begins.

Jo Lynne Kirkwood has a fine book that collects her poetry, Old Stories, and recordings.

Find more about her at CowboyPoetry.com; at her site, www.jokirkwood.com; and on Facebook.

 

THE LOST FLANNINS by Bruce Kiskaddon (1878-1950)

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THE LOST FLANNINS
by Bruce Kiskaddon (1878-1950)

Old greasy John Blair had a shootin’ affair
Way back in the year ninety three
I don’t know if it’s true, but I’ll tell it to you
Just the same as John told it to me.

Said Greasy, as he tipped back his chair,
“That story shore puts me in mind
Of a suit of red flannins I got down to Shannon’s,
And some trouble I had with O’Brien.

You see I rode line with this Jimmy O’Brien,
That winter I shore do recall
We got, as you knows, our tobacker and clothes,
When we went out of town in the fall.

We was both plenty tough, but the weather was rough,
And it made us go prowl our war sacks.
All the clothes we could find, either his’n or mine,
We put ’em right onto our backs.

The red flannins of mine was most sartinly fine,
I didn’t begrudge what they cost.
But a turrible thing happened long toward spring,
My suit of red flannins got lost.

There was jest I and Jim so I blamed it on him,
And Jim, right away he got tough.
He was never right mild, and when once he riled,
I am present to state he talked rough.

Well a’most every day we’d get started some way,
About where them red flannins had gone.
And the more that I thought, the plum shorer I got,
That my old pardner Jim had ’em on.

We had et a big bait and was startin’ out late;
The weather was perishin’ cold.
I walked up to him and sez, look a here Jim,
I want them red flannins you stoled.

Jim’s eyes they got mean, and he sez, we’ll come clean.
I been hearin’ this talk quite a spell.
And I caint onderstand how a reasonable man,
Would be wantin’ red flannins in Hell.

It wasn’t no fun, fer he took to his gun,
And we shot till the cabin was fogged.
The chinckin’ shore flew where the bullets cut through,
While some others plowed into the logs.

When the smoke cleared away, there my old pardner lay,
And I sez to him, Mister O’Brien,
Since at last you have got to a place where it’s hot,
I’ll be takin’ them flannins of mine.

I onbuttoned his clothes and what do you suppose?
He didn’t have any onderwear.
I searched all around and they couldn’t be found.
Them red flannins wasn’t no where.

‘Bout the time the grass rose I began sheddin’ clothes.
My onderwear started to stick.
It clogged up my sweat when I got overhet,
So I took me a swim in the crick.

When I dove in at fust I washed off some loose dust,
And then quite a coating of muck.
I finally come to a layer of tough gum,
But I still was as dry as a duck.

Well I suwm around some till I soaked through the gum,
And the water got into my pores.
It shore made me shiver, chilled plum to the liver.
I waded out onto the shore.

I stood in the sun; I’m a son of a gun;
I thought in my soul I’d a died.
I had them clothes on that I figgered was gone,
They’d been plastered down next to my hide.

I know Jim O’Brien that old pardner of mine;
He’s a settin’ down there on the coals.
And I reckon he’ll wait right up close to the gate
And be ready to bull dog my soul.

It drives me to drink every time that I think
Of Jim fixin’ it up with Old Satan.
I know all these years he’s been backin’ his ears,
And jest itchin’ and watchin’ and waitin’.

I might make a try for a home in the sky,
But that wouldn’t be treatin’ Jim fair.
I made the mistake so I’ll give him a break,
And we’ll settle the matter down there.

…by Bruce Kiskaddon

One of Kiskaddon’s few “windies,” this poem appeared in his 1947 book, Rhymes of the Ranges and Other Poems, in a section called “Yarns and Legends.”

Terry Nash recites “The Lost Flannins” on his new CD, A Good Ride. The late, much-missed Trey Allen was also known for his rendition, which is recorded on his Cowpoke album.

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 1938 photo by John Vachon (1914-1975) is titled, “Farmer and old cowboy in North Platte, Nebraska, saloon.” See more about it here.

Minnesotan Vachon became interested in photography while working for the Farm Security Administration as a young man. He worked with some of the top photographers of the times. As described in the FSA collection description, “The hallmark of this style of photography is the portrayal of people and places encountered on the street, unembellished by the beautifying contrivances used by calendar and public relations photographers.” )

Find an interesting video and more about the FSA collection at The Library of Congress “Documenting America, 1935-1943: The Farm Security Administration/Office of War Information Photo Collection.”