COW BOY DAYS, by Bruce Kiskaddon

cowboydaysx

 

COW BOY DAYS
by Bruce Kiskaddon (1878-1950)

Can you recollect the country
That we knew in days gone by?
Where the prairie met the sunrise
And the mountains met the sky.
Where you rode through rugged canyons
And o’er rolling mesas wide
Or you crossed the wind swept prairie
On a long and lonely ride.

How your bits and spurs would jingle
And the only other sound
Was the creaking of your saddle
And the hoof beats on the ground.
Almost any where you landed
There was something you could do
You were happy in that country
With the people that you knew.

No the people wasn’t plenty
In the good old days of yore
But you always found a welcome
At most any cabin door.
You would get off of your pony
And you’d stretch and stomp your feet
When you got that invitation
“Better light a spell and eat.”

That was one of the traditions
Of the easy going West
You were just a drifting cow boy
But you were an honored guest.
No it wasn’t always funny
In them early days old pard
You was often out of money
And the work was plenty hard.

How you rode with Death behind you
When you milled the wild stampede
And you felt the lightning blind you
As you fought to bend the lead.
How you drifted with the blizzard
Till you got a fire lit
You was froze plum to the gizzard
By the time the storm had quit.

No you hadn’t no bay window.
Fact is you was soter lean
You had coffee and some biscuits
And some salty pork and beans
You could tell there had been cattle
In the water that you drank
And you swallered bugs and wigglers
At some muddy old ground tank.

When you landed at a bunk house
You was welcomed by the crew
But you have some recollections
How the bed bugs met you too
When you went to meet the round up
You can recollect some day
When you couldn’t find the wagon
Or your hosses got away.

When you went out greasy sackin’
In the summer in the hills
You was shoein’ brandin’ packin’
Cookin’ workin’ fit to kill
For there wasn’t any wagon
And you hadn’t any bunk.
Packed your bed on sweaty hosses
Lord the way them blankets stunk.

Now you tell it with a snicker
But it griped you then I’ll bet
Standing’ all night in a slicker
‘Cause your bed was wringin’ wet.
You was young and you was happy
You was never really sick
But you often travelled limpin’
When a leg got jammed or kicked.

Now old hurts come back and pain you
And you have some tender toes
That date back some forty winters
To the time your feet was froze.
You’ve a scar upon your forehead
That for years you packed around
Where some cranky tricky pony
Throwed you on the frozen ground.

Your eyes are dim and bleary
From the wind and dust and sun
And the time you got snow blinded
Didn’t seem to help ’em none.
Almost any old cow puncher
Has some fingers or a wrist
Busted when he tried to dally
And the saddle got his fist.

Things are not the way they once was
There has been a lot of change
Since the days of drives and roundups
When we worked the open range.
In the wide and grassy valleys
Where the cattle used to roam
There are irrigation ditches
And there’s farms and barns and homes.

Now there’s signals and there’s sign boards
Where we bedded cattle down
Where we met with other outfits
There are villages and towns.
Neon signs are blazin’ brightly
Where our camp fires glowed dim
Concrete bridges span the rivers
Where our hosses used to swim.

No, you haven’t made a fortune
And your hair is white. You’re old
But you wouldn’t trade your memories
Not for heaps of shinin’ gold.
And whenever you get lonely
You just hold a grand review
Of the places and the hosses
And the people that you knew.
You can hear the songs and stories
You can see the camp fires blaze
As you live again the glories
Of your grand old cow boy days.

…from Kiskaddon’s 1924 version in Rhymes of the Ranges

Here’s a lesser-known poem by the master, Bruce Kiskaddon. 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 Open Range, Bill Siems also includes a later poem by Kiskaddon, “Looking Backward,” which is nearly identical to “Cow Boy Days.” You can view both at CowboyPoetry.com.

Randy Rieman recites the last stanza of this poem, which he calls “Looking Back,” on his Where the Ponies Come to Drink CD. That recording is also on the new triple-CD set from cowboypoetry.com, MASTERS: VOLUME THREE, the poetry of Bruce Kiskaddon, on which Bill Siems offers an introduction to Bruce Kiskaddon.

This c. 1904 photograph by W. D. Harper “…shows fourteen cowboys from the F.D.W. Ranch in New Mexico posed on a tree trunk.” It’s from The Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division. Find more about it here.

(This poem and photograph are in the public domain.)

WET BOOTS, by Bruce Kiskaddon

wetboots.jpg

WET BOOTS
by Bruce Kiskaddon (1878-1950)

A cowboy goes under a turrible strain,
When he tries to wear boots that’s been soaked in the rain.
He pulls and he wiggles, and after he’s tried,
He gits him some flour and sprinkles inside.

Then he gits him two jack knives; puts one in each lug
And he stomps and he pulls till his eyes start to bug.
Next he tries a broom handle—an awful mistake.
Which same he finds out when he feels the lug break.

The toes and the heels they bust out of his socks,
And it’s awful to hear how that cowpuncher talks.
He opens his knife and it shore is a sin,
Fer he cuts his new boots till his feet will go in.

I reckon, old-timer, you know how he feels.
You have kicked bunk house walls and the chuck wagon wheels.
And you know when yore older, there’s nothin’ to gain
From buyin’ tight boots if you work in the rain.

…by Bruce Kiskaddon
This poem was included in Kiskaddon’s 1935 book, Western Poems.

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.

Talented Montanan Johnny “Guitar” Reedy, 13, recites the poem on the new 3-CD project from Cowboy Poetry.com, MASTERS: VOLUME THREE, the poetry of Bruce Kiskaddon. His sister, Brigid Reedy and their father, John Reedy, also contributed recitations to the new CD. They all perform at events across the West.

Find much more poetry and more about Bruce Kiskaddon in our features at CowboyPoetry.com.

This 1940 photo by Russell Lee (1903-1986) is titled, “Cowboy pulling on boots, rodeo, Quemado, New Mexico.” It’s from the Farm Security Administration – Office of War Information Photograph Collection at The Library of Congress.

Find a feature about noted photographer and teacher Russell Lee with a gallery of photographs from the Dolph Briscoe Center for American History at the University of Texas at Austin.

This poem and photograph are in the public domain.

MICROBES, by Bruce Kiskaddon

microbes

MICROBES
by Bruce Kiskaddon (1878-1950)

You hear of microbes and of germs
And all them eddicated terms.
They say a feller hadn’t oughter
Go fillin’ up on muddy water.

Fer once them microbes gets inside
They mighty soon have multiplied.
From what they say, I onderstand,
They’re mighty apt to kill a man.

But then a cow boy doesn’t mind.
He drinks what water he can find.
It may be mud or alkali,
He has to drink it and git by.

Now them there littly wigly worms
That sorter swims about and squirms,
I’ve drunk a heap of them you bet,
And none of ’em has hurt me yet.

Fer drinkin’ water, so to speak,
It hadn’t ort to be too weak.
Yore hoss can drink an awful lot.
His stummick never gits upsot.

And so perhaps a quart or two
Is not a goin’ to damage you.
Jest drink yore fill and go ahead.
The bugs you drunk will soon be dead.

…Bruce Kiskaddon, June 2, 1936

We’re celebrating Bruce Kiskaddon all of this week.

Kiskaddon worked for ten years as a cowboy, starting in 1898, working in southeastern Colorado’s Picketwire area.

In Bill Siems’ “Shorty’s Yarns,” a collection of Kiskaddon’s short stories, he includes a 1938 note from the editor of the Western Livestock Journal, where many of Kiskaddon’s poems and stories were printed. He quotes the editor who refers to Kiskaddon’s own description of his early days:

“My first work with cattle was down in southwest Missouri. I was twelve years old. Four of us, all about the same age, were day herding a bunch of cows on what unfenced country there was around that place. We had quite a lot of room and at night we put them in an eighty acre pasture. We four kids worked at it all summer. We rode little Indian horses and went home at night. Not much cow punching, that’s a fact, but it was big business to us. The talk of opening the Indian territory for settlement had started, and already the open country was beginning to be occupied by boomers’ camps.” Read the entire piece here.

Noted reciter and popular performer Jerry Brooks chose this lesser known Kiskaddon poem to recite on the new triple-CD set, MASTERS: VOLUME THREE, the poems of Bruce Kiskaddon from CowboyPoetry.com. It was included in Kiskaddon’s 1947 Rhymes of the Ranges and Other Poems.

Find more about Jerry Brooks at cowboypoetry.com (it happens to be her birthday).

Find more about Kiskaddon in our features at CowboyPoetry.com.

This 2016 photo by Carol M. Highsmith, titled, “A pause that refreshes for this cow at Big Creek cattle ranch on the Colorado border, near the towns of Riverside and Encampment, in Carbon County, Wyoming,” is from the Gates Frontiers Fund Wyoming Collection within the Carol M. Highsmith Archive, The Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division. Find more here.

Find the collection here, where 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 here on Facebook at Carol M. Highsmith’s America.

(This poem and photograph are in the public domain.)

FORGOTTEN, by Bruce Kiskaddon

forgotten2019photo by Carol M. Highsmith

FORGOTTEN
by Bruce Kiskaddon (1878-1950)

Yes, he used to be a cow hoss
that was young and strong and fleet
Now he stands alone, forgotten,
in the winter snow and sleet.
Fer his eyes is dim and holler
and his head is turnin’ gray,
He has got too old to foller—
“Jest a hoss that’s had his day.”

They’ve forgotten how once he packed ‘em
at a easy swingin’ lope.
How he braced his sturdy shoulders
when he set back on a rope.
Didn’t bar no weight nor distance;
answered every move and word,
Though his sides were white with lather
while he held the millin’ herd.

Now he’s stiff and old and stumbles,
and he’s lost the strength and speed
That once took him through the darkness,
‘round the point of a stampede
And his legs is scarred and battered;
both the muscle and the bone.
He is jest a wore out cow hoss
so they’ve turned him out alone.

They have turned him out to winter
best he can amongst the snow.
There without a friend and lonesome,
Do you think he doesn’t know?
Through the hours of storm and darkness
he had time to think a lot.
That hoss may have been forgotten,
but you bet he aint forgot.

He stands still. He aint none worried,
fer he knows he’s played the game
He’s got nothin’ to back up from.
He’s been square and aint ashamed.
Fer no matter where they put him
he was game to do his share
Well, I think more of the pony
than the folks that left him there.

….from “Rhymes of the Ranges and Other Poems,” 1947

We’re celebrating Bruce Kiskaddon this week.

Frank King wrote, in his introduction to Kiskaddon’s 1924 book, Rhymes of the Ranges (this poem was in the later edition), “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… 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.”

Cowboy and poet Jesse Smith’s recitation of “Forgotten” is included on the new triple-CD set, MASTERS: VOLUME THREE, the poems of Bruce Kiskaddon” from CowboyPoetry.com.

Jesse Smith and the late Sunny Hancock collected their poems in a 2002 book, Horse Tracks Through the Sage, which is worth looking for. The late Larry McWhorter writes in an introduction, “…Sunny and Jesse are products of the old school who have been more miles on horseback before sunup or after sundown than most people have in broad daylight….When future generations seek to learn about the true cowboy life through the printed word, the poems and Sunny Hancock and Jesse Smith will be hard to ignore.” There are forewords by Baxter Black and Chris Isaacs.

Much of what is known about Kiskaddon and his work comes from Open Range,  Bill Siems’ monumental collection of Kiskaddon’s poetry. Bill Siems contributes a biographical introduction to Kiskaddon on MASTERS: Volume THREE.

Find more about Kiskaddon in features at CowboyPoetry.com.

This 2012 photograph, titled, “A lone horse in hill country near the American River at Coloma in El Dorado County, California,” is by Carol M.Highsmith (carolhighsmith.com) and included in the Jon B. Lovelace Collection of California Photographs in Carol M. Highsmith’s America Project, The Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division. Find more about this photograph here.

Find the collection here, where 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.”

This poem and photograph are in the public domain.

THE BRONCO TWISTER’S PRAYER, by Bruce Kiskaddon

kiskv3mastersx

THE BRONCO TWISTER’S PRAYER
by Bruce Kiskaddon (1878-1950)

It was a little grave yard
on the rolling foot hill plains:
That was bleached by the sun in summer,
swept by winter’s snows and rains;
There a little bunch of settlers
gathered on an autumn day
‘Round a home made lumber coffin,
with their last respects to pay.

Weary men that wrung their living
from that hard and arid land,
And beside them stood their women;
faded wives with toil worn hands.
But among us stood one figure
that was wiry, straight and trim.
Every one among us know him.
‘Twas the broncho twister, Jim.

Just a bunch of hardened muscle
tempered with a savage grit,
And he had the reputation
of a man that never quit.
He had helped to build the coffin,
he had helped to dig the grave;
And his instinct seemed to teach him
how he really should behave.

Well, we didn’t have a preacher,
and the crowd was mighty slim.
Just two women with weak voices
sang an old time funeral hymn.
That was all we had for service.
The old wife was sobbing there.
For her husband of a life time,
laid away without prayer.

She looked at the broncho twister,
then she walked right up to him.
Put one trembling arm around him and said,
“Pray. Please won’t you Jim?”
You could see his figure straighten,
and a look of quick surprise
Flashed across his swarthy features,
and his hard dare devil eyes.

He could handle any broncho,
and he never dodged a fight.
‘Twas the first time any body ever saw
his face turn white.
But he took his big sombrero
off his rough and shaggy head,
How I wish I could remember what
that broncho peeler said.

No, he wasn’t educated.
On the range his youth was spent.
But the maker of creation
know exactly what he meant.
He looked over toward the mountains
where the driftin’ shadows played.
Silence must have reined in heaven
when they heard the way Jim prayed.

Years have passed since that small funeral
in that lonely grave yard lot.
But it gave us all a memory, and a lot
of food for thought.
As we stood beside the coffin,
and the freshly broken sod,
With that reckless broncho breaker
talkin’ heart to heart with God.

When the prayer at last was over,
and the grave had all been filled,
On his rough, half broken pony,
he rode off toward the hills.
Yes, we stood there in amazement
as we watched him ride away,
For no words could ever thank him.
There was nothing we could say.
Since we gathered in that grave yard,
it’s been nearly fifty years.
With their joys and with their sorrows,
with their hopes and with their fears.
But I hope when I have finished,
and they lay me with the dead,
Some one says a prayer above me,
like that broncho twister said.

…from Bruce Kiskaddon’s Rhymes of the Ranges, 1924

It’s Cowboy Poetry Week, and what better classic poet is there for celebrating.

Bruce Kiskaddon worked as a cowboy from the time he was 19 until a serious accident about ten years later put an end to his riding. When he turned to writing he became known for his realistic works about cowboy and ranching life. Frank M. King, editor of The Western Livestock Journal, where many of his poems were printed, asserted that Kiskaddon was “the best cowboy poet who ever wrote a cowboy poem.”

“The Bronco Twister’s Prayer” was recited at Kiskaddon’s own funeral.

Oklahoma rancher, poet, reciter and songwriter Jay Snider has a fine recitation of “The Bronco Twister’s Prayer” on the new triple-CD set from CowboyPoetry.com, MASTERS: VOLUME THREE, the poetry of Bruce Kiskaddon.”

Voices from the past and from today’s top reciters and poets celebrate cowboy poetry’s popular classic poet in over 60 tracks on three CDs. Included is a biographical introduction to Bruce Kiskaddon by Bill Siems, whose monumental work, Open Range, collects almost all of Kiskaddon’s nearly 500 poems.

Find the track lists, order info, and more here.

Even better: For a $50 donation, you can receive a thank-you gift of this year’s poster with the art of Shawn Cameron and MASTERS: VOLUME THREE, the poems of Bruce Kiskaddon. You’ll also be helping to support the Center and ensure that its programs continue, including CowboyPoetry.com, Cowboy Poetry Week, and the Rural Library Program. Donations of any amount make a difference. Find more about how to be a part of it all here.

Find more of Kiskaddon’s poetry and more about him in features at cowboypoetry.com.

(This poem is in the public domain.)

MASTERS: VOLUME THREE, the poetry of Bruce Kiskaddon

kiskv3mastersx

photo of Bruce Kiskaddon licensed from the Aultman Collection, History Colorado

“These CDs are historic collections that will be appreciated for generations to come.” Charley Engel, “Chuckaroo the Buckaroo” of Calling All Cowboys radio

Praise for previous CDs from CowboyPoetry.com:

“The MASTERS of cowboy poetry series from CowboyPoetry.com showcases both the masters of writing Western poetic words and masters of delivering those words.  It just doesn’t get any better than that.” Rick Huff, Rick Huff’s Best of the West Reviews

“This album [MASTERS (2017)] represents four of the finest poets to ever come out of cowboy culture. We are not likely to see their kind again and the world should be grateful to Cowboypoetry.com for preserving their voices.” Andy Hedges, songster and host of COWBOY CROSSROADS

“…The annual anthology takes listeners on an oral excursion to places throughout the West, introducing them to colorful cowboy characters, explaining their connection to the land, and telling their tales of tough times and the rewards they receive from living the Western lifestyle…” Jennifer Denison, Senior Editor, Western Horseman

“The Center for Western and Cowboy Poetry’s annual anthologies are creating a valuable, high quality and thoroughly enjoyable resource for everyone…” Steve Green, Archivist, Western Folklife Center

“…without peer…intelligently produced… I equate them to one of those Ken Burns specials, like his Civil War, Jazz, or Baseball….the best of the best.” Rick Huff, Rick Huff’s Best of the West Reviews

“For those of us who love cowboy poetry, this is perhaps the best anthology we’ve yet heard.” Cowboy Magazine

The Center for Western and Cowboy Poetry produces compilation CDs of classic and contemporary poetry recitations. The CDs are offered to libraries in the Center’s Cowboy Poetry Week Rural Library project, given as premiums to the Center’s supporters, and available to the public.

kiskv3mastersx

Our thirteenth CD (following ten volumes of The BAR-D Roundup and two MASTERS volumes) is MASTERS: VOLUME THREE, the poetry of Bruce Kiskaddon (April 2019).

MASTERS: VOLUME THREE has over 60 tracks in a multi-disc CD of the poetry of Bruce Kiskaddon (1878-1950). Voices from the past and from today’s top reciters and poets celebrate cowboy poetry’s popular classic poet. Bill Siems, whose monumental work, Open Range, collects almost all of Kiskaddon’s nearly 500 poems, introduces the CD.

Bruce Kiskaddon (1878-1950)  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.

Find more about Kiskaddon at CowboyPoetry.com.

The MASTERS CD is dedicated to all those who proudly carry on the ranching tradition.

CPW_Cameron_Poster_2019_R1

The Center’s Cowboy Poetry Week celebration—recognized by unanimous U.S. Senate resolution—takes place each April during National Poetry Month. Each year, a compilation CD and the celebration’s poster (by Shawn Cameron in 2019) have been offered to libraries in the Center’s Rural Library Program. The outreach program is part of the Center’s commitment to serve rural communities and to preserve and promote our Western heritage.

The annual CD is a premium for our supporters and also available for purchase. Find information about past years’ CDs here.

We need your support to continue and expand these programs. Join us and be a part of it all.

bwseparator

Order information

The MASTERS CD  is available for $35 postpaid. Order with a credit card at Paypal or by mail:  CowboyPoetry.com, Box 1107, Lexington, VA 24450.

buynow

bwseparator

Below:

Track list and description
Acknowledgements

bwseparator

The over 60 tracks on three CDs begin with an biographical introduction to Bruce Kiskaddon by Bill Siems, whose monumental work, Open Range, collects almost all of Kiskaddon’s nearly 500 poems.

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.” Then poems that follow are, somewhat in this order: about cowboys and men; work; cattle; horses (and one mule); heavenly concerns; times gone by; quirky characters; gear; a ghost tale; and a few Christmas poems. Musician and top sound engineer Butch Hause offers a colorful radio PSA for the Center and Cowboy Poetry Week.

kiskv3mastersx

DISC ONE

1. ABOUT BRUCE KISKADDON Bill Siems
2. from LOOKING BACKWARD Randy Rieman
3. WHEN THEY’VE FINISHED SHIPPING CATTLE IN THE FALL Randy Rieman
4. THE BRONCHO TWISTER’S PRAYER Jay Snider
5. THE TIME TO DECIDE Andy Hedges
6. THE CREAK OF THE LEATHER Gary McMahan
7. ALONE Trey Allen (1971-2016)
8. AFTER THE FALL ROUNDUP Floyd Beard
9. BETWEEN THE LINES Jay Snider
10. THE DRIFTER Ol’ Jim Cathey
11. HE DIDN’T BELONG Rod Miller
12. IT MIGHT HAVE BEEN ME OR IT MIGHT HAVE BEEN YOU Ken Cook
13. THE LONG EARED BULL Ross Knox
14. THE OLD NIGHT HAWK Chris Isaacs
15. THE NEW MEXICO STRAY Dennis Russell
16. MICROBES Jerry Brooks
17. STARTIN’ OUT Gail Steiger
18. COW SENSE Deanna Dickinson McCall
19. THE COW AND THE CALF Amy Hale Auker
20. NOT SO SLOW Jessica Hedges
21. SHOVELING THE ICE OUT OF THE TROUGH Robert Dennis
22. THE LONG HORN SPEAKS Valerie Beard

DISC TWO

1. INTRODUCTORY Ken Cook
2. EARLY WORM Keith Ward
3. RIDIN’ FENCE Gail Steiger
4. FEEDIN’ TIME John Reedy
5. THEY CAN TAKE IT Baxter Black
6. THAT LITTLE BLUE ROAN J.B. Allen (1938-2005)
7. THE BELL MARE Brigid Reedy
8. FORGOTTEN Jesse Smith
9. WHEN YOU’RE THROWED Randy Rieman
10. WHEN HE COLD JAWS Duane Nelson
11. CAUGHT NAPPIN’ Keith Ward
12. PULLIN’ LEATHER Gary McMahan
13. ON FOOT Kathy Moss
14. HER COLT Susie Knight
15. THE ARMY MULE Kay Kelley Nowell
16. THE GENTLE HOSS Tom Swearingen
17. THE OLD COW PONY Dick Morton
18. WHEN CONNORS RODE REP FOR THE LORD Ross Knox
19. JUDGMENT DAY DW Groethe
20. THE COW BOY’S DREAM Waddie Mitchell

DISC THREE

1. AN OLD WESTERN TOWN Randy Rieman
2. THE MEDICINE SHOW Andy Hedges
3. THEN AND NOW Andy Nelson
4. PROGRESS Dale Page
5. THE BRANDIN’ CORRAL Almeda Bradshaw
6. AUGERIN’ Smoke Wade
7. THE MAN ON THE FENCE Bill Siems
8. A COWBOY’S BRAINS Sunny Hancock (1931-2003)
9. DRINKIN’ WATER Jarle Kvale
10. WET BOOTS Johnny Reedy
11. ALKALI IKE’S ZIPPERS Rusty McCall (1986-2013)
12. WORKIN’ IT OVER David McCall
13. THE LOST FLANNINS Terry Nash
14. HER MAN Susie Knight
15. GHOST CANYON TRAIL Rex Rideout

CHRISTMAS POEMS
16. CHRISTMAS AT THE HOME RANCH Keith Ward
17. THE OLD TIME CHRISTMAS Linda Kirkpatrick
18. MERRY CHRISTMAS (1933) Gail Steiger

19. CENTER FOR WESTERN AND COWBOY POETRY RADIO PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT (PSA) Butch Hause

bwseparator

Thanks to the poets, reciters, and families and to Bill Siems, Andy Hedges, Margaret Allen, Jeffrey Hancock, the McCall family, the Western Folklife Center, the Cowboy Crossroads podcast, History Colorado, Andy Nelson and Clear Out West (C.O.W.) radio, Totsie Slover and The Real West from the Old West radio, and Chris Kirby. Produced by Margo Metegrano and compiled and mastered by Butch Hause at the Ranger Station Studio, Berthoud, Colorado, all with generous funding support from Laura and Edmund Wattis Littlefield, Jr., the Margaret T. Morris Foundation, and our community’s all-important sustaining donors.

Photograph of Bruce Kiskaddon licensed from the Aultman Collection, History Colorado.

THE BRANDIN’ CORRAL, by Bruce Kiskaddon

brandincorralx

 

THE BRANDIN’ CORRAL
by Bruce Kiskaddon (1878-1950)

When the west was all onsettled
and there wasn’t no bob wire,
They had a way of workin’
that was sumpthin’ to admire.
Every thing was done on hoss back,
and I’ve heard old timers talk
How the kids in cattle countries
didn’t hardly learn to walk.

They worked cattle in the open,
and they laid ’em on the ground.
It was cuttin’, flankin’, ropin’,
and a tyin’ critters down.
But the present cattle raiser
aint so strong fer that idee,
And he has a way of workin’
that’s as different as can be.

‘Taint so hard on men and hosses,
and it’s better for cow brutes
When you got a place to work ’em
in corrals and brandin’ chutes.
When we heard of brandin’ fluid,
fust we took it fer a joke.
Jest to think of brandin’ cattle
when you couldn’t smell no smoke.

Well a feller caint deny it
that the new way is the best,
Fer there’s been a heap of changes
in the ranges of the west,
Most of the outfits then was bigger,
and a cow was jest a cow,
And they didn’t stop to figger things
as close as they do now.

…Bruce Kiskaddon, July, 1935

This image is another original Los Angeles Stockyards calendar page from over eighty years ago, July, 1935.

Almeda Bradshaw recites this poem on the forthcoming MASTERS: VOLUME THREE, the poetry of Bruce Kiskaddon. The CD has over 60 tracks, in which voices from the past and from today’s top reciters and poets celebrate cowboy poetry’s popular classic poet. It will be released next week, for the 18th annual Cowboy Poetry Week.

Find more about Almeda Bradshaw, who has interpreted other poetry, including the works of Rhoda Sivell (1874-1962) and tours as a Western Americana/Roots songwriter, singer, and musician at almedam2bmusic.com.

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.

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. Bill Siems also collected Bruce Kiskaddon’s short stories in a book called Shorty’s Yarns. He introduces the new MASTERS: VOLUME THREE, the poetry of Bruce Kiskaddon with information about the poet’s life and work.

Find more poetry and more about Bruce Kiskaddon in features at CowboyPoetry.com.

This poem is in the public domain. The calendar page is from the BAR-D collection.