WHEN YOU CHEEK HIM by Bruce Kiskaddon (1878-1950)

kiskcheek

WHEN YOU CHEEK HIM
by Bruce Kiskaddon (1878-1950)

You caint figger out what a broncho will do
He is bound to start trouble before you git through.
He might rair and fall backwards, and maybe he’ll run,
And maybe he’ll buck like a son of a gun.

Sometimes he may jest go a trottin’ around,
And there’s chances ag’in he might grunt and lay down.
He might go hog wild and shore beller and brawl,
And sometimes he will sulk and he won’t go atall.

You pull up your belt and you pull your hat tight,
Fer it shore sets a feller to thinkin’ allright.
But it isn’t no time to git skeery or weak,
When you grab the old horn and the hacamore cheek.

You make up your mind you will stay there and ride
If he bucks till the brand slips a foot on his hide,
For the worst time in ridin’ a broncho, I’ve found,
Is when your last foot is jest leavin’ the ground.

…by Bruce Kiskaddon

This poem appeared in the Los Angeles Union Stockyards calendar in February, 1936, along with its illustration by Katherine Field (1908- 1951).

According to Bill Siems’ Open Range, which includes almost all of  Kiskaddon’s nearly 500 poems, Frank M. King wrote an article about Katherine Field in the July 12, 1938 issue of Western Livestock Journal. King tells that she was a “natural,” without any formal training. He also writes of Kiskaddon and calls him a “natural” as well. He comments,
“Bruce is an old cowhand who just naturally thinks in rhymes. He never took no poem lessons, nor for that matter not many of any other sort of lessons, but he’s got ’em all tied to a snubbin’ post when it comes to building cowboy and range poetry…”

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

Look for our MASTERS: VOLUME THREE CD of Kiskaddon poetry in the spring.

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

DRINKIN’ WATER, by Bruce Kiskaddon (1878-1950)

drinkin

DRINKIN’ WATER
by Bruce Kiskaddon (1878-1950)

When a feller comes to a pond or a tank,
It is better to ride out a ways from the bank.
Fer the water is clearer out there as a rule,
And besides it is deep and a little more cool.

And out toward deep water, you notice somehow,
You miss a whole lot of that flavor of cow.
You can dip up a drink with the brim of yore hat,
And water makes purty good drinkin’ at that.

You mebby spill some down the front of yore shirt,
But any old waddy knows that it doesn’t hurt.
There may be some bugs and a couple insecks
But it all goes the same down a cow puncher’s neck.

I know there is plenty of folks would explain
Why such water had ort to be filtered or strained.
Sech people as that never suffered from thirst.
Or they’d think of that later and drink it down first.

…by Bruce Kiskaddon, 1938

This poem seems a good follow-up to Waddie Mitchell’s “Story with a Moral.”

The poem, with its illustration by Katherine Field (1908-1951), appeared in the Los Angeles Union Stock Yards calendar and the Western Livestock Journal in 1938. The next year, it was included in “A Souvenir from ‘The Trading Post’ Golden Gate International Competition” (San Francisco, 1939).

We know these details thanks to the work of Bill Siems, who collected almost all of Kiskaddon’s nearly 500 poems and much information about him in his 2006 book, “Open Range.” Find more about Kiskaddon and more about Siems’ book at CowboyPoetry.com in our Kiskaddon features.

Wheaton Hale Brewer wrote, in his foreword to Bruce Kiskaddon’s 1935 Western Poems book, “…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 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.”

We’re looking forward to bringing you a new recording, MASTERS: Volume Three, the poetry of Bruce Kiskaddon in 2019. The CD will be offered to rural libraries in Cowboy Poetry Week’s Rural Library Project, along with the 2019 Western art poster. Find more about the MASTERS recordings here.

(This poem is in the public domain. The calendar page is from the CowboyPoetry.com collection.)

STRINGIN’ ALONG, by Bruce Kiskaddon (1878-1950)

stringinalong

STRINGIN’ ALONG
Bruce Kiskaddon (1878-1950)

It’s nice to see a herd of cattle travelin’ in a string
With the riders workin’ easy on the point and on the swing.
If you keep the cattle stringin’ you can walk ’em quite a ways
But if you let ’em spread or bunch they’ll settle down and graze.

And if you keep a herd strung out there’s not so many lags,
And you ain’t makin’ distance if you have to “chouse the drags.”
The man that’s ridin’ on the lead should regalate the pace,
Then every critter mighty soon will find himself a place.

Any time they git to spreadin’ and you want ’em narrowed in;
If you take a lope up forward, then come walkin’ back ag’in.
If you meet your stragglers facin’, at a slow and easy walk,
It’s more good than all the racin’ and a lot of noisy talk.

And every critter gits his place you mighty soon will find
Where he ain’t afraid of critters that’s a walkin’ just behind.
If a man would think and reason he could see the way it feels
If some critter he is skeered of was a trompin’ on his heels.

Now there’s not much cattle trailin’ on the hills and on the plains.
They move the stock in motor trucks and on the railroad trains.
But I think of men and hosses and the trails I used to know,
When we moved a lot of cattle over fifty years ago.

…by Bruce Kiskaddon

The next MASTERS CD from CowboyPoetry.com will feature the works of Kiskaddon. If you recite (or know of a recitation) of one of the lesser known Kiskaddon poems, email editor@cowboypoetry.com with suggestions for consideration.

Bruce Kiskaddon wrote many poems informed by his decade of cowboying.  Some of those poems are still heard often at gatherings today. There are many more (he published nearly 500) good poems that are not as well known. Some of the poems, like this one, have a degree of nostalgia.

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. Find more in the Kiskaddon features at CowboyPoetry.com.

This photograph is from ranchers and poets Valerie Beard and Floyd Beard. Valerie comments on the photograph, titled “On to Greener Pastures”:

We were helping the family move the cows that were calving later to another pasture where there would be more feed. It was such a beautiful day in beautiful country in the canyons of Southeastern Colorado.

Find more about Valerie and Floyd at floydbeardcowboy.com.

The photo was the featured image for a 2017 National Day of the Cowboy
Art Spur” at CowboyPoetry.com.

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

SUMMER TIME by Bruce Kiskaddon (1878-1950)

kisksummertime

 

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.

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.)

THE GENTLE HOSS by Bruce Kiskaddon (1878-1950)

img426

THE GENTLE HOSS
by Bruce Kiskaddon (1878-1950)

Of all the things you come across, the best one is a gentle hoss.
A man don’t have to git a rope and ketch him on the flyin’ lope,
And mebby have to ear him down, and git all shook and jerked around.
And mebbyso git kicked or throwed before he gits the critter rode.

A gentle hoss is shore a pal. You walk into the hoss corral,
You take yore bridle in your hand and he’s so gentle that he’ll stand.
He doesn’t fight the bit aytall, and when you put on the head stall,
He doesn’t seem to have no fears. He knows you won’t rough up his ears.

He doesn’t fret and fight and fuss, like some ill tempered onery cuss.
He’s with you all the long day through to help with what you have to do.
And any time you rope and tie, he’ll hold the slack and shore stand by.
In case you’re workin’ on the ground, jest drop the reins, he’ll stick around.

Jest think the time and work he saves; this gentle pony that behaves.
A cow boy mighty soon will find he’s worth three of the other kind.
He wants to work and do his share and never quits you any where.
Of all the things you come across, the best one is a gentle hoss.

…Bruce Kiskaddon, 1936

Thanks to Oregon poet Tom Swearingen for recently mentioning this poem. As posted last week, the next MASTERS CD from CowboyPoetry.com will feature the works of Kiskaddon. If you recite (or know of a recitation) of one of the lesser known Kiskaddon poems, email editor@cowboypoetry.com with suggestions for consideration.

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

As we’ve told in the past, we know these details thanks to the work of Bill Siems, who collected almost all of Kiskaddon’s nearly 500 poems and much information about him in his 2006 book, Open Range.

Kiskaddon and artist Katherine Field collaborated on works for the Los Angeles Union Stockyards calendar and the Western Livestock Journal from 1936 to 1942, when she had to stop working to take care of her ailing parents and her children. In 1949 they renewed their partnership. Kiskaddon died in 1950 and had written six-months’ worth of poems in advance. Field illustrated them all before her own death in 1951.The two never met in person.

Find more about Kiskaddon and more about Siems’ book at CowboyPoetry.com in our Kiskaddon features.

(This poem is in the public domain. The calendar page is from the CowboyPoetry.com collection.)

THE SUMMER STORM, by Bruce Kiskaddon (1878-1950)

summerstormx

 

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

 

Do you recite (or know of a recitation) of one of the lesser known Kiskaddon poems? The next MASTERS CD from CowboyPoetry.com will feature the works of Kiskaddon. Email us with suggestions for consideration.

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.

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

THE RAIN by Bruce Kiskaddon (1878-1950)

Racing-Sundown_1024x1024 (1)

© Tim Cox,  “Racing Sundown”

 

THE RAIN
by Bruce Kiskaddon (1878-1950)

It ain’t so very pleasant when the rain is pourin’ down,
And a hoss cain’t even hurry on the wet and muddy ground,
For the rain has done and got you lots of miles from anywhere,
So it ain’t no use to hurry fer it wouldn’t git you there.

So you jest hump up and take it as you ride across the flat,
While your clothes is wet and soakin’ and the rain runs off your hat.
You git cold acrost the shoulders and your back is gittin’ wet.
And there’s quite a bit of moisture in the saddle where you set.

And it sorter sets you thinkin’ of the folks that live in town.
They go indoors when it’s rainin’, all they do it set around.
But the man that punches cattle doesn’t get a break like that.
There ain’t no roof on a saddle; he lives onderneath his hat.

When a cowboy hits bad weather he shore makes some solemn vows
That he’s through a poundin’ leather and he’s through a punchin’ cows.
Yes, he does a heap of growlin’ but it doesn’t mean a lot
Fer a rain don’t hurt him any and it’s mighty soon forgot.

And it eases up his feelin’s fer to make a little talk,
But he knows it’s good fer paster and it’s mighty good for stock.
And, to tell the truth, it’s funny WHY a waddy talks like that
When it makes the bosses money and it keeps his hosses fat.

So he ort to stop and figger he is there to earn his pay,
And there ain’t no job a goin’ that is pleasant every way.
But he knows without no tellin’ if a job was only fun
Folks would pay to git to do it, ‘stead of pay to git it done.

…Bruce Kiskaddon, 1936

In his introduction to Kiskaddon’s 1924 book, “Rhymes of the Ranges,” Frank King wrote, “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.” Find more in the Kiskaddon features at CowboyPoetry.com.

This great painting by Tim Cox, “Racing Sundown,” is a fun contrast to this poem. It’s available in a number of formats here.

One of today’s most visible and most popular Western artists who has earned countless awards, his bio tells that, “Tim is a fourth generation Arizonan born in 1957 and raised in the farming and ranching community of Duncan, Arizona near the New Mexico state line.” Find more at timcox.com and also at the Cowboy Artists of America site.

Thanks to Suzie Cox and Tim Cox for their permissions.

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