cowsjlk“Cows,” © 2017, Jo Lynne Kirkwood; request permission for use


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 from “Western Poems,” 1935

This drawing, titled “Cows,” by Utah teacher, poet, artist, and storyteller Jo Lynne Kirkwood is the 2019-2020 Winter/Christmas Art Spur, the 51st Art Spur subject from In Art Spur, poets and songwriters are invited to let selections of  Western art inspire their poetry and songs.

Art Spur submissions may be Winter- or Christmas-themed. All Christmas poems (Art Spur or not) are welcome through Thursday, December 19, 2020. Winter-themed Art Spur poems are welcome through Tuesday, January 14, 2020. Find more here.

Jo Lynne Kirkwood creates an impressive hand-crafted Christmas card each year, and this was her drawing for the cover of her 2017 card, accompanied by her poem, “Cattle at Christmas (or) Homage to Fake News.”

She has a fine book that collects her poetry, “Old Houses,” and recordings. Find more about her at

South Dakota rancher, poet, and musician Robert Dennis recites “Shoveling Ice Out of the Trough” on this year’s triple CD from, MASTERS: VOLUME THREE, the poetry of Bruce Kiskaddon  (think Christmas giving!).

Much of what is known about Bruce Kiskaddon and his work comes from “Open Range,” Bill Siems’ monumental collection of Kiskaddon’s poetry. Find more in the Kiskaddon features at

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