WET BOOTS, by Bruce Kiskaddon

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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.

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.

It’s Cowboy Poetry Week!

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Let the 18th annual Cowboy Poetry Week begin!

Poets, musicians, libraries, and others have planned events, exhibits, and
more. States’ governors have proclaimed the week. Find the latest in Cowboy Poetry Week news.

We’re honored to have the beautiful work of Shawn Cameron, “Making Plans,” as the image for this year’s poster. Later this week there will be poems inspired by this painting, in Art Spur.

This year’s audio compilation, the 3-CD set, MASTERS: VOLUME THREE, the poems of Bruce Kiskaddon, is now available. Over 60 tracks with voices from the past and from today’s top reciters and poets celebrate cowboy poetry’s popular classic poet, Bruce Kiskaddon (1878-1950).

Hundreds of rural libraries across the West have received this year’s poster and an invitation for the CD for their collections, through Cowboy Poetry Week’s outreach Rural Library Program.

Posters are never sold, but, in addition to going to libraries, they are given to supporters of The Center for Western and Cowboy Poetry. For a $50 donation, you can receive a thank-you gift of the poster and MASTERS: VOLUME THREE, the poems of Bruce Kiskaddon. You’ll also be joining the community that helps 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.

All of the work of the Center is made possible by its generous community of individual supporters, sponsors, and program funders. Find them all here. If you appreciate the work of the Center, thank them, and why not join them and be a part of the BAR-D?

Find more about Cowboy Poetry Week here.

Thanks for joining us here. Stay tuned this week for some of the best-of-the-best poetry postings.

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MASTERS: VOLUME THREE, the poetry of Bruce Kiskaddon

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Below:

Track list and description
Acknowledgements

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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.

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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

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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

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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.

FEEDIN’ TIME by Bruce Kiskaddon

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FEEDIN’ TIME
by Bruce Kiskaddon, 1878-1950

You are warm in the cabin, and doin’ yore cookin’.
But you know that yore hosses are there, without lookin’.
It’s ‘long about time they come in to be fed,
And to be put away fer the night in the shed.

Both hosses and mules seem to have their own way
Of tellin’ exactly the time of the day.
And I’ve noticed besides they don’t often get lost,
Like some human bein’s you’ve happened acrosst.

Yore feet is so warm that you don’t like to go
And git yore boots wet, wadin”round in the snow.
But it’s feed makes ’em stout, and it’s feed brings ’em back;
So you pull on your boots, and you start makin’ tracks.

You pull down yore hat and you turn up yore collar.
You start fer the shed and the hosses both foller.
They are glad to see you, and I’ve generally found,
A man don’t git so lonesome with hosses around.

…by Bruce Kiskaddon

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.

This impressive photograph was made by John Reedy, Montana photographer, songwriter, musician, and poet. John recites this poem on the forthcoming MASTERS: VOLUME THREE, the poetry of Bruce Kiskaddon from CowboyPoetry.com, to be released in late April for Cowboy Poetry Week.

John and Heather Reedy’s daughter Brigid and son Johnny “Guitar” Reedy, popular performers at cowboy poetry gatherings, also have recitations on the forthcoming CD.

Find more about the CD, including the complete track list, here.

You can receive a CD and the Cowboy Poetry Week Poster for a donation of $50 or more to the Center for Western and Cowboy Poetry. Find more and a quick link for donating here.

CDs will likely be $35 postpaid. Posters are never sold.

See more impressive photography at John Reedy’s site and find more about him at Cowboypoetry.com and twistedcowboy.com.

Find more in the Kiskaddon features at CowboyPoetry.com.

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

WHEN CONNORS RODE REP FOR THE LORD, by Bruce Kiskaddon

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WHEN CONNORS RODE REP FOR THE LORD
by Bruce Kiskaddon (1878-1950)

One time they was givin’ a big work for souls.
They was plum over stocked so they say.
The owners all over that section was told
To come and help take ’em away.

The Devil he come and brought with him three hands
That was nearly as smart as their boss.
The was there representin’ the old Pitch Fork brand
Buck Connors was there for the Cross.

All three of them hands and the Devil was wise.
They thought they was runnin’ things, but,
Buck Connors he pulled his hat down to his eyes
And rode in and started the cut.

All four of them fellers sez never a word,
They figgered they might git a break.
They watch everything that come out of the herd,
But Buck never made a mistake.

When he finished his cut he rode up to the boss
And he sez, “Well I reckon I’m through.
I got everything that belong to the Cross
And I’m turnin’ it over to you.”

So the throw back went home to the ranch in the sky
And the Devil he never once scored.
Not even Old Satan hisself could get by
When Buck Connors rode rep for the Lord.

…Bruce Kiskaddon, from Rhymes of the Ranges and Other Poems (1947)
While putting this post together, the identity of Buck Connors (1880-1947) came to light. Buck Connors was an actor and narrated a popular Tim McCoy serial. The site at b-westerns.com/villan74.htm tells, “Buck was an Episcopal chaplain or minister—or, at least someone with deep religious beliefs. He was the chaplain of the 1930’s ‘Riding Actors Association of Hollywood,’ an early attempt at unionizing riders, stuntmen, etc. who desired safer working conditions as well as higher wages. He also did chaplain duties with the ‘Chuck Wagon Trailers,’ a group of western film heroes, character and support players who assembled a few times a year for a BBQ and to remember the ol’ days.”

When asked, Kiskaddon expert Bill Siems agreed that it was without a doubt that Connors is the man of the poem, and said that Kiskaddon, too, was a member of Chuck Wagon Trailers, as was Frank King, the Western Livestock Journal insider who brought Kiskaddon into the publication.

Noted reciter Ross Knox has a great rendition of this poem on his Make Me a Cowboy Again for a Day CD. He introduces it, commenting that there are a number of Kiskaddon poems that are “phenomenal pieces of work” that aren’t heard much.

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.

So much of what we know 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.

Ross Knox’s recitation of “When Connors Rode Rep for the Lord” and of another more obscure Kiskaddon poem, along with introduction to Kiskaddon by Bill Siems, are part of CowboyPoetry.com’s forthcoming triple-CD, MASTERS: VOLUME THREE, the poems of Bruce Kiskaddon, to be released in late April for Cowboy Poetry Week.

You can receive a CD and the Cowboy Poetry Week Poster for a donation of $50 or more to the Center for Western and Cowboy Poetry. Find more and a quick link for donating.

CDs will likely be $35 postpaid. Posters are never sold.

Find more about Ross Knox at cowboypoetry.com/rossknox.htm and see a recent video from Western Horseman by Jennifer Denison and Katie Frank here.

(This poem is in the public domain. The photo of Bruce Kiskaddon on the cover of MASTERS: VOLUME THREE, the poems of Bruce Kiskaddon, is licensed from the Aultman Collection, History Colorado.)