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.)

THE GENTLE HOSS by Bruce Kiskaddon (1878-1950)

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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.

A WET ROPE, by Bruce Kiskaddon (1878-1950)

wetrope

A WET ROPE
by Bruce Kiskaddon (1878-1950)

I will bet all your life you will never forget
The trouble you’ve had with a rope that was wet.
One day when your hoss was rode down to a walk
You cornered a gentle hoss close to a rock.

You throwed, but your rope was as stiff as a hoop.
So he just downed his head and backed out of the loop.
He was foxy. As soon as he saw the rope fall,
He just pulled out from there and he left you. That’s all.

That time you run onto an old moss horn steer
You’d been aimin’ to lead out fer over a year.
He was in some rough country just close to the valley,
You throwed and you ketched him and tried for a dally.

But the saddle and rope was both wet and you missed.
You blistered your fingers and battered your fist.
There was no chance. The ground was all muddy and slick,
And a wet muddy rope doesn’t tangle so quick.

Yes I reckon that you can remember a lot,
But it makes you so mad that it’s better forgot.

…Bruce Kiskaddon

Things have changed a bit in the 65 years since Bruce Kiskaddon’s poem was printed in the Los Angeles Union Stock Yards calendar, but it’s easy to imagine the scene.

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.

A 2017 article in a Western Horseman blog by William Reynolds focuses on Kiskaddon, and describes Kiskaddon’s style as, “…uniquely unromantic and undoubtedly authentic.”

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 poem is in the public domain.)

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

brandincorral

 

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.

Times change. It brings to mind cowboy and rancher Ken Cook’s contemporary poem, “The Conversation“:

What has not changed ol’ cowboy friend”
Since you was young and men were men?”
….

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

 

THE EARLY WORM by Bruce Kiskaddon (1878-1950)

earlyworm

 

THE EARLY WORM
by Bruce Kiskaddon (1878-1950)

You git into yore soggy clothes
and go outside the door,
It’s been a rainin’ all night long;
it rained the night before.
It sets a hand to thinkin’
of the sayin’ he has heard
How he ort to git up early,
and be the early bird.

And shore enough you see a bird
a pullin’ out some worms.
The end that’s fast shore stretches,
and the other end shore squirms.
And it puts a different meanin’
on the sayin’ you have heard.
The worm ain’t never mentioned.
You jest hear about the bird.

Now the folks that own the outfit
are a restin’ warm in bed.
While the foreman and the cow boys
must git out and go ahead.
You wish fer yore tobacker,
and you use some awful words.
The hands and foreman is the worms,
the owner is the bird.

And you git a different idee
what you might be really worth.
And then you wonder what you’ll be
yore second time on earth.
You will likely be an inseck,
or some onimportant germ
Because you know this time on earth,
yore nothin’ but a worm.

…by Bruce Kiskaddon, 1939

A good Monday morning poem, for all the worms out there.

This poem, illustrated by Katherine Field (1908-1951), first appeared in 1939 in the Western Livestock Journal and on the Los Angeles Union Stock Yards calendar. It was reprinted in 1956.

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.