Bruce Kiskaddon

Cowboy Poems by Bruce Kiskaddon, 1878-1950...

Bruce Kiskaddon worked for tap Duncan, owner of the Diamond Bar Ranch. He wrote about the ranch and in doing so started cowboy poetry:

In 1915 cowboy poets were not popular but he was encouraged by Tap. The Los Angeles Times published his works for 30 years. “Rhymes and Ranches” published in 1947 is about Tap and Diamond Bar Ranch. Bruce became one of the most famous Cowboy Poets.

While at Diamond Bar Ranch, Kisskaddon lived the life of a true American Cowboy. He was a wrangler, roper, and rider who suffered through all kinds of inhospitable weather... scorching desert heat and mind-numbing cold. He did not embellish the life of a Cowboy, just tells it like it is. He re-creates the historic world of the American frontier of the late 19th and early 20th century.

Bruce Kiskaddon was born in the state of Pennsylvania in the year 1878. He began his ranch life at the age of 20 in the district called Picket Wire, cowboy pronunciation of Purgatory where the Purgatory River runs in southern Colorado.

In this book “Rhymes of the Ranges and Other Poems” Kiskaddon writes of his work on our ranch, the Diamond Bar in Mohave County, Arizona. The encouragement he received from “Tap” Duncan to put his songs, verses and jingles into writing.

Introduction to “Rhymes of the Ranges:”

These are just a few rhymes of old friends and old times,

And I hope before I am through –

Just once in a while they will bring a broad smile,

To the face of some old buckaroo.

Wherever he worked in the days that are past,

On the mountain, the plain or the valley,

What matters is now if he tied hard and fast,

Or tumbled his steer with a dally.

If he wrangled the bunch, if he rode gentle strings,

If he topped off the wild ones that shimmy –

If he rode with his leathers through centre fire rings,

Or sat on a double-rigged rimmy.

If he worked for big outfits far out on the plains,

Where they never had use for a packer,

Or back in the hills in the snow and the rains,

With the regular old greasy sacker.

If he worked as a drifter and trusted to luck,

If he managed a bunch of his own;

If he cooked at the wagon and put up the chuck,

Or held down a line camp alone.

They are plain simple tales, of the round-ups and trails,

When he worked on the range with the cattle;

Not of wild woolly nights, nor of gambling hall fights,

But the days and the nights in the saddle.

When They’ve Finished Shipping Cattle in the Fall

Though you’re not exactly blue,

Yet you don’t feel like you do

In the winter, or the long hot summer days.

For your feelin’s and the weather

Seem to sort of go together,

And you’re quiet in the dreamy autumn haze.

When the last big steer is goaded

Down the chute, and safely loaded;

And the summer crew has ceased to hit the ball;

When a fellow starts to draggin’

To the home ranch with the wagon —

When they’ve finished shipping cattle in the fall.

Only two men left a standin’

On the job for winter brandin’,

And your pardner, he’s a loafing by your side.

With a bran-new saddle creakin’,

But you never hear him speakin’,

And you feel it’s goin’ to be a quiet ride.

But you savvy one another

For you know him like a brother—

He is friendly but he’s quiet, that is all;

For he’ thinkin’ while he’s draggin’

To the home ranch with the wagon—

When they’ve finished shippin’ cattle in the fall.

And the saddle hosses stringin’

At an easy walk a swingin’

In behind the old chuck wagon movin’ slow.

They are weary gaunt and jaded

With the mud and brush they’ve waded,

And they settled down to business long ago.

Not a hoss is feelin’ sporty,

Not a hoss is actin’ snorty;

In the spring the brutes was full of buck and bawl;

But they ’re gentle, when they’re draggin’

To the home ranch with the wagon —

When they’ve finished shippin’ cattle in the fall.

And the cook leads the retreat

Perched high upon his wagon seat,

With his hat pulled ’way down furr’wd on his head.

Used to make that old team hustle,

Now he hardly moves a muscle,

And a feller might imagine he was dead,

’Cept his old cob pipe is smokin’

As he lets his team go pokin’,

Hittin’ all the humps and hollers in the road.

No, the cook has not been drinkin’—

He’s just settin’ there and thinkin’

’Bout the places and the people that he knowed

And you watch the dust a trailin’

And two little clouds a sailin’,

And a big mirage like lakes and timber tall.

And you’re lonesome when you’re draggin’

To the home ranch with the wagon—

When they’ve finished shippin’ cattle in the fall.

When you make the camp that night,

Though the fire is burnin’ bright,

Yet nobody seems to have a lot to say,

In the spring you sung and hollered,

Now you git your supper swallered

And you crawl into your blankets right away.

Then you watch the stars a shinin’

Up there in the soft blue linin’

And you sniff the frosty night air clear and cool.

You can hear the night hoss shiftin’

As your memory starts driftin’

To the little village where you went to school.

With its narrow gravel streets

And the kids you used to meet,

And the common where you used to play baseball.

Now you’re far away and draggin’

To the home ranch with the wagon

For they’ve finished shippin’ cattle in the fall.

And your school-boy sweetheart too,

With her eyes of honest blue—

Best performer in the old home talent show.

You were nothin’ but a kid

But you liked her, sure you did—

Lord! And that was over thirty years ago.

Then your memory starts to roam

From Old Mexico to Nome.

From the Rio Grande to the Powder River,

Of the things you seen and done—

Some of them was lots of fun

And a lot of other things they make you shiver.

’Bout that boy by name of Reid

That was killed in a stampede—

’Twas away up north, you helped ’em dig his grave,

And your old friend Jim the boss

That got tangled with a hoss,

And the fellers couldn’t reach in time to save.

You was there when Ed got his’n—

Boy that killed him’s still in prison,

And old Lucky George, he’s rich and livin’ high.

Poor old Tom, he come off worst,

Got his leg broke, died of thirst

Lord but that must be an awful way to die.

Then them winters at the ranches,

And the old time country dances—

Everybody there was sociable and gay.

Used to lead ’em down the middle

Jest a prancin’ to the fiddle—

Never thought of goin’ home till the break of day.

No! there ain’t no chance for sleepin’,

For the memories come a creepin’,

And sometimes you think you hear the voices call;

When a feller starts a draggin’

To the home ranch with the wagon—

When they’ve finished shippin’ cattle in the fall.