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About Bruce Roseland
The Last Buffalo
A Prairie Prayer
Contacting Bruce Roseland



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About Bruce Roseland

Bruce Roseland was born in 1951 in central South Dakota, where he has spent his entire life except for attending college. After two and a half years at South Dakota State University in Brookings, and a year and a half at the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks, he obtained a bachelor’s degree, then remained at UND to pursue a master’s degree, which he received in 1980.  About that time, however, he made the decision to return to the family farm and become the fourth generation operator of it. He and his wife Barbara (Logan), who is from Devils Lake, North Dakota, have spent their lives and raised their two sons, Aaron and Adam, on the home place in Seneca, South Dakota, which includes the original homestead site of Bruce’s great-grandparents, G.T. and Elizabeth Roseland.

Since winning the Wrangler award from the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City for “outstanding poetry book of 2006” (The Last Buffalo) Bruce continues to write, as time permits, and continues the daily, sometimes hectic, operation of the ranch.

Bruce Roseland had a second volume of poetry, entitled A Prairie Prayer, published by The North Dakota Institute for Regional Studies at NDSU in Fargo, North Dakota, in April of 2008. It includes illustrations and a cover design by Rapid City, South Dakota artist Marie Louise Tesch.



 Just Another Day at the Ranch 

Branding Cattle

Premature Calf

Remember Me

Prairie Prayer

The Staff of Life

The Tale of Two Seasons


Just Another Day at the Ranch 

The calf was being presented

upside down and backwards.

Experienced vets say, “Rotate,”

a difficult maneuver at best.

But if you try pulling calves out the wrong way

they just don’t come.

So I pushed the legs back

into the womb,

twisting and turning,

trying to get what was wrong

back to right.

Finally the legs pointed the right way

for a wrongway breach calf,

a hard pull from the get go.

The cow went down

as I pulled the calf through the birth canal

and I heard and felt something snap.

Dead on delivery,

a big one, at that.

I should have done better.

But another cow had just calved a set of twins.

I would split them

to give this cow a second chance.

I picked up my stuff

and threw the puller over the gate,

but somehow in the toss

my left index finger got ripped up.

Bleeding badly, I stuck my hand

under a cold running hydrant in the barn.

Crouching down, cold water running over a hurting finger,

a cow down in the headgate,

a dead calf on the straw,

I could only hope no neighbor,

friend, or stranger would show up.

Nothing I wanted to explain or discuss.

I wrapped up my finger,

dragged the dead calf out of the barn,

got the cow up and out of the headgate,

penned her with her foster calf,

had my supper and went to bed.

Next day the mother and calf

walked out together

like they were meant for each other.

© 2006, Bruce Roseland, from The Last Buffalo
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's permission


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Branding Cattle            

Branding cattle sounds like Western mystique.
It's more like a dirty chore.
The brand I use is electric,
plugged into the end of a 100-foot cord.
Each animal is caught in a headgate,
bouncing and banging
against the chute walls.
The iron hits the hairy hide
in a big puff of heavy smoke,
burning my eyes.
I try to breathe
in the in-betweens.
Only then can I see
what I'm burning,
trying to put something readable
on a half-grown cow jumping up and down.
Like  bushels of grain
most cattle look the same.
but if they roam
a brand helps them find
their way back home.

© 2006, Bruce Roseland, from The Last Buffalo
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's permission


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Premature Calf 

If the head lifts up
and the body flops around
soon after being born,
no plaintive bawling
coming from deep inside,
that’s a good sign.
A newborn calf, especially a premature calf,
should be silent and breathing easy.
A row of front teeth, even if just nubs,
all of these are good signs.
Some want to live,
some don’t seem to care.
The ones that do,
fight to get to their feet,
their backs a straight line,
a light in their eyes.
Bunting and nuzzling around
looking for a teat,
sucking on a finger stuck in their mouth,
all are very good signs.
Mother cow steady in the head gate,
her calf steadied on my knee,
teat in mouth
rhythmically sucking,
then standing on its own,
getting its fill.
Best sign.

© 2006, Bruce Roseland, from The Last Buffalo
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's permission


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Remember Me

My dad, his brother and their father
were hauling yearlings to early pasture.
I was along for the ride.
As the pickup pulled the cattle trailer
along a stretch of road
My 82-year old granddad, every half-mile
would point and say
who had lived there.
Little remained of the homesteads
he had known—
a few foundation rocks,
a bit of disturbed ground,
the buildings for the most part gone.
He recalled another name
every half-mile to a mile,
few my father or his brother recognized,
people who came and left
years and years ago.
Arriving at the pasture
my father and I swung the gate open wide.
The entrance was soggy.
My father’s brother gunned
the pickup through the gate
making a big arc,
trying to end up pointing the right way,
facing back out again.
There, standing on the trailer bumper,
in the spring’s blue sky air,
along with the mud and the grass flying,
a buggy whip in one hand and
holding on with the other hand,
half a cigar clenched in his teeth,
was my granddad.
He hadn’t said a word
but had simply climbed on,
showing he was part of this outfit still.

© 2006, Bruce Roseland, from The Last Buffalo
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's permission

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Prairie Prayer

Here, on this arc
of grass, sun, and sky,
I will stay and see if I thrive.
Others leave. They say it’s too hard.
I say hammer my spirit thin,
spread it horizon to horizon,
see if I break.
Let the blizzards hit my face;
let my skin feel the winter’s freeze;
let the heat of summer’s extreme
try to sear the flesh from my bones.
Do I have what it takes to survive,
or will I shatter and break?
Hammer me thin,
stretch me from horizon to horizon.
I need to know the character
that lies within.
I want to touch a little further
beyond my reach,
for the something that I seek.
Only then let my spirit be released.

© 2008, Bruce Roseland, from A Prairie Prayer
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's permission


SEPARATOR.gif (1476 bytes)

The Staff of Life

All my great-grandfathers and grandfathers
laid the earth over with their plows,
grass side down.
The wheat seeds, planted among the dead roots,
struggled to sprout and grow.
The harvests were meager, but still,
they were harvests.
When I was young:
An uncle smashed freshly harvested wheat
between two rocks and said
“Eat. This is bread.”
The coarse powder had the same taste
as the golden loaf my mother placed
each day in the center of the table.
So this is what we did—
we were the beginning of bread.

© 2008, Bruce Roseland, from A Prairie Prayer
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's permission

SEPARATOR.gif (1476 bytes)

The Tale of Two Seasons

Bulls at turn-out time
are big, brawny, and full of fight.
Muscles rippling, they step quickly,
their hooves coming down
firmly on the sod,
meaning business,
butting each other
head to head,
winner chasing loser away.

Bulls at the end of breeding season
are footsore, lame, and thin,
the fire dimmed in their eyes,
content to hang around together
in the fence corners, facing the wind,
swatting flies.

© 2008, Bruce Roseland, from A Prairie Prayer
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's permission


  A Prairie Prayer

Bruce has previously written a book titled The Last Buffalo, which contains material similar to that which appears here in A Prairie Prayer. The Last Buffalo won the Wrangler Award for Outstanding Poetry Book of 2006, chosen and presented by The National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City, OK, on April 21, 2007.He is continuing to write about the forces of nature and man that have created and continue to shape the landscape and the environment in which he lives.

He had this to say about A Prairie Prayer: “My publisher subtitled this book "A Sequel to The Last Buffalo," and it is, indeed, a continuation of the material contained in my first book because I am still compelled to record the experiences with and observations about living on, and making a living from, this land that some view as desolate. I, however, see much of beauty and value all around me, and I’m convinced this way of life should be preserved in writing precisely because it sadly, may soon die out and fade from memory.”


Prairie Prayer
The Price of a Homestead
A Mystery
Home Ties
Summer Stayover
Fall Migration
Passing On
The Staff of Life
Location, Location, Location
Family History
This Was Christmas
A Fence Corner Revisited
His Name Was Reno
Courtesy Call
Keeping Up Appearances
Prairie Mosaic
The Human Horse
Messages on Parchment
Wake-up Call
Wind Squalls
Filling a Hole
Checking Fence
Sale Day
Legacy The Cow Ballet
Unintended Results
Cow 666
Pamplona in my Corral
The Tale of Two Seasons
The Prairie is my Canvas
Trailering Pasture Cattle
Good Help
A Close Call
April 19, 2006
The Seed Cap
Unanswered Prayers
Road View
Rain Dance
Prairie Fire
Dry Times
The Business of Being a Coyote
May in the Dakotas
Abrupt End
Collateral Damage
Restoring Balance
Still Life Along Highway 212
The Hills Move-Can’t You See?
Grouse in Winter
Morning of New Snow
Field Dressed
A Survivor
Newly Alone
Waiting for Fair Weather
Always Something Disappearing
First Snow
The Grass Stays Rooted if Spared from the Plow
Epilogue: Oklahoma City, April 21, 2007


A Prairie Prayer is available for $12 from:

The North Dakota Institute for Regional Studies at the North Dakota State University in Fargo, where you can order by mail or phone 701-231-8338.

The book is also available online at Barnes & Noble.com.



  The Last Buffalo

Bruce Roseland comments on his book:

The title, "The Last Buffalo," is meant as a metaphor. Just as the wild buffalo have disappeared from central South Dakota, so, it seems, in the last  40-50 years, has our rural human population been on the decline, along with our rural culture.

The Last Buffalo is a book of free-verse poetry that I think of more as a series of little stories that pay tribute to those who settled my area and also to those who continue calling this place home.

I have often referred to The Last Buffalo as a book of themed poetry, and I would like to think that someone in the future will be able to say to themselves after reading it, "Oh, so THAT'S how things were.

Bruce Roseland's book, The Last Buffalo received the prestigious 2007 "Wrangler," the Western Heritage Award, from the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City.

[photo courtesy of the National Western and Cowboy Heritage Museum: "The coveted Wrangler, a stunning bronze sculpture of a cowboy on horseback, is presented by the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum in 14 categories of music, film, television and literature in the Western genre." ]



The Butterknife
If You Could Choose
Remember Me
A Mark of an Honest Man
The Last Generation
I Regret
Jackrabbit Baby
My Jungle
Dick and Queen
The Slingshot
The Smell of Earth and Grease
Sacred Ground
The Big Empty
A Hundred Years of Dreaming
Hard Luck
Children's Graves
Farm Wide
Times Have Changed
They Can't Stop Us
What Do You Say?
The Lament of Youth
Reply: The Old Man's Blues
A Proper Burial
Teepee Rings
Cloud Riders
Moving a Fence
Before They Put Cabs on Tractors
The Walking Wounded
The Bachelor Farmer
These Old Tractors
Scenes at Sale Barns and Auctions
Spring Dance
The Soul of a Prairie is Grass
Birthing Calves
Just Another Day at the Ranch
Premature Calf
Branding Cattle
Deep in My Bed
A Rebirth
Hay Raker
Early September Haying
Neighborhood Feud
More Quiet Than Silence
Red Fox
False Spring
Ducks in Flight
I Own the Moment
It is the Least That I Can Do
The Beast in the Window
Coup Counting
Retirement Auction
A Special Day
Country Night Lights
Dated Stone
Plain Folks
Magic Times
The Prairie Rose
The Next Wave

The Last Buffalo is available for $11.95 plus postage from:

The North Dakota Institute for Regional Studies at the North Dakota State University in Fargo. Read more about the book at their web site where you can order by mail or phone 701-231-8338.

And the book is available online at Barnes & Noble.com.

Contacting Bruce Roseland


Bruce Roseland
16894 SD Highway 47
Seneca, SD 57473










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