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.)