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"...It's as western as sagebrush, authentic as an brush-scuffed old boot, and full of the warm-hearted humor that seems always to be a part of 'the men who ride where the range is wide'..."
                                               Fred Gipson

 

With the generous assistance and permission of the estate of S. Omar Barker (1895-1985), and of Cowboy Miner Productions and Elmer Kelton, we're pleased to share words about S. Omar Barker, photos of S. Omar Barker, and selections of his poetry.

Also below, thanks to Georganna Kresl, the great granddaughter of Col. Jack Potter and Cordelia Eddy Potter, the subjects of S. Omar Barker's poem, "Jack Potter's Courtin'," we have more information about the origin of that poem and about the relationships between the Barkers and the Potters.

Read some biographical details at a site here.

Below:

Foreword by Elmer Kelton
excerpted from
Cowboy Poetry: Classic Rhymes by S. Omar Barker, 
Cowboy Miner Productions, 1998

Index of poems in the Cowboy Miner book
 

Poems

Breed of the Brave
Bruin Wooin'
Cowboy Factory--Old Style
"He'll Do!"
Into the West

Jack Potter's Courtin'
and the story behind the poem
Cordie_Eddy_with_Gertrude_Robert_and_Ethel.gif (159879 bytes)

Love's Hobbles
Old Fence Rider
Purt Near!
Ranch Mother
The Riders
Tall Men Riding
Watchin' Em Ride
The White Mustang
Code of the Cow Country
The Norther
Pullin' Leather
Rope Music
Ranchman's Widow

Horses Versus Hosses
Saddle Lure
Curly Wolf College
Songs for a Land of Horseback Men
Old-Time Cowboys
Four-Footed Dynamite

A Cowboy Toast
A Texas Toast

Cowboy's New Year's Resolutions

Tackin' on the Shoes
Canned Termaters

The Empty Bunk
Useless Question

Bear Ropin' Buckaroo

What's a Bronco?

Page two of Poems:

Grand Canyon Cowboy

Holiday poems posted on separate pages:

Bunkhouse Christmas
Bunkhouse Thanksgiving
Christmas Promise
A Cowboy's Christmas Prayer and also below
Cowboy's New Year's Resolutions
Draggin' the Tree
Drifter's Thanksgivin'
Drylander's Christmas
Empty Saddles at Christmas
Line-Camp Christmas
Line-Camp Christmas Letter
Shepherds of the Range
Thanksgiving Argument
Three Wise Men

 

S. Omar Barker books and contents' lists




photo © S. Omar Barker, reprinted with the permission of the estate of S. Omar Barker, 
further reproduction without explicit permission is prohibited.
S. Omar Barker           


Foreword, by Elmer Kelton
excerpted from Cowboy Poetry: Classic Rhymes by S. Omar Barker, Cowboy Miner Productions (1998)


How can anyone begin to tell who S. Omar Barker was?

The easy way would be to give the statistics: that he was born in a log cabin on a small mountain ranch at Beulah, New Mexico, in 1894, youngest of the eleven children of Squire Leander and Priscilla Jane Barker, that he grew up on the family homestead, attended high school and college in Las Vegas, New Mexico, was in his youth a teacher of Spanish, a high school principal, a forest ranger, a sergeant of the 502nd Engineers in France in World War I, a trombone player in Doc Patterson's Cowboy Band, a state legislator and a newspaper correspondent.

That he began writing and selling stories, articles, and poems as early as 1914 and became a full-time writer at the end of his legislative term in 1925. That he married Elsa McCormick of Hagerman, New Mexico, in 1927, and she also became a noted writer of Western stories.


photo © S. Omar Barker, reprinted with the permission of the estate of S. Omar Barker, 
further reproduction without explicit permission is prohibited.
S. Omar and Elsa Barker

That he once estimated his career output at about 1,500 short stories and novelettes, about 1,200 factual articles, about 2,000 poems. That they appeared in a broad range of publications from pulp magazines to such prestigious slicks as Saturday Evening Post and a varied array of general newspapers and magazines. That he did five volumes of poetry, one book of short stories and one novel, Little World Apart, as well as one western cookbook with Carol Truax.

That the work probably best known to the general public was his poem, "A Cowboy's Christmas Prayer," which has been printed more than one hundred times, recorded by Tennessee Ernie Ford and Jimmy Dean, and plagiarized more than once. That he won the Western Writers of America Spur Award twice and was the 1967 recipient of the Levi Strauss Saddleman Award for bringing honor and dignity to the Western legend.

That in 1975 he was named an honorary president of WWA, of which he was one of the founding fathers and an early president. Elsa also served a term as president. That in 1978 he was the first living author to be inducted into the Hall of Fame of Great Westerners in the National Cowboy Hall of Fame, Oklahoma City.

That he was well known as the Sage of Sapello and the Poet Lariat of New Mexico.

That would be the easy way to tell about Omar Barker, but somehow it misses what we all felt about him, something beyond places and dates and titles published. It misses what he was as a person. He was many things to many people, but above all else he was a gentle man and a gentleman, a friend to everyone who knew him.

I knew Omar's name from the time I was a boy growing up on a ranch in West Texas in the 1930s. My mother used to buy Ranch Romances, a bi-weekly Western pulp magazine. As soon as I caught her not looking, I would check to see if it contained a story about the boy Mody Hunter. For years, Omar did a humorous series about this lad who always seemed to be getting into trouble himself or getting other people out of it. Maybe I saw myself as Mody Hunter, or maybe as S. Omar Barker, because about that time I began to want to write stories myself. How much of that ambition to attribute to Omar I don't really know, but he was an influence.

Over the years that followed, his name was always among those I sought out when I picked magazines to read. I sensed that he knew what he was writing about because he wrote as my dad and all the cowboys around him talked.

                                        ....Elmer Kelton's foreword continued in Cowboy Poetry: Classic Rhymes by S. Omar Barker 
                          

© 1998, Cowboy Miner Productions
Reprinted with the kind permission of Elmer Kelton and Cowboy Miner Productions

Read more about Elmer Kelton at his web site.



photo © S. Omar Barker, reprinted with the permission of the estate of S. Omar Barker, 
further reproduction without explicit permission is prohibited.
S. Omar Barker           

Poems by S. Omar Barker (1894-1985)

Breed of the Brave
Bruin Wooin'
Canned Termaters
Cowboy's New Year's Resolutions
"He'll Do!"
Horses Versus Hosses
Into the West
Jack Potter's Courtin'
Love's Hobbles
Old Fence Rider
Purt Near!
Ranch Mother
The Riders
Tall Men Riding
Watchin' Em Ride
A Cowboy Toast
A Texas Toast
Cowboy Factory--Old Style
The White Mustang
Code of the Cow Country
The Norther
Pullin' Leather
Rope Music
Ranchman's Widow

Horses Versus Hosses
Saddle Lure
Curly Wolf College
Songs for a Land of Horseback Men
Old-Time Cowboys
Four-Footed Dynamite
Careful, Cowboy!
What's a Bronco?

Grand Canyon Cowboy (separate page)

Christmas and New Year poems also posted on separate pages:

Christmas Promise
A Cowboy's Christmas Prayer (also posted below)
Cowboy's New Year's Resolutions
Drylander's Christmas
Empty Saddles at Christmas
Line-Camp Christmas Letter
Shepherds of the Range
Three Wise Men

 

Cordie_Eddy_with_Gertrude_Robert_and_Ethel.gif (159879 bytes)  Jack Potter's Courtin'

Now young Jack Potter was a man who knowed the ways of steers.
From bur-nests in their hairy tails to ticks that chawed their ears.
A Texican and cowhand, to the saddle bred and born,
He could count a trail herd on the move and never miss a horn.
But one day on a tally, back in eighteen-eighty-four,
He got to acting dreamy, and he sure did miss the score.
The Trail Boss knowed the symptoms. "Jack you ain't no good like this.
I'll give you just ten days to go and find what is amiss!"
A "miss" was just what ailed him, for he'd fell in love for sure
With a gal named Cordie Eddy, mighty purty, sweet and pure.
So now Jack rode a hundred miles, a-sweatin' with the thought
Of sweetsome words to ask her with, the way a fella ought.
"I'm just a humble cowhand, Miss Cordie, if you please,
That hereby asks your heart and hand, upon my bended knees!."
It sounded mighty simple thus rehearsed upon the trail.
But when he come to Cordie's house, his words all seemed to fail.
'Twas "Howdy, ma'am, and how's the crops? And "How's your pa and ma?"
For when it came to askin' her, he couldn't come to taw.

He took her to a dance one night. The hoss she rode was his.
"He's a dandy little hoss," she says. "Well, yep," says Jack, "he is."
They rode home late together and the moon was ridin' high,
And Jack, he got to talkin' 'bout the stars up in the sky,
And how they'd guide a trail herd like they do sea-goin' ships.
But words of love and marriage—they just wouldn't pass his lips!
So he spoke about the pony she was ridin', and he said:
"You'll note he's fancy-gaited, and don't never fight his head."
"He's sure a little dandy," she agrees, and heaves a sigh.
Jack says, "Why you can have him—that is—maybe—when I die."
He figgered she might savvy what he meant or maybe guess,
And give him that sweet answer which he longed for, namely, "yes."
But when they reached the ranch house, he was still a-wonderin' how
He would ever pop the question, and he had to do it now.
Or wait and sweat and suffer till the drive was done that fall,
When maybe she'd be married, and he'd lose her after all.
He put away her saddle, led his pony to the gate:
"I reckon I'll be driftin', ma'am. It's gittin' kinder late."
Her eyes was bright as starlight, and her lips looked sweet as flow'rs.
Says Jack, "Now, this here pony—is he mine, or is he ours?"
"Our pony, Jack!" she answered, and her voice was soft as moss.
Then Jack, he claims he kissed her—but she claims he kissed the hoss!

© 1966, S. Omar Barker, from Rawhide Rhymes, reprinted with the permission of the estate of S. Omar Barker Further reproduction without explicit permission is prohibited

 

About "Jack Potter's Courtin'"

In July, 2006, we received correspondence from Georganna Kresl, great granddaughter of "Jack" and "Cordie," commenting on the poem about her great-grandparents, Jack Potter and Cordelia Eddy. We asked her to tell us more, and she replied:

I will be happy to tell you what I know about how my great grandparents become the subject of Barker's poem "Jack Potter's Courtin.'"  Please bear with me though, because in answering your question I'm going to "make a short story long." 

Though Jack Potter may be best known as a trail driver, throughout his life he was first and foremost a story teller—an oral historian in the folk tradition.  After he retired from the range, sold his ranch, and moved into the town of Clayton, New Mexico (1928), Potter wrote down some of his personal recollections, entered them in a contest sponsored by the Pioneer State Tribune and, astonishingly, was awarded second place.  The result was that, though in his 60's at the time, Jack Potter coincidently created a new career for himself as a writer.

Talking about his life experiences came easily to Potter, but writing about them presented him with new challenges, especially since his formal education was limited.  Potter's colorful manner of expression, which he referred to as cowboy lingo, coupled with his creative approach to spelling, did not conform to publication standards for language mechanics.  He also required help corralling his content into a respectable format on occasion. Consequently, editorial assistance was routinely provided when Potter submitted material for review— and that is how he and Barker became acquainted and what ultimately lead to Barker's poem.

Potter sent a story to Ranch Romances and Fanny Ellswerth, the magazine editor, asked Barker to assist him with it.  Potter's biographer, Jean Burroughs (On the Trail: The Life and Tales of 'Lead Steer' Potter,1980, Museum of New Mexico Press), quotes a letter from Barker to her in which he diplomatically describes his connection with Potter, years later, as "my writing collaboration with Jack."  Barker adds "Jack never offered the slightest complaint about any of the 'fixing' that I did with his stuff.  It was a most agreeable association."

Potter seems to have felt the same way about his relationship with Barker, based on statements in a letter to him, dated April 10, 1947, and also cited by Burroughs.  Potter refers to receiving payment from the magazine for two items Barker assisted with and adds, "Fanny said you done a fine job in doctoring both stories, and I'm very anxious to see them."

Though Potter wrote primarily for Western magazines and newspapers, he also published two books, Cattle Trails of the Old West (1935, 1939) and Lead Steer and Other Tales (1939).  In the third chapter of Lead Steer, titled "Courtship and Engagement," Jack talks about how he and Cordie met and tells about proposing to her.  Barker must have been familiar with this story through his association with Potter during the 30's, because the heart of Potter's narrative version of events forms the basis for Barker's poem; in effect, Barker translated Potter's prose into verse.  The resulting rhyme was then subsequently printed in Ranch Romances in September 1941.

Prior to publication, however, Potter sent out a copy of "Jack Potter's Courtin'" as a Christmas greeting in 1940.  It was professionally printed on the letterhead of the Trail Drivers and Pioneers Association of New Mexico. The stationery also lists officers of the organization, including Jack M. Potter, President, and S. Omar Barker, Historian and Poet.  So it seems their trails crossed in connection with involvements other than writing.

Jack and Cordie had a long life together.  By the time she passed away they had been married for over 63 years.  Following her death in 1948 Barker sent a letter of condolence to Potter, who is quoted by Burroughs as responding, "It was awful nice in you writing that nice letter paying tribute to my dear wife.  She though a lot of You and Mrs. B, She was always hearing something nice from you. And she got a great thrill out of the two poems about our courtship and..."

[Georgann Kresl asked if we were aware of another poem about the courtship. We are not, but we welcome any additional information] I am only acquainted with this single poem, though there are two slightly different variants of "Jack Potter's Courtin.'"  However they diverge only subtly—editorial alterations that are almost imperceptible to all but the most discerning individuals (for example, Texican in the later version is Texan in the original).  I assume the poem on the Trail Drivers letterhead is the initial version. It differs slightly from the one at CowboyPoetry.com, which I prefer, and which must be the "final revision," but I would not call them two different poems. 

Georgann Kresl also shared this photo and a bit more background about her great-grandparents:


photo courtesy of Georganna Kresl
Gertrude, Robert, and Ethel with Cordie Potter

The children, from left to right, are Gertrude, Robert, and Ethel (my grandmother) is in her lap.  Cordie is pregnant with their last child, Carl.

As a little postscript to the poem, you might find it interesting to know that Jack and Cordie planned to marry in September 1884, as soon as he returned from delivering cows to the South Platte ranch in northern Colorado.  The wedding was delayed, however.  Just before Potter was to board the train for the return trip home, he received notification that the New England Livestock Company agent who was to sell the herd had been charged with stealing cattle and was incarcerated.  Potter, who was already wearing his wedding suit, had to change clothes and make a detour back down to Fort Sumner to appoint a new agent and sort things out.

But that was not the final barrier to being reunited with Cordie.  His journey from Fort Sumner to his ultimate destination was further delayed by a cowboy strike and the potential dangers he encountered in "crossing the picket lines" before he could make it back for the wedding, which is another story—and Potter tells all about it in Lead Steer.

Jack and Cordie were ultimately married in San Antonio on November 10, 1884.

S. Omar Barker wrote other poems that included Col. Potter or that were based on his tales, including "Fists on the Trail," "Watchin' Em Ride," "Lord Fauntleroy," and "Randado."

 


 

Tall Men Riding

This is the song that the night birds sing
As the phantom herds trail by,
Horn by horn where the long plains fling
Flat miles to the Texas sky:

Oh, the high hawk knows where the rabbit goes,
And the buzzard marks the kill,
But few there be with eyes to see
The Tall Men riding still.

They hark in vain on the speeding train
For an echo of hoofbeat thunder,
And the yellow wheat is a winding sheet
For cattle trails plowed under.

Hoofdust flies at the low moon's rise,
And the bullbat's lonesome whir
Is an echoed note from a longhorn throat
Of a steer, in the days that were.

Inch by inch time draws the cinch,
Till the saddle will creak no more,
And they who were lords of the cattle hordes
Have tallied their final score.

This is the song that the night birds wail
Where the Texas plains lie wide,
Watching the dust of a ghostly trail,
Where the phantom Tall Men ride!

S. Omar Barker
reprinted with permission from Cowboy Poetry: Classic Rhymes by S. Omar Barker 

 


 

Bruin Wooin'

The track of the bear that had killed Carson's pig,
It wasn't so small and it wasn't so big
But what when this cowboy come ridin' a-past,
He claimed he'd go git him—an' go git him fast.

"The dogs took his trail," the nester gal said.
"But Pa couldn't make it—he's down, sick abed.
We'd be mighty glad if you'd foller the dogs
And shoot that ol' bear 'fore he gits all our hogs!

"Well, ma'am," says the cowboy, a gleam in his eye,
"To please a fair maid, there ain't much I won't try,
For I'm Bill Maginnis, a buckaroo which
Kills panthers bare handed and bears with a switch!
So if this pig-killer ain't handy to shoot,
I'll grab me a tail holt and pop off his snoot!"

And so, spizzered up by the nester gal's smile,
Bill rode up the canyon not more than a mile,
And there found the nester's dogs bellerin' brave,
A-bayin' that bear in a little ol' cave.
To git to this openin' up there in the rocks,
Bill had to shuck boots and climb in his socks.

The ledge was plumb narrow, the cave mouth was small.
Bill stopped to peek in and saw nothin' at all,
For to this here hunter of bears with a switch,
All inside the cavern was darker than pitch.
The nester's two mongrels kept raisin' a din
Around the cave's mouth, but they wouldn't go in.

Ol' Bill tried to "sic 'em," but them dogs was wise.
They wouldn't go in—and the look in their eyes
Was purt near reproachful, up there on the shelf,
As much as to say: "Whyn't you try it yourself?
We holed up your bear—that's all we can do!
If you want him UNholed, mister, that's up to you!"

Bill knowed by the smell he was in there all right.
He struck him a match and peered in by its light.
Two little red eyes in the glow was reflected—
And then somethin' happened Bill hadn't expected:
A sweet maiden's voice drifted up from the crick:
"Could you poke the bear out if I hand you a stick?"

The nester's fair daughter had follered to view
A bear gittin' switched by her bold buckaroo.
The sight of this maiden shore give Bill a sweat,
Recallin' some braggin' he'd like to forget.
But you take a cowboy, and what he won't try
To dazzle a damsel's admirin' blue eye!

"I'll crawl in an' git him!" Bill's voice was plumb bold
In spite of the blood in his veins runnin' cold.
"I'll grab a tail-holt and I'll show you the art
Of whip-snappin' bears till they plumb fly apart!"
But when he stooped down—with his hand on his gun
'Twas bruin hisownself that started the fun.

With a growl and a squall and big whoosh of wind
He came out of there like a cat bein' skinned.
Bill riz up plumb sudden, his legs spraddled wide,
To find hisself straddlin' a hairy black hide.
The bear give a beller, Bill's gun give a boom,
They both give a lurch, and the dogs give 'em room.

Bill wrastled the bear and the bear wrastled him.
Bill grabbed for the tail-holt—and fell off the rim!
And who was on top as they rolled down the hill?
Sometimes it was the bear and sometimes it was Bill!
Then just when pore Bill thought his last blood was shed,
The gal grabbed his pistol and shot the bear dead!

Bill lived to git married—a right happy hitch—
His wife, she won't let him hunt bears with a switch.
Now this story's moral, if a moral you crave,
Points straight at you hombres that talk up too brave.
It's a plenty good rule, Mister Big-Braggin' Male:
When wrastlin' a bear, never reach for his tail!
Though reasons for this are both mighty and many,
It's mainly because he ain't got hardly any!

© S. Omar Barker, reprinted with the permission of the estate of S. Omar Barker, further reproduction without explicit permission is prohibited.
 


 

 

"Purt Near!"

They called him "Purt Near Perkins,"
   for unless the booger lied,
He'd purt near done most everything
   that he had ever tried.
He'd purt near been a preacher
   and he'd purt near roped a bear;
He'd met up with Comanches once
   and purt near lost his hair.
He'd purt near wed an heiress
   who had money by the keg,
He'd purt near had the measles,
   and he'd purt near broke his leg.

He'd purt near been a trail boss,
   and accordin' to his claim,
He'd purt near shot Bill Hickock

   which had purt near won  him fame!
He'd purt near rode some broncs
   upon which no one else had stuck
In fact he was the feller
   Who had purt near drowned the duck!

Now mostly all the cowboys
   On the Lazy S B spread,
They took his talkin' with a grin
   And let him fight his head.
But one named Tom Maginnis
   Sorter told it to him rough:
"You're ridin' with an outfit now
   Where 'purt near' ain't enough!
We tie our lasso ropes to the horn,
   An' what we ketch we hold,
And 'purt near' is one alibi
   We never do unfold!
In fact, right now
   I'll tell you that no word I ever hear
Sounds quite so plain damn useless
   As that little pair: 'purt near'!"

That's how ol' Tom Maginnis
   Laid it out upon the line,
And like a heap of preachin' talk,
   It sounded mighty fine.
But one day Tom Maginnis,
   While a-ridin' off alone,
He lamed his horse
   And had to ketch some neighbor nester's roan
To ride back to the ranch on.
   But somewhere along the way
A bunch of nesters held him up,
   And there was hell to pay!

Tom claimed he hadn't stole the horse
   Just borrowed it to ride.
Them nesters hated cowboys,
   And they told him that he lied.
The cussed him for a horsethief
   And they'd caught him with the goods.
They set right out to hang him
   In a nearby patch of woods.
They had pore Tom surrounded,
   With their guns all fixed to shoot.
It looked like this pore cowboy
   Sure had heard his last owl hoot!

They tied a rope around his neck
   And throwed it o'er a limb
And Tom Maginnis purt near knowed
   This was the last of him.
Then suddenly a shot rang out
   From somewhere up the hill!
Them nesters dropped the rope an' ran,
   Like nesters sometimes will
When bullets start to whizzin'.
   Tom's heart lept up with hope
To see ol' Purt Near Perkins
   Ridin' towards him at a lope.

"Looks like I purt near
   Got here just in time," ol' Perkins said,
"To see them nesters hang you!"
   Tom's face got kinder red.
"You purt near did!" he purt near grinned.
  "They purt near had me strung!
You're lookin' at a cowboy
   That has pert near just been hung!
And also one that's changed his mind

   For no word ever said,
Can sound as sweet as 'purt near',
   When a man's been purt near dead!"

© S. Omar Barker, reprinted with the permission of the estate of S. Omar Barker, further reproduction without explicit permission is prohibited.

from Songs of the Saddlemen 

 


 

Ranch Mother

She knows the keen of lonely winds
The sound of hoofs at night,
The creak of unwarmed saddles in
The chill before daylight,
The champ of eager bridle bits,
The jingle-clink of spurs,
The clump of boots—lone silence, too,
For cowboy sons are hers.

She knew the dust of cattle trails
While yet she was a bride,
And tangy smell of branding iron
Upon a dogie's hide.
The yelp of coyotes on a hill,
The night hawk's lonely croon,
The bawl of milling cattle: thus
Her cowcamp honeymoon.

Her hands are hard from laboring,
He face is brown from sun,
But oh, her eyes are deep with dreams
Of days and duties done!
The hand of hardship forged her love
That first far rangeland spring.
Now he is gone its memory lives,
A gentle, deathless thing.

Her days knew little neighboring,
Less now, perhaps, than then,
Alone with years she gleans content:
Her sons are horseback men!

© S. Omar Barker, reprinted with the permission of the estate of S. Omar Barker, further reproduction without explicit permission is prohibited.


 

Watchin' 'em Ride

Isom Like was seventy-odd
Straight in the back as a steel ramrod,
And the whiskers that growed on his leathery chin,
They bristled out instead of in.
Six growed sons had Isom Like:
Jake, Joe, John, Jess, Noah and Ike.

Ridin' men was Isom's sons,
Salty, straddlin' sons-o'-guns.
Once a year they chipped in change
To pay for the best hoss on their range,
And held ridin' to settle who
Should git that hoss when the show was through.

Nearin' eighty was Isom Like:
"Pa," said the son whose name was Ike,
"You're stiffed up like an ol' pine tree.
Better leave this to the boys an' me!"
Ol' Isom grinned his grizzled grin.
"Nope," he says, "Just count me in!"

Seven broncs on the high pole pen,
Seven saddles and seven men . . . .
Ma Like watched as the show begun,
And when Jake straddled a dusty dun,
You guessed right off that her joy and pride
Was Jake, from the way she cheered his ride.

Jess spurred out on a big-foot bay.
Up on the fence you could hear Ma say:
"Ride him, Jess! Boy, kick him out!"
And you knowed right quick from the tone of her shout,
Of all six sons Ma Like had bore,
By this here Jess she set most store.

Joe clumb on and you heard Ma squall:
"Joe, you're the ridin'est son of all."
Noah an' John purt near got piled--
But both was Ma Like's favorite child.
Two broncs left, and the one Ike took
Bucked like the broncs in a storybook;
Pawed the moon and scraped the sky.
Up on the fence you could hear Ma cry:
"Boy, that's ridin' to suit my taste!
I got one son ain't no panty-waist!"

One bronc left, a big blue roan . . . .
"Never mind, boys, I'll saddle my own!"
Over the saddle Pa flung his shank,
Raked both spurs from neck to flank.
The big roan rose like a powder blast,
Buckin' hard and high and fast,
But deep in the wood Pa Like set screwed,
Strokin' his beard like a southern dude!
And every time that blue roan whirled,
Ma Like's petticoats come unfurled.

Isom grinned and waved his hat,
And Ma, she squalled like a ring-tailed cat:
"Straddle him, Isom! Show your spizz!
Learn these buttons what ridin' is!"
Throwed her bonnet high in the air,
Whooped and hollered and tore her hair:
"I got six sons and nary a one
Can ride like that ol' son-of-a-gun!"
Yelled and cheered so dang intense
She fell plumb off of the high pole fence.
"Wawhoo, boys!  Watch Isom spur!"
Isom's six sons grinned at her.

Seven broncs and the ridin' done . . . .
Nary a doubt but Pa had won!
"Sons," says Ma, "are a mother's pride,
But ol' Pa Isom, he can ride!
The trouble is, you boys ain't tough--
But you'll learn to ride--when you're old enough."

(Based on a true incident related by the late Col. Jack Potter. Isom Like died at the age of 102.)

© S. Omar Barker, reprinted with the permission of the estate of S. Omar Barker, further reproduction without explicit permission is prohibited.

J. Frank Dobie, in The Longhorns (1980), tells about Isom Like, including:

He had six sons, and when he was in his seventies, he and they would have a riding contest annually. Old Isom always won, his wife acting as judge....

After he celebrated his hundredth birthday, Jack Potter paid him a visit and asked his remedio for a long life. He got it: "Live temperately in food and drinks. Try to get your beefsteaks three times a day, fried in taller. Taller is mighty healing, and there's nothing like it to keep your stumick greased-up and in good working order."

Isom Like is often described as "an old Indian fighter and horse trader." A Like family genealogy post states, "... Isom Like left Missouri because of the Civil War. After living in Mexico, until the war was over, and then Texas, he moved to Colorado following the Goodnight-Loving Trail."

Rhonda Sedgwick Stearns is known to do a fine recitation of the poem, which is otherwise not widely recited. "Watchin' Em Ride" was first published in Wild West Weekly, and then included in S. Omar Barker's 1954 book, Songs of the Saddlemen.

 


 

Breed of the Brave

The wind rode chill on the wings of snow
From a sullen northeast sky,
As the ice-fanged "norther" swooped to blow
Down the staked plains bare and high.

A young steer bawled and an old cow's nose
Swung up to sniff the storm.
"Let'er rip!" said Bill, "Till the air's plumb froze!
"In town it's snug an' warm!"

"Let'er tear!" said Spud, "We've drawed our pay
At the toe of the old man's boot!
Let his damn cows drift!  For my part, I'm
A-foggin' to town for a toot!"

Six men rode fast from the wind's cold bite--
"I'm turnin' back," said one.
"Them cows'll drift in the storm, come night.
You fellers go have your fun!"

Five men rode on, but the kid called Mac
Struck a lope for the southeast rim;
And the drifting cattle he cut them back
To a down-trail faint and dim.

To the canyon's breaks down a narrow trail,
Out of reach of the norther's breath,
He cut them back lest the knife-edged gale
Whip them over the rim to death.

But the ice-fanged wind bit sharp and deep,
And the drift came crowding fast;
And the kid called Mac fought hard to keep
Them turned 'cross the norther's blast.

All night on the sifty wings of snow,
All day, all night again,
Like a broom of death the wind swept low
Where the old man's herds had been.

It was then five men left the warm saloons,
And grim they faced the gale.
The norther crooned its dying runes--
They found Mac riding trail. 

For the sake of cows what man rides so--
Dead, to his saddle, bound?
On the great high plains where the northers blow
This breed of the brave is found.

© S. Omar Barker, reprinted with the permission of the estate of S. Omar Barker, further reproduction without explicit permission is prohibited.

uncollected, from Straddle the Saddle


 

Love's Hobbles

Now whether built stringy, whang muscled, or stout,
Most cowpuncher's savvy what love's all about.
They know it's an ailment that arches the necks
Of buckaroos viewin' the opposite sex,
And if it ain't doctored before it's too late,
A feller winds up buyin' beans for a mate!

They know a man's freedom ain't worth a red cent,
Once he has been lassoed by sweet sentiment;
For love is one roper who follers his noose
With hobbles that don't often turn a man loose.

When cowboys git kicked by a horse or a mule,
Or knocked in the head with a wire-stretchin' tool,
They mostly recover in just a few days,
For cowpokes are tough and they're used to rough ways.
From tizzick, blind staggers or rattlesnake bite,
They'll practickly always git well overnight,
But once they git dizzy from love in the gizzard,
They've got no more chance than a bug in a blizzard!

Their eyes take to rollin', their stummicks feel holler,
Their goozlums swell up till they can't hardly swaller;
Their legs git the quivers, till most of the time
Their cowpunchin' services ain't worth a dime.
Their ropes take to kinkin', they can't count a herd;
The boss gives his powders--they don't hear a word!
In fact many bosses will tell you that wooin'
Is sure to result in a cowpuncher's ruin!

Be that true or false, there ain't nary a doubt
But what cowboys savvy what love's all about.
They know it means hobbles that ain't easy shed,
Some freedom to lose and some vows to be said,
But also they know, from the very first kiss,
It's somethin' they'd rather put up with than miss!

© S. Omar Barker, reprinted with the permission of the estate of S. Omar Barker, further reproduction without explicit permission is prohibited.

uncollected, from Cow-Gals Love Their Cowboys


 

The Riders

He said he'd rode 'em all the way from Canada on south.
He rode 'em in the wet, and he had rode 'em in the drouth.
He'd rode where broncs was little, he had rode where they was big,
And he wore a lot of purties made of silver on his rig.
Of course he never rode before for such a little spread,
But if they had some broncs to bust, he'd snap a few, he said.
The peeler boss, he kinder blinked and toed a piece of ground.
"O' course," he said, "us peelers here ain't never been around,
But if your pride can stand to ride amongst a bunch of hicks,
I'll put you on, an' maybe you can learn us all some tricks."

The stranger's name was Tex La Rue; he wore a fancy boot;
From all he said you'd think he'd learned the hoot owl how to hoot.
But Joe, the peeler boss, he always kinder held his jaw--
Jest rode 'em as they come and never raised no big hurraw.
He cut La Rue some four-year-olds and watched him snap 'em out.
This Tex could fork a bronc, he said, there wasn't any doubt.
But when they talked of ridin' in the evenin's after chow,
'Twas Tex La Rue that never failed to tell the others how.
He'd say: "You made a middlin' ride upon that gray today,
But Joe, there's broncs that's tough to set, down Arizona way!
O' course you boys ain't been around enough to realize
That these here broncs is kinder tame, an' kinder undersize.
I've forked 'em in Wyoming an' the South Dakota hills,
That you got to set 'em proper or they jolt you to the gills!"

But Joe jest went on ridin', never puttin' on a show;
His spurs was never bloody and you never heard him blow.
Then come a day when Tex La Rue got throwed upon the ground,
Because a roan hoss hadn't heard how Tex had been around.
"Why dang his soul!" said Tex, and you can see it hurt his pride,
"This two-bit ranch can't raise a bronc that Tex La Rue can't ride!"
Once more he screwed down on him, but the roan unravelled quick,
And where he throwed ol' Tex again the dust was plenty thick.

The third time that he throwed him, Tex's tongue forgot to wag,
And Joe jest speaks up quiet:  "Let me try that little nag.
The chances is he'll throw me, for as Tex has often said,
I'm jest a lenty, ridin' for a little two-bit spread!"

Joe crawled up in the saddle and he raked him fore and aft,
And the roan done plenty buckin', but ol' Joe set up and laughed:
"I'm jest a pore ol' country boy with country leather specs--
Ain't never saw the elephant nor spun the world, like Tex!
Come on, ol' hoss, and show me how you lay 'em on the ground!
For 'course ol' Tex has told you I ain't never been around!'"

That roan, he done the damnedest that a country bronco could,
But Joe jest raked him endways, settin' deep down in the wood.
For once his spurs was bloody and he gave the boys a show,
While Tex jest stood a-watchin', with his head hung kinder low.
Joe wrung him dry of buckin' like a wringer wrings a shirt,
And he stepped down from the saddle lookin' plenty fresh and pert.
And he says to Tex: "You take him." And he give his hat a whirl--
"If he's still too tame to suit you, you can can give him to your girl!"

For here is what I've noticed, and it's gen'rally the case:
The toughest broncs is always them you've rode some other place!

© S. Omar Barker, reprinted with the permission of the estate of S. Omar Barker, further reproduction without explicit permission is prohibited.

from Songs of the Saddlemen 

 

The Riders

He claimed he'd rode the bad'uns plumb from Canada on south.
He'd rode 'em in the wet, and he'd rode 'em in the drouth.
He'd rode where broncs was little, and he'd rode where they was big,
And he wore a lot of purties made of silver on his rig.
Of course he'd never rode before for such a little spread,
But if they had some broncs to bust, he'd snap a few, he said.
The Boss, he kinder blinked his eyes toed a piece of ground.
"Of course," he said, "us peelers here ain't never been around,
But if your pride can stand to ride amongst a bunch of hicks,
I'll hire you on, and maybe you can learn us all some tricks."

The stranger's name was Buck La Rue. He wore a fancy boot.
From all his talk you'd think he'd learned the hoot owl how to hoot.
But Joe, the ol' top peeler, always kinder held his jaw;
Just rode 'em as they came and never raised no big hurraw.
He cut La Rue some four-year-olds and watched him snap 'em out.
This Buck could fork a bronc, he said, there wasn't any doubt.
But when they talked of ridin' in the evenin's after chow,
'Twas Buck La Rue that never failed to tell the others how.
He'd say: "You made a middlin' ride upon that gray today,
But Joe, I've rode 'em awful tough, down Arizona way.
Of course you boys ain't been around enough to realize
That these here broncs is purty tame, an' kinder undersize.
I've forked 'em in Wyoming and the South Dakota hills,
That you've got to set 'em salty or they jolt you to the gills!"

But Joe jest went on ridin', never puttin' on the show;
His spurs was never bloody and you never heard him blow.
Then came a day when Buck La Rue got spilled upon the ground,
Because this roan bronc hadn't heard how Buck had been around.
"Why damn his soul!" said Buck, and you could see it hurt his pride,
"This two-bit ranch can't raise a bronc that Buck La Rue can't ride!"
Buck screwed down on him once again. The roan unravelled quick,
And where he throwed ol' Buck that time, the dust was purty thick.

The third time that he throwed him, Buck's tongue forgot to wag,
The ol' Joe spoke up quiet:  "Let me try that little nag.
The chances are he'll throw me, for as Buck has often said,
I'm just a local rider for a little two-bit spread."

Joe stepped up in the saddle, raked the roan both fore and aft,
The bronc done plenty buckin', but ol' Joe set up and laughed:
"I'm just a pore ol' country boy, raised weak on country chuck.
Ain't never saw the elephant nor spun the world, like Buck!
Come on, ol' hoss, and show me how you lay 'em on the ground,
For, as ol' Buck has told you, I ain't never been around!'"
That roan, he bucked the damndest that a country bronco could,
But Joe stayed in the saddle, settin' deep down in the wood.
For once he done some spurrin' as he gave the boys a show,
While Buck just stood a-watchin', with his head hung kinder low.
Joe wrung him dry of buckin', like a wringer wrings a shirt,
Then stepped down from the saddle, lookin' plenty fresh and pert.
He says to Buck: "You take him!" And he give his hat a whirl.
"In case he's still too tough for you, just give him to your girl!"
The moral of this little tale, as some of you have guessed,
Is something most all cowpokes know, most everywhere out West'
For most of them have have noticed, that it's generally the case:
The toughest broncs are always those you've rode some other place!

© S. Omar Barker, reprinted with the permission of the estate of S. Omar Barker, further reproduction without explicit permission is prohibited.

from Rawhide Rhymes; Singing Poems of the Old West

 

 


 

"He'll Do!"

Don't call me no star in the bronc bustin' game—
     Sech words is plumb natcherly wrong.
Us cowboys jest say, when a feller is game:
     "He'll do, boys, fer takin' along!"

Don't call me no "prince of good fellers" nor say
     I'm 'bold, brave an' fearless" nor such!
Don't claim I'm no "marvel"—no fine "sobrikay"
     Like "world-beatin' champeen"! Not much!

Fer I never hanker fer high-soundin' praise
     A cowboy can't half understand.
I'd ruther be told, in the old puncher phrase:
     "Say cowboy, yuh'll shore make a hand!"

Big words never warm up no cowpuncher's heart
     In praise of him doin' his best
Like them simple phrases. A man does his part—
     "He'll do, boys!" they say in the West.

© S. Omar Barker, reprinted with the permission of the estate of S. Omar Barker, further reproduction without explicit permission is prohibited.

from Buckaroo Ballads, 1928

 


 

Into the West

Traced in the flicker of greasewood fire,
The Cowboy Kid saw his heart's desire.
Still but a lad at a play cow camp,
His ears heard the milling remuda's stamp,
And he knew his heart would know no rest
Till he could scratch 'em along with the best;
And over the shouldered mesas ride,
His saddle a-creak with his horse's stride:
A boy a-dream for the time when he
Could answer the range's witchery.

                          II.

Ruddled there by a hearthfire's flame,
Grizzled and old as a Salem dame,
His hair as whitish as alkali,
The Cowboy Kid sees his past go by.
He smells the sage from the mesa's rim,
And the days come tumbling back to him;
Days that were tanged with the smell of hair,
Burnt till the brand came clean and fair;
Nights that were droned with a milling herd

His feeble heart within him stirred

Out of the phantoms in the flame
Into his soul the old call came.

                      III.

Oh, a heart knows not when a body is old,
And riding days are a tale that is told

For now he would saddle and over the hill,
Ride to the ranges that beckoned him still.
There by the fire as he fell asleep,
The old man's pulses ceased their sweep
Of cowboy blood through his leathered veins.
A West wind called from his sage-brush plains,
And off to dim ranges of mounted men,
The Cowboy Kid rode forth again.

© S. Omar Barker, reprinted with the permission of the estate of S. Omar Barker, further reproduction without explicit permission is prohibited.

from Vientos de las Sierras

"Into the West," according to the The FictionMags Index, also appeared in The Popular Magazine on October 7, 1926.  The poem is also included in Cowboy Miner's Cowboy Poetry: Classic Rhymes by S. Omar Barker. 

 


Old Fence Rider

I ain't no king of saddle
     An' I ain't no ridin' fool,
Jest jog along a-straddle
     Of a little spotted mule.
A-follerin' the fences
     An' a-mendin' wire an' such,
I don't see what the sense is
     In a-worryin' so much
About the price of cattle
     Like the owners always does.
This life may be a battle,
     But it ain't for me becuz
I've got no use for money,
     More than jest my board and keep.
Some thinks I'm kinder funny
     But I never lose no sleep
A-frettin' over troubles
     An' expectin' of the wust.
Don't never blow no bubbles,
     So I ain't afeerd they'll bust!
Don't study none on women,
     Nor politics nor strife.
My eyesight's kinder dimmin',
     But that's jest part of life.
I used to ride the ranges
     Silver-trimmed an' mighty bold.
I've saw a heap of changes
     While I've been gittin' old.
But me, I ain't a-pinin'
     For them sprouty days of yore--
The sun keeps right on shinin'.
     And I cain't ask no more.

I ain't no king of saddle,
     But I neither ain't no fool,
A-ridin' fence a-straddle
     Of my little spotted mule!

uncollected, from Cow-Gals Love Their Cowboys


 

A Cowboy Toast

May you never lose a stirrup,
May you never waste a loop;
May your can stay full of syrup,
And your gizzard full of whoop!

A Texas Toast

May your horse never stumble,
Your spurs never rust,
Your guts never grumble,
Your cinch never bust!

 

© S. Omar Barker, reprinted with the permission of the estate of S. Omar Barker, further reproduction without explicit permission is prohibited.

from Songs of the Saddlemen 


Cowboy Factory--Old Style

The town kid was a runaway. They knew it at a glance,
But he looked so poor and homeless that the boss gave him a chance.
And so he stayed as roustabout to earn his bed and chuck.
He cleaned out barns and stables till he waddled like a duck
From lifting heavy forkfuls, till the knee-bow in his legs
Would make you swear he'd got his growth a-straddling whiskey kegs.
He pitched hay on the wagon when it came to haying time,
And he kept on thinking after while they'd maybe let him climb
On of them cowhosses that the punchers rode so good,
Instead of swamping stables, pitching hay, and chopping wood.
He flunkied for the coosie and he kept the bunkhouse clean,
And he dug a thousand postholes in his spare time in between
Them little jobs a roustabout most always had to do
Before he earned the right to be a riding buckaroo.

Then after while, one Sunday when the work was kinder slack,
The cowboys done some fixing on an old half-worn-out kack,
Till they got it kinder usable, then laced it on a hoss
That looked as kitten-gentle as you'd ever come across.
They gave the eager kid the reins and watched him climb aboard,
As proud as if some king of old had touched him with a sword!
The old plug hoss was gentle, but the best of them won't fail
To buck when there's a cactus kindly tucked beneath their tail!
Of course the ol' plug throwed him, and the cowboys had their laugh,
For that's one way they had of sorting good seed from the chaff.
But when the kid just kinder grinned and climbed back on again,
They figgered he would do to learn the ways of riding men.

It took him quite a spell, of course, to sure 'nough graduate
To riding range from doing chores to earn the chuck he ate.
But the cowboys kinder daddied him and jollied him along.
They told him when he done it right and when he done it wrong;
For they knew he'd make a cowboy from the kind of stuff he showed
By climbing right back on again that first time he got throwed!

© S. Omar Barker, reprinted with the permission of the estate of S. Omar Barker, further reproduction without explicit permission is prohibited.

from Rawhide Rhymes; Singing Poems of the Old West

 


The White Mustang
(The legend of a ghost horse of the plains was first written about by Washington Irving)

Wherever rhythmic hoofbeats drum,
As galloping riders go or come,
Wherever the saddle is still the throne,
And the dust of hoofs by wind is blown,
Wherever the horsemen young or old,
The Pacing Mustang's tale is told.

A hundred years on hill and plain,
With comet-tail and flying mane,
Milk-white, free, and high of head,
Over the range his trail has led.
Never a break in his pacing speed,
Never a trot nor a lope his need,
Since faraway days of the wagon train,
Men have followed his trail in vain.

A dozen horses spurred to the death,
Still he flees like a phantom's breath,
And from some hill at horizon's hem,
Snorts his challenge back at them.
A bullet drops him dead by day,
Yet white at night he speeds away.
Forever a thief of tamer steeds,
Stallion prince of the mustang breeds,
Coveted prize of the men who ride,
Never a rope has touched his hide.
Wherever the saddle is still a throne,
The Great White Mustang's tale is known.

O Phantom Ghost of heart's desire,
Lusty-limbed with soul of fire,
Milk-white Monarch, may you, free,
Race the stars eternally.

© S. Omar Barker, reprinted with the permission of the estate of S. Omar Barker, further reproduction without explicit permission is prohibited.

from Rawhide Rhymes, 1968

S. Omar Barker notes that Washington Irving (1783-1859) was the first to write about the "ghost horse of the plains." 

In 1832, Irving traveled to Eastern Oklahoma, and wrote about it in his 1835 book, A Tour of the Prairies. In Chapter 20, "The Camp of the Wild Horse," he writes:

...We had been disappointed this day in our hopes of meeting with buffalo, but the sight of the wild horse had been a great novelty, and gave a turn to the conversation of the camp for the evening. There were several anecdotes told of a famous gray horse, which has ranged the prairies of this neighborhood for six or seven years, setting at naught every attempt of the hunters to capture him. They say he can pace and rack (or amble) faster than the fleetest horses can run. Equally marvellous accounts were given of a black horse on the Brazos, who grazed the prairies on that river's banks in Texas. For years he outstripped all pursuit. His fame spread far and wide; offers were made for him to the amount of a thousand dollars; the boldest and most hard-riding hunters tried incessantly to make prize of him, but in vain. At length he fell a victim to his gallantry, being decoyed under a tree by a tame mare, and a noose dropped over his head by a boy perched among the branches...

Read the entire book here at the Electronic Text Center, University of Virginia Library. The Oklahoma Historical Society's Chronicles of Oklahoma tell more about Irving's travels.

Irving is well known for his own ghostly story, "The Legend of Sleepy Hallow," which was published in 1820. A bit of trivia: a 1922 silent movie version of "The Headless Horseman (1922) starred Will Rogers.


 

Code Of The Cow Country

It don't take such a lot of laws
     To keep the rangeland straight,
Nor books to write 'em in, because
     There's only six or eight.
The first one is the welcome sign—
     True brand of western hearts:
"My camp is yours an' yours is mine,"
     In all cow country parts.

Treat with respect all womankind,
     Same as you would your sister.
Take care of neighbors' strays you find,
     And don't call cowboys "mister."
Shut pasture gates when passin' through;
     An' takin' all in all,
Be just as rough as pleases you,
     But never mean nor small.

Talk straight, shoot straight, and never break
     Your word to man nor boss.
Plumb always kill a rattlesnake.
     Don't ride a sorebacked hoss.
It don't take law nor pedigree
     To live the best you can!
These few is all it takes to be
     A cowboy—and a man!

© S. Omar Barker, reprinted with the permission of the estate of S. Omar Barker, further reproduction without explicit permission is prohibited.

from Songs of the Saddlemen, 1954

 


 The Norther

They asked me: "What's this 'norther' them oldtimers talk about?"
Well, folks, it's Texas weather with the hairy side turned out.
Out on the plains the cowhands of them ol' trail drivin' days
Would look off to the northwards, and they'd see a bluish haze
A-formin' in the distance where the prairie met the sky,
And then they knew 'twas comin', and a-comin' on the fly!

They'd hear an ol' cow bawlin' to her calf uneasy-like,
For cattle sure get restless when a norther's due to strike.
Their heads come up a-snuffin' like they smell the comin' cold,
And if you're driven northwards, they get mighty hard to hold.
The weather may be warmish, with the sun a-shinin' bright,
Or stars a-twinklin' sweetly through the balmy dark of night,
And then in twenty minutes, it's just like you're bein' skinned
By knives as sharp as razors—them there cold knives of the wind.
For if there's one thing certain that them Texas northers do,
They hit plumb swift and sudden, be they wet or be they "blue."

The blue ones, they will freeze you dry, the wet bring snow and sleet,
But neither is a visitor the cowboy likes to meet,
Because, as down his chilly spine the snow begins to sift,
He also sees the cattle hump their backs and start to drift.
He sees 'em headin' southward with their tails turned to the storm,
And what he'd like to do is quit, and find some place that's warm.
No use to try to turn 'em. Once in eighteen eighty-four,
Cows drifted plumb from Kansas to the Matagorda shore.
They piled up in arroyos. Some riders, too, was froze,
For Death don't keep his distance when a sure 'nough norther blows.
The wolf of all bad weather, like a lobo on the hunt,
The norther's fangs are cruel, and they're anything but blunt.
The buffalo could face 'em, but the cattle turned their tails,
And even tough ol' longhorns died, a-driftin' down the trails.

They asked me: "What's a norther?" Well, to them that's heard one howl,
It's more than just a blizzard—it's the North Pole on the prowl!

© S. Omar Barker, reprinted with the permission of the estate of S. Omar Barker, further reproduction without explicit permission is prohibited.

from Rawhide Rhymes; Singing Poems of the Old West

 


 

Pullin' Leather

I've done my share of braggin' when it come my turn to spiel,
And rode some salty broncos at the ol' chuckwagon wheel.
I've told about the buckers that I've cured of snuff and snort,
And never pulled no leather, like a peeler hadn't ort.
From colts just off the gramma to the outlaws of the shows,
I've set up there and scratched 'em all the way from flank to nose.
I claim to be a rider that no man has ever saw
Reach out to grab the button when my seat's too far from taw.
But when a feller's ridin' forty miles from hell-and-gone,
And his hoss lets in to buck a spell, there's ways of stayin' on
That ain't considered proper to a buckarooster's pride

But boots ain't made to walk in
so you've kinder got to ride.
This pitchin's took you by surprise, way out there all alone,
And cactus beds around you make your innards fairly groan.

So you've got to keep astraddle and you aim to stay on top,
Even when you know you're slippin' and you hear your shirt-tail pop.
Your Stetson's gone a-sailin' and you'll foller purty quick
Unless you clamp to somethin' that will sorter help you stick.
That's when you grab the biskit like you'd growed up on a farm.
You'll sure dehorn that saddle or you'll throw away an arm!
There ain't no grandstand watchin', so you sure would be a fool
To let that pony throw you for the sake of any rule!
I've done my share of braggin', and it sure can't be denied
That no "man" ever seen me pullin' leather on a ride;
But forty miles from nowheres
well, a cowboy hates to walk,
And most of us is thankful that a hoss ain't fixed to talk!

© S. Omar Barker, reprinted with the permission of the estate of S. Omar Barker, further reproduction without explicit permission is prohibited.

from Songs of the Saddlemen, 1954

 


 

Rope Music

Oh, I've heard a lot of music, human-made and Nature's own,
     Fiddled tunes an' hummin' thrummin' melodies,
With sometimes a squealin' clarinet or sobbin' saxophone,
     And at others just a wind-song in the trees.

Once I heard "O Sole Mio" and it kinder choked my throat
     Just the way she sorter sung it from her heart.
Crickets whirrin' in the evenin'—runnin' water's quiet note

     Oh, such singin' might 'nigh busts your soul apart.

I can catch a drift of music in the howl of wolves at night,
     In the cud-a-r-rupp of hosses on the lope,
But the song that never fails to make the world and all seem right
     Is the swishin', swingin' singin' of my rope!

Just the whisper-whistle hummin' of a momentary tune
     Every puncher knows the rope song of the West

Though there may be grander music than my loopin' lasso's croon,
     I'm a cowboy, and to me it sounds the best!

© S. Omar Barker, reprinted with the permission of the estate of S. Omar Barker, further reproduction without explicit permission is prohibited.

from Buckaroo Ballads, 1928


Ranchman's Widow

She's got one son a doctor,
And a daughter teachin' Latin.
Her youngest, he's a lawyer,
And she thinks a heap of that 'un.
But one's a cow ranch foreman,
And it makes her kinder glad,
For the way he sets the saddle
Just reminds her of his dad.

She's proud to be the mother
Of a man who tends the sick,
And of a brainy daughter,
And a lawyer, keen and quick;
But when her old heart hankers
For the old days once again,
She packs and makes a visit
To the range of ridin' men.

And although he ain't ambitious
For a big high-toned success,
Her cowboy son arouses
Just a heap more tenderness.
Than all the other trio,
And her heart feels young and glad
Just to see him set a saddle
Like his old cowpuncher dad.

© S. Omar Barker, reprinted with the permission of the estate of S. Omar Barker, further reproduction without explicit permission is prohibited.

from Cow-Gals Love Their Cowboys and included in Classic Rhymes by S. Omar Barker from Cowboy Miner Publications

 


Horses Versus Hosses

I heard an oldtime cowboy swappin' off some drawlin' talk
about them nags men used to ride, who didn't like to walk.
He spoke of them as hosses, so I up and asked him why
he didn't call them horses.  Well, a gleam come in his eye,
and here is what he told me
—be it right or be it wrong—
some salty information that I'd like to pass along:

"You go out to the race track or some modern ridin' school,
And what you'll find 'em ridin' there is horses, as a rule.
You'll see 'em wrapped in blankets when they raise a little sweat,
And bedded in warm stables so they won't git cold or wet.
Their saddle is a postage stamp; they're combed and curried slick:
Their riders bobble up an' down like monkeys on a stick.
Them purty tricks are horses, son, but that there ain't the word
We used to call them shaggies that we rode behind the herd.
They might not be so purty, but they stayed outdoors at night.
They maybe weighed 900 pounds
—all guts an' dynamite.
They took you where you had to go an' always brought you back,
Without no fancy rations that you purchase in a sack.
They loped all day on nothin' but your two hands full of grass.
On a Stetson full of water they could climb a mountain pass.
They swum you through the rivers an' they plowed you through the sand—
You an' your heavy saddle, an' they learned to understand
Which end of the cows the tail was on, till all you had to do
Was set up in the saddle while they did the cow work, too!
Sometimes they sorter dodged your rope, sometimes they bucked you high,
But they was sure the apple of the oldtime cowhands eye!
These stable-pampered critters may be horses sure enough,
But them ol' cow range hosses, they was born to take it rough.
So that's the way they took it, till they earned a tougher name
Than these here handfed horses, all so delicate an' tame.

So you can have your horses, with their hifalutin' gloss
I'll take four legged rawhide—or in other words, a hoss!"

© S. Omar Barker, reprinted with the permission of the estate of S. Omar Barker, further reproduction without explicit permission is prohibited.

from Songs of the Saddlemen 

 


Saddle Lure


Oh, I've sat on hard park benches and in springy Morris chairs,
And on silken, flowered mats in far Japan;
I have parked my lazy carcass in the cars of millionaires,
And I've ridden houdahs in the French Soudan.


On a swivel in an office--in a steamer chair at sea--
Why, I've even sat and dreamed on woodland moss,
But there's just one kind of sittin' that is always home to me:
That's a-straddle of a good old saddle hoss.


Just a-lopin' through the sage-brush where the purple mesas rise,
Or a helpin' keep a cow herd on the go--
When there's saddle leather creakin' I ain't heavin' any sighs,
'Cause I've got my seat in heaven here below!

© S. Omar Barker, reprinted with the permission of the estate of S. Omar Barker, further reproduction without explicit permission is prohibited.

from Vientos de las Sierras

 



Curly Wolf College
I went up to a college and they asked me what I knowed
To justify embarkin' on the education road.
I told 'em that my Pa and Ma had figgered I was smart,
For I could purt near always tell a horse and cow apart:
A cow's the one that wears the horns, a horse is what you ride,
And both of them most always wears the hairy part outside.
 
They ask me what I knowed about the hist'ry of the earth.
I told 'em that I understood it started at Fort Worth,
Where Adam, the first Texan, found a market for his steers,
And started raisin' buckaroos with red and hairy ears.
They asked about my algebra—I told 'em it was tough,
The way most any cowboy's gits that's ridden long enough.
 
They asked me what philosophy of life I favored most,
And that one sure did snub me right up to the snubbin' post.
I pondered some, then told 'em that I always do my best
To aim my spittin' eastwards when the wind is in the west.
They asked about my grammar, and I told 'em she was dead.
They didn't mention Grampa, but I told 'em what he'd said:
That any man was foolish and was shorely bound to fail
Who'd kick a hog barefooted or twist a panther's tail!
 
I went up to this college, but I didn't stay there long,
For they asked a heap of questions and my answers was all wrong.
At least that's how they figgered, like them college fellers do,
But I brought a prof back with me just to spend a week or two
A-ridin' on the rancho with a hoss between his knees,
Where the wolves is wild an' curly and the kiotes all got fleas.
 
About this here perfessor I won't say no word unkind,
For he packs a heap of knowledge in that thing he calls his mind;
But now my lack of learnin' don't seem near so woebegone—
At least I know which end to put the horse's bridle on!
 

© S. Omar Barker, reprinted with the permission of the estate of S. Omar Barker, further reproduction without explicit permission is prohibited.

from Songs of the Saddlemen 


Songs for a Land of Horseback Men

I would sing them sweet and low—
Songs for my New Mexico,
Where the cottonwwood's green shade
Meets the desert unafraid;
Where blue deepens every sky,
And sun-lazy cattle lie,
Chewing gently as they drowse,
Well content that they are cows
In a land of mesas wide,
Where the sunbrowned cowboys ride.

I would sing them clear and loud—
Songs of mountains snowy browed,
Where the lonely cougar's track
Threads through forests greenly black:
Where the brawling Pecos heads
In a dozen rocky beds;   
Where the spruce tree coolly roofs
Trails for hardy horses' hoofs.

I would sing out free and lusty
Of a land whose songs are dusty
From four hundred years of trail men—
Horse-and-saddle, never-fail men!
Spanish nights in armor bold,
Thirsting for a legend's gold;
Mountain men and frontier troopers,
Silent men and saddle-whoopers;
Long haired scouts and ciboleros,
Texas trail men, wild vaqueros;
Sweating cowhands of the ranches—
Saddle breeds in all their branches!

I could sing New Mexico
In a hundred songs I know,
Yet in each somewhere would sound
Hoofs that drum upon the ground,
Rhythm now, as rhythm then,
For this land of horseback men!

from Songs of the Saddlemen 
© S. Omar Barker, reprinted with the permission of the estate of S. Omar Barker, further reproduction without explicit permission is prohibited.

 


Old-Time Cowboys

Proudly they rode, those horseback men
Whose like we shall not see again,
Those cowboys of a day long gone
Who saddled broncs before the dawn
To ride the long day into night—
Clan cousins of the Ishmaelite.

Their marching music was the bawl
Of longhorn cattle, and the call
Of high adventure stirred their blood
To horseback pride and hardihood.

Dusty they rode. The salt of sweat
Was more to them than the alphabet,
And more the drum of a horse's hoof
Than any fireside, field, or roof.

Partners of the wind, their spurs are rust
Their cattle trails long-settled dust,
But over their campfires' ashened embers,
The steadfast northern star remembers
That proudly they rode, with ancient pride
Of all bold men and true who ride!

© S. Omar Barker, reprinted with the permission of the estate of S. Omar Barker, further reproduction without explicit permission is prohibited.

from Rawhide Rhymes; Singing Poems of the Old West


A Cowboy's Christmas Prayer

I ain't much good at prayin',
   and You may not know me, Lord—
For I ain't much seen in churches,
   where they preach Thy Holy Word.
But you may have observed me 
   out here on the lonely plains,
A-lookin' after cattle, 
   feelin' thankful when it rains.

Admirin' Thy great handiwork.
   the miracle of the grass,
Aware of Thy kind Spirit,
   in the way it comes to pass 
That hired men on horseback
   and the livestock that we tend 
Can look up at the stars at night,
   and know we've got a Friend.

So here's ol' Christmas comin' on,
   remindin' us again
Of Him whose coming brought good will
   into the hearts of men.
A cowboy ain't a preacher, Lord,
   but if You'll hear my prayer,
I'll ask as good as we have got 
   for all men everywhere.

Don't let no hearts be bitter, Lord.
   Don't let no child be cold.
Make easy the beds for them that's sick
   and them that's weak and old.
Let kindness bless the trail we ride,
   no matter what we're after,
And sorter keep us on Your side,
   in tears as well as laughter.

I've seen ol' cows a-starvin'—
   and it ain't no happy sight;
Please don't leave no one hungry, Lord,
   on Thy Good Christmas Night—
No man, no child, no woman,
   and no critter on four feet
I'll do my doggone best 
   to help you find 'em chuck to eat.

I'm just a sinful cowpoke, Lord—
   ain't got no business prayin'
But still I hope you'll ketch a word
   or two, of what I'm sayin':
We speak of Merry Christmas, Lord—
   I reckon You'll agree—

There ain't no Merry Christmas
   for nobody that ain't free!
So one thing more I ask You, 
   Lord: just help us what You can
To save some seeds of freedom 
   for the future Sons of Man!

© S. Omar Barker.
In December, 2013 the S. Omar Barker estate let us know that this poem is now considered in the public domain.

 

S. Omar Barker earned more from the publication and uses of his "A Cowboy's Christmas Prayer" than from any other poem. A December 23, 1998 article by Ollie Reed Jr. in the Albuquerque Tribune, "Church on the Range," comments on the poem:

In November 1962, New Mexico author S. Omar Barker received a telegram asking permission for his poem "A Cowboy's Christmas Prayer" to be read on the Lawrence Welk TV show.

Barker, a sunup-to-sundown, every-day-of-the-week professional writer for much of his more than 90 years, telegraphed back that for $100 they had a deal.

Back again comes a telegraph from the TV show's agent asking if Barker would settle for $50.

"Fifty bucks no steak. Beans," Barker wired in response on Nov. 26, 1962. "But will accept anyway to help TV poor folks."

Jodie Phillips, wife of Barker's nephew Bob Phillips, smiled as she pointed out copies of the telegrams pasted in a thick scrapbook put together by Barker himself....


Pictured: Some of S. Omar Barker's scrapbooks, books, and photographs, photographed at the home of his grandniece, daughter of Jodie and Bob Phillips, November 2007.  Photo by Jeri Dobrowski, www.JeriDobrowski.com.


"If he didn't sell a poem, he didn't eat," Jodie Phillips said of Barker, who died in Las Vegas, N.M., in April 1985, just a couple of months shy of his 91st birthday.

Apparently the Welk show decided not to use the poem.

That was a rarity. Tennessee Ernie Ford and sausage king-country singer Jimmy Dean read it on national television, and it has been reprinted much more than 100 times in collections of Barker's works, anthologies, magazines and Christmas cards.

Leanin' Tree cards of Boulder, Colo., has used the Barker verse...more years than not for more than two decades.

....

Jodie Phillips said she never heard Barker talk about what inspired him to write the Christmas prayer, but she thinks it's based on his own brand of theology."

"There were no churches where Omar grew up," she said. "He believed in God, and I think he had a very strong religious conviction. But he belonged to no sect. He never went to church services."


Four-Footed Dynamite

They asked me "What's a rodeo?" I told 'em that I knowed
But to put it into language was a job that had me throwed.
It's hoofs and horns and hoss sweat, and the smell of western dust;
It's rannyhans to wrastle, and it's buckin' broncs to bust;.
It's ropes to ketch a calf with, piggin' strings to tie him down;
It's the daring-do of horseback men, the rangeland come to town.
It's the Braymer bulls to straddle, and it's bones to bust and bruise;
It's Olympics of the saddle, if you win or if you lose.

It's men that pay an entrance fee for just a chance to win.
If all they win's a busted leg, they take it with a grin.
It's ropin' horses smart enough you'd think they'd been to school,
And so they have. It's years they've been in trainin', as a rule,
With some ol' cowboy teacher usin' patience by the quart
To learn 'em how to ketch a calf and hold him like they ort.
Of course there's rules to go by, just like any other game,
But livestock sure can't read 'em, so it don't come out the same;
For though a ballgame can be "throwed"—and sometimes is, I hear—
You can't buy off a buckin' bronc nor "fix" a Braymer steer!

The wild West ain't as roomy as it was some years ago,
But still it sprouts adventure—so we've got the rodeo,
Where men that's knowed as cowboys keep their horseback honor bright
By rope and spur and saddle, on four-footed dynamite!

© S. Omar Barker, reprinted with the permission of the estate of S. Omar Barker, further reproduction without explicit permission is prohibited. from Rawhide Rhymes; Singing Poems of the Old West

 


 

Cowboy's New Year's Resolutions

As one who's been a cowhand since the wildcats learned to spit,
I've made some resolutions for the comin' year, to wit:
Resolved, to ride a shorter day and sleep a longer night;
To never come to breakfast till the sun is shinin' bright;
To draw a top-hands wages when they're due or quit the job
And hunt a wealthy widow or an easy bank to rob.
Resolved, to quit the wagon when the chuck ain't up to snuff,
To feed no more on bullet beans nor chaw on beef that's tough.
Resolved, to straddle nothin' in the line of saddle mount
That ain't plumb easy-gaited, gentle broke, and some account.

Resolved, that when it blizzards and there's stock out in the storm,
To let the owner worry while I stay in where it's warm.
Resolved, that when it comes my turn next spring to ride the bogs,
I'll don the bib and tucker of my town and Sunday togs,
And tell the boss, by gravies, if he craves to shed some blood,
Just try to make me smear 'em tailin' moo-cows from the mud.
Resolved, that when a thunderhead comes rollin' up the sky,
I'll lope in off my circle to the bunkhouse where it's dry.

Resolved, to do such ropin' as a ropin' cowhand must,
But never when the air ain't free from cattle-trompled dust.
Resolved to show no hosses, and resolved, to swim no cricks;
Resolved, no dead-cow skinnin', and resolved, no fence to fix.
Resolved, to swing no pitchfork, no pick, no ax, no spade;
Resolved to wear my whiskers—if I want to—in a braid!
Resolved, to take this New Year plenty easy through-and-through,
Instead of sweatin' heavy like I've always used to do.

As one who's been a cowhand since before who laid the chunk,
It may sound like I'm loco, or it may sound like I'm drunk
To make such resolutions as you see upon my list,
And others purt near like 'em that my mem'ry may have missed;
But gosh, they sound so pleasant to a son of saddle sweat!
And New Year's resolutions—well, I never kept one yet!
So why make resolutions that bring furrows to your brow?
Let's make 'em free and fancy—'cause we'll bust 'em anyhow!

© 1966, S. Omar Barker, from Rawhide Rhymes
reprinted with the permission of the estate of S. Omar Barker; further reproduction without explicit permission is prohibited.

 


 

Tackin' on the Shoes
Of all the ol' back-achin' jobs a cowpoke's got to do,
There's mighty few as tough as when he's got a bronc to shoe.
There's horses that stand gentle and don't ever try to kick,
Not even when a hammered nail goes plumb into the quick;
But even when they're thataway, their hoofs ain't nothin' light
To hold up when you rasp and trim to fit the shoe just right.
 
Some ponies are such leaners that I've heard ol' cowboys say
That once they've had to shoe 'em, they can tell you what they weigh.
You've got to hold the foot up snug and tight between your knees,
And horny hoofs ain't soft to trim like whittlin' on a cheese.
You hammer all stooped over when you do a job of platin',
Until you sometimes wonder if your back will ever straighten.
You've got to set them nails in true while sweatin' blinds your eyes,
And watch out that the horse don't jerk and take you by surprise.
This job of platin' ponies takes a heap of patient skill,
Along with sweat and muscle, even when the horse holds still.
 
Some outfits hire a horseshoe man, but on the ones that don't,
Cowpokes have this chore to do. They never say they won't,
But if a horse gits wringy and they bang a careless thumb,
There ain't much doubt but what you'll hear them cowpokes cussin' some,
For tackin' on the horseshoes, just to tell it fair and square,
Can't never be done proper if you ain't learned how to swear!

© 1966, S. Omar Barker, from Rawhide Rhymes
reprinted with the permission of the estate of S. Omar Barker; further reproduction without explicit permission is prohibited.

 


 

Canned Termaters

Them old time western cowboys mostly ate what they could git,
And drank what turned up handy, but I've heard them all admit
They sometimes got so tired of beans, of beef and even 'taters,
They'd purt near swap their saddles for a bait of canned termaters.
About the only stuff in cans them days was pork and beans,
Terrmaters, Eagle milk, and corn, and maybe some sardines;
And none of these was plentiful out where the cow trails ran,
For grub come mighty costly when you bought it in the can.
But sometimes in the wagon bed of big ranch operators
You'd find maybe a case or two of stuff called canned termaters.
 
Them old time cowhands never heard of vitamins an' such;
They never craved no fancy foods--at least not very much--
But, comin' in from cow-work where the dust was thick and hot,
Them juicy, cool termaters--well, they sure did hit the sport.
You even liked them better than you did dried apply pie,
And, when your outfit furnished them, you sure was livin' high.
Why, even when you et in town, you shocked them restrunt waiters
By turnin' fancy vittles down and eatin' canned termaters!
 
A-batchin' in the boars-nest, as the line camps then was called,
You often tired of cookin', and your appetite got stalled,
But if up there upon the shelf some canned termaters stood,
You'd "cut a can" for supper, and it sure did savor good.
Some days inside your slicker you would pack a can or two
Tied on behind your saddle. If the water holes was few
You'd "cut a can" and drink it as you jogged along the road,
And swear that canned termaters was the best fruit ever growed.
 
In town, the morning after you had helped the owl to hoot,
Your tongue would taste like leather from the top of some old boot,
Until you found a grocer that would trust you for a can,
And when you'd cut and drunk it, you was sure a diff'rent man.
 
That's how them oldsters tell it of the days when life was rough,
When ridin' men was rawhide men, and nothin' else but tough;
When men with hides and stummicks like on ol' bull alligator's,
Was still like kids for candy--when it come to canned termaters.
 
from Songs of the Saddlemen 
© 1954, S. Omar Barker, reprinted with the permission of the estate of S. Omar Barker, further reproduction without explicit permission is prohibited.

The Erwin E. Smith collection at the Amon Carter Museum includes a photo here titled "Erwin E. Smith Eating a Mid-Morning Snack," 1909-1910, showing the photographer eating canned tomatoes in camp.

Richard W. Slatta's The Cowboy Encyclopedia comments, "On the trail, canned tomatoes helped to quench thirst. Philip Ashton Rollins notes that acidic tomato juice counteracted the ill effects of alkali dust inhaled by men on the trail. Even the greenest cook could whip up a batch of 'pooch,' stewed tomatoes mixed with bread and sugar."

The Culinary Arts Museum site, in a section here about trail cooks, notes, "Canned foods were sometimes carried on chuck wagons during cattle drives. On fancier wagons, canned tomatoes were considered the 'greatest prize of all.' Sometimes, cowboys carried cans of tomatoes while on the range to cut their thirst. It can be argued that tomato juice certainly tasted better than water from wagon barrels that often was alkaline and 'wiggling with wildlife.'"


The Empty Bunk

Ol' Charley's boots with saggin' heels
     stand empty by his bunk,
And yonder hangs his ol' guitar—
     we shore do miss its plunk

We've done rolled up his soogans
     from the bunk he'll use no more.
We couldn't hardly sleep last night
     for missin' Charley's snore.

This bunkhouse on the ol' Bar G,
     it somehow ain't the same
With Charley's chuckle missin'
     from the ol' casino game.

His hawgleg shore looks lonesome
     in its holster on the wall,
for a gun without its wearer, why,
     it ain't no gun at all!

Bud claims ol' Charley got his dues—
     he rode too much at night.

There's danger in such doin's
     when the moon is shining bright.

But me and Spike, we both agree,
     whoever was to blame,
We shore will miss ol' Charley,
     and 'twill never be the same

As when he used to cuss the cook
     for callin' us at dawn,
Yet roll out with a grin on.
     Why, we cain't believe he's gone!

Ol' saggin' boots that's empty
     and an ol' hat on a nail,
While out acrost the valley
     you can hear the kiotes wail

As if they too was grievin'
     for the sound of Charley's song
That kinder cheered the bunkhouse
     when the winter nights was long.

So sadly here we set tonight
     and ponder on the days
When Charley, wild and wooly,
     with his pistols both ablaze,

Rode squawlin' into town with us
     a-shootin' in the air,
to show the world we're curly wolves
     with cactus in our hair.

But Charley's saddle's cold tonight,
     he'll gallyhoot no more,
For yonder hangs his pistol
     on a nail behind the door.

He's done forsook the Boar's Nest,
     with a grin upon his face,
And left his puncher plunder here—
     to clutter up the place.

It's kinder sad to view it,
     where he left it, dang his hide,
To travel off to Texas,
     honeymoonin' with his bride!

© 1966, S. Omar Barker, from Rawhide Rhymes
reprinted with the permission of the estate of S. Omar Barker; further reproduction without explicit permission is prohibited.



Useless Question

No Texan ever asks you where you're from. In fact they say
He views such questions as but idle chatter
Because if you're from Texas, you will tell him anyway,
And if you're not, it really doesn't matter.

© 1966, S. Omar Barker, from Rawhide Rhymes
reprinted with the permission of the estate of S. Omar Barker; further reproduction without explicit permission is prohibited.



Bear Ropin' Buckaroo

Now ropin' bears (says Uncle Sid) is sure a heap of fun,
And a lot more gizzard-thrillin' than to shoot 'em with a gun.
I roped a bit ol' he one time when I was young and raw.
He must have weighed five hundred pounds, and monstrous was his paw.

He wandered out upon the flats for cowchip bugs and such.
Them grubs and worms, they suit a bear like pretzels suit the Dutch.
I purt near didn't ketch him, for a bear can split the breeze,
And your pony's got to wiggle if he beats him to the trees.

But that roan that I was ridin', he was tough and mighty fleet.
He overhauled ol' bruin, and my loop was quick and neat.
It ketched him snug around the neck, and when he hit the end,
I heard the cinches stretchin,' and I felt the saddle bend!

My pony put the brakes on till he sure 'nough plowed the ground.
It purt near made me sorry that there weren't no crowd around
To watch a salty hand like me demonsterate my skill
At learnin' Mister Bruin to obey my wish and will!

"Come on, ol' b'ar" I bellered. "You're a wild and woolly scamp,
But I'm the apparatus that can lead you into camp!"
At first I feared the rope would bust. I'd lose him if it should.
About a minute later, boys, I wished to hell it would!

That bear r'ared up and popped his teeth—'twas like a pistol crack—
Then grabbed my rope hand over hand and come right up the slack.
I give a squall and swung my hat to slap him in the eyes,
Be a he-bear ain't a critter that it's easy to surprise.

My pony tried to quit me but he had a bear in tow,
And a-clingin' to the saddle was a load he couldn't throw.
He got a-straddle of the rope, a log, a bush, a bear.
He wallered on his haunches and he pawed the upper air.

Ol' bruin's jaws and paws and claws, they purt near had me skun.
My rope was anchored to the horn and wouldn't come undone.
Seemed like we fought for hours, and I couldn't see no hope,
When bruin bit my twine in two and quit us on the lope.

Now ropin' bears (says Uncle Sid) is sure a heap of fun.
At least I've heard folks claim it is—I never roped but one.
It ain't no special trick at all to snag one in your noose.
The ketch is mighty simple—but it's hell to turn him loose!

© 1966, S. Omar Barker, from Rawhide Rhymes
reprinted with the permission of the estate of S. Omar Barker; further reproduction without explicit permission is prohibited.



Careful, Cowboy!

Love is a young cowgirl,
     Lopin' from the West.
Why she rides a pinto
     None have ever guessed.

Loop her with a smile, boys,
     Lest she gallop past

Give your rope a dally,
     But don't tie fast!

©  S. Omar Barker, from Rawhide Rhymes
reprinted with the permission of the estate of S. Omar Barker; further reproduction without explicit permission is prohibited.



What's a Bronco?

They asked me "What's a bronco!"
since they seemed to crave to know.
I kinder chawed it over,
then I fed it to 'em slow.

"A bronc," I says, judicious,
"which is what you mean, no doubt,
Is an equine son of cyclones
with the hairy side turned out.
His soul is filled with cockleburs,
and when this inward itch
bursts forth in outward action,
he is said to buck or pitch,
Which means he comes unraveled,
paws the moon to make it spin,
and agitates his muscles
like he aimed to quit his skin.

"One jump he views his belly,
and the next he chins the stars.
Was you ever kicked by lightnin'?
That's the way his landin' jars.
His color may be anything
from black to flea-bit roan;
a sorrel, bay, or chestnut,
he is still the devil's own
until he's been unspizzled
by some hairpin on his back
with two prongs hung acrost him
and their juncture in the kack.

"A pinwill or a r'arback
or a circlin' pioneer,
The bronc's a welcome widow-maker
when he throws himself in gear.
Though he's the toughest red meat
you will ever come across,
If you're man enough to ride him,
then you've got yourself a hoss!"

©  S. Omar Barker, from Rawhide Rhymes
reprinted with the permission of the estate of S. Omar Barker; further reproduction without explicit permission is prohibited.

 


Omar was born in the rugged Sangre de Cristo Mountains of northern New Mexico. S. Omar Barker was a rancher, high school teacher, college professor, forest ranger, soldier, outdoorsman, and legislator. He is best known, and rightly so, as one of the West's best and most admired cowboy poets. He was named after his father Squire L. Barker, but went by Omar. He often signed his books with his initials and trademark brand, "Lazy SOB."

from the book jacket of Cowboy Poetry: Classic Rhymes by S. Omar Barker, 
Cowboy Miner Productions, 1998



photo © S. Omar Barker, reprinted with the permission of the estate of S. Omar Barker, 
further reproduction without explicit permission is prohibited.
S. Omar and Elsa Barker

 

Books by S. Omar Barker 

 

Cowboy Miner Productions published a selection of S. Omar Barker's poems:

  Cowboy Poetry: Classic Rhymes by S. Omar Barker, foreword by Elmer Kelton,  Phoenix, Ariz., Cowboy Miner Productions (1998)

 

S. Omar Barker wrote and edited a number of books.  Among the collections of poetry are:

  Rawhide Rhymes; Singing Poems of the Old West, foreword by Fred Gipson, Garden City, N. Y., Doubleday (1968)

  Songs of the Saddlemen, foreword by Fred Gipson, Denver, Sage Books (1954)

   Buckaroo Ballads, Santa Fe, N.M. Santa Fe New Mexican Pub. Corp. (1928)

   Vientos de las Sierras (Winds of the Mountains) New Mexico poems, Beulah, N.M. (1924)

 

The contents of some of the above books are listed below, along with the contents of three books prepared by Jodie and Bob Phillips, and shared by the Estate of S. Omar Barker:

Straddle the Saddle, 1997 unpublished, privately collected by Jodie and Bob Phillips

Cow Country Lyrics, 1997 unpublished, privately collected by Jodie and Bob Phillips 

Cow-Gals Love Their Cowboys, 1998 unpublished, privately collected by Jodie and Bob Phillips

 

Among his other books are:

  Ol' S.O.B. Sez: Cowboy Limericks, compiled by Jodie & Bob Phillips, foreword by Waddie Mitchell; illustrated by Peter Grosshauser, 1998   

  Cattleman's Steak Book: Best Beef Recipes by Carol Truax, with random remarks and rhymes by S. Omar Barker, 1967   

  Little World Apart, by S. Omar Barker (novel), 1966
From the dust jacket: 

The Kaiser's march on Belgium seemed far away. For here, high in the rugged mountains of New Mexico, wonder was all about them and the world was for the taking, which they did with great zest. Deer hunting, camping, riding--the Bohannan boys went everywhere together.

This is a poignant novel of two brothers in the most sublime days of their youth, a novel that shines with affection, spirit, and compassion. Separated by conflicting temperaments and two years of age, Jeff and Chad share an intense and unusual bond of loyalty and love as they grow up on their father's small cattle ranch. Theirs is a hard way of life, filled with rugged duties, dangers, and devotion to their strict parents.

Yet it is a life of happiness. Together Jeff and Chad had learned how to rope cattle and shoot deer. The younger Jeff never forgot the time he had to rescue Chad from the mountains, or the time the two of them went out after the great white buck Chad knew he had seen.

But suddenly the war comes very close and Jeff now realizes that Chad will one day go beyond their hill, into the wide world so different from their little one. Vaguely the two brothers sense that they will never again share experiences such as these, as they reach, first eagerly, then reluctantly towards manhood--and the end of their little world apart.

Written by one of the most distinguished authors of the American Southwest, Little World Apart is a book filled with the enthusiasm of youth, the glow of the great outdoors, and the spirit of the bold people who made the Southwest what it is today.

 

S. Omar Barker's complete works and papers are in the Rio Grande Archives at New Mexico State University in Las Cruces.


  Cowboy Poetry:  Classic Rhymes by S. Omar Barker, foreword by Elmer Kelton, by Elmer Kelton,  Phoenix, Ariz., Cowboy Miner Productions (1998)

Adios!
Against the Dark
Agreement in Principle
Bear Ropin' Buckaroo
Bedtime Story
Big Windies
Black Magic
Boar's Nest Batcher
Boy Into Man
The Bronc Buster's Epitaph
Bruin Wooin'
Buckaroo Braggin'
Buckaroo's Coffee
Buckaroo's Squelch
Bunkhouse Forum
Bunkhouse Thanksgiving
Canned Termaters
The Chuckwagon
Code of the Cow Country
Cow Country
Cowboy Breed
Cowboy Ridin'
A Cowboy's Christmas Prayer
Cowboy's Complaint
Cowboy's New Year's Resolutions
The Cowboy's Religion
Cowboy's Revenge
The Cowgirl at College
Cowpen Moo-Sic
Cowpuncher Caution
Cowpuncher Praise
A Cowpuncher Watches the Crowd
Cry, Coyote!
Curly-Wolf College
The Deputy's Star
Draggin' the Tree
Drifter's Thanksgivin'
Drylander's Christmas
The Empty Bunk
The Female of the Species
Fine!
Fireside Windies
Four-Footed Dynamite
A Frontier Wife
A Gal to Spark
Grand Canyon Cowboy
Granger's Daughter
Grass
Grave Error
Gun Law
Hangin'
His First Shave
His Night-Herd Pardner
Horse Corral Etiquette
Horses Versus Hosses
Hospital Cowboy
Hot Ir'n!
Hunted Men
Into the West
Jack Potter's Courtin'
Judge Bean's Bear
Judge Bean's Jury
Jughead
Jurisdiction
The Last Bronc
The Last Lone Trail
A Letter from Judge Bean
Line-Camp Christmas Letter
Longhorn
Manana
Mariposa Mesa
A Measure for Man
Mountain Ranch Wife
Mustang Manners
Namin' the Broncos
Ol' Snoozy Schmidt
An Old Cowhand Enters Heaven
Old Cowboy
Old Wagon Tracks
Old West Welcome
One or the Other
One Way of Proposin'
Outlaw's Funeral
Pants Polisher
Portrait of a Puncher
Power in the Pot
"'Purt Near!"
Quittin' Talk
Ranch House Night
Ranch Mother
Ranchman's Widow
Rangeland Perfume
Rangeland Sleepin'
Ravens Over the Pass
The Riders
The Ring-Tailed Wowser
Rodeo Days
The Sentimental Banker
Some Horses I Have Rode
Sometimes Serious
The Sparkin' Plug
Spurs
Stew-Pified
Tall Men Riding
Tenderfoot
Texas Truth
Texas Zephyr
Thanksgiving Argument
The Tie-Fast Man
Thirsty Cowboy
Three Wise Men
To a Blue-Eyed Cowgirl
To a Mountain Cowgirl
To an Old Cowboy - Departed
Trail Dust
The Unpardonable Sin
Useless Question
Vaquero's Valentine
Watchin' 'em Ride
Watchin' Him Drink
Wearin' Daddy's Hat
Weddin' in Texas
What the Ol' Texan Misses
What's a Bronco?
The White Mustang
The Winner



  Rawhide Rhymes; Singing Poems of the Old West, foreword by Fred Gipson. Illustrated by Nicholas Eggenhofer,  Garden City, N. Y., Doubleday (1968)

Contents:

Agreement In Principle
Barbecue
Battle At Blazer's Mill
Bear Ropin' Buckaroo
Bedtime Story
Black Jack Ketchum
Black Magic
Boot Galoot
Breakin' the Broncs
Buckaroo Braggin'
Buckaroo's Brew
The Buckhorn Kid
Bunkhouse Christmas
Bunkhouse Thanksgiving
Catfish Cowboys
Cattle King
Charlie Bowdre
The Chuckwagon
The Clock of the Cowboy
Coosie
Courtin' Cowboy
Cow Country
Cow Country Clue
Cow Country Saying
Cowboy at College
Cowboy Factory--Old Style
Cowboy Independence
Cowboy Likin's
Cowboy Saying
A Cowboy's Christmas Prayer
Cowboy's Definition of a Saddle
Cowboy's New Year's Resolution
Cowboy's Opinion
Cowgirl's Choice
Cowhoss
Cowman's Wife
Cowpen Moo-Sic
Cowpuncher Caution
Cowpuncher Praise
Cowpuncher's Creed
Cry, Coyote!
Cuttin' Hoss
The Dancin' Kid
The Deputy's Star
Drifter's Thanksgivin'
The Empty Bunk
Fine
Fireside Windies
First Chevalier
For the Love of Lily
Four-Footed Dynamite
Frontier Doctor
A Frontier Wife
Git Along!
Grand Canyon Cowboy
Granger's Daughter
Grave Error
The Great Seizer
Gunman's Code
His First Shave
Horses Versus Hosses
Hospital Cowboy
Howdy!
Jack Potter's Courtin'
Judge Bean's Bear
Judge Bean's Jury
Jurisdiction
Law West of the Pecos
Line-Camp Christmas Letter
Longhorn
The Main Item
Manana
Memo on Mules
The Murder Brand
The Mustang Bay
Mustang Manners
Namin' the Broncos
No Boots for Boot Hill
The Norther
The Ol' Bandanna
Ol' Ranny
Ol' Sancho
Ol' Snoozy Schmidt
Old Lincoln Town
Old-Time Cowboys
Old West Welcome
One or the Other
Outlaw's Funeral
A Page from the Old Frontier
Pants Polisher
The Pecos
Portrait of a Puncher
Rain on the Range
Ranchman's Widow
Rangeland Reacher
Rangeland Smellin'
Ravens Over the Pass
Rawhide Recipe
Rawhide Romance
Rawhide Sons
Retired Bronc Rider
The Riders
The Ring-Tailed Wowser
The Rough Requirements
Rule for Ridin'
Rule of the Range
Rustler Poker
Saddle for Sale
The Sentimental Banker
Shepherds of the Range
Sheriff in Town
The Silent Master
Sombrero
Some Call Him Brave
Some Horses I Have Rode
Sometimes Serious
Stray Cowpuncher
Tackin' on the Shoes
Tall Men Riding
Tenderfoot
Thanksgiving Argument
Thirsty Cowboy
Three Wise Man
The Tie-Fast Men
Tom Smith Of Abilene
Trail Dust
Trail Talk
Uneducated Leather
The Unpardonable Sin
Useless Question
Vocal Rawhide
Watchin' Him Drink
Weddin' in Texas
Well Grounded
A Wolf in Camp
Wolf's-Eye View
Unforgivable Offense
Wahoo of the Wagon
What's a Bronco?
The White Mustang


   Songs of the Saddlemen, foreword by Fred Gipson with with illustrations by Harold D. Bugbee, 1954, Denver, Sage Books (1954)

Foreword

I am pretty certain that the poetry in this book can't be very good. It's shamelessly lacking in dreamy flights of fancy. In none of it do I find evidence of the writer's having plumbed the innermost recesses of his dark soul to bring forth those startling profound and incomprehensible -- not to mention inexpressible -- secrets of life.

To be baldly frank -- I can read and understand every word of it.

Besides that, it rhymes and scans.

Also, I seriously doubt that in producing this verse the writer suffered very greatly. In fact, I've got a sneaking notion that when he wrote:

                          "I pondered some, then told 'em that I always do my best
                           To aim my spittin' eastwards when the wind is in the west."

the writer was actually enjoying the hell out of it.

Which, of course, is no way to write poetry.

But if, like me, you can't make heads or tails of great poetry, then I recommend that you settle for the brand that S. Omar Barker writes. It's as western as sagebrush, authentic as an brush-scuffed old boot, and full of the warm-hearted humor that seems always to be a part of "the men who ride where the range is wide."

It'll do to read and consider.
                                                                                    Fred Gipson


Contents:

Adios
Bad Man's Funeral
The Bad 'Un from the Wild Bunch
Bear Ropin' Buckaroo
Big-Foot Wallace
Big Windies
Black Jack Ketchum
Boar's Nest Batcher
Braggin' Buckaroo
Brandin' the Calves
Bridle Reins
Bruin Wooin'
Buckaroo Braggin'
Buckaroo's Best Bet
Buckaroo's Squelch
Canned Termaters
Cattle King
Code of the Cow Country
Cow Camp at Night
Cow Country Clue
Cow Country Drouth
Cow Country Saying
Cowboy Counsel
Cowboy Factory--Old Style
A Cowboy's Christmas Prayer
Cowboy's Definition of a Saddle
Cowboys For Sure
Cowboy's Likin's
Cowboy's Resolutions
Cowboy's Reverie
The Cowboy's Saddle
A Cowboy Toast
Cowhoss
Cowman's Wife
Cowgirl's Recipe
Cowpuncher's Creed
The Coyote
Curly Wolf College
Cuttin' Horse
Dogie Definition
Don Coyote
Down By the Banks of the Pecos
'Druthers
Earmarks
The Empty Bunk
First Chevalier
For the Love of Lily
A Gal to Spark
Ghost Rider
Go Down to the Crossin'
Granger's Daughter
Grass
The Horny Toad
Horse Corral Etiquette
Horses Versus Hosses
Husband on Hossback
If Ever You Go Riding
Jack Potter's Courtin'
Jackrabbits
John Booth's Ride
Judge Bean's Jury
Jughead
Key to the Cowboy
King of the Wagon
Lariat Labor
The Law West of the Pecos
The Little Wolves
Longhorn
Mañana
The Mustang Bay
Ol' Ranny
Ol' Sancho
An Old Cowhand Enters Heaven
The Old Time Texas Ranger
Oldtime Cowboys
One Way of Proposin'
Portrait of a Puncher
Power in the Pot
Pullin' Leather
Purt Near!
Quittin' Talk
Ranch House Night
Rawhide Rooster
The Riders
Rule of the Range
San Jacinto
Smart Rustler
Songs for a Land of Horseback Men
Stray Cowpuncher
Swimmin' the Herd
Tall Men Riding
Tejanos
A Texas Toast
Texas Truth
Texas Zephyr
Thirsty Cowboy
Three Wise Men
The Tie-Fast Men
Trail Talk
True Sayin'
Uneducated Leather
The Unpardonable Sin
Useless Question
Vaquero's Valentine
The Wagon
Watchin' Em Ride
Wearin' Daddy's Hat
Well Grounded
What's a Barbecue?
The Word Don't Matter


   Buckaroo Ballads, Santa Fe, N.M. Santa Fe New Mexican Pub. Corp. (1928)

Dedication:

To

The Old-Timers

My Dad

and

Con, Brite, Burton, Clarence, Perry,
Roy, Art, Bill, Phil, Warren, Harry,
Ralph, Sid, George, Tex, Butch, Elmer,
The Several Walts and Jims, and all
the Boys, Living and Dead, of the
Las Vegas Cowboys Reunion

 

Contents:

After Brandin' Time
The Anti-Globe Trotter
The Anti-Motorist
The Bad Hombre's One Virtue
"The Ballad of 'Bible-Book' Bob"
A Ballad of the Border
A Ballad of Buzzard Bill
The Ballad of Choctaw Charley
The Ballad of Cowboy Clarence
The Ballad of Cowboy Lou
The Ballad of Six-Shooter Susie
The Ballad of Sunset Sam
The Ballad of Tenderfoot Tate
A Ballad of Two Mountain Cowboys
Bow Legs
The Bronc Buster's Epitaph
Bury Yore Guns!
Careful, Cowboy!
Code of the Cow Country
Come An' Git It!
The Cowboy in Winter
The Cowboy's Heaven
The Cowboy's Religion
Cow-Gals
The Cowgirl at College
The Cowgirl's Lament
A Cowpuncher Watches the Crowd
A Cut of Beefsteak
The Cycle of Sudden Death
The Female of the Species
Feud of the Range
A Foothill Puncher's Spring Song
Free Rider
Goin' Back
Grass
"He'll Do!"
His Bravest Deed
His Hour Divine
His Night-Herd Pardner
Homesick
Hot Ir'n!
The Irish Cowgirl
"'Jest Bring Me Back My Cowgirl Gal!'"
Jest Plain Ol' Cowboy!
The Last Bronc
The Last Lone Trail
Lonesome
Lopin' Horses
Love's Lasso
The Man on Hossback
Mariposa Mesa
The Maverick
The Mexkins
Movin' On
Mustang
The Mustang's Epitaph
Night Herd Song
Ol' Spring Again!
Old Cowboy
The Old Mountaineer's Favorite Music
Old Pony
The Old-Timer Talks of Retiring
The Old Timer's Prayer
On the Mesa Trail
One Reason
The One Way He's Crooked
Pinto
Plenty Pretty!
Preference
Puncher
A Puncher's Protest
Ranch Mother
Ranchin'--As Is
Range Parade
Rangeland Night
Rangeland Perfume
Rangeland Sleepin'
Ride 'Em Clean!
The Roamin' Rustler!
Rodeo Days
Rope Music
The Rustler
The Sheep Beezness!
The Sparkin' Plug
Spring Fashion Note
Spring Flowers
Stockyards Bound!
To A Blue-Eyed Cowgirl
To a Jackrabbit
To A Mountain Cowgirl
A Trail Herd Lullaby
The Trail to Town
A Turkey Tale Fer Tenderfeet
The Up-to-Date Cow-Puncher
The Water Hole
West
What It Takes to Make One
What the Old Texan Misses
When Billy the Kid Rides Again
When Sunset Slim Rode Satan
The Winner
Word From A Sea Beggar

The above alphabetical list was prepared from a listing for this book at the Fife Folklore Archives' Skaggs Foundation Cowboy Poetry Collection, with the Fife Folklore Archives' kind permission.


Vientos de las Sierras (Winds of the Mountains) New Mexico poems, Beulah, N.M. (1924)

A reference in "A Literary History of the American West" from Texas Christian University (available on line in a PDF file: http://www.prs.tcu.edu/lit_west_full.pdf) states that "Barker's Vientos de las Sierras (1924) is a pleasing yet idiosyncratic book from an author who shortly abandoned 'literary' poetry for 'cowboy' verse."

Copies of Vientos de las Sierras are rare, and sell for about $400-500 today. 

 

I. New Mexico 
  
(a three-part poem)

II.  Don Coyote is My Wild Little Brother of the Foothills

   The Trapped Coyote
   Rising Trout
   Red Magic of the Hills
   Little Trails
   What the Camper Hears 

III.  There are Cowboys, Too, in our Mountains

    Saddle Lure
   A Young Cowboy at College
   The Ballad of Cowboy Joe
   The Spring Song of the Cowboy
   Into the West

IV.  And Flivvers

    Heart's Desire
   Ramblin'

V.  If I had not Turned Pedagogue and Moralist

    What is Spring to Youth
    To the Normal University
    The Teacher's Recompense
    A Measure for a Man
    The Old Mill Wheel
    Schoolmaster
    Sanctuary

VI. I Might Have Fallen in Love

    Crepuscule
    Pierrot to Pierrette
    Lost!
    Now You Are Gone
    When Snowflakes Fly
    For Forgetting
    My Lady Fair
    Nocturne

VII. Once I was a Soldier

    Poppy Day
    Nos Camarades
   A Young War Widow Speaks (on Poppy Day)
   The One Word Left
   Red Poppies

VIII.  Next to the Mountains--The Sea

    Sea Memories
    Life
    Magic of the Sea

iX.  Home to My Mountains

    Mountains

    Pierrot in the Hills
   Foreknowledge
   Waiting
   At Timberline
   Mountain Lakes
   Summer Snow
   April in My Mountains
   An Aspen Grove In Spring
   Wind in the Trees
   Gray Days
   Point of View
   Siesta
   Who Has Seen the Wind


Alphabetical list:

April in My Mountains
An Aspen Grove In Spring
At Timberline
The Ballad of Cowboy Joe
Crepuscule
For Forgetting
Foreknowledge
Gray Days
Heart's Desire
Into the West
Life
Little Trails
Lost!
Magic of the Sea
A Measure for Man
Mountain Lakes
Mountains
My Lady Fair
New Mexico
Nocturne
Nos Camarades
Now You Are Gone
The Old Mill Wheel
The One Word Left
Pierrot in the Hills
Pierrot to Pierrette
Point of View
Poppy Day
Ramblin'
Red Magic of the Hills
Red Poppies
Rising Trout
Saddle Lure
Sanctuary
Schoolmaster
Sea Memories
Siesta
The Spring Song of the Cowboy
Summer Snow
The Teacher's Recompense
To the Normal University
The Trapped Coyote
Waiting
What is Spring to Youth?
What the Camper Hears
When Snowflakes Fly
Who Has Seen the Wind
Wind in Trees
A Young Cowboy at College
A Young War Widow Speaks (on Poppy Day)

The above alphabetical list was prepared from a listing for this book at the Fife Folklore Archives' Skaggs Foundation Cowboy Poetry Collection, with the Fife Folklore Archives' kind permission.


 

Straddle the Saddle, presented by Jodie and Bob Phillips, 1997, unpublished 

(titles in bold are uncollected in other, published collections)

The Ballad of "Pony" Bob Haslam
Breed of the Brave
Buckaroo Ballast
A Couple of Pups
The Drifter
Fists on the Trail
In His Socks
The Kid's Old Kack
"Lord Fauntleroy"
Ol Rankin's Son-in-Law
Planted Evidence
"Purt Near"
Randado
The Red Kid
Reprieve
Sam's Strategy (San Jacinto)
The Tin-Badge Deputy
To the Last Breath
The Wrangler Kid
Wyatt Earp


Cow Country Lyrics, presented by Jodie and Bob Phillips, 1997, unpublished 

(titles in bold are uncollected in other, published collections)

Blue West
Cow Camp at Night
Cowboy's Reverie
Cry Coyote
A Foothill Puncher's Spring Song
Go Down to the Crossin'
Granger's Daughter
Hot Ir'n
Love's Lasso
The Man on Hossback
On the Mesa Trail
The Mustang Bay
Ride 'em Clean!
Rustler Poker
The Sad Irish Cowgirl
Stray Cowpuncher
Tall Men Riding


Cow-Gals Love Their Cowboys, presented by Jodie and Bob Phillips, 1998, unpublished

(titles in bold are uncollected in other, published collections)

Against the Dark
Agreement in Principle
Bear Ropin' Buckaroo
Boar's Nest Batcher
Boy Into Man
Bronc Buster's Favorite Praise
Buen Vaquero
Buckaroo's Squelch
Bunkhouse Forum
Bunkhouse Thanksgiving
Canned Termaters
"Come and Git it!"
Cowboy Breed
Cowboy Cookin'
Cowboy Cure
Cowboy Ridin'
A Cowboy's Christmas Prayer
Cowboy's Complaint
Cowboy's Resolutions
Cow-gals
Cowgirl's Choice
Daffy Days
The Deputy's Star
Drylander's Christmas
Fireside Windies
Free Rider
A Frontier Wife
Into the West
Jack Potter's Courtin'
Jest Plain Ol' Cowboy!
Jughead
The Last Lone Trail
Love's Hobbles
Mountain Ranch Wife
My Mountain Cowgirl
Namin' the Broncos
An Old Cowhand Enters Heaven
Old Fence Rider
The Old-Timer Talks of Retiring
Old West Welcome
On the Mesa Trail
One Way of Proposin'
The One Way He's Crooked
Opinion on Punchers
Outlaw's Funeral
The Owner's Daughter
Plenty Pretty
Quittin' Talk
Ranch Mother
Ranchman's Widow
Rangeland Perfume
Rangeland Sleepin'
Rangeland Voices
Rawhide Sons
Ride 'Em Clean 
Rodeo Days
Sad Irish Cowgirl
Thirsty Cowboy
To a Blue-eyed Cowgirl
To an Old Cowboy--Departed
The Unpardonable Sin
Vaquero's Valentine
Watchin' Em Ride
Weddin' in Texas

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