THE COYOTE and COW WORK WON’T WAIT by S. Omar Barker (1895-1985)


Photo by Carol M. Highsmith


by S. Omar Barker (1895-1985)

The coyote of the western ranges
Survives despite all modern changes.
He views the world with duantless drollery—
And does not practice birth controllery.

…S. Omar Barker, used with the permission of the S. Omar Barker estate

S. Omar Barker, as described in Cowboy Miner Productions’ collection of his work, “…was born in the rugged Sangre de Cristo Mountains of northern New Mexico… a rancher, high school teacher, college professor, forest ranger, soldier, outdoorsman, and legislator…” He enjoyed signing his work with a “Lazy SOB” brand. He was one of the founders of the Western Writers of America, Inc. and many of his poems were published by Western Horseman.

Many of S. Omar Barker’s short pieces were collected in a 1998 book, Ol’ S.O.B. Sez: Cowboy Limericks. In the introduction, top cowboy poet Waddie Mitchell writes:

I really don’t think Omar had any idea of the impact his poetry had. He rode on before the cowboy poetry gatherings emerged. He didn’t see the number of cowboys who had taken his words to heart and memory. He had become one of the top three recited poets of the genre.

Why? Because he lived, worked, understood, and spoke cowboy. Not the ethereal, but the day-to-day sweaty, freezing, long-trot, leather-clad, rope-burned, calf-pullin’, brush-scarred, dally-slippin’ kind.

Then he boiled it down to its essence…He would write about things so common in the cowboy world that cowboys often overlooked them, but they’d recognize immediately the truth in those writings because Omar wrote of that life “from the inside-lookin-out” point of view.

Another from the book:

by S. Omar Barker (1895-1985)

We hear unions speak of a four-day week
As if it would simple be heaven
But folks who raise cattle still find it’s a battle
To get all their work done in seven.

…S. Omar Barker, used with the permission of the S. Omar Barker estate

Find more about S. Omar Barker at

This 2016 photograph is titled, “A lone, and lean, coyote makes the best of wintertime the
northernmost Wyoming reaches of Yellowstone National Park.”

It is another fine one by contemporary photographer, author, and publisher Carol M. Highsmith and included in the Carol M. Highsmith Archive at The Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division. Find more about the photograph here.

Find the collection here, where it notes that, “Highsmith, a distinguished and richly-published American photographer, has donated her work to the Library of Congress since 1992. Starting in 2002, Highsmith provided scans or photographs she shot digitally with new donations to allow rapid online access throughout the world. Her generosity in dedicating the rights to the American people for copyright free access also makes this Archive a very special visual resource.”

Find more about Carol Highsmith and her work at and on Facebook at Carol M. Highsmith’s America.