COWBOY’S COMPLAINT by S. Omar Barker (1894-1985)

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by S. Omar Barker (1894-1985)

I wouldn’t be a cowboy for a skunk-boat full of gold!
It’s swim with sweat in summer an’ it’s freeze in winter’s cold.
It’s roll out with the morning star an’ lace your saddle on
An’ swaller bitter coffee long before the the gray of dawn.

At snoozin’ time for city folks, you step acrost your kack
To get your innards jolted as your pony warps his back.
It’s round ’em up an’ swing a rope an’ wrestle down a calf,
An’ earn your daily wages—’bout a dollar an’ a half!

It’s herd dust down your gullet with the air too thick to chew,
An’ plenty times the water’s such you’ve got to chew it, too.
It’s set-fast on your hunkers an’ your legs so sprung an’ bent,
That your pants would fit a wagon-bow without no argument.

You eat so much hawg-boozem that a grunt’s your greetin’ hail,
An’ you dassent take a look for fear yo’ve growed a curly tail!
It’s take the ramrod’s powders when he wants to swim the crick,
An’ lean against a bullet when the rustlers try a trick.

It’s hunt a trail or slide the groove or ride a lonely line,
It’s cut the herd an’ herd the cut an’ watch for injun sign.
It’s lay upon a Tucson bed amongst the centipedes
An’ dream about the easy life them city fellers leads.

I wouldn’t be a cowboy for a skunk-boat full of gold—
It’s ‘cut a rusty’ when yo’re young an’ ‘cut back’ when you’re old.
“I wouldn’t be a cowboy”—Thus the snort of Soogan Sam,
An’ then he kinder grins and says, “I wouldn’t—but I am!”

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

Poet and reciter Dick Morton, who just turned 90, recites this poem on the new double CD from MASTERS: VOLUME TWO, the poetry of S. Omar Barker.

S. Omar Barker wrote some 2,000 poems in his long career. He was one of the founders of the Western Writers of America, Inc. and many of his poems were published by Western Horseman.

It’s told that Barker enjoyed signing his name with his brand, created from his initials and laid sideways for “Lazy SOB,” but, that’s not a completely accurate story. Andy Hedges sets the record straight in an introduction on the new CD.

Find more about S. Omar Barker at

Rick Huff reviews the MASTERS: VOLUME TWO CD in his latest “Best of the West Reviews“:

The MASTERS of cowboy poetry series from showcases both the masters of writing Western poetic words and masters of delivering those words. It just doesn’t get any better than that.

MASTERS: VOLUME TWO brings us the poetry of S. Omar Barker (1894-1985) on two jam-packed CDs. Included are the most famous of his works and plenty that may well become more famous now. As for the caliber of the reciters, the attuned who read this will only need last names of most: Hedges, Rieman, McMahan, Morton, Steiger, Nelson, Black, Beard, Swearingen, Zarzyski, Isaacs, Groethe, Snider, Hollenbeck and the list goes wonderfully on.

With a total of sixty tracks here to amuse and educate, this collection makes me, born and bred New Mexican, particularly proud to recall that Mr. Barker was one as well. Highly recommended. Lovers of content should be very contented!”

Find more of Rick Huff’s latest reviews here.

Each year, the non-profit Center for Western and Cowboy Poetry/ creates a compilation CD that is offered to libraries in the Center’s outreach Rural Library Program, part of Cowboy Poetry Week. CDs are also given to supporters and offered to the public. Find more about this latest double CD here.

(Please respect copyright. You can share this poem with this post, but for other uses, request permission.)