CODE OF THE COW COUNTRY, by S. Omar Barker (1894–1985)

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CODE OF THE COW COUNTRY
by S. Omar Barker (1894–1985)

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

We interrupt our week of poems about rain with information about this year’s 21st annual National Cowboy Poetry Rodeo, August 2-4, 2018 in Abilene, Kansas.

Geff Dawson, who with Dawn Dawson heads the National Cowboy Poetry Rodeo, recites this S. Omar Barker poem on the latest double CD from CowboyPoetry.com, MASTERS: VOLUME TWO, the poetry of S. Omar Barker.

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 was one of the founders of the Western Writers of America, Inc. and many of his poems were published by Western Horseman. Find more about S. Omar Barker at CowboyPoetry.com.

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The National Cowboy Poetry Rodeo describes their events, “…There are competition levels for beginners and Silver Buckle winners, cash prizes, trophy buckles and more. Anyone can compete—bring your best poetry or recited poetry and compete with us. It’s tons of fun and you get to meet a whole lot of people who love the same thing you do—cowgirl/cowboy poetry. Competition dates are August 3-4, 2018, in Abilene, Kansas, during the Wild Bill Hickok Rodeo and Kansas Free Fair! For more information, click our web site at www.ncpr.us. Entry forms, rules and our 2018 schedule are all available on the web site…”

Many poets have participated over the years, and have high praise for the experience, including Yvonne Hollenbeck, Doris Daley, Linda Kirkpatrick, DW Groethe, Andy Nelson, the late Pat Richardson, and many others. A celebration of “excellence through competition,” many lasting friendships are made.

The associated Chisholm Trail Western Music & Cowboy Poetry Show is August 4, 2018 in Abilene, Kansas.

Find more about the National Cowboy Poetry Rodeo at ncpr.us and on Facebook.

These photos include Geff and Dawn Dawson (far right, horseback) and the judges of the 2017 National Cowboy Poetry Rodeo, including Oklahoma poet and rancher Jay Snider and others. Thanks to Geff and Dawn for the photos.

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

 

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

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COWBOY’S COMPLAINT
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 CowboyPoetry.com: 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 CowboyPoetry.com.

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

The MASTERS of cowboy poetry series from CowboyPoetry.com 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/CowboyPoetry.com 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.)

MASTERS CD Series

 The Center for Western and Cowboy Poetry produces compilation CDs of classic and contemporary poetry recitations. The CDs are offered to libraries in the Center’s Cowboy Poetry Week Rural Library project, given as premiums to the Center’s supporters, and available to the public.

The current CD series is MASTERS.

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MASTERS: VOLUME TWO (April, 2018) contains over 60 tracks in a double CD of the poetry of S. Omar Barker. Many of today’s top reciters and poets—including individuals,  siblings, couples, parents and children—bring forth Barker’s humor and humanity. Andy Hedges introduces the CD.

Find more about MASTERS: VOLUME TWO here.

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The first CD in the series. MASTERS (2017), includes the works of Larry McWhorter, J.B. Allen, Sunny Hancock, and Ray Owens, reciting their poetry in recorded poems, “live” performances, and their recitations of other masters’ works (Buck Ramsey, S. Omar Barker, and Henry Herbert Knibbs). Jay Snider introduces the CD.

Find more about MASTERS (2017) here.

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Previous to the MASTERS series, the Center produced ten volumes of The BAR-D Roundup.

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The Center’s Cowboy Poetry Week celebration—recognized by unanimous U.S. Senate resolution—is held each April during National Poetry Month. Each year, a compilation CD and the celebration’s poster—by Clara Smith in 2018; by Jason Rich in 2017; by Gary Morton in 2016; by Don Dane in 2015; by Jason Rich in 2014; Shawn Cameron in 2013; by R.S. Riddick in 2012, Duward Campbell in 2011, Bill Owen in 2010, Bob Coronato in 2009; William Matthews in 2008; Tim Cox in 2007; and Joelle Smith in 2006—are offered to libraries in the Center’s Rural Library Project. The outreach program is a part of the Center’s commitment to serve rural communities and to preserve and promote our Western heritage.

We need your support to continue and expand these programs. Join us and be a part of it all.

THE CUTTIN’ CHUTE by Linda Kirkpatrick and TEXAS ZEPHYR by S. Omar Barker

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THE CUTTIN’ CHUTE
by Linda Kirkpatrick

As the cowboy works the cuttin’ gate
There’s a few things he’s gotta know.
The first and foremost of these things
Is what must stay and what must go.

Now take that ole cow over there
The black with mottled face,
Why she ain’t calved in more than a year;
She’s got no business on this place.

So I’ll just cut her to the left
When she hits the cuttin’ gate,
So far of all the cows to go,
She’ll be number eight.

But when it comes to friends I know
And life is kinda in a tight
There is one thing fer darn sure,
I’ll cut you to the right.

© 2002, Linda Kirkpatrick, used with permission

Ranch-raised in Texas Hill Country, Linda Kirkpatrick is known for her poetry, recitations, writings about regional history, and chuckwagon cooking.

She wrote this poem for her friends Ginger and W. B. Patterson, who, like Linda, are from long-time Texas ranching families.

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Linda Kirkpatrick is featured on the new MASTERS: VOLUME TWO the poetry of S. Omar Barker double CD from CowboyPoetry.com. On it, she recites one of S. Omar Barker’s popular short poems:

TEXAS ZEPHYR
by S. Omar Barker (1895-1985)

To figure how hard the wind blows
out on the Texas Plains,
You hang a fresh-killed beef up
with a pair of logging chains;
And if, on the morning after,
you find your beef’s been skinned,
And you have to ride to find the hide,
there’s been just a little wind!

© S. Omar Barker, reprinted with the permission of the estate of S. Omar Barker

Linda’s most recent book, Tales of the Frio Canyon, has traveled around the West and around the world, including Rome, Jerusalem, and beyond. Enthusiastic readers send her photos. This photo is from top cowboy cook Kent Rollins. Find more about Kent and Shannon Rollins and their Red River Ranch Chuck Wagon at kentrollins.com and see great things on their YouTube channel.

Find more about Linda Kirkpatrick, including her books and recordings at CowboyPoetry.com, and find her “Somewhere in the West” column in The Hill Country Herald.

(Please respect copyright. You can share these poems and this photograph with this post, but for other uses, request permission.)

RANCH MOTHER By S. Omar Barker (1894–1985)

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RANCH MOTHER
By S. Omar Barker (1894–1985)

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,
Her 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

Here’s to celebrating mothers, Mother’s Day (Sunday, May 13) and every day.

Deanna Dickinson McCall has a great rendition of this poem on the new MASTERS: VOLUME TWO double CD from CowboyPoetry.com.

S. Omar Barker’s mother, Priscilla, was the eldest of nine sisters. A family biography tells that she and Squire Barker set out from Texas for New Mexico in 1889, with “fifty-six head of cattle, twelve head of mares and colts, a yoke of oxen, two teams of horses and three covered wagons loaded to the top of the sideboards…” Priscilla had four of children with her on the 500-mile journey that took six weeks. The biography tells, “Priscilla drove a heavy team of horses. Squire had made a box bed for 6-week-old Grace at the back of her mother’s seat…”

Find much more about S. Omar Barker and his poetry at CowboyPoetry.com.

This photograph is from a 2010 Mother’s Day feature at CowboyPoetry.com by poet and popular emcee Smoke Wade and his sister, Sharon S. Brown, in memory of their mother, Betty Jean Tippett (1921-1993). Betty Jean Tippett was the daughter of a homesteader, sheepherder and cattle rancher who became a cattle baron in a remote area of southeastern Washington near the Hells Canyon of the Snake River. She married and raised her children on a ranch near Rogersburg.

Smoke Wade writes, “My first memories of riding a horse were with Mom. She was often called upon to take lunch to a branding crew working in a remote area. Mom would tie the bundled food in pillowcase to the saddle horn and strap me on behind her with a large belt and we would go riding to take lunch to the branding crew.

“Other times while moving cows up to spring or summer pasture, mom would have me strapped on the saddle behind her. When evening came and the work was yet to be finished, mom would unsaddle her horse and make a place for me to lie down on the hillside with the saddle blanket for a bed and the saddle for a pillow. Then she would ride her horse bareback as she finished helping dad and my older brother move the cows farther up the draw in the dark…Yes, mom was a cowgirl.”

She was also a Princess of the Pendleton Round-Up in 1938 and Queen of the Lewiston RoundUp (Idaho) in 1940. Find more in the feature at CowboyPoetry.com.

Find many more tributes and poems to mothers here.

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

>>>This is a scheduled post. We’re on a (rare) break through May 23. There will be scheduled posts, but we won’t be able to fill orders or to respond quickly to email.<<<

MASTERS: VOLUME TWO, the poetry of S. Omar Barker

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Rick Huff’s Best of the West review:

The MASTERS of cowboy poetry series from CowboyPoetry.com 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!

© 2018, Rick Huff

Praise for previous CD volumes:

“This album [MASTERS (2017)] represents four of the finest poets to ever come out of cowboy culture. We are not likely to see their kind again and the world should be grateful to Cowboypoetry.com for preserving their voices.” Andy Hedges, songster and host of COWBOY CROSSROADS

“…The annual anthology takes listeners on an oral excursion to places throughout the West, introducing them to colorful cowboy characters, explaining their connection to the land, and telling their tales of tough times and the rewards they receive from living the Western lifestyle…” Jennifer Denison, Senior Editor, Western Horseman

“The Center for Western and Cowboy Poetry’s annual anthologies are creating a valuable, high quality and thoroughly enjoyable resource for everyone…” Steve Green, Archivist, Western Folklife Center

“…without peer…intelligently produced… I equate them to one of those Ken Burns specials, like his Civil War, Jazz, or Baseball….the best of the best.” Rick Huff, Rick Huff’s Best of the West Reviews

“For those of us who love cowboy poetry, this is perhaps the best anthology we’ve yet heard.” Cowboy Magazine

The Center for Western and Cowboy Poetry produces compilation CDs of classic and contemporary poetry recitations. The CDs are offered to libraries in the Center’s Cowboy Poetry Week Rural Library project, given as premiums to the Center’s supporters, and available to the public.

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Our twelfth CD (following ten volumes of The BAR-D Roundup and the first MASTERS volume) is MASTERS: VOLUME TWO (April 2018).

MASTERS: VOLUME TWO has over 60 tracks in a double CD of the poetry of S. Omar Barker.  Many of today’s top reciters and poets—including individuals, siblings, couples, parents and their offspring—bring forth Barker’s humor and humanity.

Andy Hedges introduces the CD and it includes the voices of J.B. Allen, Amy Hale Auker, Floyd Beard, Valerie Beard, Baxter Black, Almeda Bradshaw, Jerry A. Brooks, Marleen Bussma, Jim Cathey, Ken Cook, Geff Dawson, Sam DeLeeuw, DW Groethe, Andy Hedges, Jessica Hedges, Maggie Rose Hedges, Yvonne Hollenbeck, Chris Isaacs, Linda Kirkpatrick, Susie Knight, Ross Knox, Jarle Kvale, Deanna Dickinson McCall, Rusty McCall, Gary McMahan, Rod Miller, Waddie Mitchell, Dick Morton, Terry Nash, Andy Nelson, Jim Nelson, Joel Nelson, Rodney Nelson, Kay Kelley Nowell, Kent Reeves, Rex Rideout, Randy Rieman, Kent Rollins, Sandy Seaton Sallee, Jay Snider, Red Steagall, Gail Steiger, Tom Swearingen, Smoke Wade, Keith Ward, and Paul Zarzyski.

S. Omar Barker (1894-1985) 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. In an article written by Barker for Hoofs and Horns magazine, Barker introduces himself, “This S.O.B. (my initials, not my ancestry) has never claimed to qualify as a sure ‘nough cowboy.” Later in the article, he comments, “Incidentally, when I applied for (Lazy S O B) for our cattle brand, they wrote back that some other S O B already had it. So we had to be satisfied with (Lazy S B).”

The photo below of S. Omar Barker and his horse, which appears inside MASTERS: VOLUME TWO, is courtesy of the S. Omar Barker Estate. Find more about Barker at CowboyPoetry.com.

barkerhorserifle© Estate of S. Omar Barker; request permission for reproduction

The MASTERS CD is dedicated to all those who proudly carry on the ranching tradition.

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The Center’s Cowboy Poetry Week celebration—recognized by unanimous U.S. Senate resolution—takes place each April during National Poetry Month. Each year, a compilation CD and the celebration’s poster (by Clara Smith in 2018) have been offered to libraries in the Center’s Rural Library Program. The outreach program is part of the Center’s commitment to serve rural communities and to preserve and promote our Western heritage.

The annual CD is a premium for our supporters and also available for purchase. Find information about past years’ CDs here.

We need your support to continue and expand these programs. Join us and be a part of it all.

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Below:

Track list and sources
Acknowledgements
Order information

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Track list and sources

Tracks were recorded for MASTERS: VOLUME TWO except where noted.

DISC 1

1.  INTO THE WEST by S. Omar Barker;  Andy Hedges
from Cowboy Songster Vol. 2 (2016)

2.  ABOUT S. OMAR BARKER  Andy Hedges

3. “PURT NEAR!” by  S. Omar Barker;  Randy Rieman
from Old Favorites  (2003)

4. COW COUNTRY SAYING  by S. Omar Barker; Brigid Reedy

5.  THE MAIN ITEM by S. Omar Barker;  Gary McMahan .

6.  COWPUNCHER’S CREED by S. Omar Barker;  Amy Hale Auker

7.  COW WORK WON’T WAIT  by S. Omar Barker;  Ken Cook

 8.  COWBOY’S COMPLAINT  by S. Omar Barker;  Dick Morton
from Cowboy Classics (2006)

 9.  ROPE MUSIC  by S. Omar Barker;  Gail Steiger

10.  RAIN ON THE RANGE  by S. Omar Barker;  Joel Nelson courtesy of the Western Folklife Center, recorded at the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering (2015)

11.  SNOWED UNDER by S. Omar Barker;    Johnny Reedy

12.  COWBOY SAYING by S. Omar Barker;   Baxter Black

13.  CODE OF THE COW COUNTRY by S. Omar Barker;   Geff Dawson

14.  COWPUNCHER PRAISE by S. Omar Barker;   Floyd Beard

15.  WELL GROUNDED by S. Omar Barker;   Keith Ward

16.  COWBOY’S OPINION by S. Omar Barker;   Tom Swearingen

17.  HOSSES VERSUS HORSES  by S. Omar Barker;  Paul Zarzyski
from Spurrin’ the Words (2005), Montana 4-H

18.  GRAND CANYON COWBOY  by S. Omar Barker;  Rusty McCall (1986­-2013) from an unreleased CD, Contemporary and Classic Cowboy Poetry  (2006)

19.  SOME HORSES I HAVE RODE by S. Omar Barker;  Floyd Beard

20.  MEMO ON MULES  by S. Omar Barker;  Sandy Seaton Sallee

21.  YOU KNOW WHAT HAPPENED by S. Omar Barker;  Kent Reeves

22.  BEAR HUNTERS BOLD by S. Omar Barker;  Ross Knox
from  Make Me a Cowboy Again for a Day (2006)

23.  BRUIN WOOIN’ by S. Omar Barker;   Andy Hedges
from Cowboy Recitations (2017)

24.  BEAR ROPIN’ BUCKAROO by S. Omar Barker;  Terry Nash
from December Stragglers (2013)

25.  RULE OF THE RANGE by S. Omar Barker;  Chris Isaacs

26.  RAWHIDE ROOSTER  by S. Omar Barker;  Smoke Wade

27.  THE RING­TAILED WOWSER by S. Omar Barker;  Jerry A. Brooks

28.  THE BUFFALO by S. Omar Barker;  Susie Knight

29.  THE COYOTE by S. Omar Barker;  Jarle Kvale

30.  CRY, COYOTE! by S. Omar Barker;  DW Groethe

DISC 2

1.  OLD TIME COWBOYS by S. Omar Barker;  Jay Snider

2.  THE RIDERS by S. Omar Barker;  Andy Hedges
from Episode 3 of the Cowboy Crossroads podcast (2017)

3.  ONE OR THE OTHER by S. Omar Barker;  Rod Miller

4.  WHAT’S A BRONCO? by S. Omar Barker;  Gary McMahan

5.  RULE FOR RIDIN’ by S. Omar Barker;  Geff Dawson

6.  FOUR­ FOOTED DYNAMITE by S. Omar Barker;  Chris Isaacs

7.  MUSTANG MANNERS by S. Omar Barker;  Almeda Bradshaw

8.  CORRECTION PLEASE  by S. Omar Barker;  Maggie Rose Hedges

9.  NO DIFFERENCE by S. Omar Barker;  Jim Nelson

10.  USELESS QUESTION  by S. Omar Barker;  Kay Kelley Nowell

11.  TEXAS ZEPHYR  by S. Omar Barker;  Linda Kirkpatrick

12.  THE CHUCKWAGON by S. Omar Barker;  DW Groethe

13.  BUCKAROO BREW by S. Omar Barker;  Kent Rollins

14.  CANNED TERMATERS by S. Omar Barker;   J.B. Allen (1938­-2005)
from Classics (2005)

15.  JACK POTTER’S COURTIN’ by S. Omar Barker;  Randy Rieman
from Old Favorites  (2003)

16. MUSSED MISS by S. Omar Barker;  Andy Nelson

17.  OPEN AND SHUT CASE  by S. Omar Barker;  Yvonne Hollenbeck

18.  CAREFUL, COWBOY!  by S. Omar Barker;  Jessica Hedges

19.  DOUBLE ATTRACTION by S. Omar Barker;   Valerie Beard

20.  BEDTIME STORY by S. Omar Barker;  Sam DeLeeuw

21.  WATCHIN’ EM RIDE by S. Omar Barker;   Keith Ward

22.  RANCH MOTHER by S. Omar Barker;  Deanna Dickinson McCall

23.  RANCHMAN’S WIDOW by S. Omar Barker;  Almeda Bradshaw

24.  TRAIL DUST  by S. Omar Barker;  Marleen Bussma

25.  COAL MINE  by S. Omar Barker;  Jerry A. Brooks

26.  THE WHITE MUSTANG  by S. Omar Barker;  Rex Rideout

HOLIDAY POEMS

27.  THANKSGIVING ARGUMENT by S. Omar Barker;  Waddie Mitchell

28.  THREE WISE MEN  by S. Omar Barker;  Red Steagall

29.  COWBOY’S CHRISTMAS PRAYER  by S. Omar Barker;  Ol’ Jim Cathey

30.  COWBOY’S NEW YEAR RESOLUTIONS  by S. Omar Barker;  Jay Snider

31.  RANCHMAN’S RESOLUTIONS  by S. Omar Barker;  Gail Steiger

32.  A COWBOY TOAST  by S. Omar Barker;  Rodney Nelson

33.  CENTER FOR WESTERN AND COWBOY POETRY RADIO PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT (PSA)  Andy Hedges

Acknowledgements

Thanks to the poets, reciters, and families and to the estate of S. Omar Barker, Andy Hedges, Margaret Allen, Montana 4-H, the Western Folklife Center, the Cowboy Crossroads podcast, Andy Nelson and Clear Out West (C.O.W.) radio, Totsie Slover and The Real West from the Old West radio, Craig Stuke, and Chris Kirby. Produced by Margo Metegrano and compiled and mastered by Butch Hause at the Ranger Station Studio, Berthoud, Colorado, all with generous funding support from Laura and Edmund Wattis Littlefield, Jr. and our community’s all-important sustaining donors.

Dedicated to all those who proudly carry on the ranching tradition.

 

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Order information

The MASTERS: VOLUME TWO CD is available for $25 postpaid. Order with a credit card at Paypal or by mail: CowboyPoetry.com, Box 1107, Lexington, VA 24450.

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Cowboy poetry records the heartbeat of the working West, a tradition that spans three centuries. Its enduring popularity is celebrated at today’s cowboy poetry gatherings and daily in social media and at CowboyPoetry.com, a program of the non-profit Center for Western and Cowboy Poetry, Inc.

The Center’s Cowboy Poetry Week celebration—recognized by unanimous U.S. Senate resolution—takes place each April during National Poetry Month. Each year, a compilation CD and the celebration’s poster (by Clara Smith in 2018) have been offered to libraries in the Center’s Rural Library Program. The outreach program is part of the Center’s commitment to serve rural communities and to preserve and promote our Western heritage.

“PURT NEAR!” by S. Omar Barker (1895-1985)

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“PURT NEAR!”
by S. Omar Barker (1895-1985)

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, from his 1954 book, “Songs of the Saddlemen” and reprinted with the permission of the estate of S. Omar Barker

It’s here! We’re pleased to release MASTERS: VOLUME TWO, the poems of S. Omar Barker.

With over 60 tracks on a double CD, many of today’s top reciters and poets—including individuals, siblings, couples, parents and their offspring—bring forth Barker’s humor and humanity.

Andy Hedges introduces the CD and it includes the voices of J.B. Allen, Amy Hale Auker, Floyd Beard, Valerie Beard, Baxter Black, Almeda Bradshaw, Jerry A. Brooks, Marleen Bussma, Jim Cathey, Ken Cook, Geff Dawson, Sam DeLeeuw, DW Groethe, Andy Hedges, Jessica Hedges, Maggie Rose Hedges, Yvonne Hollenbeck, Chris Isaacs, Linda Kirkpatrick, Susie Knight, Ross Knox, Jarle Kvale, Deanna Dickinson McCall, Rusty McCall, Gary McMahan, Rod Miller, Waddie Mitchell, Dick Morton, Terry Nash, Andy Nelson, Jim Nelson, Joel Nelson, Rodney Nelson, Kay Kelley Nowell, Kent Reeves, Rex Rideout, Randy Rieman, Kent Rollins, Sandy Seaton Sallee, Jay Snider, Red Steagall, Gail Steiger, Tom Swearingen, Smoke Wade, Keith Ward, and Paul Zarzyski.

The CD is offered to libraries in Cowboy Poetry Week’s Rural Library Program; sent to Center/CowboyPoetry.com supporters (at the $40 and higher level), and available for $25 (order with a credit card or Paypal, or by mail from CowboyPoetry.com, PO Box 1107, Lexington, VA 24450).

New Mexico’s S. Omar Barker gave many humorous poems to the world of cowboy poetry. A good number of them, including this one, remain widely recited today. He inserted a bit of himself in this poem in referring to the “Lazy S B spread.”

It’s told that Barker enjoyed signing his name with his brand, created from his initials and laid sideways for “Lazy SOB,” but, that it was his brand is not accurate. In an article written by Barker for Hoofs and Horns magazine, Barker introduces himself, “This S.O.B. (my initials, not my ancestry) has never claimed to qualify as a sure ‘nough cowboy.” Later in the article, he comments, “Incidentally, when I applied for (Lazy S O B) for our cattle brand, they wrote back that some other S O B already had it. So we had to be satisfied with (Lazy S B).” Andy Hedges tells the story on MASTERS: VOLUME TWO.

Barker was one of the founders of the Western Writers of America, Inc. and many of his poems were published by Western Horseman. Find more about S. Omar Barker at CowboyPoetry.com.

Watch top reciter and respected horseman Randy Rieman recite “Purt Near!” on the Western Folklife Center’s YouTube channel.

(Please respect copyright. You can share this poem with this post, but any other use requires permission of the S. Omar Barker estate.)