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

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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 … 3:19dutchcreektrails.com

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.)

 

GRAND CANYON COWBOY, by S. Omar Barker (1894–1985)

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GRAND CANYON COWBOY
by S. Omar Barker (1894–1985)

I’d heard of the Canyon (the old cowboy said)
And I figured I’d like to go see it.
So I rode till I sighted a rim out ahead,
And reckoned that this place might be it.

I anchored my horse to a juniper limb
And crawled to the edge for a peek.
One look was a plenty to make my head swim.
And all of my innards felt weak.

If I’d known how durned deep it was going to be,
I’d have managed, by some hook or crook,
To tie my ownself to the doggoned tree
And let my horse go take the look!

© S. Omar Barker, reprinted with the permission of the estate of S. Omar Barker from Rawhide Rhymes; Singing Poems of the Old West, 1958

S. Omar Barker’s poem was a favorite poem of two popular poets who are sorely missed: Rusty McCall, 1986-2013 and Colen Sweeten, 1919-2007.

We are lucky to have Rusty McCall’s recitation on our forthcoming CD, MASTERS: VOLUME TWO, a double CD celebrating S. Omar Barker’s poetry, with over 60 poems from many of today’s top poets and reciters.

Andy Hedges recites “Grand Canyon Cowboy” on his COWBOY CROSSROADS podcast with Ross Knox (episode 3).

MASTERS: VOLUME TWO will be released in April. A great way to reserve a copy is to become a supporter of the non-profit Center for Western and Cowboy Poetry / CowboyPoetry.com at the $40 level or higher. You’ll also receive the 2018 Cowboy Poetry Week poster by Clara Smith. Everything we do is made possible through the generous donations of this community and we need your support. Find more here.

CDs will also be available for purchase.

S. Omar Barker was one of the founders of theWestern Writers of America, Inc. and many of his poems were published by Western Horseman. He enjoyed signing his name with his brand, “Lazy SOB” (but Andy Hedges tells that it never really did become his brand, and that explanation is included with his introduction about S. Omar Barker on the forthcoming MASTERS: VOLUME TWO CD).

The late Elmer Kelton wrote an introduction to to the 1998 Cowboy Miner book on Barker, and it is excerpted at CowboyPoetry.com. It begins,

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….

Find more about S. Omar Barker at CowboyPoetry.com.

This c.b1903 photo, titled “Descending Grand View Trail – Grand Cañon of Arizona,” is described, “Stereograph showing a man, with a horse and two pack mules, descending the Grand View Trail in the Grand Canyon, Arizona.” It’s from Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division. Find more about it here.

WHAT’S A BRONCO by S. Omar Barker

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WHAT’S A BRONCO
by S. Omar Barker

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!”

…by S. Omar Barker, from “Rawhide Rhymes; Singing Poems of the Old West,” (1968); reprinted with the permission of the estate of S. Omar Barker

Cowboy, poet, songwriter, and yodeler Gary McMahan does a great recitation of “What’s a Bronco” on the forthcoming double CD of S. Omar Barker’s poetry from CowboyPoetry.com (April 2018).

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 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.

The photo above is among those you’ll find in a new book, Way Out West: Photographs from the Farm Security Administration 1936-1943, Charlie Seemann, retired Executive Director of the Western Folklife Center.

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See our review here.

This 1940 photo by Russell Lee from FSA collection at The Library of Congress is titled, “Quemado, New Mexico. Bronc busting at the rodeo.” Find more about it at here.

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.

COWBOY’S OPINION by S. Omar Barker (1895-1985)

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COWBOY’S OPINION
by S. Omar Barker (1895-1985)

Of all God’s creatures I endorse
most heartily the one called “horse.”
That on this creature man might sit
no doubt is why God made him split!

© S. Omar Barker, reprinted with the permission of the estate of S. Omar Barker
This poem should not be reprinted or reposted without permission

Barker wrote some 2,000 poems in his long career, including many pithy short ones, like this one.

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).” (Thanks to Andy Hedges for sharing the article, which he received from Vess Quinlan, who received it from Joel Nelson who received it from Kay Kelley Nowell.)

S. Omar 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 him at CowboyPoetry.com: http://www.cowboypoetry.com/sobarker.htm.

Oregon poet and horseman Tom Swearingen is pictured in an August, 2016 photo. Tom recites “Cowboy’s Opinion” on a forthcoming recording from CowboyPoetry.com.

Tom is among the poets and musicians featured at the Cochise Cowboy Poetry and Music Gathering, February 2-4, 2018 in Sierra Vista, Arizona. Known for its enthusiastic community and school involvement, the theme for the 2018 Cochise Cowboy Poetry & Music Gathering is “Barn Dance and Western Swing.” Find a history of the gathering, which started in 1993, here.

Featured performers are 3 Trails West, Floyd Beard, Almeda Bradshaw,,Patty Clayton,,The Cowboy Way, Doris Daley, Peggy Godfrey, Hanson Family, Joe Herrington, Jo Lynne Kirkwood, Carolyn and Dave Martin, Syd Masters Band, Doc Mehl, Notable Exceptions, Trinity Seely, Tom Swearingen, Barry Ward, and Joyce Woodson. Saturday Daytime Performers are Vic Anderson, Janet Bailey, Valerie Beard, Cimarron Sidekicks, Dean Cook, Joel Eliot, Thatch Elmer, Jessica Hedges, Ron Hinkle, Randy Houston, Steve Jones, Susie Knight, Mary Matli, Dave and Kathy McCann, James Michae, Mark Munzert, OK Chorale Trio, Ramblin’ Rangers, Dennis Russell, Gail Star, Rocky Sullivan, Miss “V”, and Washtub Jerry.

Find more at the gathering site, cowboypoets.com.

See Tom Swearingen also at the Spirit of the West Cowboy Gathering, February 16-18, 2018, in Ellensburg, Washington.

Find more about Tom Swearingen on Facebook and at his web site, oregoncowboypoet.com.

 

A COWBOY’S NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTIONS by S. Omar Barker (1895-1985)

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A COWBOY’S NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTIONS
by S. Omar Barker (1895-1985)

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

 

Happy New Year, all!

S. Omar 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.

Jay Snider recites this poem in a forthcoming CD from CowboyPoetry.com.

This photograph is by Colorado rancher Terry Nash, taken in late 2013. Terry has a new CD, A Good Ride. Find more about him at CowboyPoetry.com and at his site, terrynashcowboypoet.com.