by S. Omar Barker (1895-1985

About this here Thanksgiving
there are two opposin’ views,
One helt by ol’ Pop McIntyre,
one helt by Smoky Hughes;
And how them two ol’ cowpokes
will debate the pros-and-cons
Produces in the bunkhouse
many verbal marathons.
“I’ve always worked,” says Smoky,
“For whatever I have had,
Since first I wrangled horses
as a rusty-knuckled lad.
I’ve rode my share of broncos, ”
and I’ve punched a heap of cow,
And earned my own danged ‘blessings’
by the sweat of my own brow!
Why should I be a-givin’ thanks
for what I’ve duly earned
Is a lot of bosh and bunkum
that I just ain’t never learned!”

Pop McIntyre, he sucks his pipe
a thoughtful draw or two,
Then says: “Well, Smoky,
I’ll admit that you’re a buckaroo
Who sets a steady saddle
and ain’t stingy with his sweat,
But maybe there’s a thing or two
you stubbornly forget.
You’re noted as a peeler
that is seldom ever throwed—
To what good luck or blessin’
is your skill at ridin’ owed?”
“There ain’t no good luck to it, Pop,”
says Smoky. “I’m a man
Who ain’t obliged for nothin’
when I do the best I can.
For when I earn my wages
bustin’ out a bunch of colts,
It’s me, myself in person,
that is takin’ all the jolts.
That’s why I claim Thanksgivin’ Day
is mostly just a fake
To give some folks a good excuse
for turkey stummick-ache!”

“My friend,” says Pop, sarcastic,
“you have spoke your little piece,
And proved you’ve got a limber tongue
that’s well supplied with grease.
You scoff at all thanksgivin’,
but a fact you surely know
Is that some Power beyond your own
learned blades of grass to grow.
You spoke of ridin’ broncos—
I’ll admit you ride ’em good,
And set up in the saddle
like a salty peeler should.
For this you take the credit,
and you claim to owe no thanks
For the buckarooster blessin’
of the muscles in your shanks!

Instead you should feel thankful,”
says Pop’s concludin’ drawl,
That the good lord made you forkéd—
or you couldn’t ride at all!”

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

S. Omar Barker wrote several Thanksgiving poems. This one appears in his 1954 book, Songs of the Saddlemen.

We are honored to have top cowboy poetry Waddie Mitchell’s recitation of “Thanksgiving
Argument” on last year’s double cd, MASTERS: Volume Two, the poetry of S. Omar Barker.

Barker’s prolific writing was described by his friend Fred Gipson, “…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’…”

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

This postcard is from the BAR-D collection.

Find additional poems and more in a Thanksgiving feature at

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