Drifter’s Thanksgivin’

S. Omar Barker

A way out West long years ago, it came Thanksgivin’ time,
And caught this cowboy busted flat. He didn’t have a dime,
Nor nothin’ else to speak of but a hungry appetite;
No turkey dinner ‘neath his belt, no place to spend the night.
The day was raw and chilly and the afternoon was late.
The wore-out hoss he rode upon was purt near buzzard-bait.

A drifter huntin’ him a job, with nothin’ turnin’ up,
He rode this stretch of desert like a lost and lonesome pup,
A-thinkin’ surely purty soon some ranch would come in view,
With dinner on the table that they might invite him to.
But all he saw was prairie dogs, as mile on mile he rode,
With here and there a rabbit or an ugly horny toad.
No human habitation, nary ranch house, nary shack,
Until he felt his stummick rubbin’ plumb against his back.


Than all at once a dugout’s door stood open in the gloom,
And in it stood a cowboy, bristlin’ whiskers like a broom.
“Light down! Light down!” this cowboy says, “I’m settin’ supper out–
Except in case you don’t like beans, you’ll have to do without.
For this here is a line-camp that’s so doggone far from taw
That the boss ain’t sent no vittles out since Jacob folled his Pa!”


A candle lit the boar’s nest when them two set down to bread,
A pot of beans, and coffee. Then this drifter bowed his head.
“O Lord,” he says, “up yonder where the well-fed angels dwell,
Since this here is the day for thanks, seems like I might be as well
Cut loose and say a word or two about this bill of fare.
When I had cash I spent it like a Klondike millionaire.


You take Thanksgivin’ last year–well, I fed on turkey breast,
Cranberry sauce and gravy–which is what I like the best.
But I forgot to thank YOU, Lord, when luck was runnin’ good,
So now I’m settin’ down to beans, I sorter thought I would.
The pot looks kinder skimpy, but I’m thankful in my heart
That You and this kind stranger aim to let me eat my part.


Thanksgivin’ Day is somethin’ that a man can understand
When he’s got an empty stummick underneath his bellyband.
And so tonight I thank You, Lord of North, South, West and East,
For learnin’ me the lesson that plain beans can be a feast!
© S. Omar Barker

S. Omar Barker (1895-1985) wrote several Thanksgiving poems, and you can find more at http://www.cowboypoetry.com/sobarker.htm

Family always tops my list of things I’m grateful for…what are you grateful for this holiday season?


6 thoughts on “Drifter’s Thanksgivin’

    • Hi Therese–thank you for the kind words! I hope you enjoyed your Thanksgiving–I stayed away from Black Friday shopping this year but am searching for online deals–I can’t believe we only have a few weeks now until Christmas!

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