CowboyPoetry.com    Cowboy Poetry and Music and More at the BAR-D Ranch


Larry McWhorter 
left behind many loving family members and friends,
March 19, 2003.

 

I'll Meet You at the Throne

 

Dear friend we’ve been through many miles and years,

We know each other so well.

There’s stories between us that bring smiles and tears

And secrets we’ll never tell.

But the One who has known us before we were born

And gave us each other as friends,

Will call one to Heaven and leave one behind,

But that’s not where fellowship ends.

 

Chorus: I’ll meet you at the Throne,

Where our crowns we’ll lay at His feet.

Let us never forget there’s a rendezvous set

Where once again we’ll meet.

We’ll sing, ‘Holy, holy’ and ‘Worthy is He’

Who has called unto Himself His own,

Be it first you or me, let us hear now agree,

I’ll meet you at the Throne.

 

If I go before you please don’t be despaired,

It’s where I long to be,

The mansion is finished my Lord has prepared

And there it waits for me.

All the angelic beings and saints gone before,

Will shout when those gates I walk through.

In heaven there’s plenty of room for one more,

And your place is waiting there, too.

 

Chorus:  I’ll meet you at the Throne,

Where our crowns we’ll lay at His feet.

Let us never forget there’s a rendezvous set

Where once again we’ll meet.

We’ll sing, ‘Holy, holy’ and ‘Worthy is He’

Who has called unto Himself His own,

Be it first you or me, let us hear now agree,

I’ll meet you at the Throne.

by Larry McWhorter


Larry shared the above poem with us in September, 2002, in preparation for a feature about his friend Jean Prescott, who sings this song on her album, Tapesty of the West.

Read more about Larry and tributes to him on our tribute page.

 


 

In 2010, popular songwriter and singer Jean Prescott produced an important and exciting CD set, The Poetry of Larry McWhorter, the works of Larry McWhorter (1957-2003), one of the most respected contemporary cowboy poets. The CDs include Larry McWhorter's recorded recitations of his poetry, and eleven poems that were never recorded, recited by some of today's top performers.

Jean Prescott describes the release:

The Poetry of Larry McWhorter is the complete collection of Larry McWhorter's cowboy poems. There were eleven poems that Larry never recorded and that's where a number of his peers came into the picture. Red Steagall, Waddie Mitchell, Chris Isaacs, Andy Hedges, Gary McMahan, Dennis Flynn, Oscar Auker and Jesse Smith all eagerly agreed to help out with the project. Larry had always wanted to recite two of his favorite poems with Waddie Mitchell, "The Retirement of Ashtola" and "Cowboy Count Yer Blessings." Thanks to Waddie, Hal Cannon, Rich O'Brien, and engineer, Aarom Meador, we were able to make that a reality. You can just see Larry and Waddie on stage reciting those poems.

After listening to both CDs for the first time, I came to an even greater realization of what a great poet Larry was and what we lost as a genre when he left us. I am thrilled to be able to present this double CD to the world of cowboy poetry knowing that young cowboy poets and fans alike will be able to enjoy and recite Larry's classic contemporary cowboy poems for years to come.

View the entire project and complete track list in a special feature here.

 


 

Honored Guest

About Larry McWhorter
A Few Poems
Book and Recordings

January, 2003
Page Two:
  Some special efforts for a special person 

 

 Back to Honored Guests
Back on home

 

About Larry McWhorter

Reared on ranches in the Texas Panhandle, Larry McWhorter learned the cowboy way of life from his father and other men like him.  Like most young cowboys, he had his ideals of cowboy life cemented into his being by the written works of Will James, Ed Lemmon, Andy Adams, etc.

After finishing high school and graduating from a ranch and feedlot operations course at Clarendon College in Clarendon, Texas, McWhorter pursued his dream of working for big outfits and living the pure cowboy life. These experiences provided a rich treasury of memories that have found their way into Larry's writings. It is life from a cowpuncher's point of view and not that of a rancher's. "You can ranch from a pickup or a four wheeler, but you're not 'punchin' cows' unless you're horseback."

A cowboy's respect for the individuality of people, horses and cattle, and the bond formed with them, is at the heart of each story and poem. McWhorter's style of prose is that of a painter's imagery which puts the reader or listener in the saddle looking at life between the ears of a horse, feeling the bite of the north wind or witnessing the rise of a spring morning sun.

Larry made his home in Weatherford, Texas with his wife, Andrea, and their daughter, Abigail. He ran a small outfit there and was a favorite performer at many cowboy and Western heritage events all over the United States.

 

A Few Poems   

The Red Cow

Gate Session

Johnny Clare

Waitin' on the Drive

All poems above © 2000, Larry McWhorter, reprinted with his permission from 
Cowboy Poetry: Contemporary Verse
, published by 
Cowboy Miner Productions, Phoenix, Arizona

Fear

Hearts to Mend

Advice to the Traveler

 

 

The Red Cow

"I almost put my rope on her once
But then I thought it through.
I had my day in the sun long ago
So I left her for someone like you."

"Sounds to me like she run you off,"
I said to the silver-haired man.
"Why there ain't a cowbrute anywhere
Too much for a hand worth his sand."

We were talking 'bout the Ol' Red Cow,
Legend 'round these parts,
And it's been said she'd put fear and dread
In the punchiest cowboys' hearts.

An old barren cow who'd escaped all the drives
Because she was big, mean and clever.
The manager said she was twelve years old.
The old man said she'd been there forever.

Now legends don't scare a boy of nineteen
Who thinks he's the pride of the nation
And I'm thinkin', "Now, if I pen this ol' cow
I'll sure have a good reputation."

"Where do I find this renegade beast?
This scarlet scourge of the prairie.
Why, I'll lead the hussy through the bunkhouse door.
You'll think she was raised on a dairy.

"I'll bring her in and she'll bear a grim
'Cause she'll know that she's had her lickin'
For I'm a hand from the faraway land
Where the hoot owls romance the chickens."

A gleam appeared in the old man's eye
And he was grinnin' a little too much.
"Why, I'll tell you where the Red Cow lives
And while you're gone I'll carve you a crutch.

"Oh, and give me your address 'fore you leave,
You'll want me to write your folks."
I left him there to amuse hisself,
I didn't care for his little jokes.

The Sabbath sun caught me ridin' Ol' Gus
Sneakin' through the brush like a ghost
'Til we come to the mouth of the canyon
Where the outlaw had been seen the most.

We come upon on old dirt tank
'Bout halfway up that draw
And standin' there for her mornin' drink
Was the biggest cow I ever saw.

Her horns weren't ripped, she wore no brand
Her ears were long and slick
And I thought of a big ol' rhinoceros
I'd seen in a Tarzan flick.

Well, I knew if I showed myself to her now
Back up the canyon she'd go
So I eased up high so's I could drive her down
And I'd catch her in the big flat below.

Well, I cinched up a notch and shook out a loop
And pulled my hornknot tight,
Then I eased Ol' Gus to the edge of the brush
And showed myself, ready to fight.

She jerked up her head when we come in the clear
And a startled look filled her eyes.
I had to grin for my little ruse
Caught the wily Red Cow by surprise.

She's scared and confused with no place to hide.
I've wrecked her psyche, I think.
But she stood there, sized up her latest of pests,
Then calmly went back to her drink.

We sat there and stared at each other awhile
'Til the Red Cow had drunk her fill
Then she stretched her back and ever so slowly
Started walkin', towards me, up the hill.

Why her stride betrayed no fear at all.
It was like she'd been through this before.
'Bout then I started to doubt my own smarts
And I pondered the Red Cow's lore.

Her slow steady walk turned into a trot
And her mouth began to foam.
The closer she got the more that I wished
That me and Ol' Gus had stayed home.

The walls of that canyon somehow looked steeper
And it looked a lot narrower too.
My perception had changed on a whole lot of things
And my brashness I started to rue.

I'd made my brag back at the ranch
'Bout the worth of a man who would balk.
Now I found myself fallen victim
To my own yappin' tongue's foolish talk.

My moment of truth was on me now
And my smarts was fightin' my pride.
The cow was locked in on me and Ol' Gus--
Then my outlook was rectified.

The boss hadn't sent me out here
On the wildcat venture, of such.
If she didn't bother him then why should she me?
Hell, one ol' red cow don't each much.

Fifty feet 'tween me and the cow
Another thought entered my mind.
There were many like me but this cow that I faced
Was one of the last of her kind.

Who was I to alter her fate?
Her freedom she'd fought long to keep.
Far be it from me to ruin her life.
Oh, I could pen her.  But then could I sleep?

I cringed at the thought of a grinnin' old man
And the scorn I would see in his eye,
But I knew I was right so I tipped my hat
As the famous Red Cow trotted by.

The old man was waitin' when I rode in,
The bunkhouse door open wide.
"I got things ready for you and your cow!"
A stool and a pail stood inside.

Well he rode me hard and put me up wet
'Til he seen that my pride was full peeled
But the scorn I expected he never showed.
He said, "Son, I know just how you feel.

"You ain't the first to change his mind
After doubtin' the Red Cow's lore.
Few boys your age have dealt with her kind
But on her coup stick you're just one more.

"There comes a time in every man's life
When he's forced to face his limitation.
Now you feel like a fraud but your judgment was sound
So, Son, you ain't no imitation.

"Aw, you talked a lot but you took your shot,
Which is more than many have done.
She force fed you crow but that taste we all know
So welcome to the humbled ranks, Son."

Well the years have gone by and I reckon she's died,
I know I never saw her again.
But with all my heart I hope that ol' girl
Never saw the inside of a pen.

And though she's gone her legend lives on
And I'm proud to be part of her lore
For times have changed and the brute of her kind
Is rarely seen anymore.

The young sprouts now ask me 'bout the cow
And tight-throated I think of that day.
I recall my old friend and what he told me back then.
Then I grin at these pups and I say,

"I almost put my rope on her once
But then, I thought it through .....

© Larry McWhorter, reprinted by permission from Cowboy Poetry: Contemporary Verse
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without written permission.

 

"The Red Cow" is one of Larry McWhorter's best-loved and most often recited poems. He introduces this poem in his book Cowboy Poetry: Contemporary Verse:

I had a lot of fun writing and performing this one, especially the parts with the old man.  Those old coots loved to give you enough rope to hang yourself with and then watch you trip over the slack before you could get to the tree.

 

 

Gate Session

The sun had given up the quest
Of meltin' off the snow
And crawled off in defeat behind a hill.
He took his shadows with him
When he finally had to go
And left the world locked in a grayish chill.

The frosty air grew bolder
Knowing it had won the day.
Its foe outlasted, it was free to roam
The twilight unimpeded
As two riders made their way
At a steady walk a half a mile from home.

A cold and hungry, angry boy
Had had enough of this.
He knew they'd get there quicker if they'd trot,
Or, better yet, a lope, but, Dad,
Whose vote outnumbered his,
Suggested it was better that they not.

The lights of hearth and home shone bright
Yet seemed to never near
I never knew a horse could move so slow.
Each steaming breath bore curses,
But not loud where Dad could hear.
It wouldn't hurt me what he didn't know.

Consumed with cold and anger
And with fingers going numb,
I barely noticed we had reached the gate
Which led into the old Home trap,
Then Dad's colt acted dumb
And added fifteen minutes to the wait.

I logged my millionth hour
Watching circle, spin and turn.
This ten year old was bored and getting vexed.
With Dad there's one more lesson
One is always doomed to learn
And little did I know that I was next.

For when at last he opened up
The gate to let us through
I'd drifted off into a sort of trance.
Intent on getting in to Mom's
Hot cornbread and beef stew
I headed home without a backward glance.

An icy voice cracked icy air
Which stopped both horse and heart.
The tone he used was one I'd come to dread.
The dialogue which then ensued
Was quiet on my part,
The mighty revolution now was dead.

I only thought that I'd been cold
Until his angry stare
Went through me like ice water through a sieve.
But flush of shame soon warmed me
As he then made me aware
Of a law I'd broken by which cowboys live.

"Now, Boy, I know it's cold out here,
But that's the way things are
And we can't always pick our circumstance.
I told you when you chose to come
That we'd be ridin' far
And it's too late to bow out of the dance.

"Discomfort doesn't give a a man
The right to leave a friend.
It's when it's tough is when you need to stick.
He needs to know that when you start
You'll be there in the end.
That trust should be like mortar to a brick.

"You could have caused a wreck back there
By leaving me behind
That's durned poor manners in the cowboy clan.
This colt was trying to go with you
Which put me in a bind
Cause it's hard to mount a pony that won't stand."

He stared and let his point sink home
Then turned and mounted up.
And then he said "Let's don't do that again.
I hope your ma's got coffee on
I sure could use a cup."
The stars were shining bright when we got in.

© Larry McWhorter, reprinted by permission from Cowboy Poetry: Contemporary Verse
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without written permission.

 


Johnny Clare

In north central Oklahoma
In the land known as the Osage,
The spring and early summer
Rest so easy on the eye.
Where the lush, green, rolling carpet
Marks the passing of Mariah
As she dances, sometimes gently
With the clouds which dot the sky.

Much like a ballerina
She pirouettes and leaps
Across her stage of prairie
And she seems to never pause
While high above the scenery
A hawk critiques the drama
While voicing his approval
Flapping wings in mute applause.

The deer, the birds, the woodchuck
Bear witness from their browsing
As they share their home with cattle,
The stewards of this land,
Who took the place of buffalo
In harvesting the bluestem
After they themselves were reaped
When progress dealt death's hand.

Should you travel through this country
Heading west toward Ponca City,
Fifteen miles out of Pawhuska
On the highway state funds pave,
Some fifty yards or so due south
Of tar and asphalt ribbon
Amid the grass wild roses grow
And there you'll find a grave.

It once lay on the open plain
Surrounded by tall bluestem.
There's now a trap with shorter grass,
Well kept, devoid of weeds.
It seems so humble at first glance,
Steel fence, a cross of concrete.
'Til close examination shows
A cast-iron plaque which reads:

"Johnny Clare
May 1890--May 1910
Cowboy employed by Dr. Hall
Thrown from his horse and
Killed at this spot
Courtesy, Continental Oil Company."

To be a cowboy was the call
This young man gladly answered.
He'd not trade lots with anyone.
In life he'd found his pearl.
He loved to ride and rope rough stock
To test his skill and courage,
To polish up the dance floor
With a smiling blue eyed girl.

Young Johnny lived the cowboy's life
And lived it to the fullest.
His pride would let no brute escape
As long as he drew breath.
So he thought not of consequence,
And outlaw steer his quarry,
And on the warm, spring, Osage day
He died a cowboy's death.

Dwight Barnard was the man who found
Young Johnny's prostrate body,
He'd tried to crawl but soon succumbed
To sun and broken bone.
From pulling grass out by the roots
His hands were torn and bloody.
Wild with pain he'd pawed the ground,
Afraid to die alone.

The horse he'd rode still stood nearby,
The outlaw steer stood with him.
A stout length of manila hemp
Was stretched between the pair.
There were no human witnesses
To relay what had happened.
The truth now lives with God above
And died with Johnny Clare.

A tinker happened by the way,
And saw a small crowd gathered.
The group was friends and comrades
Of this young man who'd been slain.
He reached into his wagon box,
Produced a tarp of canvas,
With wagon sheet for coffin,
To rest the lad was lain.

A short time later, lore maintains,
A buckboard journeyed out there.
It carried Johnny's mother
To his final resting place.
Her black dress blowing in the wind,
It's said she stood for hours,
Praying and remembering,
As tears streamed down her face.

Beneath the rich, black Osage sod
Her precious son was buried.
The one to whom she'd given life
And nourished from her breast.
And though her sorrow knew no bounds,
There was one consolation,
At least she could die knowing
Where her Johnny lay at rest.

How many young men like her son
Have gone to seek their fortune?
Their siren call a lowing herd,
The whispering prairie wind,
Which beckoned to the spirit
Of the ones who tamed the West.
Who left their loved ones wondering
If they'd ever meet again.

How many young men like her son
Met death upon the prairie?
Their flesh preceding bleaching bone
In melding with the sod.
So let us think of Johnny's grave
As everlasting tribute
To those unfound whose dying gasps
Were heard by none but God.

In north central Oklahoma
In the land known as the Osage,
The spring and early summer
Rest so easy on the eye.
The lush, green rolling carpet
Covers Johnny Clare, young cowboy.
But his spirit's free and dancing
With Mariah in the sky.

          © Larry McWhorter, reprinted by permission from Cowboy Poetry: Contemporary Verse
          This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without written permission.

Larry McWhorter writes about his inspiration for Johnny Clare in his book, Cowboy Poetry: Contemporary Verse, where these words are accompanied by the photo below of Larry at Johnny Clare's gravesite:

Having been in numerous wrecks and tight spots I have to give thanks to God for protecting me through all of them.  Through His grace there was always someone close by the times I was badly hurt.

Anyone who has ever had an angry cowbrute on the end of the their rope knows how fast things can get out of hand.  A wreck can occur so quickly you don't even have time to be scared until it's over.

Don Wells of Pawhuska, Oklahoma gave me a rough outline of this story and told me where the grave was.  Having found the spot, I stood there scanning the surrounding area trying to picture how it might have looked nearly 80 years before.


reprinted with permission from Cowboy Poetry: Contemporary Verse

A genuine chill went through my body as I thought of how Johnny must have felt; unable to move and knowing he might not be found or even missed for days.

I visited with an old Osage Indian who was ten years old when the tinker in the poem came to town with the story.  His information was invaluable.


After the poem in his book, Larry writes:

This is one of my favorite pieces of work.  When I finished it I was emotionally drained from the research of trying to piece together something with so many missing parts.  Also, Johnny's story itself began to haunt me.  Was it right?  Was it even close?

Perhaps the greatest moment of my writing career came one day in Ruidoso, New Mexico when, after performing this poem, an elderly lady approached me and said, "Young man, I don't know where you got your information for that story, but it's just the way my uncle told it to me.  My uncle was Dwight Barnard, the man who found Johnny Clare."  


In July, 2003, Joe E. Barnard wrote to us:

So sorry to hear of the passing of Larry. Caused me to look for the website as I have long wanted to obtain a tape containing the Johnny Clare poem. My aunt brought it to me to hear quite some time ago because it was my granddad, Dwight Barnard, who found Clare. I live in Fairfax, Oklahoma, not far from Clare's gravesite. A cousin of mine who worked for Conoco was the person responsible for getting the plaque for the grave. I remember for years seeing a lone white cross on the grave not knowing the story behind the death of the cowboy. Every time I went by there with my dad he would always point out the gravesite, but I barely remember him mentioning that his father was a small part of the story of Johnnie Clare. 

Recently, a tornado tore across Osage County and demolished the ranch house to the west of the grave. Three horses were killed by the twister and the horses were buried very near Clare's grave. I took a picture while the hole was being dug by a backhoe for the horses. The reason for the picture was the three horses had been laid nearby and a cowboy was sitting on one of the dead horses waiting for the grave to be completed. It was a very sad sight and I couldn't help but think of the cowboy that would soon have 3 new horses to add to his string. I'm sure the sad cowboy atop one his dead horses had the same thoughts when the decision was made to lay his horses within a rope's throw of Johnny Clare.

Larry's talents will be missed.

I tried to enhance this picture as I was quite a ways from the gravesite. I hope you can use it somehow or at least be aware that Johnny Clare isn't alone now. 


Waitin' on the Drive

It's four o'clock when the cook's bell calls,
Raisin' cowboys up from their dreams.
I pull on my boots and watch the red dust
Come puffin' up through the worn seams.

Spring works are on and we're leavin' 'fore dawn
And we won't strip our kacks 'til night.
As I jingle the horses I wonder
How the bunkhouse looks in daylight.

We're met with growls from a grouchy old cook
As his "sacred shrine" we invade,
But the table's stacked high with good steak and spuds
And fresh biscuits he has just made.

We're no better thought of at the corral
Where the snorts guide our way through the dark.
"Ol' J.J. today," I hear David say,
Ol' Dave's ride will be no gay lark.

The strawboss aims true as we call our mounts,
Ropin' horses his privilege for years
'Cause he knows each horse in the stars' murky light
By "skyin'" the tips of their ears.

Finally we're mounted and ready to go
As the cowboss leads out the way.
We ride by the "wagon," long since retired,
Just a relic of yesterday.

How many good meals were served from its box?
How many good hands called it home?
Though it's been idle for ten years or more
The sight of it stirs young men to roam.

Ol' cowboss, he come here just as a kid
Of sixteen short summers or so.
Raised choppin' rows for his sharecroppin' pa
'Til he worked up the nerve to say no.

"I almost went home many times," he'd say.
"Things was tough on buttons back then.
But I'd think of that hoe and that ten yard sack,
Them rough horses didn't look so bad then."

I've heard that old story a hundred times
From men showin' frost in their hair.
Them cotton fields sure made lots of good hands
But I'm happy I wasn't there.

These thoughts and more kinda flow through my mind
As I sit on this caprock so high.
I run my fingers through Black Draught's dark mane
And watch the last star wave good-bye.

Shadows stretch out as Ol' Sol makes his call
Climbing slowly up toward his domain,
And does away with the morn's early fog,
Remnant of last night's gentle rain.

Movement catches my eye from the west.
The herd filters out of the brush.
That outside circle's sure comin' 'round fast.
I'll bet due to J.J.'s mad rush.

Cows callin' calves and hoots from the boys
Are the only sounds that I hear.
Bob Wills' old fiddle playin' "Faded Love"
Ain't as sweet to this cowboy's ear.

Little white faces made bright by the sun
Bounce high with their tails in the air.
That little red calf's chargin' Jake and Ol' Eight
Bawlin', "Come on big boy, if you dare."

And I think as I gaze on the South Pease below,
"I really get paid to do this."
My wage is low next to that paid in town
But look what those poor townfolk miss.

Well, the herd's gettin' near the draw I must guard,
Like many before me have done.
If I don't get there to head 'em off soon
They'll sure have a long ways to run.

But 'fore I drop off I draw a breath of crisp air,
The kind that brought Adam to life,
And I thank God that He made this feller that's me
As I sit, waitin' on the drive.

          © Larry McWhorter, reprinted by permission
          This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without written permission.


 

Larry McWhorter writes:

"Waitin' on the Drive" is one of those poems born from a nostalgia of the deep respect a cowboy has for his heritage. So many of the little "tricks of the trade" which have been unnoticed or forgotten have played an important part in the development of the American cowboy as an individual.

Riding and roping can be accomplished by almost anyone with little regard for anything except the enjoyment of the moment. I'd be willing to bet, however, there is not a "cowboy" anywhere, who, upon performing the most obscure of tasks, doesn't take a moment to remember the man, horse or situation which taught him those little "tricks," or feel those mentors looking over his shoulder.

 

Fear

I've been on the mountain and been on the plain
When lightning was casting its lot.
It isn't much fun having nowhere to run
When the sulfur is heavy and hot.

Been wrapped in my rope without prayer or hope,
Thinking, "Maybe I should learn to dally."
My foot in the stirrup, stuck hard like dried syrup
Knowing God has just totaled my tally.

Been knocked down and wooed around by a bull.
Had cows bounce me off of a fence.
There's plenty to fear, day to day, year to year
If a cowboy has got any sense.

I've felt my blood chill through wreck and through spill.
Cold sweat has poured off of my head.
I've felt my heart sink if I had time to think
On dangers I knew lay ahead.

Yet fear we must face having chosen our place
Knowing full well this life ain't all clover.
We're knocked down but then we get up again
And try to laugh when it's over.

But there is one trap that gets dropped in our lap,
Each man has to face on his own.
You just can't prepare for this worst kind of scare
And you'll never feel so all alone

As when out of the blue, directed at you,
These words that make men hunt their hat.
"I got it on sale, but I really can't tell,
Does this outfit make me look fat?"

© Larry McWhorter, reprinted with permission
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without written permission.


 

 

Hearts to Mend

Dear Lord, I left her crying,
But I had to get away.
And though we’ve been together many years,
She’s crying more here lately
And I don’t know what to say,
‘Cause I feel that I’m the reason for her tears.

Lord, what happened in these years
That made us drift apart?
When time was we saw most things eye to eye?
But now she just looks past me,
Like she’s lost her hope and heart,
Seems she’s given up and now won’t even try.

I can’t blame her much, I guess;
I’m not much company.
With drought and eco-bandits on the prowl,
Both of them seem bent on
Takin’ what belongs to me
While I can’t do a thing but snap and growl.

Are her eyes accusing me
Of one more dream that’s failed?
Or is it just a disappointed stare,
That leaves me with the feeling
Of a heart that’s been impaled
And gives me one more burden I must bear.

Where do I go from here, Lord/
I’ve tried most all I know
To meet my cattle’s and my family’s needs.
I’ve tried it on my own, but now
I’ve nowhere else to go,
So here I am before You on my knees.

A man once told You, “I believe,
But help my unbelief.”
Right now I know just what that feller meant.
Trusting what we can’t observe
Don’t give our hearts relief,
When we can’t see Your end or Your intent.

© 2002, Larry McWhorter, reprinted with permission
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without written permission.


 

The poem was inspired by the Arizona Cowboy Poets Gathering's 2002 poster art by Bill Anton:

The Arizona Cowboy Poets' Gathering has a session each year where poets present poems based on the year's poster art. That practice inspired our Art Spur.

 

 

Advice to the Traveler

This ain't the way your dear old
Sainted daddy worked a cow?
It's good to know you listened in those days.
Well Button, you ain't takin'
Orders from your daddy now
So open up your mind to learn new ways.

You come out here ahuntin' work,
They didn't send for you.
They hired you 'cause we needed extra help.
So we don't give a hoot in Hell
What you think of this crew.
Just keep your durned opinions to yourself.

The road which brought you to our world
Can durned sure take you home
Where you can work in ways which you believe.
But I've watched you, Boy. I like your style.
You're cowboy to the bone.
So really, Son, I'd hate to see you leave.

You need to realize we do
Some things the way we do
Because they work for us and have for years.
Tradition runs deep in our heart
Just like it does for you.
We ain't your competition, we're your peers.

I know it ain't my rightful place
To speak to you this way.
I'm not your dad nor do I sign your checks.
But, Kid, I've traveled that same road
And haughtiness don't pay.
And if you don't have friends life gets complex.

I know, Son, it ain't all your fault.
I've watched 'em jerk your chain.
That sort of treatment you'll have to expect.
The price of bein' different, Boy
Is seldom without pain.
'Specially bein' young, seekin' respect.

But barkin' back at barkin' dogs
Just makes a lot of noise.
Remember, Son, you represent your land.
And you don't have one thing to prove
To any of these boys
Except that you just want to make a hand.

So peel your eyes, unplug your ears
And shut that trap of yours.
You'll find the world's a better place to live
If you'll expand your knowledge
Watchin' others do their chores
And at least respect advice that they might give.

'Cause no one way works every time
Nor is one way the best.
Variety, my boy, is the spice of life.
The willingness to change
Will help you pass life's toughest test.
You'd best learn this 'fore you take on a wife.

Now, clear your shoulder of that chip
And cease your moans and wails.
Learn from us. Heck, we might learn from you.
After all, our goal's the same,
To get 'em 'cross the scales.
I've said enough. Let's go, we've work to do.

© 2002, Larry McWhorter, reprinted with permission
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without written permission.

 

Larry McWhorter commented on this poem, "I guess if I were to pick a poem to be remembered by it would have to be this one. I enjoy a good bantering with someone who has been around enough to have some solid opinions formed from experience. What I don't have time of patience for is someone who puts being 'right' ahead of getting the job done."
 

 

 

We're aware of only one YouTube clip of Larry McWhorter. It's a PBS commercial from the 1990s, with two cowboys at a campfire (Larry McWhorter is the second pictured, with the longer speaking part): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iB42t7T6IrI

 

 

 

Book and Recordings 

 

 

  The Poetry of Larry McWhorter

In 2010, popular songwriter and singer Jean Prescott produced an important and impressive CD set, The Poetry of Larry McWhorter, the works of Larry McWhorter (1957-2003), one of the most respected contemporary cowboy poets. The CDs include Larry McWhorter's recorded recitations of his poetry, and eleven poems that were never recorded, recited by some of today's top performers.

Jean Prescott describes the release:

The Poetry of Larry McWhorter is the complete collection of Larry McWhorter's cowboy poems. There were eleven poems that Larry never recorded and that's where a number of his peers came into the picture. Red Steagall, Waddie Mitchell, Chris Isaacs, Andy Hedges, Gary McMahan, Dennis Flynn, Oscar Auker and Jesse Smith all eagerly agreed to help out with the project.

Larry had always wanted to recite two of his favorite poems with Waddie Mitchell, "The Retirement of Ashtola" and "Cowboy Count Yer Blessings." Thanks to Waddie, Hal Cannon, Rich O'Brien, and engineer, Aarom Meador, we were able to make that a reality. You can just see Larry and Waddie on stage reciting those poems.

After listening to both CDs for the first time, I came to an even greater realization of what a great poet Larry was and what we lost as a genre when he left us. I am thrilled to be able to present this double CD to the world of cowboy poetry knowing that young cowboy poets and fans alike will be able to enjoy and recite Larry's classic contemporary cowboy poems for years to come.

View the entire project and complete track list in a special feature here.

 

   Cowboy Poetry: Contemporary Verse by Larry McWhorter

Larry McWhorter's words that preface this wonderful collection speak to what he holds fiercely dear:  "...there is more to being a cowboy than roping and riding.  There is an etiquette shared among cowboys which frees the soul yet binds it at the same time.  The binding comes from everyone you've ever worked with or learned anything from....The real cowboys are very proud and jealous of their craft and hate to see it misrepresented in any way. That applies to their poetry as well."  

He speaks of the humor and camaraderie of the crew, the lessons of respect and hard work done well.  He says "When were coming up, in the days before Lonesome Dove, when we weren't folk heroes; it was different then," and much of his experience of those times is woven into his work.  Larry told us that Gate Session perhaps best illustrates his feelings about cowboy life and values.   

This excellent collection includes many of Larry McWhorter's best loved and most requested poems, a glossary, and a "Preview of the Cowboy Book of Virtue," inspirational and insightful prose recollections that carry valuable lessons.  In a preface to the "Preview of the Cowboy Book of Virtue," he writes "My wife, Andrea, listened as friends and I recounted how our lives had been shaped through the many people and events we had encountered.  She told me it would be a sin not to preserve them."

Read some of the book's praise from Baxter Black, Elmer Kelton, Waddie Mitchell ("Because he is one, Larry McWhorter understands the cowboy's language, wit, ethics and loves.  But I believe it is his philosophy that makes him the great storyteller, teacher and poet that he is.  There is as much in these poems as you may wish to know.") and Vess Quinlan at the Cowboy Miner publisher's web site.  There you'll also find Larry McWhorter's "He Rode for the Brand."

The book also includes comments by Red Steagall ("...He makes the reader feel the morning, hear the sounds, smell the air, and see the beauty of nature while "waitin' on the drive'...") and an enthusiastic introduction by Wallace McRae that just might cause him to lose his reputation as the "Cowboy Curmudgeon."

The book is available from Jean Prescott for $25 postpaid.  Email Jean for ordering information.

 

 

  The Open Gate 

The Open Gate,winner of the Academy of Western Artists' Best Cowboy Poetry Album award, includes includes poetry and song, featuring the talents of Frankie McWhorter and Snuffy Elmore on fiddle. Included are "Peaches and the Twister;" "Sierra Sue," "Calendar," "Maria Elena," "Gate Session," "The Girl I Left Behind," "Little Puncher,"  "Therapy,"  "Where the Ponies Come to Drink," "Harley’s Secret," "My Mother’s Eyes," and "The Last Wagon."

The Open Gate CD is available for $17 postpaid from Jean Prescott.  Email Jean for order information.

 


  Most Requested Poetry of Larry McWhorter

This CD combines Larry McWhorter's first two recordings that were originally released on cassette ("Wheat Pasture Dreamin’" and "Waitin’ on the Drive").  It includes such favorites as "Black Draught," "The Red Cow," "Waitin' on the Drive," and "Johnny Clare."

The Most Requested Poetry of Larry McWhorter CD is available for $17 postpaid from Jean Prescott.  Email Jean for order information.

 

 

 

www.cowboypoetry.com

 

HOME

 What's New | Poems | Search

 Features | Events  

The BAR-D Roundup | Cowboy Poetry Week

Poetry Submissions 

Subscribe | Newsletter | Contact Us

  Join Us!

 

Authors retain copyright to their work; obtain an author's
permission before using a poem in any form.

 

CowboyPoetry.com is a project of the Center for Western and Cowboy Poetry, Inc., a Federal and California tax-exempt non-profit 501 (c) (3) organization.  

 

Site copyright information