ODE TO THE CALF CRADLE, by Larry McWhorter

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ODE TO THE CALF CRADLE
by Larry McWhorter (1957-2003)

Modern day ranchers are doohickied up
But some gadgets do come in handy.
To have a truck and a trailer with you
On the back side at sundown is dandy.

Them feeders you see on flatbeds now
Sure beat them hundred pound sacks,
Round bales are moved with tractor and winch,
These all save on cowboys’ backs.

The makers of these should see paradise,
St. Pete, let them in if you’re able.
But the fires of Hell won’t be hot enough
For the man who made the calf table.

That heavy, clangin’, foul lookin’ trap
That eats cowboys’ fingers for lunch,
I think it’s alive, for I’ve seen it grin
When my hand it got its chance to crunch.

Oh for the days when the brandin’s were pure,
When the dragger and horse were the kings.
The brandin’ pen was a field of honor
Before that nut forged them foul things.

I’m sure that honyock really meant well.
We all have to do things to cope.
But on their best day, there’s no way they’re faster
Than an old gray haired man with a rope.

The years bring on change and the old ways must fall,
“Efficiency” rules now, I guess,
But that man and his cradle are doing away
With the job that the cowboy loves best.

Now, I’m not one to wish bad luck,
I’ve no use for witch doctor’s powers.
But I hope that feller lives a thousand years
With a case of incurable scours.

© Larry McWhorter, used with permission
This poem should not be reposted or reprinted without permission

The last time we shared this poem, Colorado rancher and poet Terry Nash suggested that it would be a good follow-up to Bruce Kiskaddon’s poem (posted Monday) “The Brandin’ Corral.” Thanks to the generous permission of Andrea Waitley, it is a pleasure to share it. As she commented, it is a poem that working cowboys love.

A much admired and respected cowboy’s cowboy, poet, and musician, Larry McWhorter left behind an impressive collection of poetry.

Larry McWhorter wrote about this poem in his book, Cowboy Poetry: Contemporary Verse by Larry McWhorter (2000):

I remember Dad telling me about a prospective buyer looking over the ranch he now runs. After an extensive tour of the place, the buyer asked where the calf table was. Dad replied, “I loaned it to a neighbor on the condition he never bring it back!”

I am of the opinion that the only people who don’t enjoy branding calves by dragging them to the fire are a) people who have never been where it was done right or b) people who are not good at it.

I realize circumstances dictate a lot of situations. However, I would almost prefer to be fencing or pulling a windmill to working a calf table. It’s about the same thing to me.

The works of Larry McWhorter, J.B. Allen, Sunny Hancock, and Ray Owens are featured in the first MASTERS CD (2017) from CowboyPoetry.com. They recite their poetry in recorded poems, “live” performances, and also recite other masters’ works (Buck Ramsey, S. Omar Barker, and Henry Herbert Knibbs). Jay Snider introduces the CD.

Larry McWhorter’s friend, Texas singer and songwriter Jean Prescott  produced an impressive double-CD album of his work in 2010, with his recitations and also recordings by some of his friends reciting his work, including Oscar Auker, Red Steagall, Waddie Mitchell, Andy Hedges, and others. Find more about that project at CowboyPoetry.com.

Find more poetry and more about Larry McWhorter at CowboyPoetry.com.

This photo comes from Terry Nash; it’s his current Facebook cover photo. Find more about Terry at CowboyPoetry.com and at his site, terrynashcowboypoet.com.

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

Cowboy Poetry Week, April 16-22, 2017

cpw_poster_2017_crow_r1smimage © 2015, Tyler Crow, “Makin’ a Break for It”

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Below:
About Cowboy Poetry Week
Get Involved
Rural Library Program
MASTERS CD
Poster by Tyler Crow

Elsewhere on the blog:
Cowboy Poetry Week News
Cowboy Poetry Week Art Spur
MASTERS CD

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COWBOY POETRY
by Jane Morton

The round-ups, the brandings,
the calvings are done,
as ranchers sell out
and move on one by one.

We must tell the stories,
so memories live on,
past time when the tellers
themselves are long gone.

© 2004, Jane Morton

Cowboy Poetry Week is celebrated each year during April, National Poetry Month in the United States.

In 2017, Cowboy Poetry Week—the sixteenth annual—takes place April 16-22, 2017.

In 2017 it is made possible by generous support from Laura and Edmund Wattis Littlefield, a grant from the Margaret T. Morris Foundation, and the individuals and organizations who support the Center for Western and Cowboy Poetry.

CowboyPoetry.com initiated Cowboy Poetry Week, and for the celebration’s second year, in April 2003, the United States Senate passed a resolution, with unanimous approval, recognizing our Cowboy Poetry Week celebration. Twenty-three states’ governors and other officials have recognized Cowboy Poetry Week since, and many activities take place in communities across the West and beyond.

See the 2017 events—to date—on the calendar here.


GET INVOLVED!

Get your schools, libraries, and community involved! Perform your poetry, donate a book or CD, share your knowledge.

Find ideas about how to get involved here.


THE RURAL LIBRARY PROGRAM

The Rural Library Program is an important Cowboy Poetry Week outreach activity, a part of our mission to serve a mostly under-served community of rural Westerners. Each year, a new compilation CD of top classic and contemporary cowboy poetry is offered, along with Cowboy Poetry Week posters, to many rural libraries across the West. The CD is also available for purchase.


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THE MASTERS CD

For 2017, the CD is MASTERS, a collection of poems by four late, respected poets: Larry McWhorter, J.B. Allen, Sunny Hancock, and Ray Owens. Introduced by Jay Snider, the compilation includes recorded poems, “live” performances, and the poets’ recitations of other masters’ works (Buck Ramsey, S. Omar Barker, and Henry Herbert Knibbs).

Find more about the CD here.

CDs are sent to libraries in Cowboy Poetry Week’s associated Rural Library Program, given to supporters (at the $40 level and higher) as thank you gifts, and available to the public. More information about Masters is forthcoming.

Find information about all of the previous CDs, the BAR-D Roundup series, at CowboyPoetry.com.

cpw_poster_2017_crow_r1smimage ©2015, Tyler Crow, “Makin’ a Break for It”

THE 2017 POSTER

Cowboy and artist Tyler Crow‘s painting, “Makin’ a Break for It,” is selected as the 2017 Cowboy Poetry Week poster image and a special Cowboy Poetry Week Art Spur. Tyler Crow is the newest and youngest member of the Cowboy Artists of America.

He tells that the oil painting depicts his “good amigo Mike Eslick.”

From his official bio:

Tyler Crow spent his young life in the small town of Apache, Oklahoma. A 2007 graduate of Apache High School, Tyler always had paper and pencil with him drawing horses. This childhood interest continued throughout his high school years. During his Senior year he entered a pencil drawing in the Oklahoma Youth Expo at the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum. Winning Reserve Best of Show and a scholarship gave him a chance to attend a week-long summer painting workshop co-taught by Bruce Greene and Martin Grelle. This was the first time he had ever held a paintbrush in his hand.

Since their first meeting, Tyler has attended three more painting workshops co-taught by Greene and Grelle. In April 2011, Tyler attended his second Cowboy Artist workshop taught by Mr. Greene at the Scottsdale Artists School in Scottsdale, Arizona. In Tyler’s two most recent shows, Bosque Arts Classic and Small Works Great Wonders, he received the People’s Choice Award. His future plans are to continue studying art and work toward a career as a Western artist.

Find more about Tyler Crow at CowboyPoetry.com; at his site, tylercrow.com; and on Facebook.

Previous poster artists include Duward Campbell, Shawn Cameron, Bob Coronato, Tim Cox, Don Dane, William Matthews, Gary Morton, the late Bill Owen, Jason Rich, R.S. Riddick, and the late Joelle Smith. Find more at CowboyPoetry.com.

Posters are never sold. They are sent to participants in Cowboy Poetry Week’s Rural Library Program and sent to Center for Western and Cowboy Poetry supporters (at the $40 level and higher) as thank you gifts.