Keep It Turnin' to the Right

Written by: Roy Jerden

Oklahoma cowboy, tough coal miner’s son
Born in Henryetta, south of Tulsa some
Raised by daddy’s momma, taught him wrong from right
Daddy taught him ropin’, taught him how to fight
 
Herding made no money, its stock was really down
Mamaw feeling poorly, dad mining at Old Town
Seventeenth of December, in the year of twenty-nine
Dad was shoring timber, 9th west entry of the mine
 
The gas ignited close to him, he never smelt its breath
It belched fire and thunder, and everlasting death
Sixty-one they counted, who wouldn’t see the sun
Twenty-five weren't recognized, they buried them as one
 
On that fatal Tuesday, the boy became a man
Had to make a living, had to have a plan
Heard about the oil patch, got a chance to try it
Drill the earth for all she’s worth; just keep it turnin' to the right

Some they called him weevil, some they called him worm
Some they wouldn't speak to him, figgered he was just short term
They told him "Open up that vee door; go to get the key
It's in the possum belly, in doghouse number three"

Took his turns at floor hand, at first a little green
Became the fastest broke out hand the driller ever seen
Morning tour, evening tour, working day and night
Drilled the earth for all she's worth, kept it turnin' to the right

The driller called him partner; the pusher called him son
The other roughnecks shook his hand, and took him in as one
Got up on the monkeyboard; learned to spin the chain
Pumped that mud and shed his blood, and worked right through the pain

On a bitter frosty evening tour, in a cold December snow
He saw derricks lit like Christmas trees in the distance far below
He saw the fairyland of the refinery, shining through the night
He saw Mother Earth and the universe, all turning to the right

He got a job as driller, to West Texas he would go
A boomtown named McCamey, southwest of Angelo
Hired a shack from Pansy, put money in the bank
Drove his pickup out of town, seen the million barrel tank

The oil patch was a hard life, moving all the time
But he saved a lot of money, didn't waste a dime
Morning tour, evening tour, working day and night
Drilled the earth for all she's worth, kept it turnin' to the right

Sent his kids to college, working through the years
One became a teacher, the others engineers
He hung up his hardhat; he shed his steel-toed shoes
Then one day he passed away; he'd finally paid his dues

Made it to the Pearly Gates; they handed him his wings
Handed 'em right back to them; said "I don't need these things.
I want to do some drilling. That's my heavenly plan."
They said "Go talk to the Devil then, cause he's the company man."

Old Scratch needed hellfire; he always come up short
Too many bankers and lawyers and others of that sort
When he heard they had a driller, he jumped up with delight
He danced a jig, "You've got your rig. Keep it turnin' to the right."

Now he drills for hellfire; in the derrick he's got Jake
Buck and Sam on the platform; Sonny's on the brake
They all grin like demons; they're all where they belong
Doing what they love to do, they sing their roughneck song

"We all eat caliche and sniff the devil's brew
Play dominos with Satan and whip him at forty-two
Work all day on Sunday and honky-tonk all night
We're oilfield trash and we'll take cash to keep it turnin' to the right

We all love West Texas; it's like the Promised Land
Horny toads and rocky roads, and even dunes of sand
Dust storms every morning, northers every night
We get tans and freeze our cans to keep it turnin' to the right"

The lingo used around the rig you won't hear much in church
It'll curl your hair and make you stare and leave you in the lurch
So close your eyes and realize it's gonna get much worse
Drink your beers and plug your ears; here comes the final verse

"We p*ss longneck Lone Stars; we f*rt Frito pie
Give us ****, and we will spit some Red Man in your eye
Don't **** with us, or we will cuss and bring you to the fight
We're low class, but we kick *** to keep it turning to the right"


Click "About this poem" above the title to see the notes.