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Keep It Turnin' to the Right

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
December seventeenth, 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 out 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; 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 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

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 politicians 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 drink the devil's brew
Play dominos with Satan and skunk 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"

Coal mining, oil drilling and Hell - Doesn't get much darker and deeper...

Copyright © | Year Posted 2012

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Date: 3/4/2015 12:43:00 PM
Hi Roy.. a belated but well deserved congrats. I'm traveling and just now read your work!
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Date: 2/22/2015 5:41:00 PM
Roy, CONGRATULATIONS, on your Win, Love ~SKAT~
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Date: 2/22/2015 4:53:00 PM
Roy, Sorry, it took this long to close my contest. Congrats :) NATE
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Date: 1/11/2015 11:48:00 AM
This is one of the most masterful writes I have read in a very long time! It speaks to my heart. My Dad was a driller. He turned down several tool pusher offers. Said he wouldn't"t let just anybody run his crew. Hard to work for, but took up for those who could hang with him. Lol.. He took me up on the rig floor several times. Lots and lots of oilfield stories. MUST fav this one, my poetic friend!!.. Hugs.. Arlene
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Jerden Avatar
Roy Jerden
Date: 1/12/2015 4:21:00 PM
Thanks, Arlene! This was the first poem I wrote when I took poetry back up after 50 years. It's mostly made up, but there's a little of my grandfather and father in it, too, who were both drillers. My grandfather did a little tool pushing during WWII, but hated it and went back to drilling after the boys came back. I was born in an oil boom town called McCamey, in west Texas. Cheers, Roy
Date: 1/1/2015 10:00:00 AM
One of the best I have read in a long time. I am from a gold mining town in Northern Ontario and these men could just have easily been miners. This also brings to mind and old song called "Big John".
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Date: 3/30/2013 11:14:00 AM
Roy, I bet you know where the rat hole is.... I spent some of my younger days as a salesman peddling supplies to the Drilling and production sites. Chasing rigs, both alone and with oil field supply store hands, was a real adventure. I really liked this Saga of the oil patch. Thanks, Roy, for the memories.... Something inside me just wants to "Keep Turnin' To The Right."
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Jerden Avatar
Roy Jerden
Date: 3/30/2013 12:20:00 PM
Jake, you're probably one of the few here who can really "get" this poem based on both background and maybe age, I think. It's really a hit at some of the oilfield drilling Facebook pages though, where they know the work, and even something about old school drilling. Thanks for the nice comments.
Date: 2/15/2013 5:04:00 PM
Roy, hope you are well... stopping by to say HI!:-) Congratulations with your featured poem of the week. Always~ PD"
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Date: 11/29/2012 12:25:00 PM
It was long..Sara
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