My husband and I had the good fortune of careers that took us to many places, and we would not trade those experiences and the friends we made. However, this blog is about Texas, and specifically, it is about a cowboy poet named Larry McWhorter. If you want to know what a cowboy poet should look like, sound like, and represent the honorable character of a true cowboy, just google Larry McWhorter, cowboy poet. He looked the part and had the voice for reading his poetry, and the authentic life to know what he was writing about when he wrote his poems. Cancer cheated him, and those of us who knew him, out of the long life he deserved. The last time we saw Larry was in the hospital. Instead of flowers, I had the nerve to take him a poem I had written for him.
We became friends not through his poetry but through his business building pipe and cable fences. We had bought some acreage in the country and wanted a fence to go all the way around it. His business name was Fiddlestrings, and he was an outstanding craftsman with pipe and cable fencing. We thought his bid was high, but it turned out that the limestone post holes, the curves and shifts in terrain, and his stubborn determination not to settle for anything less than perfection took months longer than he had anticipated. Of course, some of that time included interruptions to jot down poems that came to him as he worked.
By the time he had finished our fence, his recognition as a cowboy poet had grown, and he had published a book of poems and had gained a reputation as an entertainer. We hired him twice as an entertainer, and he was a hit both times. But, his greatest gift was as a friend. At his funeral the sanctuary and the church classrooms filled, with a crowd standing outside, and I am sure each person believed that he was a close friend.
The poem I wrote for him was titled "McWhorter's Last Fence / Apologies to Fiddlestrings. I will share the first two stanzas and the last two stanzas of my 10 stanza poem, as well as pictures of the fence he built for us.
The job began in April
with the pasture full of flowers.
Grass was green and skies were blue.
He didn't mind the hours.
He worked long days on pipe and wire,
and when each day was done,
it hardly seemed he's moved ten feet
from where he had begun.
Yet, when the fence was finished
and lay stretched across high plains,
what he saw was strength and beauty.
He forgot about the pain.
Stinging nettle, sun, and fire ants--
all had put him to the test.
But, he'd kept his word to do the job,
and always done his best.
Lyn Fenwick, (c)