Here’s to You, Mr. L’Amour

11 Apr
Here’s to You, Mr. L’Amour

The poem below is by the late Louis L’Amour, perhaps better known for his Western yarns than for his poetry. The following is included in the volume Smoke From This Altar.

The “deep-throated blast” is, I imagine, the bellow of the foghorn. As for the “up-turned collar”, I know it well, from many a disappointing day in childhood when a sunny sky did not necessarily mean a warm ocean. (The August day on which the above photo was taken should have been warm, but I wore a jacket and was glad of it.)


Gray fog steals along
The waterfront and gathers
In shadowed places…
Old ships doze beside the dock
Dreaming lazily…
Damp lumber piles loom darkly
Along narrow slips…
Somewhere a deep-throated blast
Echoes lonesomely…
With up-turned collar I slouch
Away into mist.

I grew up reading L’Amour‘s novels and short stories, and I dare say they shaped not only my imagination but also my love of history and the American West.  He traveled widely, and at various times in his life was a boxer, a mine worker, a pulp fiction writer, and a sailor. He once lived not far from where I live now.

When I was a teen, I wanted to write to him, but never worked up the courage before he died in 1988, just weeks before my seventeenth birthday.

Here’s to you, Mr. L’Amour.


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4 responses to “Here’s to You, Mr. L’Amour

  1. Paul F. Lenzi

    April 11, 2015 at 4:03 am

    I loved his work

    • Keanan

      April 11, 2015 at 12:44 pm

      My dad introduced me to Louis L’Amour, and my mom introduced me to Zane Grey — two very different types of storytellers (my parents as well as the authors). I learned later that L’Amour was not terribly impressed by Grey. 😉

  2. Johne Cook

    April 11, 2015 at 8:04 am

    One of my great regrets is that L’Amour died before he could finish his Walking Drum trilogy. The story of Kerbouchard is one of my favorites and there is no one to finish it.

    • Keanan

      April 11, 2015 at 12:52 pm

      I’m with you. Maybe we authors should, as a precaution against unfinished tales, write literary wills in which we appoint other writers to take over our notes and manuscripts and complete the work. (He may not think he’s capable, but I believe my brother could take over most of my novels-in-progress and do them justice.)


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