The Plains Need No More Badges

Once, there were Men
Men not knowing
or greatly steeped in the words of greater Men who preceded them

but Men content to build to find,
No, to search and to find
and wrangle and hold fast that dream of theirs

A simple dream
an honest dream
an American dream

Setting sail for lands unknown
on timbered ships laden with little
and pulled by steer.

For there had been a nation to consolidate
that would not stand consolidation
and now lands to tame whose esteem would not bear it.

Unwanted soldiers of a costly war
sailing West to the Home beyond homes
occupied but theirs to gain

Or so the East swore it to be.
Dangerous but not unkind,
ragged but bountiful was that way.

Cavalrymen and vagabonds
and lawmen and thieves
and hooples and sharks

They all swam that way
to find that Heaven was not there
but Heaven they would make

Heaven, at least, insofar as dirty hands
and thirst for drink
to fill ancient wounds could make.

Grit and worse
Bullet, arrows of hosts to unbidden guests
Spoil and death

All the while the necessity became a dream
Except a dream only to those who knew not necessity
but longed for it

Longed for grime under their nails
a red man to shoot
and a moon for a canopy

Not a four-poster
or a warm hearth
tended by serving women.

Now the buffalo are long gone
replaced by the engine
and the iron shod paw of the Orc

Those Men of fierce resolve
to make something their own
to make new and see buds grow
Have no lot to find.
The gun is now a toy.
Order now made through law

The books now need a face
and the savage is now tamed,
behind glass he sits and stares for pennies.

If the toy guns will not fetch a penny
and the plains need no more badges
hand me my drink, deal me my cards.

Let me go to hell my own way

If such should be we never meet again,
while firing my last shot,
I will gently breathe the name of my wife
and with wishes even for my enemies
I will make the plunge and try to swim to the other shore.

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