Sunday, July 31, 2011

Dream Time

DREAM TIME

I watched dawn’s fading crescent moon
And the night’s last twinkling star
The light blue morning had come too soon
When the night’s long journey seemed so far

The journey was a book of dreams
Dreams are the opiate of the night
They’re both good and bad it seems
But they always run from morning light

Would that the night go on and on
Let the dawn be many hours away
For only at night dreams are drawn
They fade away in the light of day

If we could choose the length of night
If we could pick the dreams we see
We would welcome dawn’s blue light
And know the night has set us free

Saturday, July 30, 2011

The Dream

THE DREAM

‘The spirit is willing’, the saying goes
It’s the body that lacks the drive
The spirit finds beauty in love and prose
The body is barely alive

The spirit sleeps in dreamless plight
Fighting for a starlit dream
Hopeless starts all through the night
Making things not what they seem

Dream maker stop, take extra care
Help make this spirit bright
Dampen bad thought we often share
From battles framed by endless night

Lucent sands and desert dunes
Great mountains and oceans deep
Grand rivers and harvest moons
Those we dream in sleep

Waking in darkness; a seamless night
No dreams of fame; no one to blame
But the dream maker’s abandoned flight
Another night, another dreamer to tame

Sweet dreams to fill and endless night
Chasing the east sun’s early reign
Filling the day with bright sunlight
Sending the dreams from where they came

Friday, July 29, 2011

Vallorie

VALLORIE

Vallorie was into aerobics
She exercised every day
But she was triskaidekaphobic
So on the thirteenth she hid away

Strangely enough her birthday
Fell on the thirteenth of June
So every birthday she stayed
Locked up in her little blue room

The repetitions in her workout
Never included number thirteen
Her friends were trying to count
By going from twelve to fourteen

Twenty six is even taboo
Because it’s a double thirteen
She even hates fifty two
Because it’s quadrupled thirteen

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Aurora Borealis

AURORA BOREALIS

A kaleidoscope unfolds
In the northern sky
Colors bright and bold
Dance for you and I

The Northern Lights high above
Where Valkyries lead the fight
A Norseman’s treasure trove
Lights a dark and wondrous night

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

The King is Dead

The King is Dead

Just a shaky second, friend
Let's set the record straight
To stop the buzzing in my head
There's too much on my plate

The king is finally dead
In his place a common born
He died in his royal bed
With no gold to adorn

His throne perched on a shaky branch
He lived life on the edge
Each time he took a chance
It was others lives he pledged

He lies now cold and grey
His armor is rusted red
He'll be buried in the clay
A pine coffin for his bed
copyright12/27/10Terry Sutherland

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Erlend

Erlend

Erlend came from Norway
In the year of nineteen nine
He traveled west by railway
On Jim Hill's western line

Erlend staked his farmstead
Under the Homestead Act
Planted a crop of wheat for bread
From seed in a gunny sack

Erlend's brother Ivar
Had a place right next to him
He planted beets for sugar
But the harvest was pretty thin

The brothers farmed together
Norse families side by side
Through the harsh prairie winter
Dirt farming was their pride

copyright 7/26/11Terry Sutherland



Monday, July 25, 2011

The Wanderer

THE WANDERER

He walked west until he disappeared
Where blue sky meets golden earth
He never looked back and never feared
Anyone would question his worldly worth

He was a man with a wandering lust
He had a heart as big as the sun
He was a simple man who won your trust
His thirst for change was never done

Whatever comes will have to be
He can’t change what change has done
From sandy shores on a quiet sea
To where the mountain touches the sun

Someday when his life has gone away
When his legs are weak and sore
When he sees no other reason to stay
He’ll rest and walk the earth no more

Sunday, July 24, 2011

The Land of the Lemon Drop Tree

THE LAND OF THE LEMON DROP TREE

In the land of the Lemon Drop Tree
Where golden bricks pave the streets
The Society of Lemon Aide
Serves lemon zest on boiled beets
The standard drink is lemon aide
And desert is lemon pie
But any main dish you may find
Was soaked in a salty brine
All the lemon eggs the chickens have lain
Will float in the salty brine
Along with a gallon of lemon juice
And a few cones from the native pine
What a feast of lemon eggs
And a spot of lemon pie
Sixteen pounds of Bull Frog Legs
And cones from the Ponderosa Pine
In the land of the Lemon Drop Tree
Their food is of their own design

Friday, July 22, 2011

A Short Story: Sam George Hill

Sam George Hill

The hill was actually a bench that stood a few feet in elevation above our little town.  It was about four miles from the town limits so it didn't appear overwhelming in size; it was just a hill on the prairie from our view.  I don't know where it got its name, Sam George.  It was the name for the hill that was handed down for generations and was a name sometimes for the general area of the hill west of town.

Sam George was a summertime diversion from the mundane play of three young boys, all age eleven.  Every so often a bicycle trip to Sam George was planned; usually when swimming and baseball had run the course of the boys' interest and adventure had stolen the conversation. 

Sam George adventures usually meant carrying a few hot dogs sacked by our mothers for the trip.  Sam George trips meant that we boys could start a camp fire and roast hot dogs and sometimes a potato on a stick.  That meant we could carry matches and sometimes a hunting knife.  We always thought that we might capture on of the hundreds of cotton tail rabbits that lived on the hill.  We never did -- at least not until we were twelve and old enough to carry a .22 cal rifle.

This particular adventure played out in the early part of June in the summer of 1958.  School had dismissed for the summer three weeks earlier.  Jerry, James and I had taken bikes, mitts, baseballs and bats to the high school football field on this sunny morning to play our own version of "Home Run Derby".  After all three had our turn at bat; we stopped our game to sit in the grass on the football field. 

The discussion turned to the 1958 New York Yankees Baseball Team.  We were all three Yankees fans.  A minor part of the discussion was the amount of money Mickey Mantle was to receive in 1958.  The sixty five thousand dollars was an amount so enormous we could not imagine how it could be spent.  We speculated that Mickey would find a way, however.

We were all infielders on our Pee Wee League baseball team.  Jerry was a south paw and our pitcher.  I played short stop and James was second base.  We were quite good and often the envy of our peers.  We practiced enough; it wasn't natural talent.  Our Yankee heroes were, Yogi Berra, Fritz Brickell, Andy Carey, Tony Kubek, Jerry Lumpe, Gil McDougald, Bobby Richardson, Bill Skowron and Marv Throneberry.  The favorite pitchers were Ryne Duren and Whitey Ford.  We talked about who would win the "Most Valuable Player" for 1958.  Mickey Mantle had won in 1957.  We were hoping a Yankee would win again.  We exhausted Yankees baseball within 45 minutes.  It was Popsicle time.

The best place to buy a Popsicle in those days was the swimming pool.  Popsicles were a nickel.  An ice cream bar was a dime.  That meant we could have two popsicles for the price of one ice cream bar.  Popsicles always won.  We jumped on our bikes and rode to ten blocks to the swimming pool.

The swimming pool was in the north east part of the Legion Park, comprised of one city block.

We bought our popsicles and lounged under an ash tree and the freshly mowed green grass in the park.  We strayed from baseball.  We talked for a while of swimming.  We decided we were not interested in swimming that afternoon.  Nearly every kid in town had a season swimming pass purchased by their parents for $3.  The three dollar fee included swimming lessons--should there be a need.  The north end of the pool was three feet deep and the south end with three diving boards was nine feet deep.  A rope divided the pool in half.  To be in the south end or deep end you had to pass a test--three laps across the width of the pool without stopping.

We finished our popsicles and hopped on our bikes and rode.  We had no particular heading.  We just rode on the sidewalks.  If one turned we all turned.  We talked as we rode.

One of us mentioned a bike ride to Sam George Hill.  We all liked the idea--we had not been there yet this summer.  Preparing for a bike ride to Sam George Hill was quite an undertaking and a fairly solemn ceremony for us.  It was a matter of logistics.  Who would pack the wieners and marshmallows?  We needed to gather the hardware we needed--BB guns and hunting knives, and farmer matches.

Now, the Hill was only a couple to three miles west of town; but it was many miles away to three eleven year old boys.  It was a major trip in merit of the best planning.

The time was nearing noon.  Jerry's house was closer; we stopped there for lunch.  Jerry's mother made peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.  The jelly was grape and came from a glass jar with Howdy Doody's picture on it.  When the jelly jar was empty it made a fine drinking glass.  Howdy's picture was on this one but you could buy them with each of the Howdy Doody Show characters on them.  Howdy's caricature seemed to make good jelly taste even better.  We washed it down with glasses of cold milk.

While we were eating we disclosed our Sam George Hill plans to Jerry's mother.  Then James and I went to our own homes to collect all those necessary items for the Sam George adventure.  Pocket knives, hunting knives, BB guns, matches and of course hot dogs--real franks straight from the butcher counter at Readers Grocery.

As we packed our food (hot dogs) we each included a potato to roast.  The hot dogs always cooked fine--the potatoes, however, never seemed to work out.  Roasting them on a stick, they were always burned on the outside and raw and cold on the inside.  We were persistent though and managed to waste three good potatoes on each Sam George adventure.

The time was close to one thirty when we mounted up and tackled the gravel road that slightly but steadily inclined to Sam George Hill.  Jerry's bike had a basket on the front clamped to the handle bars.  He was the lucky one when it came to carrying all of the equipment.  We had all of our equipment packed in brown grocery bags with the exception of the BB guns.  We strapped the bags and air rifles to the bike basket with cotton packaging string.  The ride to the Hill was a gruesome ride for our circa 1955 Schwinn bikes.  We looked forward to the downhill ride home, though.

It was a gruesome ride--but we were fresh and in good spirits.  We chattered happily as we rode and hardly noticed the bumpy gravel road that tossed us uncontrollably on the ride up.

We rode to the top where the bench flattened out.  The length of the bench was separated by gullies that were on the north and south sides.  There were probably fifty gullies on each side of the bench.  The gullies, each of them had their own features--rocks, wind blown sandstone sculptures that housed marmots, rabbits, snakes and horned lizards.  The sandstone in the wind blown gullies formed miniature caves and sheltered sandstone rooms--all perfect for feeding the imaginations of three adventuresome boys.

We walked on top of the bench toward the east.  The summer grasshoppers hopped and flew ahead of us each step we took.  We found what appeared to be a promising gully--one with an adequate number of sandstone features.  We dropped down into the gully and found a ten foot by ten foot room in the middle of sandstone outcrops; this would be our camp site.

The first thing we did was build a camp fire.  The temperature under the hot prairie sun was in the high eighties--but when you are on an outing of this nature a camp fire is necessary no matter the temperature.  The second task was of course, to cook hot dogs and roast potatoes.  We found adequate roasting sticks in the brush--not perfect, but adequate.  We roasted our hot dogs and ate our delicious meal.  We tossed the potatoes--they were inedible as usual.

We sat close to our camp fire and reveled in its primordial power.  We poked sticks into the coals and when the ends started in flame we blew them out so that the ends would smoke.  We broke the sticks to a manageable length and put them in our mouths and pretended they were cigarettes.  We held them between our fingers and mimicked our perception of grownups with cigarettes.  When we tired of that fairly unproductive play we threw sand on the fire and put it out.

It was now time to explore.  The Blackfeet that inhabited that area for eons before our little town was born, had erected their teepees for many seasons on the bench we called Sam George Hill.  The anchor rocks fixed in a circle from the teepees were still just as they were left by the nomadic tribe following the bison.  We sat in the dry grass in the center of the rings and imagined ourselves as mighty Blackfeet warriors passing the ceremonial pipe and recalling stories of bravery in battle.  As we sat in the teepee rings our moods became somber and philosophic and we felt a kinship with the past and the earth and early inhabitants of the area.  We killed the better part of an hour in the teepee rings before being alerted to movement in the gully below us.  We crawled on our hands and knees believing that the cottontail that we had seen could not see us if we stayed low to the ground.  The rabbit stayed very still as we approached but scampered off when we got too close.

As we continued walking on the tip of the bench, Jerry saw a shiny black stone partially covered by the white sun bleached soil.  We all stopped and keeled as Jerry used his small Glacier Park novelty hunting knife to scrape the dirt and dig up the black stone.  When the stone was free we saw the shape and knew that Jerry had found an obsidian arrow point.  We all marveled at its symmetry and beauty and again found ourselves pretending that we were part of the early tribes from the area.  It was not uncommon to find arrow points in this area but it was always a sacred ceremony to three young boys on an adventure.

The question that always seemed to surface was how did those ancient people make the stone points?  James said that his father said that a real Blackfeet chief from the Reservation in Browning told him that they heated the stones in a fire and then dripped cold water on the part of the stone that they wanted removed and shaped it eventually into an arrowhead.  We had tried that method on several occasions but it never worked.  We were beginning to think that there must have been another method.

We kept walking until we reached the eastern most end of the bench.  At the end we stopped and sat and looked east to our little town.  The three tall grain elevators were clearly visible above the flat sun drenched prairie.  We thought of the swimming pool in town and we thought of the popsicles waiting for us.

We walked without conversation back to our bikes and started the downhill ride to town.

copyright Terry Sutherland

Edge of Tomorrow

Edge of Tomorrow

We stood at the world's edge
We found the horizon was gone
Never again its promise pledged
Of a tomorrow--------or even another
Only the deepest night 
Cold, complacent stars beckon 
Quietly from afar
There is no return, no turning back
The moon waves us on 
Another journey 
When our world is gone
A quantum leap
We find another
But, alas
It's only in our minds
Our world is ours
There can be no other

copyright7/22/11Terry Sutherland


Thursday, July 21, 2011

Jess

JESS

Jess’s store sold albacore
But it’s tuna to you and me
It’s a fish we all adore
It keeps us cholesterol free

Jess also had fresh cod
Haddock and Orange Ruffie too
Some she caught with a rod
While they swam in a school

She had shellfish fresh in ice
Oysters, mussels, and clams
Some could be served with rice
Some complimented leg of lamb

Cats came from miles around
Just too visit Jess’s store
Some liked their fish by the pound
Most preferred the albacore

Jess cleaned her fresh caught fish
Right outside her back door
She put the entrails in a dish
While the cats meowed for more

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Through a Child's Eyes

THROUGH A CHILD’S EYES

Through a child’s eyes we see
Hoping we will never grow old
Watching what keeps us free
Watching our short future unfold

Who knows what lies ahead
Who worries for what has passed
We learn from those long dead
Hoping the moment will last

We carry the past on our backs
Each generation does the same
From a game of childhood jacks
To the abyss of eternal flame

But we do the best we can
In this short stay on earth
We occupy our place on land
Wondering if there is rebirth

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Rima

RIMA

Rima paddled her birch canoe
Down the raging Russell’s Fork
Took two hours to paddle through
But the river did the work

Her birch canoe was strong and light
It skimmed the waves and swells
The high spring runoff was a fright
But Rima maneuvered it well

She paddled around Mammoth Rock
She escaped the whirling pools
At the bend where logs had blocked
There were salmon swimming in schools

She loved her light birch canoe
It glided with each paddle stroke
Not like the ones in Virginia do
Where she had to row an oak

Monday, July 18, 2011

A Short Story: The Emperor of the Monkey Western

THE EMPEROR OF THE MONKEY WESTERN

Her name was Gertrude Stoneman. We never knew from where she came – maybe she had been born in our little farming community – but none of the three of us knew for sure. Everyone called her Ger and it would be a few years before we discovered that Ger was not a man – but this story is the product of the minds of three eleven year old boys who managed to find adventure in the mundane existence of a little farming community in north central Montana in those wonderful and innocent days in the summer of 1958.


It all started when the three of us, Jerry, James and I decided that we were going to raise pigeons. At the state fair in Great Falls in August of 1957 we had been going through the exhibit buildings and were all three taken by the pigeon exhibit. The blue ribbon was on the cage of a pure white pigeon with feathers covering its feet. None of us had ever seen such a beautiful bird. We decided then and there that we would raise pigeons and win first prize with our entry at the state fair.
We set our minds to the task of acquiring a pair of birds to start our flock. We were certainly in no position to purchase them. There were plenty of them – it was just a matter of catching them. A friend who was a year behind us in school already raised pigeons as a 4H project. He was not willing to part with any of his birds but he provided us invaluable information on how to catch a few starter birds, and what we needed to provide as food and shelter for the birds before we caught them.

There was an abandoned community named Manson about eight miles to the northwest of our little town. All of the buildings had fallen to the ground years before with the exception of one two story wooden structure. The cedar shingle roof had holes and the paint had disappeared with time years before we were born. No one could recall the purpose of the building but it stood empty with the exception of the hundreds of pigeons that occupied the second floor. There was four by four foot opening on the south gable end of the second floor. The door that covered it had fallen to the ground below years ago.

Riding our bikes the eight miles to the ghost town of Manson was a feat beyond our capabilities. Jerry’s father agreed to take us in the car to catch the birds.

The three of us had determined that we needed to build a flight pen and a pigeon house of some sorts. Around 10:00 AM one morning the three of us climbed on our bikes and headed for the dump. There were wonderful things at the dump.

Having forgotten our original mission of finding adequate housing for our future pigeon flock we burned an hour and a half of our morning scrounging through the discarded artifacts representing the lives of the members of our little community. Portions of the dump were constantly smoldering – a perpetual fire burned there consuming those items of day-to-day life that were combustible.

An old man lived at the dump. He told us his name was Joe. He was happy to engage us in conversation. He was eager to mention that all of the treasures at the dump were his and that we would need his permission to take anything we found. He had erected a make-shift shelter from pieces of corrugated, discarded roofing. He had a campfire burning with a tripod holding a boiling pot of – of something that did not look all that palatable. Fortunately, he did not invite us to lunch. He had a quart bottle of whiskey and he took a long pull on it every five minutes during our conversation (he did not offer any of his whiskey either). His language was deplorable; he used words that we had never heard – we knew in our minds however that they were words we should not repeat in normal intercourse without risking the loss of our summer as punishment. He told us he was a farm laborer and that he worked periodically for the price of a bottle. He told us that he had been married years ago. He said his wife left him because he ‘messed his pants after he passed-out after a day of drinking’ – It made perfect sense to us that his wife had tossed him out. We were young boys at the age of innocence where our interests were in baseball and adventures but not girls. His conversation always hovered around women and drink – neither of which we had any interest. He told us about a recent rendezvous with a lady who lived in a room on the floor above Ed’s Tavern. As he rolled a cigarette he told us that for a drink of his whiskey she allowed him to lift up her dress and put his hand between her legs. As we listened each of us had that image in our minds and wondered why anyone would want to do such a thing. The more Joe talked and drank the more his attitude changed to an abusive nature and now he was yelling animated profanities at us. We moved to a more gentle part of the dump. As Joe shook his fist and yelled – he soon quieted and went back to his bottle.

We found several rolls of discarded chicken wire and enough bailing twine to tie the bundles. Each of us bundled a manageable amount of chicken wire and drug it from the dump to Jerry’s house where we would construct a flight pen for our pigeons.

A few days passed while we constructed a pigeon house and flight pen. Jerry’s dad drove us to Manson where we blocked the door of the upper story of the old abandoned building. Each of us caught four pigeons. We had no idea of how to tell males from females – the selection we made of the birds was based on appearance only.

Having compiled the necessary components of a pigeon raising enterprise (including pigeons); we had to find food for the birds.
In farming communites grain elevators were constructed near the railroad depot and tracks for the convenience of loading railroad cars with the harvested grain. Each time the grain was transferred from the elevators to the rail cars a certain amount of grain was spilled on the ground in the process. Pigeons roosted high in the eaves of the twenty story elevators and fed on the spilled grain.

One morning we each borrowed a fairly large cooking pot from our mothers; got on our bikes and rode to the elevators across from the depot to gather food for our flock. There was a nice big pile of good hard winter wheat. We chewed handfuls of the wheat and made gum in our mouths while we filled our pots. It took surprisingly little time to gather the grain and put the pots in our bike baskets.

As we walked our bikes across the tracks we saw a big black motor cycle parked at the train depot. We stopped at the depot to investigate. The machine was black and white with a full leather black saddle and leather saddle bags with silver Conchos as decoration. The suicide shifter was chrome and shined brightly in the sun. It was the only vehicle parked at the depot. We went inside the depot for a drink of water and maybe some motorcycle conversation.

The inside of the depot contained three waiting benches and a long front counter that spanned the whole width of the building. On the wall above the windows on the south end of the depot was a huge clock with a long pendulum with a brass weight. Standing behind the counter was Ger Stoneman.
Ger was the station master for the Montana Western Railroad. The Montana Western Railway was constructed in 1909 by the Valier Land and Water Company to promote agricultural land development in the Valier area. The railway was connected to the Great Northern Railroad. The Montana Western ran between the towns of Valier and Conrad, in Pondera County, Montana. It ran a distance of twenty miles. The rail car was a gas-electric car built by the Electro-Motive Company, a division of General Motors. The car was constructed in 1925, named car #31, and now resides in the Mid-Continent Railway Museum, located in North Freedom, Wisconsin. Because of its size and purpose, locals fondly called it the “Monkey Western”. It was the delight of the local kindergarten classes – not only because of several field trips to see it arrive and leave, but because once a year the class took a field trip and traveled the forty miles to and from the small town of Valier.

Ger wore his strawberry blond hair in a ducktail. He wore a long sleeve khaki work shirt and khaki trousers. On his feet were a large heavy pair of black engineer’s boots; those typically worn by motorcycle riders. In his left breast pocket was a pack of Lucky Strike cigarettes. Ger looked to be somewhere in his middle thirty’s, with a light beard or no beard at all – we couldn’t tell for sure. Ger had the complexion of a woman – no tan, and no farmer’s tan. Ger was a chain smoker who always had a lighted Lucky Strike in his mouth. He had a unique way of smoking – never holding the cigarette in his hand; it was always in his mouth and got rid of the ash by blowing it off while holding the cigarette in the left side of his mouth and blowing the ash off from the right side. If was a fascinating orchestration of the art of smoking and all three of us were captivated by the process. Ger had a strange shape not fat but overweight. He wore his trousers high on his body almost like he had a waist. Although the three of us never discussed it, we all thought that there was a definite narrowing of his body between his ribs and hips – he looked paunchy and definitely had hips.

We looked around the inside of the depot; none of the three of us had been in there since kindergarten. Ger, genuinely proud of his calling and position offered a tour – we declined. Ger insisted on the show and tell session and we succumbed. When he had finished we knew that Ger was whole of the Montana (Monkey) Western and the sole reason for its success. Ger was the station master, loaded and unloaded baggage, sold tickets, and dispatched for the little freight that the car carried.

We were interested in the motor cycle. Ger told us it was his means of transportation. A 1949 Harley Davidson with a suicide shift. We walked outside to admire it while Ger explained its operation. Ger swore like a sailor but his vocabularies of swear words certainly did not attain the status of vulgarities that Joe at the dump managed to disperse.

On our bike ride home, all three of us thought but none of us could put into words the curiosity we had for Ger. There was a strange curiosity we had but could not understand – we put it out of our minds and talked about our pigeon enterprise – wasn’t squab a delicacy and wouldn’t restaurants from all over be putting in orders for our product?

We went to Jerry’s house to drop off our pans of pigeon food and to admire our flock in the newly constructed flight pen. We told Jerry’s dad of our adventures and the motor cycle and Ger. He smiled and said “You boys met the Emperor of the Monkey Western”.

A couple of summers had come and gone since the pigeon raising enterprise. It was fall and I was walking home from school. The local hospital was across the street from our grade school. As I walked down the sidewalk by the hospital I heard a voice from a third floor window above me. I looked up and saw Ger at the open window cigarette in his mouth yelling a greeting to a lady sitting in a car on the street. Ger had on a flowered night gown. Ger was telling the lady about the hysterectomy he had just had. I did not know what a hysterectomy was, but I knew men did not wear pretty flowered night gowns.  An acute understanding - an epiphany - over came me and now I understood the feeling I had a couple years before at the train depot.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

A Short Story: Across the Tracks

ACROSS THE TRACKS

I joined the “baby boomers” in December 1947; born and raised in a small North Central Montana farming community. Growing up in Montana in the 1950’s was an experience ripe with fond memories. Not only were the days in my little world comfortable but our country was experiencing a comfortable time oblivious of what the future would bring. Most were starting fresh after the end of a world war. Not much money was available—but a dollar was actually worth a dollar.

Farm towns on the Highline usually sprouted-up with an approximate ten mile distance between. The reason for the consistent distance of these communities was a matter of convenience for the local farmers. Rail was the way grain elevators shipped the grain that they had purchased from the farmers. The ten mile distance seemed to be a comfortable distance for farmers to deliver their harvest. Most little communities had a Railway station and grain elevators for this purpose. Interestingly the elevators were built only on one side of the rail tracks (I suppose for the loading of grain into the rail cars). I don’t recall a farming community or any community for that matter without the Rail Road Station.

Our parents were from a generation of want. They had experienced the days of the Great Depression and a stale time in American innovation. I believe our parents, after the war, wanted comfort and affluence, and were willing to give honest work in exchange for that influx.
My parents resided at the lower end of the middle class spectrum. I believe that my father’s monthly income was around $275. They bought a new two bedroom house in an area called the housing project. The homes were built to accommodate those returning WWII soldiers and their new brides. The homes were extremely modest. My mother and father financed their new home for twenty years and purchased the house for nine thousand dollars. The importance in their mind, of course, was that they actually owned their own home, and it was on the “right side of the tracks.”

While it was hardly important to the children of the community we all knew that there was a right and wrong side of the tracks. Front Street was the street that had the bars on one side and the railroad station and grain elevators on the other, the dividing line for the community. Although in those days we could travel our community with abandon; we could never cross Front Street or the railroad tracks. Front Street had its back to the good side of the town. We sometimes wondered what horrible thing must be “across the tracks.”
The homes across the tracks were some of the oldest in the community. Most were covered with tar paper and had lath strips nailed indiscriminately to hold the tar paper in place and to sustain it during the perpetual favonian wind. They housed mostly farm workers (the lowest paid labor in our town). There were also several families of Philippine origin that eked out a living without ever having steady employment. They made their way by going through the garbage’s from the local butcher shop and grocery store and homes of the more affluent from the “right side of the tracks.” They also exploited jobs of opportunity which were not considered steady employment.

Having a store bought hair cut was extremely important in those days. Our town had three barbers but we were allowed to patronize one of them. One had a shop connected to the bar in the local hotel. He had magazines for the grown-up patrons to read while waiting. Argosy and True Detective were always popular. On his walls were pin-ups of scantily clothed girls. We were not allowed to go to this barber. Another had his shop next to the local pool hall. The pool hall was patronized usually by those “across the tracks” youngsters who never attended school, smoked cigarettes and spent their days playing billiards (snooker was the game of choice). The barber that we were able to use had a shop on the town’s main street. He had the total patronage of the town’s “right side of the tracks.” Although our parents were often in need of things; they always scrounged the money for their young boys to have a fresh hair cut. No one cut hair at home. The kids from “across the tracks” always had hair that touched their ears and usually hung down on the back of their necks. Hair cuts were an important symbol of one’s station in our little community. For the girls, it was not the hair cut but the condition of the white socks that they wore. Holes in the heels of their socks showing above the back of their shoe, was the cross the little girls from “across the tracks” had to bare.

The “across the tracks” community was primarily itinerant. Farm hand families came and went. Sometimes their children attended the local schools.

At the time, seventh grade boys were just starting to have an interest in girls. The boy girl ratio in the little town was fairly even and usually worked out for boyfriend and girlfriend pairs. The problem that arose was that whatever attractions for whatever reasons was not dictated by which side of the tracks one lived. I remember having amorous visions of one little girl named Carla. I finally convinced her to let me walk her home and carry her books one day after school. That was the first time I had ventured across the tracks. In my eyes she was gorgeous and the holes in her socks (which had precluded any friendly relationship with the other girls in our school) did not bother me in the least. I went a long way out of my way to walk her home. The round trip for me took the better part of an hour. My mother was concerned that I was forty five minutes late getting home. I explained. Strangely, she had a smile an attitude that I did not expect when I told her that I walked the little girl home and she lived across the tracks. I was beginning to believe that the “across the tracks” thing was not as important as we were led to believe.

As time rolled on the “wrong side of the tracks” was hardly ever mentioned. When I was in high school my best friend (who was also the most popular kid in school) had a steady girlfriend whose family lived on the wrong side of the tracks. There were those in school (mostly girls) who treated her with measured scorn to begin with. Because she was the steady girl of the most popular kid in school changed her station drastically—she was elected as a cheerleader for all four years of high school.
Sometimes now I go back to my little farming community and watch and remember. I have noticed now that there is no “wrong side of the tracks.” Each time I go back my faith in man is renewed.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Ahimsa

AHIMSA

“Ahimsa”, he said, with utter disgust
As he walked through the carnage and blood
The irony challenged his patriotic trust
And his tears came rushing in a flood

Under his breath he muttered, “I quit”
“I just can’t do this again”
Then he mustered his strength and gathered his wit
And fell into line with his friends

Another day of the three hundred and some
They walked the hot jungle floor
When they’re eighteen and have to carry a gun
Doing the best that they can in a war

How many times had they threatened to quit?
How many times had they already fought?
All in a day of an infantry outfit
Walking a jungle so steamy and hot

Old Jim

OLD JIM

It was just a hound to you and me
But it was a best pal to him
He got the dog when he was three
Just an old coon hound named Jim

Jim had wandered in one day
Looking for an easy meal
Jim never ever lost his way
He just had a penchant to steal

The boy had his hot dog on the walk
Old Jim was willing to share
The boy didn’t bother to talk
He just held it up in a dare

Old Jim watched with curious resign
But didn’t grab the delightful meal
He just waited for the unspoken sign
He knew he wouldn’t have to steal

Old Jim knew when he found a home
The boy loved him from the start
Old Jim would never leave him alone
Old Jim loved the boy in his heart

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Through Crimson Eyes

Conceived in the land of brimstone and fire
Where molten sulphur flows orange and hot
Through eyes of crimson red I inspire
A deep burning hell; the devil himself begot

Evil is the night, for I am the mistress
Flying swift as a shadow in the forsaken sky
High on a mountain my abode is a fortress
Where I am chained until my time to fly

I do battle with fire breathing power
No mortal man can hope to defeat
Those who do good I will soon devour
Their frail bodies, my daily feast

A dragon slayer is no match for me
No armor can keep him alive and well
I'll broil him crisp and have him with tea
While his tortured soul burns in hell

copyright7/14/11Terry Sutherland

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

A More Perfect Union

A MORE PERFECT UNION

An infrangible writ was formed
“We the People………” it said
For a new nation just born
By its own people be led

Freedom for two hundred years
Bought and paid in blood
Cleansed by mothers’ tears
For the loss of soldier sons

The cost was much too high
To sanction false devotion
To let solemn principle fly
Across the expanse of ocean

Listen to the peoples’ voice
Heed the warnings they give
We have no other choice
But to tend to our own way to live

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Bandits

Bandits

The prairie sun was boiling hot
You could almost smell the heat
Errol set his horse to trot
Toward a gully for a friend to meet

Silver conchos on his vest
Were hot as fire brands
In the sun he headed west
A Colt Dragoon in his hand

In the gully the two had met
They stopped to plan their move
With a word the plan was set
With nothing more to prove

They rode all day in prairie heat
Until a town they found
At the saloon they would meet
And drink 'til near sundown

When the streets were still
When the boardwalks slept
Errol whispered to Will
"You know where the money's kept"

"We'll walk into The Dempsey
We'll bind the desk clerk's hands
We'll leave the hotel till empty
We'll shoot the clerk where he stands"

Their plan was foiled at the start
The desk clerk shot them cold
His fast gun was an art
Worth its weight in gold

(c)7/12/11Terry Sutherland

Monday, July 11, 2011

Cook for a Day

COOK FOR A DAY

On her way to work, my wife called and said
Stay at home and cook today; maybe bake some bread
Remember to follow the recipe
In the cook book you will see

Putting on my apron; I was anxious to start my day
I did as she said and found what the book had to say
I would go ahead and bake the bread and stuff a chicken too
I read the cook book twice to see just what to do

The dressing called for prune juice; only add one cup
The dog stayed with me in the kitchen, just to see what’s up
I looked and looked, through all the drawers I dug
I couldn’t find a measuring cup, so I used our biggest mug

I spilled a lot of prune juice pouring into the cup
Not to worry our trusty dog lapped it up
Afterwards he wanted out
I think with diarrhea he had a bout

I had trouble finding bowls and other cooking stuff
I was worried that my roasted chicken would turn out tough
Although I followed closely the chicken recipe
So I guessed and doubled most of the ingredients that I see

Later the wife called to see
How it was going, and did I use the recipe
Proudly I said I did; our conversation turned to drivel
“Oh by the way,” I said; “What’s a tisp and a tibble?”

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Run and Gun

Run and Gun

My son-in-law Russ and grandson Chase both came in first in their divisions in the Big Sky State Games Biathlon.  Chase scored four out of five on both of his shooting sessions.














Inheritance

INHERITANCE

Inheritance is not the family fortune
It is not the family estate
It is no gift for bride and groom
It is not the golden gate

Inheritance is your father’s past
Inheritance is an earth that bleeds
It is the die your father cast
It is the hatred indifference breeds

Inheritance is the squalor left
The mismanagement from before
Inheritance is grand larceny theft
Of honesty man has implored

Inheritance is what we are
From whatever was before
Inheritance is a healing scar
An unsure future to explore

Friday, July 8, 2011

The Angry Mime

The Angry Mime

Off in the distance I see
Someone is beckoning me
White face, white gloved hands
On a street corner he stands

His gestures are fast
He certainly has brass
He insults without talk
On a corner sidewalk

As I get closer I see 
A mime is working for free
Oh, goodness, take me home
It's a mime with Tourettes syndrome

(c)8/16/08Terry Sutherland

Apathy

APATHY

The carcass of the bravest dream
Lies molding on the ground
Contaminating field and stream
And good things all around

The west wind carries the stench
Alerts the fortress bound
Waiting for a tightening wrench
Securing both sight and sound

Dark clouds billow across the sky
Pregnant with dark omen
Auguries with demons fly
And speak of words not spoken

Cleansing thought never endorsed
They’re buried and forever hidden
Clever deceit is always enforced
While the independent mind is forbidden

Thursday, July 7, 2011

4th of July Show

Russ, Chase, Christopher and Holly prepared, orchestrated and executed our own personal 4th of July Show:




Homeless

HOMELESS

Shadows walk ahead of me
The orange ball is at my back
I shuffle slow and aimlessly
Have a bottle of mad dog in a sack

I take a long pull of mad dog
It warms my belly and face
Puts my mind in a tolerable fog
And I step up my unstable pace

I walk the streets and sidewalks
Looking for what, I don’t know
Two dollar shoes and holey socks
Take me where I need to go

A park bench and the Sunday Times
Are my blanket and my bed
I hold out my hat for nickels and dimes
Sometimes enough so I get fed

I start my day with mad dog
I end it just the same
Puts my mind in a tolerable fog
To endure life’s cruel game

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Writer's Block

WRITER’S BLOCK

Whelping prose left and right
None of it worth a damn
Writing free with no insight
The result both dull and bland

Driving the endless noun and verb
To an early bottomless grave
With no functional purpose served
Without a single poem saved

Spitting out words that rhyme
Putting them in lines of four
Trying a theme time after time
Then trying to pen some more

Changing the style is little help
The product is bad to worse
Putting ideas on the shelf
Kicking a pretty dead horse

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Coffee House

COFFEE HOUSE

Bongos in the background
He sat; smoke curling from his Lucky Strike
Sunglasses hid his eyes
His face accented with a goatee
A black beret covered the bald
Then, he uttered these profound words:
“A man made of mud
Walking through the filth
We generate
Leaves no tracks”
A bongo fanfare
Heads nod
In agreement

Monday, July 4, 2011

Happy 4th of July

Happy 4th of July from Denise and Terry


A History of the United States

HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES: A Poem

We
The
People

HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES: A Poem (Abridged)

We

Sunday, July 3, 2011

At the Coors Schuetzenfest - 1988

Photos:  Max Goodwin, Executive Vice President, Coors, and Wolfgang Droege, CEO Shiloh Sharps.  Dr. Bobby Bryan shooting in a benchrest match with Bill Bigelow spotting.  Shiloh Sharps shooting team business card for team members Bill Bigelow, Bob Bryan, Del Morris, and Terry Sutherland:

Stand on your hind legs and shoot like a man. ----Harry Pope





Tinker's Dam

TINKER’S DAM

We’re all a bunch of tinkers
Unskilled and too slow
Trapped in life’s kitchen
With nowhere to go

We solder-up what’s broken
With a dam of white dough
Those tin cups with handles
Are the ones first to go

The cook’s food is not pleasing
It all tastes the same
But we all take our portion
Flush the rest down the drain

Iron pans and steel kettles
Cook’s tools of the trade
Butcher knives with white handles
With nine inch long blades

We’re all a bunch of tinkers
Unskilled and too slow
Trapped in life’s kitchen
With nothing more to know

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Sisters of the Boxcar Boys

SISTERS OF THE BOXCAR BOYS

They were the sisters of boxcar boys
But they didn’t ride the rails
They didn’t care for mulligan stew
Or sleepin’ on barley straw bales

They laid their heads on goose down fluff
They ate the finest cordon bleu
They all had escorts to the opera house
By gentlemen their fathers knew

They all wore gowns of finest thread
No cotton found in their house
The finest silk in the French review
They wore diamond brooches on their blouse

They were sisters of the boxcar boys
But they didn’t ride the rails
They all had busy things to do
Like putting polish on their nails

Friday, July 1, 2011

The Eastern Slope

THE EASTERN SLOPE

On the Eastern slope of the Rockies tall
Where the plain’s rolling hills begin
You’ll find no spring or no fall
Only the prairie’s endless wind

It is wind burned land in the suns hot path
Where prairie birds lay eggs in clutches
No homes built of plaster and lath
Only sod squares on dirt for herdsmen hutches

No trees adorn this sun baked land
Few streams follow its grade
Only alkali beds and stones of sand
Where sheep herder markers are made

Coyotes wander the endless day
In search of sustaining rain
Happening on hapless prey
To ease a week’s hunger pain