Chapman Landing by Canoe

All at once, all was still.
The water smooth, reflecting
Silky rolled beneath my paddle
As we came to Chapman landing.

Tall cottonwoods upon the right hand
Shone in sunlight and in the stream —
Upward downward from the island,
Leaves rippling softly as in a dream.

The pilings stood eerie and still
Where they used to unload the lumber —
Brought down from dark Vernonian hills —
With long gone noise, hardly remembered.

We turned to one another and spoke
‘Did you suddenly feel what I feel here?’
(Echoing across the water words woke
The dark and pitchy timber piers)

‘Here I feel a deep, dark cool 
Meet a warm soft sun in a magic pool,
And the summer evening softly breath
Where the landing lies by the island trees.’

Rally ‘Round the Flag

On our way to California in the year of ’63
Through Nevada’s barren land rode Mom and Pop, the girls and me –
Where the dry ground stretched before us, like an endless frying pan
And the alkali filled water wasn’t fit for beast or man.

On our wagon Pop had hoisted the old red white and blue
And those colours looked most beauteous up against the barren view.
In the shimmering heat one morning far ahead we saw a town,
Just a little mining outpost in the desert bare and brown.

As we neared the town a rider, young and fancy in his dress,
Came up to our little wagon and these words to Pop addressed
“Take a fool’s advice now mister,” and he eyed our Union flag,
“We don’t tolerate your breed here, best pull down that old dish rag.”

Pop just sat there for a minute, turkey duster cross his knee,
Then he grabbed the flag and raised it up so all the town could see-
Saying “If any man is yearning now to die for dixie land
Let him touch our country’s colours with his dirty rebel hands.”

Then Pop I guess he reckoned it was time to let her rip,
So it’s “Gee-up” tired oxen, and he cracked his black snake whip.
And we rumbled down the main street, while the townsfolk stood and glared
But something in Pop’s manner kept them all a little scared.

And I peered out from the wagon, where the streets with folks were lined
And I softly started singing the first song that came to mind-

“We will welcome to our numbers the loyal, true and brave,
Shouting the battle cry of freedom!
And although he may be poor, he shall never be a slave,
Shouting the battle cry of freedom!”

Then all the family joined me as we rattled through the town
Shouting the battle cry of freedom!
And it cheered our hearts to hear it a-thundering all around
Shouting the battle cry of freedom!

The Union forever! Hurrah, boys, hurrah!
Down with the traitors, up with the stars;
While we rally round the flag, boys, we rally once again,
Shouting the battle cry of freedom!

ruby-hill-historic-town-above-eureka-nevada
Ruby Hill Nevada-1878

Oregon Fairy Tale

This is based on an old story. I read it a long time ago in a reference book at Portland’s Central Library. The Kalapooias are an Oregon Indian tribe. 

Four months upon the trail their soles had killed;
Miss Maryanna’s shoes were all worn out.
As autumn fell her family raced to build
An Oregon home. And no one thought about
How Maryanna barefoot looked quite wild,
Except for Maryanna, I should say.
At fourteen years she knew she was no child – 
And wished that she had shoes most every day.

Some Kalapooias sometimes came to call –
She’d crouch beside the stove to hide her feet –
But Robert Westwood was the worst of all,
She never knew when they might chance to meet.
He was a settler, living near their land,
Who walked the trails that she liked best to walk,
And gladly gave her pa a helping hand,
But rarely showed that he knew how to talk.

He didn’t say much, but he at least could see
How any time that he and she would meet
Miss Maryanna fast from him would flee,
And at the same time try to hide her feet.

One rainy day upon the path they met
But he had made a plan to stop her flight,
He’d thought about it so he wouldn’t forget
The words to say to set the matter right.
“Hey, Maryanna! let me see your foot.”
The  tears welled up  – Who was this awful man?
Could any be as cruel as he? she thought
She stamped in anger and away she ran.

Beneath the Alder tree where she had stood,
Between the leaves he saw her footprint laid.  
He bent down low to measure in the mud
The mark that angry Maryanna made. 
The day the snow first fell upon the firs,
He laid two doe-skin shoes down at her door.
They fit! And so she knew that they were hers,
And she would be the barefoot girl no more. 

~Watchful

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