Several people have asked me how I came up with the ideas for my poems, so I thought I might take a little time to explain and give you a non-trucker poem and how it came to pass. Trucking poetry, of course, comes from the things I have seen and done as I passed along the highways and byways of our two great nations. Poems about home come from the yearning to be home with those I love and care for and from time spent at home. Some of my work comes from my days in the service and my time spent outdoors.
I was down on I-70 in Utah heading for Vancouver, BC, when I ran out of hours just passed the Green River. So I pulled in at the next truck stop and crawled into the sleeper, knowing I had a 34-hour reset in front of me. I woke up at about 9 am and still had about 24 hours to wait, so I went inside and had breakfast. And while I was there, I talked to a young Sheriff's Deputy about the local area. After listening to his advice, I picked up some bottled water, grabbed a small pack from my truck, and headed off into the countryside. I picked up a good-sized stick along the way, just in case I ran into any rattlesnakes and went for a long hike.
About 2 pm, I found myself on top of a mesa overlooking the highway, and I sat down and watched as truck after truck appeared in the distance and passed in front of me and then carried on until it was out of sight. I moved over a bit to get a better spot to sit and noticed a small arrowhead lying in the sand by the mesa's edge. As I picked it up and looked around, it suddenly came to me that possibly where I was standing, some brave had stood and watched as wagon trains headed west and wondered at his thoughts as he saw the progress that would overcome his way of life.
In minutes I had my pad out and wrote a poem that seemed to me to come without thought, as if it was being told to me by someone else.
Alone upon a mesa beneath a cloudless sky,
A proud and noble warrior watches wagons rolling by.
He sees the end of all he knows here on this rugged plain,
The wagons forging westward, then next will come the train.
In his mind he sees the fences where once he used to roam,
The sad end of the buffalo and the strangling of his home.
Visions of a four lane blacktop and the roaring of a plane,
He cries in quiet anguish, Great Spirit feel his pain.
He sees his nations children fall before the gun,
The ending of an era and yet he does not run.
Here on this lonely hilltop he will make a final stand,
If he dies, he dies in freedom with others of his band.
A moment out of history that all must not forget,
His honor and his virtue lies among us yet.
The trip back to the truck stop was almost anti-climatic, but I went back, had supper and a shower, and next morning had breakfast and continued on my way. Was I being spoken to by ghosts from the past, or was my active imagination all to blame...I will never know, but now you know how at least one poem came to pass.