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Londis Carpenter Aug 2011
They sailed out of Miami
Aboard the Southern Light
Headed for Sunset Island at
A place called Key West Bight

When suddenly a mist appeared
Filling a cloudless sky
The sea began to churn and boil
The compass spun awry

Their hearts began to flutter as
Their minds were filled with fear
There seemed no explanation for
For the thing that would appear

The lightning flashed; the moon turned dark
Then came an evil sight
Out of the sky a ghost ship sailed
That cast an eerie light

Unlike a craft that men might build
With neither rig nor tower
No sound of grinding engines
No oarsmen to give power

She silently hung in the air
Moved With no observed force
She followed without error every
Time they changed their course

And like the Ghost that haunted them
There still seemed to persist
The cloud that now surrounded them
That evil yellow mist

There are no words that can describe
The chilling taste of fear
The kind of fear that robs men’s souls
Of all that they hold dear

But I can tell you plainly how
Five sailors weighed with fright
Lost all their nerve that fateful day
Aboard the Southern Light

With the radio not working
And the compass failing too
The southern Light was lost at sea
Along with her whole crew

But then the ghost ship disappeared
And sky returned to norm
It seemed three hours of troubled sea
Had left the men forlorn

But when the crew was safe on shore
To tell their tales of their dangers
Twelve years had passed since they’d left home
Their families now were strangers
Londis Carpenter Aug 2011
I met her for the first time at a downtown bar in Denver
On a Friday night while sipping Shiner beer.
We drank and danced and mingled and she told me she lived single,
In a small room at the Rustic Pioneer.

What started as a one night stand turned out to be a double;
I finally left on Monday about three.
If I stayed any longer I would have to face the trouble
Of a love affair that wasn’t meant to be.

On a trail not far behind me rode a lawman from Laredo,
With my picture on a poster and a price.
Dead or alive made no mind to the dead I’d left behind,
Who had died cheating at cards or playing dice.

I left her in Colorado; headed straight for South Dakota.
But I lied and said we’d meet in Santa Fe.
Should the trail lead him to her bed and he acted on what she said,
I’d gain several days sending him the wrong way.

But the bravest hearts are fools for love when fate has dealt the hand
And I headed back to Denver at full speed.
I returned there for the misses, who had won my heart with kisses,
Taking no heed of the danger in my deed.

Back in Denver I was taken by the lawman from Laredo.
But there is no hero in this tale of vice.
At a downtown bar in Denver the girl shot me from a barstool,
In her hand she held a poster with a price.

With a bullet in my shoulder, my gun never left the holster
And the lawman moved to quickly save my life.
I met her for the first time at a downtown bar in Denver
At a jailhouse altar she became my wife.
Londis Carpenter Jul 2011

I won her on a whiskey bet,
At a place called Rusty's Shack,
In a poker game in Fargo
With three deuces and a Jack.

I took her from a mountain man
Who had bought her in a trade,
For a rifle and a jug of Rye,
Off an Indian renegade.

I had no yen to keep her;
I meant to set her free.
I never thought she'd want to stay,
Or that she'd follow me.

I told her she was free to go,
No longer be a slave.
But the squaw refused to leave me,
Called me her Paleface Brave.

And when I rode out of Fargo,
Headed for Cheyenne,
She followed every trail I took,
No matter the terrain.

I couldn't seem to lose her
No matter how I tried.
By the time I got to Deadwood
She was riding by my side.

We rode hard through a valley,
Forged across Powder Creek,
When I fell from my saddle
Three miles from Miner's Peak.

My saddle pony stumbled
And landed on my knee.
He broke his leg and I broke mine
Unable to get free.

If I hadn't had that Indian squaw,
A maiden called Tamaker,
I be wearing a peg-leg now,
Or living with my maker.

She patched me up and catered me
With herbs and Indian lore,
Until my health and strength returned
And I was whole once more.

And when we finally reached Cheyenne,
Still riding side by side,
We found a cowboy preacher
And I made her my bride.

The squaw I met at Rusty's shack,
Won on a whiskey bet,
Became the lady of my dreams
And we're together yet.
Londis Carpenter Jul 2011
In a derby and suit, riding tall in the saddle,
A stranger paraded one day.
He rode through the street of a town in Nebraska,
Astride a magnificent Bay.

Though stately and proud he was oddly attired,
Where cowboys and outlaws abide.
And the gun that he wore, of an uncommon bore,
Hung uncomfortably high on his side

The attention he drew from the unseemly crew
Of misfits (an unsavory lot)
Was cause to give rise to a keen viewer's eyes
Trouble might be more likely than not.

Thugs are known to have fun by the threat of a gun
To a stranger perceived as a dude.
They often get rough and hostile and tuff;
By their nature they're rowdy and rude.

So it weren't no surprise when there came an up-rise
Of cat-calls and whistles that day.
While others just smiled, some were getting quite riled,
As the stranger dismounted the Bay.

He seemed not to care, ignored every dare,
As he entered a bar called "The Shed."
He called for a brew, then changed it to two;
Said,"Take one over there to Big Fred."

Now everyone knew that Big Fred was the worst
of hooligans staying in town.
In Sidney, Nebraska there weren't any faster
When it came to shooting men down.

The bar keeper trembled and shook as he ambled,
Across the floor toting the beer.
The mug was half empty when he finally reached Fred,
Who now gazed at the dude with a sneer.

The bar room grew still and the tension seemed loud.
You could feel with a god-awful dread
That a message was meant in the beer that was sent
By the strangely dressed dude To Big Fred.

"So it's you," uttered Fred. "Thought by now you'd be bound,
To a Deadwood strike, off mining gold.
I had thought you'd forget memories I now regret;
I hoped that trail would finally grow cold."

"It's the Masterson code and the gambler's creed
To even all scores with a rat."
And by those word every Sidney buckaroo knew
That the stranger who spoke them was Bat.

Fred reached for his iron with a lightning fast draw
That never quite cleared the leather
And no one even saw Bat Masterson's draw
That silence Big Fred forever.
Londis Carpenter Jul 2011
In the bygone time, of an age sublime, in the long of long ago,
  by means arcane, which I can’t explain, I once lived by knife and bow.
Though I can’t forswear in truth my tale; it is woven out of dreams,
  (a fabric made of memories that only night-time brings).

Alas! These tales gush from my soul when midnight casts her spell.
  They fill my mind with visions of both paradise and hell.
Vivid dreams are they, words from a book, once penned by ancient lore;
  they cast a spell with the tales they tell of a life I lived before.

Can a man interred have his ashes stirred so his spirit will come again,
  in another life to this place of strife—and in someone else's skin?
For if that be so, than indeed I know that somewhere near Bismarck,
  near Montana’s line, I lived one time, in the Land of the Meadowlark.

My people are “The Band of Friends”—Lakhotas—near the lakes.
  When white men came and named us Sioux; did that they know they called us snakes?*
Fort Peck soldiers came one day, with a smithy shop on wheels.
  With their iron tools they made repairs and bartered a few deals.

After our trade we romped and played, deep into the dark of night.
  A man named Doug produced a jug and we drank until daylight.
One man stood out among the rest, amid the din and clamor;
  an English smithy called Hawk-eye, whom we named “Man with the Hammer.”

Round after round he stood his ground, besting first one man—then two,
  in games of skill he won them all—a warrior through and through.
Our friendship grew into brotherhood and before the moon was spent,
  with mingled blood, we sealed our bond to witness the event.

What could have been I’ll never know, because by quirt of fate,
  a drunken warrior killed my friend, from jealousy and hate.
Shamed by his defeat in the games and seized by a drunken rage,
  while others slept, he took revenge and stabbed this noble sage.

Tommy Cuts-The-Rope fled, fearing punishment, and escaped in the dead of night.
  I tracked his way the following day, with an oath I would set things right.
It was at Wolf Point several miles away that I finally took him down.
  They speak today of the duel we fought; it’s a legend in that town.

Now I don’t know the sacred laws that govern the reborn.
  I have no clues how Spirits choose which life is next to come.
Can souls pass the abyss in pairs?  Do they go on alone?
  May friends journey together to each new fleshy home?

But today I am an Englishman and I have a noble friend.
  He has a loyal servant, Tommy Coward is his name.
My friend comes from a border town somewhere in North Dakota
  and I swear upon my mother’s grave, his sir name is Lakhota.
Londis Carpenter Jul 2011
When the wind whispers o'er the prairie
When the grass swells like the tide
When old leathers mew as they tend to do
When they stretch the fresh rawhide

When the sound of cowboy's jingling spurs
Across the canyons ring
When the cattle bawl their haunting call
These are the sounds of spring

And every spring is round-up time
When cowboys earn their pay
Gathering herds together
And locating every stray

This is a time legends are born
As heroes come to light
In stories cowboys love to tell
Around campfires at night

When cowboys die along the trail
Few monuments are found
They're often buried where they fell
Pushing their herds to town

And though no funeral may prevail
To honor one who rode
New songs and ballads may arise
For that's the cowboy's code

And Mistrels sing in stories true
Plucked on rusty guitars
New tales of cowboy heroes
At rest beneath the stars
Londis Carpenter Oct 2010
I once visited the father of a soldier
   who died, fighting a war quite far away.
And the words he spoke to me shall  ring eternally,
   so listen to the words he had to say.

Did you ever have a pal who was your hero?
   A pal who meant the world and more to you?
Who conquered every dare and all your dreams would share,
   he alone was the cause for all you do?

Did you ever have a pal who’d lift your sorrow?
   Who by a smile could make sad moments bright?
He could make each pain and care somehow seem to disappear
   and bring sunshine into the darkest night.

If you ever had a pal, like my pal,
   then you know, when duty called, just how I feel:
That beneath my stead pride there’s sadness deep inside,
   a heartache there that nothing seems to heal.

He said, “Dad, I’m much too young to be a hero.”
   But, still he went in answer to his call.
“Dad I want to do all the things you taught me to.”
   Then went away and gladly gave his all.

In my hands I hold the emblems of a hero,
   these medals and a flag—red, white and blue.
And yet, far and gone, lies the body of my son,,
   who died because his heart was brave and true.

But, Sir, I’d rather have a son than a hero.
   I wonder if the world ever becomes
a place where people see a better way to be—
   where men no longer sacrifice their sons.

Yes, I’d rather have a son than have a hero.
   Yet, you hand me these ribbons and a flag.
Did you ever even see who you took from me?
   Did you even know the trophy that you had?

I always knew he’d be brave and do his duty.
   But, there was so much he had inside to give.
You said, “Be all that you can be; come join today’s army.”
   Yet you couldn’t even give him time to live.

Sir, I’d rather have a son than have a hero.
   And though I respect and honor this call you’ve made.
Yet your words can never hide the emptiness I feel inside;
   nor these medals ever fill a hero’s grave.
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