Down in the Rail Road Flats
Twas a little piece of heaven in a bigger spot of hell,
Nestled in the bosom of the Sierra Nevadas.
I wasn't sure just what planet I had just landed on,
An alien invader in a strange mountain fold.
Oh, they looked at us with those skeptical stares,
Knowing full well their way of life there was to end someday.
But they took us in anyway, finally seeing our flags were the same color,
And taught us the art of rock-flicking and tree-bending!
Miles and miles of tormented roads and depressed dwellings
Peppered the backs of the manzanita hills.
Pine pitch wafted in my nose in the sunshine,
And cool, sweet water in the faltering twilight.
Like fleeing snakes, the rivers and creeks charged down-hill,
A Pacific grave was the prize at the end of the run.
We found the Red Planet above Prussian Hill,
Waiting for us to be the last of the guard of an older way of life.
The only real laws out there were the laws of common courtesy,
Don't tread on me, and an eye for an eye.
Folks were as real and as painfully set as a re-broken bone,
High-falutin' ways were as real to them as Hollywood dreams.
The summer sun burned the devils out of your bones,
The winter chill froze the snow angels into your flesh.
Funny, I never heard the whistle of a train,
Where were the railroads?? Hell, where were the FLATS??
West Point was pointless, Wilseyville was full of wiles,
Independence sat in lonely forgottenness,
Glencoe, a plaque in the artery of Hwy. 26.
Mountain Ranch and Sheep Ranch sighed in amnesic slumber,
While Mokolumne Hill and San Andreas kept vigil to the gateways.
A part of my soul is still buried in the flesh of those fractured rises and draws,
A part of who I am... there's no shame, I feel, to admit it loud and proud.
So, to the new dwellers who've changed her lovely, rustic face
Into the image of what they deem beautiful and of value,
Don't forget there were lives lived out before you came,
And remember they cleared the way for you and your ways!
Resist the temptation to rush to change a land that never asked you,
And treat her with the respect of your fathers' graves and your childrens' futures.