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Ghost Town

This poem comes from Autumn Leaves:

They deserted the old town.

He understood why.

He watched them leave

With watery, jaundiced eye.

 

They had suffered and struggled,

On the hungry side of hope.

When the gold wasn’t found,

They sort of run out of rope.

 

A stubborn streak in him

Rose up to the fore.

He knew he’d stay behind

And try once more.

 

The rest had departed,

Long since gone,

And now he was left to his fate,

Up here all alone —

 

Alone with his fear and hope,

Left to follow his dream.

Searching for yellow gold,

Instant get-rich scheme.

 

Gold for his yellow-haired sweetheart,

Sweet Josie DuPree.

Gold to fulfill their dreams,

Turn them into reality.

 

On the edge of starvation

Gave much food for thought.

He’s search and surely find

What the others had sought.

 

The wind moaned an eerie song

Among broken rock and barren stone.

Rugged cliffs rose toward the skies,

Awesome beauty straining his eyes.

 

The wind among towering peaks

Blue cold and strong.

Blue skies turned dull grey.

He knew it wouldn’t be long

 

Before you could see each

Exhaled, frosty breath,

Where slight mistakes in judgment

Could bring instant death.

 

He’d handled it before,

And he’d handle it again.

Once he struck it rich,

Why he’d throw caution to the wind.

 

He’d scoff at the quitters

While he ordered up good gin,

After all he counted himself

A man among men.

 

Slogging through old snowdrifts

And sleet mixed with rain,

He worked the rock daily,

Muscles aching in pain.

 

Digging and searching,

Each day anew,

While breaking rock and shoveling

Endless rhythm, working his chew.

 

He cussed his own stubbornness,

Then cussed the mine.

He cussed at the mountains,

And the gold he couldn’t find.

 

No one ever saw him,

Yet swore he never came down.

They say he’s still up there,

Digging and poking around —

 

Among blown-down, weathered beams,

Strewn over frozen ground,

Searching for yellow gold

Where wind makes a weird sound.

 

They say, if you’ll listen carefully

When the wind is just right,

You can hear his hammer ring out,

Striking rock day and night.

 

If you’re ever up there,

Just knocking around,

You’ll feel a chill or hear

Strange, eerie sounds.

 

Remember,

You’re not alone

In the old Ghost Town

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