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Photograph of Wabash RR Depot at Martinsburg Missouri c 1900
The Village Depot at Martinsburg, Missouri, c1900

from "Sage And High Iron," by Charles D. Dulin
Copyright 2021, by The Westbound Stage

We cannot reach the moon or stars
Or dabble in the Milky Way;
We cannot grasp the brilliant Mars,
Nor change a single night to day.
These things are far beyond the groove
We humans occupy, but then,
Right here on earth we can't remove
The railroad from the railroad men.

It's in the blood, there must it stay,
Becoming stronger hour by hour . . .
The yards, the trains, the rights of way,
The signals, wires and motive power.
If Heaven has no rails and ties,
And earthly memory serves us then,
We'll be a bunch of lonely guys,
We railroad men . . . we railroad men.
                                                (Charles D. Dulin)
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'Westbound Freight,' painting of railroad depot at Carrizozo, NM, by Peter Hurd
The Southern Pacific Co. depot at Carrizozo, New Mexico, c1950, by Peter Hurd.

from "Sage And High Iron," by Charles D. Dulin
Copyright 2021, by The Westbound Stage

For explanations, hover over any GREEN text.

I'm one who feels the roll of wheels,
The side-door Pullman's bounce and sway,
I've got wild brains and a boomer's veins
And I fret for scenes of the early day.
I like this set but I can't forget,
'Cause the old times hang in my memory
And the tales grow tall when the grab irons call
And a big hog screams at the 'bo in me.

On the line today in my lonely bay
I sit and play with a host of schemes.
As I trace the trails of the gleaming rails
That race in the scope of my vagrant dreams.
I would go back but this drab line shack
Is not so tough on the thin gray hair,
But the clock looks down with a half-cocked frown
As I lean 'way back in my wired-up chair.

Old time rolls on and they say he's gone.
That booming gent from the far decades;
They say at most he's a graveyard ghost
That hangs around when the daylight fades.
When a freight roars by 'neath a cloudless sky
Then my heart beats high and my blood runs free,
And there ain't no walls when the boom-trail calls
And the big hog screams at the 'bo in me.
                                                (Charles D. Dulin)
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My House of Old Things, an EP&SW RR depot at Ancho, NM., c1965
My House of Old Things, an EP&SW RR depot at Ancho, NM., c1965.

from "Sage And High Iron," by Charles D. Dulin
Copyright 2021, by The Westbound Stage

Behind a multitude of days,
Across a trestle, up the track,
Beyond the dim horizon's haze
I see a semaphore and shack.
In twilight dreams I see it there
A lone, forsaken silhouette
In gathering shadows, cooling air
My old deserted mountain set.

Long years ago, and yet so short,
Her humble tenant lit her lights
And held this outpost's safety fort
Through long, inclement winter nights.
But now this summer eve she stands
Wth dingy, brooding window panes,
Awaiting these familiar hands
To work her levers, guard her trains.

And so, you see, I must go back,
If only down my memories trails,
And feel in this abandoned shack
The yesterdays of roaring rails.
How can I leave the past ignored?
I gave her key the last caress,
Cut through her lightning, cleared her board
And left her to the silences.
                                                (Charles D. Dulin)
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Telegraph Bay, Lake Forest, CA, circa 1979
Telegraph Bay in the Village Depot

from "Sage And High Iron," by Charles D. Dulin
Copyright 2021, by The Westbound Stage

Some ops don't stick to the graveyard trick
'Cause the graveyard trick she be;
They just don't blend with night's tail end,
But she's sure okay by me.
When it's dead out here and the goblins sneer
And a deep long silence reigns,
My thoughts take flight through a rhythmic night
To the realm of the old-time trains.

Old hogheads blast from the glamorous past
And call for a gob of green;
I watch them stop, then an old Morse op
Steps into my phantom scene.
I look in vain, as he clears the train,
For a mill and a DS phone,
But he works my trick with an agate stick
And a fist that is all his own.

I search my heart for his counterpart,
But the wall clock cracks, "It's gone."
I am acting host to a graveyard ghost
Who will leave at the break of dawn.
But he's with me now and I hope, somehow,
As I sit with this long-loved gent,
That your bard will be as revered as he
When his last OS is sent.

                                                (Charles D. Dulin)
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