Prairie Steel and Golden Lace

Western prairie quiet broken by forged steel
Sage Grouse dance, feathers of resplendent golden lace
oblivious to Manifest Destiny’s race
Juniper trees observe from high peaks
Wisps of threadbare clouds converging on progress
From high plain, a silent warrior sits horseback
in tall swaying grasses of amber colored grain
curious about the oxbow line of meandering steel
Somewhere in Council Bluffs, a railroad baron smiles
manipulating shares, he’s paid by the mile
by the man in the Tall Black Hat
whose working on a proclamation
to set men free and save the nation
Crédit Mobilier says
we’re Union Pacific’s salvation
The steady rhythmic clank of a thousand hammers
Backs bent in toil singing the nations’ dirge,
some getting rich, others purged
Mormons just looking to get paid
for all that track that they laid
Thirteen thousand Chinamen straight from the past
Working on the railroad proved quite a blast
In a soiled tent of cotton, she sits, trusses flowing,
a silver mirror imported from France,
Reflections of cotillion dreams
Shirts laundered over hot fires of bitter cold creek water
Visions of San Francisco bath salts and silk

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To catch Dame Fortune’s golden smile, Assiduous wait upon her, And gather gear by every wile, That’s justify’d by Honor; Not for to hide in the hedge, Nor for a train attendant; But for the glorious privilege of being independent.

— Burns