Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: Era (02/03/11)
TITLE: Climb Aboard the Old Stagecoach
By Verna Cole Mitchell
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ADD TO MY FAVORITES
climb aboard the old stagecoach
of an era long gone by.
Squeeze into a crowded seat,
your luggage on your lap,
mail pouches piled beneath your feet.
Bounce against the sides or roof
on miserable long stretches
of terrible terrain.
Be prepared for temperatures
of intense heat or cold,
and insects that torment you.
Travel day and night
through dust and blowing sand
with poor food and little rest.
Get out and walk
to bring relief to a tired team
or help to push the heavy coach uphill.
Beware the risk of robbery
by highwaymen and bandits,
like Tom Bell and Rattlesnake Dick.
Face danger from Indian attacks,
as Cochise with Apaches
seek to keep you from their lands.
Obey the rules
Wells Fargo posts
for passenger behavior:
Abstain from liquor if you can,
but if you must drink,
share the bottle.
Forego smoking pipes or cigars
and refrain from the use
of rough language.
If you use chewing tobacco,
Spit along with the wind,
and never spit against it.
Do not snore loudly when you sleep
or use as a pillow
your fellow passenger’s shoulder.
Keep emergency firearms with you,
but do not shoot for pleasure,
for the sound could rile the horses.
Do not hog the buffalo robes,
provided for your comfort,
or you’ll have to ride with the driver.
Stay calm in the event
that the horses run away,
and never leap from the coach.
Be chivalrous to lady passengers,
for those who are unchivalrous
will be put off the stage.
Though idealized in book and film,
a stagecoach ride was more a hazard
than it was a grand adventure.
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