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WILLIAM F. "WILD BILL" LANE
About Wild Bill Lane

 

 

Before my grandfather on my mother's side died we took trips back to Oklahoma. It was a fun vacation for us kids, my sister and our cousins. We always went with my aunt and uncle.  We would swim in the same swimming hole my mom and aunt did when they were kids.  It was right down the road from my grandfather's blacksmith shop.  A city park was there and that's where we would camp out.  We always had a watermelon cooling in the creek and our favorite dinner was the whole roasted chickens they sold and the local country store. They also sell firecrackers in Oklahoma.

We never knew the poverty my mom and aunt knew growing up.  It wasn't until years later that I found out that they had a baby brother that died before he was a year old.  They named him Archie when they buried him.  It was customary in those days not to name a baby until he was a year old.  I guess they didn't want to waste a good name.  I dedicate my poem called Okies to my aunt, even though she claimed she didn't like to be in Oklahoma you could see the pride in her eyes when we visited there.  We have missed her.  She was the glue that held our family together.


Okies

Our crops of hope were dashed in dust,
All around was the color of rust,
A million strong, yet so weak are we,
We have lost our houses, our farms, our loves,
West we must go, Mr. Greeley's advice,
Not for adventure, but for life,

They call us Okies, one and alike,
A name that evokes such a site,
Of people so poor, who bet it all,
Who rolled the dice and lost,
Now only dust binds us together,
And hope, eternal hope

From Okie towns with names like Boley and Castle,
And Texas ones named Shamrock and Glenrio,
Arkansas and Missouri too, we came,
We start each day with the sun at our back,
Ever westward we travel, the sun bakes our hats,
The days are hot, but we dare not stop

We fear not the future, only the past,
And hope this day will not be our last,
For go on we must, we cannot halt,
We can't turn back or we may turn to salt,

Our old Ford rolls on each day,
A tribute to Henry we will always pay,
We know there is trouble afore and afar,
Yet we can't go back, no, not in this car,

Past Tucumcari and Gallup and Holbrook
And Winslow ever westward,
An endless trek, we plod on by Hell and by Heck,
People will loathe us and treat us with hate,
All along our journey and at the end the same fate,

The golden sun sets over our promise land,
Our family bible is always at hand,
For we fear God and all of his wrath,
But no man will dare block our path,
For determined we are as Steinbeck once wrote,
We will pass over that Colorado moat,

Barstow, Bakersfield, we make our stand,
We are here in the Golden land,
We'll make a go, and we'll make it grow,
And stay we will, and never go back,

Our children and children's children will some day
Travel down ribbons of roads
To our homes of so long ago,
They will never be hungry or thirsty or want,
Or cry in an endless stream,
For what was left behind in that nightmare dream,

The dust is gone now and all is green
In that place we once knew,
Yet we stay on here where we love and live without fear,
We will never go back to the land we once knew,
We know now that the land wasn't at fault,
It was our greed that led to its demise,
Its crops were our prize

And when we drew out all of its life,
And only scars remained,
We left it to bleed in the dry plain,
No, we can't go back, the shame is too great,
We had our chance, we rolled the dice,
We can't do that twice

2001, William F (Wild Bill) Lane


God Willing and the Well Don't Run Dry

Where Bison, Grizzlies and Lions would roar,
And Beaver would shine over forests of spruce and grove of pine,
The lone Eagle did soar high in the sky,
This was the West our forefathers found,
Much bravery and spirit did abound,
Came the stagecoach, the mail, and telegraph too,
And railroads over mountains and canyons would vie,
God willing and the well don't run dry,

Miners, forty-niners, and Chinese alike,
Into streams and gullies and shafts
To strike the wealth of ore that lay beneath,
Silver and gold and riches untold,
Would bring a strange glint to the eye,
God willing and the well don't run dry,

Loggers felled mighty trees to build mighty cities,
Where rivers flowed into sheltered harbors
Full of tall ships of wood, sail and coal,
Now new of steel and power in the blink of an eye,
God willing and the well don't run dry,

From out of the East they came,
Their dime novels knew no shame,
Heroes and villains alike were made,
With little regard given to truth or lie,
So many cowboys no one could keep track,
Whose horses had names like Silver or Black,
The Indians were made and killed and made again,
Over much drinking of whiskey and rye,
God willing and the well don't run dry,

Now the Indians have bingo and the cowboys are no more,
Except for riding in rodeos or dancing on a floor,
There isn't a place where man hasn't set foot,
All the West that was is now just in books,
But the pioneer survives deep down inside,
Of all of those who call the West their home,
As we will always be here and we know why,
As long as the blue rides high in the sky,
God willing and the well don't run dry

2001, William F (Wild Bill) Lane



My grandfather on my mother's side was the town blacksmith in Fort Towson.  He was half Choctaw Indian and my mother's mother was half Cherokee Indian.  She died in 1941.  My grandfather drank clear moonshine, and when his wife died he quit drinking.  He remarried a woman whose name was Mamie. My mother and Aunt called him Papa.  Us kids mispronounced that so we always called him Poppy. After we moved away I don't believe I saw him more than four times in my life.  I wrote The Rockies not realizing at the time that it represented my relationship with my grandparents and how I wanted to last picture them.

I got my inspiration for the poem from things around me, things like snow on a mountain.  I closed my eyes and began to dream.  It is the 1880's and I am a trapper heading into the Rockies at the end of winter.  I come across a cabin where an old man and his wife live.  I spend the night and leave the next morning.  When I come back through they are no longer with us here on earth.  I remember that one morning I was last there.  I picture the old man on the porch and his thoughts come through me in verse...

The Rockies

As I stepped out of my cabin today
I had forgotten of the cities so far away
My senses came alive
The Rockies had survived

I smell the cold mountain air
The efforts of sunlight were everywhere
See the wild grass grow
Where once there was snow

The winter is gone, little remains
Only patches of white,
Not leaving a stain

The smoke from my stove wisps upward in flight
From the roof of my cabin, warmth through the night
My woman is there and bacon takes flight
Into that old iron skillet to my delight

Nothing on earth could wrench me from here
For our love abounds and we know no fear
It is our time now and I know somehow
That the gold in our hearts will carry us through
Till the time comes when we are with Him
This heaven on earth will just have to do

2001, William F (Wild Bill) Lane

 

About Wild Bill Lane:

My name is William F. Lane, my friends call me Bill, my family calls me Bud.  I was born in the Red River Valley of Oklahoma in a small town named Fort Towson. The old fort was active when Oklahoma was Indian territory.  My great-grandfather, on my father's side, was named William Amos Steele. He was an outlaw and rode with Frank and Jesse James in Missouri.  When the gang broke up they all took different last names and he moved down to Fort Towson and bought a ferry service on the river there. He married an Indian woman and settled down.

It was rumored that he held the James gang's money and every now and then Frank James would disappear out of Missouri to come see my great-grandfather to get some of the loot.  He would stay around for a couple of weeks and then go on back up to Missouri. My father died in 1996 on a farm in Missouri.  Both before and after his marriage to my mother he was married to other women. I have four half brothers and four half sisters that I have never met. The oldest half brother has passed away already.

My mother remarried when I was five or six years old and at one time in his younger days my step-father was a cowboy.

 

 

 

 

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