THE BALLAD OF BANDANNA SAM, a poem by Nancy Ellen Crossland from USA
Some say he came from the Blue Ridge Mountains,
Some say from the prairies out West,
But all agreed he was a man of honor, truly one of the best,
With a weathered brow and a vision in sight, he roamed from place to place looking to make the wrongs in the world right.
It always wasn't this way they say, though he started out like most,
He was a good son with fine upstanding folks,
But as a young man he heard the call to wander
and the choices he made caused his poor folks to shudder,
Unsavory sorts had taken him in,
Tempted by a deck of cards, loose women,
whiskey and gin.
One brawl after another and run out of town,
Until his spirit was wearing down,
Then one rainy morning during the spring,
He rode into town and it changed everything
He saw an angel so fair and kind,
With a voice that soothed him and made the sun shine,
A spark was lit that lovely Hanna turned into a flame,
They fell in love and married the next spring,
Hanna softened the hardness in his heart,
He adored her so and their love continued to grow,
Before long their life was complete,
When they welcomed their son who they named Pete,
But a call to the old ways came back one night,
Sam heard Jake's old gang was in town,
He needed to settle an old debt and make things right
So he kissed Hanna and his little son and quickly rode
into the night,
When Sam walked through the doors of the saloon,
There was a feeling of impending doom,
Jake and the gang were playing cards,
The drinking and brawling began,
Just one game of cards, one whiskey, settle up the debt,
That would be it,
But everything erupted like a lightning's flash,
Pushing and shouting and broken glass,
Guns were drawn, shots rang out,
Sam stood frozen there was no way out.
He was hit, his gun was drawn, he aimed for Jake's leg, but he was shoved,
The bullet instead hitting Jake's chest.
He tore out of that saloon holding his arm, "I've gotta get back to Hanna and out of this town!"
He rode like a madman into the night asking himself
"How could this have gone so wrong?"
The distant black smoke on the familiar plain tore at his being,
What had been done?
He knew in a moment his world was gone
All that he loved
Only smoldering flames desolate now,
Their home on the plains,
His heart was torn.
Eyes filled with tears,
In just one night, his own worse fears,
I'll never rest til their deaths are avenged,
I'll search them out until my days end.
But her voice seemed to whisper so softly in his ears,
My dearest, no good could ever come from revenge,
Think of us always,
Make your amends,
Turn all the hatred in your heart around,
Reach out to others and make the world right.
So he heeded the whispers heard that terrible night
Never looking back and rode out of sight
On his quest for Hanna and Pete to make the wrongs in the world right.
Sam was found one rainy spring morning near the banks of the Rio Grande,
The bandanna he always wore clutched within his hand.
They say it was the same day those 40 years ago when he first saw his beloved Hanna,
And that bandanna he always wore was a gift on their first anniversary,
Now Sam, Hanna and little Pete are together for all eternity.
Nancy Ellen Crossland