Travels With Ole Duke

Ole Duke and I took many a midnight train.
Ole Duke and I took many a midnight train.

Daily Prompt: Menagerie

Do you have animals in your life? If yes, what do they mean to you? If no, why have you opted not to?

My daughter and her family have a wonderful little mutt named Mocha. My wife and I dog-sit when they go away. It’s fun, but like grandchildren I’m glad the dog can be returned.

When I was growing up there was always a dog present.

The first dog was named Herkimor; don’t know where the name came from. After a few drinks Dad could come up with anyhing. We called him Herky. At the same time we got a little pup named Splasher. I actually named him because he wet all over the place.

Than there was a dog named Whitey. He was white and was ran over while still a pup.

Another dog came along I named Champ. He was white and furry. I think he just never came home one day.

The next dog was named Nipper. She had pups. We managed to give a couple away. One died. I wanted to keep the fury one that looked like a miniature St Bernard who I named Neil from the TV series Topper. Nipper went out for a walk one day with Neil and never returned.

The last dog was a mixture of a Boston Terrier and something else. His name was Duke and he was my buddy from the sixth grade until I graduated from high school and left home. We had some great times together; too many to mention.

My wife and I don’t own a dog. I like them, but I don’t like their hair on the furniture or carpet. I don’t enjoy walking through my yard like I’m feeling my way through a minefield. When mowing the lawn I don’t want to hear a flip, flip, flip , flip, plop followed by “Ah, crap! The dog!” And finish the lawn as if being followed by a dog kennel.

Yet, over fifty years later, I still dream about ole Duke every now and then. Sure miss that old dog. Here is my poem about him:

Travels With Ole Duke

Train whistles echoed across corn fields at midnight
Ole dog Duke barked at coons in the moonlight
Come along ole Duke the train is going faster
What is a dog if he don’t have his master

I’ll show you a world that you will never see
If you stay at home and don’t come with me
My mind hopped that midnight freight train
Took me and ole Duke to the far cost of Maine

We saw Great Lakes from open boxcar doors
Heard Atlantic waves against the rocky shores
Passed along side many a raging river and falls
Heard the screech of a barn owls, soaring seagulls

Lifted my tired head to see snow capped peaks
Walked the walled canyons of New York streets
Saw comets streak across clear western skies
Heard a lonely wolf on a hilltop cry

Felt the prairie winds brush past my face
Fresh mowed hay, a wild berry’s taste
Cupped cold water from a clear mountain spring
Blackbirds, Meadowlarks, and Robins sing

Took a west bound to a blue Pacific beach
Saw distant silver plains just beyond my reach
We felt the dry heat of parched desert lands
And played on the beach of Galveston’s sands

Mighty mountains from the earth they leaped
Fields of golden grain about to be reaped
Gentle green slopes and valleys deep
Soft green meadows and mountains steep

Ole Duke was with me every step of the way
Through storms, dangers, and times of play
Through wind, rain, and snow, heat, or fog
What now is a master without his dog

As long as I have will and imagination
There’s plenty to see on my midnight vacations
Come on ole Duke we got some places to see
Let’s hop that midnight freight just you and me

There’s plenty to see and more places to go
When I hear that freight train’s whistle blow
Ole Duke’s long gone but memories remain
Of our midnight rides on distant freight trains

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