My fathers sleep on the sunrise plains, And each one sleeps alone. Their trails may dim to the grass and rains, For I choose to make my own. I lay proud claim to their blood and name, But I lean on no dead kin; My name is mine for the praise or scorn, And the world began when I was born And the world is mine to win. They built high towns on their old log sills, Where the great, slow rivers gleamed, But with new, live rock from the savage hills I’ll build as they only dreamed. The smoke scarce dies where the trail camp lies, Till rails glint down the pass; The desert springs into fruit and wheat And I lay the stones of a solid street Over yesterday’s untrod grass. I waste no thought on my neighbor’s birth Or the way he makes his prayer. I grant him a white man’s room on earth If his game is only square. While he plays it straight I’ll call him mate; If he cheats I drop him flat. Old class and rank are a worn-out lie, For all clean men are as good as I, And a king is only that. I dream no dreams of a nursemaid State That will spoon me out my food. A stout heart sings in the fray with fate And the shock and sweat are good. From noon to noon all the earthly boon That I ask my God to spare Is a little daily bread in store, With the room to fight the strong for more, And the weak shall get their share. The sunrise plains are a tender haze And the sunset seas are gray, But I stand here, where the bright skies blaze Over me and the big today. What good to me is a vague “maybe” Or a mournful “might have been,” For the sun wheels swift from morn to morn And the world began when I was born And the world is mine to win.
Charles Badger Clark published his first poetry collection, Sun and Saddle Leather (1922), after a four-year stint as a cowboy in Arizona.