A land of grim beauty, by harsh Nature bestowed
With rock veined by the wash of where water had flowed,
Where fires underground and running rivers gave birth
To land that seemed hardly to belong to this earth.
Then floating beside me, in the corner of my eye
Almost lost in the harsh morning sun, I did spy
Twin ovals of spectacles, and the bony white flash
Of great square bared teeth, ‘neath a walrus moustache
“To this balloon-flying pastime of yours I say: bully!
“(Though too brightly colored to seem masculine, fully)
“Yet simple and courageous, it seems to my eye
“The way a Roughrider would take to the sky!"
“It’s nothing,” I mumbled, to his words to me,
“Just something that seems -- I guess -- beautiful and free
“But it’s a whole load of effort, and not coincidental
“That even my girlfriend tells people I’m mental."
My visitor laughed, “If your freedom does tire you,
“Then like me let this harsh splendid place re-inspire you,
“I came here from the East, bereaved and weak at the start,
“And met here the West, land that healed my heart.
“Here I met cowboys, in their simple ways more wise
“Than the Harvard-schooled dude that they sometimes called ‘four-eyes’
“Dakota’s elk and bison – how Nature has blessed her --
“I met with the barrel of my trusty Winchester.
“Freedom is a gift, one that all true men covet,
“But a gift not enjoyed save by those worthy of it.
“So charge the wide sky, my good fellow, I cheer it!
“Life is an adventure… accept it in such spirit.”