Bruce Kiskaddon Poems >>
The Ghosts at the Diamond Bar

'Twas a winter night at the Diamond Bar,
The wind was blowin' cold.
The Dipper swung 'round the dim North Star
And the night was growin' old.
But I had some wood that was dry and good,
So I let the cold wind whine.
I was safe and snug with a gallon jug
Of Death Valley Slim's moonshine.
Across the stove from where I sat
Stood a figger straight and tall.
He had no coat, he had no hat,
He must have come through the wall.
He pointed away toward the rocky shelf
That was up on the side of a hill.
He was one of the bunch the Injuns skelped
When they raided the old ore mill.
I nodded and passed the gallon jug.
He needed a drink or two.
But he only shrugged and shook his head;
That was sumpthin' he could not do.
I set the jug down on the floor;
Then my eyes popped open wide.
There had been jest one; now a couple more
Was a standin' there by his side.
They would each one point with a ghostly hand
Where my old harmonica lay.
By signs they made me understand
They wanted that I should play.
So I played 'em "The Grave on the Lone Prairie,"
And "The Dyin' Ranger," too.
And twenty odd ghosts surrounded me
Before I was halfway through.
I played 'em the old "Rye Whisky" tune
And they waltzed it 'round and 'round.
But I felt no weight on the floor of the room
And their feet made never a sound.
Then "Rosie O'Grady" and "Over the Waves,"
They waltzed with keen delight.
Them wandering spirits out of their graves
Was havin' a time that night.
They motioned that I should drink once more.
That was easy to understand.
With noiseless feet they stomped the floor
And patted their phantom hands.
When I seen 'em smile I changed my style.
I played old "Larry McGee."
They wanted something with a lilt and swing,
And they stepped it light and free.
But jest as the thing was goin' grand,
There was sumpthin' spoiled the show.
There wasn't a drop in the coal oil can
And the lamp was burnin' low.
I stopped and drunk me a hefty slug
And a thought came to my mind.
I filled the lamp from the moonshine jug
And she blazed like a neon sign.
There was battered hats on the buckaroos.
Old miners with unshaved jaws.
Three Wallapi bucks were in there too,
And a couple Mohave squaws.
The next was the old time "Chicken Reel,"
And you'd orta seen em go.
The would jig in the corners before they'd wheel
And give it the heel and toe.
I knew they wouldn't be there fer long.
It would soon be breakin' day.
And I wanted to sing 'em a good old song
Before they went on their way.
So I sung like I had never sung before,
Till the last of the crowd was gone.
And when I opened the ranch house door,
The day was beginning to dawn.
Yet the desert trails have their own weird tales
That few of us mortals know.
And I'll never forget the crowd I met
On that night so long ago.
Some time I will meet them again, maybe,
Though I don't know where they are.
But why did they come to visit me,
That night at the Diamond Bar?