Pell Mell, The Mad Dash


“Washington is not a place to live in. The rents are high, the food is bad, the dust is disgusting and the morals are deplorable. Go West, young man, go West and grow up with the country.”                                 –Horace Greeley.



Westward migration

  was never that easy.

Not the simple depiction

  one sees on the TV.


But westward migration

  was still a big deal,

up until the fin de siècle.


And neither, back then,

  was a radio friend;

but was still, again,

  as it still is today:

convenient, expedient,

  and trendy.


All of this, fifty years

  after Greeley.


If found in the home,

  it was one out of ten.


Yet, still it would send

  the mothers of men,

their husbands and brothers,

  and all their children,

Out!  Out! 

Out where they went.


In dangerous descent,

  pell mell they fell,

to follow the orders

  (from a radio set!)

to far away borders

  and the cauldrons of Hell.


By fleeing the beast

  of the life in the East,

in the hopes of a new world

  out West,

the brothers and friends,

  and mothers of men,

by hundreds, if thousands,

  all went.


And pell mell they fell,

  beyond all the borders.

They followed the orders,

  from the News and the swells

in the telling of Tales,

  from the corners of cauldrons,

of Hell.


And then, back when,

  they ‘rolled’ in the Twenties,

hard and fast; and then 

  in the Thirties,

all that was easy

  went suddenly still.


There were many back East

  who had planted their feet

close to the furnace, afire.


And the Word as it is

  can be terrible Biz –

‘cause the panics and manics

  are dire.


For those in the West,

  it was all for the best

to be far from the News

  from the Wire.


There’s a latent reaction,

  a double-take action,

the further one is

  from the fire.


For people, like cattle,

  react to the prattle –

a herd mentality,

  in mire.


But those of the West,

  not so close to the Vest,

sought out something

 that brought out a difference.


It’s hard to conceive

  what you lose when you leave,

the comfort of crowd

  for Independence.


But the trouble and woes

  that succumbed all of those

in the East, never flowed

  to the West.


The penury stays

  as a permanent phase,

for the up-rooted

  that’s re-routed

their ways.


What razed them of wealth,

  and created poor health,

for many was surely



But for those settled West,

  they were bothered much less;

where life is always importunate.


For once one’s inured

  to where they’re interred –


In bad times, for the rest,

  it’s awful unfortunate!

For the West,

  where they’re hardened,

they’re used to it.


Pell mell the mad dash,

  to the mandate “Go West!”

and were hardened

  to the cauldrons of Hell.




©2013, Marvin Loyd Welborn

revised 16July2013


Poem’s Score: 2.0


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