Prairie Town

Prairie Town

I finished this song just in time to sing it for the winter field day of the Streeter Research & Extension Center, in Towner, North Dakota, 22 January 2002. Other than that, there's nothing I need to tell you that isn't in the song.

Prairie Town
Copyright 2003 Tom Isern
The windows all are dark, but inside there's a glow,
The trucks pull up and idle and they let the heaters blow.
At last the neon lights and the bolt clicks in the door--
It's cold outside!
At the Cenex coffee klatch is where the day begins,
Caramel rolls and coffee and confessing all our sins.
The men sit on the left, the women on the right,
Barbed wire between.
Prairie town in the morning--
Prairie town doesn't change much sun to sun.
We start out here in the blue gray of morning,
Heaven knows where we'll be when day is done.

It's not the sort of place where you order Chardonnay,
The beers are all domestic, and the whiskey's just OK.
We got seven kinds of schnapps, try a new one every day--
But that's our bar.
We got the kind of bar you can take your granny to
To find some conversation and some pinochle, too.
Come Saturday night, when you're putting away the brew,
Don't drive your car.

Prairie town in the morning,
And the publican is sweeping out the bar.
He sweeps the lies with the trash across the threshold;
Does he see that there's a shining morning star?

It used to be on Sunday, men put on their Sunday suits,
The women all wore hats--but now it's jeans and boots.
The bankers look like farmers, you can't put on any airs
In a prairie town.
In the third pew from the back is a face we haven't seen
Since she left for the city with her sweetheart and a dream.
Dreams and love went south, she's been living hand to mouth,
But now she's home.

Prairie town in the morning--
Prairie town is a place where you can pray.
Give me your tired, your poor, and your wounded,
You can rest for a while or you can stay.

It's funny and it's not, when the old men hit the street,
They hold beer-bellies in, marching heavy on their feet.
This Monday every May, old soldiers have their day
When the lilacs bloom.
We all get in our cars and drive up the gravel road
To a graveyard where just yesterday the weeds and grass were mowed.
The speeches may be corny, but the prayers are from the heart,
And the grass is green.

Prairie town in the morning--
Heads are bowed, bugles play, and grown men cry.
Whoever knew there were heroes among us?
True and blue as the fairest prairie sky.

See the taillights in the snow, it's a caravan of cars
Following our kids who all the papers say are stars.
The stars aren't out tonight, it's a whirlwind of white--
Stay on the road.
At last we're safe and warm, and the whole darn town is here,
The State B is a big deal and at last this is our year.
We know the kids can't hear, but we all stand up and cheer--
This place is big.

Prairie town in the morning--
Hardcourt heroes are sleeping late today.
We let them sleep in the blue gray of morning--
Heaven knows where they'll be at end of day.