Poems, Stories and Personal Accounts

ACHIEVEMENT. . . The Fort Peck Dam
by Arthur H. Buckley
Less than a year ago, those hills across the river lay undisturbed.
Only the coyote and rattle snake were there.
Now, where a town lies, then was mere ranchland,
no hint that in coming days, such progress would lay bare.

Then too, the river, with its broad unruffled bosom
flowed placidly.
Deer came to drink and wild ducks flocked each year.
Who could envision then, the busy stir and action
which has transformed this spot, since Man came here.

Now, `mongst the distant hills, strange shapes are showing...
strange man-made forms.
Stiff, ugly derricks thrust their slender masts in air,
G reat mounds of dirt appear, spewed by huge earthworms,
deep detonations shake the hillsides everywhere.

Down past the frontal bluffs and winding up the coulee
goes a railroad
And, `mongst the rugged contours , labyrinthine roads abound.
Trains crawl the trackbed and motor cars the roadways
appearing like insects that creep upon the ground.

And too, within the year, what changes on the river,
once calm and still.
Square, clumsy pontoon and sturdy derrick boat,
Swift darting water craft and lazy, idling barges
breasting the current to where great dredges float.

Scattered along the shore in seeming confusion,
long pipelines spread,
Spilling their contents in lakes of mud and sand.
Power lines and poles are strewn in artless disarray,
trucks and huge tractors go rumbling o'er the land.

Towering pile drivers stand and hammer down steel ramrods
deep in the mud,
Rasping our eardrums with harsh, staccato beat,
Spanning the river's width and wand'ring down its shore
high wooden trestles rise, with gravel round their feet.

Here where we stand now, we see in striking contrast,
a city complete:
Streets, shops, houses standing row on row.
Schools, churches, hospitals provide for all the workers
who toil and labor `midst the chaos there below.

Fitting together the pieces of this puzzle, so gigantic
one canat length discern a purpose and a plan,
See that the noise and apparent disorder
ere long shall form another great work of Man.

See how, in years to come, a great lake shall open here,
deep amidst these hills,
Hoarding the water from the mountains clad with snow,
Storing up power and improving navigation,
holding in Man's control the floods so feared below.

Hardships and obstacles lead but to achievement,
strange tho it seem...
Mountains and rivers do but spur Man's agile brain.
Down through the ages comes the urgent will to conquer.
God grant the future shall this heritage sustain.

©1/2002 by Arthur H. Buckley/Diane B. Pile