JEFF HART, by Charles Badger Clark, Jr. (1883-1957)

photo ©2015, Ken Rodgers,


by Charles Badger Clark, Jr. (1883-1957)

Jeff Hart rode out of the gulch to war
When the low sun yellowed the pines.
He waved to his folks in the cabin door
And yelled to the men at the mines.
The gulch kept watch till he dropped from sight—
Neighbors and girl and kin.
Jeff Hart rode out of the gulch one night;
Next morning the world came in.

His dad went back to the clinking drills
And his mother cooked for the men;
The pines branched black on the eastern hills,
Then black to the west again.
But never again, by dusk or dawn,
Were the days in the gulch the same,
For back up the hill Jeff Hart had gone
The trample of millions came.

Then never a clatter of dynamite
But echoed the guns of the Aisne,
And the coyote’s wail in the woods at night
Was bitter with Belgium’s pain.
We hear the snarl of a savage sea
In the pines when the wind went through,
And the strangers Jeff Hart fought to free
Grew folks to the folks he knew.

Jeff Hart has drifted for good and all,
To the ghostly bugles blown,
But the far French valley that saw him fall
Blood kin to the gulch is grown;
And his foreign folks are ours by right—
The friends that he died to win.
Jeff Hart rode out of the gulch one night;
Next morning the world came in.

…Charles Badger Clark, Jr. from “Sun and Saddle Leather”

On this Veterans Day/Remembrance Day and the the 100th anniversary of Armistice Day, marking the end of World War I, we recognize those who have served with Badger Clark’s timeless poem, written during WWI. It was printed in Collier’s Illustrated Weekly in 1919 and in other newspapers and periodicals of the time. It was added to later editions of Clark’s Sun and Saddle Leather, in a section titled “Grass Grown Trails.”

Clark got his cowboying experience in Arizona. He became the Poet Laureate of South Dakota, where he was born and where he lived for most of his life.

The South Dakota Historical Society Foundation holds Badger Clark’s papers and offers his books for sale.

Read many more poems and more about Badger Clark at

This photograph is by writer, poet, teacher, filmmaker, photographer, and Marine veteran Ken Rodgers. He told us, “I took that photo on a summer day in Roseberry, Idaho, a small town north of Boise in Valley County. Roseberry is semi-ghost town whose heyday is long past. The town was settled by Finnish folk in the late 19th Century. The flag was fluttering in a mild summer breeze out in front of the old Roseberry General Store. I liked how the wind whipped the flag in juxtaposition to the old gas pump…”

Ken and Betty Rodgers’ outstanding and important documentary, Bravo! Common Men, Uncommon Valor explores the experiences of the men of Bravo Company, 1st Battalion, 26th Marines during the 1968 siege at Khe Sanh, Vietnam, where Ken Rodgers served. The award-winning film is available on DVD and streams on Amazon.


The Rodgers’ latest project is I Married the War, a documentary about the wives of  combat veterans.


Find poetry and more for Veterans Day at,
(Please respect copyright. You can share this photograph with this post, but for other uses, request permission. This poem is in the public domain.)