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An anthology of Manka's poetry, Volume I


Show me the way to El Dorado
I left her after a tornado
I'd like to go back and see
That city out on the Kansas Prairie

El Dorado the city where I was born
Early one cold 1926 Thanksgiving morn
This is the city I'd like to see
El Dorado lives on in my memory

I'd like to visit the Sunday School
Where I was taught the Golden Rule
Visit with life long friends
Go past the farm once again.

El Dorado the city where I was born
Early one cold 1926 Thanksgiving morn
This is the city I'd like to see
El Dorado lives on in my memory

I'd travel down those country roads
Where I hauled wheat and corn by the loads
I watched them load it on a train
Thousands of bushels of Golden Grain.

El Dorado the city where I was born
Early one cold 1926 Thanksgiving morn
This is the city I'd like to see
El Dorado lives on in my memory

I'd like to see my first home once more
Visit Eatons Grocery store
I'd like to see the Refinery
There are many places I'd like to see

El Dorado the city where I was born
Early one cold 1926 Thanksgiving morn
This is the city I'd like to see
El Dorado lives on in my memory

I know this is just a dream
So many of these things can't be seen
Progress can be an ugly thing
Progress can be surgical clean.

El Dorado the city where I was born
Early one cold 1926 Thanksgiving morn
This is the city I'd like to see
El Dorado lives on in my memory

Monte Manka 07-21-2008

If Only for a Little While

Didja ever stop to think
About, really what you’re worth
While you are living
On the planet earth?

We’re always trying to impress
On our friends and foes
Just how important we are
But everyone knows

That outside appearance
It’s just a façade
It’s really what’s on the inside
And not you’re perfect Bod.

That ye may be judged
Not to be beguiled
Remember you’re here
Only for a little while.

If only for a little while
Live and Love for all
Try to do your best
By Walking Tall.

So do your darndest
Do not live in denial
Remember you’re here
Only for a little while.

Monte 6-6-08


There were parties
Birthday and such
Just so I can show you
We weren’t completely out of touch.

My Uncle mowed the big front yard
With the horse drawn mower
Cut the grass and weeds
Even mowed down Moms flowers.

He cut moms Peonies
As short as the grass
He cleaned up the yard
Mom decided to let it pass.

My Uncle set three tall posts
Deep into the ground
Tamped the dirt around them
So they would be strong and sound.

Around the tops of the posts
He wound a close-line wire tight
To hang lanterns on
When it got dark that night.

My two Aunts were visiting
Aunt Doris and Aunt Doe
Fresh up from Oklahoma
This was to be their show.

Mom and my Aunts
Spent the whole day cooking
Goodies for the party
While I stood there looking.

My job was to fill those kerosene lanterns
To hang up on that wire for light
For the fun and games
That would be played that night.

I called my Aunt Doe yesterday
And ask her to give me some names
Of the ones invited to the party
And names of the games.

I would have called Aunt Doris
But she’s gone on before
Things I could have asked her
About those days of yore.

Aunt Doe told me Raymond Buchanan, and Claire Dornbos
Were the only two she did recall
There were many others, guys and gals
Who came and had a ball.

She told me that
They played “Skip to My Lou”
Probably played Hide and seek
Like the little kids do.

As soon as it got dusk
The lanterns were aglow
They cast an eerie light
On the new mown grass below.

The lightening bugs
Were flying all around
Those pesky millers
Around the lanterns found.

I wanted to go to the party
But I heard instead
Monte go to your room
And get ready for bed.

I looked out the bedroom window
I saw Ray Buchanan and Claire
Coming across the yard
And join the party there.

My Aunt Doe told me that Claire
Said to her that night
“The Moon is shining bright
May I see you home tonight.”

This was a little strange
To be said by this guy
I always thought that Claire
Was just a little shy.

When I awoke in the morning
My Uncle was taking down the posts
I helped take in the cups and saucers
My Aunts helped the most.

Twenty girls and boys were there
I think it a rotten shame
I can only remember
A very few of their names.

My two Aunts
Doris and Doe
Ray and Claire
There are sixteen names to go.

The end of the party was
A big let down for me
I wanted it to continue on
For an eternity.

I could hear the laughter
Just before I fell asleep
Those are joyous sounds
That in my head I’ll forever keep.

That old farmhouse has seen
Lots of parties in its long life
It has seen good times
It’s seen its share of strife.

But as you know
The farmhouse, is no more indeed
That big front yard
Is only brush and weeds.

I went back to a class reunion, in 1994
I drove past the farm in Chelsea
For one last look
What I saw was sad for me.

Some ones parked a camping trailer
Close to the burned house, you see
I took one look
And left there hastily.

Monte Manka 09-03-2006

Three Bridges

Three are three bridges
I remember as a boy
That hold my thoughts of
Memories I enjoy.

As I drove past Chelsea Dist. No. 10
Between Holderman and Sontag farms on either side
The road was rough and graveled
It was a dusty ride

Suddenly there before you
Looming rather ominous
Was an old Iron Bridge
Covered in rust.

The Old Iron bridge
Would give you a thrill
As you crossed over the river
And started up the hill.

Those old planks
Would give you a shaky ride
As they rattled beneath you
Driving to the other side.

This bridge length was 200 feet
You could feel it shaking
As you crossed
Your nerves were quaking.

I called it the
Charlie Welty Bridge
His farm was just above it
High upon a ridge.

The shortest route
To get to “77” highway
You crossed this bridge
From over Chelsea Way.

Took this Bridge
Every week day morning
To go to El Dorado JC
To get some book learning

I crossed over the Old Iron Bridge
In my 35 Plymouth coupe
To pick up Dick Guinn
Every school day.

The bridge was replaced
After I graduated El Dorado JC
With one of concrete
Which means absolutely nothing to me.

When the Old Iron Bridge
Was taken away
I’ve never crossed another bridge
That equals it today. (Thank Goodness)

Monte L. Manka 07-17-2008

Bridge Number TWO

South of the Manka farm
Past Parson's lane
Was a low water bridge
That was impassable when it rained.

Whether a summer shower
Or a gully washer
Water flowed too deep
For anything to cross her.

When the creek was normal
Gently it flowed
Just beneath the concrete
And the sandy road.

You could safely sit on the six-inch curbs
And dangle your bare feet
Into the water
In Durachen creek

After a summer shower
A knock came at our door
I answered the knock
There stood before

Me was two city slickers
In their shiny pants and shoes
Wanted to speak to Dad
They had bad news.

The driver had tried to cross the bridge
The water was too high
Their car had drowned out
He stated with a sigh.

Just a minute City Slicker
I'll go get a chain
We'll get you out
With Dad's Hudson Terraplane

We proceeded down to the Bridge
The Slicker pulled off his shoes and socks
Waded out to his car
The driver's door he did unlock.

I waded out into the water
Pulling that log chain
Hooked it to his bumper
Then to the Terraplane

I slipped the clutch
To take up the slack in the chain
Pulled him out of the water
We just made it, it began to rain.

He offered to pay
But you never charged any man
When there was an emergency
And they needed a hand.

Seems I got in trouble
I had burned out the clutch
Pulling the water logged car up the grade
Really got me in Dutch.

That Low water bridge
Also is a thing of the past
Funny how something like that
Seems to last and last.

Monte Manka 07-18-08

Bridge Number Three

From Cogshell's heading south
The gravel road that ran
On the West Side of the Manka farm
Past the Haver place to Chelsea Dist. No 10

There was a cement bridge
Thirty foot above the Walnut River
Over which wheat and corn
Could safely be delivered

To the elevator
Down Chelsea way
Both of these are gone
As of today.

The two huge columns that were underneath the bridge
Deep down into the river mud
Would catch tree limbs and flotsam
Which was trapped when the Walnut would flood.

We would, sit on the Bridge abutments
With our rifles, Jay and I
And shoot at any water moccasin
That might be swimming by.

Those snapping turtles
Really caught heck
We always tried to
Shoot them in the neck.

The snapping turtles
On your baited hook would bite
And you'd break your line
When you pulled with all your might.

Someone had thrown
Some cans off the bridge below
Still in the wrapper
My little brother and I took them in tow

We took a nail
And a rock
Onto one can a hole
We did knock

The wine in the can did spew
All over our overalls so fine
We went to the house
Smelling like cheap wine.

When I was eighteen
This was where Jay and I could meet
Have a couple cold ones
And not get any heat.

From our parents
Who thought of us as too young kids
To imbibe in Alcoholic beverages
But we did.

Jay would call and say
You know where to meet
I'd jump in the Plymouth coupe
And wait there at the bridge for a cold treat.

We discussed lots of things
We really had a blast
My Buddy Jay and I
In our minds they'll forever last.

Monte L. Manka 07-19-07


The row of eight Cedars on the north of the house
Breaking the cold North winds in winter
Planted so close together
'Twas impossible to enter.

The Catalpas with their long green seed pods
Thousands of them hanging down
That Leslie and I pulled and used
To chase each other round and round.

The Weeping Mulberry in our front yard
That bore millions of berries sweet and black
That left a stain on your hands
If you picked them for a snack.

The fruit trees to the south of the house
Plums, Apples, Cherries, Peaches, and Plums they bore
For mom to can and make jelly
Into the cellar she did store.

The single Pear tree by the Chicken house
Where the Robins did nest
Such a pretty bird
With their big red breast.

The Black Walnut tree to the south of the house
Where we picked up nuts off the ground
Cracked them picked and saved the goodies
They were cookies bound.

The Lilacs when they bloomed in the summer
The flower smell so sweet
They were planted around the outhouse
To kill the odor in the heat.

The row of Hedge Apple trees
To the West Side of our farm
They formed a thorny fence
Those thorns could cause you harm.

The Black Walnut trees by the Walnut River
Some were cut down in WWII,
To make gunstocks for M1rifles
For our servicemen to use.

Who planted these trees?
In their perfect rows
Miles from any city
Who watched them grow?

At my age of six
These trees were fully-grown
Had to be planted in 1900
By persons unknown.

I'd like to shake the hand
Of the person with the foresight
To plant all these beautiful trees
For his and our delight.

My Uncle Ves bought this farm
Around 1910
Who was it that owned
This property then?

I guess I'll just be satisfied
Not worry about history.
And go on with my life
To live with this Tree mystery.

Monte L. Manka 08-15-2006

Eons ago

A couple things happened
Way back in 1950
Two very important things
That were pretty nifty

Bought a New Pontiac Sedan
From Angle Motors of El Dorado
Sun Visor, Fender skirts,
Even had a radio.

2400 dollars was the price
So for me to be thrifty
Made payments by the month
24 months at fifty.

The color was light blue
Cushy seats of Gray
Chrome trim galore
Four doors, and an ashtray.

The Indian Chief on the hood
Would light up at night.
I drove around town proudly
Oh that car-what a sight.

It had a straight eight engine
With Hydramatic Drive
To ride in that Chieftain Pontiac
Made you feel alive.

First payment not so bad
Second kinda hurt
Had to get car Insurance
Third was even worse.

I met a girl at a picnic
She’s from Russell, Kansas
Fell head over heels in love with her
Proposed and she said yes.

We were married, July the ninth
Another day in 1950
One I’ll cherish the most
This one also nifty.

Moved to El Dorado
With Shirley, my new wife
On to 222 North Star St.
We started a new life.

Mr. Claxton was asking
The rent per month was fifty
The apartment was furnished
With furniture from 1850.

Fifty here Fifty there
Now I’m in a bind
The only thing left to do
A job Shirley had to find.

She bailed me out
And saved, me, a silly BOOB
Many thanks I do owe her,
For not letting me go down the tube

On my days off, from work at Skelly refinery
I worked at Newachecks Paint and Glass
Hauled gas for Bertoncino, on Saturday
To keep the creditors off my a-- behind.

I look back at those hectic days
And wonder where I’d be
If I hadn’t met Shirley Jean
Someone who cared for me.

Stood by me through thick and thin
Through a Kansas Tornado
Through a California earthquake,
All the way from El Dorado.

1950 seems like so long ago
Well in fact it is
Fifty has changed to fifty-six
Years of martial bliss.

The word Fifty,
A word I love and also fear
For a lot of different things
That I hold so dear.

When you become a SENIOR
You can also look back
And remember a lot of things
That were outa Whack

Live for today, don’t worry
Tomorrow will come anyway
Yesterday is gone forever
In your young life you start another day. Monte Manka—05-25-06


After the sun sets
And the darkness sets in
Seek out that old rocking chair
And think about where you’ve been.

From a hungry baby
To a darling little brat
You head into your teens
Trying to figure where you’re at.

The first dance at the auditorium
I only went there to see
What the others were doing
Me dance? Not me.

If I was approached by some
Young lady asking me to dance
I’d hide my head
Afraid to take a chance.

Looked like fun and
I took that chance
Finally in my senior year
I asked a girl to dance.

I touched her only
On the shoulder and hand
While I stumbled to
The beat of the band.

Kinda got the hang
After one or two
Held her a little closer
Thought this thing to do.

Then there was an announcement
This will be the last dance, you see
I asked this girl if she would have this
Last dance with me?

After Graduation
Every Friday night
Would dance at the Loc Mor club,
Almost until daylight.

Many of my school friends
Came out to the Loc Mor dance-hall
I did my darndest to
Dance with them all.

Then there was an announcement
This will be the last dance, you see
I asked this girl if she would have this
Last dance with me?

I met Shirley the only one for me
She taught me how to dance
We’d jitterbug until late at night
This turned into a lasting romance.

We danced to Ray Anthony
With his Toy Trumpet, Clyde McCoy
Played “When the Saints come Marching In”
Everyone was marching and leading was Clyde McCoy

Shirley and I have danced up a storm
In dance halls some large some small
In every city that we were in
Shirley and I have had a ball

We don‘t dance anymore
We would certainly want to
But due to aches and pains
Some things we just don’t do.

Now I hope we can dance
From here to eternity
Shirley, will you
Save the last dance for me?

Monte Manka, 10-01-2006

Monte Manka can be reached at malamute@4malamute.com

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