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by Carl Sandburg, 1920

I am singing to you
 Soft as a man with a dead child speaks;
 Hard as a man in handcuffs,
 Held where he cannot move:

   Under the sun
 Are sixteen million men,
 Chosen for shining teeth,
 Sharp eyes, hard legs,
 And a running of young warm blood in their wrists.

   And a red juice runs on the green grass;
 And a red juice soaks the dark soil.
 And the sixteen million are killing... and killing and killing.

   I never forget them day or night:
 They beat on my head for memory of them;
 They pound on my heart and I cry back to them,
 To their homes and women, dreams and games.

   I wake in the night and smell the trenches,
 And hear the low stir of sleepers in lines—
 Sixteen million sleepers and pickets in the dark:
 Some of them long sleepers for always,

 Some of them tumbling to sleep to-morrow for always,
 Fixed in the drag of the world’s heartbreak,
 Eating and drinking, toiling... on a long job of killing.
   Sixteen million men.

Published in Chicago Poems
Published in Smoke and Steel

Any corrections or public domain poems I should have here? Email me at poems (at) this domain.