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by Carl Sandburg, 1918

Wagon wheel gap is a place I never saw
 And Red Horse Gulch and the chutes of Cripple Creek.

 Red-shirted miners picking in the sluices,
 Gamblers with red neckties in the night streets,
 The fly-by-night towns of Bull Frog and Skiddoo,
 The night-cool limestone white of Death Valley,
 The straight drop of eight hundred feet
 From a shelf road in the Hasiampa Valley:
 Men and places they are I never saw.

 I have seen three White Horse taverns,
 One in Illinois, one in Pennsylvania,
 One in a timber-hid road of Wisconsin.

 I bought cheese and crackers
 Between sun showers in a place called White Pigeon
 Nestling with a blacksmith shop, a post-office,
 And a berry-crate factory, where four roads cross.

 On the Pecatonica River near Freeport
 I have seen boys run barefoot in the leaves
 Throwing clubs at the walnut trees
 In the yellow-and-gold of autumn,
 And there was a brown mash dry on the inside of their hands.
 On the Cedar Fork Creek of Knox County
 I know how the fingers of late October
 Loosen the hazel nuts.
 I know the brown eyes of half-open hulls.
 I know boys named Lindquist, Swanson, Hildebrand.
 I remember their cries when the nuts were ripe.
 And some are in machine shops; some are in the navy;
 And some are not on payrolls anywhere.
 Their mothers are through waiting for them to come home.

Published in Cornhuskers

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