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Memoir of a Proud Boy

by Carl Sandburg, 1918

He lived on the wings of storm.
 The ashes are in Chihuahua.

 Out of Ludlow and coal towns in Colorado
 Sprang a vengeance of Slav miners, Italians, Scots, Cornishmen, Yanks.
 Killings ran under the spoken commands of this boy
 With eighty men and rifles on a hogback mountain.

 They killed swearing to remember
 The shot and charred wives and children
 In the burnt camp of Ludlow,
 And Louis Tikas, the laughing Greek,
 Plugged with a bullet, clubbed with a gun butt.

 As a home war
 It held the nation a week
 And one or two million men stood together
 And swore by the retribution of steel.

 It was all accidental.
 He lived flecking lint off coat lapels
 Of men he talked with.
 He kissed the miners’ babies
 And wrote a Denver paper
 Of picket silhouettes on a mountain line.

 He had no mother but Mother Jones
 Crying from a jail window of Trinidad:
 “All I want is room enough to stand
 And shake my fist at the enemies of the human race.”

 Named by a grand jury as a murderer
 He went to Chihuahua, forgot his old Scotch name,
 Smoked cheroots with Pancho Villa
 And wrote letters of Villa as a rock of the people.

 How can I tell how Don Magregor went?

 Three riders emptied lead into him.
 He lay on the main street of an inland town.
 A boy sat near all day throwing stones
 To keep pigs away.

 The Villa men buried him in a pit
 With twenty Carranzistas.

 There is drama in that point...
...the boy and the pigs.
 Griffith would make a movie of it to fetch sobs.
 Victor Herbert would have the drums whirr
 In a weave with a high fiddle-string’s single clamor.

 “And the muchacho sat there all day throwing stones
 To keep the pigs away,” wrote Gibbons to the Tribune.

 Somewhere in Chihuahua or Colorado
 Is a leather bag of poems and short stories.

Published in Cornhuskers

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