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Justice Arnett

by Edgar Lee Masters, 1916

It is true, fellow citizens,
 That my old docket lying there for years
 On a shelf above my head and over
 The seat of justice, I say it is true
 That docket had an iron rim
 Which gashed my baldness when it fell—
 (Somehow I think it was shaken loose
 By the heave of the air all over town
 When the gasoline tank at the canning works
 Blew up and burned Butch Weldy)—
 But let us argue points in order,
 And reason the whole case carefully:
 First I concede my head was cut,
 But second the frightful thing was this:
 The leaves of the docket shot and showered
 Around me like a deck of cards
 In the hands of a sleight of hand performer.
 And up to the end I saw those leaves
 Till I said at last, "Those are not leaves,
 Why, can't you see they are days and days
 And the days and days of seventy years?
 And why do you torture me with leaves
 And the little entries on them?"

Published in Spoon River Anthology

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