Memoir of a Proud Boy

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Cornhuskers by Carl Sandburg
Memoir of a Proud Boy
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MEMOIR OF A PROUD BOY

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.