Poetry of Kansas

A Print Shop Incident.

AN old typographical error__
One of the old-fashioned school__
      With the old-fashioned stagger,
      The stoop-shouldered swagger,
Sat there on the rickety stool.
He'd "hoofed it clean in from Salina,"
He said, with a make-believe cheer;
      But there rasped in his throat
      A corn-husky note,
    'Twas truly pathetic to hear.

So over we went to the Red-Light
To let the Rum Fiend do its worst;
      For an image of wood
      Most assuredly could
Not withstand such an eloquent thirst.
Some wandering Corsican minstrels
By the door played their plankety plinks;
      He heeded them not,
      But sped to the spot
    Where Cholly was doling the drinks.

Perhaps you have seen an ecstatic
Delirious bliss in the face
      Of a man who's in love,
      As he prances above
The low earthy joys of his race;
Perhaps you've seen pictures of halos
O'er transported features of saints;
      Or looked when she smiled
      In her sleep at a child
    For whom heaven's own artist paints.

Well, if you've seen such an expression
You've an idea then, like as not,
      How his face lighted up
      As he dropped the tin cup
When the liquor got down to the spot.
He rolled his eyes wistfully doorward;
With his hand wiped the liquor away,
      And said in a low,
      Quiet voice: "Let us go
   Out an' hear them 'ere eyetalics play."

The standard of morals was low then,
Before the descent of St. John;
      And a man got his rank
      From the size of his tank,
And the number of drinks he had on.
And so when I dream of a heaven,
I think of a place where they say:
      "That's the stuff; ain't it though ?
      Now come on an' le's go
   Out an' hear them dang eyetalics play."

__William Allen White.

Rhymes by Two Friends
Albert Bigelow Paine & William Allen White
(Fort Scott: M. L. Izor and Son. 1893)
Pages 181-183
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October 8, 2002 / John & Susan Howell / Wichita, Kansas / howell@kotn.org

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