Poetry of Kansas

Wasted Opportunities

When I was but a little lad
I used to hate to hear my Dad,
Who oft would break upon my snores
With some remark about the chores,
Would bid me rise and cuff the mule
Before 'twas time to go to school.
To hear that word would make me squirm,
It was a most unwelcome term;
I longed to see the day appear
When I should reach my major year,
When all my school days would be o'er
And dreary lessons come no more.
While others wrote upon the board:
"The pen is greater than the sword,"
"The golden hours we must not waste
But seize the moments as they haste
Along the fleeting shores of time,"
Upon the seat I used to climb
And slap a gob of yellow mud
Against the ceiling with a thud.
And when the teacher's back was turned
I let my lessons go unlearned
And when she called us to recite
And tell the cause of day and night,
Or figure out how many cents
It took to build a yard of fence,
Or parse a noun or spell a word
I always blundered most absurd.
But I have seen the world since then
And met with educated men
Who wear their gold encircled specs
And pay their bills with mammoth checks
And own an interest in the bank;
While I, with stomach weak and lank,
Still wonder where I'll get the cash
To buy myself a plate of hash.
O, barefoot boy, with cheek of tan,
Improve the moments while you can
And fritter not the hours away,
But learn your lessons well each day.
For if you grit you teeth and try
Success will greet you by and by.

Verdigris Valley Verse
Albert Stroud
(Coffeyville, Kansas: The Journal Press. 1917)
Pages 50-51

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June 21, 2003 / John & Susan Howell / Wichita, Kansas / howell@kotn.org

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