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Edgar Lee Masters (1868–1950). Spoon River Anthology. 1916.

127. Eugene Carman

RHODES’ slave! Selling shoes and gingham,

Flour and bacon, overalls, clothing, all day long

For fourteen hours a day for three hundred and thirteen days

For more than twenty years.

Saying “Yes’m” and “Yes, sir” and “Thank you”

A thousand times a day, and all for fifty dollars a month.

Living in this stinking room in the rattle-trap “Commercial.”

And compelled to go to Sunday School, and to listen

To the Rev. Abner Peet one hundred and four times a year

For more than an hour at a time,

Because Thomas Rhodes ran the church

As well as the store and the bank.

So while I was tying my neck-tie that morning

I suddenly saw myself in the glass:

My hair all gray, my face like a sodden pie.

So I cursed and cursed: You damned old thing!

You cowardly dog! You rotten pauper!

You Rhodes’ slave! Till Roger Baughman

Thought I was having a fight with some one,

And looked through the transom just in time

To see me fall on the floor in a heap

From a broken vein in my head.