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

131. Ralph Rhodes

ALL they said was true:

I wrecked my father’s bank with my loans

To dabble in wheat; but this was true—

I was buying wheat for him as well,

Who couldn’t margin the deal in his name

Because of his church relationship.

And while George Reece was serving his term

I chased the will-o’-the-wisp of women,

And the mockery of wine in New York.

It’s deathly to sicken of wine and women

When nothing else is left in life.

But suppose your head is gray, and bowed

On a table covered with acrid stubs

Of cigarettes and empty glasses,

And a knock is heard, and you know it’s the knock

So long drowned out by popping corks

And the pea-cock screams of demireps—

And you look up, and there’s your Theft,

Who waited until your head was gray,

And your heart skipped beats to say to you:

The game is ended. I’ve called for you,

Go out on Broadway and be run over,

They’ll ship you back to Spoon River.