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

215. Plymouth Rock Joe

WHY are you running so fast hither and thither

Chasing midges or butterflies?

Some of you are standing solemnly scratching for grubs;

Some of you are waiting for corn to be scattered.

This is life, is it?

Cock-a-doodle-do! Very well, Thomas Rhodes,

You are cock of the walk no doubt.

But here comes Elliott Hawkins,

Gluck, Gluck, Gluck, attracting political followers.

Quah! quah! quah! why so poetical, Minerva,

This gray morning?

Kittie—quah—quah! for shame, Lucius Atherton,

The raucous squawk you evoked from the throat

Of Aner Clute will be taken up later

By Mrs. Benjamin Pantier as a cry

Of votes for women: Ka dook—dook!

What inspiration has come to you, Margaret Fuller Slack?

And why does your gooseberry eye

Flit so liquidly, Tennessee Claflin Shope?

Are you trying to fathom the esotericism of an egg?

Your voice is very metallic this morning, Hortense Robbins—

Almost like a guinea hen’s!

Quah! That was a guttural sigh, Isaiah Beethoven;

Did you see the shadow of the hawk,

Or did you step upon the drumsticks

Which the cook threw out this morning?

Be chivalric, heroic, or aspiring,

Metaphysical, religious, or rebellious,

You shall never get out of the barnyard

Except by way of over the fence

Mixed with potato peelings and such into the trough!