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

22. “Indignation” Jones

YOU would not believe, would you,

That I came from good Welsh stock?

That I was purer blooded than the white trash here?

And of more direct lineage than the New Englanders

And Virginians of Spoon River?

You would not believe that I had been to school

And read some books.

You saw me only as a run-down man,

With matted hair and beard

And ragged clothes.

Sometimes a man’s life turns into a cancer

From being bruised and continually bruised,

And swells into a purplish mass,

Like growths on stalks of corn.

Here was I, a carpenter, mired in a bog of life

Into which I walked, thinking it was a meadow,

With a slattern for a wife, and poor Minerva, my daughter,

Whom you tormented and drove to death.

So I crept, crept, like a snail through the days

Of my life.

No more you hear my footsteps in the morning,

Resounding on the hollow sidewalk,

Going to the grocery store for a little corn meal

And a nickel’s worth of bacon.