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

52. Justice Arnett

IT is true, fellow citizens,

That my old docket lying there for years

On a shelf above my head and over

The seat of justice, I say it is true

That docket had an iron rim

Which gashed my baldness when it fell—

(Somehow I think it was shaken loose

By the heave of the air all over town

When the gasoline tank at the canning works

Blew up and burned Butch Weldy)—

But let us argue points in order,

And reason the whole case carefully:

First I concede my head was cut,

But second the frightful thing was this:

The leaves of the docket shot and showered

Around me like a deck of cards

In the hands of a sleight of hand performer.

And up to the end I saw those leaves

Till I said at last, “Those are not leaves,

Why, can’t you see they are days and days

And the days and days of seventy years?

And why do you torture me with leaves

And the little entries on them?”