Poetry of Kansas
 

Progress.

I have learned more than my
mother,
I can drive a better bargain than
my father,
I have struggled long and hard___I
have achieved something.
Listen:
 
    My father had tree tops full of
singing birds;
    I have chimneys full of soot.
    My father had gray mists on the
lowlands;
    I have black smoke over acres of
smudgy bottoms.
    My father heard a tinkling bell
    and smelled the breath of the
    cows;
    I hear the clang of the milk
wagon and smell gasoline.
    My father had a hired hand at
fifty cents a day and his
keep;
    When I need anything done I
have to pay $2.40 per hour,
    The Union scale.
    My mother had a neighbor girl
helping about the house,
    A dainty miss,
    Fit to go to church with her son;
    I have a slovenly alien slopping
about the flat,
    Quarreling with trades-people,
    Cursing the laundryman___
    Extremely wasteful,
    A high priestess of the garbage
can.
 
    My mother had clothes to suit the
season;
    I have a straw hat in January
and a fur hat in July.
    My mother had a path fringed
    with sweet alysum
    Winding to the springhouse;
    I have a dirty alley
    With a lot of tin cans,
    And one dead cat.
 
But listen:
    My parents were born to their
condition,
    My father to his cattle and his
hayfields,
    My mother to her lambs-wool
quilts,
    And her feather-beds;
    I have made my world,
    That is, I helped to,
    I had no hand in building the
    skyscrapers,
    But,___
    I poisoned the cat.

__Elizabeth N. Barr.

The High Winds of Home
Elizabeth N. Barr
(Olathe: privately published. 1922)
Page 20-22

 
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November 28, 2002 / John & Susan Howell / Wichita, Kansas / howell@kotn.org

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