Poetry of Kansas

In the Caboose.

"Train delayed? and what's to say?"
"Blocked by last night's snow they say."
Seven hours or so to wait;
Well, that's pleasant! but there's the freight.
Depot loafing no one fancies,
We'll try the caboose and take our chances.
Cool this morning in Watertown,
Somewhat frosty___mercury down;
Enter caboose___roaring fire,
With never an air-hole; heat so dire
That we shrivel and pant; we are roasted through-
Outside, thermometer thirty-two.
We start with a jerk and suddenly stop.
"What's broke?" says one; another "What's up?",
"Oh, nothing," they answer, "That's our way:
You must stand the jerking, sorry to say."
We "stand it" with oft this painful thought:
Are our heads on yet, or are they not?
Comrades in misery___let me see;
Girl like a statue opposite me;
Back and forth the others jostle___
She never winks, nor moves a muscle;
See her, as she sits there now;
She's "well balanced," anyhow.
Woman in trouble, tearful eyes,
Sits by the window, softly cries,
Pity___for griefs we may not know,
For breasts that ache, for tears that flow,
Though we know not why. Her eyelids red
Tell a sorrowful tale___some hope is dead.
Man who follows the Golden Rule,
And lends his papers___a pocket full,
Has a blank book___once in a minute
Has an idea, and writes it in it.
Guess him? Yes, of course I can,
He's a___well___a newspaper man.
Blue-eyed fairy, wrapped in fur;
Sweet young mother tending her.
Fairy thinks it's "awful far,"
Wants to get off this "naughty car."
So do we, young golden-hair;
All this crowd are with you there!

__Ellen P. Allerton.

Walls of Corn and Other Poems
Ellen P. Allerton
(Hiawatha, KS: Harrington Printing Company. 1894)
Pages 177-178

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February 18, 2003 / John & Susan Howell / Wichita, Kansas / howell@kotn.org

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