HOG Butcher for the World,
Stacker of Wheat,
Player with Railroads and the Nation's Freight Handler;
Stormy, husky, brawling,
City of the Big Shoulders:
They tell me you are wicked and I believe them, for I
seen your painted women under the gas lamps
luring the farm boys.
And they tell me you are
crooked and I answer: Yes, it
is true I have seen the gunman kill and go free to
And they tell me you are brutal and my reply is: On the
faces of women and children
I have seen the marks
of wanton hunger.
And having answered so I turn once more to those who
sneer at this my city, and I give them back the sneer
and say to them:
Come and show me another
city with lifted head singing
so proud to be alive and coarse and strong and cunning.
magnetic curses amid the toil of piling job on
job, here is a tall bold slugger set vivid against
little soft cities;
Fierce as a dog with tongue lapping for action, cunning
a savage pitted against the wilderness,
Building, breaking, rebuilding,
Under the smoke, dust
all over his mouth, laughing with
Under the terrible burden of destiny laughing
as a young
Laughing even as an ignorant fighter laughs who has
never lost a battle,
Bragging and laughing that under his wrist is the pulse.
and under his
ribs the heart of the people,
the stormy, husky, brawling laughter of
Youth, half-naked, sweating, proud to be Hog
Butcher, Tool Maker, Stacker of Wheat, Player with
Railroads and Freight Handler to the Nation.
is where numbers fly like pigeons in and out of your
Arithmetic tell you how many you
lose or win if you know how
many you had before you lost or won.
Arithmetic is seven eleven
all good children go to heaven -- or five
six bundle of sticks.
Arithmetic is numbers you squeeze
from your head to your hand
to your pencil to your paper till you get the answer.
is where the answer is right and everything is nice and
you can look out of the window and see
the blue sky -- or the
answer is wrong and you have to start all over and try again
see how it comes out this time.
If you take a number and double it and double it again and then
it a few more times, the number gets bigger and bigger
and goes higher and higher and only arithmetic
can tell you
what the number is when you decide to quit doubling.
Arithmetic is where you have
to multiply -- and you carry the
multiplication table in your head and hope you won't lose it.
you have two animal crackers, one good and one bad, and you
eat one and a striped zebra with streaks
all over him eats the
other, how many animal crackers will you have if somebody
you five six seven and you say No no no and you say
Nay nay nay and you say Nix nix nix?
you ask your mother for one fried egg for breakfast and she
gives you two fried eggs and you eat
both of them, who is
better in arithmetic, you or your mother?
single clenched fist lifted and ready,
Or the open asking hand held out and waiting.
we meet by one or the other.
on little cat feet.
It sits looking
over harbor and city
on silent haunches
and then moves on.
I am singing
Soft as a man with a dead child speaks;
Hard as a man in handcuffs,
Held where he cannot move:
Are sixteen million men,
Chosen for shining teeth,
Sharp eyes, hard legs,
And a running of young warm blood
in their wrists.
And a red juice runs on the green grass;
And a red juice soaks the dark soil.
And the sixteen million
are killing. . . and killing
I never forget them day or night:
They beat on my head for memory of them;
pound on my heart and I cry back to them,
To their homes and women, dreams and games.
I wake in the night and smell
And hear the low stir of sleepers in lines
Sixteen million sleepers and pickets in the dark:
them long sleepers for always,
Some of them tumbling to sleep to-morrow for always,
Fixed in the drag of the world's
Eating and drinking, toiling. . . on a long job of killing.
Sixteen million men.
an ice handler who wears a flannel shirt with
pearl buttons the size of a dollar,
And he lugs
a hundred-pound hunk into a saloon ice-
box, helps himself to cold ham and rye bread,
the bartender it's hotter than yesterday and will be
hotter yet to-morrow, by Jesus,
on his way with his head in the air and a hard
pair of fists.
He spends a dollar or so every
Saturday night on a two
hundred pound woman who washes dishes in the
He remembers when the union was organized he broke
the noses of two scabs and
loosened the nuts so the
wheels came off six different wagons one morning,
and he came around and watched the ice melt in the
All he was sorry for was one of
the scabs bit him on the
knuckles of the right hand so they bled when he
came around to the saloon to tell the boys about it.
All night long on the lake
Where fog trails and mist creeps,
The whistle of a boat
Calls and cries unendingly,
some lost child
In tears and trouble
Hunting the harbor's breast
And the harbor's eyes.
bodies high at Austerlitz and Waterloo.
Shovel them under and let me work--
am the grass; I cover all.
And pile them high at Gettysburg
And pile them high at Ypres and Verdun.
Shovel them under
and let me work.
Two years, ten years, and the passengers ask the conductor:
place is this?
Where are we now?
am the grass.
Let me work.