Poem for 27 April 2005: Chicago

April 27th, 2005

Carl Sandburg

            Hog Butcher for the World,
            Tool Maker, 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
           have 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
            kill again.
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.
Flinging magnetic curses amid the toil of piling job on
            job, here is a tall bold slugger set vivid against the
            little soft cities;

Fierce as a dog with tongue lapping for action, cunning
            as a savage pitted against the wilderness,
                        Building, breaking, rebuilding,
Under the smoke, dust all over his mouth, laughing with
            white teeth,
Under the terrible burden of destiny laughing as a young
            man laughs,
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,
Laughing 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.

One way to Observe National Poetry month is to write a letter to the post office asking for more poet stamps.

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