Carolina Chansons eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 83 pages of information about Carolina Chansons.

    I saw Joe’s eyes, and knew he’d never go. 
    Not Joe, the swiftest hand in River Bow! 
    Springing from where he sat, straight, cleanly made,
    He soared, a leaping shadow from the shade
    With fifty feet to go. 
    It was the stiffest hand he ever played. 
    To win the corner meant
    Deep, sweet content
    Among his laughing kind;
    To lose, to suffer blind,
    Degrading slavery upon “the gang,”
    With killing suns, and fever-ridden nights
    Behind relentless bars
    Of prison cars.

    He hung a breathless second in the sun,
    The staring road before him.  Then, like one
    Who stakes his all, and has a gamester’s heart,
    His laughter flashed. 
    He lunged—­I gave a start. 
    God!  What a man! 
    The massive shoulders hunched, and as he ran
    With head bent low, and splendid length of limb,
    I almost felt the beat
    Of passionate life that surged in him
    And winged his spurning feet.

    And then my eyes went dim. 
    The Marshal’s gun was out. 
    I saw the grim
    Short barrel, and his face
    Aflame with the excitement of the chase. 
    He was an honest sportsman, as they go. 
    He never shot a doe,
    Or spotted fawn,
    Or partridge on the ground. 
    And, as for Joe,
    He’d wait until he had a yard to go. 
    Then, if he missed, he’d laugh and call it square. 
    My gaze leapt to the corner—­waited there. 
    And now an arm would reach it.  I saw hope flare
    Across the runner’s face.

    Then, like a pang
    In my own heart,
    The pistol rang.

    The form I watched soared forward, spun the curve. 
    “By God, you’ve missed!”
    The Marshal shook his head. 
    No, there he lay, face downward in the road. 
    “I reckon he was dead
    Before he hit the ground,”
    The Marshal said. 
    “Just once, at fifty feet,
    A moving target too. 
    That’s just about as good
    As any man could do! 
    A little tough;
    But, since he ran,
    I call it fair enough.”

    He mopped his head, and started down the road. 
    The silence eddied round him, turned and flowed
    Slowly back and pressed against the ears. 
    Until unnumbered flies set it to droning,
    And, down the heat, I heard a woman moaning.


[7] “Contemporary Verse,” prize poem for 1921.


    Once melodies of street-cries washed these walls,
    Glad as the refluent song
    Of cheerful waters from a happy spring
    That shout their way along;
    Such cries were born in other days from lips
    A spirit taught to sing.  Now it is gone!

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Carolina Chansons from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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