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FACETIOUS

MOTHER'S HAND WAS HOT

I don't believe in hypnotists nor am I much inclined
To bank on certain people who manipulate your mind
I view the Christian Scientists who cure my broken arm
By bidding me "forget it" with a certain vague alarm
Electricity and magic are not patronized by me
And I flee a "mental healer" with extreme alacrity.
But there are certain methods that my sure respect commands
When I think how mother cured me by the "laying on of hands."
For mother's hands were slender but a most peculiar might
Lay in their application and they fitted very tight.
My "errors" and "delusions" they were smoked out on the spot,
They vanished in a flame of fire for mother's hand was hot.

There are certain tho'ts and principles, no doubt, that do you good,

And troubles oft may be allayed by Christian fortitude,
But it's wise to call the doctor when you have a colic pain
But I don't believe those people who declare it's all your brain
That when you're tied up kinky in a double twisted knot
You've only got to think you're right and be so on the spot.
I'm fain to take those people with their "thinks" and praying bands,
And cure them as my ma cured me by "laying on of hands."






SALLY'S IN THE HIGH SCHOOL

Oh, wife get out the stocking that you've safely stowed away
We've got ter spend the ready mon before the close of day.
With some proper scalloped aprons you will have to chirk a bit
And I'll wear a paper collar like I had been used to it.
I know the thing will choke me, but I'll stand it with a smile
For Sally's in the High School and we've got ter put on style.

I'll have to mend that back yard fence and keep them shoats to hum,

No use to shame the daughter when the high-toned callers come,
For the deacon's daughter surely and the parson's son maybe
Will be comin' home with Sally like she's in society.
I'll hev to put shoe blackin' on them cowhides I suppose
Fer Sally's in the High School and we've got ter sport the clo'es.

And so get out the stockin' and go down into it deep

I allers bow ter intellect and Sally's got a heap.
She's learnin' latin, algebra, and all them kind of things
That the wall-eyed, pointed whiskered, up ter date, professor slings.
Oh, there's money in the stockin' an' 'twill hold us fer awhile
Fer Sally's in the High School and we've got ter put on style.






THE OIL OF BIRCH

The old red schoolhouse stands there still,
Tucked up beside the church;
And there beside it on the hill,
Grows still the old white birch.
Today it grows in very truth,
With branches broad and tall,
But in our days of callow youth,
It grew not large but small.

Though struggling hard its life to save,

Ill luck still on it fell,
As inch by inch dame Nature gave,
The Master took an ell;
And passing strange, by hook and crook,
Each day it would befall,
However much the master took
Ere night we got it all.

O, oil of birch, keen oil of birch,

How pungent was thine essence,
As in the schoolhouse by the church,
We warmed us in thy presence.
Nor little reeked how after years,
Engraved on life's diploma,
We'd view with smiles the marks of tears,
Distilled with thine aroma.

No more those doors the children seek,

No tinkling schoolbell calls,
Nor master's voice from week to week
Resounds within the walls.
Yet we, old friends, would like full well
Our copybooks to smirch,
To sit those well-worn seats and smell
Once more that oil of birch.






THE POET'S RECIPE

If you're fain to write a poem that will all the world beguile
You should use homespun material, a sad bucolic smile,
For the man who smiles in wood and field o'er joys he never had
Is the one whose lucubrations make the world serenely glad.
Then embroider it with wisdom from its head unto its feet
And let the wisdom take the form of very quaint conceit,
Though if you haven't wisdom "something just as good" will do
So long as with the quaint conceit you've soaked it through and through.

Begin it with a reference to palmy days of yore,

To friends who've emigrated to that other distant shore,
No matter if the palmy days you never really had,
In the poem you should miss them and feel very, very sad.
No matter if the friends all live, and urgently bemoan
The absence of those dollars that they once to you did loan,
Ring obituaries on them, and call up lone futureyears
With one hand on the garden hose, fount of poetic tears.

Add to these a dash of humor, very sparingly applied,

A swimming hole, a one hoss shay, perhaps a groom and bride,
Better have an ancient homestead with a mother true and fond.
A father stern who shooed you, young, out into the beyond.
Mention that you long to see them in the cottage old and brown
(Though you wouldn't leave the city for a thousand ducats, down.)
Watch out upon your humor that it brief though bright appears,
And don't for all the world forget that little clash of tears.

That's the recipe successful; if you've got to come acrost,

I refer to Whitcomb Riley, Eugene Field and Robert Frost.
They've pointed out the primrose path where poet rhymes with pelf,
If you'll use your feet as they do you can walk in it yourself.





THE CAPTIVE RHYME

There was a little laughing rhyme
     In at my window flew,
A creature born of bright Springtime,
     While yet the Spring was new.

And round my head, in elfin flight

     It danced, just out of reach,
Defying my attempts to write
     Its motion into speech.

The Jonquils of the early Spring

     Were lilies in July;
I had not caught the fleeting thing,
     Though still it danced near by.

The Autumn's line of hazy hill

     With Winter's breath grew bold;
All trembling in the Winter's chill
     The little rhyme was cold.

Frozen in ink, all touched with rime,

     No more away it fled;
The dancing thought of Summer time
     Was mine,—but it was dead.






THE VAGRANT THOUGHT

There was a thought, a happy thought,
     Danced by in sermon time;
A moment I its laughter caught
     Entangled in a rhyme.

And had it not been sermon time,

     And mine the last front pew,
I had writ down its merry chime
     Before away it flew.

How could I brave the parson's mien,

     The congregation's stare?
Or dare the choir, that on the scene
     Looked with observant air?
Too late the benediction fell
     On my impatient pen,
The happy thought, in rhythmic spell,
     Danced off with the amen.





CIRCUMSTANCES ALTER KISSES

The Parson and the Deacon went to ride one summer's day,
(I tell the story as 'twas told to me)
And as they passed a pleasant inn beside the shady way
The Parson to the Deacon said, said he;

" 'Tis many years since last I stopped at that fair hostelry,

(The years go gliding past so short is life)
And yet the sight of it brings up some pleasant thoughts to me,
For when last there I kissed the landlord's wife."

The Deacon from the carriage sprang in sorrow most intense,

(The Deacon was the most upright of men)
But the Parson smiling said to him, "I pray take no offence,
There's nothing wrong—I was the landlord then."







Adolphe Smythe wrote for magazines
But lest his friends the fact should guess,
He kept incognito by means
Of signature of plain A. S.

But when he read his verses o'er,

He realized, misguided youth!
What wiser men had seen before;
He had but signed two thirds the truth.






CHACUN A SON FLUE

There's an English story that I've been told,
How the Frenchman fought with the Englishman bold,
They had pistols twain and the room was dark
And the Englishman shot up the flue, for a lark,
But viewed the result with a horrified frown
When he heard the Frenchman come tumbling down.

Now if you've travelled you'll see at a glance

That that is a story they tell in France,
Though there it varies as stories do,
For they shoot the Englishman out of the flue.







DREAM GARDENS

Turn the pages with loving care,
Here where the winter firelight glows;
Kaiser-kroons through the grate bars flare;
Each coal's heart is a garden rose;
Every beautiful thing that grows
Flourishes grandly; we're all agog,
Tending them eagerly, rows on rows,
Here in the seedsman's catalog.

Strawberries fruiting from spring till fall,

Six inch berries, all dewy sweet;
Wonderful melons, each four foot ball
Fit to lay at a prince's feet;
Melting with lusciousness all replete.
Isn't a farmer a lucky dog?
Here is a three-ton, half-mile beet—
Grown in the seedsman's catalog.

Flowers for the grandma's garden too,

Stocks and phlox of enormous size;
Violets of most heavenly blue;
Nothing like them, except her eyes;
Hollyhocks—it's a great surprise—
Twenty feet tall or we've slipped a cog!
Picture shows it and none denies,
Here in the seedsman's catalog.


L'Envoi

Prince; there be dreams where prodigious deeds

Do themselves in a rose-pink fog;
Here you have them; nor blight nor weeds
Grow in the seedsman's catalog.







UNWILLING FATE

The maiden worked a magic spell
And still the murmured words I caught
As one by one she conned them well
"He loves me," and, "he loves me not."

" 'Twas morn and then 'twas dewy eve,

'Twas dewy eve and morn once more,
And still she sought the charm to weave
And crooned its burden o'er and o'er.
Nor yet the last fair petal fell
When joy should thrill or pain be dumb,
For oh! she chose, her fate to tell,
A modern prize chrysanthemum.







A GOOD ROADS TEXT

Don't think the motorist depraved
Because he vehemently mentions
Like streets of Hades ours are paved
Mainly with good intentions.

Nor think his piety a sham

Who says in words inflammable
That where they should be macadam
They're simply macadamnable.







THEATRICAL

Six nights a week and two matinees
Jim Jones insisted on seeing plays.
'Twas a ruling passion, strong with Jim,
And the last new plot was the one for him,
And if per chance 'twas a bit risqué
It suited; he liked 'em best that way.

The good die young, and so did Jim,

But a play with a moral was what did him,
And he's buried now; death at each door knocks,
But it couldn't change Jim a bit;
They started him off in his private box
But folks who knew him are betting their rocks
That Jim's in the pit.







MY LADY'S SLEEVES

My Lady's sleeves; how large they grow
With quaint and curious furbelow,
And ever swelling full and wide,
In filmy clouds of muslin hide
From shoulder top to round elbow
My Lady's arms. Like clouds they go
Sweeping to left and right, but oh!
I find no room to sit beside,
My Lady's sleeves.

Ah, Fashion! still to love a foe,

Your mandate stern has wrought this woe;
Within arm's reach I may not bide;
What wonder then that I deride
In all their soft voluminous flow
My Lady's sleeves.







ONE HE SLIPPED UP ON
Hic Haec Hock
(With apologies to the Latin grammar.)

Mark the soft falling snow!

Winter is here;
Sweet sleigh bells jingling go,
Laughter sounds clear,
Falls the snow soft and nice;
So do I—on the ice.

Flakes round the corner fly,

Gently they float,
So to my uncle I,
For my fur coat;
Ah! Who shall count the cost
Now that the ticket's lost?

Mark the diffusive rain

Make the snow wilt!
On that wet ice again
Down we are spilt,
And the redeemed fur cloak
Once more is "put in soak."







AN OLD STORY—TO HER
(1880)

When first I kissed sweet Chloe
Sweet Chloe fair and tall,
'Twas underneath a chestnut tree
And well do I recall
When first I kissed sweet Chloe
I heard a chestnut fall.

She lifted up reproachful eyes,

Love's privilege provoking
And said with accent of surprise
"Why, George! You have been smoking."
"And, oh!" I thought, "I'm fairly caught
There is no use in joking."

I proved it to her once again;

That chance, we've all embraced it,
And when it flies from sapphire eyes
Who'd be the fool to waste it?
"I know," she said, with nodding head;
"For I can always taste it."

I did opine her first kiss mine

Or I my suit had pressed not,
But with that pout her lips let out
A fact that I had guessed not
That lips and pipe and kisses ripe
To her each was a chestnut.

"Well, yes, it was cold," said Peary,

"But I didn't mind that at all,
Why I suffered more from exposure
Last night, at the charity ball."




"Well, yes, it was cold," said Peary,

"But I didn't mind that at all,
Why I suffered more from exposure
Last night, at the charity ball."



YOU BET!

Oh, Money makes the mare go
A wise man's son has said it's so,
But if upon the track she's slow
It's the Mare that makes the money go.







WHY THEY WERE SAD

The boy and the poet walked hand in hand
Along through the orchard by breezes blown,
And the poet sighed; "Who can understand
Why the trees thus softly moan?"

And the boy replied with certain tone

And the air of one who the subject grapples;
"I think I know why the fruit trees moan;
They're full of wind and green apples."






THE TEA CADDY

The fat man who has to get down on his knees
     Making tees, will agree with your daddy,
Tho' he's not a frequenter of afternoon teas
That the kind of a caddy most likely to please
     Is the sort you can call a tee caddy.







THE GIRL IN THE NEXT FRONT PEW

I sat in church and the parson prayed
     And preached in his earnest way,
But what was his text or the words he said
     Indeed I cannot say.
And I know such an action was very wrong
     And a sinful thing to do.
But I sat and gazed the whole sermon long
     At the girl in the next front pew.

It was not that her form was a perfect cast

     In the mould of beauty wrought,
For such—in church—I have often passed
     Nor given a second thought;
It was not that her dress was in perfect taste
     From the ribbon that held her hat
To the pliant curve of her slender waist,
     Though the envious pew hid that.

It was not that her throat was white and clear

     Nor yet that her thick dark hair
Half hid, yet revealed a shell-pink ear
     And a cheek that was round and fair;
It was not any of these, or all,
     That blocked my wandering eye
And made me deaf to the parson's call,
     But—well, I will tell you why:—
'Twas her hat whose plumes in a mighty throng
     Hid the whole round world from view,
And I had to gaze the whole sermon long
     At the girl in the next front pew.

Now all young men who hear this song

     Take heed by a tale of woe;
Don't take a back seat, but pass along
     And sit in the first front row,
And then of the sermon you'll have no doubt,
     And can hear the choir and all that,
For the whole wide world won't be blotted out
     By just one girl and a hat.




WHAT HE'D DO

"And what will you do," the preacher said;
"O, sinner that you are,
What will you do when we all are dead,
At the judgment bar?"

And the sleepy drunkard roused him up,
And said with jovial blink;
"Though I (hic) am dead, when I come to the bar,
I'll buy me a drink."




TO MY CYCLOMETER

When I my wheel did first bestride
Mid theories' wild jumbles
You ticked the miles I didn't ride;
Say, did you count the tumbles?

No. Shuddering not at my wild work,

Through all that course erratic
You calmly sat by the front fork,
Intent and mathematic.

You did not note that first glad thrill

When, by the thought directed,
The wheel obedient to the will
Went just the way expected.

Nor did you feel your soul expire

When, to the laugh of ladies,
I wildly plunged across the tire
To mud as deep as Hades.

Not so. As by the meads I glide

And flirt with Kate the whiles,
In calm indifference you bide
And tabulate the miles.

Go to! Your actions cause me pain;

When we would fain deny it
You marked the miles I rode with Jane
Then stood where Kate would spy it.

There! Now I'm glad; although a fall

Few people would find grace in.
I do not mind the bumps at all;
At least I've poked your face in.





AWHEEL AWHILE

"Oh, whither away on your steed so gay
With his ribs of shining steel,
And why do you wait at our modest gate
And suddenly leave your wheel?"
The maiden cried; "Give o'er your pride,
And one soft answer deign,
What is it you seek in the road way bleak
As you wildly scour the plain?"

And the novice replied as he softly sighed

With a smile that was lacking in mirth;
"I haven't exactly been scouring the plain,"
(He brushed his trousers with gesture of pain.)
"I've been wiping up the earth."




EVOLUTION

Of old the lyre had many strings,
And sweet Euterpe played upon it,
While Cupid sat with folded wings
And wrote a sonnet.
Poor jilted Pan with cloven foot,
Whose love she sought for but to scorn it,
Captured the throbbing lyre and put
A head upon it.
Brought back by Love with flying wings,
Nought would it yield save a fandango,
So on its five remaining strings
She played the banjo.
Euterpe dwells in every town,
From Oregon to far Atlanta,
Though now she wears a modern gown,
(It once was scanter.)
And on the air at evening rings
The tinkling of the gay fandango,
As on the five remaining strings
She plays the banjo.




TO A BOTANIST

With Indian Pipe Blooms
It is St. Valentine, his day,
When every poet pipes a lay,
But I, with me rhymes never stay
Till they be ripe,
So I, who may not pipe a lay,
Here lay a pipe.

Let incense to the good saint float

From pipe of briar wood remote,
Let meerschaum blush from pearl to cream
Thrilled by the weed's enchanting dream,
They're not your type;
For he who spends the day's long hours
In wooing sweet and simple flowers
Should smoke an Indian Pipe.
And lest you lack a smoker's bliss
And in tobacco may not soak ft,
Here is my halting rhyme, put this
In your Indian Pipe and smoke it.




AT BOWLS

When I with my fair lady play at bowls
The long years fall away like well struck pins;
Fair through their centre all her witchery rolls
And all go down ere scarce the game begins;

Ten years?—Ten pins, that the grim marker, Time,

Has set in Life's fair alley in a row;
How well remembrance, bowling with a rhyme,
Can sweep them from it at a single blow.



PUSSY WILLOW

I could not find the willow blooms,
No birch its tassels fair supplied,
Beside the brook the alder blooms
Their catkins brown denied.

I said, "The spring has fallen flat,

Its tender blossoms do not thrive."
And then—I found our lady cat
And she had catkins five.

For, oh, some heart shall find the spring

And feel its gentle thrill, oh,
If May will not the catkins bring
No doubt the pussy will, oh.

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