Carl Sandburg

Aprons of Silence

Many things I might have said today. 
And I kept my mouth shut.
So many times I was asked 
To come and say the same things 
Everybody was saying, no end
    To the yes-yes, yes-yes,     
        me-too, me-too.

The aprons of silence covered me. 
A wire and hatch held my tongue. 
I spit nails into an abyss and listened. 
I shut off the gabble of Jones, Johnson, Smith, 
All whose names take pages in the city directory.

I fixed up a padded cell and lugged it around. 
I locked myself in and nobody knew it. 
Only the keeper and the kept in the hoosegow 
Knew it--on the streets, in the post office, 
On the cars, into the railroad station 
Where the caller was calling, "All a-board, 
All a-board for . . . Blaa-blaa . . . Blaa-blaa, 
Blaa-blaa . . . and all points northwest . . .all a-board."
Here I took along my own hoosegow 
And did business with my own thoughts. 
Do you see? It must be the aprons of silence.