Carl Sandburg

Memoir of a Proud Boy

He lived on the wings of storm.	
The ashes are in Chihuahua.	
Out of Ludlow and coal towns in Colorado	
Sprang a vengeance of Slav miners, Italians, Scots, Cornishmen, Yanks.	
Killings ran under the spoken commands of this boy	     
With eighty men and rifles on a hogback mountain.	
They killed swearing to remember	
The shot and charred wives and children	
In the burnt camp of Ludlow,	
And Louis Tikas, the laughing Greek,	       
Plugged with a bullet, clubbed with a gun butt.	
As a home war	
It held the nation a week	
And one or two million men stood together	
And swore by the retribution of steel.	       
It was all accidental.	
He lived flecking lint off coat lapels	
Of men he talked with.	
He kissed the miners’ babies	
And wrote a Denver paper	      
Of picket silhouettes on a mountain line.	
He had no mother but Mother Jones	
Crying from a jail window of Trinidad:	
“All I want is room enough to stand	
And shake my fist at the enemies of the human race.”	      
Named by a grand jury as a murderer	
He went to Chihuahua, forgot his old Scotch name,	
Smoked cheroots with Pancho Villa	
And wrote letters of Villa as a rock of the people.	
How can I tell how Don Magregor went?	      
Three riders emptied lead into him.	
He lay on the main street of an inland town.	
A boy sat near all day throwing stones	
To keep pigs away.	
The Villa men buried him in a pit	     
With twenty Carranzistas.	
There is drama in that point…	
…the boy and the pigs.	
Griffith would make a movie of it to fetch sobs.	
Victor Herbert would have the drums whirr	     
In a weave with a high fiddle-string’s single clamor.	
“And the muchacho sat there all day throwing stones	
To keep the pigs away,” wrote Gibbons to the Tribune.	
Somewhere in Chihuahua or Colorado	
Is a leather bag of poems and short stories.