Carl Sandburg





Poker Face the Baboon and Hot Dog the Tiger


    When the moon has a green rim with red meat inside and black seeds 
on the red meat, then in the Rootabaga Country they call it a Watermelon 
Moon and look for anything to happen.
    It was a night when a Watermelon Moon was shining. Lizzie Lazarus 
came to the upstairs room of the Potato Face Blind Man. Poker Face the 
Baboon and Hot Dog the Tiger were with her. She was leading them with 
a pink string.
    “You see they are wearing pajamas,” she said. “They sleep with you 
to-night and to-morrow they go to work with you like mascots.”
    “How like mascots?” asked the Potato Face Blind Man.
    “They are luck bringers. They keep your good luck if it is good. They
change your bad luck if it is bad.”
    “I hear you and my ears get your explanations.”
     So the next morning when the Potato Face Blind Man sat down to play 
his accordion on the corner nearest the postoffice in the Village of Liver-
and-Onions, next to him on the right hand side sitting on the sidewalk was 
Poker Face the Baboon and on the left hand side sitting next to him was Hot 
Dog the Tiger.
    They looked like dummies—they were so quiet. They looked as if they were 
made of wood and paper and then painted. In the eyes of Poker Face was 
something faraway. In the eyes of Hot Dog was something hungry. Whitson 
Whimble, the patent clothes wringer manufacturer, came by in his big 
limousine automobile car without horses to pull it. He was sitting back on the 
leather upholstered seat cushions.
    “Stop here,” he commanded the chauffeur driving the car.
    Then Whitson Whimble sat looking. First he looked into the eyes of Poker 
Face the Baboon and saw something faraway. Then he looked into the eyes 
of Hot Dog the Tiger and saw something hungry. Then he read the sign painted 
by the Potato Face Blind Man saying, “You look at ’em and see ’em; I look at 
’em and I don’t. You watch what their eyes say; I can only feel their hair.” 
Then Whitson Whimble commanded the chauffeur driving the car, “Go on.”
    Fifteen minutes later a man in overalls came down Main Street with a 
wheelbarrow. He stopped in front of the Potato Face Blind Man, Poker Face 
the Baboon, and Hot Dog the Tiger.
    “Where is the aluminum dishpan?” he asked.
    “On my left side on the sidewalk,” answered the Potato Face Blind Man.
    “Where is the galvanized iron washtub?”
    “On my right side on the sidewalk.”
    Then the man in overalls took a shovel and began shoveling silver dollars 
out of 
the wheelbarrow into the aluminum dishpan and the galvanized iron washtub. 
He shoveled out of the wheelbarrow till the dishpan was full, till the washtub 
was full. Then he put the shovel into the wheelbarrow and went up Main Street.
    Six o’clock that night Pick Ups came along. The Potato Face Blind Man said 
to him, “I have to carry home a heavy load of money to-night, an aluminum 
dishpan full of silver dollars and a galvanized iron washtub full of silver dollars. 
So I ask you, will you take care of Poker Face the Baboon and Hot Dog the Tiger?”
    “Yes,” said Pick Ups, “I will.” And he did. He tied a pink string to their legs and 
took them home and put them in the woodshed.
    Poker Face the Baboon went to sleep on the soft coal at the north end of the 
woodshed and when he was asleep his face had something faraway in it and he 
was so quiet he looked like a dummy with brown hair of the jungle painted on his 
black skin and a black nose painted on his brown face. Hot Dog the Tiger went to 
sleep on the hard coal at the south end of the woodshed and when he was asleep 
his eyelashes had something hungry in them and he looked like a painted dummy 
with black stripes painted over his yellow belly and a black spot painted away at 
the end of his long yellow tail.
    In the morning the woodshed was empty. Pick Ups told the Potato Face Blind 
Man, “They left a note in their own handwriting on perfumed pink paper. It said, 
‘Mascots never stay long.’”
    And that is why for many years the Potato Face Blind Man had silver dollars to 
spend—and that is why many people in the Rootabaga Country keep their eyes 
open for a Watermelon Moon in the sky with a green rim and red meat inside and 
black seeds making spots on the red meat.