Old Spookses’ Pass, Malcolm’s Katie and Other Poems

by Isabella Valancy Crawford





He saved his soul and saved his pork,
    With old time preservation;
He did not hold with creosote,
    Or new plans of salvation;
He said that “Works would show the man,”
“The smoke-house tell upon the ham!”

He didn’t, when he sunk a well,
    Inspect the stuns and gravel;
To prove that Moses was a dunce,
    Unfit for furrin travel;
He marvell’d at them works of God—
An’ broke ’em up to mend the road!

And when the Circus come around,
    He hitch’d his sleek old horses;
And in his rattlin’ wagon took
    His dimpl’d household forces—
The boys to wonder at the Clown,
And think his fate Life’s highest crown.

He wondered at the zebras wild,
    Nor knew ’em painted donkeys;
An’ when he gave the boys a dime
    For cakes to feed the monkeys,
He never thought, in any shape,
He had descended from an ape! [Page 178]

And when he saw some shallow-pate,
    With smallest brain possession,
He uttered no filosofy
    On Nature’s retrogression.
To ancient types, by Darwin’s rule,
He simply said, “Wal, darn a fool.”

He never had an enemy,
    But once a year to meetin’,
When he and Deacon Maybee fought
    On questions of free seatin’;
Or which should be the one t’rebuke
Pastor for kissin’ sister Luke.

His farm was well enough, but stones
    Kind of stern, ruthless facts is;
An’ he jest made out to save a mite,
    An’ pay his righteous taxes,
An’ mebbe tote some flour an’ pork
To poor old critters past their work.

But on the neatest thing he hed
    Around the place or dwellin’,
I guess he never paid a red
    Of taxes. No mush melon
Was rounder, sweeter, pinker than
The old man’s daughter, Minta Ann.

I’ve been at Philadelfy’s show
    An’ other similar fusses,
An’ seen a mighty sight of stone,
     Minarveys and Venusses; [Page 179]
An’ Sikeys clad in flowers an’ wings,
But not much show of factory things.

I’ve seen the hull entire crowd
    Of Jove’s female relations,
An’ I feel to make a solemn swear
    On them thar “Lamentations,”
That as a sort of general plan
I’d rather spark with Minta Ann!

You’d ought to see her dimpled chin,
    With one red freckle on it,
Her brown eyes glancing underneath
    Her tilted shaker bonnet.
I vow, I often did desire,
They’d set the plaguey thing a-fire!

You’d ought to hear that gal sing
    On Sabbath, up to meetin’,
You’d kind of feel high lifted up,
    Your soul for Heaven fleetin’.
And then—came supper, down she’d tie
You to this earth with pumpkin pie!

I tell you, stranger, ’twas a sight
    For poetry and speeches,
To see her sittin’ on the stoop,
    A-peelin’ scarlet peaches,
Inter the kettle at her feet,—
I tell you, ’twas a show complete!

Drip, droppin’ thro’ the rustlin’ vine,
    The sunbeams came a flittin’; [Page 180]
An’ sort of danced upon the floor,
    Chas’d by the tabby kitten;
Losh! to see the critter’s big surprise,
When them beams slipped into Minta’s eyes!

An’ down her brow her pretty hair
    Cum curlin’, crinklin’, creepin’,
In leetle, yaller mites of rings,
    Inter them bright eyes peepin’,
Es run the tendrils of the vine,
To whar the merry sunbeams shine.

But losh! her smile was dreadful shy,
    An’ kept her white lids under;
Jest as when darkens up the sky
    An’ growls away the thunder;
Them skeery speckled trout will hide

Beneath them white pond lilies’ pride!

An’ then her heart, ’twas made clar through
    Of Californy metal,
Chock full of things es sugar sweet
    Es a presarvin’ kettle.
The beaux went crazed fur menny a mile
When I got that kettle on the bile.

The good old deacon’s gone to whar
    Thar ain’t no wild contentions
On Buildin’ Funds’ Committees and
    No taxes nor exemptions.
Yet still I sort of feel he preaches,
And Minta Ann preserves my peaches. [Page 181]