Verse > Carl Sandburg > Chicago Poems
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Carl Sandburg (1878–1967).  Chicago Poems.  1916.
 
135. ’Boes
 
 
I WAITED today for a freight train to pass.
Cattle cars with steers butting their horns against the bars, went by.
And a half a dozen hoboes stood on bumpers between cars.
Well, the cattle are respectable, I thought.
Every steer has its transportation paid for by the farmer sending it to market,        5
While the hoboes are law-breakers in riding a railroad train without a ticket.
It reminded me of ten days I spent in the Allegheny County jail in Pittsburgh.
I got ten days even though I was a veteran of the Spanish-American war.
Cooped in the same cell with me was an old man, a bricklayer and a booze-fighter.
But it just happened he, too, was a veteran soldier, and he had fought to preserve the Union and free the niggers.        10
We were three in all, the other being a Lithuanian who got drunk on pay day at the steel works and got to fighting a policeman;
All the clothes he had was a shirt, pants and shoes—somebody got his hat and coat and what money he had left over when he got drunk.
 

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