Tomorrow’s my Pa’s birthday. He’s been dead for years now, but after the shitshow of the last week I keep thinking about the first thing he taught me on the carny, and some verse he loved to recite after a few drinks. Finally managed to find the whole thing in a collection titled “Tramp Poems of the West” from 1891.
Just seems appropriate when I can smell a storm coming.
‘Twas just about ten years ago,
Too early yet for ice or snow,
Thru’ bounteous Texas coming down,
A circus with a funny clown,
The boys warn’t feeling very well,
The reason why I cannot tell,
And as they made each little town
They whispered (when the gawks came ’round)
It’s but a little phrase, ’tis true,
Its meaning well each fakir knew,
And e’en the weakest heart was stirred
At mention of that magic word,
“They’ll eat you up in this ‘ere town.
The boys’ll tear your circus down.”
Thus spoke a man with hoary head,
The main guy winked and softly said,
They gathered ’round, about two score,
I am not sure but there were more,
Red-hot and eager for the fray,
The boys all thought, but didn’t say,
The ball was opened, like a flash.
Above the battle’s din and dash,
As thunderbolt hurled from the sky,
Rang long and loud the battle-cry,
‘Twas but a moment — in they went.
Each man on life and death intent.
They periled there both life and limb,
‘Twas wonderful to hear them sing,
‘Twas finished, the smoke rolled away.
As clouds before the sun’s bright ray.
That Texan cavalry were gone —
They couldn’t sing that circus song,
“Hey Rube ”
Gawks, guys and Rubes, another day.
When e’er a circus comes your way,
And you’re spielin for a clem,
Be sure they haven’t learned to sing,