Classic and Contemporary Poetry
THIS MAN JONES, by JAMES WHITCOMB RILEY Poet's Biography
First Line: This man jones was what you'd
Last Line: Nothin' o' that fer a week or so.
Alternate Author Name(s): Johnson Of Boone, Benj. F.
Subject(s): Death; Faces; Dead, The
THIS man Jones was what you'd call
A feller 'at had no sand at all;
Kind o' consumpted, and undersize,
And sallor-complected, with big sad eyes
And a kind-of-a-sort-of-a hang-dog style,
And a sneakin' sort-of-a half-way smile
'At kind o' give him away to us
As a preacher, maybe, er somepin' wuss.
Didn't take with the gang -- well, no --
But still we managed to use him, though, --
Coddin' the gilly along the rout',
And drivin' the stakes 'at he pulled out --
Fer I was one of the bosses then,
And of course stood in with the canvasmen;
And the way we put up jobs, you know,
On this man Jones jes' beat the show!
Ust to rattle him scandalous,
And keep the feller a-dodgin' us,
And a-shyin' round half skeered to death,
And afeerd to whimper above his breath;
Give him a cussin', and then a kick,
And then a kind-of-a backhand lick --
Jes' fer the fun of seein' him climb
Around with a head on most the time.
But what was the curioust thing to me,
Was along o' the party -- let me see, --
Who was our "Lion Queen" last year? --
Mamzelle Zanty, or De La Pierre? --
Well, no matter -- a stunnin' mash,
With a red-ripe lip, and a long eyelash,
And a figger sich as the angels owns --
And one too many fer this man Jones.
He'd allus wake in the afternoon,
As the band waltzed in on the lion-tune,
And there, from the time 'at she'd go in
Till she'd back out of the cage ag'in,
He'd stand, shaky and limber-kneed --
'Specially when she come to "feed
The beasts raw meat with her naked hand" --
And all that business, you understand.
And it was resky in that den --
Fer I think she juggled three cubs then,
And a big "green" lion 'at used to smash
Collar-bones fer old Frank Nash;
And I reckon now she hain't fergot
The afternoon old "Nero" sot
His paws on her! -- but as fer me,
It's a sort-of-a mixed-up mystery: --
Kind o' remember an awful roar,
And see her back fer the bolted door --
See the cage rock -- heerd her call
"God have mercy!" and that was all --
Fer they ain't no livin' man can tell
What it's like when a thousand yell
In female tones, and a thousand more
Howl in bass till their throats is sore!
But the keeper said 'at dragged her out,
They heerd some feller laugh and shout --
"Save her! Quick! I've got the cuss!"
And yit she waked and smiled on us!
And we daren't flinch, fer the doctor said,
Seein' as this man Jones was dead,
Better to jes' not let her know
Nothin' o' that fer a week or so.
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