Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, PLANKED WHITEFISH, by CARL SANDBURG



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PLANKED WHITEFISH, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Over an order of planked whitefish at a downtown club
Last Line: "war is the game of a lot of god-damned fools."
Subject(s): Pacifism; World War I; Peace Movements; First World War


(I'm a going to live anyhow until I die."
- Modern Ragtime Song)

Over an order of planked whitefish at a downtown club,
Horace Wild, the demon driver who hurled the first aeroplane that ever crossed the air over
Chicago,
Told Charley Cutler, the famous rassler who never touches booze,
And Carl Sandburg, the distinguished poet now out of jail,
He saw near Ypres a Canadian soldier fastened on a barn door with bayonets pinning the hands and
feet
And the arms and ankles arranged like Jesus at Golgotha 2,000 years before
Only in northern France he saw
The genital organ of the victim amputated and placed between the lips of the dead man's mouth,
And Horace Wild, eating whitefish, looked us straight in the eyes,
And piled up circumstantial detail of what he saw one night running a truck pulling ambulances out
of the mud near Ypres in November, 1915:
A box car next to a field hospital operating room -- filled with sawed-off arms and legs --
Faces in the gray and the dark on the mud flats, white faces gibbering and loose convulsive arms
making useless gestures,
And Horace Wild, the demon driver who loves fighting and can whip his weight in wildcats,
Pointed at a blue button in the lapel of his coat, "P-e-a-c-e" spelled in white letters, he
blurted:
"I don't care who the hell calls me a pacifist, I don't care who the hell calls me yellow. I say
war is the game of a lot of God-damned fools."







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