Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, JOSEPH'S REFORM (A TALE OF THE HOT DOG TAVERN), by BERTON BRALEY



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JOSEPH'S REFORM (A TALE OF THE HOT DOG TAVERN), by             Poet's Biography
First Line: When I was just a gay young buck, I piloted a heavy truck
Last Line: "I never use such language, but it warms my heart to hear it."
Subject(s): Driving & Drivers; Reformation; Trucks & Trucking; Teamsters; Truckers; Freight


(A Tale of the Hot Dog Tavern)

"When I was just a gay young buck, I piloted a heavy truck
Around the crowded thoroughfares throughout the noisy city;
My horses were a bully team with lots of vigor, pep and steam,
The way they snatched that truck along was something very pretty.
But I was always stirred to wrath by other trucks that blocked my path,
By traffic cops and trolley-cars and thronging population
That stopped my progress here and there, and that is how I came to swear
With words that made the people stare in awe and admiration.

"But then arrived a day in life when I took Mary Ann to wife,
And when she overheard me curse it certainly upset her.
Says she to me: 'I'm shocked to hear the way you use your tongue, my dear,
I thought a noble man like you would know a whole lot better.
But now I find you swear and curse as bad as sailors do, or worse;
And when you drive it seems to me your oaths are never slackened.
Oh, pause a little on your way and think about the Judgment Day
And how your record up above with curses will be blackened!"

"You know, I'd never thought of that, and when she put it to me, flat,
I promised her that I'd reform, forever and forever.
I kept my promise well, at home, but when upon my truck I'd roam,
My tongue would get away from me in spite of my endeavor.
For when the traffic had me stalled and other drivers yelled and bawled
A string of purple oaths at me, I rapidly unloaded
A line of language mighty quick with curses long and wide and thick;
For if I'd kept 'em bottled up I would have plumb exploded.

"I turned things over in my brain; and then I saw my course was plain;
I couldn't drive and keep my vow—that's straight and on the level.
From which you'll see quite plainly how I took the job I'm holding now,
Where cops and trucks and trolley-cars won't wake my sleeping devil.
I might have had a place that's swell, a waiter in a fine hotel,
But I preferred this roughneck joint where I could soothe my spirit
By hearin' others get away with things I've promised not to say.
I never use such language, but it warms my heart to hear it."





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