Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, VERMONT CORN MEAL, by DANIEL LEAVENS CADY



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VERMONT CORN MEAL, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: What fun it used to be to feel
Last Line: To husky boys and yellow meal.
Subject(s): Corn; Farm Life; Food & Eating; Vermont; Agriculture; Farmers


WHAT fun it used to be to feel
The heat inside a bag of meal!
My Gracious! how a winter grist
Would warm a feller's fist and wrist:
It always give us boys a thrill
To see the pung come back from mill;
We'd throw our mittens on the snow
And get as cold as Eskimo,
And then a-towards the corn barn steal
And stick our fingers in the meal.

And there we'd stand and let the law
Of "latent heat" our fingers thaw;
We'd count how many "tens" 'twould take
Before we lost that pleasant ache;
No other sport we ever tried
Had such a scientific side;
But this was fur as we could go,
What made the heat we didn't know,
'Less 'twas, some big electric eel
Was worming 'round inside the meal.

There's lots of games that fellers play
That bat things up, or tend that way,
But corn barn capers did no hurt
Unless we mixed the meal with dirt,
Or failed to lock the corn barn door,
Or spilt the seed peas on the floor,
Or somehow shoved the cat-hole slide
And shut the neighbor's cat inside—
'Twould sure have made a movie reel,
The kinds of fun we had with meal.

We knew the teams that come from mill,
And I can see 'em coming still;
For instance, there was Melvin Shedd
And his old woodshod squeaky sled;
We'd all pile on and take a seat
Acrost the bags to feel the heat,
Then up he'd lick and off we'd jump
And hit a stone, perhaps, or stump,
But when we struck and took a keel,
You bet, we felt the "me" in meal.

And when our hands would chap and crack
And get all bloody on the back,
We found the meal cure quite as sure
As mother's mutton tallow cure;
I s'pose that's why distinguished dames
And dudes used "MEAL-O" on their frames;
I bought some once, as I recall,
At Paine's Apothecaries Hall,
And though 'twas fifty cents per deal
I only got a box of meal.

We still have "meal" and still have "boys"
But they are not in equipoise;
The day of golden grist is dead
And "process" stuff has come instead,
Them sharp white bits of western bone
The friends of johnnycake bemoan;
While boys are mostly schoolhouse wrecks
Whose fun consists in wearing specs—
Oh! Fortune, treat us from your wheel
To husky boys and yellow meal.





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