Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, CASHING IN, by HARRY HIBBARD KEMP



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CASHING IN, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: I caught a glimpse of his frightened face
Last Line: I know that the one who pardoned the thief will be merciful to him!
Subject(s): Death; Mourning; Wandering & Wanderers; Dead, The; Bereavement; Wanderlust; Vagabonds; Tramps; Hoboes


I CAUGHT a glimpse of his frightened face as he fell between the cars,
And I made a jump for the cinder path and I saw all kinds of stars.
I rolled like a log in a cataract, then, staggering to my feet,
I sat me down on a railroad tie and my nerve was gone complete.

The two red lights of the little caboose shrank into the gulfing night,
And I thanked the Dark for covering up the Terror from my sight.
Dim woodlands haunted the high-banked track like black clouds dropped from the
sky,
And over my head a screech owl wheeled with a wild and dismal cry.
'Twas a five-mile drill to the nearest town, and I hit a nervous gait,
And said to the operator there, "A bum fell under a freight."
O, my chum cashed in like a feeble match quenched by a gust of wind,
Or as a flickering fire goes out which hoboes leave behind.
No more he'll stretch across the rods or ride the cramped brake-beam,
A thrall to the lure of the unseen land and the fascination of steam,—
For they've laid him away in a rough pine box on the slope of a barren
hill—
But out across the universe his spirit wanders still:
He has mooched it on from star to star, and from sun to flaming sun,
He has taken the planets like strings of beads and slipped them, one by one,
Along the cord of memory, for he who knew the earth
Must learn the universe as well on the eve of his second birth ...
And when he kneels before the Throne, his hunger for seeing filled,
And the grand antiphonies of the sky to hear his doom are stilled—
Prone there between the avenues of the flaming cherubim—
I know that the One who pardoned the Thief will be merciful to him!





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