Those Who Wait

Who knows the thots of mothers who wait,
Whether in grandeur, or lowly state;
Who knows the sacrifice of those who give,
Their all, their sons, that we might live?

The days are long as I sit here and knit,
Fashioning these socks for him . . bit by bit;
My thots are ever one constant prayer,
For my boy, my all, who is "Over There."

The long endless nights bring no rest,
My baby again nestles close to my breast;
Sense of his touch brings sweet poignant joy,
"May God watch oer him, my boy."

Was only a lad, but then he would go,
I'm heartsick dear Lord, proud of him tho,
Our country needed, he heard the call,
Light's gone from life, for he is my all.

Watching the mail box here by the gate,
For I know not what, I wait and wait
Body's a-sweat with fevered chill,
When postman stops, my heart stands still.

"Our boys gained, advanced to Meuse,
Will advance beyond," so reads the news;
And in glowing terms they praise our men,
But I'm gripped in throes of that fear again.

Wait 'till the last before I look at the list,
The words go blur as my eyes grow mist,
I'm stifled and choked with that nameless dread,
Of seeing his name among the dead.

Who knows the thots of mothers who wait,
Whether in grandeur, or lowly state;
Who knows the sacrifice of those who give,
Their all, their sons, that we might live?

My Souvenir

I'm gettin' tired of this talk I hear,
'Bout bringin' you back some souvenirs,
Bring you a helmet or a piece of a gun,
From No-Man's-Land off of some lousy Hun.

I'm gettin' tired of letters you write,
Tellin' me that war's not right,
Be sure and bring you home something nice,
Remember I'm married and steer clear of vice.

I'm gettin' weary of braggerts I've seen,
Parading in hospital-clothes so clean,
Tellin' us what a time they've had,
Nursing the wounded and shell-shocked mad.

And look how the bloomin' heroes parade,
Their medals on chests that liars have made,
A Jane on their arm and their head in the skies,
Fillin' her full of bull and lies.

I'm gettin' tired of parades and the like,
And "please will you tell me what was war like?"
And "ain't it a shame and pity dear Bill?"
And "oh I hates the Huns you did kill."

I'm gettin' disgusted with payday,
Uncle Sam and the wife takes it all away,
It's ten for this and seven for that,
Till you don't know where the hell you're at.

I'm wishin' for things war made me miss,
A bit of a hug and squeeze and a kiss,
A loving wife to hold close in my arms,
Not asking me, "where's my souvenir charms."

And the souvenir that I'm bringin' home,
It weren't stolen and it's all my own,
It isn't a relic or a hunk of tin,
You see dear wife it's my own damn skin.

Songs of Sorrow

Oh how long the night-the lonely night ...
The cold weary wait for mom and light,
The shrieking twirling shells over head,
Playing their hymns for our daily dead.

Oh the stark raving madness of it all,
The wail of the shells large and small,
Sun blotted out by their singing sorrow,
We waiting here for another tomorrow.

Tomorrow that may or may never come,
For many of these war-weary Mother's sons,
The whistle, the twang, and then the bang!
"Songs of death," the shells o'er head sang.

Oh how long the night, the wan cold night ...
The ghostly star-streaked shell-split night,
The songs of sorrow singing shells sing,
Unending pain that war alone brings.

The Mothers, wives, sweethearts and all,
Waiting for footsteps that ne'er again fall,
We waiting here for the dawn of tomorrow,
While shells o'erhead sing their' songs of sorrow.


The Ambulance Driver

Thru Hell's back-road I drive my load,
Of the wounded and maimed of the fight,
Death grins and rides a-top of the load,
On those war-hastened rides each night.

I can hear the groans and death-stricken moans,
Of the wounded who are racked inside,
The muttering, the prayers, and whisper of homes,
As thru the dark night I ride.

With never a light to show me the way,
I bump and thump o'er the holes,
As I ride towards day I fervently pray,
For my load with all of my soul.

I get them back, God alone knows how,
To the hospital and relief,
I'm stained with mud, they with their blood,
When we land in this sea of grief.

As quick as they're out I turn right about,
Start back thru the night and the rain,
To pick up the pieces that God forgot,
The wounded . . . the dying . . . the maimed.

The Pirate Gun

List to the tale of the Pirate Gun,
Which kept on firing when war was done;
'Twas up near Stonney, back of Raucort,
Where battles were long and rations short.

'Twas Armistice night, we'd hunted all day,
For place to sleep in the "Frogs" dry hay,
When a Pirate Gun's shell screeched over the hill,
We quickly scattered and "dug in" with a Will.

Thru the cold wet night, 'neath a mud cressed knoll,
We shivered and shook as we lay in our hole,
Captain looked worried things didn't seem right,
He cussed with the rest as we waited all night.

We were mad as hornets and started a hunt
For the crazy gun which had pulled that stunt;
And after we'd hunted all day in vain,
Everyone was cussing that gun and the rain.

When "Bang!" came a shot from right under our nose,
And there lay the "Pirate Gun" fully exposed,
With cries of rage we closed in on the Hun,
And that was the end of the "Pirate Gun."

Killed in Action

"Killed in action," so they say,
Poor little fellow had lost his way.
In Argonne Woods and up on the Vesle
He dug like fury and crawled like a snail.

My billet was small, but he didn't care,
He'd dig himself in, and stay right there.
He'd make things snappy while "diggin' in,"
He was plumb full of hell and fought to win.

Tho small of stature, he was full of fight,
And went "Over the Top" most every night,
Now all the boys knew him, up on the line,
As he kept them company all the time.

He "fell in action," game to the last,
As thru our delouser the "wee fellow" passed,
"Good-bye little cootie," we leave you in France
We "killed you in action"---and were glad of the chance.


Oh to escape the hell of it all,
Those war-ridden thots that come;
To blind forever those memories,
And sound of the bullets' hum.

To live once more as I did before,
In peace and quiet and rest;
To just forget for a little while,
It took from my life the best.

At night when everything's quiet,
And I'm lying alone in bed,
There comes a vision of battlefields,
The fight . . the maimed . . the dead.

Will I never forget that hell "O'er There,"
And the tales the battlefields tell,
The price my "Buddies" paid with "their all,"
And the places in which they fell?

And there are my two best "Buddies,"
See them as plain as can be;
A-layin' "Out There" just crumpled heaps,
Seems like they're calling to me.

I can hear the big 'uns screech and scream,
As they go flying o'er my head;
They seem to say both night and day,
"Remember ... the dead ... the dead."

Sometimes I think lying here at night,
Perhaps it might have been best,
Had I paid the great price like my Buddies,
And were with them now at rest.

Oh those cursed clinging thots of war,
Haunting my brain night and day,
Dear God be merciful unto me,
And take them forever away.

Can You Beat That In England

De warh is ovah! Lawdy be!
Ah shuah am glad ob dat,
Now de shootin' and runnin' is did,
Know zactly whe'ah ahm at.

Ah didn't min' de guns an noise,
Lahk English Sergean' all knew,
Seemed no matter what we had,
The English had better'n you.

We was tramin' wid dem English,
Up et old Baccarat,
Braggenist men yu ever seed,
Hones' en true 'at's a fact.

The English Sergeant of thereuns,
Was the wussest ob de lot,
No mattah what us 'Mericans had,
He'd say "it's a lot of pot."

Showed him mah Thompson machine gun,
"Can beat at in Englan' " he'd say,
Showed him my bran' new puppy tents,
"Just beat at in Englan' today."

Showed him my bran' new uniform,
He just turned his head erway,
Had a sneer on his mustach lip,
"Can beat 'at in Englan'," he say.

Me an' him is in de same shack,
En he sleep right onderneath me,
Every night to de gin mill he go,
En roll in drunk erbout three.

One day de sun am good en bright,
Axed could I be dismissed,
Go cuts me en ol' fishin' pole,
Goes to de canal for to fish.

Gets me no bites der whole day long,
Ah keeps gettin' madder en mad,
When A thinks what all de English has got,
En how little us 'Mericans had.

Ag was finkin' how to get eben,
Wid 'at mean ol' Sergean' ob mine,
When I feels a tug en er arful bite,
On de en' ob my ol' fishin' line.

Ah pulls up de line good en harhd,
"Ker-plunk" somethin' flops behin' me,
It's de bigges' ol' snappin' turtle,
That evah ah did see.

Ah grabs 'at ol' boy 'round de neck,
En I looks him square in de eye,
"Shall ah makes you into turtle soup,
Or into mock turtle pie."

De poor ol' turtle looks et me,
Like he's 'shamed to be caught,
Ah breaks out gigglin' en laughin'
Just gets me a bran' new thot.

Ah takes de turtle up to mah bunk,
En tucks him kerfull erway,
Ah wants 'at boy for jist one thing,
Den ah'Il turn him loose ter play.

Et night ah puts 'at nice turtle,
In de mean ol' Sergeant's bunk,
Den full ob gin de Sargean' flop in,
But flops out ergen ker-plunk!

'At- Sergean' he yell loud ernough,
For all de folks in France to hear,
De turtle jes' keep hangin' on,
Yes sah! right on de Sergean's rear.

De crowd dun' rally roun' de room,
Ah turned on de 'lectric light,
Then I laughs good an' loud an' long,
When I see de Sergeant's plight.

"Oh! Ouch! Ouch! what's biting me?"
Was all de ol' Sergean' could say,
"Hell man, 'at's an American Cootie,
Ken you beat 'at in England terday?"

Homeward Bound

Standing here on this transport,
Watching her plow through the foam,
There's just one thing I'm thinking of,
That is, "we are going home."

And oh how I wisht old pals of mine,
Were going back with me,
(By will o' God they're still in the "lines,"
Guarding Eternity).

"Homeward Bound," my it sounds nice,
(Were that my heart light as a bird's,)
Seems all the joyful sweetness of life,
Is tucked in those two words.

For many's the time while at the "front,"
In some battle of raging Hell,
I'd lift my voice to the One above,
"Please guide me home safe and well."

And I for one as I stand here alone,
Truly thank my Maker above,
That I am spared to be "Homeward Bound,"
To the ones I so dearly love.


We Are Coming Back

It's the coming back I hate worst of all,
It grates on my nerves worse than gall;
"A wreck," they will say, when I land today,
With sighs of pity they'll turn away.

With empty sleeve and my face a mess,
I'm no more than half a man, I guess,
And it's tearing my heart slowly apart,
And I wonder how I'll make a new start.

I left these shores not so long ago,
As fit as any man who would go;
I held my head high as could be,
Was proud to fight for Liberty.

For it isn't so hard to go in and fight,
When you know your cause is more than right;
And it isn't so hard for men to die,
Hardest of all is to hear folks sigh.

To help me forget, don't sympathize,
I can't get cheery on long-drawn sighs,
Just take and shake my one good hand,
Then I'll know that you understand.

The Price

Now listen here, old Pal of Mine,
I've fought from the Vesle up to the Rhine,
At Baccarat and in Argonne Wood,
I did my bit as best I could.

Cut my way through oceans of wire,
And stood the test when under fire,
Lain in the cold and rain all night,
Fought like hell for what I thot was right.

Marched to bands and felt mighty proud,
Because I was one of that fighting crowd,
Now I'm back in this land of ours,
Will be in my civies in a few short hours.,

Somehow or other it all seems bare,
And I feel like hell when people stare;
Some are thinking of loved ones lost,
Others of how much we're going to cost.

And that's the bunch I'm sore about,
Patriots who were so willing to shout,
Then turn us out when we came home,
On two months' pay in the world to roam.


The Returns

Buddy of mine, you're wrong, all wrong,
You'll soon again be one of the throng,
Not as you were when you went away,
But a proved man now, man of the day.

Boy, just think of what you've been thru,
Glory of knowing that you've been true;
Think of "Buddies" whom you gave a hand,
You gained the love of fellow man.

Think of the knowledge that you gained,
When you went clear thru to Alsace-Lorraine;
Think for a bit of those poor French folk,
You helped release from the War Dog's yoke.

Why they expressed to you by attitude,
World of love and real gratitude;
And in one small second of that war,
You've lived a thousand lives, or more.

Tho you may not have your share of gold,
What you learned "Up There" is wealth untold;
And the big thing you gained from what you've been thru,
Is that high ideal of being true.

The War is Over

'Spect you never heard 'bout my boy Jim,
An' all the things that happened to him,
When he was a sojern' over in France,
Playin' with Hell an' takin' a chance,
To keep such folks as you an' me,
Under the Stars of old Liberty;
Jest pull your chair a mite closter in,
While I tell yer 'bout my only boy Jim.

You know somehow to Maw and me,
It didn't seem that it could be,
Our boy Jim was really grown up,
Until the war come up, and tuk
Him erway ...........
Maw tuk on some, an' so did I,
Day we saw him go marchin' by,
With eyes a-mistin' kinda bright,
He couldn't look ter the left ner right;
When he marched erway .......

Maw an' me knew he'd seen us there,
We whar proud he was doin' his share,
Yet hated to see the boy go 'way,
Seemed we'd only had him a day;
Oh shucks ........
Seems I see him now, a little chap,
Sprawlin' all over his Mother's lap,
Listenin' to me read 'bout Robin Hood,
An' his adventures In the woods;
An' sech truck ......

Well, Maw an' me cum home thet night,
An' I set down an' tried to write
A letter, ter cheer him on his way,
To hev faith in God, an' thet we'd pray
Fer him .......
But I couldn't . . . Maw just set there
A-lookin' ahead with vacant stare;
An' I comforted her, best I could,
Then somehow we both understood,
'Bout him .......

Why he'd gone when he heard the call,
Eased us some, but thet ain't all,
Brought Maw an' me closter somehow,
In somethin' Holier than a marriage vow;
But my .........
I started ter tell you 'bout my Jim,
Here's the last letter I got from him,
It's from a hospital at Sawtelle,
He's down there now a-gittin' well.

Dear Dad and Maw:
(He always starts thet-a-way),
Have some mighty good news for you today,
Doctor says that place in my thigh,
Where I was hit is cured, and my
I'm glad of it .......

The four years here seemed a life-time Dad,
But now it's over and Gee! but I'm glad,
There's nothing but joy for me in this room,
Now that I know I'm going home soon.
I don't mind the crutch, not near so much,
Since I've learned the beauty silence can touch,
For you learn a lot of things in here ,
That makes life sweeter and cleaner and dear.
So Dad don't you mind 'bout my leg and arm,
For I'll soon be with you again on the farm.

Pardon me neighbor, if I dry these tears,
I can still remember the folks, and the cheers,
As he marched erway to the band,
Could you see him now, you'd understand,
Why I call folks like you in,
To tell 'em about my only boy Jim
When they say, "The War is Over."

The Buck

I'm a lucky son-of-a-gun,
I'm the guy that had the fun,
My clothes were never spick and span,
Just "Plain Buck"---"The Fightin' Man."

I should worry if my feet were bare,
Or cooties made their nests in my hair,
Captain cussed me every day,
Went right along in my own plain way.

I fought the battle of "Old Vin Roo,"
Was in on the drive on "Army Stew,"
No hampered Looeys broke my heart,
Just stalled along and did my part.

Whenever the boys felt homesick and blue,
They'd call on me for a story or two,
I made them laugh with my song and dance,
Put some sunshine in "Rainy Ol' France."

I never craved for rank or fame,
Always took things just as they came,
Earned a title that will always stick,
"Plain Ol' Buck,"... "Champion Gold Brick."

---Dedicated to the men who "Won the War."


Did you get "over," or stay in camps,
Was just as fate decreed,
'Twas all for one cause, one faith, one Rag,
And we're comrades, you and me.

I care not at all were you Captain or cook,
In barracks or up in the "lines,"
'Twas comradely spirit, love and unselfishness,
That took the "gang" thru. to the Rhine.

So let's "carry on" as buddies again,
With a hand on each other's shoulder,
The jewel of life is Comradeship,
To treasure as we grow older.

I have yet to see and so have you,
A spirit quite as divine,
I know in your heart you're a comrade,
And there's love for you in mine.

So let's "carry on," you and I,
Unto the end of our goal,
Keeping our treasure of Comradeship,
The womb of a nation's soul.



From St. Mihiel to the Vesle,
With the night wind's mournful wail,
Goes a sound that's understood,
"Gather here in Argonne Wood."

Thru the night winds wet and dreary,
Word goes on to Chateau-Thierry,
Ghostly Phantoms hear the call,
"Gather those who gave their all."

Phantom heroes gather there,
In shell-torn land, so bleak and bare.
There, beneath the sighing tree,
They are judging you and me.

By the flitting shadow light,
By the mystic shades of night,
In the one-time shell-split air,
Phantom Souls are judging there.

So listen well unto that call
Of Phantom souls who gave their all,
May you never droop your head,
Answering our own-our dead.


Now you've finished my book of rhymes,
Hope you enjoyed what was in it,
Printers and friends advised without end,
It was best to never begin it.

They told me that rhymers and poets,
Never were good until dead,
And now that the "War was over,"
The book would never be read.

But I felt somehow in my own heart,
That folks as a whole were fair,
So went ahead and printed instead,
What I'd found in that great "Over There."

In my halting and stumbling manner,
I have told you as best I could,
The facts as they actually were,
And by your graces the book "made good."

You gave me the courage to go ahead,
To the end of an oft dreampt goal,
As man to man and friend to friend,
I thank you with all of my soul.

Table of Contents