George Wallace


Double Yellow Lines

i cannot tell you why they hang the flag in every window
or drop it down to half mast or fold it up or burn it if it touches the ground
or why thomas cedering left his wife and thirteen children
or why we have to go fight in a foreign war sometimes
and come back with our brains shattered and our hands weak
i cannot tell you where a man from battle creek goes
to wash away the pain of betting on the wrong horse again
or a woman from moline goes to forget about loving the wrong man
but i can tell you this—there is nothing better in this world
after a hard day's work than eating a ham sandwich
and washing it down with a cold pitcher of german beer
or listening for insects in the prairie grass when summer begins to yellow
or sitting on a curb when the factory opens up its doors for lunch
or listening to the people as they talk to each other after a day's honest labor
and begin jostling along on the pavement after dark—mill workers
saloonkeepers college students beauticians
insurance salemen and people with no jobs at all
the men who mix tar on rooftops with sweat
the ones who paint double yellow lines down the endless roads of america.
one man jumps out of a window one man sits up in his grave
this is a great country when it sings a brave song
a man comes along and he laughs in the bareheaded rain
a cop whistles like a newsboy in chicago
a kid in st louis rubs two nickels together
just to see if they will explode

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