Knucks

By Carl Sandburg 1878–1967 Carl Sandburg
In Abraham Lincoln’s city,
Where they remember his lawyer’s shingle,
The place where they brought him
Wrapped in battle flags,
Wrapped in the smoke of memories
From Tallahassee to the Yukon,
The place now where the shaft of his tomb
Points white against the blue prairie dome,
In Abraham Lincoln’s city ... I saw knucks
In the window of Mister Fischman’s second-hand store
On Second Street.

I went in and asked, “How much?”
“Thirty cents apiece,” answered Mister Fischman.
And taking a box of new ones off a shelf
He filled anew the box in the showcase
And said incidentally, most casually
And incidentally:
“I sell a carload a month of these.”

I slipped my fingers into a set of knucks,
Cast-iron knucks molded in a foundry pattern,
And there came to me a set of thoughts like these:
Mister Fischman is for Abe and the “malice to none” stuff,
And the street car strikers and the strike-breakers,
And the sluggers, gunmen, detectives, policemen,
Judges, utility heads, newspapers, priests, lawyers,
They are all for Abe and the “malice to none” stuff.

I started for the door.
“Maybe you want a lighter pair,”
Came Mister Fischman’s voice.
I opened the door ... and the voice again:
“You are a funny customer.”

Wrapped in battle flags,
Wrapped in the smoke of memories,
This is the place they brought him,
This is Abraham Lincoln's home town.



Source: Cornhuskers (1918)

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Poet Carl Sandburg 1878–1967

POET’S REGION U.S., Midwestern

SCHOOL / PERIOD Modern

Subjects Living, History & Politics, Sorrow & Grieving, Social Commentaries

 Carl  Sandburg

Biography

"Trying to write briefly about Carl Sandburg," said a friend of the poet, "is like trying to picture the Grand Canyon in one black and white snapshot." His range of interests was enumerated by his close friend, Harry Golden, who, in his study of the poet, called Sandburg "the one American writer who distinguished himself in five fields—poetry, history, biography, fiction, and music."

Sandburg composed his poetry primarily in . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Living, History & Politics, Sorrow & Grieving, Social Commentaries

POET’S REGION U.S., Midwestern

SCHOOL / PERIOD Modern

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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