by: Ambrose Bierce (1842-1914)

      ard by an excavated street one sat
      In solitary session on the sand;
      And ever and anon he spake and spat
      And spake again—a yellow skull in hand,
      To which that retrospective Pioneer
      Addressed the few remarks that follow here:

      "Who are you? Did you come 'der blains agross,'
      Or 'Horn aroundt'? In days o' '49
      Did them thar eye-holes see the Southern Cross
      From the Antarctic Sea git up an' shine?
      Or did you drive a bull team 'all the way
      From Pike,' with Mr. Joseph Bowers?—say!

      "Was you in Frisco when the water came
      Up to Montgum'ry street? and do you mind
      The time when Peters run the faro game—
      Jim Peters from old Mississip—behind
      Wells Fargo's, where he subsequent was bust
      By Sandy, as regards both bank and crust?

      "I wonder was you here when Casey shot
      James King o' William? And did you attend
      The neck-tie dance ensuin'? I did not,
      But j'ined the rush to Go Creek with my friend
      Ed'ard McGowan; for we was resolved
      In sech diversions not to be involved.

      "Maybe I knowed you; seems to me I've seed
      Your face afore. I don't forget a face,
      But names I disremember—I'm that breed
      Of owls. I'm talking some'at into space
      An' maybe my remarks is too derned free,
      Seein' yer name is unbeknown to me.

      "Ther' was a time, I reckon, when I knowed
      Nigh onto every dern galoot in town.
      That was as late as '50. Now she's growed
      Surprisin'! Yes, me an' my pardner, Brown,
      Was wide acquainted. If ther' was a cuss
      We didn't know, the cause was—he knowed us.

      "Maybe you had that claim adjoinin' mine
      Up thar in Calaveras. Was it you
      To which Long Mary took a mighty shine,
      An' throwed squar' off on Jake the Kangaroo?
      I guess if she could see ye now she'd take
      Her chance o' happiness along o' Jake.

      "You ain't so purty now as you was then:
      Yer eyes is nothin' but two prospect holes,
      An' women which are hitched to better men
      Would hardly for sech glances damn their souls,
      As Lengthie did. By G——! I hope it's you,
      For" (kicks the skull) "I'm Jake the Kangaroo."

"Yorick" is reprinted from Shapes of Clay. Ambrose Bierce. San Francisco: W. E. Wood, 1903.




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