They Have Yarns 
from The People, Yes 


Carl Sandburg 

                They have yarns 
Of a skyscraper so tall they had to put hinges 
On the two top stories so to let the moon go by, 
Of one corn crop in Missouri when the roots 

Went so deep and drew off so much water 
The Mississippi riverbed that year was dry, 
Of pancakes so thin they had only one side, 

Of “a fog so thick we shingled the barn and six feet out on the fog,” 
Of Pecos Pete straddling a cyclone in Texas and riding it to the west 
   coast where “it rained out under him,” 
Of the man who drove a swarm of bees across the Rocky Mountains and 
   the Desert “and didn’t lose a bee,” 
Of a mountain railroad curve where the engineer in his cab can touch 
   the caboose and spit in the conductor’s eye, 
Of the boy who climbed a cornstalk growing so fast he would have 
   starved to death if they hadn’t shot biscuits up to him, 
Of the old man’s whiskers: “When the wind was with him his whiskers 
   arrived a day before he did,” 
Of the hen laying a square egg and cackling, “Ouch!” and of hens laying 
   eggs with the dates printed on them, 
Of the ship captain’s shadow: it froze to the deck one cold winter night, 
Of mutineers on that same ship put to chipping rust with rubber hammers, 
Of the sheep counter who was fast and accurate: “I just count their feet 
   and divide by four,” 
Of the man so tall he must climb a ladder to shave himself, 
Of the runt so teeny-weeny it takes two men and a boy to see him, 
Of mosquitoes: one can kill a dog, two of them a man, 
Of a cyclone that sucked cookstoves out of the kitchen, up the chimney flue,
   and on to the next town, 
Of the same cyclone picking up wagon-tracks in Nebraska and dropping 
   them over in the Dakotas, 
Of the hook-and-eye snake unlocking itself into forty pieces, each piece 
   two inches long, then in nine seconds flat snapping itself together again, 
Of the watch swallowed by the cow—when they butchered her a year 
   later the watch was running and had the correct time, 
Of horned snakes, hoop snakes that roll themselves where they want to go,
   and rattlesnakes carrying bells instead of rattles on their tails, 
Of the herd of cattle in California getting lost in a giant redwood tree 
   that had hollowed out, 
Of the man who killed a snake by putting its tail in its mouth so it 
   swallowed itself, 
Of railroad trains whizzing along so fast they reach the station before 
   the whistle, 
Of pigs so thin the farmer had to tie knots in their tails to keep them 
   from crawling through the cracks in their pens, 
Of Paul Bunyan’s big blue ox, Babe, measuring between the eyes forty- two 
   ax-handles and a plug of Star tobacco exactly, 
Of John Henry’s hammer and the curve of its swing and his singing of 
   it as “a rainbow round my shoulder.” 

Click here for homework: Homework.

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