• In the Maze

    From the Rock Island Argus, November 26, 1912.
    By Duncan M. Smith.
     What a crisscross maze is life
         Take it any way you choose
     In the never ending strife
         As you gain and as you lose!
     Luck is with you now and then
         As you hurry for your goal
     Twisting through the maze again
         You are pitched into a hole.
     Out of it you scramble up,
         Hoping to do mighty deeds
     Still of sorrow you must sup
         Ere your budding hope succeeds.
     How you struggle, how you groan,
         As you buckle to your task
     Just to make success your own,
         Just in fortune’s smile to bask!
     But it isn’t all a frost.
         There are seasons to be gay.
     Hope is never wholly lost
         Joys are blooming on your way.
     There’s a path to your success
         You will find it after while
     If you seek with cheerfulness
         And you don’t forget to smile.
  • Possibilities

    From the Rock Island Argus, November 25, 1912.
    By Duncan M. Smith.
     If you cannot win a fortune
         That will feather well your nest
     You at least can earn a living
         If you work your level best.
     If you cannot make a million
         Where the highest stakes are played
     You can knock out several dollars
         Working daily at your trade.
     What’s the use of having money
         That you never hope to spend?
     It will only bring you trouble
         It is not your truest friend.
     If you settle with the grocer
         And can pay the butcher’s score
     With a little left for pleasure
         What can any one do more?
     For the man who has a million
         Only has one pair of eyes
     To behold the wondrous picture
         As old earth before him lies.
     He can only eat one breakfast
         Only occupy one bed
     Only wear one pair of slippers
         Have but one hat upon his head.
     If you cannot own an auto
         That will travel double quick
     You can stroll along the highway
         Where the autumn leaves are thick
     And whatever your situation
         In whatever niche you fit
     You can have a lot of pleasure
         If you make the best of it.
  • Just Gladness

    From the Rock Island Argus, November 23, 1912.
    By Duncan M. Smith.
     Oh, gladness is a splendid thing
         For bards to write about
     When they are very sorely pressed
         And subjects have run out!
     Their souls may not be soaked in joy
         To match the gentle strain
     And they may have a grouch so large
         That it would block a train.
     But still they write of cheerfulness
         As though it were a part
     Of their existence and it gushed
         In torrents from their heart.
     They put aside their aching tooth,
         The bill they cannot pay,
     The rent that’s always overdue,
         And then they work away.
     Great gobs of gladness is their theme,
         The first that comes to hand.
     They tell the people they should use
         This one and only brand.
     But do they use a bit themselves—
         I mean outside their rime—
     With which to make a brighter world?
         I fear they haven’t time.
     O gladsome gladness, you’re the goods
         For use in daily life
     Far better than the grim old grouch
         Which leads to care and strife!
     And if the poet does not feel
         The impulse of his song
     You’ll find that the advice is good
         Enough to take along.
  • Scattered

    From the Rock Island Argus, November 21, 1912.
    By Duncan M. Smith.
     I have cousins in Missouri
         I have uncles in New York
     I have sisters in Chicago
         And an aunt who lives in Cork
     Second cousins in Australia
         And in any other place
     That offhand you might mention.
         My, but we’re a scattered race!
     When my father was a youngster
         In a little Scottish town
     He was blessed with several brothers—
         Eight it was; I marked it down—
     And about as many sisters—
         Ten I think I heard him say—
     And when they had grown and married
         Each one went a different way.
     And they had—how many children?
         Goodness knows, for I do not
     As I never took a census
         But it must have been a lot.
     And the children, grown to manhood
         As myself, for time has flown
     And we all are growing ancient,
         Must have children of their own.
     So the stock is widely scattered
         From the palm tree to the pine
     Nearly every state and country
         Has some relative of mine.
     And with almost every family
         It’s the same old tale again,
     For the world is getting ready
         For a common race of men.
  • Temptation

    From the Rock Island Argus, November 14, 1912.
    By Duncan M. Smith.
     I always want to read a book
         When I have work on hand.
     A most alluring volume then
         Is lying on the stand.
     If I have nothing on my mind
         And work is rather slack
     The selfsame book a week can lie
         Unopened on the rack.
     How tempting when I ought to be
         So busy making hay
     Is any book that happens to
         By lying in my way!
     I want to cast my pen aside
         And take a furtive look
     For just about a half an hour
         In that alluring book.
     It doesn’t matter to me what
         The volume is about.
     It may be poetry or prose,
         A treatise on the gout,
     A little book on fancy work,
         On how to till the land,
     Just so it serves to turn me from
         The work I have in hand.
     But that is not the worst of it—
         Oh, no, that isn’t all!—
     For when temptation thus appears
         The truth is that I fall.
     Nor do I read for half an hour
         And then the covers bang—
     I keep it up for half a day
         And let the work go hang!
  • On the Move

    From the Rock Island Argus, November 11, 1912.
    By Duncan M. Smith.
     Some are going farther south
         For a climate new;
     Some seek cooler northern lands
         To their strength renew;
     Some are hiking for the west
         After health and fame;
     Western men are going east
         With the selfsame aim.
     Some from Mexico are bound
         For Alaska’s shore;
     From the north some journey down
         Where the gulf waves roar;
     On the warm Pacific slope
         Some are there from Maine;
     Others from the far, far west
         Take the eastern train.
     In the town where they were born
         Very few remain.
     Others come and take their place
         In the hope of gain.
     And their paths are often crossed,
         Touching here and there,
     As they zigzag back and forth
         Going everywhere.
     What a restless age it is
         For the man perplexed.
     Stopping first in this man’s town,
         Striking for the next!
     Don’t you wish that you could have
         Planted safe and sound
     Half the money that it costs
         For this running round?
  • Serving It

    From the Rock Island Argus, November 2, 1912.
    By Duncan M. Smith.
     Lift up your eyes and look about
         And get your money’s worth,
     For lying fair before you see
         A great old little earth.
     The view is very wide and bright
         And pulsing everywhere,
     And not a picture in the world
         Can with the sight compare.
     Lift up your eyes. Don’t focus them
         Upon the lowly ditch
     The while you brood upon your woes
         And wish that you were rich.
     Before you lies a waiting world,
         All joyous, bright and fair,
     And, with the others of your kind,
         In it you own a share.
     Lift up your eyes and take a look,
         For everything is free,
     And no admission need be paid
         And no outgoing fee.
     The brook, the meadow and the lake,
         The clouds that grace the air,
     The mountains and the restless sea
         Are there for you to share.
     Lift up your eyes unto the hills
         And let your soul expand
     As in the broader, wider view
         A man newborn you stand.
     Take heed of nature’s wondrous works,
         Whose beauties you now miss,
     And, though you may be poor in purse,
         You shall be rich in this.
  • Everyday Art

    From the Rock Island Argus, October 26, 1912.
    By Duncan M. Smith.
     Art may paint a picture,
       Art may carve a stone,
     Art may write a poem
       That is long on tone.
     Art may put on canvas
       Earth and sky and sea;
     Art that cooks a chicken
       Is the art for me.
     In the world artistic,
       Where the artists fare,
     There are many castles,
       Mostly in the air.
     But for building houses
       You would rather pick
     On the one artistic
       Who can lay a brick.
     Art that’s for the artists
       Who are sad of eye
     And have flowing neckties
       Is in big supply.
     But of art more homely
       That can mend a chair
     For its fat old uncle
       There is none to spare.
     Schools of art are turning
       Out the graduates
     In alarming number,
       Light and heavy weights.
     But for daily plugging
       We would rather meet
     With a line of artists
       Who can mend a street.
  • Lucky Kid

    From the Rock Island Argus, October 17, 1912.
    By Duncan M. Smith.
     My pa he handles popcorn balls,
       And he sells peanuts, too,
     And lots of other things like that
       That make you want to chew.
     And sometimes I can go along
       And help him wait on trade,
     Especially if it’s a time
       He’s selling lemonade.
     My pa he fills his basket up,
       And he goes everywhere.
     When other people have to pay
       He walks right in the fair.
     Sometimes he lets me go along
       The gatemen they just grin
     And say when pa says, “That’s my kid,”
       “Just take him right on in.”
     My pa he has a lot of friends
       For everywhere he goes
     It seems that every one he meets
       Is some one that he knows.
     They chat with him a little while
       And then most always say,
     “I guess I’ll take some peanuts or
       A ball of corn today.”
     I’m awful sorry for the kids
       Whose fathers work in banks
     Or blacksmith shops or offices
       Or where they fill the tanks.
     They never get to go along,
       They must feel mighty bad.
     But I can go most anywhere,
       Because I help my dad.
  • Pride of Ancestry

    From the Rock Island Argus, October 12, 1912.
    By Duncan M. Smith.
     His ancestor a pirate was,
       And proudly he gave tongue
     Unto the fact that his forbear
       Had from a yardarm swung.
     For if you take it in the days
       When history was made
     A pirate was, you are aware,
       A very decent trade.
     He had his picture on the wall
       Where every one could look;
     His history was written up
       And printed in a book.
     And he was just a trifle proud
       And thought that he was great
     Because he had descended from
       That tough old ancient skate.
     He had a sort of pity for
       The person who came down
     From ancestors who never robbed
       A coast or burned a town.
     They might be all right in a way,
       But it was understood
     They couldn’t be so much, because
       Their ancestors were good.
     He wouldn’t hurt a worm himself;
       He wouldn’t kill a fly.
     He was a modest man without
       A wicked, piercing eye.
     I often wondered, could we turn
       Back to the ancient crowd,
     If that old fiery ancestor
       Of him would have been proud.
  • Midnight Attack

    From the Rock Island Argus, October 8, 1912.
    By Duncan M. Smith.
     Oft in the stilly night
     When the cats begin to fight
     On the fence behind the lot
     Then I form a little plot
     As the window wide I throw
     And the yard I knee-deep sow
     With lots of bric-a-brac
     That was resting on the rack.
     Do the cats in wild alarm
     Run lest I should do them harm?
     Do they let the concert slide
     And proceed in haste to hide?
     No; they do not seem to know
     As I throw and throw and throw
     That a single thing is wrong
     With their piercing midnight song.
     Then I heave a pair of shoes
     That I wouldn’t care to lose,
     And I throw a kitchen chair,
     Followed by my wife’s false hair,
     Books and tables, sofa, rugs,
     Pots and kettles, pans and mugs,
     Writing pads, my rubber stamp,
     The piano and the lamp.
     Then the bedding and the bed
     From the tail piece to the head
     All are hurled into the gloom
     Till there’s nothing in the room.
     But the cats are good as new
     On the job when I am through.
     Nor do they a moment pause.
     They regard it as applause.
  • Much Impressed

    From the Rock Island Argus, October 7, 1912.
    By Duncan M. Smith.
     I took my little hopeful
       And sat him on my knee
     And tried to get the six-year-old
       To take advice from me.
     “I want you,” I said softly,
       “Always to be polite,
     And with the rude and naughty boys
       You must not scrap and fight.
     “With others do not quarrel
       And do not in your play
     Get angry with another boy
       Who wants to have his way.
     Give in without protesting,
       For you will always find
     That lasting friendships you will win
       By being true and kind.
     “Thus by your good example
       The other boys will see
     That it is better to be good
       And with their mates agree.
     Should one be so forgetful
       As to be rude or rough
     Turn on your heel and go away
       And he’ll feel bad enough.”
     ’Twas thus the lesson ended,
       And then I asked him, “Now,
     What would you do if some rude boy
       Should try to pick a row?”
     He thought about a minute,
       Then answered plain and clear:
     “I’ll tell you if you want to know.
       I’d biff him on the ear!”
  • The Suffragette

    From the Rock Island Argus, October 5, 1912.
    By Duncan M. Smith.
     And this woman, soft of voice,
       Of whom the poets sung,
     Who in the ages long ago
       Was forced to hold her tongue.
     Good sooth but she is making up
       And paying back the debt
     Piled up through all those silent years!
       Behold the suffragette!
     Our mother sat around and smiled
       When men in meeting rose,
     And when they grandly aired their views
       Her tongue was in repose.
     But now the words so long suppressed
       No longer clog her throat.
     She fires them out with emphasis
       And says she wants a vote.
     No longer will she sit at ease
       And let him have his way
     About affairs of church and state,
       For she will have her say.
     For when there is a talking fest
       You find her in the swim,
     And oftentimes, to his dismay,
       She knows as much as him.
     Yes, woman, you have grown a bit
       And learned a lot of things.
     You fly as high as any one
       Since you have spread your wings.
     Is it for better or for worse?
       We can’t exactly say:
     But, though man is a little dazed,
       He likes you anyway.
  • The Silvery Lining

    From the Rock Island Argus, October 4, 1912.
    By Duncan M. Smith.
     There’s no use in moaning
     In weeping and groaning.
     The sun may be shining
     Ere yet it is noon.
     His warm rays may cheer you
     And hope nestle near you,
     So cease your repining
     And look for it soon.
     Make end to the sighing
     For swift years are flying
     And joy at your casement
     Is calling to you.
     Make haste, then, to meet it.
     Go smiling to greet it.
     Give care its effacement
     And hide it from view.
     Oh, turn your face sunward
     And listen for one word,
     A message of sweetness,
     Of love pure and true!
     Be happy, my dearie;
     Be smiling and cheery,
     And then with completeness
     Will joy come to you.
  • Song of the Road

    From the Rock Island Argus, October 1, 1912.
    By Duncan M. Smith.
     I love the open road that down
       The river winds away
     And reaches on from town to town
       Through fields with flowers gay,
     That offers here and there a nook
       Beneath a shady tree
     Where proper folk ne’er think to look
       Nor prying eye may see.
     I love the high and open sky;
       I love it when it’s gray.
     I love the swallows as they fly,
       The fishes when they play.
     I love the crashing thunderstorm
       When ‘neath a stack content,
     All snuggled up, serene and warm,
       I watch it till it’s spent.
     I love the wind that comes and goes
       With soft and slumb’rous sigh
     And flutters hollyhock and rose
       Whene’er it passes by.
     It kisses tramp and money king
       Alike in open day.
     The praises of the road I sing
       And tramp upon my way.
  • The Daily Grind

    From the Rock Island Argus, September 16, 1912.
    By Duncan M. Smith.
     Writing pieces for the paper,
     Mostly foolishness and vapor;
     Sometimes reason may slip in,
     Nor is that a deadly sin,
     But it is a sad mistake
     That a writer should not make,
     Lest the reader go to sleep
     Or declare it is too deep
     And the paper fling aside,
     Going forth to take a ride.
     Writing for the public print,
     Gossip, story, beauty hint—
     Anything to fill the space
     That a streak of blues will chase;
     Anything that’s light and not
     Clogged with too involved a plot;
     Anything that’s not designed
     To make labor for the mind
     Or to air high sounding views,
     Lest the reader take a snooze.
     Writing for the public mart,
     For the eye and for the heart,
     Something simple, straight and plain
     That will rest the reader’s brain
     And will put him in the mood
     For the predigested food
     That adorns the printed page
     In this restless, rushing age;
     That will feed him something light
     Ere he goes to sleep at night.
     For we do not read to learn—
     We have knowledge, yes, to burn—
     But we read to be amused
     And to hear our foes abused.
     There is work enough, indeed,
     Where we toil at breakneck speed.
     So when we sit down at night
     With a paper and a light
     Nothing we are after then
     That will make us work again.
  • The Great Event

    From the Rock Island Argus, September 14, 1912.
    By Duncan M. Smith.
     The county fair is now on tap
       And all the porkers proud
     Are showing off their very best
       Before the gaping crowd.
     The cattle in the narrow stalls,
       The horses on the track,
     Are showing, each and every one,
       How lofty they can stack.
     The barker at the circus tent
       Is tearing in the air
     Great jagged holes, that each and all
       May know that he is there.
     The peanut and the popcorn man
       Are chasing far and wide
     To see that every hungry child
       Is with lunch supplied.
     Up in the building on the hill,
       Where cabbage is displayed
     Beside the pumpkins and the corn
       And goose eggs, freshly laid,
     The folks who raised it stand around
       To hear its praises told,
     And each one swells and feels as gay
       As any two-year-old.
     The father and the mother come,
       And all the kids are there.
     The listen to the big brass band
       And at the players stare.
     They take in everything in sight
       That gives them thrills or mirth,
     And you can bet most anything
       They get their money’s worth.