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The Old Game

From The Seattle Star, March 4, 1913.
 By Berton Braley.

 Oh, yes, I had quit it “forever,”
     The scissors and paste and all that,
 The haste and the frantic endeavor,
     The typewriter’s merry rat-tat;
 I tired of the holler for “copy,”
     I longed for a life that was tame,
 And my friends called me shabby and sloppy,
     So I dropped from the Newspaper Game.
 But something kept whispering, “Billy,
     You’re out of your element here.
 This sinecure’s meant for some Willie
     Who don’t know a scoop from a beer.
 This joint is too tied by decorum,
     This routine is always the same;
 Your clothes don’t wear out where you wore ‘em
     When playing the Newspaper Game.”
 Whenever the newsboys would holler,
     Whenever the extras came out,
 I tugged at my unsweated collar
     And my heart-strings were tugged by a doubt,
 Till at last—well, I doubted no longer,
     I passed up my cinch, and I came
 To the call that I knew was the stronger,
     And I plunged in the Newspaper Game.
 The typewriters rattled to greet me,
     The smell of sour paste-pots was sweet,
 I found the old “mill” there to meet me,
     I dropped in my battered old seat.
 The news room was dingy and smoky,
     But a shiver of joy shook my frame,
 For I’d quit the “good job” that was pokey,
     And was back at the Newspaper Game.
 Below were the linotypes clicking,
     And the smell of hot lead came to me;
 The sport man was nervously flicking
     The ash from his “cigarootee.”
 My typewriter acted unruly,
     My fingers felt clumsy and lame,
 But I knew I was back again, truly,
     To the joy of the Newspaper Game.
 You can swear you will leave it behind you.
     You can flee to wherever you will,
 But the newspaper fever will find you,
     The newspaper fervor will thrill.
 It makes—or more likely, it breaks you,
     You die—and leave scarcely a name;
 But not until death overtakes you
     Are you free of the Newspaper Game.

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