Carl Sandburg, ‘The Hangman at Home’ (1922)

What does the hangman think about
When he goes home at night from work?
When he sits down with his wife and
Children for a cup of coffee and a
Plate of ham and eggs, do they ask
Him if it was a good day’s work
And everything went well or do they
Stay off some topics and talk about
The weather, base ball, politics
And the comic strips in the papers
And the movies? Do they look at his
Hands when he reaches for the coffee
Or the ham and eggs? If the little
Ones say, Daddy, play horse, here’s
A rope–does he answer like a joke:
I’ve seen enough rope for today?
Or does his face light up like a
Bonfire of joy and does he say:
It’s a good and dandy world we live
In. And if a white face moon looks
In through the window where a baby girl
Sleeps and the moon gleams mix with
Baby ears and baby hair–the hangman–
How does he act then? It must be easy
For him. Anything is easy for a hangman,
I guess.


~ by ohkrapp on January 20, 2008.

3 Responses to “Carl Sandburg, ‘The Hangman at Home’ (1922)”

  1. this is one of my dad’s favorite poems. he especially likes the ‘bonfire of joy’ line.

  2. i first got into poetry thanks to my dad, actually. w.s. merwin, etc.

  3. This guy’s name should be Carl Sandman, he writes the way old men used to talk at little babies when their mothers weren’t around, sharing all their private thoughts out loud, of morbid specters and daily life, like in a dream made for television.

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