RUM tiddy um, tiddy um, tiddy um tum tum. My knees are loose-like, my feet want to sling their selves. I feel like tickling you under the chin—honey—and a-asking: Why Does a Chicken Cross the Road? When the hens are a-laying eggs, and the roosters pluck-pluck-put-akut and you—honey—put new potatoes and gravy on the table, and there ain’t too much rain or too little: Say, why do I feel so gabby? Why do I want to holler all over the place?. . . Do you remember I held empty hands to you and I said all is yours the handfuls of nothing?. . . I ask you for white blossoms. I bring a concertina after sunset under the apple trees. I bring out “The Spanish Cavalier” and “In the Gloaming, O My Darling.”
The orchard here is near and home-like. The oats in the valley run a mile. Between are the green and marching potato vines. The lightning bugs go criss-cross carrying a zigzag of fire: the potato bugs are asleep under their stiff and yellow-striped wings: here romance stutters to the western stars, “Excuse … me…”. . . Old foundations of rotten wood. An old barn done-for and out of the wormholes ten-legged roaches shook up and scared by sunlight. So a pickax digs a long tooth with a short memory. Fire can not eat this rubbish till it has lain in the sun.. . . The story lags. The story has no connections. The story is nothing but a lot of banjo plinka planka plunks.
The roan horse is young and will learn: the roan horse buckles into harness and feels the foam on the collar at the end of a haul: the roan horse points four legs to the sky and rolls in the red clover: the roan horse has a rusty jag of hair between the ears hanging to a white star between the eyes.. . . In Burlington long ago And later again in Ashtabula I said to myself: I wonder how far Ophelia went with Hamlet. What else was there Shakespeare never told? There must have been something. If I go bugs I want to do it like Ophelia. There was class to the way she went out of her head.. . . Does a famous poet eat watermelon? Excuse me, ask me something easy. I have seen farmhands with their faces in fried catfish on a Monday morning.
And the Japanese, two-legged like us, The Japanese bring slices of watermelon into pictures. The black seeds make oval polka dots on the pink meat.
Why do I always think of niggers and buck-and-wing dancing whenever I see watermelon?
Summer mornings on the docks I walk among bushel peach baskets piled ten feet high. Summer mornings I smell new wood and the river wind along with peaches. I listen to the steamboat whistle hong-honging, hong-honging across the town. And once I saw a teameo straddling a street with a hayrack load of melons.. . . Niggers play banjos because they want to. The explanation is easy.
It is the same as why people pay fifty cents for tickets to a policemen’s masquerade ball or a grocers-and-butchers’ picnic with a fat man’s foot race. It is the same as why boys buy a nickel’s worth of peanuts and eat them and then buy another nickel’s worth. Newsboys shooting craps in a back alley have a fugitive understanding of the scientific principle involved. The jockey in a yellow satin shirt and scarlet boots, riding a sorrel pony at the county fair, has a grasp of the theory. It is the same as why boys go running lickety-split away from a school-room geography lesson in April when the crawfishes come out and the young frogs are calling and the pussywillows and the cat-tails know something about geography themselves.. . . I ask you for white blossoms. I offer you memories and people. I offer you a fire zigzag over the green and marching vines. I bring a concertina after supper under the home-like apple trees. I make up songs about things to look at: potato blossoms in summer night mist filling the garden with white spots; a cavalryman’s yellow silk handkerchief stuck in a flannel pocket over the left side of the shirt, over the ventricles of blood, over the pumps of the heart.
Bring a concertina after sunset under the apple trees. Let romance stutter to the western stars, “Excuse … me…”