Verse > Carl Sandburg > Smoke and Steel > III. Broken-Face Gargoyles > 9. Purple Martins
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Carl Sandburg (1878–1967).  Smoke and Steel. 1922.
  
III. Broken-Face Gargoyles
9. Purple Martins
  
IF we were such and so, the same as these,
maybe we too would be slingers and sliders,
tumbling half over in the water mirrors,
tumbling half over at the horse heads of the sun,
tumbling our purple numbers.        5
  
Twirl on, you and your satin blue.
Be water birds, be air birds.
Be these purple tumblers you are.
  
  Dip and get away
From loops into slip-knots,        10
Write your own ciphers and figure eights.
It is your wooded island here in Lincoln park.
Everybody knows this belongs to you.
  
  Five fat geese
Eat grass on a sod bank        15
And never count your slinging ciphers,
    your sliding figure eights,
  
A man on a green paint iron bench,
Slouches his feet and sniffs in a book,
And looks at you and your loops and slip-knots,        20
And looks at you and your sheaths of satin blue,
And slouches again and sniffs in the book,
And mumbles: It is an idle and a doctrinaire exploit.
Go on tumbling half over in the water mirrors.
Go on tumbling half over at the horse heads of the sun.        25
  Be water birds, be air birds.
  Be these purple tumblers you are.

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