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Carl Sandburg - Hoodlums

I AM a hoodlum, you are a hoodlum, we and all of us are a world of hoodlums—maybe so.
I hate and kill better men than I am, so do you, so do all of us—maybe—maybe so.
In the ends of my fingers the itch for another man’s neck, I want to see him hanging, one of dusk’s cartoons
against the sunset.
This is the hate my father gave me, this was in my mother’s milk, this is you and me and all of us in a world of
hoodlums—maybe so.
Let us go on, brother hoodlums, let us kill and kill, it has always been so, it will always be so, there is nothing more to
it.
Let us go on, sister hoodlums, kill, kill, and kill, the torsoes of the world’s mother’s are tireless and the loins
of the world’s fathers are strong—so go on—kill, kill, kill.
Lay them deep in the dirt, the stiffs we fixed, the cadavers bumped off, lay them deep and let the night winds of winter
blizzards howl their burial service.
The night winds and the winter, the great white sheets of northern blizzards, who can sing better for the lost hoodlums the
old requiem, “Kill him! kill him!…”
Today my son, to-morrow yours, the day after your next door neighbor’s—it is all in the wrists of the gods who
shoot craps—it is anybody’s guess whose eyes shut next.
Being a hoodlum now, you and I, being all of us a world of hoodlums, let us take up the cry when the mob sluffs by on a
thousand shoe soles, let us too yammer, “Kill him! kill him!…”
Let us do this now … for our mothers … for our sisters and wives … let us kill, kill, kill—for the
torsoes of the women are tireless and the loins of the men are strong.Chicago, July 29, 1919.

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Added: Feb 4 2004 | Viewed: 5717 times | Comments and analysis of Hoodlums by Carl Sandburg Comments (2)

Hoodlums - Comments and Information

Poet: Carl Sandburg
Poem: 24. Hoodlums
Volume: Smoke and Steel
- IV. Playthings of the Wind
Year: Published/Written in 1922
Poem of the Day: Apr 19 2004

Comment 2 of 2, added on May 26th, 2012 at 6:21 PM.
Clarification

The poem was written at the height of the 1919 Chicago race riots where both whites and blacks turned into hoodlums and killers.

Historian from United States
Comment 1 of 2, added on January 29th, 2008 at 1:57 PM.

I AM NOT A HOODLUM

Shnana from United States

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