November 14, 2009
The CarpetbaggerBy Lee Kayser
With carpetbag in hand, atop a tall white horse
Behind a big brass band, prearranged, of course,
The salesman rode into town in his finest derby hat,
Followed by a barker clown, and a one-eyed cat
The nameless horse with many names has been seen before
Behind the same brass band -- A collective noisy whore
The power was the horse -- an old and plodding steed
That would carry anyone who would adopt his creed
The barker clown was there to bring the people to the street
The one eyed cat would work around among the people's feet
The stealthy cat would listen to learn what the people fear
On the carpetbagger's shoulder he would whisper in his ear
The carpetbagger's name was Frank Lynn Odemsham
He came from out of nowhere -- Maybe on the lam
Some thought he had blown in with the northern breeze
Others said he came from somewhere overseas.
No one knew for sure who this stranger was
But he had them captivated, and he seemed to know their flaws
He gathered daily crowds 'neath the town square flag
They were clambering to know just what was in his bag
The large bag held many things -- That they all agreed
Many things fit for Kings -- and a magic seed
The seed was kept in a nest made of acorn pits
Underneath a bashful squirrel that peeked out through the slits
The barker clown had been in jail for robbery and theft
The sneaky cat watched the clown and circled to the left
The cat, whose name was Preston and the clown, whose name was Earl
Each thought the other would try to eat the squirrel.
Frank reached in his bag, and pulled out bottle number one
And said "This will keep you from the heat stroke of the sun."
"Who would like to have one?" He said it very loud
Quickly, ten were sold into the noisy crowd
Next came a brown bottle labeled number two
"This" he said, "Tastes as fresh as the morning dew"
"It is guaranteed to make your worries go away"
"It is free to all who come, and you will never have to pay"
Everybody took some -- because it's free you know
They drank until their minds took on a mellow glow
Now Frank reached both hands in, going way down deep
And brought out many bottles -- all in one big heap
The barker clown chattered as they sold their bottled ware
To not have what was wanted would have been quite rare
He promised everyone whatever he or she would need
Then reaching in once more, out came the magic seed
"Trust me my friends," he said "This to you I swear"
"It is a magic seed to be planted in the square."
"When planted it will grow to become a mighty tree,"
"To give hope and change you need. This I swear to thee"
Then the Mayor, who said he was wary of the man,
Asked what kind of tree it was, would it grow pecan?
"Yes, it will," Frank said, "If that is what you wish"
"It will grow it for you, and serve it on a dish"
The Mayor was an honest man who daily flew a kite
And wore a silky top hat tilted slightly to the right
Smoke sifted through his graying beard from a brier pipe
As he warned independent folks not to listen to the hype
The mayor did not believe the carpetbagger's tale
So he was tarred and feathered and rode out on a rail
With pomp and ceremony all the good folk gathered round
As Frank dug a hole and placed the seed into the ground
"Next" Frank said, as he wiped his sweating brow
"We need to make it grow, and I will tell you how"
"Bring the bottles that you bought here and pour them out"
"Pour them on the seed right here just to make it sprout"
Sure enough it sprouted and began to grow quite fast
As they poured they could see large branches were amassed
Just as Frank had promised it gave them what they wished
But they must keep buying bottles just to keep it nourished
Many branches grew -- Some were large and strong
Others kinda puny but still would get quite long
Some produced nothing, and with leeches were festooned,
But the tree was left to grow untended and un-pruned
One branch made peanut butter, another lemonade
One gave miscellaneous snacks -- Everything prepaid
People came from other towns to live beneath the tree
They never had to pour, but plucked daily in the spree
Claude and Jane were country folk who lived down near the creek
And had always come to town every other week
Now they came less often and I guess they had been freed
From the frenzied glut in town -- There was nothing they would need
The town folk poured their bottles out and left them in a pile,
They were gathered and refilled by the clown, the cat and squirrel
They slipped out every night to fill them from some water vats,
And then one night were confronted by a pack of surly rats
The rats said, "we've been watching and we know this whole affair"
"And we will bring it down unless we get our share"
So a big pack of rats were included in the cut,
And bottle prices rose to keep sharing in the glut
The people bought the bottles and poured them on the ground
Took what they wanted from the tree and spread it all around
Ever faster grew the tree high up into the air
It crowded out the courthouse and filled the whole town square
Bert and Barb lived on the edge of town, out on E Z Street
A branch grew through the front door into the Master suite
One twig grew a phonograph and from another they were fed
Needing nothing more now they never left the bed
Many people now would pluck, but could no longer pour
The tree was doing fine, and they had no need for more
Years had come and gone and it may sound kinda funny
The tree provided for them and they had no need for money
The number living under the tree had now become a mob
Demanding more from the tree but no one had a job
As the numbers grew things began to get quite grim
Output was less now from limb to limb to limb
The tree had taken up the town and covered everything
It sucked out the ornate fountain, and dried up the city spring
It shaded everything and the town was no more sunny
Fewer bottles sold now -- They were running out of money
Fewer bottles poured and the stream now dryly sucked
But still people came and plucked and plucked and plucked.
Frank smiled and said goodbye and tipped his derby hat
And quietly left town with the squirrel, the clown, and cat
The pack of rats packed their things and soon would leave town too
To settle in a town where money's interest would accrue
The people were perplexed as the tree withered and died
"What has happened here?" They were asking as they cried
The Town folk are good people -- Most people are the same
It matters not their color -- nor their name or fame
The good people saw a need but failed then to heed
The unintended consequence of a magic seed of greed
Somewhere there's another town many miles away
The sun shines while people work and children are at play
And someone has been watching and has seen another need
And the brass band is tuning as they mount a tall white steed