Saturday, August 8, 2015

The Hobo Poet — Is He? or Isn't He?

photo © Mark Butkus 2015
Hobo Museum in Britt, Iowa.

Sometimes a hobo writes a verse
oft' times he makes it rhyme,
In boxcar jargon poetry
He spends his precious time.

His dreams are called poetic thoughts,
but, that is no surprise,
A lonesome look is all you'll see
gazing into his starry eyes.

To read his thoughts from day to day
would be a jolly task,
You never see what's in his mind
Behind that smiling mask.

Yes! Hoboes are a mystery
On that, poets all agree,
Why does he spend his precious time
Writing hobo jungle poetry.


— Hobo Bill, 1983


Yes, indeed! Hobos are a mystery and Hobo Bill is himself a mystery. There was a song written by Waldo O'Neal in 1929 entitled Hobo Bill's Last Ride that perhaps gives the name to the Hobo Bill who is credited with writing, The Hobo Poet — Is He? or Isn't He?

The poem as it appears here was in a chapbook collection of hobo poetry by the hobo, Fish Bones simply entitled, Hobo Poetry.