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Waiting by C.J. Dennis

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Oh, how I love the fine old chap
   Who sits upon my left at meals,
And drops his cabbage, in my lap
   From swooping fork, while he reveals
How he, at Hay, in '83,
Gave Hamlet's grand so-lil-o-quee.

He slops his supper beer o' nights,
   Or fills my dexter ear with stout,
While strenuously he recites,
   And hurls his lanky limbs about,
To prove that every modern cuss
Has missed the true Polonius.

His oysters down my back he'll throw,
   Or freely spray me with his soup,
When suddenly inspired to show
   How savage Ingomar should whoop,
Or illustrate the proper scream
With which to finish "Denver's Dream."

He throws his turnips everywhere;
   With breakfast-tea he scalds my legs;
I've spuds and carrots in my hair;
   And oft he's smitten me with eggs.
If e'er he shows, with humor grim
I'll throw these things all back at him.

First published in The Bulletin, 9 November 1911

The Vocal Vamp by C.J. Dennis

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Say, kid, I used you like you some
When you were beautiful, but dumb.
   Them pearly teeth, them rollin' eyes --
   Dreamy and of amazin' size --
That leak large tears of glycerine,
When you got mushy on the screen,
   They set my feelin's all awhirl,
   An' made me go all goofy, girl.

Cutie, I fell for you, I did.
I thought you were a reel nice kid,
   Them close-ups! Say! Them cunning' curls!
   You seemed the niftiest of girls.
Them swishy looks you slung about
When villainy was winning' out
   An' you was suffering' the jars
   Of bad men chewing' big seegars!

Aw, kid, my heart was wrung with woe
To see my baby treated so.
   In agony I watched the screen,
   An' when I seen 'em treat you mean
I longed to leap from out my chair
An' be your champeen then an' there.
   Yes, all het up I was each night.
   You sure vamped me, all right, all right.

Why couldn't I be well content
With gifts that Hollywood had sent
   Of old -- the sight of you so cute
   Without no vocal attribute?
But, sweetie, man ain't built that way.
I craved to hear them sweet lips say
   One little sentence, soft an' sweet,
   To make my happiness complete.

Honey, you said ... Oh, that night!
When my great love, conceived at sight,
   Was buried in the cold, cold ground
   Because the films took to sound.
A buzz-saw, Babe, believe me true,
Ain't got one single thing on you;
   For you sure spoke a noseful, kid,
   I'll tell the cock-eyed world you did.

First published in Stead's Review, 1 November 1929

His Bread and His Art by C.J Dennis

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It was an actor, seedy, sad,
   Who stood within the gate;
Long weary marches he had had -
   He had not dined of late.

He sighed: "I hope I don't intrude.
   Believe me or I die:
For days I have not tasted food.
   A stranded player I."

"An actor man?" the lady said.
   "What is your favourite role?"
"Hot, madam, and with butter spread,"
   He answered from his soul.

First published in The Bulletin, 22 September 1910

A Humble Prayer by C.J. Dennis

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The prize lists for the South Street competitions at Ballarat, to be held in October next, total £1,400; £150 is to be given for vocal and instrumental music, and £170 for elocution. - Melb Age

Oh, teach me how to elocute,
   Oh, teach me how to say
The boy stood on the burning deck
   In strictly proper way;
Oh, teach me how to clutch my heart,
   And roll my glittering eye,
That I may wail with all my might
   The Leper's fearful cry.

Oh, train my voice to sing the songs
   Of how the swallows fly,
And teach me how to tell the world
   How Tosti said "Good-bye";
Oh, let me learn by day and night
   The way to calm those fears;
I want to understand aright
   Just how to dry those tears.

Oh, teach me how to do my hair,
   That I may win a prize,
And how to wear my spectacles
   Before my bright-blue eyes:
For much depends, I've heard them say,
   Upon the clothes you wear,
They say it's half the victory
   To dress yourself with care.

And when I've proved victorious,
   And by the telegraph
My fame has spread, oh, hasten then
   To take my photograph;
Oh, teach me how to rest my chin
   Upon my shapely hand,
That in the picture I may look
   A credit to the land.

First published in The Gadfly, 2 May 1906

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