On an Old 'Lease'

Mar 31, 2009 | Posted in Essays, Poetry

By John McKee Reid (1933)

Screech, screech, the oil-wells go.
Nigh fifty years, I've heard the so:
'Tis music to my ear.
Number two and number 3
Hold the same shrill rivalry:
Seems as though they can't afford
To strike up any other cord.
Passing folks, I sometimes fear,
Say they'd loose their power to hear
Or else would go completely mad
If they always, always had
That weary discord in their ear.
But after all it ain't so bad:
Look down upon that hard, white road,
That used to be so deep with mud
That horses couldn't haul a load.
Now the cars race up an' down –
Folks must be eatin' up the miles:
I can't see what they meanwhiles.
Oil's done it. Yes
Something's got to screech, I guess.

Nell used to go a- weed' out the peonies an' pansies
And pickin' pinks an' all the other posies:
An' when she spread the cedar bough apart
To give the baby tanagers a worm she'd found
She used to harp,
'Gosh, Pa, I don't see how there's any birds around
With such infernal sound!'

Then I'd strike up:
'Don't mind a little noise,
Why every bird about the hill
Comes to the wells to pitch his pipe,
Before he even sings a trill.'

From "Random Books" copyrighted by John McKee Reid, 1933
One of 33 copies set, printed and bound by the author in Oil City, Pennsylvania