The town was divided over the death of O'Henry's youngest.
There were plenty of us who'd lost children at birth or as infants.
But old man Pierce who'd been returning the long-necked auger
He'd hired from O'Henry saw him at the back door threatening
To break it down with an axe if his missus didn't let him in.
Pierce, knowing his neighbour's weakness for strong liquor
And wary of his explosive temper, dropped the auger so its snout
Crashed into the dirt, and set off home for his shotgun.
A superstitious fellow, he noticed as he tore out of the house paddock
A chicken with its neck stretched hanging from an apple tree
And horseshoes suspended upside down from the fence
So the luck had run down into the reddish-brown earth.
When he got back he found the back door in splinters.
O'Henry was nowhere to be seen. He called out and Mrs O'Henry
Came to the door in tears, crying out that a bitter draught
Had reached up from the fetid ground down by the creek
And drawn the life from her baby.