My father said “Why don’t you write
“A poem that I can recite
In the schoolroom next Thursday night
When there’s to be a gawny?”
I answered him, “I’ll have a try.
“But what about?” He cocked an eye,
“Oh, something humorous like – why,
The place called Puncsetawny!”

“I hear of ‘Minnetonka’ and
Miami, Rome and Samarkand,
Nebraska, Shanghai, Down the Strand
And sunny Californy.
There’s Pasadena, Monterey,
Dakota, Omaha, Tebay,
Wyoming, Ohio, and Bray,
But not of Puncsetawny.”

And so I made a valiant start,
Convinced that I was really smart,
And buckled to in très bon heart,
And thought of rhymes like ‘scrawny’.
But words and words, and reams and reams,
Ran through my head and gave me dreams;
I woke at night to frenzied screams
Of tawny Puncsetawny.

And yet I struggled day and night
But on my darkness broke no light.
Alas, so dismal was my plight
In which my father saw me,
He reconsidered his request
And said he thought it might be best
To drop the plan and lay to rest
The thought of Puncsetawny.

And so I’ve often wondered how
It would have turned out if my brow
Had been unruffled, as ‘tis now
The danger’s not before me.
And if my father, usually quiet,
Had said the lines and caused a riot.
I do not think he meant to try it,
But me, with Puncsetawny!

February, 1926