Threes
Carl August Sandburg

I was a boy when I heard three red words
a thousand Frenchmen died in the streets
for: Liberty, Equality, Fraternity--I asked
why men die for words.

I was older; men with mustaches, sideburns,
lilacs, told me the high golden words are:
Mother, Home, and Heaven--other older men with

Years ticked off their say-so on the great clocks
of doom and damnation, soup, and nuts:
meteors flashed their say-so:
and out of great Russia came three
dusky syllables workmen took guns and went out to die
for:
Bread, Peace, Land.

And I met a marine of the U.S.A.
a leatherneck with a girl on his knee
for a memory in ports circling the earth and he said:
Tell me how to say three things and I always get by
--gimme a plate of ham and eggs--
how much
--and--do you love me, kid?