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Tamales by O. Henry

The following is the complete text of O. Henry's "Tamales." Our presentation of "Tamales" comes from his posthumously published Rolling Stones (1912). For in-depth biographical data on this writer, visit our biography of O. Henry (William Sydney Porter).

Visit these other works by O. Henry
The Adventures of Shamrock Jolnes
After Twenty Years
Aristocracy Versus Hash
The Assessor of Success
At Arms with Morpheus
The Badge of Policeman O'Roon
The Buyer from Cactus City
By Courier
The Caballero's Way
The Cactus
The Caliph and the Cad
A Chaparral Christmas Gift
The City of Dreadful Night
The Cop and the Anthem
The Count and the Wedding Guest
The Dog and the Playlet
The Dream
The Duplicity of Hargraves
The Enchanted Kiss
Fickle Fortune, or How Gladys Hustled
A Fog in Santone
The Furnished Room
The Gift of the Magi
Hearts and Hands
The Lady Higher Up
The Last Leaf
A Lickpenny Lover
A Little Talk About Mobs

The Lost Blend
Makes the Whole World Kin
Man About Town
The Marionettes
Memoirs of a Yellow Dog
A Municipal Report
New York by Camp Fire Light
A Newspaper Story
October and June
The Pride of the Cities
The Prisoner of Zembla
The Ransom of Red Chief
A Retrieved Reformation
The Robe of Peace
The Romance of a Busy Broker
Round The Circle
A Snapshot at the President
The Sparrows in Madison Square
Squaring the Circle
A Strange Story
Tracked to Doom
Transients in Arcadia
Two Thanksgiving Day Gentlemen
Ulysses and the Dogman
An Unfinished Christmas Story
The Voice of the City
Whistling Dick's Christmas Stocking
Witches' Loaves

To see all available titles by other authors, drop by our index of free books alphabetized by author or arranged alphabetically by title. The various books, short stories and poems we offer are presented free of charge with absolutely no advertising as a public service from Internet Accuracy Project.

Potential uses for the free books, stories and poetry we offer
* Rediscovering an old favorite book, poem or story.
* Bibliophiles expanding their collection of public domain ebooks at no cost.
* Teachers trying to locate a free online copy of a classic poem or short story for use in the classroom.

NOTE: We try to present these classic literary works as they originally appeared in print. As such, they sometimes contain adult themes, offensive language, typographical errors, and often utilize unconventional, older, obsolete or intentionally incorrect spelling and/or punctuation conventions.

Warning: Be aware that this classic literature contains themes and/or language that may be offensive to many readers.

Tamales by O. Henry


by O. Henry

This is the Mexican
Don Jose Calderon
One of God's countrymen,
Land of the buzzard.
Cheap silver dollar, and
Cacti and murderers.
Why has he left his land
Land of the lazy man,
Land of the pulque
Land of the bull fight,
Fleas and revolution.

This is the reason,
Hark to the wherefore;
Listen and tremble.
One of his ancestors,
Ancient and garlicky,
Probably grandfather,
Died with his boots on.
Killed by the Texans,
Texans with big guns,
At San Jacinto.
Died without benefit
Of priest or clergy;
Died full of minie balls,
Mescal and pepper.

Don Jose Calderon
Heard of the tragedy.
Heard of it, thought of it,
Vowed a deep vengeance;
Vowed retribution
On the Americans,
Murderous gringos,
Especially Texans.
"Valga me Dios! que
Ladrones, diablos,
Matadores, mentidores,
Caraccos y perros,
Voy a matarles,
Con solos mis manos,
Toditas sin falta."
Thus swore the Hidalgo
Don Jose Calderon.

He hied him to Austin.
Bought him a basket,
A barrel of pepper,
And another of garlic;
Also a rope he bought.
That was his stock in trade;
Nothing else had he.
Nor was he rated in
Dun or in Bradstreet,
Though he meant business,
Don Jose Calderon,
Champion of Mexico,
Don Jose Calderon,
Seeker of vengeance.

With his stout lariat,
Then he caught swiftly
Tomcats and puppy dogs,
Caught them and cooked them,
Don Jose Calderon,
Vower of vengeance.
Now on the sidewalk
Sits the avenger
Selling Tamales to
Innocent purchasers.
Dire is thy vengeance,
Oh, Jose Calderon,
Pitiless Nemesis
Fearful Redresser
Of the wrongs done to thy
Sainted grandfather.

Now the doomed Texans,
Rashly hilarious,
Buy of the deadly wares,
Buy and devour.
Rounders at midnight,
Citizens solid,
Bankers and newsboys,
Bootblacks and preachers,
Rashly importunate,
Courting destruction.
Buy and devour.
Beautiful maidens
Buy and devour,
Gentle society youths
Buy and devour.

Buy and devour
This thing called Tamale;
Made of rat terrier,
Spitz dog and poodle.
Maltese cat, boarding house
Steak and red pepper.
Garlic and tallow,
Corn meal and shucks.
Buy without shame
Sit on store steps and eat,
Stand on the street and eat,
Ride on the cars and eat,
Strewing the shucks around
Over creation.

Dire is thy vengeance,
Don Jose Calderon.
For the slight thing we did
Killing thy grandfather.
What boots it if we killed
Only one greaser,
Don Jose Calderon?
This is your deep revenge,
You have greased all of us,
Greased a whole nation
With your Tamales,
Don Jose Calderon.
Santos Esperition,
Vincente Camillo,
Quitana de Rios,
De Rosa y Ribera.

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