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The Devil Made Texas

E.U. Cook’s poem is an ode to the harsh reality of some of Texas’ natural wonders

The Devil in Hell we’re told was chained,
And a Thousand years he there remained.
He did not complain and he did not groan,
But determined he’d start a Hell of his own

Where he could torment the souls of men
Without being chained in a prison pen.
So he asked the Lord if he had on hand
Anything left when He made this land.

The Lord said, “Yes, I had plenty on hand,
But I left it down on the Rio Grande.
The fact is, old boy, the stuff is so poor
You cannot use it in Hell any more.”

But the Devil went down and looked at the truck,
Said even as a clear gift he was stuck,
And after examining carefully well
Pronounced it even too dry for a Hell—

So, in order to get it off his hands,
Lord promised the Devil to water the lands,
For He had some water that was of no use—
Was plumb cathartic and smelt like the deuce.

So the trade was closed, the deed was given
And the Lord went back to his home in Heaven—
and the Devil had everything he needed
To make a good Hell, and sure succeeded.

He fixed up thorns all over the trees,
And mixed the sand with millions of fleas;
Tarantulas scattered along all the roads,
Put needles on cactus, horns on the toads.

The rattlesnake bites and the scorpion stings,
The mosquito delights with its buzzing wings;
The sand burs prevail and so do the ants.
And those who sit down need soles on their pants.

The summer heat is a hundred and ten—
Too hot for the Devil; too hot for men;
The wild boar roams through the black chaparral—
’Tis a Hell of a place is the Texas Hell.

Source: More About Hell in Texas, Mody C. Boatright, From Hell to Breakfast, Texas Folklore Society, Number XIX, 1944, pp. 134-138.