Transparent Words - Poetry

 

Gary Blankenship

 

 

Song of Myself #21 - Immigrants

Song of Myself #22 - Cane Cutters

 

 

Song of Myself  #21 - Immigrants


21.  The groups of newly-come immigrants cover the wharf or levee


We braved walls of ice and uncommon cold

to follow the herds to where no man stood

Chained against air and sky,

we traversed the Middle Passage

to view your struggle for freedom

We withstood ceaseless storms to cross the oceans

for the Golden Mountain,

to enter the City on the Hill,

and succor the land for our prosperity

 

We laid your rails, roads and bridges,

drew coal from the ground to fuel your homes

and forge your machines,

picked your lettuce and cut your cane,

plowed your fields and fought your wars,

made your beds

and cleaned your toilets

 

From steerage and deep holds,

we have become the highest

and too often have been tricked

into remaining the lowest

 

And now you form a wall against us,

you see us only as “wretched refuse”

though we stand where you stood

and desire what you desired -

 

the hallowed light of liberty

 

 

 

Song of  Myself #22 – Cane Cutters

 

22.  The woollypates hoe in the sugar field

 

Under the glare of a Louisiana sun

and the scowl of Boss Jim,

from sleepy dawn to tired dusk,

hoes chop and cut and hack

 

behind the hovels

Massa Sam calls quarters

we are allowed a patch

for greens and roots

watered and weeded

by the little, pregnant and aged

 

until the hoes replaced with knives

to cut the cane

to boil the cane

to purify the molasses

to distill into rum

 

a good harvest expected

a bit of okra and turnips

collard and peppers

old Massa Sam don’t cut our vittles

for the crops behind our huts

even though young Massa George would

 

sent to Liverpool for trade goods

sent to the Benin for black men

sent to America to hoe and hack

and cook and refine cane

 

when our children and theirs

leave for their offices

factories and schools

full of  sweetened cereal

remember who weeds

and chops the cane

 

until the trumpet blows

 

 

 

Pg12

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