September 17, 2012

PotW: Dead Man Blues


by Lucy Smith

Down in the lonesome death cell
A black man sits and sings.
The key he sings is minor
For Sorrow plucks the strings.

       Wish I had died in my cradle, 
       Wish I had never been born;
       For I'm to hang in the morning,
       Hung in the cold, grey morn.

       Here in the valley of the shadow
       From death there's no escape
       I was the nearest black man
       When that white gal hollered rape

Down in the lonesome death cell
He sits and stares at his shoes.
Sorrow plucks the guitar strings
As he sings the Dead Man Blues.

No Middle Ground
(Philadelphia, 1952)

[This reminds me of the work of the great Sterling Brown, "Break Of Day," say.
Seems grim? This is why the Civil Rights Movement erupted.]

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