African American Poetry (1870-1928): A Digital Anthology

James D. Corrothers, "Me 'n' Dunbar" (1901)

One day when me 'n' Dunbar wuz a-hocin' in de co'n ,
Bofe uv us tried an'  anxious foh to heah de dinnah -ho'n.—
Him in his fiel', an' me in mine , a-wo'kin ' on togeddah ,
A-sweatin ' lak de mischief in de hottes ' kine o' weddah,
A debblish notion tuck me 't Paul wuz gittin' on too fast';
But, thainks I : "Wait untwel he git 'mongst all dem weeds an' grass.
'N' I'll make him nely kill his se'f, an ' den come out de las'."

Tuck off ma coat, rolled up ma slebes , spit on ma han's an ' say :
“Ef God'll he'p me—'n' not he'p him—I beats ma man today !”
S'I: "Paul , come on , le's have a race !--I see you achin ' foh it "-
S'e: " All right. Jeems , ma son ; strack out — I sho ' admire yo' spurrit."
S'I : " Son er father . I'm yo ' match —jes ' ketch me, ef you ken !"
S'e : "You'd gib up now, ef you'd take advice fom yo ' bes ' fr'en"-
An ' den de way dem two hoes flew wuz scandl'us —gen-Tmen!

De sun shone on us br'ilin ' hot ; but , now an ' den de breeze
Blowed fresh , f'om 'cross de maddah lot, de fragrance ob de trees
In de ole orchard , jes' beyon '. De birds sung clear an ' sweet ;
De tree toad wuz a-callin ' out his 'pinion ob de heat ;
De fahm -house looked invitin', an ', erbout a mile away,
De town gleamed white -across de road , de falmers made dey hay :–--
But me 'n ' Paul was hustlin ' : 'ca'se dat wuz ouh "busy day. "

By'm -by, I got so tired dat I thought ma soul I'd die
An' all de time a-watchin ' Paul, out one side ob ma eye .--
I walks up to de fence, an, le'nt upon ma hoe a spell,
An' say : "Paul, how you mekin ' out?" S'e: "Putty middlin' well ."
"Dat so ?" sez I, you lookin ' weak!" Se: he " Am dat a fack?-
Who wuz it lef' his hocin ' fuss? You bettah go on back ,-
An' go to wo'k, 'r I'll be so fur dat you cain't fine ma track!"

'N' back I went, an ' slashed about, an' to'e up mo ' good co'n
An' missed mo' weeds den airy othah mo'tal evah bo'n .
An' all de time a-thinkin ' thoughts , untwel I come to see
Dat, dat ah' kine o' foolishness wa'n't he'pin ' him ner me.
S'I: "Hole on, Paul, le's stop awhile, an ' talk an' git ouh breff—
'Ca'se bofe uv us has got to hoe his own patch foh his se'f."
Sez he : "Dat's right ; hey ain't no use to wo'k ouhse'fs to deff."

Published in Colored American Magazine, July 1901

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