African American Poetry (1870-1926): A Digital Anthology

John Frederick Matheus, "In the Night" (1920)

Hush yo' cryin', honey,
Yo' mammy can not heah.
Hush yo' sobbin', honey,
An' dry dat li'l teah,
Fuh dey's lyunched yo' mammy, baby, 
   In de night

Don't be frettin', baby,
Ye's only six months old
Yo'll soon fergit yo' mammy
What's layin' dead and cold,--
Fuh dey's lyunched yo' mammy, baby, 
   In de night.

Yo' daddy kilt de man,
But run away in fright;
So dey tuk yo' mammy, honey,
An' hung huh in de night.
Dey's kilt yo' mammy baby,
   Like a shote.

O Gawd, may Jesus, heah me,
Mah po' ol hea't is done,
But I's gwine to ten' huh baby,
An' watch him like a son,
Fuh dey's hung his mammy, Jesus,
   Fum a' oak

Hush chile, yo' runs me crazy,
An' I tink it would be'n bes',
Ef dey'd lynched yo mammy sooner,
An' yo' gone wif huh to res',
Fuh dey's lynched yo' mammy, honey,
   In de night.

When yo' li'l hea't is breakin',
Fuh a sight o' mammy's breast,
I kin heah huh, Gawd, a beggin',
An' a screamin', all undressed,--
When dey lynched huh, Gawd, a 'ooman,
   In de night. 

Go sleep, granny gwine lub yo'
An' raise yo' to a man,
An' meebee den, some me'cy
Will brung Justice to de lan,
What let 'em lynch yo' mammy
   In de night. 

Published in The Crisis, February 1920

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