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

Poems by John Wesley Holloway in the "Book of American Negro Poetry" (1922)

MISS MELERLEE

  Hello dar, Miss Melerlee!
Oh, you're pretty sight to see!
Sof brown cheek, an' smilin' face,
An' willowy form chuck full o' grace—
De sweetes' gal Ah evah see,
An' Ah wush dat you would marry me!
  Hello, Miss Melerlee!
  Hello dar, Miss Melerlee!
You're de berry gal fo' me!
Pearly teef, an' shinin' hair,
An' silky arm so plump an' bare!
Ah lak yo' walk, Ah lak yo' clothes,
An' de way Ah love you,—goodness knows!
  Hello, Miss Melerlee!
  Hello dar, Miss Melerlee!
Dat's not yo' name, but it ought to be!
Ah nevah seed yo' face befo'
An' lakly won't again no mo';
But yo' sweet smile will follow me
Cla'r into eternity!
  Farewell, Miss Melerlee!

CALLING THE DOCTOR

Ah'm sick, doctor-man, Ah'm sick!
Gi' me some'n' to he'p me quick,
  Don't,—Ah'll die!
Tried mighty hard fo' to cure mahse'f;
Tried all dem t'ings on de pantry she'f;
Couldn' fin' not'in' a-tall would do,
  An' so Ah sent fo' you.
"Wha'd Ah take?" Well, le' me see:
Firs',—horhound drops an' catnip tea;
Den rock candy soaked in rum,
An' a good sized chunk o' camphor gum;
Next Ah tried was castor oil,
An' snakeroot tea brought to a boil;
Sassafras tea fo' to clean mah blood;
But none o' dem t'ings didn' do no good.
Den when home remedies seem to shirk,
Dem pantry bottles was put to work:
Blue-mass, laud'num, liver pills,
"Sixty-six, fo' fever an' chills,"
Ready Relief, an' A.B.C.,
An' half a bottle of X.Y.Z.
An' sev'al mo' Ah don't recall,
Dey nevah done no good at all.
Mah appetite begun to fail;
'Ah fo'ced some clabber, about a pail,
Fo' mah ol' gran'ma always said
When yo' can't eat you're almost dead.
So Ah got scared an' sent for you.—
Now, doctor, see what you c'n do.
Ah'm sick, doctor-man. Gawd knows Ah'm sick!
Gi' me some'n' to he'p me quick,
  Don't,—Ah'll die!

THE CORN SONG

Jes' beyan a clump o' pines,—
  Lis'n to 'im now!—
Hyah de jolly black boy,
  Singin', at his plow!
In de early mornin',
  Thoo de hazy air,
Loud an' clear, sweet an' strong
  Comes de music rare:
  "O mah dovee, Who-ah!
  Do you love me? Who-ah!
        Who-ah!"
  An' as 'e tu'ns de cotton row,
  Hyah 'im tell 'is ol' mule so;
    "Whoa! Har! Come'ere!"
Don't yo' love a co'n song?
  How it stirs yo' blood!
Ever'body list'nin',
  In de neighborhood!
Standin' in yo' front do'
  In de misty mo'n,
Hyah de jolly black boy,
  Singin' in de co'n:
  "O Miss Julie, Who-ah!
  Love me truly, Who-ah!
      Who-ah!"
  Hyah 'im scol' 'is mule so,
  W'en 'e try to mek 'im go:
   "Gee! Whoa! Come 'ere!"
O you jolly black boy,
  Yod'lin' in de co'n,
Callin' to yo' dawlin',
  In de dewy mo'n,
Love 'er, boy, forevah,
  Yodel ever' day;
Only le' me lis'n,
  As yo' sing away:
  "O mah dawlin'! Who-ah!
  Hyah me callin'! Who-ah!
        Who-ah!"
  Tu'n aroun' anothah row,
  Holler to yo' mule so:
  "Whoa! Har! Come 'ere!"

BLACK MAMMIES

If Ah evah git to glory, an' Ah hope to mek it thoo,
Ah expec' to hyah a story, an' Ah hope you'll hyah it, too,—
Hit'll kiver Maine to Texas, an' f'om Bosting to Miami,—
Ov de highes' shaf in glory, 'rected to de Negro Mammy.
You will see a lot o' Washington, an' Washington again;
An' good ol' Fathah Lincoln, tow'rin' 'bove de rest o' men;
But dar'll be a bunch o' women standin' hard up by de th'one,
An' dey'll all be black an' homely,—'less de Virgin Mary's one.
Dey will be de talk of angels, dey will be de praise o' men,
An' de whi' folks would go crazy 'thout their Mammy folks again:
If it's r'ally true dat meekness makes you heir to all de eart',
Den our blessed, good ol' Mammies must 'a' been of noble birt'.
If de greates' is de servant, den Ah got to say o' dem,
Dey'll be standin' nex' to Jesus, sub to no one else but Him;
If de crown goes to de fait'ful, an' de palm de victors wear,
Dey'll be loaded down wid jewels more dan anybody dere.
She'd de hardes' road to trabel evah mortal had to pull;
But she knelt down in huh cabin till huh cup o' joy was full;
Dough' ol' Satan tried to shake huh f'om huh knees wid scowl an' frown,
She jes' "clumb up Jacob's ladder," an' he nevah drug huh down.
She'd jes' croon above de babies, she'd jes' sing when t'ings went wrong,
An' no matter what de trouble, she would meet it wid a song;
She jes' prayed huh way to heaben, findin' comfort in de rod;
She jes' "stole away to Jesus," she jes' sung huh way to God!
She "kep' lookin' ovah Jurdan," kep' "a-trustin' in de word,"
Kep' a-lookin' fo "de char'et," kep' "a-waitin' fo' de Lawd,"
If she evah had to quavah of de shadder of a doubt,
It ain't nevah been discovahed, fo' she nevah sung it out;
But she trusted in de shadder, an' she trusted in de shine,
An' she longed fo' one possession: "dat heaben to be mine";
An' she prayed huh chil'en freedom, but she won huhse'f de bes',—
Peace on eart' amids' huh sorrows, an' up yonder heabenly res'!

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