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

S. Miller Johnson, "The Hasting Holler" (1927)

The Hasting Holler 
(To Ethel Waters)

By S. Miller Johnson 

Hey, ho, Hasting!
Hear me sing, dis song.
Hurry, Hasting,
'Cause my time ain't long!

Strollin' up Hasting
With a roamin' min'.
Wonderin', wonderin',
Jus' what I can fin'.

Roam dis country,
Lawd, from part to part,
Ain' faun' nothin'
But a bleedin' heart.

Po' boy, Po' boy,
Whut you lookin' fa w?
Min's in Texas,
Heart's in Arkansas.

My old mammy
Long, long, years ago
Died in Dallas.
She ain' heah no mo'.

Foun’ a good gal
On de Ouachita.
She lef’ Po' Boy
Broke in Arkansas.

Lef' dat ole town.
Mus' go back some day.
Had no lovin'
Since I went away.

Killed a cracker
Down in Tennessee.
See his white face
Grinnin' now at me.

Ole an' worr'ed,
Worr'ed ... mighty blue.
Wondah, good Lawd,
Whut I'm gonah do.

Wish I was 
A wee, wee boy again,
Runnin', lafin',
Glad, an' free f'om sin.

Had a buddy
Runnin' 'roun' wid me.
Tired of Ian' an'
He put out to sea.

F oun' anothah
In a Georgia town.
Big hearted buddy,
He would nevah froun'.

Whut he had, I had.
Top-notch frien' to me… 
Crackers got him
Out in Tennessee.

Got no meat, Lawd.
I ain't had no bread.
Had no lovin'.
I ain' got no bed.

To de pool room 
See de boys play pool.
Weak an' hongry,
Felt jus' lak a fool.

Saw no cue ball.
Cue shook in my han'.
Po' . . . Po' . . . Po' Boy,
Po' Boy in dis lan'.

Don' b'lieve Jesus
Knows about po' me.
Will you, Hasting,
Ease my misery?

"Po' Boy, Po' Boy,
You look mighty bad.
B'lieve fo' God
Yo' great big heart is sad."

God done quit me. 
Friends done all gone too.
Tell me, Hasting,
Whut I oughtah do.

"Po' Boy, Po' Boy,
Fall upon yo' knees… 
Beg you' Maker
Ease yo' troubles, please."

Hasting, Hasting,
In all confidence,
Prayah an' hongry,–
They cain' be good friends.

Snow is fallin'.
Night is creepin' on.
Worl' is gloomy.
My las' penny's gone.

Got no Mammy.
I ain't got no pal.
Hope done lef' me.
I ain't got no gal.

Went to de wharf an'
Looked out on de lake.
B'lieve 'fo' God dat
Life is all a fake.

Mis'ry, Mis'ry,
Stealin' up on me. 
Lake kept smilin' …
Smilin' up at me.

"Careful, Po' Boy,
Cautious Po' Boy, deah,
Ease you' mis'ry, – 
Drown yo' troubles heah."

Up in heaven,
Way down deep in hell,
May be better ...
You can nevah tell.

Hey, ho, Hasting!
Heah me sing dis song.
Hurry, Hasting,
'Cause my time ain' long.

Published in The Messenger, June 1927

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