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

Sterling A. Brown, "Foreclosure" (1927)

 Father Missouri takes his own. 
 These are the fields he loaned them, 
 Out of hearts’ fullness; gratuitously , 
 Here are the banks he built up for his children— 
 Here are the fields; rich, fertile silt. 
 Father Missourt, in his dotage 
 Whimsical and drunkenly turbulent, 
 Guts away the banks; steals away the loam; 
 Washes the ground from under wire fences, 
 Leaves fenceposts grotesquely dangling in the air; 
 And with doddering steps approaches the shanties. 
 Father Missouri; far too old to be so evil. 
 Uncle Dan, seeing his garden lopped away, 
 Seeing his manured earth topple slowly in the stream, 
 Seeing his cows knee-deep in yellow water, 
 His pig-sties flooded, his flower beds drowned, 
 Seeing his white leghorns swept down the stream— 
 Curses Father Missouri, impotently shakes 
 His fist at the forecloser, the treacherous skinflint, 
 Who takes what was loaned so very long ago, 
 And leaves puddles in his parlor, and useless lakes 
 In his fine pasture land. 
 Sees years of work turned to nothing— 
 Curses, and shouts in his hoarse old voice, 
 “Aint got no right to act dat way at all” 
 And the old river rolls on, slowly to the gulf. 

Published in Ebony and Topaz, 1927

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