Claude McKay's Early Poetry (1911-1922): A Digital Collection

Dat Dirty Rum

IF you must drink it, do not come
An' chat up in my face;
I hate to see de dirty rum,
Much more to know de tas'e. 

What you find dere to care about
I never understan';
It only dutty up you mout',
An' mek you less a man. 

I see it throw you 'pon de grass
An' mek you want no food,
While people scorn you as dey pass
An' see you vomit blood. 

De fust beginnin' of it all,
You stood up calm an' cool,
An' put you' back agains' de wall
An' cuss our teacher fool

You cuss me too de se'fsame day
Because a say you wrong,
An' pawn you' books an' went away
Widout anedder song.

Your parents' hearts within dem sink,
When to your yout'ful lip
Dey watch you raise de glass to drink,
An' shameless tek each sip.' 

I see you in de dancing-booth,
But all your joy is vain,
For on your fresh an' glowin' youth
Is stamped dat ugly stain. 

Dat ugly stain of drink, my frien',
Has cost you your best girl,
An' mek you fool 'mongst better men
When your brain's in a whirl. 

You may smoke just a bit indeed,
I like de "white seal" a well;
Aldough I do not use de weed,
I'm fond o ' de nice smell. 

But wait until you're growin' old
An' gettin' weak an' bent,
An' feel your blood a-gettin' cold
'Fo' you tek stimulent. 

Then it may mek you stronger feel
While on your livin' groun';
But ole Time, creepin' on your heel,
Soon, soon will pull you down: 

Soon, soon will pull you down, my frien',
De rum will help her too;
An' you'll give way to better men,
De best dat you can do.

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