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

The Bobby to the Sneering Lady

You may sneer at us, madam,
   But our work is beastly hard;
An' while toilin thus we scarce
   Ever get a lee reward.
Our soul's jes' like fe you,
   If our work does make us rough;
Me won't 'res' you servant-gal
   When you've beaten her enough.
You may say she is me frien',
   We are used to all such prate;
Naught we meet on life's stern road
   But de usual scorn an' hate.
Say dat you wi' 'port me, ma'am?
   I was lookin' fe dat, well,
Our Inspector's flinty hard,
   'Twill be few days' pay or cell.
Pains an' losses of such kind
   To we p'licemen's not'in' new;
Still A'd really like fe hear
   Wha' good it wi' do to you.
Last week, eatin' a gill bread,
   Me t'row piece out on de lea;
An' A ketch a 'port fe dat
   Which meant five roun' mac to me.
Constab-charge, civilian-charge,
   Life's a burden every way;
But reward fund mus' kep' up
   Out o' poo' policeman pay.
Ef our lot, then, is so hard,
   I mus' ever bear in mind
Dat to fe me own black 'kin
   I mus' not be too unkind.
An' p'r'aps you too will forgive
   Ef I've spoken rather free,
An' will let me somet'ing ask
   Which may soften you to me:
In de middle o' de night,
   When de blackness lies do'n deep,
Who protects your homes an' stores
   While de Island is asleep?
When de dead stars cannot shine
   Sake o' rain an' cloud an' storm,
Who keeps watch out in de street
   So dat not'in' comes to harm?
Ah! you turn away your head!
   See! dere's pity in your face!
Don't, dear madam, bring on me
   This unmerited disgrace. 

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