The Little Review (littlereview) wrote,
The Little Review
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Poem for Wednesday


Slim Greer in Hell
By Sterling A. Brown

I


Slim Greer went to heaven;
  St. Peter said, "Slim,
You been a right good boy."
  An' he winked at him.

     "You been travelin' rascal
       In yo'day.
     You kin roam once mo';
       Den you come to stay.

"Put dese wings on yo' shoulders,
  An' save yo' feet."
Slim grin, and he speak up,
  "Thankye, Pete."

     Den Peter say, "Go
       To Hell an' see,
     All dat is doing, and
       Report to me.

"Be sure to remember
  How everything go."
Slim say, "I be seein' yuh
  On de late watch, bo."

     Slim got to cavortin'
       Swell as you choose,
     Like Lindy in de Spirit
       Of St. Louis Blues.

He flew an' he flew,
  Till at last he hit
A hangar wid de sign readin'
  DIS IS IT.

     Den he parked his wings,
       An' strolled aroun',
     Gittin' used to his feet
       On de solid ground.

II

Big bloodhound came aroarin'
  Like Niagry Falls,
Sicked on by white devils
  In overhalls.

Now Slim warn't scared
  Cross my heart, it's a fac',
An de dog went on a bayin'
  Some po' devil's track.

     Den Slim saw a mansion
       An' walked right in;
     De Devil looked up
       Wid a sickly grin.

"Suttingly didn't look
  Fo' you, Mr. Greer,
How it happens you comes
  To visit here?"

     Slim say--"Oh, jes' thought
       I'd drop by a spell."
     "Feel at home, seh, an' here's
       De keys to hell."

Den he took Slim around
  An' showed him people
Rasin' hell as high as
  De first Church Steeple.

     Lots of folks fightin'
       At de roulette wheel,
     Like old Rampart Street,
       Or leastwise Beale.

Showed him bawdy houses
  An' cabarets,
Slim thought of New Orleans
  An' Memphis days.

     Each devil was busy
       Wid a devlish broad,
     An' Slim cried, "Lawdy,
       Lawd, Lawd, Lawd."

Took him in a room
  Where Slim see
De preacher wid a brownskin
  On each knee.

     Showed him giant stills,
       Going everywhere,
     Wid a passel of devils
       Stretched dead drunk there.

Den he took him to de furnace
  Dat some devils was firing,
Hot as Hell, an' Slim start
  A mean presspirin'.

     White devils with pitchforks
       Threw black devils on,
     Slim thought he'd better
       Be gittin' along.

An' he says--"Dis makes
  Me think of home--
Vicksburg, Little Rock, Jackson,
  Waco and Rome."

     Den de devil gave Slim
       De big Ha-Ha;
     An' turned into a cracker,
       Wid a sheriff's star.

Slim ran fo' his wings,
  Lit out from de groun'
Hauled it back to St. Peter,
  Safety boun'.

III

     St. Peter said, "Well,
       You got back quick.
     How's de devil?  An' what's
       His latest trick?"

An' Slim Say, "Peter,
  I really cain't tell,
The place was Dixie
  That I took for hell."

     Then Peter say, "you must
       Be crazy, I vow,
     Where'n hell dja think Hell was,
       Anyhow?

"Git on back to de yearth,
  Cause I got de fear,
You'se a leetle too dumb,
  Fo' to stay up here..."

--------

I went looking for a poem about New Orleans and ended up finding this gem by a local poet -- Brown was born in D.C. and died in Takoma Park. In between he taught at Howard University, unable to find a publisher during the Depression. As is obvious, music had an enormous influence on his poetry.

Tuesday was only somewhat less insane than Monday, perhaps because it had a few more hours in it as I had to get up very early (which perhaps explains my headache now, though it could also be the time of month or the weather system creeping up from the south -- with the barometer falling, which I tend to know before the meteorologist tells me by the pain behind my eyes). The news keeps reporting on tornadoes in Virginia and the forecast is for severe thunderstorms Wednesday. What a nightmare the Gulf Coast looks like, and we're only just beginning to see the extent of it. I've never been to the French Quarter and now it looks like there may no longer be a French Quarter. I can't even imagine the devastation for the people who lived there, and the people who didn't get out before the storm hit -- no electricity, water unsafe to drink.

While the kids were at school I wrote three articles in the morning and went to meet gblvr for lunch -- I feel like I haven't seen her in months! (beeej, you're next!) This week is still pretty nutty -- older son had his second rotation (his school alternates daily schedules, courses 1-3-5-7 on odd days and 2-4-6-8 on even ones) and came home with his first Spanish homework, younger son brought home a big packet on instrumental music and we discovered that the required meeting for students playing instruments is the same date and time as the mandatory Hebrew school meeting for all fourth graders...aigh.

In the evening the elementary school had its welcome back ice cream social, which means very melted vanilla ice cream in styrofoam bowls with do-it-yourself chocolate syrup, whipped topping, M&Ms and Gummi Bears. This has not exactly been a health food week and other than walking over to shopping after lunch and to and from the school three times today I got no exercise at all. (I headed home ahead of the rest of the family to move the fourth load of laundry from washer to dryer and spent the 10-11 hour folding everything -- does that count?)

Am thinking seriously about removing all fanfic from littlereview.com to keep my real and fannish life and writing separate -- this is, again, more an issue of concern about my kids and their friends finding things than about anyone I've freelanced for freaking out about it. But I have hundreds of documents, and I host several other writers there. Does anyone know of any cheap places with lots of bandwidth and storage space and ftp capability? I've been moving some of my own stuff to Skyehawke (have taken everything off fanfiction.net after the last time they arbitrarily removed a story of mine, this time for the use of the second person although it was not RP or choose-your-own-adventure) but I'd love to have one central location where I can put everything from all fandoms relatively quickly and easily.


From the Ridiculous Indulgences department. This pacifier is in the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History's exhibit Everyday Fantasies: The Jeweled Art of Sidney Mobell, which I saw a few weeks ago with my family, along with a gold-and-diamond sardine can, a gemstone-encrusted yo-yo, the world's most extravagant cell phone, a solid gold mousetrap and the Monopoly set below with a 23-karat gold-plated board, houses and hotels in 18-karat gold and property colors marked with rubies, sapphires, emeralds, etc.:

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