The Little Review (littlereview) wrote,
The Little Review
littlereview

Poem for Monday


A Poem For Myself
By Etheridge Knight


(or "Blues for a Mississippi Black Boy")

I was born in Mississippi;
I walked barefooted thru the mud.
Born black in Mississippi,
Walked barefooted thru the mud.
But, when I reached the age of twelve
I left that place for good.
My daddy chopped cotton
And he drank his liquor straight.
Said my daddy chopped cotton
And he drank his liquor straight.
When I left that Sunday morning
He was leaning on the barnyard gate.
Left my mama standing
With the sun shining in her eyes.
Left her standing in the yard
With the sun shining in her eyes.
And I headed North
As straight as the Wild Goose Flies,
I been to Detroit & Chicago
Been to New York city too.
I been to Detroit & Chicago
Been to New York city too.
Said I done strolled all those funky avenues
I'm still the same old black boy with the same old blues.
Going back to Mississippi
This time to stay for good
Going back to Mississippi
This time to stay for good-
Gonna be free in Mississippi
Or dead in the Mississippi mud.

--------

Another by Knight, of whom Mary Karr writes in Sunday's Poet's Choice in The Washington Post Book World, "Before there was spoken-word verse or poetry slams or hip-hop, there was Knight...he preached that poetry was an oral art, proclaiming his own from memory in bars and on street corners. Once he took students to 116th Street in Harlem to read aloud among the marginalized. We quickly learned that our hand-wringing, milquetoast lines could never draw a crowd the way Knight did. That evening, he half-sang his toast for folk hero Shine, who was a porter on the Titanic strong enough to swim to safety...Knight, who died in 1991, is perhaps best remembered for character narratives -- from lowly Shine to anointed Malcolm X."

We spent a nice relaxing Sunday in Pennsylvania with apaulled's parents, who are leaving for a three-month drive across the US in two days much like the one we took last month, but with more stops along the way and more time to visit people (they'll spend nearly three weeks in the L.A. area, whereas we had only four days). My mother-in-law made pancakes, eggs and sausage for brunch, then we went for a walk in Codorus State Park -- the shaded part under the trees, not the open area with disc golf and groundhogs where we sometimes go. We got a bit lost on the trail at first, but eventually we figured out where we wanted to be. After hiking, we went back to their house to compare travel notes and have barbecue and birthday cake (belatedly for Adam, early for Daniel, since we were away for the former's birthday and they'll be away for the latter's).


A beetle in the cornfield that borders one of the trails at Codorus State Park.


The corn isn't quite ripe yet, but we saw lots of empty husks and weren't sure whether they were eaten by animals or people.


The start of this trail goes through a stand of tall evergreens...


...though we decided we had missed the trail somewhere when we came to this seeming dead end.


Eventually we found our way to the path along the lake. There was a nice breeze and boats were out.


Back at my in-laws' house, Maximus the groundhog put in an appearance! (Or perhaps this is one of his descendants -- I have a hard time telling groundhogs apart.)


And just as we were leaving in the evening, one of the bunnies came out as well!


And look -- my mother-in-law made me a knitted Slytherin Dalek! Here it is with my sons' Daleks, also made by her.
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I was pleased to see that the Redskins beat the Colts in the Hall of Fame Game today -- mostly because Peyton Manning was out with an infection, probably! But Art Monk and Darrell Green both got inducted, two players from when I really cared about pro football, before it became too much about money and people's egos (well, I suppose it was always about those, but it seems a lot worse these days). Monday, Adam gets braces back on his teeth -- he is NOT happy about this development, but if it means no jaw problems later, it's all to the good. If you're reading this, happy birthday, Uncle Mickey!
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