Poems by Nancy Levi Arnez

Originally published in "The Rocks Cry Out," Broadside Press, 1969

Why Don't You Love Us?
To Be Black in America
Keep Pushing
A Brown Child's Prayer
Birmingham
Stood Up

 

WHY DON'T YOU LOVE US?
(Like You Used To Do)

We gave you food we did not want
     Clothes we could not wear
     Shacks with few big rats
We gave our jobs we did not want to you,
Why don't you love us like you used to do?

We gave you old inner cities
     Trigger happy policemen
     Mute voiced politicians
We gave our schools we did not want to you,
Why don't you love us like you used to do?

We are the most giving of people.
We give you foul play all along the way,
We give you emptiness and despair.
Now we give you time to be happy, nigger.
Why don't you love us like you used to do?

 

TO BE BLACK IN AMERICA

To be black in America
     Is to be constantly scorned—
          To be forever mourned.
It's a tearful eye.
It's a gasping sigh.

To be black in America
     Is to be shoved to the side—
          To be drowned in the tide;
It's a fist of hate.
It's a bolted gate.

To be black in America
     Is to be treated like dirt—
          To be forever hurt.
It's a way of life.
It's endless strife.

To be black in America
     Is to never be free—
          To be cut from a tree.
It's a sea of woe.
It's a swift death blow.

 

KEEP PUSHING

We are farmers,
And postmen
And doctors,

We are lawyers
And dancers
And teachers,

We are dentists
And tradesmen
And waiters,

We are chemists
And red caps
And nurses.

We came to this land
Bereft and beaten
We've pushed our way upward
From a slave existence.

We've built this great land
By the sweat of our brows
And will fight for the right
To call it our own.

 

A BROWN CHILD'S PRAYER

A child stepped into the sunshine today.
She prayed they would not hurt her on her way.
Last night she heard such anguished cries and shots.
She heard mad dogs a-howling near her papa's lots.
She wondered if they'd kill her like they killed John Brown.
She wondered who'd sit in her seat if they shot her down.

Perhaps they'd shoot her like they did Bill Moore.
She truly hoped they'd let her get thru that school house door.

 

BIRMINGHAM

A storm rushed in his eye
As he spied a black child die
Upon a coffin of bombed debris.

He could not see
Her hand. Screamed he,
"Where is my daughter's other hand?"

He searched about most frantically,
And offered it in somber glee.

 

STOOD UP

I dressed all up for freedom.
I bathed and perfumed allover.
I put on my very best frock.
Then I tiptoed to the door
And peeped all around.

I waited all that evening
And far into the night.
Yes, I dressed all up for freedom,
But freedom didn't come.

Then I went out looking for freedom.
I joined three integrated clubs
And looked deep into the souls of those whites.
Freedom wasn't there.

I went to work in deep anticipation
And searched the eyes of all my colleagues.
Freedom wasn't there either.

I trudged the country-side
And spent time in all the pleasure spots of the city, too.
I searched the law books,
And I saw that by devious means freedom had passed me by.

Many Sundays came and went
And disappointment grappled with my soul
For church was my last recourse, my final hope.

Freedom had been by that day,
But they wouldn't let freedom stay.

Yes, friends,
I bathed and perfumed allover,
I put on my very best frock,
I dressed all up for freedom,
But freedom was nowhere near.
He stood me up that year.

Copyright © Nancy Levi Arnez, 1969, all rights reserverd.


Copyright ©
Webspinner: webmaster@crmvet.org
(Labor donated)